May 22, 2009

JoAnne Worley, The Nutty Aunt I Wish I'd Always Had!

There is just something about the inimitable JoAnne Worley that I find very endearing. Of course, I have no idea what her demeanor is like in real-life, but if she's anything like her public persona I would love to know her! Heck, I'd have her to all my family functions. "That kooky Aunt JoAnne...", we'd say. "She's such a hoot!"

Worley was born in Lowell, Indiana on September 6th, 1937 as the third of five children. Even back in high school, she was developing a reputation for being funny as she was named the 'School Comedienne' by her peers. After studying drama in college, she went on to do many professional theater productions, including musicals. It wasn't until 1968, when JoAnne landed a regular spot on 'Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In', that she really broke into the main stream and became a star. After about 2 years on 'Laugh-In', Ms. Worley moved on to making movies and continued to spread her distinctive personality around the T.V. landscape.

Isn't she... pretty in pink?

Growing up in the 70s, I can remember seeing JoAnne (and hearing her trademark laugh) on many a television show. Why, she was on everything from 'Love, American Style' to even 'Love Boat' in the 80s. Then there were also several game shows of which Ms. Worley was a regular on, such as 'Hollywood Squares', 'Match Game', 'Password', and even 'The $10,000 Pyramid'. I would've "bet my sweet bippy" that she had also appeared on 'The Liar's Club', but I couldn't find any record of it. I must have dreamed about that the same night I dreamed an evil Billy Barty was injecting a couple of helpless young ladies with a syringe full of terror...

As a child, I didn't always understand what everyone was laughing about, but just hearing her laugh or suddenly break into operatic song was enough to make me giggle. And the clothes she would usually wear, with all the feathers and/or boas were certainly attention-grabbing! Not to mention, she was obviously a fan of the bouffant. Quite fashionable, really!

I think Big Bird had something to do with this!

Looks like JoAnne's sharing an operatic
moment with Goldie on 'Laugh-In'.

In somewhat recent years, she's done voice work for animated productions such as Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast' (she was the Wardrobe/Armoir character) and even the Sony Playstation 'Kingdom Hearts' video game. She's also played both, the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in a stage musical of 'The Wizard of Oz', and Madame Morrible in the huge hit 'Wicked'. And most recently, she even played a bit part on Disney's T.V. show 'Wizards of Waverly Place'. I think JoAnne must have a thing for Oz and wizards!

Perhaps the best thing Ms. Worley has been doing, is her work as the President of Actors and Others for Animals. It's an organization that is dedicated to the promotion of humane treatment of animals. They say their main mission is to try and curb the pet overpopulation problem by subsidizing spay/neuter surgeries, but they do so much more. Please, use the link to see all that they do!

As a kid, I dug everything about JoAnne Worley. Today, especially since I know of her efforts toward helping animals, I really admire her! Now, if we could just have her over for our next family dinner night...


  1. The background wall in her picture with Goldie is just too cool !

  2. I'm with you, people that do not fit the 'normal' mold are the most interesting and fun.

    I'm always attracted to those that others think are eccentric and strange. I remember as a child, the people who influenced me the most were considered strange and weird. I found them interesting, attractive, smart, and from another time and place.

    Btw, you remind me of one of my best friends.

    And, I'll be that "Aunt" you want to have over...except, I'm more of an Anais Nin, Coco Chanel type personality. I'm terrible at delivering a funny line or joke.

    Have a wonderful day!

  3. Yes, Veronica, the background sets on 'Laugh-In' were terrific! I miss variety shows of the 60s & 70s... They just don't make 'em like they used to!

    Sixpence, you don't HAVE to be funny. I can enjoy stylish, intelligent types like yourself, too!

  4. I never knew of your fondness for JoAnne! It's official - for our next IRL get-together, I'll dress up like her and we'll take pictures!

  5. Ummm... O.K., Tikimama. Are you serious? You KNOW that I would love that! Don't just tease me, now.

  6. Anthony, you've brought back some fab memories here...SWEET! the theme song from "Love Boat" is in my head darling... ;)

    You have a great weekend okie*

  7. Sorry, LENORENEVERMORE! The 'Love Boat' theme is a hard one to shake, once you've gotten it stuck in your head! Maybe, you can just whistle that little tune while cleaning out your attic this weekend. You never know, it might even scare away the spiders... and THAT'S a good thing, right?

  8. I enjoyed your tribute to one of my favorite ladies. And, I love knowing she's an animal advocate! She always seemed happy and silly, and so many grownups weren't. I dug her head scarves and hairpieces and that booming voice. But she's still alive so I shouldn't be using past tense, right?

  9. Oh no, Julie! I completely forgot to mention the head scarves! They were practically JoAnne's staple fashion accessory... Wouldn't it be great to HAVE one of those?


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