guess who?

At age 8, her first job was at a local Inglewood, California neighborhood school's swimming pool counting towels.

During her senior year of high school, she received a D in her algebra course, preventing her from getting a scholarship from the University of Southern California so she enrolled in Los Angeles Community College.

To earn money to pay tuition, she took a job as a stock girl at I. Magnin department store, where she also modeled clothing for customers and appeared in newspaper advertisements.

She probably would've participated in the 1940 and/or 1944 Olympics (she would've been 18 and 22 years old respectively) if World War II hadn't canceled them.

She received her first screen kiss by Mickey Rooney in Andy Hardy's Double Life(1942).

She and June Allyson were longtime friends.

She co-starred with Van Johnson in 5 films.

In the 1950s she was known as "America's Mermaid."


what's up, doc?

the year: 1972

the genre: comedy

the cast: Barbra Streisand (Judy Maxwell); Ryan O’Neal (Dr. Howard Bannister); Madeline Kahn (Eunice Burns); Kenneth Mars (Hugh Simon); Austin Pendleton (Frederick Larrabee)

the plot: Mild mannered Dr. Howard Bannister is a professor of musicology at the Ames Conservatory of Music in Ames, Iowa. With his straight laced and controlling fiancée Eunice Burns, Howard is in San Francisco to attend the Congress of American Musicologists convention hosted by Frederick Larrabee. The Larrabee Foundation has shortlisted two finalists for the $20,000 Larrabee Grant - Howard, whose research involves prehistoric man making music with igneous rocks, and pompous Hugh Simon. Howard's life in San Francisco is turned upside down when he meets Judy Maxwell, a klutzy, directionless but brilliant young woman whose life is spent studying at one educational institution after another - her stint at each being until she's kicked out. It's love at first sight for Judy, who does whatever she can to push herself into Howard's life. Further complications ensue as Howard, Judy, wealthy Mrs. Van Hoskins and reporter Mr. Smith all have identical red plaid overnight bag respectively carrying Howard's igneous rocks, Judy's clothes, Mrs. Van Hoskins jewels and top secret government documents - being eyed by others who want to get there hands on the contents.

count: the look-alike suitcases.

don’t miss: who is Hugh in the courtroom scene.

check out: Madeline Kahn’s debut.

listen for: “Don’t you know the meaning of propriety?” “Propriety; noun: conformity to established standards of behavior or manner, suitability, rightness, or justice. See ‘etiquette’.”

did you know: The fender bender Judy causes as she crosses the street to the Bristol Hotel was added on the spur of the moment. When no stunt cars were available, Peter Bogdanovich instructed a crew member to rent two cars and make sure he got collision insurance. Then he staged the wreck before returning the battered cars.

also listen for: “Eunice? That's a person named Eunice?”

extra bonus points: if you know why Howard Bannister’s reply of, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard" to Judy’s "Love means never having to say you're sorry" is so funny.


moon over miami

the year: 1941

the genre: musical

the cast: Betty Grable (Kay Latimer / Miss Adams); Don Ameche (Phil O’Neil); Carole Landis (Barbara Latimer / Miss Sears); Robert Cummings (Jeffrey Boulton II); Charlotte Greenwood (Aunt Susan Latimer); Jack Haley (Jack O’Hara)

the plot: After coming into a much smaller inheritance than expected, Kay and Barbara and their Aunt Susan Latimer abandon the Texas greasy-spoon where they work to and head to Miami in search of rich husbands. With Barbara posing as Kay's secretary and Susan as her maid, the three check into a posh Miami hotel. Soon Kay is in the delightful predicament of being pursued by two handsome, wealthy bachelors at once. Of course, complications arise…

count: how far behind on their rent the girls get.

don’t miss: Jack and his penchant for “Guaca-mala” sauce.

check out: how Kay gets invited to Jeff's party.

listen for: “Let's see what do we want? We want you, the juice of the grape and a good hot dance band.” “But right now we'll settle for those potato chips and cheese.”

extra bonus points: if you can name Jack Haley’s most famous movie role.


high society

the year: 1956

the genre: musical

the cast: Bing Crosby (C. K. Dexter-Haven); Grace Kelly (Tracy Lord); Frank Sinatra (Mike Connor); Celeste Holm (Liz Imbrie); Louis Armstrong (himself)

the plot: C.K. Dexter-Haven, a successful popular jazz musician, lives in a mansion near his ex-wife Tracy Lord's family estate. Holier-than-thou Tracy is on the verge of marrying a man blander and safer than Dex, who incidentally is still in love with Tracy. Spy magazine blackmails Tracy’s family by threatening to reveal her playboy father's exploits if not allowed to cover the wedding. Mike Connor, covering the nuptials for Spy magazine, of course, also falls for Tracy. Tracy must choose between the three men and realize that it’s okay to get down off her high horse.

don’t miss: Uncle Willy. He pinches.

listen for: “Uncle Willy, this morning you look like a tree full of owls.”

count: the wedding presents.

did you know: Grace Kelly, recently engaged to Prince Rainier of Monaco at the time filming began, wore her actual engagement ring as Tracy’s engagement ring.

check out: Bing and Frank hiding out in the library (bar) singing “Did You Evah”. The song was late addition so that the two crooners would have a chance to sing together.

also listen for: “Oh, class my…” “Grandmother!”

extra bonus points: if you know what can be found “under Harvard Classics. Just give Darwin a little nudge.”


call me madam

the year: 1953

the genre: musical

the cast: Ethel Merman (Sally Adams); Donald O’Connor (Kenneth Gibson); Vera-Ellen (Princess Maria); George Sanders (General Cosmo Constantine); Billy De Wolfe (Pemberton Maxwell)

the plot: Sally Adams has made it her business to know everyone worth knowing in Washington D.C., and her penchant for parties pays off when she's appointed United States Ambassador to Lichtenburg. Once she is installed in her new position, she falls in love with suave Foreign Minister Cosmo Constantine, while Princess Maria has her head turned by Sally's press attaché, Kenneth.

don’t miss: Sally’s curtsy.

check out: another of my favorite “meet cutes” (see video below).

listen for: “Tell me - how does this reception differ from your famous Washington parties?” “Well we have a good time!”

did you know: Lichtenburg is actually a fictionalized name for Luxembourg. The character of Sally Adams is based on the real-life Perle Mesta (although the plot of the film is entirely fictional), and Perle Mesta was named Ambassador to Luxembourg by President Truman.

also check out: Sally’s promotion to Dame.