Good morning! Amb here, ready to bring you the latest scoop on funny-named folks in show business.
Now, I’ve been known to refer to myself as a “Girl Friday” around these parts, as a testament to both my stellar journalistic skills and to the screwball comedy that is my life, but today we’re talking about the genuine article: the Oscar-nominated actress Ms. Rosalind Russell.
Rosalind was born in the nautical-sounding Waterbury, Connecticut, and was
named, appropriately enough, after a ship that her parents had sailed on, called The S.S Rosalind.
According to my sources, this means that she was not, in fact, named after the character “Rosalind” in Shakespeare’s famed comedy “As You Like It”… which is just as well, because that means I can write about the fictional Rosalind some other time. She is amazing, you guys, and I’m not just saying that because she ends up with some funny-named guy called Orlando.
But back to Ms. Russell. Proving herself to be as clever and quick witted as the characters she played onscreen, Roz was able to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, after convincing her mother that she intended to *cough* teach*cough* acting. Well played, madam, well played!
In 1934, after having done a little theatre work, she was given a screen test and signed a contract with Universal Studios. In a madcap plot twist straight out of one of her films, MGM tested her at the same time, and Benny Thau and Ben Piazza also made her an offer. Unable to resist a deal from such a delightfully named duo (and really, who can blame her?) our heroine hatched a plan to get out of her agreement with Universal.
A little birdie tells me that she showed up to her first day at Universal claiming that she really had no idea what this “Hollywood” hullabaloo was all about … while slouching around set wearing her worst-fitting clothes. Now, while the idea of an unattractive Rosalind is about as preposterous as the idea of a shy and demure Amber, it was enough to fool Universal, who released her from her contract.
Roz promptly signed a seven year deal with MGM and had all sorts of success there, including landing the iconic role of Hildegard “Hildy” Johnson in the film “His Girl Friday”. Roz’s performance as the fabulously fast-talking Hildy was ranked #28 on Premiere Magazine’s “100 Greatest Performances of All Time” list. There are too many amazing lines from that movie to count, but this is one of my favourites:
Bruce (talking about Hildy’s ex-husband): He’s not the man for you. I can see that. But I sort of like him. He’s got a lot of charm.
Hildy: Well, he comes by it naturally. His grandfather was a snake.
And since you all know I love a good romance (and good showbiz gossip) I have to tell you that the role of Hildy Johnson improved more than just Roz’s career. Her co-star, Cary Grant, introduced her to a friend of his, the fabulously named Frederick Brisson, during the shoot. The couple were married a year later, and Grant was the best man at their wedding. Now there’s a Hollywood ending for you!