Charlotte Greenwood

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Vaudeville cut-up—musical comedy sensation—radio personality—screen comedy legend—and a serious actor of continually astonishing ability, as evidenced in her valedictory performance as Aunt Eller in the 1955 film version of Oklahoma!: Charlotte Greenwood was a first-class example of a successful performer who aimed at one career, got quite another, and had the good judgment to go with what lifeand her audienceshanded her.  In this, Charlotte joined the ranks of  such famed “accidental” comedians as Eddie Cantor, Fanny Brice and Sophie Tucker, all of whom bowed to audience demand and found fame, even at risk of losing touch with more serious aspirations.

Charlotte Greenwood in "Palmy Days" (1931) [Private collection]

Unlike these performers, however, Charlotte was able to fulfill most of her serious aims, on both stage and screen, efforts which are still not as fully appreciated as they deserve, when they are remembered at all. 
Basing my work on Greenwood’s unpublished memoirs, photographs, memorabilia and letters (lent to me for use in this project by Charlotte’s close friend, playwright William Luce), I have written a biography of this long-neglected performer which, I believe, rectifies this omission. 

Charlotte Greenwood in her drunken dance scene from "Springtime In The Rockies" [Private collection]

Old Time Radio Show Catalog

New from McFarland & Company (publication date 28 May 2007) - click below for details:

Charlotte Greenwood: The Life and Career of the Comic Star of Vaudeville, Radio and Film


“A unique talent and an overlooked chapter in show business history, diligently researched and informatively written. Beloved Charlotte Greenwood has been brought back to life with candor and charm. A movie lover’s must-read!”
- Rex Reed

“Charlotte Greenwood was a tough and bright show-biz cookie who broke the rules and wrote her own. Grant Hayter-Menzies chronicles her zig-zags, public and private, with remarkable passion and compassion, precision and perception. Those who only know Greenwood at twilight, essentially as sweet old Aunt Eller, are in for some happy jolts”
- Martin Bernheimer

... a first-rate biography, concentrating largely on Greenwood's incredible career (as the subtitle makes clear in all media)... Grant Hayter-Menzies does his subject proud.

- Anthony Slide, author and resident film historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Many stars believe that they could have transcended the limits the Industry put on them, if only ... but this sympathetic biographer makes a very convincing case that Greenwood was more than just a comedy spinster type.

- Richard von Busack, Metro

...Hayter-Menzies can congratulate himself on adding considerably to the historical and anecdotal record of a heretofore underappreciated talent. Would that the effect on popular culture be an enlightening one, and that future generations of fans and students of the arts may in turn become familiar with Greenwood's many contributions to the annals of stage and screen.

- Jack Booch, Vancouver Voice

Recent press on Charlotte Greenwood:

"I'm So Hot My Husband Can't Get Fire Insurance!" - interview of Grant Hayter-Menzies by MIT professor and author Henry Jenkins, 18 September 2007

... and here is Part II of the Jenkins interview.

"Little-known U.S. actress casts spell" - Adrian Chamberlain, Victoria Times Colonist, 26 May 2007

"Another Old Movie Blog: New Charlotte Greenwood Biography," Jacqueline T. Lynch, 11 June 2007

"Coming out of the woodwork" Singer-actress Charlotte Greenwood's South Philly home has had its history remain a mystery - until research for a book clued in its current owners. - David Goncalves, South Philadelphia Review, 7 June 2007

Grant Hayter-Menzies, biographer of Charlotte Greenwood,

Lady Longlegs