Classic Movie Review by Ellen Bunton
(and her eager assistant, Meatball)
A Regular Monthly Feature
The Classic Movie Review
The first Wednesday of the month.
October already? As promised: Heeeeerrrrrres ELLEN 🙂
Men, Women, and Comedians
I know women generally outlive men but still I think it’s strange that so many leading men of the classic era died young while their female co-stars lived much longer. Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, and Gary Cooper all died of natural causes by the age of 60. However, their female leads–Myrna Loy, Lauren Bacall, Olivia de Havilland (alive at 99 as I write this), Barbara Stanwyck, Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis and Greta Garbo lived into their 80’s and 90’s.
Maybe it’s just the life expectancy thing.
But wait a minute! Look at Groucho Marx, Charlie Chaplin, Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney, and Jerry Lewis (still hosting telethons for the Muscular Dystrophy Association until 2011; alive today at 89). They all lived into their eighth and ninth decades.
Bob Hope and George Burns even made it to 100! I know there are exceptions. Vivien Leigh and Veronica Lake died relatively young while Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart were octogenarians, but I think overall the numbers bear me out.
Many in the film world would say drama is easy, comedy is hard. And, I guess it might be easier to make an audience cry than laugh, but I don’t think this is about hard work. I really think this is about the ability to laugh at yourself and not to take yourself so seriously (and Errol Flynn being drunk doesn’t count).
It’s sometimes hard to separate Clark Gable from Rhett Butler or Tyrone Power from Zorro and they had a reputation to maintain off screen. They were expected to look tough and act tough whereas the women weren’t held to the same standards in the culture of that era. And the comedians could laugh at themselves even when their jokes weren’t funny and then make a joke out of that!
So, the moral of the story is laugh, especially at yourself, and you might live longer!
If you like Ellen’s idea that laughter is good for you, read about the women in Looking for Lydia; Looking for God as they discover they can laugh at life and themselves and discover new ways to be happy in their nineties. Looking for Lydia is available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in paperback, hardcover, and for your Kindle. Read about it on the Home Page of this website.