Sunday, September 12, 2004

There is no one alive today

who is anything like Eve Arden. What happened to that type of actress? To that type of role? Has that type of person become extinct?

For those of you who do not remember her, Eve Arden played the reluctant friend/co-worker/participant in the life of the lead actress in a zillion movies. Everything she said was a stand-alone zinger expressing chagrined acceptance about the fact that life's tough, but, hey, someone's got to do the cooking, so hand me that apron and run for cover. If you played an ingenue who lands a job in a fashion house in Paris, she'd play the hard working ex-patriot who's been abroad for fifteen years, seen 'em come and go, has managed to survive and can tell you why. If she was in the chorus, and you were in tears because you had just broken up with the producer, she'd be rubbing her tired feet in the dressing room, but able to deliver a bromide and walk you home. Before you got to your door, she'd have completed ten perfect statements beginning with words like "That's the problem with men...", or, "Honey, haven't you figured out that all guys...", or, "Well if you ever find a man who...". If you concoct a plot-centric scheme involving lies and jewelry and an out-of-town ruse, she'd shake her head, tell you it will never work, but faithfully execute her part of the deception just because she's your pal. She never seemed to be accompanied by a boyfriend or a husband. Never admitted to wanting one, except once-per-movie when she'd allow you a brief glimpse into her lonely soul before slipping back into her hard shell.

Because she played the same character in each movie and because her lines were invariably of the same caliber and cadence, I am convinced that she had an agent who must have said "Miss Arden will appear in your picture under one condition: she will furnish her own lines."

I'm having trouble picturing her dead, although I assume she is indeed that. Her eyes not fixing you with a mock-glare, the corner of her mouth not turning down with a cynical aside, her big shoulders not nudging you with "buck-up" support. In her casket, she is probably informing her cemetery neighbors "Well there's not much of a view but I've always liked putting my feet up at the end of a hard day".

She made her films in a time when nudity and sex were not on the menu, but had she been called upon, I'm sure she would have delivered the goods. Imagine her taking off her bra in front of Jesse White as the Maytag repairman. "OK buddy, the store's open. Step right up and make your selection. The shelves are pretty much stocked with two of almost everything you're looking for, except my heart, and remember, if you break it, it's yours."

Where'd you go, Eve? Why no daughter, no passing of your torch?


Anonymous said...

Sadly, Eve Arden left the world in 1990. And though she lied about her age (not surprisingly), she was 82 years old when she died.

Of all the great work, her role as Ida Corwin in "Mildred Pierce" remains a classic. She was nominated for an Academy Award for that picture.

Eve Arden was born "Eunice Quedens". She selected her stage name while she was shopping for cosmetics in a department store in LA. The name was a combination of "Evening in Paris" and Elizabeth Arden! More evidence of her wit!

There is no one alive quite like her today...but the memories live on.

Anonymous said...

Who forgot Miss Arden and her life altering role (for me) when she played opposite Kaye Ballard in the sitcom "The Mother in Laws" Sunday nights will never be the same!!!!

Anonymous said...

But in "Grease" she was more than "Our Miss Brooks"...she was fantasy principal in love with Kookie Byrnes! FAINTING....

Anonymous said...

Do you know that she was inducted in the Radio Hall of Fame?!?