Monday, May 22, 2017

'Mooners Monday #14: Audrey Meadows tells it like it is

I'll save my discussion of one of my least favorite supporting characters--a man so sniveling he makes Harvey's friend George look Clint Eastwood--for next week. Today I do want to talk about "Here Comes the Bride,"  but I want to focus on an odd passage from The Official Honeymooners Treasury by Peter Crescenti and Bob Columbe.

We know that Alice Kramden, despite her extremely high tolerance for Ralph's bluster and foolishness, is no pushover. But Audrey Meadows herself is something else. She always seemed like (and sounded like, if you heard her in her later years with that raspy voice) a straight shooter. Audrey the actress makes Alice the character look like...well, like that guy in "Here Comes the Bride" we'll talk about next week.

In the book, Audrey talks about the dress she was going to wear to her sister's wedding.  She mentions that costume   designer Peggy Morrison "was a very nice woman, but she had a little problem of belting brandy."

A little problem of belting brandy!

Jackie Gleason had a vision for the dress, and Morrison nailed it, but "it was miles too long." So Meadows put pins in it and asked her to cut it to the length she showed her, where the pins were.

"I didn't see it again until it was time to put it on to walk through the door.  She had belted just enough brandy that she had cut it so short that it was ridiculous. I looked like Shirley Temple doing 'Good Ship Lollipop' or something.  I said, Jack, what am I going to do?'   he said, 'Stay behind the table.'"

I am no expert on Polish-style wedding dresses made of tulle, but this passage always confused me. Let's set aside the possible slander against poor Peggy Morrison. (If you're not convinced how indispensable this book is, how many other sources talk about the imbibing of the series' costume designer?) The dress doesn't look scandalously short to me, and it's not like Alice totally hides behind the table.

Then again, I am a dude, and I may be totally oblivious. The detail in Audrey's account confuses me, though. Is it possible Meadows is somehow confusing this episode with 'The Man from Space," in which she seemingly wears an actual Shirley Temple costume?

"Where's the other half of that costume?"

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