Review of Leonard Wibberley’s McGillicuddy Gotham and the unfinished Little Mac collaboration with Rosalind Russell

If you didn’t believe in leprechauns before this, you will after reading Leonard Wibberley’s McGillicuddy McGotham. The 60th anniversary edition is due to be released on March 10, 2016 (today!) Although this charming tale about a little Irish man hardly bigger than a dime who makes quite a rumble in Washington, D.C. was written in 1956, I found it to be timeless. This is a story that would be perfect for middle school-aged children and young adults, so if anything, it is something for children to read just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. As a child with no real Irish background, the only memories of hearing about leprechauns occurred at school. As we all know the tradition goes, if you don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day (every March 17), you get pinched. I imagine this is related to leprechauns in some way, since legend has it that leprechauns are mischievous and little troublemakers. I have a clear memory of entering my classroom when I was fairly young, only to discover my desk had a sparkling green streak straight across it. The teacher told us, “Oh, no, I think it was the leprechaun!” and so we were made to believe that a little green man had secretly been sneaking in our classroom when we weren’t there and what he left behind were his green marks. We live in a time where children are exposed to the truth about a lot of things that we were not exposed to as children. This magical story brings back the innocence of childhood—the wonder, the curiosity, the “what if?” questions.

mcgillicuddy mcgotham 60th anniversary edition cover

McGillicuddy McGotham is full of comedy, mischief and inspirational changes. The title character—the leprechaun in question—is a tiny man with enormous pride and a delusional interpretation of economic value. In other words, a piece of the most dazzling silver paper is worth a lot more to Mr. McGillicuddy than all the real pots of gold in the world. I was wrong to think that leprechauns had the most precious gold and jewels in their tiny pot of treasure that they keep hidden from the world. This book reveals the truth—every one of us has a distinctive perception of which people and things are worth the most. Are the most valuable things in our lives worth so much of that green paper that accumulates in your bank account? Or are they things that expect no monetary compensation from us and yet produce an even more satisfying outcome? It varies for everyone, but I believe it’s a message to keep in the back of all our minds.


Timothy Patrick Fergus Kevin Sean Desmond McGillicuddy (cutting out most of his names to save on time) can only be seen by Irish people, and even then, only one at a time. I suppose this explains why leprechauns do all their funny tricks when nobody is looking. The whimsical actions of the miniscule McGillicuddy obviously caught the eye of our favorite star, Rosalind Russell. In 1956 when this book was published, she was making her famous comeback as the wonderful Auntie Mame on Broadway. As there would be no part for Roz in a play version, she must have been itching to collaborate on a writing project. She and Mr. Wibberley had exchanges back and forth, mulling over ideas for a musical comedy version retitled Little Mac. This collaboration might have been a stroke of genius, or it might have been a total flop. Unfortunately, we will never know as there is little evidence of it going past the preliminary brainstorming stage. It is possible that Rosalind became caught up in the fame, publicity and work that her indomitable Auntie Mame brought her.

leonard wibberley rosalind russell jack hawkins
Leonard Wibberley, Rosalind Russell and Jack Hawkins on the set of Five Finger Exercise (1961), which depicts a friendship that lasted beyond the Little Mac collaboration.


I think Rosalind and Leonard had a good thing going for them, as it is hinted in the letters that they had a charming and fun relationship. They made the man who is head of construction of the airport being built on Irish soil a principal part of the play. Being in construction, he thinks the police as the enemy, so it was coming to fruition that maybe they would make Little Mac a policeman, hinting that leprechauns were a bit like “The Irish Mafia.” They were just pounding out an outline and I think it had promise, which is why it’s unfortunate it was never finished. There are not very many new facts for Rosalind Russell fans in this 60th anniversary edition besides the letters. But the leprechaun story itself is worth a read.

In Wibberley’s book, McGillicuddy often tells Brian, his chosen Irish-American human, about the pride that should swell in all who are Irish. For a man of such diminutive stature, he spouts as much wisdom as possible in impressionable 10-year-old Brian’s ear. One philosophy spoken by the leprechaun that is the true heart of the story is the loss of childlike innocence as we become adults. Using a man’s spectacles as a metaphor, he explains that all people are born without glasses and we see others are human beings, which is indeed what they are. We as children do not see others for the color of their skin, their beliefs, their religion, their flaws, their eccentricities, and above all, the things that make them different from us. As McGillicuddy relates, when we get older, we acquire glasses, which makes us gradually see others as different from ourselves. We see the intricacies of other humans, the negative standing out more than anything. “He finds that they are wrong and that he alone is right,” McGillicuddy adds to his eye-opening philosophy.

Even the tiny well-dressed man in green sees others differently, but he also thinks he needs to stand up to these others who think they can walk all over those who are smaller. He eventually winds up in Washington, D.C. to protest (Brian talking for him) an airplane runway being constructed on leprechaun land. He has made believers of skeptics and has tenaciously made it to the President’s oval office. At the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Mac informs Brian that on this day of marvelous green and Irish pride, “Everybody’s an Irishman…today.”

And may we all feel the pride and mischief of the Irish leprechaun every once in a while—to lift us up when we are down on ourselves and to let go of inhibitions when we are feeling our most vulnerable. If a man only an inch high can accomplish all he did, so can we.

I invite you to purchase the eBook here of McGillicuddy McGotham: 60th Anniversary Edition. Link below:

A Majority of One (1961)

rosalind russell a majority of one
Rosalind Russell as Bertha Jacoby in A Majority of One (1961)

I know it’s been a while since I wrote a review. I wrote this short one (for me, that is) on the wonderful A Majority of One. It stars Rosalind Russell (of course) and veteran actor Alec Guinness, who was known for more than just being Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars series. This was one of the first films Rosalind Russell filmed after her smash hit Auntie Mame in 1958. Unfortunately, she struggled with some health problems that came her way right after filming Auntie Mame. She was out of commission for the next 3 years, but she bounced back like the resilient woman she was. She filmed several movie versions of famous plays in the 1960s, such as Gypsy, Five Finger Exercise, and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad (and what a mouthful that one is!). But I think one of the most heartfelt and beautiful renditions she did of a play was in A Majority of One.

rosalind russell alec guinness a majority of one
Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness in A Majority of One (1961)

Although originally played by true blue Jewish actress Gertrude Berg, Roz, with her Catholic background, had an amazing transformation.” Her New York (but also a little European) Jewish inflections are rather genuine, considering everything. She put her heart and soul into this role, trying her best to make it authentic. She says Jewish prayers, she speaks like New York Jews do, and even spouts a Yiddish word now and then. I had seen most of her films up to this point and although it was hard to get used to, I came to LOVE this character.

rosalind russell alec guinness a majority of one
Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness in A Majority of One (1961)

A Majority of One concerns a Jewish widow, a Japanese businessman, and the prejudices present during this time between the two very different people. In a small Brooklyn apartment lives a Jewish widow named Bertha Jacoby. She lives mostly around other Jewish people, certainly not mixing on a daily basis with people of different cultural backgrounds. She has a daughter named Alice, who is married to a diplomat named Jerry Black. Jerry and “Mama,” as they both call her, clash sometimes. When she finds out that they will be leaving for another diplomatic assignment in Japan, she is taken aback. Having a son who died in World War II “at the hands of” Japanese men (according to her), she is not happy. She harbors deep prejudice for the Japanese, even though so much time has passed. In spite of all this, they are able to convince Mama to accompany them to Tokyo and live with them.

rosalind russell george takei a majority of one
Rosalind Russell and George Takei as Mr. Asano’s son. I’m not going to lie. I just noticed this is him!

She doesn’t have a very good boat trip abroad. But things change when she meets Mr. Asano, a very important Japanese businessman. Granted, this “Japanese” man is played by a white British man (Alec Guinness), but that’s how it was played on Broadway as well. It might be done differently today, but if we can get past how wrong this actually is, we can enjoy the story. First impressions can be tough. She is very cold to him when he does nice things for her, like picking up something she dropped on the floor. He is as polite as can be and over time, he doesn’t understand why she treats him this way. They have a serious conversation about the war. He tells her he lost a loved one in the war, too. But do we need to blame every Japanese and every American living today for the atrocities of war? She softens toward him and they share a beautiful friendship. She is finally having fun for the first time in a while, but her daughter and son-in-law don’t like it. Mr. Asano is actually someone Jerry has to deal with when he gets to Japan. He doesn’t appreciate how cozy they’re getting. Mama agrees to cut off ties with Mr. Asano if it’ll make her children happy, but she reminds them they called her a bigot before, and now they are the ones who are prejudiced.

rosalind russell a majority of one
Rosalind Russell in A Majority of One (1961)

Mama has a tough time getting used to Japanese life and is always clashing with their house servant, Eddie. Eventually, Mr. Asano is hurt by the brush off he got from his good friend, Mrs. Jacoby (this is how they always address each other). He starts acting badly at business meetings with Jerry, and when it’s the final straw, Jerry blames his mother-in-law. She informs him that he was the one who forced her to break off the friendship. Feeling badly about it, she tries to find Mr. Asano to explain. In the best scene of the movie, she dresses up in a kimono, tries sake for the first time (getting gloriously drunk on it), and samples Japanese delicacies that remind her of foods she’s had in the States. She is hilarious in this scene and has a lot of fun. But when Mr. Asano formally asks her if he can court her, things get complicated. Prejudice rears its ugly head as her daughter and son-in-law cannot stand the idea of her being with a Japanese man, someone so different from her.

rosalind russell alec guinness a majority of one
Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness in A Majority of One (1961)

This film has wonderful highs and lows—dramatic scenes with heated arguments; comically charming lines; sparkling interaction between Rosalind Russell and Alec Guinness. I will not reveal the ending and what became of them, as I think I have done enough! Please watch this film at least once in your life. You might not take to it, but there are many things to discover.

TCM SUMMER UNDER THE STARS 2015 – August 31: Shelley Winters

shelley winters
“I have bursts of being a lady, but it doesn’t last long.”
~Shelley Winters


This is the first blogathon I have ever participated in. And when I saw Shelley Winters being honored, I knew I had to write something deserving of the woman’s talent. The blogathon has been taking place here all month. If you are interested, you should check out some of the amazing profiles and reviews!

shelley winters a patch of blue oscar
Shelley Winters with her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for A Patch of Blue (1965)

I have always thought of Shelley Winters as an actress with an enormous talent, but one of those actresses you would file under the “underrated” category. As I am sure many people of my generation (I’m in my mid-20s) have experienced, Shelley Winters first showed up on my TV screen as that awesomely fun grandma in the 1990s television series Roseanne. Only in my late teens did I discover this same woman was in quite a few films in her heyday. She had an impressive roster stretching from A Place in the Sun and The Night of the Hunter to Lolita and A Patch of Blue. She was often cast as a pathetic lover or wife that you can’t help but feel sorry for. She may not have a happy ending, but she makes a big impression. But in other roles, she can be unlikeable or sometimes downright despicable. Her role as Rose-Ann in A Patch of Blue is a perfect example of this. She is loud, obnoxious, flat-out racist, cruel with a devilish heart. She is a terrible influence on her poor blind daughter and doesn’t seem to care what she has done to the vulnerable girl. And yet we are still fans of Shelley after this hard-to-watch performance, aren’t we?

robert mitchum shelley winters the night of the hunter 1955
Robert Mitchum and Shelley Winters in The Night of the Hunter (1955)

Miss Winter had an amazing ability of bringing us all into her soul. We can feel her emotions and feel her pain. In The Night of the Hunter, she is pitiably married to one of the scariest characters I have ever encountered in a movie, Robert Mitchum’s Rev. Harry Powell. He is downright frightening and Shelley’s character is incredibly acquiescing. It isn’t difficult to subdue her character, as with her sad relationship with Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun. He constantly attempts to get rid of her once he has found the beauty of Elizabeth Taylor, and once again, she comes to a pathetic end. Such is not the life of Shelley in pictures, however. She could also play strong women. Rose-Ann was strong. Mrs. Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank was strong. No, they were not necessarily the heroes of the story. They were even contemptible. But if there was one thing Shelley was not, it was ordinary.

shelley winters vittorio gassman
Shelley Winters and second husband Vittorio Gassman

She would never have taken a role—I’m sure of it—because it was showy and glamorous. She had many roles with some real meat to them. I have not seen the majority of her films, but I would love to. I highly recommend all the films I’ve mentioned here and I am certain there are many more that should be given their due fame. Who could forget her creepy and disturbing performance as the title character in What’s the Matter with Helen? co-starring Debbie Reynolds? It’s not the best film in the world, but somehow the song Goody Goody, used several times in the film, still gives me the creeps. I imagine Debbie Reynolds posing like a puppet with blood running down her face while this seemingly happy song plays.

shelley winters color
Shelley Winters, circa 1951

This two-time Oscar winner (playing not so likeable characters in A Patch of Blue and The Diary of Anne Frank) is one to be remembered for ages. She is not the first name that comes to mind when reflecting on the great films of the 1950s and 1960s, but she is a unique sparkle in the eye of classic film.

shelley winters funny autobiography
Shelley Winters being her fun self while signing copies of her autobiography

Happy birthday, Roz! June 4

 rosalind russell

Rosalind Russell once said “Taking joy in life is a woman’s best cosmetic.” And no woman embodied that statement the way Rosalind herself did. Today is her birthday. Born on June 4, 1907, she would have been 108 years old today. Although she left this world and her legions of fans at the tender age of 69 in 1976, her legacy of films, charity work, and her influential presence. Ever since I saw that zany personality of hers in The Women, I have been hooked. At this point, no other actress can hold a candle to the amazing Rosalind Russell. And although she’s been gone a long time, I still like to think she knows how many fans, young and old, she still has, even in the year 2015. It brings me a lot of comfort to know her memory is not forgotten and I hope it never will be. Although she was beyond brilliant in her comedy roles (His Girl Friday, The Women, Auntie Mame to name a FEW), she was also a very accomplished dramatic actress. She is very underrated today and even in her heyday when it came to dramatic ability, but it must always be remembered that she was nominated for 4 Oscars and won 5 Golden Globes for her acting. She was always a very versatile actress, a woman full of life and wisdom—such an inspirational woman to me that I almost have no words to describe how much she inspires me. I never tire of her films, her personal quotes, reciting her characters’ lines, and her hilarious storytelling her autobiography Life is a Banquet. After all, “Life is a banquet” was really Roz’s philosophy of life. Eat up all those courses life has to give you and never regret one minute of it! Cheers, Rosalind <3

rosalind russell in hired wife

rosalind russell in this thing called love

rosalind russell and robert donat in the citadel

rosalind russell in sister kenny

rosalind russell

rosalind russell

rosalind russell

rosalind russell

rosalind russell

rosalind russell and frederick brisson

young rosalind russell

rosalind russell on the set of tell it to the judge

rosalind russell and james stewart in no time for comedy

rosalind russell and son lance brisson

rosalind russell in hired wife