Dolley Madison in da house (and on PBS), yo!
As I mentioned in a previous post, Countess Ada Lovelace will Skype in from the mysterious afterlife on March 24th, Ada Lovelace day to reveal a giant secret.
BUT today I want to talk about another very special lady. This American grande-dame would be Dolley Madison. Yes, that Dolley Madison! If you’re suddenly feeling snacky, it may be because you know Dolley from her cupcake fame. But I want you to try to think past those raspberry Zingers and chocolate Donut Gems (difficult, I know). Dolley could bake, sure, but she was so much more than a “Hostess”. She was also much more than the wife of the fourth U.S. President James Madison. The Dolley Madison I want you to discover had a sharp, strategic mind, a knack for breaking up deadly duels and mending political fences and an endless amount of faith in a new, fragile republic called the United States of America. Oh, and did I mention she loved to party? Whoooo-hooooo!
It’s always baffled me that desserts bear her name. A beer or a brand of snuff would have been more appropriate. Dolley wore dazzling clothing and was the first American fashion icon. At the turn of the century, it was considered taboo to write about women in newspapers – society feared it would cheapen the morally virtuous gender as a whole – but after every party Dolley threw (her parties were called “Squeezes” because they were so crowded), the papers never failed to report in detail on the dress and turban Dolley was wearing.
But she didn’t live her life for the red-white-and-blue-carpet. Her parties were strategically scandalous. A woman ahead of her time, she had the revolutionary idea not only to invite women to the politicians parties (unheard of at the time), she invited folks from the opposite political party! It would be like Nancy Reagan pole-dancing with not only the Dems but gay folks too…Outrageous!
Of course not all of Dolley’s life was rosy…She made mistakes and acted selfishly at times. But I think it just reminds us she was human.
Lucky for all of us, a new documentary on Dolley is airing tonight on PBS.
In LA, it’s on KCET at 9pm, March 1, 2010
And if you want to read my screenplay about her life entitled DOLLEY and see how a buxom extrovert fell for a five foot tall misanthrope with O.C.D., I’m happy to send it! Dolley is about to break out big time. You heard it from FalloutGirl first.