Tuesday, January 9, 2018


As our salute to the late Rose Marie today, we're going to look at a character she played twice for Two for Tuesday.  There is a hitch however - she played the role in two different metafictional universes, not just TV dimensions.  And they had different first names.

But a little dab o' splainin will do ya!

First up, Ms. Marie played Mrs. Ida Bracken in the 1980 movie "Cheaper To Keep Her".  This was a 1981 "comedy" starring Mac Davis and Tovah Feldshuh, directed by Ken Annakin (the inspiration for Darth Vader's real first name.)  The only real points of interest were that it marked J. Pat O'Malley's final film role and Ian McShane met his wife on set.  Leonard Maltin damned it as “sexist, racist, and obnoxious.”

In the movie, Davis played a divorced private eye working for a feminist attorney; his job was to track down deadbeat husbands to make them pay their back alimony.

One of their clients was Mrs. Ida Bracken, whose milquetoast husband Stanley had finally found the courage to leave her.  Feeling emboldened, mousy Stanley, who was nominally a junk store owner, was hiding a fortune from his ex-wife which he had gained by being a bookie.  I haven’t seen this movie (according to Wikipedia, it’s hard to find), but based on this picture I think Mrs. Bracken was able to brow-beat Stanley into getting back together with her.  At the very least, to cough up the undisclosed funds he owed her.

That movie took place at least partially in Long Beach, California, because scenes were filmed on board the Queen Mary which is docked there.  However, in Toobworld, Mrs. Edna Bracken lived in New Haven, Connecticut, which is another strike against the claim that both Mrs. Brackens were the same woman but in two different universes.

Edna Bracken was the building manager for an apartment building in which weatherman Brian Stevens and his daughter Jessica lived… with an ancient dragon named ‘Scorch’.

‘Scorch’ was a pretty bad CBS show that was broadcast twelve years after the debut of the movie “Cheaper To Keep Her”.  Here Rose Marie was something of a battle-axe, always threatening to evict Brian Stevens, although she did seem to have a soft spot for young Jessica. 

Edna Bracken was always coming up with new sets of rules about living in the building and one of those was a very strict edict against pets.  With Scorch being able to talk (and looking like the puppet he was in the real world), Brian passed off the dragon as a puppet prop he used during his weatherman appearances on WWEN-TV in New Haven.  But it always looked like a close call that she might realize he was alive and not a dummy.

As I mentioned, it’s my contention that Ida Bracken and Edna Bracken were the same person, but as seen in two different universes – the Cineverse, the movie universe whose name was coined by Craig Shaw Gardner, and Earth Prime-Time, the main Toobworld in the TV Universe.

The only real difference is the difference in those first names.  Apparently, her parents in each of those worlds had different opinions as to which name they preferred.  I’d like to think that in the movie universe, the husband won out while the televersion of her mother was the victor in Toobworld.

In each universe, I’m assuming she still married Stanley Bracken.  But in Toobworld, Edna Bracken was widowed by 1992 and apparently never divorced.  For alls I know, had we met her again in the Cineverse (Ha!), Ida Bracken could well have seen her former husband dead by that time as well.  (And I think Jack Gilford would have played him in Toobworld as well.)

As for the difference in locations, I think the Brackens in both universes were originally from Connecticut.  But while Edna and Stanley remained in the Nutmeg State, Ida and Stanley moved to the Golden State.

We’ll be back tomorrow with another look at characters played by Rose Marie……

Thumbs up!

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