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Bloody Mary is a character in the book Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener (written in 1946), which was made into the musical South Pacific by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and later into a film in 1958.

The Bloody Mary character is Vietnamese (Tonkinese). Tonkin is the northern most province of what is now Vietnam. She was brought to the island by a French planter. She is often cast as black (most famously by Juanita Hall, who originated the character on the stage, and later portrayed her in the 1958 film), Asian or Pacific Islander. She trades with the US sailors who are stationed on nearby islands during the Second World War. She is learning English, and is proud that she will eventually "speak English as good as any crummy Marine". When the American spurns her daughter's hand out of prejudice, her most famous line is "Stingy bastard!" Juanita Hall won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for originating this role on stage.

A song from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about her makes U.S. Navy sailors sing, "Bloody Mary is the girl I love", "her skin is tender as DiMaggio's glove", and that she chews "betel nuts", and doesn't use "Pepsodent", with the refrain "Now ain't that too damn bad!"

Possible models for her are Aggie Grey or her sister Mary Croudace (Auntie Mary); hotelkeepers in Apia, Samoa who hosted American film stars and military personnel. They were daughters of an Englishman and his Samoan wife.[1]

A 2001 article in Islands Magazine states that Michener renamed Aoba Island Bali-ha'i. The author interviewed the proprietor of a resort on Espiritu Santo, who claimed the "real Bloody Mary" lived on Espiritu Santo for many years after the war and lived to the age of 102.[2]


  1. ^ Hensley, Gerald (2006). Final Approaches: A Memoir. Auckland: Auckland University Press, NZ. p. 6. ISBN 1 86940 378 9.
  2. ^ Gibbs, Tony. "A Tale of the South Pacific", Islands Magazine, Islands Media, Carpenteria, California, Vol. 21, No. 1, Jan/Feb 2001, pp. 88–89