Gillian on Stage

This print is from the original negative that began our search. Sure enough, Gillian was wearing a police officer's uniform, standing on a crude-looking stage set. Deep Thought identified the play as "Arsenic and Old Lace", and Gillian's role as "Officer Brophy", one of a pair of somewhat inept cops. We find it interesting that she's played law-enforcement officers since the beginning of her career. She's mentioned this play in interviews, talking about her first stage role as "Police Officer #2" and how much she enjoyed that taste of acting. Evidently that part of her official story is also true. According to Deep Thought, the show ran for two nights, performed on a student-built set at one end of the school lunch room. He also sent us a copy of the program, which provided us with considerable insight into his version of the story.

"Arsenic" is a mid-20th-century play written by Joseph Kesselring. We located the script for it, but instead of reading it, we rented the movie adaptation by Frank Capra starring Cary Grant, from a local video place with a good selection of classic films. It's a real hoot, and Grant actually does some good physical comedy. It's a classic farce about a couple of kindly elderly sisters who lure lonely old men into their home and poison them to relieve them of their sadness. The cast includes the rest of their equally-colorful family, including a drama critic who hates the theatre (Cary Grant's character), a cold-blooded Boris-Karloff-look-alike (originally played on stage by Boris Karloff), and a brother Teddy who thinks he's President (Teddy) Roosevelt. It also features some neighborhood cops who manage to not quite figure out what's going on... an interesting foreshadowing of Scully's role in "The X-Files". We've concluded that the character on the left is "Martha Brewster", one of the charmingly insane spinsters, played in this production by Jolie Spring.

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