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Ozarks on stage: “Maid in the Ozarks” featuring Jack Nicholson

Thad Calhoun (Jack Nicholson) atop Daisy Belle (Suzanne Sydney)

Would you believe that “Maid in the Ozarks” was a Broadway smash in 1946? Not that it was a critical favorite.

According to Time, the play had some shortcomings:

If not the worst play in Broadway annals, Maid in the Ozarks is very likely the most needlessly disgusting. Though its publicity stresses sex, it contains little except the sort exemplified in a game of footie between two younkers known as Daisy Bell (Cecile de Lucas) and Thad Calhoun (Larry Sherman). Its long suit is actually scatology — lice, bedbugs, belches, outhouses, bare and dirty feet planted on the breakfast table. These intended guffaw-getters are complemented by such basic hillbilly humors as drunken lechers, gabbling halfwits and twitching hags.

Despite consistently brutal reviews, Maid has played to six million people, and started Ozark-born Playwright Parrish on the way to becoming a hillbillionaire. In Manhattan last week, the management advertised “Seats Now Selling 8 Years in Advance,” with “Special Spicy Mats. Sat. and Sun.”

“Hillbillionaire” has a nice ring to it. Who was Claire Parrish? The internet holds few clues. She is also credited as a co-writer for the screenplay for “Misbehaving Husbands,” a movie from 1940, which may have been saved by the comedic skills of Harry Langdon.

If you know anything about this play or Claire Parrish, please comment.

Jack Nicholson played the young rake Thad Calhoun for a production of “Maid in the Ozarks” sometime in the mid-1950s, which starred Missouri-born Burman Bodel. Nicholson was born in 1937, grew up in New Jersey and began his acting career shortly after he finished high school in 1954. By 1958, he was acting in Roger Corman’s low-budget horror films, despite or perhaps because of his boyish good looks:

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2 responses »

  1. My husband’s father was Burman Bodel. His mother was in the play as well.

    Reply
  2. My mom played in the traveling show in Detroit, Louisville, Ky and chicago

    Reply

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