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Friday, July 3, 2009

Mrs. Slocombe, Are You Free?

With all of the detestable, unending ridiculum surrounding the demise of Michael Jackson, a man who has already upstaged the deaths of other celebrities like Farah Fawcett and TV pitchman and screamer Billy Mayes, the death of one more celebrity might just go thoroughly under, or even un-reported-- left ignored in the haze of news of Michael Jackson's final moonwalk.

Mollie Sugden has died.

She was the female rock of "Are You Being Served?" playing the staid and stolid Mrs. Slocombe from 1972-1985. One might have thought she never would have survived this long, that the copious amounts of hair dye that routinely turned her locks into what can only be described as cotton candy on a regular basis would have seeped through the scalp and turned her brain into something resembling fontina cheese many years ago-- but she survived all that.

Mollie Sugden, a dignified lady, sent audiences howling with repeated, straight-faced references to her "pussy," often the reason she had to rush home after a long day of work at Grace Brothers. After all, if she didn't let her pussy out-- who would?

"Mr. Rrrrrumbold," she would say in that royal tone of hers, a pink eyebrow severely raised, "I cannot possibly stay late for a staff meeting tonight-- there's my pussy to consider!"

And consider it we did.

Sugden was a unique actress, the likes of which we probably will never see on television again. She was always at least upper middle age in our minds, and her famous character, Mrs. Slocombe was obsessed with correctness and class, and yet had the unique ability to deliver vulgar, coarse lines with a total air of naivete about her, a complete ignorance that she had said anything objectionable or foul. Mollie Sugden was a comedienne in a world that isn't quite sure it knows what that means anymore. She was Grace Brothers' graceful matriarch, and those of us who grew up with that show and that store won't soon forget her lovely contribution to television history.

She didn't seek to change the world, to make it her oyster, to dominate the public sphere and demand that the world stop the moment she passed away. She didn't seek headlines or scandal or vainglorious attention the way other people of note do. She was a quiet woman who lived in Guildford, married to the same man for forty-two years-- a feat most celebrities seem unable to accomplish. She was a quiet woman who, at the age of five, read a silly poem at a Christmas pageant that had everybody collapsing about with laughter. She was a woman who realized early on in life, "how wonderful it was to make people laugh."

I thank you for the laughs, dear. And I am unanimous in that.


  1. Nooo! Not Mrs Slocombe!

    It's ALL about Mr Humphries though, let's be honest.

  2. Beautiful tribute, darling. Those who make us laugh are always the hardest to lose.

  3. Adam-- Well, now you know. That's why you read me instead of the newspaper, and consequently barf in your cereal.

    Sebby-- it is all about Mr. Humphries. Well, it was, until John Inman died of Hep C.

    LiLu-- So, that means that people will be bummed when you and I die, right?

  4. Oh no, I loved Mrs. Slocombe! I am sad she died. Thanks for this post.

  5. NOOOOO!!!!! I loved Mrs. Slocombe.

    : (


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