This group of obits runs the gamut from a former stripper to the greatest actress of her generation (Julie Harris) to one of my favorite comic book artists to Trixie Norton (who was also a former stripper). Jane Kean played Trixie of "The Honeymooners" when Jackie Gleason recast the wives of Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton with musical actresses so he could incorporate elaborate production numbers and comedy songs; Sheila MacRae was the new Alice. We would watch the Gleason show every Saturday night. It used to come on right after "Sea Hunt" with Lloyd Bridges ("By now my lungs were aching for air.") I saw Kean play Sally in a summer stock production of "Follies" at the Valley Forge Music Fair with Robert Alda, Vivian Blaine, and Selma Diamond. I was about 12 years old and had saved up my allowance to pay for the ticket (It had to be $10 or so.)
Gleason's variety show ran until the early 1970s and CBS then replaced the middlebrow humor exemplified by Gleason, Lucille Ball, and shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Petticoat Junction," and "Green Acres" to be replaced by more sophisticated sitcoms like "All in the Family," "MASH," and the Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore shows. These shows were much more adult, but I did miss the innocent silliness of Ralph and Ed, Alice and Trixie arguing in that tiny Brooklyn apartment. (There were many jokes about Trixie's past as an exotic dancer.)
Harris was also a sitcom actor, appearing in an awful piece of tripe about a family that made pickles. It was ridiculous, but she was brilliant of course and I suppose she had to pay the rent. I only met her once, when she was appearing Off-Broadway in a play called "The Fiery Furnace" and I got her autograph. She was charming and gracious.
Haji, 67, Canadian actress and former exotic dancer who
starred in several Russ Myers sexploitation films including “Faster Pussycat!
Kill! Kill!” and “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” as well as John Cassavettes’
“The Killing of a Chinese Bookie,” her last film was the memorably titled “Killer
Drag Queens on Dope.”
Helen Hanft, 79, leading actress of the Off-Off-Broadway
theater movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, best known for Tom Eyen’s “Why Hanna’s
Skirt Won’t Stay Down,” also appeared in such plays as “Women Benhind Bars,” “In
the Boom Boom Room,” and “Gus and Al,” and the films “Next Stop, Greenwich
Village” and “Manhattan.”
|Julie Harris and James Dean in "East of Eden"|
Julie Harris, 87, winner of five Tony Awards for Best Actress
in a Play (“I Am a Camera,” “The Lark,” “Forty Carats,” “The Last of Mrs.
Lincoln,” “The Belle of Amherst”), one of the American theater’s treasures, she
also starred in “Member of the Wedding,” “Marathon 33,” “Skyscraper,” “The Au
Pair Man,” “Lucifer’s Child,” “The Fiery Furnace,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “The
Gin Game,” and the film version of “Member of the Wedding” (Oscar nomination),
other films include “East of Eden,” “The Haunting,” “Harper,” “Reflections in a
Golden Eye,” Emmy Awards for “Little Moon of Alban” and “Victoria Regina,”
played Lilimae Clements on “Knots Landing” and made several guest shots
including “Columbo,” “Medical Center,” “The Big Valley,” and “The Virginian.”