Verna Felton’s warmth, distinctive voice brought characters to life on film, TV, radio

Since movies can’t survive on star power alone, the cinematic gods wisely gave us character actors. These familiar faces provide anything a film needs to move it along: comic relief, plot details, neighborly advice, menacing vibes.

So it’s great to celebrate these character actors through the “What a Character Blogathon,” again being graciously hosted by Kellee Pratt, Aurora DesmondPaula Guthat.

Here are links to the many appreciations written for the blogathon.

Here is the link to Day 1 of the blogathon, hosted by Kellee Pratt.

Here is the link to Day 2 of the blogathon, hosted by Aurora Desmond.

But where was I to start? There are so many character actors who deserve to be brought out of the background and into the spotlight that it is difficult to pick just one.

But when I thought of my favorite character role in a movie and the talented actress who brought it to life, the choice was clear: Verna Felton. Here is her story.

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If I could own only one movie, it’s “Picnic.” I am easily swept up in the romance-filled 1956 Technicolor melodrama about a handsome drifter who disrupts lives in small-town Kansas. There’s so much to love about the film, but two things stand out: the iconic “dance” and Mrs. Potts.

On the surface, the sensual dance oozing with the chemistry of William Holden (as Hal) and Kim Novak (as Madge) seems to have nothing in common with the small role of the wholesome, matronly neighbor.

But “Picnic” is built on strong emotions and lives of quiet desperation. So while I may swoon eternally watching the blossoming romance of Hal and Madge, my feelings are even stronger for the plight of Mrs. Potts, touchingly played by Verna Felton.

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TCM Big Screen Classics 2019: epics, musicals, anniversaries and ‘Oz’

The Turner Classic Movies Big Screen Classics film series returns in January with another full slate of classic films, starting with the wonderful “Wizard of Oz” on Jan. 27, 29 and 30.

Of the 14 films, 12 will be celebrating an anniversary, from a 25th (“The Shawshank Redemption”) all the way to an 80th (“The Wizard of Oz”). That means film buffs will surely have new home video releases and other merchandise to add to their collections.

TCM Big Screen loyalists should note there is not a set schedule as there has been in previous years. While all the films have showings on Sundays, the second day varies from Tuesday or Wednesday and the times are different. Also, five of the films are expected to be so popular, they are being shown over three days (Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday).

Tickets go on sale Dec. 7 via

Here’s the schedule.

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Watching ‘Christmas at the Movies’ on TCM

Jeremy Arnold’s “Christmas in the Movies: 30 Classics to Celebrate the Season” is written with the warmth of someone who cares as much about the subject as those who will read the book.

Each of the 30 films has a cast breakdown, a short essay on the movie, its “holiday moment” (a scene, a song, an image) and a wealth of photos. The book is compiled in a way that’s easy to return to again and again – especially to gaze at those fabulous glossy pictures. I especially love the compact size of the book (about 7 inches by 8 inches) that makes it convenient to carry in my purse and around the house.

At each film entry, you may get the overwhelming feeling that you have to watch the movie. Don’t fight it – in December, TCM is airing 14 of the films from the book as part of its holiday programming.

Here are those times, along with a link to where you can buy the movies through the TCM store. (The films are included if you can buy them through TCM, even if there isn’t a TCM airing.) Also included is the time for the traditional network airing of two of the films and TCM Big Screen Classics event.

Tune into TCM on Dec. 1 and 2 to hear Jeremy Arnold and TCM host Ben Mankiewicz discuss holiday films. If you don’t have the book yet, you can buy it through TCM  here.

Here is the schedule:

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