Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Betty MacDonald Interviews on CD/DVD

The mentioned interviews with Betty MacDonald, her family and friends in this article are real treasures and especially Betty's sister Alison is so funny and brilliant. These interviews are available on CD and DVD. You can read other comments of fans regarding the stories and interviews in my next blog. ( see Betty MacDonald Fan Club Page )

By CECELIA GOODNOW Seattle P.I. ReporterNearly 40 years after her untimely death, the Seattle area's first million-selling author has largely faded from the annals of literature. But in Germany, Betty MacDonald just keeps going ... and going ... and going. Which has filmmaker Wolfgang Hampel coming and going as he scurries to gather local color for a television documentary about the internationally renowned author of ``The Egg and I." Never mind that some of MacDonald's humor books are out of print in the United States. In Germany, her fame lives on - a fact that becomes clear after just a few minutes with the ebullient Wolfgang Hampel. ``I think she is popular in Germany and Europe because she had a very hard life, but she could also smile, and she had for every situation a laugh," he said. ``Our life is tragicomedy, and she showed this. It's a masterpiece, her books. Therefore, she's unforgotten." Betty MacDonald, an incandescent woman with bobbed hair and a sweeping smile, developed a huge following in the 1940s and '50s with her comic tales of everyday life in the Northwest. ``The Egg and I," her first million-seller, was a bleakly humorous account of chicken farming near Chimacum on the Olympic Peninsula. She moved there in the late 1920s with her first husband, Robert Heskett. A film version starred Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert and led to a series of Ma and Pa Kettle movies. MacDonald wrote other popular books, including ``Onions in the Stew," which described her years on Vashon Island, and ``The Plague and I," an upbeat account of her battle with tuberculosis at age 30. Her children's novels include ``Nancy and Plum" and the ``Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" series, which inspired a popular Seattle Children's Theatre production that has been staged three times since 1989. Wolfgang Hampel, who teaches career-development classes in Heidelberg, is part of a five-man group that has been researching Betty MacDonald since 1983, first as fans and now as free-lance filmmakers in a nation still hungry for news of the faded American legend. Although they have done projects on author Truman Capote and illustrator Maurice Sendak, it seems ``Betty" is their first love. On a three-week visit to Seattle, Wolfgang Hampel gathered enough material for a spate of documentaries.Betty MacDonald, who died of cancer in 1958 at age 49, won rousing reviews in her day. When ``The Egg and I" appeared in 1945, the Philadelphia Inquirer called it ``the most hilarious, earthy, rib-splitting piece of fowl-lettres to be hatched since chickens were invented." The Atlantic Monthly said MacDonald wrote ``with a breezy Western unconventionality," and The Saturday Review raved about her ``hilarious reminiscences" of anunconventional life in the ``Northwest Pacific. HarperCollins republished ``The Egg and I" in 1987, and the ``Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" series is still available in HarperTrophy paperback, but some other MacDonald titles are more elusive. Buccaneer Books, a company in Cutchogue, N.Y., that specializes in republishing out-of-print classics, issued four of her titles in hardback, but none is in stock. The Seattle Public Library has most of her titles. ``She's still very much read," said librarian Michael Moffitt. ``We have questions all the time from people who want to locate the site of the farm or track down Ma and Pa Kettle. People come from the East Coast practically on pilgrimages. They want to experience Betty MacDonald first-hand." Betty MacDonald's sassy personality and colorful life are part of the draw. Born Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard, she moved to Seattle as a child, graduated from Roosevelt High School and married Heskett in 1927, at age 19. They separated after four years and later divorced. After the marriage ended, MacDonald became the only woman labor inspector with the Depression-era National Recovery Administration and later worked for the U.S. Treasury Department. She was sidelined with tuberculosis for more than eight months at Firland Sanitorium north of Seattle before resuming her career in 1939 as publicity supervisor for the National Youth Adminstration.In 1942, Betty married Donald MacDonald, started writing and quickly became a celebrity. On his Seattle visit Wolfgang Hampel gathered anecdotes from relatives and friends, Wolfgang Hampel treasures such recollections. ``Everyone said to me, `She was the most wonderful person in the world I've ever met.'

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Betty MacDonald

Please visit the Betty MacDonald Fan Club Page.

We posted several info.

We'd love to hear from Betty Fans from all over the world.