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Wayland Parrott Flowers Jr. (November 26, 1939 – October 11, 1988) was an American actor, comedian and puppeteer. Flowers was best known for the comedy act he created with his puppet Madame. His performances as "Wayland Flowers and Madame" were a major national success on stage and on screen in the 1970s and 1980s.

Wayland Flowers
Wayland Flowers and Madame.jpg
Wayland Flowers and Madame from Madame's Place
Born Wayland Parrott Flowers Jr.
(1939-11-26)November 26, 1939
Dawson, Georgia, U.S.
Died October 11, 1988(1988-10-11) (aged 48)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Kaposi's sarcoma
Resting place Cedar Hill Cemetery
Nationality American
Occupation Actor, comedian, and puppeteer
Years active 1960–1988

Contents

CareerEdit

Born and raised in Dawson, Georgia, Flowers created Madame in the mid-1960s. Flowers' first big break was an appearance on The Andy Williams Show. The character of Madame is an "outrageous old broad" who entertains with double entendres and witty comebacks. Bedecked in fabulous evening wear and "summer diamonds" ("Some are diamonds; some are not"), Madame's look is based on movie stars such as Gloria Swanson. Many believe that Madame is based on a Washington, DC gay icon, waitress and restaurant hostess Margo MacGregor.[1]

Madame's many TV appearances included Laugh-In; a long run on the game show Hollywood Squares (replacing Paul Lynde in The Center Square); a recurring comedy skit on Solid Gold; a regular on ABC's short-lived summer replacement show called Keep on Truckin', TV guest spots; and as the star of her own syndicated 1982 sitcom, Madame's Place.

Flowers and Madame were in the center square on the final NBC episode of Hollywood Squares in June 1980; host Peter Marshall asked Madame the final game question of the daytime series, which was "Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss lived in the same place. Where did they all live?" Madame's "comic" answer: "At the YMCA!" Then her "serious" answer: Germany. (The correct answer: Austria.)

Flowers' other puppets included Crazy Mary (an escapee from Bellevue mental hospital), Jiffy (a Harlem harlot with a heart of brass), Macklehoney (a crotchety, retired vaudeville comedian). His puppet Smedley worked with Marlo Thomas on Free to Be... You and Me.

Personal lifeEdit

Flowers was one of the first mainstream entertainers who was openly gay.[2]

DeathEdit

Sometime during his four year stint on Solid Gold, Flowers was diagnosed with HIV. He did not publicly announce his diagnosis and continued to perform. Flowers eventually developed Kaposi's sarcoma, an AIDS-related cancer. On September 2, 1988, he collapsed onstage while performing at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe. After a brief hospitalization, he returned to his hometown of Dawson, Georgia where he visited family.[3] Upon returning to Los Angeles, he moved into the hospice Hughes House to continue treatment.[4] On October 11, 1988, Flowers died at Hughes House of complications from AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma at the age of 48.[5][6] His remains were cremated at Grand View Memorial Park & Crematory in Glendale, California and shipped back to his hometown of Dawson, Georgia where they were interred at Cedar Hills Cemetery.[7]

Flowers's bequeathed his estate to his manager, Marlena Shell.[8]

LegacyEdit

Ten years after Flowers's death, Madame returned to the stage with entertainer Rick Skye. After appearances on several television shows, performances of "It's Madame with an E" began November 15, 2008 at Resorts Atlantic City.[8][9] During 2010, the show also toured the US.[10]

Flowers inspired the first name of Waylon Smithers, a fictional character on the animated TV series The Simpsons.[11]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Najafi, Yusef (July 26, 2007). "Universal Mother: Saying goodbye to Margo". MetroWeekly. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  2. ^ Anderson-Minshall, Diane (March 4, 2013). "Madame's Back and Randy As Ever". The Advocate. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  3. ^ Jones, Jack (October 12, 1988). "Wayland Flowers; Creator of Risque Puppet Madame". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  4. ^ Gilliam, Jerry; Braun, Stephen (October 28, 1988). "AIDS Hospices Bonds Get Tentative OK". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 26, 2017. 
  5. ^ "Wayland Flowers Dies; Ventriloquist Was 48". The New York Times. Associated Press. October 12, 1988. Retrieved December 30, 2006. 
  6. ^ Los Angeles County death certificate number 38819045556, registered October 13, 1988 by Donald W. Long, M.D.
  7. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, (3 ed.). McFarland. p. 247. ISBN 0-786-47992-2. 
  8. ^ a b Ferber, Lawrence (December 23, 2008). "The Divine Miss M". The Advocate. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  9. ^ Resorts Atlantic City website, retrieved November 10, 2008
  10. ^ "Tour Dates: "It's Madame with an E "". MadameandMe.com. Retrieved November 29, 2013. 
  11. ^ Goertz, Allie; Prescott, Julia (8 August 2016). "I Married Marge (with Jeff Martin)" (Podcast). Maximum Fun. Event occurs at 61:28. Retrieved 4 April 2018. 

External linksEdit