This is a booklist created by Gere Branch library staff to accompany the stage production of Mame! at Gere’s neighbor, The Lincoln Community Playhouse.
Mame! was a 1966 Broadway musical, based on several pieces of source material. First, it was a 1955 novel, Auntie Mame, by Patrick Dennis. This was then adapted into a non-musical Broadway stage play in 1956, also titled Auntie Mame, by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, and starring Rosalind Russell as Mame Dennis. Russell then also appeared in the 1958 film adaptation of the stage play, also as Auntie Mame. In 1966, the musical Mame, based on the Lawrence & Lee stage play, but this time with music by Jerry Herman, opened on Broadway, starring Angela Lansbury as Mame Dennis and Bea Arthur as her actress friend Vera Charles. The Broadway musical was a smash hit, and eventually led to a 1974 feature film musical adaptation, with comedienne Lucille Ball taking on the role of Mame from Lansbury (but with Bea Arthur continuing as Vera). The show has proved popular enough over the years to include a London production, a touring version, various Broadway revivals and even a 40th Anniversary production at The Kennedy Center in 2006.
The original Broadway production was nominated for eight Tony Awards, including for Best Musical. It ended up winning three of them, for Best Leading Actress in a Musical (Lansbury), Featured Actress in a Musical (Arthur), and Featured Actor in a Musical (Frankie Michaels). It features such classic showtunes as “It’s Today”, “Mame”, “We Need a Little Christmas”, “Bosom Buddies” and “If He Walked Into My Life”.
For more information, visit the Wikipedia page for Mame (Musical).
Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escape in Biography
by Patrick Dennis [Dennis]
With a wit as sharp as a vodka stinger and a heart as free as her spirit, Auntie Mame burst onto the literary scene in 1955–and today remains one of the most unforgettable characters in contemporary fiction.
Wildly successful when it was first published in 1955, Patrick Dennis’ Auntie Mame sold over two million copies and stayed put on the New York Times bestseller list for 112 weeks. It was made into a play, a Broadway and a Hollywood musical, and a fabulous movie starring Rosalind Russell. Since then, Mame has taken her rightful place in the pantheon of Great and Important People as the world’s most beloved, madcap, devastatingly sophisticated, and glamorous aunt. She is impossible to resist, and this hilarious story of an orphaned ten-year-old boy sent to live with his aunt is as delicious a read in the twenty-first century as it was in the 1950s.
Follow the rollicking adventures of this unflappable flapper as seen through the wide eyes of her young, impressionable nephew and discover anew or for the first time why Mame has made the world a more wonderful place.
Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M. : Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the dawn of the modern woman.
by Sam Wasson [791.457 BreYw]
ifth Avenue, 5 A.M. by Sam Wasson is the first ever complete account of the making of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. With a cast of characters including Truman Capote, Edith Head, director Blake Edwards, and, of course, Hepburn herself, Wasson immerses us in the America of the late fifties, before Woodstock and birth control, when a not-so-virginal girl by the name of Holly Golightly raised eyebrows across the nation, changing fashion, film, and sex, for good. With delicious prose and considerable wit, Wasson delivers us from the penthouses of the Upper East Side to the pools of Beverly Hills presenting Breakfast at Tiffany’s as we have never seen it before–through the eyes of those who made it.
Great-Aunt Sophia’s Lessons for Bombshells
by Lisa Cach [Cach]
A Ph.D. in sex appeal
Grace Cavanaugh is hell-bent on proving her Women’s Studies dissertation thesis that beauty only leads to misery. And what better research subject than her great-aunt Sophia, a former B-movie star? Now eighty-five and facing surgery, Sophia has asked Grace for company…
Grace imagines a helpless, lonely old woman, forced to turn to a great-niece she barely knows. Instead she finds the aging diva holding court in a Pebble Beach mansion, oozing a bombshell-itude–arthritis and wrinkles be damned–that captivates every male in sight. To Grace’s dismay, her greataunt decides a perfect distraction would be transforming the frumpy feminist into a femme fatale who purrs for her suitors . . . or devours them. She ordains classes in everything from carb cutting to lingerie, culminating in a challenging final exam. The newly svelte Grace must test her wiles–on both devilishly handsome and morally corrupt Declan and sensitive but painfully awkward Dr. Andrew.
Newly unleashed desires–and the discovery of a closely held family secret– threaten the bookworm-turned-babe’s entire feminist upbringing. Her thesis gone sadly awry, Grace wonders if her great-aunt is right: Will trusting her heart lead her to find beauty in the most unexpected places?
The Extra Woman: How Marjorie Hillis Led a Generation of Women to Live Alone and Like It
by Joanna Scutts [305.42 Scu]
From the flapper to The Feminine Mystique , a cultural history of single women in the city through the reclaimed life of glamorous guru Marjorie Hillis.
You’ve met the extra woman: she’s sophisticated, she lives comfortably alone, she pursues her passions unabashedly, and–contrary to society’s suspicions–she really is happy. Despite multiple waves of feminist revolution, today’s single woman is still mired in judgment or, worse, pity. But for a brief, exclamatory period in the late 1930s, she was all the rage. A delicious cocktail of cultural history and literary biography, The Extra Woman transports us to the turbulent and transformative years between suffrage and the sixties, when, thanks to the glamorous grit of one Marjorie Hillis, single women boldly claimed and enjoyed their independence.
Marjorie Hillis, pragmatic daughter of a Brooklyn preacher, was poised for reinvention when she moved to the big city to start a life of her own. Gone were the days of the flirty flapper; ladies of Depression-era New York embraced a new icon: the independent working woman. Hillis was already a success at Vogue when she published a radical self-help book in 1936: Live Alone and Like It: A Guide for the Extra Woman . With Dorothy Parker-esque wit, she urged spinsters, divorcées, and “old maids” to shed derogatory labels and take control of their lives, and her philosophy became a phenomenon. From the importance of a peignoir to the joy of breakfast in bed (alone), Hillis’s tips made single life desirable and chic.
In a style as irresistible as Hillis’s own, Joanna Scutts, a leading cultural critic, explores the revolutionary years following the Live-Alone movement, when the status of these “brazen ladies” peaked and then collapsed. Other innovative lifestyle gurus set similar trends that celebrated guiltless female independence and pleasure: Dorothy Draper’s interior design smash, Decorating Is Fun! transformed apartments; Irma Rombauer’s warm and welcoming recipe book, The Joy of Cooking , reassured the nervous home chef that she, too, was capable of decadent culinary feats. By painting the wider picture, Scutts reveals just how influential Hillis’s career was, spanning decades and numerous best sellers. As she refashioned her message with every life experience, Hillis proved that guts, grace, and perseverance would always be in vogue.
With this vibrant examination of a remarkable life and profound feminist philosophy, Joanna Scutts at last reclaims Marjorie Hillis as the original queen of a maligned sisterhood. Channeling Hillis’s charm, The Extra Woman is both a brilliant exposé of women who forged their independent paths before the domestic backlash of the 1950s trapped them behind picket fences, and an illuminating excursion into the joys of fashion, mixology, decorating, and other manifestations of shameless self-love.
Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel
by Sherrill Tippins [974.71 Tip]
The next best thing to having a room key to the Chelsea Hotel during each of its famous–and infamous–decades.
The Chelsea Hotel, since its founding by a visionary French architect in 1884, has been an icon of American invention: a cultural dynamo and haven for the counterculture, all in one astonishing building. Sherill Tippins, author of the acclaimed February House , delivers a masterful and endlessly entertaining history of the Chelsea and of the successive generations of artists who have cohabited and created there, among them John Sloan, Edgar Lee Masters, Thomas Wolfe, Dylan Thomas, Arthur Miller, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Sam Shepard, Sid Vicious, and Dee Dee Ramone. Now as legendary as the artists it has housed and the countless creative collaborations it has sparked, the Chelsea has always stood as a mystery as well: Why and how did this hotel become the largest and longest-lived artists’ community in the known world? Inside the Dream Palace is the intimate and definitive story.
Today the Chelsea stands poised in limbo between two futures: Will this symbol of New York’s artistic invention be converted to a profit-driven business catering to the top one percent? Or will the Chelsea be given a rebirth through painstaking effort by the community that loves it? Set against these two competing possibilities, Inside the Dream Palace could not be more fascinating or timely.
Mame: Original Broadway Cast Recording
by Jerry Herman [Compact Disc 782.14 Mam]
With her beguiling presence, Angela Lansbury belts out the playful lyrics of Jerry Herman’s 1966 musical, Mame, based on the hilarious and outrageous Patrick Dennis novel Auntie Mame. Lansbury plays the ribald flapper Mame, bucking her age and station to live her life as she pleases, with her young nephew Patrick in bewildered tow. Lansbury’s mature yet chipper singing voice is perfectly complemented by the vocals of Bea Arthur as Mame’s best friend, Vera. Arthur’s hearty, irascible voice adds a classic edge to the lighthearted musical fare, while Frankie Michaels as Patrick provides a youthful purity, conveying an awe and admiration for the aunt he follows through life. The relentlessly carefree theme of this musical diminishes as Mame ages and Patrick grows up, but they are singing zestfully to the end.
Tumbling Turner Sisters
by Juliette Fay [Fay]
For fans of Orphan Train and Water for Elephants , a compelling historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” ( Library Journal ). Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four sisters embark on an unexpected adventure–and a last-ditch effort to save their family.
It’s 1919, and the Turners are barely scraping by. When their father loses his job, their irrepressible mother decides that vaudeville is their best chance to make the rent–and create a more exciting life for herself in the process.
Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening–to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.
Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids
by Melanie Notkin [306.857 Not]
Savvy Auntie is the ultimate guide for cool aunts, great-aunts, godmothers, and all women who love kids but have none of their own! Written by Melanie Notkin–America’s premier Savvy Auntie and creator of the popular online community savvyauntie.com–Savvy Auntie focuses on everything that parenting manuals generally leave out: namely auntie-ing! This groundbreaking handbook celebrates the 50% of kid-loving American women who aren’t (or are not yet) moms, but have so much to add to the Family Village.
by Beatriz Williams [Williams]
Bestselling author Beatriz Williams brings together two generations of women inside a Greenwich Village apartment–a flapper hiding an extraordinary past, and a modern-day Manhattanite forced to start her life anew.
When she discovers her banker husband has been harboring a secret life, Ella Gilbert escapes their sleek SoHo loft for a studio in a quaint building in Greenwich Village. But her new refuge isn’t quite what it seems. Her charismatic musician neighbor, Hector, warns her to stay out of the basement after midnight, when a symphony of mysterious noise strikes up–laughter, clinking glasses, jazz piano, the occasional bloodcurdling scream–even though it’s stood empty for decades. Back in the Roaring Twenties, the building hosted one of the city’s most notorious speakeasies.
In 1924, Geneva “Gin” Kelly, a quick-witted flapper from the hills of western Maryland, is a regular at this Village hideaway known as the Christopher Club. Caught up in a raid, Gin lands in the office of Prohibition enforcement agent Oliver Anson, who persuades her to help him catch her stepfather, Duke Kelly, one of Appalachia’s most notorious bootleggers.
Sired by a wealthy New York scion who abandoned her showgirl mother, Gin is nobody’s fool. She strikes a risky bargain with the taciturn, straight-arrow Revenue agent, even though her on-again, off-again Princeton beau, Billy Marshall, wants to make an honest woman of her and heal the legacy of her hardscrabble childhood. Gin’s alliance with Anson rattles Manhattan society, exposing sins that shock even this free-spirited redhead–sins that echo from the canyons of Wall Street to the mountain hollers of her hometown.
As Ella unravels the strange history of the building–and the family thread that connects her to Geneva Kelly–she senses the Jazz Age spirit of her incandescent predecessor invading her own shy nature, in ways that will transform her life in the wicked city…
740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building
by Michael Gross [974.71 Gro]
For seventy-five years, it’s been Manhattan’s richest apartment building, and one of the most lusted-after addresses in the world. One apartment had 37 rooms, 14 bathrooms, 43 closets, 11 working fireplaces, a private elevator, and his-and-hers saunas; another at one time had a live-in service staff of 16. To this day, it is steeped in the purest luxury, the kind most of us could only imagine, until now.
The last great building to go up along New York’s Gold Coast, construction on 740 Park finished in 1930. Since then, 740 has been home to an ever-evolving cadre of our wealthiest and most powerful families, some of America’s (and the world’s) oldest money–the kind attached to names like Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Bouvier, Chrysler, Niarchos, Houghton, and Harkness–and some whose names evoke the excesses of today’s monied elite: Kravis, Koch, Bronfman, Perelman, Steinberg, and Schwarzman. All along, the building has housed titans of industry, political power brokers, international royalty, fabulous scam-artists, and even the lowest scoundrels.
The book begins with the tumultuous story of the building’s construction. Conceived in the bubbling financial, artistic, and social cauldron of 1920’s Manhattan, 740 Park rose to its dizzying heights as the stock market plunged in 1929–the building was in dire financial straits before the first apartments were sold. The builders include the architectural genius Rosario Candela, the scheming businessman James T. Lee (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s grandfather), and a raft of financiers, many of whom were little more than white-collar crooks and grand-scale hustlers. Once finished, 740 became a magnet for the richest, oldest families in the country: the Brewsters, descendents of the leader of the Plymouth Colony; the socially-registered Bordens, Hoppins, Scovilles, Thornes, and Schermerhorns; and top executives of the Chase Bank, American Express, and U.S. Rubber. Outside the walls of 740 Park, these were the people shaping America culturally and economically. Within those walls, they were indulging in all of the Seven Deadly Sins.
As the social climate evolved throughout the last century, so did 740 Park: after World War II, the building’s rulers eased their more restrictive policies and began allowing Jews (though not to this day African Americans) to reside within their hallowed walls. Nowadays, it is full to bursting with new money, people whose fortunes, though freshly-made, are large enough to buy their way in. At its core this book is a social history of the American rich, and how the locus of power and influence has shifted haltingly from old bloodlines to new money. But it’s also much more than that: filled with meaty, startling, often tragic stories of the people who lived behind 740’s walls, the book gives us an unprecedented access to worlds of wealth, privilege, and extraordinary folly that are usually hidden behind a scrim of money and influence. This is, truly, how the other half–or at least the other one hundredth of one percent–lives..
Auntie Mame 
starring Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker, Coral Browne, Fred Clark, Roger Smith
When young, impressionable Patrick Dennis’ millionaire father dies, the boy is left in the care of his only living relative–his flamboyant, extravagant, devil-may-care … and never, never dull Auntie Mame. New York during the Jazz Age–Despite the best efforts of estate executive Dwight Babcock (Fred Clark) to rear Patrick (Jan Handzlik and Roger Smith) as a boring, stuffy aristocrat, the boy is swept into Mame Dennis’ (Rosalind Russell) world of parties, flappers and the most eccentric, entertaining, intelligent set of friends anywhere. Through the stock market crash, a marriage to a rich Southerner and his death while scaling the Alps, Mame’s whirlwind approach to life opens Patrick’s eyes to endless possibilities. [non-musical]
starring Lucille Ball, Robert Preston, Bea Arthur, Bruce Davison, Joyce Van Patten
Lucille Ball stars in this film of the blockbuster Broadway musical that tells the story of the flamboyant, unconventional and, above all, glamorous Mame. In 1928, nine-year-old Patrick Dennis (Kirby Furlong) comes to live with his Auntie Mame (Ball), who has a generous heart, believes life should be a party and collects fascinating friends. But the stock market crash of 1929 ends a decade-long fete and forces Mame into disastrous forays as an actress and a working woman, before doing what she knows best: marrying well. Once again wealthy, Mame returns to her self-appointed task of liberating friends and family from their bourgeois sensibility.