Last Sunday, the Tony Awards was on TV. As someone who lives in NYC, I was fortunate to have seen many of the winning shows.
I also recently had the pleasure of seeing another show, notably a timely revival of Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" which featured the phenomenal Angela Lansbury as lobbying busybody Mrs. Sue-Ellen Gamadge, as well as a number of other well-known actors, including James Earl Jones, Candice Bergen, John Larroquette and Eric McCormack, most of whom are probably better known for their work on TV. Ms. Lansbury is a classically-trained actress who also starred in movies (who remembers Disney's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks"?), as well as over a decade on TV's "Murder, She Wrote".
Now, I don't like to be fatalistic, but realistically, how many more Broadway shows is Angela Lansbury likely to be doing?
Right now, she works because she wants to, not because she needs to. But she's 87 years old, and she might not be doing too many more live shows because it's incredibly tough to work in 8 shows a week! Her co-star from "Mame", Bea Arthur, who also won a Tony in 1966 (along with Angela Lansbury) for her work in the same show, passed away in 2009.
I also had the great pleasure to catch Bea Arthur's return to NYC on November 21, 2005 for a one night-only reprise of her 2002 Tony-nominated one-woman show known as "Just Between Friends" which was terrific. I'm including access to an excerpt from that particular show in which she discusses her friendship with Angela Lansbury. You can buy the clip and download it for yourself by visiting the Amazon.com MP3 collection (see HERE for that). Definitely worth the small price!
Ms. Arthur won a Tony for her role as Vera Charles in "Mame" (which also starred Angela Lansbury), and as the audio clip notes, the two became lifelong friends as a result. Bea Arthur's "Just Between Friends" show was available on CD (it's pretty much a word-for-word recording from a live show), although these days most people are likely to get it on iTunes or via Amazon (see http://tinyurl.com/BeaArtBF), and she happened to resurrect her role as Vera Charles on film in 1974 (see HERE) with Lucille Ball in a movie version of "Mame" that her husband (at the time) produced, which was released on DVD a few years ago.
Most people felt that Lucille Ball (and Bea Arthur) were simply too old for those roles in the movie, but you do have the opportunity to see Bea Arthur in the role that won her a Tony. (Many prefer the Rosalind Russell movie version better, although Lucy really wasn't bad in the role, just too old).
This brings me to a great moment that was captured from the Tony Awards twenty-five years ago (in 1987) of the two of them re-doing their roles in "Mame". Fortunately, you can still see that clip online by visiting HERE: