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Fat in the movies


TopBilled
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Something very interesting happened today as I tuned into TCM for Alexis Smith's 24 hour Summer Under the Stars tribute. I got fat. By got I mean I understood fat. I noticed it-- fat in the movies-- because one of Alexis' films has a very chubby costar in a serious dramatic role (not used for laughs and in fact there is no mention made of her being quite a bit overweight). 

 

Usually in classic movies when someone is overweight they are babies or they are older people. They are not young adults, and if they are, they are not females. Most starlets and supporting actresses of a certain age have good looking figures, and if they don't, then they are assigned comic relief roles.

 

But in ONE LAST FLING, there is a young woman who is not perfectly glamorous and does not act like a clown or a freak. How refreshing to see her on screen!

 

I immediately looked up the film resume of this gal to see if she made other movies, and she did. Quite a few of them in fact, mostly in minor roles. And look at the descriptions for some of the characters she played:

 

1. She's billed as Fat Woman in SERGEANT YORK.

2. She's billed again as Fat Woman in MAISIE GETS HER MAN.

3. She's billed as Large Female Native in WINGS OVER THE PACIFIC.

4. She's billed as Plump Hostess in HI YA, SAILOR.

5. She's billed as Fat Woman in TOGETHER AGAIN.

6. She's Buxom Woman in LIFE WITH BLONDIE. A little bit better.

7. She's Burly Woman Cab Driver in MUSIC FOR MILLIONS. Doesn't sound so good.

8. She's Large Woman in TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE.

9. She's Tiny in DEADLINE FOR MURDER. Someone had a sense of humor that time.

10. She plays a character named Full Moon in HELLFIRE.

11. She's Fat Woman again in MY FRIEND IRMA GOES WEST.

12. She's Fat Lady in SLAUGHTER TRAIL.

13. She's Fat Girl in HOUDINI.

14. She's Large Woman in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID.

 

I don't know about you-- but it must have been discouraging to get sent by an agent to all these casting calls looking for fat actresses, playing characters that often did not have names but were just referred to by their size.

 

This woman, though, seems like a trailblazer. She was overweight and she was there, on screen, making a living in Hollywood.  She and women like her in the audience are represented in the movies.

 

Meet Jody Gilbert. 

 

jody-gilbert-after-shadow-of-the-thin-ma

 

 

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Fat movie characters.

 

Darlene Cates in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993)

 

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Stacey Halprin as the very overweight mom in "The Dress Code" aka "Bruno" (2000)

 

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Like to include Eddie Murphy in his "Nutty Professor" films but the fat there is fake but still funny

 

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Norman Chaney as "Chubby" in the Little Rascals.

 

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Rusty Pouch as the Gas Station attendant in "Flight of The Navigator" (1986)

 

Max....Hey blimpo...oink, oink!  Too many Twinkies, ha ha.

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Edited by hamradio
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Actually, there are multiple "Plump Hostesses" in Hi'ya, Sailor, with the other one played by Grace Hayle, who also often was credited as the overweight character. Here she is opposite George Brent in Front Page Woman:

 

front2.jpg

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I believe the small picture of Jody Gilbert that TopBilled posted is from THE SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN,  she is the girlfriend of the little skinny guy sitting aside Nick and Nora at the wrestling match.  

Yes. She's blonde in the Thin Man movie but a brunette in ONE LAST FLING. 

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I believe the small picture of Jody Gilbert that TopBilled posted is from THE SHADOW OF THE THIN MAN, she is the girlfriend of the little skinny guy sitting aside Nick and Nora at the wrestling match.

 

Yes, one Mr. Spider Webb.  Her line is "Any friend of Spider's is a friend of mine," followed by an extended laugh.

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In Requiem for a Heavyweigh the mob heavyweigh,  Ma Greeny,  played by Madame Spivy,  is a heavyweigh. 

 

 

In Requiem for a Heavyweigh the mob heavyweigh,  Ma Greeny,  played by Madame Spivy,  is a heavyweigh. 

HMMMM???  So, if she dropped a few pounds, she'd have been a LIGH WHEIGH? ;)

 

Sepia one

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Thanks Roverrocks for the great article link.  Jody Gilbert's greatest  performance of all may have been her testimony before the Congressional committee regarding her "Communist sympathies".  Bravo, Jody ! ;)

I agree. It's a sobering article, underscoring the outrageous treatment of Hollywood talent during that time (Red Scare). 

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Is it Jody Gilbert in one of W.C. Fields' pictures where she plays a waitress and tells him there's something awfully big about him and he replies under his breath that there is something awfully big about her.

Yes, it's her-- in NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK.

1jody.png

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