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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Last But Not Least....

The big Kahuna of all Battle-Axes---(drum roll, please...) Ethel Merman!
Mainly known as the great Broadway Musical Star that she was, she also made some indelible forays into battle-axedom.
Ethel never had much of a movie career.
The moguls deemed her too big for the movie screen.
They were wrong.
Whenever she made a movie, she was glorious in it.
Her approach to acting: When she was standing in the wings, waiting to go on for one of her opening nights, she was asked if she was nervous.
She replied "What do I have to be nervous about?? I know my lines!!"
She played a great battle-axe as Donald O'Connor's mother in "There's No Business Like Show Business", when he came home drunk one night, and she submerged his head under the a bathroom sink filled with water, almost killing him in the process.
She was the first Mama Rose in "Gypsy", and from all indications, played it totally one-dimensionally battle-axe.
Those who succeeded her in the role, some of whom I saw, Bernadette Peters, Tyne Daly, Patti Lupone, Angela Lansbury, Rosalind Russell, each added subtle three dimensional shadings.
None were battle-axes.
Ethel was.
But her Coup de Grace was her role in Stanley Kramer's "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World".
She played Milton Berle's hen-pecking mother-in-law.
To a fare-thee well.
No matter who else was in the picture, she hen-pecked them.
She was as funny as anyone could imagine, and was alone, worth the price of admission.
Until Ethel came along in that movie, there was a mold that needed breaking and she took it upon herself to break it.
She stands alone.

Okay. I'm done with this topic.
I'll bet some of you thought I'd never get here.
Perhaps it was a bit self-indulgent.
Perhaps I have been playing to the band.
But it amused me, and that has become the main reason I write this blog.
From the beginning of this series, I asked you to not offer any suggestions of those I have left out until the last entry.
Well, this is it.
If you feel that there is anyone I have egregiously left out, now is the time to make yourself heard in the comments section.
I hope to hear from you.


My books,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
They are all compilations of blog entries that have since been removed from the blog.
So this is the only way you can find them.
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not e-books.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is that you can't sign one.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. LaWanda Page, Aunt Esther on Sanford and Son (if you already mentioned that name and I missed it, my apologies.)

  2. No, I didn't, but she certainly was. How did I miss her?

  3. I enjoyed the series Mark. My all-time favorite battle-axe performance is from the "I, Mudd" episode of the original Star Trek series. The Enterprise crew gets trapped on a planet of androids ruled by comic-relief villain Harry Mudd, played by Roger C. Carmel (did you ever work with him?). We find out Mudd has had an android version of his abandoned wife Stella built just so he can activate her and tell her to shut up as soon as she starts to henpeck him. The Stella scenes probably don't even total 2 minutes but to this day I have never forgotten her terrifying display of battle-axery and someone has thoughtfully posted her scenes on youtube.

    An actress named Kay Elliot played Stella. Other than what's on her imdb page I can find no other information about her.

  4. I think curmudgeons deserve equal time.

  5. No mention of Kaye Ballard. Seemed pretty battle axey in The Mothers In-Law.

  6. Would you classify Zara Cully (Mother Jefferson) as a battle-axe? Or was her performance too soft-spoken?

  7. Kaye Ballard was more dimensional to qualify in my eyes.
    I wrote one episode of "The Jeffersons".
    I watched one episode of "The Jeffersons".
    So I feel underqualified to comment.

  8. There's a chance you're eligible to get a free Apple iPhone 7.



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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."