On opening night in Cleveland 1998 or 1999, I was to play the Auctioneer. I hadn’t been the Auctioneer for a year and a half but figured it had worn a groove into my noggin. So when David Hansen, SM, asked if I needed some time on the stage to go over it I answered, “No, I’ve got it.” The dress rehearsal went fine so I was further convinced that I was the genius of the century. That night, I got close to the end of the Auctioneer’s monologue, “…perhaps we may frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination, GENTLEMEN!” Well, I got out the word “perhaps” and went blank. I thought, “This can’t be happening. This is THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, a well-oiled machine. NO ONE forgets their lines in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!” The entire cast slowly turned toward me. I had to think fast! So I thought, “Well, you can’t go wrong with the name of the play!” and I repeated “perhaps?” and followed it with “we may experience THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA!” It took a few moments for the crew to realize that this was all they were going to get before the chandelier should kaboom and we should continue on with the play. I would say that this was my most embarrassing moment to date had I not done the very same thing the next night, even though all day I had mumbled the monologue to myself over and over and over? UGH.
Stage Manager David Hansen handled it wonderfully. I went to him expecting a pink slip or, at the very least, a sour look. Instead, he said jovially, “Well, you won’t do that again will you.” I didn’t.
Rebecca Judd, to calm my nerves about it, approached me and told me about the time she made her debut as Mme. Giry and, instead of saying, “I have a message, Sirs, from the opera ghost. He insists that you keep box five open for his use, and he reminds you that his salary is due!” She said, “I have a message, Sirs, from the opera ghost. uh…box five…don’t sit there…don’t even think about it…and the Phantom? He needs to be paid!” I felt instantly better about the whole thing.
—  D.C. Anderson

A Tragic Summer

In 1974, Jacksonville, Florida, was shaken by the disappearance of five girls in a period of three months. Police considered the cases weren’t related because the abductions happened in different parts of the city, but they all have in common that they remain unsolved.

The first victim was Jean Marie Schoen (first picture, held by her mother). She was only 9 years old when she went missing on July 21, after she left her house to head to a food store two blocks away.

Then came the Anderson sisters, Lillian Annette (11) and Mylette (6). On August 1, their mother had to leave them alone at the house to go take care of a sick relative. She left around 6 pm and called an hour later to check on the girls, and they were home safely at the time. But when their father arrived, 20 minutes later, they were nowhere to be found.

On September 27, 12 year old Virginia Helm (second picture) vanished after going to a convenience store a block away from her home. Her body was found a month later, buried in a shallow grave. She had been shot in the head, and reports at the time say that an initial examination didn’t show signs of sexual assault, although I’m uncertain if that changed after the proper autopsy. As a side trivia, the detective that investigated this case was Lester Permenter, whose daughter almost became a victim of Ted Bundy. The serial killer tried to pick her up, but she was saved by her brother, who found the man odd and wrote down his license plate. A day after, Bundy murdered Kimberly Leach, his last victim.

The last missing girl was Rebecca Ann Greene (12, third picture), who disappeared the morning of October 12, after going to a store. Her remains were found three years later, and by that time it was impossible to determine how she died.

Of all these cases, only the Anderson sister’s has a known suspect. Authorities think it’s likely they were taken by serial killer Paul John Knowles, who had escaped from jail 6 days before the girls went missing. After Knowles was killed while trying to escape authorities in Georgia, on December 1974, police found some tape recordings in which he confessed to the murder of two girls that matched Lillian and Mylette’s descriptions. Although in them he gave a location where he’d left their bodies, a search of that area turned up nothing. And because there were no bodies and Knowles was dead, there will always be some uncertainty about the resolution of this story.


You tried to take her place. You let him marry you. I’ve seen his face - his eyes. They’re the same as those first weeks after she died. I used to listen to him, walking up and down, up and down, all night long, night after night, thinking of her, suffering torture because he lost her!


Mrs Danvers vs Winter Anderson

You’re gonna have a hard time convincing me Winter Anderson isn’t based on the movie version of the character Mrs Danvers (played perfectly by Judith Anderson) from Hitchcock’s Rebecca. (The book was written by Daphne Du Maurier.) Mrs Danvers was a great Hollywood villain & imho an influence on Winter Anderson’s character especially how she interacts to Ally. She appears out of no where like Mrs Danvers, there’s an implication Mrs Danvers is a lesbian when she caresses Mrs de Winters lingerie & on AHS Cult Winter seduces Ally (or fingers her in the tub according to Ivy), Winter’s outfits & somber facial expressions are very Mrs Danvers & Mrs Danvers like Winter are trying to drive their lady employers crazy. If she braided her hair like Mrs Danvers it would be superb cos it would be clear they’re emulating Mrs Danvers AND because Billie would look like her mom Carrie Fisher in Star Wars. (Watch the movie Rebecca & for more on why Mrs Danvers gayness had to be implied watch the Celluloid Closet)

Mrs Danvers’ first appearance is the only time in Hitchcock’s masterpiece Rebecca (1940) that a character looks directly at the camera. Manderley’s hateful housekeeper doesn’t just make you jump by walking gliding into shot from one side. Oh, no. She stares right at you to chill you to the bone too.

That’s right, folks. Mrs Danvers is watching you watching her. She’s staring unblinkingly at you with the hint of a contemptuous smile on her lips.


Inktober Day 14: Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson), from the film Rebecca

Rebecca is a gothic tale of obsession, secrets,melancholia, and death. I loved the novel (by Daphne DuMarier), and the film is my fave Hitchcock, as well as one of my top 5 fave films of all time. No matter how many times I see it, Mrs. Danvers never fails to give me the chills! 


Couldn’t make it to “Good Girls, Nasty Women: Gender and American Jewish History” last month? Good news: we have the live recording! Watch now to hear Lynn Povich, Bonnie S. Anderson, and Rebecca Traister discuss the history and future of feminism and women’s movements with Bari Weiss of The New York Times Opinion!


This beautifully embroidered portrait of everyone’s favourite unhinged housekeeper is the work of the hugely talented @thisismrsdanvers. It’s one of the most wonderful gifts I’ve ever received. I’m particularly grateful that it arrived this weekend, as it’s the end of a long week in which I’ve been pretty unwell. This perfect portrait is the perfect pick-me-up.

There are many portraits of Judith Anderson by both professional and amateur artists. But I can honestly say I’ve never seen one that captures her distinctive features as successfully as @thisismrsdanvers’ artwork. The likeness is remarkable, I’m sure you’ll agree. What’s not easy to see from the photo is the incredibly detailed stitching that recreates Mrs Danvers’ (in)famous, serpent-like plait. As the portrait decorates a shopping bag, it’s a practical present too. I’m sure Danny’s head will turn plenty of heads in my local town.

So please join me in giving my fellow Judith fan and blogger a very well-deserved round of applause for making Manderley’s most menacing inhabitant look magnificent in thread and canvas!