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Virginia O'Brien
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    (April 18, 1919-January 16, 2001)
    Born in Los Angeles, California
    Birth name was Virginia Lee O'Brien
    Stage and radio comedienne; later became the star of several popular MGM 'musical comedies'
    Made her Broadway debut in the short-lived musical 'Keep Off The Grass,' opposite Jimmy Durante
    Acted (or performed 'specialty numbers' billed as herself) in 'The Big Store,' 'Lady Be Good,' 'Ship Ahoy,' 'Ziegfeld Follies,' 'Meet the People,' 'Till the Clouds Roll By,' 'Du Barry Was a Lady,' and 'Thousands Cheer'
    Best known for the supporting role of Alma from Chillicothe in the popular Judy Garland/Cyd Charisse musical 'The Harvey Girls' (1946)
    Trademark was her 'Sphinx-like' deadpan delivery of comedic lines and musical numbers
    Made several recording sides for Decca Records, including of her two signature songs, 'The Wild, Wild West' and 'Say We're Sweethearts Again'
    Later recorded a live album at the famed Masquers Club, 'A Salute to the Great MGM Musicals,' in the late 1980s
    She rocked a Streisand-sized schnoz before it was cool.
    Her three marriages ended in divorce, including one with 'Superman' actor Kirk Alyn.
    Her slew of stage nicknames included Miss Deadpan, Frozen Face, the Diva of Deadpan, Miss Ice Glacier and even 'Miss Red Hot Frozen Face.'
    Her trademark 'deadpan' act came to her by sheer accident. During her 1939 stage debut in Los Angeles, she was too nervous to do anything but stand completely still. Her expressionless performance was mistaken for a comedy routine and won her a following among audiences.
    She also may have also been helped, career-wise, by the fact that her uncle was the well-known '42nd Street' movie musical director, Lloyd Bacon.
    She was pregnant during the second half of filming of 'Harvey Girls,' which ran overschedule due to the delays caused by Judy Garland. As such, her character seems to all but 'disappear' in the second half of the film, with her scenes either cut for time or never having been shot.
    Her contract was unceremoniously dropped by MGM with little or no explanation, in 1948. She would make only two films through the decades-long remainder of her career.
    Her trademark 'Say We're Sweethearts Again' song comes off as extremely creepy; arguably making a joke out of spousal abuse (or maybe feminists just read too much into lines like 'you just tried to disfigure my face,' 'until that bottle hit my head,' and 'I tried to be aloof when you pushed me off that roof!')
    Her father was the captain of detectives of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).
    She served as the Mayor of Wrightwood, California, later in life.
    She probably would have made for a better Lois Lane, opposite her first husband, than Noel Neill did.
    She worked well with Red Skelton in several assorted film/TV/stage projects.
    She was good friends with fellow 1940s MGM contract player, Lucille Ball (they made four pictures together).
    Her 'Sweethearts Again' song was later utilized in a 'Batman: The Animated Series' episode, performed as a jazz song by Harley Quinn.
    She took part in the Oscar-winning 'Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe' showstopper in 'Harvey Girls,' in which she had a memorable number of her own.
    Historians attribute her failure to attain stardom as less a lack of talent than bad timing (when her contract was up for renewal the studio system was in the first stages of its slow decay).
    She took the dropping of her option fairly well, concentrating her energies on television, nightclub appearances and one-woman concert tours.
    She actually had a very beautiful voice, as was evinced when she performed a straight number from 'Show Boat' in 'Till the Clouds Roll By' (interestingly, her last stage appearance was in a 1984 Long Beach Opera 'Show Boat' revival, opposite Alan Young).
    She was reunited with Lucille Ball at a 1980 film screening/Q&A at USC, headlined by Ball's and O'Brien's old choreographer, Charles Walters.
    As the story goes, a student asked Ball 'whatever happened to Virginia O'Brien?' - before she could answer, a voice could be heard shouting 'she's back here in the cheap seats!' prompting a wave of applause and an ecstatic Lucy to praise her as 'right on the money.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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