on Palm Sunday

her old body hurt

in church

back in her apartment
on Wilcox
Hollywood's favorite aunt
lookd in the mirror

the face wasn't clear
but she saw well enough
to touch up her lipstick

she put on a special dress
wrote a note
took some pills

as if she were still playing
her most famous role
the actress who was Auntie Em
was practical to the end

on her couch
careful not to mess her hair
she slid a plastic bag
over her head

Alex Gildzen
Santa Fe, NM,  April, 13th, 2012
Clara Blandick (June 4, 1880 – April 15, 1962) was an American actress.

 Her many film appearances include the role of Auntie Em in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
She was born Clara Dickey, the daughter of Isaac B. and Hattie (Mudgett) Dickey, aboard the Willard Mudgett—an American ship captained by her father (oddly named after another of her relatives), and docked in Hong Kong harbor. Her parents settled in Quincy, Massachusetts, by 1880.
In 1939, Blandick landed her most memorable minor role yet — Auntie Em in MGM's classic The Wizard of Oz. Though it was a small part (Blandick filmed all her scenes in a single week), the character was an important symbol of protagonist Dorothy's quest to return home to her beloved aunt and uncle – a snipe at people who revere glitz and tinsel over a happy homelife. (Auntie Em and Uncle Henry are the only characters from the beginning of the movie not to have alter ego characters in the Land Of Oz).
Blandick beat out May Robson, Janet Beecher, and Sarah Padden for the role, and earned $750 per week. Some believed Auntie Em's alter ego was to be the Good Witch of the North but the studio opted to use different actresses for each role rather than have a dual role for this. The reason was they wanted someone younger looking to contrast the good witch from the bad witches. Ironically, Billie Burke, who played the Witch of the North, was only 4 years younger than Blandick.
Though the Auntie Em character proved memorable to audiences, few fans knew Blandick's name. She was not billed in the opening credits and is listed last in the movie's closing credits.
After The Wizard of Oz, Blandick returned to her staple of character acting in supporting and bit roles. She would continue to act in a wide variety of roles in dozens of films. She played the spiteful Mrs. Pringle in 1940s Anne of Windy Poplars, a surprised customer in the 1941 Marx Brothers film The Big Store, a fashionable socialite in the 1944 musical Can't Help Singing, and a cold-blooded murderer in the 1947 mystery Philo Vance Returns. Her final two roles both came in 1950 – playing a housekeeper and a landlady in Key to the Cityand Love That Brute respectively.
She retired from acting at the age of 69 and went into seclusion at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Throughout the 1950s, Blandick's health steadily began to fail. She started going blind and began suffering from severe arthritis. On April 15, 1962, she returned home from Palm Sunday services at her church. 
Her residence was 1735 North Wilcox Avenue, (approx 4 blocks from antebellum)  Hollywood, California.
 She began rearranging her room, placing her favorite photos and memorabilia in prominent places. 
She laid out her resume and a collection of press clippings from her lengthy career.
 She dressed immaculately, in an elegant royal blue dressing gown. Then, with her hair properly styled, she took an overdose of sleeping pills. She lay down on a couch, covered herself with a gold blanket over her shoulders, 
and tied a plastic bag over her head. Blandick left the following note:
 “I am now about to make the great adventure. I cannot endure this agonizing pain any longer. It is all over my body. Neither can I face the impending blindness. I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”
Her landlady, Helen Mason, found her body Sunday morning. In preparing to die, Blandick had disposed of all her medicines the previous week. She told James Busch, a friend for many years, that they might be discovered if anything happened to her.
Blandick's ashes were interred at the Great MausoleumColumbarium of Security (Niche 17230) at Forest Lawn Memorial Park CemeteryGlendale. Blandick's cremated remains lie just yards (Great MausoleumColumbarium of Inspiration, (Niche 14639) from those of "The Wizard of Oz" co-star, actor Charles Grapewin, who portrayed her on-screen farmer husband, Uncle Henry.

poetry~ courtesy~ alex gildzen~ santa fe/antebellum correspondent
posting~ rick castro~ antebellumblog editor

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE that this last photo shows Franklin Pangborn's whereabouts in the hereafter