Saturday, July 31, 2010

Nose-talgia: "I Married Joan"

Why haven't we done this in a while? I got to thinking today about the great Joan Davis, one of America's most talented and unsung comediennes. You really have to be a certain age to remember watching her I Married Joan sitcom, either the first time around or in reruns, which is where I loved them. Joan played Mrs. Bradley J. Stevens, Mr. Stevens being the great comic actor Jim Backus, who was a wonderful foil for Joan's crazy adventures as she constantly threatened to destroy the dignity befitting a judge and his wife.

Joan Davis was a versatile actress with a knack for the comic, though her series was sometimes unfairly compared with Lucille Ball's I Love Lucy which had debuted in fall of 1951, a year before I Married Joan hit the air. (I did a post on TCM's Movie Morlocks blog a couple of years ago about Joan daughter Beverly, but there's lots of Joan Davis biographical info in it, too. You might like to take a look at it here.) Joan had plenty of successes, and movie fans will remember her great appearances in films like Abbott and Costello's Hold That Ghost, and many more.

What many of us do remember is the I Married Joan theme song, that with that driving do-do-do-do refrain and the singing chorus. There are several collections of episodes now available on DVD, and also some on YouTube for quick viewing. You'll find that Joan is a crazy, limber-limbed knockabout comic, with a unique physicality that is quite brilliant. She should be remembered more often by those of us who enjoy the funny ladies. For every Tina Fey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, there was a Joan Davis or Lucille Ball who came before.

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