Pulled up these two comments because they inspired me to comment…
My mother, a woman of theatrical bent, remembered Cornelia Otis Skinner with great fondness. Now in the next generation, I appreciate but am tired of seeing women in purple dresses topped by red hats on every corner then having to explain them to my grandchildren.
Two points resonate for me here:
First, I had a heck of a time sorting out the source of “no need to be sporting” quote. Several websites attributed the words to Cornelius Otis Skinner but the Wikipedia only mentions an Otis Skinner, father of Cornelia Otis Skinner. Try as I might, I could not find a citation that attributed the quote to Cornelia herself. Does anyone know the true source of the quote?
Second, I was not aware that the Red Hat Society was becoming passe. If it is, that represents great progress toward escaping that prim and proper straight jacket that has so long confined older people, especially older women. (in the same way that the March of Dimes was changed by the development of the polio vaccine) If it is still a vibrant and growing movement then many women must continue to feel that it offers something important. Are there any Red Hat Society members out there and would you be willing to offer your thoughts?
I so agree with the previous comment by Ms. Bailely. I enjoyed the original; anything since has gotten “old hat” red purple or whatever. Wouldn’t it have been nice to read a more thoughtful comment from a woman, rather more like the “he says”, the one here makes women too stereotypical.
The irony is that both comments may have been made by women. Here is a quick sketch of Cornelia Otis Skinner written by Michael G. Cornelius. Apparently she was a wildly talented, deeply original woman who may have been ahead of her time in many ways.
A Renaissance woman, Skinner was the author of numerous essays and several collections of light verse. Her work is characterized by wit and deft social criticism.
Collections of her work include Tiny Garments (1932), Excuse It, Please! (1936), Nuts in May (1950), and The Ape in Me (1959). Her best known work is the best-selling Our Hearts Were Young and Gay (1942), a humorous travelogue written with Emily Kimbrough describing a European vacation. Skinner also penned a well-received biography of Sarah Bernhardt, Madame Sarah (1967).
Although she is best known as a stage actress, and especially for her one-woman shows and monologues, Skinner also appeared in several films. Her first role was a small part as Miskah in Kismet (1920), and her most notable roles were as Mrs. Hammar in The Swimmer and as Miss Holloway in The Uninvited (1944).
Our Hearts Were Young and Gay is an interesting mix of lesbian homoerotic subtext and an almost childish naïveté regarding sexuality. Kimbrough seems surprised by such erotic contexts as the painting “Leda and the Swan” and startled to hear why Oscar Wilde was sent to prison. Skinner, the narrator of the book, recites these passages with an almost bemused tone, though she never describes her relationship with Kimbrough as anything more than homosocial.
Skinner’s works often feature close bonds between young girls. She was also attracted to sexually ambiguous roles as an actress. Perhaps the best example of this is the rather heavy-handed lesbian subtext in The Uninvited involving the Gail Russell character’s late stepmother (one of the ghosts now haunting the manor) and Skinner’s mysterious Miss Holloway.
Despite her marriage to Alden Sanford Blodget (1928?-1964), the relationships that were most important in her own life seem to have been with other women.
Does anyone have some good quotes about women and aging?