Remembering Eve Arden
In 60 years of acting, Eve Arden endured some pretty nasty needling. ”I hate all women,” a character snarled at her in the 1945 drama Mildred Pierce. ”Thank goodness you’re not one.” In fact, Arden, who died Nov. 12 at the age of 83, was more woman than the movies could handle. In Hollywood’s Golden Age, when so many actresses simpered or suffered on screen, the lanky, startled-looking Arden (born Eunice Quedens, she renamed herself from a pair of perfume bottles) seemed thrillingly out of place. She was smart, sardonic, and, rarest of all, utterly self-sufficient. And although her roles seldom allowed her a chance for romance-”When men get around me, they get allergic to wedding rings,” she once said-she got something more rare: funny lines. Arden’s ability to sling wisecracks over her shoulder with poison-dart precision won her a unique niche: Critic Leslie Halliwell called her ”the comic image of the cool, sophisticated but usually manless career woman.” That image softened in 1948, when she was first heard on CBS radio as teacher Connie Brooks, whose way with a one-liner could no longer conceal her heart. In 1952, the series moved to TV, where Arden (above, in character) won the first Emmy ever given for best actress in a series in 1954, and where she became familiar to a new generation. But even as her career took in other series and films, glimmers of the earlier Arden shone through-the one who could strike a match off the sole of her shoe, straighten her seams, make a joke and never look down.