Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Stockard Channing

Emmy- and Tony-award winner Stockard Channing, who celebrates her 67th birthday today, is my favorite living actress (Rosalind Russell leads the deceased category)—and it's not just because of her defining role as Rizzo in "Grease," which, in 1978, became a teen-age obsession for meese. Nor "Six Degrees Of Separation," the brilliant 1993 film that garnered her an Oscar nod.

I first saw Channing in a made-for-TV movie, "The Girl Most Likely To..." which aired on ABC in 1973. The dark comedy, written by Joan Rivers and also starring Ed Asner, Annette O'Toole and Jim Backus, is about poor Miriam Knight, a fat college kid with a big heart—"the kind of girl that no one notices"—who is stomped on by all around her.

A tragic auto accident requires reconstructive surgery and during her long recovery, Miriam loses 100 pounds and becomes a stunning beauty.

The unrecognizable new Miriam then exacts revenge on all those who showed her disrespect, offing them one by one in wonderfully wicked ways. Asner plays a cop who figures out her devious plot—and falls in love with her for her brilliant deviance.

The flick found its way to cable TV earlier this decade and made it on DVD in 2006, following Channing's Emmy turn in "The West Wing," allowing me to treasure it forever.

It plays as beautifully today as a testament to getting even with those that torment us—and as a vehicle for the young, soon-to-be renowned comedienne.