Friday, May 5, 2023

A COMMUNITY OF WRITERS

We were all different at a writers' conference I recently attended: old young, male, female, trans, black, white, Asian, Eastern, Western, Army, Navy, engineers, doctors, nurses, homemakers. But we were all the same too. We love writing and just want to reach out to the audiences we think we can address. I've never been anywhere where I could automatically relate to the other person and have so much to talk about.

What do you write? Oh fantasy, romance, mysteries, historical fiction.

What do you like to talk about? Bronco riders, weddings, Willa Cather, medieval times.

Where have you published? Simon and Schuster (envy), by myself, Poetry Magazine, nowhere (just learning).

How did you find an agent? Our children went to school together; Still looking; I had one, but it didn't work out and now I'm looking for a new one.

Have you been to this conference before? I've been coming for eleven years; this is my first conference.

How many copies of your books have you sold? Over 100,000. I'm a New York Times best-seller (envy).  

How did you do it? I'm on Book Bub; I expanded my network; I have friends in high places.

What an absolute delight to be among a community that is such a comfort to me and to realize that regardless of where we are on the spectrum, we can all learn from one another. It made me think out of my "bubble," and I think I'm a better person for having had this chance. 


Mimi Pockross is the author of Pulling Harvey Out of Her Hat: The Amazing Story of Mary Coyle Chase. Look for her next book, An American Family, date of publication yet to be announced.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

THE SUITCASE

 Somehow I felt there was a sign that this trip to New York City was going to have its bumps.

Aside from what it took to coordinate for all the different days in a four day period, four pairs of shoes, three purses, three outfits, makeup and a substitute for dry eyes, the wedding gift, my Nook and my phone,  missing in action was dental floss, cue tips, and my fancy lipstick.

Sign one happened before we even boarded the plane: a delay of one plus hours because the captain of the flight was also missing in action.

Sign two: Baggage Claim at LaGuardia. Missing in action: only my suitcase. My husband's came down in the first batch. My suitcase was in the last batch. Whew!

Sign three: Which purse and shoes to wear to the rehearsal dinner? Decision: the practical traveler shoes I recently ordered on line and the middle dressy purse after transferring the contents from my tote. A miracle we got to the restaurant. Cab drivers like to know the cross streets and we hadn't a clue.

Sign four: The big wedding day. Eyeliner runs and I have to redo it. Which shoes and purse? I go with the comfortable low heeled sandals I buy earlier in the day instead of the good looking dressy peeky toe shoes that would have been more attractive. I change my tote again, this time to the dressy purse I brought that I wore when my son got married twenty years ago. Good thing I went for comfort. I had to climb a cascade  of stairs at the church on the Upper East Side, board a school bus that took us to the reception in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn or forty minutes and, of course, dance the horah at the reception.

Sign five: Something to wear that will last through the whole day that includes a breakfast with a relative, a two mile walk to the theatre district to sign some books, a 3:00 theater matinee followed by a cab ride to the Upper East Side to dine with friends. Those traveler shoes made it again and I was very happy to return to my tote bag.

Sign six: When we pack up to return to Denver, the rubber wheel cover on my suitcase falls off as we are departing. It's only recently been repaired. In the lobby, the other rubber wheel cover falls off. I'm praying the suitcase will roll enough to check-in at LaGuardia.

Sign seven: For four hours, we wait at the United gate 46 while the company tries to find the captain, who is delayed in getting to the airport because of the fog. When we finally board, we are sixth in line for takeoff, another half hour before we get in the air. 

Of course, we live in the mountains, and have to shuttle to retrieve our car to drive home. The last leg is another three hours.

Total Travel: 12 hours. Plan is to buy a new suitcase and hopefully a more efficient travel plan for next time.


Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Cherry Picking

In 1970 I wrote a paper called "The Tailor and the Truth: Why It's Difficult to Tell the Truth on Television" for a mass media class I was taking towards earning a master’s degree in communications. I could not help but think of this paper when the Republican House majority recently received access to the account that had originally been viewed only by the House committee investigating the protest that took place in 2021 and 2022. When the Republican Party gained leadership of the House of Representatives in 2022, they were able to acquire the unfiltered video coverage they had until then been denied. They then gave the tapes to Fox News Network’s host Tucker Carlson and he broadcasted a very different story to the public, a more calm recollection of the event, than the coverage viewers saw in real time on the day the event took place or the choice of clips selected by the 2021 House committee under Democratic leadership that revealed a more violent and calculated assault on the Capitol.

 

I decided to go back and look at my paper in an effort to help me figure out the current controversy. I found a reference that I had made to a book written by two sociologists about the selective coverage of a Chicago parade honoring Douglas MacArthur that had taken place after General MacArthur had been fired by President Harry Truman when he refused to take his superior’s orders during the Korean War of 1951.

 

The authors pointed out that by selecting images of the parade intended to welcome home the fallen hero General Douglas MacArthur, the public was given a sense that the parade for him was much more passionate than it really was. The clips shown to the television public focused on the masses of humanity crowded on State Street to watch the General ride by in an open vehicle, interviews with euphoric onlookers, and photos of mounds of ticker tape falling from the windows of the surrounding skyscrapers. It did not show groups of people looking on briefly before they sought out a bar or restaurant to further entertain themselves. It did not show the empty seats at Soldiers’ Field where the General gave a speech about his accomplishments and how he should not have been fired by President Truman for his views on how to win the Korean War. And it did not show interviews with others who thought President Truman had done the right thing. 

 

In the same paper, I cited another incident from that period of time in which I was writing: that of the protests against the View Nam War that took place during the 1968 Democratic Convention during which the media’s coverage favored the police’s attempt to maintain order and revealed none of the police’s violent overreactions.

 

It's been two years since the January 6th incident took place and, according to the Federal Communications Commissions, Mr. Carlson has every right to interpret the series of incidents the way he chooses. He’s entitled to report on what he thinks occurred. 

 

So much needs to be done to make our world today more “fair and balanced” without depriving us of our right to speak out. A few suggestions might be returning to a stricter code for broadcasting such as Newton Minow’s Fairness Doctrine that existed in the times when I was studying the mass media and which also included a recommendation for accountability when rules were broken. Another might be a requirement in all schools that students take a course on mass and social media to learn the fallacies that can contribute to a misinterpretation of the truth. And finally, it all goes back to the values instilled in us when we are growing up: kindness, curiosity, respect, open-mindedness, determination, humility, humor and all those other traits that make us good Americans.

 

 

Mimi Pockross is a freelance writer and the author of three books. She is currently working on a fourth book, a novel about the American family.



Wednesday, March 1, 2023

What Would Horace Say?

It was at Horace Mann Elementary School that I began my lifelong learning career. Who was Horace Mann, I thought, and why are more than fifty schools and many awards and statues throughout the country named for him? 

When I looked him up, I learned that over two hundred and fifty years ago, Horace Mann was the founder of the public education system that still guides our country today. Because of his laser focus on education he was able to implement policies in his home state of Massachusetts that eventually spread throughout the United States. 

A capable orator and administrator, he believed first and foremost that an educated citizenry was the only way that a democratic republic would survive. Above all he was a moral man and he wished for his fellow citizens to be so as well. He did not believe all children learned the same way and he felt learning should never be a contest that created jealousy and envy.

With that in mind, he created an educational system that worked for both the rural and urban population. Then he passionately asserted his beliefs on how to accomplish his goals. 

One of the many tenets that he avowed was a belief in secular education rather than in advocating for any of the religious denominations that existed at the time. All the denominations at the time were Christian and extensions of the Calvinist doctrine that had initially been established when the Pilgrims arrived in America. He did believe that all sects should read the Bible, the first book he ever read, but that interpretation and discussion should govern the teaching tools, and he encouraged the populace to, like  himself, read as many books as possible that he considered to be "of value."

He opposed any form of corporal punishment in favor of creating a free and comfortable atmosphere that would encourage learning. After a while, he did admit that sometimes a form of punishment, never physical, might have to be asserted.

Rather than learning to read what he called "mechanically," or by forcing memorization, he introduced ways in which students could put into context what they were learning, a sort of what we in the contemporary world might refer to as the phonics and word recognition methods. He believed in teaching by "induction" rather than by rote.

A lover of nature, he felt that students could learn as much from studying the environment outside of the classroom as well as the subjects taught at a school desk. And he felt strongly that students should be well aware of their own physical traits and systems.

And finally he believed that every child in order to learn must be well fed, well parented and that the school needed to create a warm, comfortable and friendly atmosphere in which to learn. He particularly blamed parents if they did not contribute to his beliefs and remained unlearned themselves or disinterested.

So, what would our politicians and governmental leaders think of Horace Mann and the advocacy he promoted that in various ways remains in place today? Has America done a good job of creating good citizens in the way that Horace Mann imagined they should be created? Maybe we might ask if all the brouhaha over the role of schools in public education could be overcome if an adherence were made to the simple principles that governed Horace Mann's rise to recognition of the importance of public education. And just maybe, by looking back at the modesty of his goals, we might become better American citizens today.


Mimi Pockross is the award-winning author of three books and a soon to be published fourth book, her first novel. You can find her on www.mimipockross.com



Friday, January 27, 2023

MY PRIVATE ANTI-SEMITISM


I’m the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, a story that I constantly tell. My mother arrived in America from Germany in 1938 at the age of seventeen. Her parents and grandparents remained in Germany and were murdered by the Nazis. To her dying day, my mother blamed Jews less assimilated than she as the reason Hitler hated the Jews.

 

In his new movie The Fabelmans, Stephen Spielberg takes a different approach. He blames no one and just keeps going on. He embraces his Jewishness and sets his sites on becoming a filmmaker. He leaves behind the baggage many others can’t and concentrates on making a notable life.

 

The audience views how his family is comfortable with the strands of Jewishness that provide the background for his upbringing. They have no trouble being the only people on their block who don’t decorate their homes with lights at Christmastime. They light the Channukah candles instead. 

 

When Sammy (Stephen Spielberg) is faced with antisemitism in high school, he cleverly circulates the problem in a way that does not harm others. He doesn’t punch back or kill; he tells the truth and as a result brings around some of those who hate him because he’s Jewish to realize why they have these feelings and why they need to think differently.

 

It's a message to the rest of us that maybe whining is not the best approach. Maybe setting an example and being proud of one’s ancestry is better especially if it highlights what is good in life.

 

There are many levels to The Fabelmans that go beyond the fact that Sammy is Jewish, and that’s the point. By Sammy focusing on his craft rather than on his roots, he pursues his dreams. He doesn’t dwell on the stereotypes that enter his development although we see them when his long-lost cousin (Judd Hirsch) visits the family and when the jocks at his Northern California high school physically attack him.

 

How appropriate for Mr. Spielberg to address this subject at a time when antisemitism is on the rise throughout the world. Why, he asks, are you going to accuse him of an act performed by his ancestors that occurred two thousand years ago?

 

This is personal for me. I have always been afraid of my shadow when it comes to my Jewishness unlike many of my peers who are proud of their heritage maybe to a fault. This movie comes at a time when Mr. Spielberg has said that the only way to confront antisemitism is to tell stories that will make the public better understand the Jewish legacy that he mentions in the movie started 5,000 years ago.

 

Most of us will never be as rich and famous as Stephen Spielberg but I believe it’s incumbent upon all of us to continually keep telling our stories in a positive way and to figure out, as Mr. Spielberg does, ways to reveal the weaknesses of others’ arguments against us. I’m working on changing my own mother’s complaints and figuring out new ways to approach the problem.



Watch for An American Family, Mimi Pockross's latest book soon to be published.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND

MONEY MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND

(From Fred Ebb and John Kander’s musical Cabaret)

 

 

 

The other day my grandson, during a family dinner, brought up a topic they were discussing in his business class. His teacher had told them that picking a profession should not be based on how much money one would make but on the impact it would have for each of them. I asked my grandson to ask his teacher “What if making money is the most important impact for a person?” My grandson said he would ask but as yet I haven’t heard back.

 

I was raised in a house where money was the means to an end, i.e. to put food on the table and to buy clothes, toys, cars, furniture so that we could survive. The goal of making money was for that purpose alone and the desire to advance to any higher upper echelon not of import. We had friends, a comfortable home, a good life.

 

I did admire and kind of envy my friends who had bigger houses and nicer clothes and who had their own cars. I lived with my lot and never expected to do more than that. I learned to manage what I had and to always, beginning in fifth grade when I sold Christmas cards door to door, try to make it on my own.

 

Who would have thought when I married my husband, who was even less well off than I was, that in the future we would be more than comfortable in our old age?

 

I remember the pressure that came with the increasing access to wealth. I needed to pay more attention to my wardrobe, my house, my car. I had to learn how to keep my hair, my home and my children up to date on haircuts, clean carpets, and well-tailored clothes. Somehow my mother had always done this within her means and was a good role model and yet, she didn’t know much about this next step into the world of capitalism, the one where you mingled with corporate types and neighbors who were trust fund babies who mostly discussed which resort they would go to for their next vacation

 

I have always been a big fan of Judith Viorst who is most famous for her children’s book Alexander and the Very Horrible No-Good Day, a book I read over and over to my children. I particularly remember reading a chapter she wrote in her book How Did Get to Be Forty (And Other Atrocities) where she talks about getting to a stage where she and her cool college roommates had turned into women “with matching sets of luggage.” I sort of think this epitomizes my transition into the world of capitalism. It became a necessity to figure out how to focus on the ways to increase that wealth so I could continue to buy matched sets of luggage.

 

And then all of a sudden, I was no longer looking out for the welfare of the world. I became more focused on what it took to bring in the bucks.

 

As I have grown older, I have realized you can both make sure you are financially comfortable and be happy doing this. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice and do the things to advance your goals that may overlook your do-gooder instincts. But you can minimize this as well. 

 

Regardless, if you look at the world, it’s always been about money and trade and wealth and power. We’re stuck with that. Money does make the world go around. I have come to believe you just have to deal with it.



Mimi Pockross is the author of three books. Her new book, a novel called An American Family, has just been completed and is pending publication.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Abraham Lincoln Gets It

Take a look at my Goodreads review of Jon Meacham's new and amazing book And Then There was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle


Jon Meacham is a jewel in our American fabric and I have read many of his amazing historical accounts but not all of them. I still have many more to read. This book is particularly important in my mind since in revealing Abraham Lincoln's struggle to free the enslaved and to save the Union, he is reminding some and introducing others to how our democracy is complicated and, at least to this day, still is the better alternative to autocracy. The other aspect of his approach is the emphasis he places on spirituality that is tied to religious beliefs. Lincoln is highly influenced by religious leaders and is guided by his familiarity with the Bible although not exclusively. He likes Shakespeare as well and can recite many passages from memory. In addition, Mr. Meacham also shows both sides of the argument based on diaries and printed news accounts that make the reader understand better the Confederate point of view and even the variations of those in the North. As a read, the book is tedious. I found myself rereading paragraphs to get the gist of one of the many players who were a part of the drama. Finally, one of the first biographies I ever read was about Mary Todd Lincoln when I was in fifth grade. Mr. Meacham describes her vividly and brings her even more to life. I am bowled over by the ability of Mr. Meacham to show all sides to the issue in such a human manner. It reinforces my belief that democracy is a process that evolves and that ultimately keeps us getting better.


https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/37431334-mimi-pockross">View all my reviews</a>

 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Season's Greetings from Mimi


Happy Holidays to you. I hope you have had a wonderful year and are enjoying getting back to a more normal way of life.

I have had another great year with Harvey! That darling rabbit just keeps hopping along. 

 

In January, the film on Harvey’s mom, “Mary Chase: From Housewife to Pulitzer” aired on Rocky Mountain PBS. Produced by the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame, the film can now be viewed on Vimeo and is part of the film library at the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame website. A screening of the film took place at the Denver Woman’s Press Club in May.

 

This year it was an honor to participate in the Denver Woman’s Press Club “Unknown Writers” program. I judged short stories by contestants who had never published before and then attended the reading at the club by the finalists. So much talent out there. 

 

It was a thrill to be interviewed by Janice Simpson who produces a program called “All the Drama” for the website Broadway Radio. She did a wonderful job of reviewing my book before asking me if I had ever seen a production of Harvey. At the time I had never seen one, but I can now say that this November I attended a production at the Vail Mountain School.

 

I also gave a presentation this summer at the Vail Public Library, signed books at a Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame’s “Her Story” presentation and answered questions at a Zoom presentation for the Center for Colorado Women’s History monthly book club.

 

All year I have been working on a new book called An American Family that I hope to publish this coming year.     

 

Thank you for being part of my expanding circle that I meet as I continue to do what I love best, writing.

 

Mimi


                                                                   

Text Box: This poster (approximately five feet by 3 feet) arrived at my home in November from Lyon, France where a French production of Harvey began a year-long tour of cities throughout the country. Hopefully we will soon find a public space in Denver where it can be viewed.

This poster (approximately five feet by 3 feet) arrived  at my home in November from Lyon, France where a  French production of Harvey began a year-long tour of cities throughout the country. Hopefully we will soon find a public space in Denver where it can be viewed.

 

Friday, November 11, 2022

A "Real" Harvey

What fun last night when I saw my first real presentation of Harvey at one of our local schools. 

It took place in a magnificent state of the art theater with a cast of delightful and earnest teenagers playing the roles of Elwood, Veta, Myrtle Mae, Wilson, Dr. Chumley, Dr. Sanderson, Nurse Kelley and Judge Gaffney with an appearance at the end by the school director as the cab driver. Some were garbed in old fashion furs, others streaked with grey hair and the doctors and Wilson all in white, all talented and all a joy to watch.

The other aspect that I so admired was the amazing ability to still revel in all the elements that made Mary Chase's play so successful when it first appeared on Broadway in 1944: the sparkling dialogue ("old as a cast iron deer," "white slaver," "all you men think about is sex;" the fast paced scenes that keeps one interested for the entire time; the satire on society and psychiatry; and above all, the absolute humane character of Elwood P. Dowd.

The five years I've spent with Mary Chase have been filled with delight and many surprises. Last night's production was a great reminder.


Mimi Pockross is a freelance writer and the author of three books. Currently she is working on her fourth book, a novel about immigration and assimilation.

Monday, September 5, 2022

What is School For?

Today I read with interest the New York Times "Sunday Opinion" insert on the state of our country's schools post pandemic.

As a former teacher and a parent and grandparent, I am passionate about the subject of education. It might even be the subject of my next book that I finish after the one I'm working on at the moment.

The New York Times insert touched on the many troublesome concerns that pertain to the American educational scene today from critical race theory, to social mobility, to meritocracy, to hope, to wasting time and money, to making citizens, to bonding with nature, to learning to read. There were even a few thoughts and photos by teenage students and teachers and a story about parent activists. The main articles were written by variety of authors and educators and professors. 

I found the different views fascinating even though I did not always agree with everyone's analysis.

For example, the article on citizenship by Heather McGee and Victor Ray favored much more radically a curriculum that exposes in much greater detail the inequities of racism in the past. I personally am a "just the facts" person so I probably might talk about Thomas Jefferson and his contribution to the making of America today without going into the details of his personal life. I might offer going deeper into Jefferson's life as an extra-curricular subject a student could pursue on his own. On the other hand, there are many facts to learn about slavery itself, i.e. that much of it was economic from the beginning and that even Abraham Lincoln was trying to figure out a way to find a solution to the problem from a humane point of view as well as political point of view. That topic might be a good one for a class discussion.

I so want us all to get along and am willing to make compromises in America. but not at the cost of embracing the importance of education for all if we are to maintain a successful country.  

There so many disparities in points of view about the subject of education from the libertarian view that we should all be free to educate our children the way we want to those who insist we rewrite our entire history to be more inclusive. Of course, this is America and we all have a right to disagree.

Bottom line, though I think we need to have a cohesive belief in what it means to be an American and how we can best carry out this belief. To me, as the PBS travel host Rick Steves said, it means educating our children so that they can make rational decisions about what it takes to keep those beliefs. Then it's up to them to take what they have learned and make us and our country even better.


Mimi Pockross is a freelance writer and the author of three books. Currently she is working on her fourth book, a novel about immigration and assimilation.


Sunday, July 10, 2022

All the Drama


All the Drama: Biographer Mimi Pockross on the 1945 Pulitzer Prize Winner “Harvey”

All The Drama is hosted by Jan Simpson. It is a series of deep dives into the plays that have won The Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

How delightful to be interviewed about my book on Harvey for a podcast dedicated to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights. Entitled "All the Drama" and aired on BROADWAYRADIO.COM, the program focuses on each of the playwrights' stories and is written and produced by Jan Simon, herself a sometimes Pulitzer Prize juror. I loved her "off the beaten path" questions. It amazes me that we can still be talking about Mary Chase and Harvey, a testimony to its lasting impact on the theater and life.

Here's the link:  

https://broadwayradio.com/blog/2022/07/09/all-the-drama-biographer-mimi-pockross-on-the-1945-pulitzer-prize-winner-harvey/


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Lessons Learned

  

 

Lessons Learned

By 

Mimi Pockross

 

 

The incident took place in a midwestern rural community about an hour away from a state university in the late 1960s. The make-up of the student body was a blend of children from the nearby Air Force base as well as the children of farmers, and the people of the main town. 

 

I was the high school speech and drama teacher. In addition to being responsible for a full load of teaching public speaking classes, I was in charge of directing two major plays a year. After my first effort when there were only eight members in the cast and an audience made up of their relatives, I decided that every play I would choose from that point on would have casts of thousands. 

 

My next selection after that rather disappointing first play was the 1955 iconic play Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee that had become a very popular movie starring Spencer Tracy, Frederic March and Gene Kelly in 1960. As you may recall, it’s a fictionalized version of the Scopes Trial that took place in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee and tested whether evolution should be allowed to be taught in the schools. In reality two famous lawyers came to Dayton to try the case, William Jennings Bryan who had been a three-time candidate for U.S. president and the famous trial lawyer, Clarence Darrow.

 

I was very young and na├»ve and never really thought about the political ramifications that might surface from producing this play in a small midwestern town. It wasn’t a matter of race because the Air Force students were a diverse bunch that included African Americans, Asians and even a Jewish child in the mix. No, the problem was Ms. Claire, a teacher who, for religious reasons, objected to the theme of the play, a test case with a little romance and family problems added to the drama. The case eventually went to the Supreme Court where it was determined that evolution could be taught in the schools.

 

Concerned with Ms. Claire’s objections, I wrote an article for the local newspaper. “The plot more clearly brings out the conflict between progress and tradition,” I wrote. “It merely tells us that both views should be allowed to be presented. It does not speak out against religion, but criticizes those who are not allowed to think or those who don’t want to.”  

 

The upshot of this was surprisingly a very mellow one. Everyone liked the play, even the school superintendent, and life went on without a wrinkle. Even Ms. Claire laid her case to rest.

 

Thinking back on my brash decision, I wonder how I would feel if this situation occurred today. When I made my play selections, I did not have to account to anybody. The school trusted that I would make prudent and conscientious decisions. In our current atmosphere, I’m wondering how such choices should be made. Censorship certainly is scary, and we live in different times. Heavens, the plays in which my grandson acts are much more edgy than a story of Southern churchgoers in the 1920s. 

My past experience made me realize how important it is to have guardrails, not rigid ones but ones that allow a robust discussion without making conclusions. The Inherit the Wind playwright Jerome Lawrence described his oevre as a parable, a metaphor for any kind of mind control ... It's not about science versus religion,” he said. “It's about the right to think."

 

I have very fond memories of the time during which the production occurred. I still get letters today from some of the students that took part. Together we were able to talk and think and try to work things out. It is my hope that what I learned can somehow be applied to today’s educational philosophy. I’ll let the boards, the parents and the teachers figure out how to do this.

 

 

Mimi Pockross is a freelance writer who lives in Vail, Colorado. Her most recent book is Pulling Harvey Out of Her Hat: The Amazing Story of Mary Coyle Chase.

 

 

 

  


 

 

 

 

Monday, April 4, 2022

Top Bunny

 

A couple of years ago around Easter time, a Wall Street Journal article listed the 39 most famous bunnies. Near the top of the heap along with Bugs Bunny and Peter Rabbit was an invisible six foot one-and-a-half inch tall rabbit by the name of Harvey, the subject of the Pulitzer Prize play by the same name and the movie that followed starring Jimmy Stewart in what he once said was his most favorite role.

 

Just like memories of Lucy and Ethel stomping grapes on an episode of I Love Lucy or Gene Kelley singing in the rain, there is, as one critic recalled her mother saying, no time when the mention of Harvey doesn’t bring a smile to anyone’s face who is familiar with the “tale.” 

 

In the story written by playwright Mary Chase, a middle-age man named Elwood P. Dowd befriends an invisible six foot one-and-a-half-inch tall rabbit much to the dismay of his social climbing sister Veta. Chaos breaks out when Veta tries to have Elwood committed to a sanitarium. The question becomes who is more sane….Elwood and his imaginary rabbit or the outside world that Veta represents. It turns out that in many ways Elwood and Harvey are a lot more humane than those who claim to understand reality. Together Elwood and Harvey create mischief for those who deserve it and revel in their moments together when life is peaceful and kind and pleasant. 

 

From the time that Harvey debuted on Broadway in the middle of World War II to a recent reference to Harvey by the mystery writer Louise Penny in her book Kingdom of the Blind, audiences and readers have never stopped thinking about Harvey and appreciating all he is to us.

That an invisible rabbit could be the subject of multiple references in movies like Field of DreamsShawshank Redemption, and episodes of The Simpsons on television is a tribute to the character that was created by his author, Mary Chase. 

 

The actress Helen Hayes who played in the revival of Harvey in 1970 explained to host Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show that in her mind if youngsters just put their imaginations to work, they too wouldn’t have to find other destructive means of escaping. They too could just have a fun invisible companion like Harvey the rabbit and all would be well.

 

As the Easter season approaches and we think of Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail, we should all have a dream of someone like Harvey in our lives that makes us all kinder and more pleasant human beings. 



Mimi Pockross is the author of Pulling Harvey Out of Her Hat: The Amazing Story of Mary Coyle Chase