Stage Productions: Auntie Mame (United States, 1956-58)

Figure 1.--Jan Handzlik who was 12 years old played Patrick in the Warner Brothers production of Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russel. He had also played the part on Broadway begunning at age 11. The portrait here was from when he was playing the role on Broadway. Aunty Mame is giving him a notebook to write down the words he doesn't understnd--and in her apatment there were a lot of them. His black short pants suit was typically American, at least among well-to-do families.

"Auntie Mame" is an uproarously funny play about an orphaned boy, Patrick, who comes to live with his unconventional aunt. The exuberant Broadway stage play was based on the novel by Patrick Dennis. With the success of Patrik' Dennis' book, producers Robert Fryer and Lawrence Carr immediately grasped the Broadway potential. Carr in particular was struck by the comic potential of Mame Dennis. [Jordon] Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee adapted into a long-running Broadway play. Fryer was already familiar with Russel Rosalind Russel so she was a quick choice for the title role of Mame Dennis. The original cast also included Robert Allen as Mr. Babcock, Robert Smith as Beau, and Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch. Lawrence and Lee sketched our the young Patrick that they were looking for, "A completely natural, inuistive, unprecocious child who progresses from 10 to 14 years during the play." The play opened at the Broadhurst Theater. It opened in October 1956 and ran through January 1958 with a total of 639 performances. It was directed by Morton Da Costa. A virtual newconer. Jan Handzlik (1945- ), played Patrick Dennis. He was the son of Jean Handzlik, a minor Broadway actress. She was unemployed when Jan got the role and Russel found her a job. Russel says that he was 9 years old when the production began to prepare, but that does not seem to jibe with his 1945 birthdate. Jan also played the relatively minor role of Michael Dennis. Both Russell and Cass received Tony Award nominations (1957). Cass actually won the award. This popular 1958 film version permited Rosalind Russell to recreate her stage role as Mame Dennis. Unlike many Broadway plays, the major two roles, Mame and Patrick, were also played by the same people in the film version.


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Created: 1:37 AM 8/29/2008
Last updated: 7:51 PM 8/30/2008