Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gotcha, Mary Kay!

Two nights ago, I was seized by a strong desire to see Peter Bogdanovich's WHAT'S UP, DOC? (1972) again. I hadn't seen it since it played in theaters, and I remembered it as being very funny. I'm pleased to say the film holds up very well, it's still very funny, but it's most enjoyable for assembling a remarkable cast -- so many great character actors, ranging from Austin Pendleton, Kenneth Mars (who in fact died the day I watched it), Michael Murphy (whose screen energy, in a part mostly without dialogue, snaps the film to life at once), Randy Quaid, M. Emmet Walsh, an uncredited John Byner, John Hillerman (who seemed to be in everything that came out of Hollywood in the early '70s)... the list goes on and on, and the film also "introduces" Madeleine Kahn, who arguably steals the film from its stars, Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal -- both, in my opinion, uncommonly charismatic here.

When the film reaches its courtroom finale, I noticed Liam Dunn as the hypochondriac judge and Graham Jarvis as his bailiff. Donna recognized the bailiff but couldn't place him, so I explained that Graham Jarvis had been featured in one of her favorite shows of the 1970s -- MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN -- as Charlie Haggers, doting stage husband of would-be country-western star Loretta Haggers, who was played by then-newcomer Mary Kay Place.

As soon as my mouth invoked her name, I was startled to see a young, still-undiscovered Mary Kay Place walking onscreen to deposit two of the film's plaid carrying cases on the judge's bench!

The IMDb has no record of Mary Kay's presence in the film, as they do with John Byner's uncredited appearance, but there she is, right up front, plain as day. The IMDb lists a 1973 episode of ALL IN THE FAMILY, like MARY HARTMAN a Norman Lear production, as her first onscreen acting appearance.

Graham Jarvis passed away in 2003, but Mary Kay Place continues to make welcome appearances in film and television, currently holding down a primary supporting role in HBO'S BIG LOVE. I've got to wonder if she and Graham had the same agent or something, or if they were even conscious of having worked together in this earlier project when they were subsequently cast as "baby boy" and wife.
Anyway, a discovery worth sharing with the rest of the world.