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Remind Me

Trivia & Fun Facts About AUNTIE MAME

In the stage play of Auntie Mame, Mame's famous line is "Life is a banquet, and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!" It was changed for the film version to "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"

The author of the original novel Auntie Mame on which the film is based, Patrick Dennis, led almost as interesting a life as the fictional Auntie Mame herself. After enjoying great literary success with Mame and other novels in the 1950s and 60s, Dennis became a popular bon vivant hobnobbing with New York society. A married father of two, Dennis eventually split from his wife after struggling with his sexuality. Towards the end of his life with his literary career and finances in decline, Dennis became a butler to notable figures including Ray Croc, the founder of fast food chain McDonald's.

The actor who plays Patrick as an adult, Roger Smith, is married to actress Ann-Margret. Having been married in 1967, the couple has one of the longest successful marriages in show business.

Auntie Mame was filmed in a widescreen process called Technirama, which was an alternative to CinemaScope used until the mid-1960s. Other films of the era also shot in Technirama include The Music Man (1962) directed by Auntie Mame's Morton DaCosta and Gypsy (1962) starring Rosalind Russell.

In her memoir, Rosalind Russell describes a dinner she had one night while performing in the Broadway version of Auntie Mame at author Patrick Dennis' Upper East Side home. It was an evening she found "horrendous" because of the constant blunders from Dennis' hired maid service. It was an embarrassing scene until Dennis finally revealed that it had all been an elaborate prank on Russell.

In Angela Lansbury's 1999 authorized biography Balancing Act she claims that Rosalind Russell and Patrick Dennis tried to stop the Broadway musical of Mame from being done. Lansbury goes on to say that Russell and Dennis instead wanted to turn Auntie Mame into a television series. They were unsuccessful, however, since producers Fryer and Carr owned the dramatic rights to the story.

When talking about what it was like to sign over the movie rights to Auntie Mame, author Patrick Dennis quipped, "The contract with Warners was longer than the book. Took me almost two hours to initial all the pages in one copy. After that I gave up."

Patrick Dennis' real life Aunt Marion, who was known as an eccentric bohemian type in Greenwich Village, enjoyed telling people throughout her life that she was the true inspiration for the character of Auntie Mame. While Dennis acknowledged that there were some similarities between the two, he was emphatic that her claim was false. By all accounts she was a nuisance to Dennis who made a habit of asking him regularly for money.

The newspaper ad that actor Jan Handzlik's mother answered when the stage production of Auntie Mame was looking for an actor to play young Patrick said: "Wanted-a boy with an Ivy League look, good stage presence and must be unspoiled."

Jan Handzlik, who played young Patrick in the stage and film versions, went on to become a prominent Los Angeles based attorney.

Director Morton DaCosta was asked to write a blurb for Rosalind Russell's 1977 memoir Life Is a Banquet, but he refused. "I said, 'I would love to because I adored Roz, but I cannot endorse all of the fantasy in it.' There were a lot of, shall we say, liberties taken in that book. She even said that I was her choice for director after catching my work on No Time for Sergeants. Well, that's a lot of crap."

When Jan Handzlik was chosen to join Rosalind Russell to reprise his role of young Patrick in the film version of Auntie Mame, he received the following telegram from Russell: "DEAR LITTLE PATRICK: NOW WASH YOUR HANDS AND COMB YOUR HAIR AND BE MY OWN DARLING NEPHEW ALL OVER AGAIN. GOOD LUCK. AUNTIE MAME."

There was a new scene written and shot for the film in which Mame tries out a job during the Depression of selling pressure cookers door-to-door with (predictably) disastrous results. The scene, though reportedly hilarious, was cut for time.

According to the book But Darling, I'm Your Auntie Mame! actress Lucille Ball stopped by the set of Auntie Mame on the last day of shooting in 1958 and said to Rosalind Russell, "Rosalind, you're the only person I have ever been jealous of. If there was one part I would give my soul to do, it's this one." Of course, Lucy would have her chance 16 years later when she tackled the role in the 1974 film version of the stage musical Mame.

The West Coast premiere of Auntie Mame took place on Christmas night at Grauman's Chinese Theater in 1958.

Rosalind Russell immortalized her hand and foot prints in the concrete outside of Grauman's Chinese Theater on February 19, 1959 just before the start of the evening show of Auntie Mame.

Famous Quotes from AUNTIE MAME

"Oh, Dear. The employment bureau didn't tell me you were bringing a child with you. Well, no matter. He looks like a nice little boy, and if he misbehaves, we can always toss him in the river."
- Mame Dennis (Rosalind Russell), to the woman who brings her young nephew Patrick to her apartment for the first time, mistaking her for a job applicant.

"Well, now, read me all the words you don't understand."
"'Libido,' 'inferiority complex,' 'stinko,' 'blotto,' 'free love,' 'bathtub gin,' 'monkey glands,' 'Karl Marx.' Is he one of the Marx Brothers?"
- Mame and Patrick (Jan Handzlik) after Mame tells Patrick during her cocktail party to write down all the words he doesn't understand.

"Is the English lady sick, Auntie Mame?"
"Oh, she's not English, Darling. She's from Pittsburgh."
"She sounded English."
"Well, when you're from Pittsburgh, you have to do something."
- Patrick and Mame, referring to Mame's best friend Vera Charles (Coral Browne)

"If I kept my hair natural the way you do, I'd be bald."
- Mame, to Vera

"Now, be a perfect angel and ask Ito to bring me a very light breakfast: black coffee and a sidecar."
- Mame, to Patrick in the morning following one of her parties
"Well, shall we to the hounds?"
"Yeah, I'd love to meet your family."
- Sally Cato (Brook Byron) and Mame, just before the hunt at Beauregard's southern plantation

"Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!"
- Mame

"Live, live, live!"
- Mame

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume