Growing up, I had many lady heroines. Not Sally Ride, the first female astronaut. Not Golda Meir or Margaret Thatcher, powerful female Prime Ministers. Not anyone that serious little girls would look up to. My female role models were funny.
My introduction to Lily Tomlin was a movie about a woman crusading against environmental pollution as she gradually grew smaller in The Incredible Shrinking Woman. After that, I figured out that she was the Ringy Dingy operator with the impressive snort, Ernestine. But when she did her one woman show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, I knew I was watching a comedic genius. I still love imitating her crazy old bag lady with her umbrella hat trying to explain the difference between art and soup to her pals from outer space.
In the early days of the fledgling Fox network, I became a huge fan of The Tracy Ullman Show. I would sit, mouth agape watching as Tracy paraded one character after another across the screen, each completely different than the next. Not only could she replicate accents from multiple regions, she sometimes changed her physical appearance so dramatically that I was sure it was someone else. Her characters always had such interesting back stories. I watched her bring them to life as though I were watching an acrobat performing amazing feats on a tight rope. It was then that I started picking up and mimicking accents, just for fun.
Hey... you had your hobbies, I had mine.
I saved the best for last.
Like any good American(ized) kid, I grew up watching I Love Lucy reruns. The hijinx that Lucy and Ethel would get into always had me rolling on the ground. I usually watched it with my Nana, who somehow seemed to know a little too much about all the guest stars that were on the old show (dear lady was addicted to her Hedda Harper columns back in the day), but sometimes watched after school with friends. I loved that I was also the only kid that knew what Ricky was saying whenever he'd blow up in Spanish at Lucy. In an interview sometime in the 80s, a gracefully aged Lucille Ball talked about being kicked out of acting school and not being afraid of making silly faces to get a laugh. One of the last times she was seen in public, she wore a gorgeous dress with a slit so high up her leg, you could almost see her religion. But as old as she was, she rocked it. That lady had dancer's gams as amazing as her wit. She was as beautiful as she was funny. I cried for days when she passed away.
Who were your heroes?