Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beautiful Belles: Anne Bancroft

A series focusing on beautiful women throughout history with important contributions to the arts and entertainment industry and charity -- and a fabulous sense of beauty, inside and out!

Benjamin: For God's sake, Mrs. Robinson. Here we are. You got me into your house. You give me a drink. You ... put on music. Now you start opening up your personal life to me and tell me your husband won't be home for hours.
Mrs. Robinson: So?
Benjamin: Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.
Mrs. Robinson: [laughs]
Benjamin: Aren't you?
Mrs. Robinson: Benjamin, I am not trying to seduce you.
Benjamin: I know that, but please Mrs. Robinson, this is difficult...
Mrs. Robinson: Would you like me to seduce you?

Who among us does not know this passage from the 1967 film The Graduate? One of t
he most defining roles of Anne Bancroft's career, Mrs. Robinson was the epitome of the sexy, sensuous, sensual older woman. And Anne Bancroft played her flawlessly. Her throaty voice, her perfectly placed hair, her long cigarette holder seen through the parted legs ... all these elements added up to one hot mama. And while I appreciate and love Bancroft's portrayal of Mrs. Robinson, there are many roles she played over the years which affected me.

Take The Miracle Worker, in which Bancroft portrayed Annie Sullivan. Her painstaking care for Helen Keller (played by Patty Duke), where she -- in a scene my family watched hundreds of times -- makes sure Helen folds the napkin at the table instead of behaving like an animal -- showed her true compassion and prodigious skill. Or Keeping the Faith, where she played a mother desperately trying to ensure her son's happiness -- even if it meant breaking with the time-honored traditions of her faith. Or, my personal favorite -- How to Make an American Quilt. I can't even count the number of times my mother and I have sat together watching this movie, crying and laughing simultaneously while watching Bancroft's Glady Joe smash porcelain figurines, glue them to the wall and sing precariously high notes in the car on the way to the swimming pool. One thing is certain -- watching Anne Bancroft on the silver screen was never dull.

Born Anna Maria Louisa Italiano in the Bronx, she changed her name to Anne Bancroft in 1952. Bancroft honed her craft at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Actors Studio and the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women at UCLA. She's one of the few actresses to win Emmy, Tony and Oscar Awards. Bancroft also had the distinct honor of being married to the absolutely hilarious Mel Brooks for over 40 years!

Bancroft's signature bob was always full, lush and swingy -- exactly the way every woman wishes her mane would look on a daily basis. Though her dark raven locks faded to gray, the bright highlights surrounding her face remained -- ensuring that rapt attention would always be at her beck and call. Not to mention her beautiful doe eyes, always accented to the fullest with coat after coat of black mascara ... and her full pout, always ahead of its time in a luscious peachy pink gloss.

Throughout her career, Anne Bancroft exemplified many characteristics and qualities that real women everywhere would be lucky to possess. She was charming, she was funny, she was vivacious ... and she was beautiful. Without Botox, liposuction or any other forms of plastic surgery, Bancroft continued to be beautiful inside and out. The fact that she let her hair go gray, that she embraced her wrinkles, that she used these features to continue making fascinating character studies, made her so interesting and, well, beautiful.

Very unfortunately, Anne Bancroft succumbed to uterine cancer in 2005. But her great contributions to the entertainment world will never be forgotten ... and neither will her fabulous sense of style.

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