QUITE A CHARACTER: In Celebration of RETA SHAW

Welcome to another Wildcard Wednesday! Today’s post is in celebration of Saturday’s 102nd birthday of one of my all-time favorite character actresses of stage and screen, Reta Shaw. As per usual with our birthday/tribute posts, I’m here to present a few goodies related to this talented lady’s career. Of course we all know her from her role in Mary Poppins (1964), and Miss Shaw has guested on many sitcoms that we’ve covered here — including The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Lucy Show, That Girl, Here’s Lucy, and (as all you’ll see next Tuesday), The Odd Couple. Additionally, Shaw had a recurring role as Aunt Bertha/Hagatha on Bewitched, and spent two years as a regular on The Ghost And Mrs. Muir (1968-1970, NBC/ABC).

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But, as is the case with most TV performers, their careers really began on the stage. One of Ms. Shaw’s credits is the role of Lady Beekman, wife of Sir Francis Beekman in the Original 1949 Broadway Production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She also played the role in the National Tour, during which an audio was recorded. Part of this recording was featured here in celebration of Carol Channing, but today we’re sharing a brief scene in which Lorelei (Channing) has a run in with Lady Beekman.

In the glorious days of live television, Shaw could work the boards (in William Inge’s Picnic) and simultaneously appear in a recurring capacity as Aunt Lil on Mister Peepers (1952-1955, NBC). Only two of her episodes have been released, and we’re sharing one that aired October 18, 1953, in which Peepers tries to distract his aunt and keep her from visiting his classroom.

Following Picnic, Shaw originated the role of Mabel in The Pajama Game (1954), which she also got to play in the motion picture. From the film, here’s Shaw’s duet with Eddie Foy, Jr., “I’ll Never Be Jealous Again.” (One of my favorite numbers from the score!)

Shaw spent the majority of her career bouncing between various guest spots on dozens of television shows — mostly sitcoms (as were mentioned above). Here’s one of the lesser known shows… Date With The Angels (1957-1958, ABC), a Betty White vehicle that lasted two half seasons. In this episode, “Double Trouble,” which aired January 15, 1958, White plays a dual role as a lounge singing doppelgänger who causes trouble for the Angels.

In another forgotten series that we’ve featured here once before, The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971-1974, CBS), Shaw guested in two January 1972 episodes playing a nurse. Here’s the first, originally aired January 8, 1972, entitled “Annie Get Your Bike.” (It’s one of the best I’ve seen from this series!)

And we’ll end today’s post with an episode of the two-season supernatural sitcom, The Ghost And Mrs. Muir, which although never released in the US, was just released this year in Australia. This episode, originally aired December 21, 1968, is entitled “Love Is A Toothache,” and concerns Martha (Shaw), the housekeeper, and her relationship with a dentist — who turns out to be a big mama’s boy!

 

 

Come back next Wednesday for another Wildcard post! And tune in tomorrow for more Xena! 

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6 thoughts on “QUITE A CHARACTER: In Celebration of RETA SHAW

  1. What an interesting and eclectic choice. I liked the crustiness Ms. Shaw brought to most of her roles. You should check her out in The Man From UNCLE, where she is really excellent in an against-type role of a formidable THRUSH agent; she’s quite scary. Thanks for another fun post Jackson.

  2. Ms. Shaw also made great appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show”. Her most prominent guest role on that show was as the leader of 3 lady convicts who held Barney & Floyd captive in a mountain cabin. I also saw her more recently in a later episode where she was encouraging Barney’s singing. She was certainly unforgettable wherever she appeared.

    • Hi, Jon! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      That’s right. Like Verna Felton, it’s always enjoyable when this character actress make an appearance. I just saw her not too long ago in an episode of LOVE ON A ROOFTOP!

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