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March 09, 1988 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-09

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ARTS

The Michigan Doily

Wednesday, March 9, 1988

Page 5

Cult

star

Divine dies

at

42

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Divine,
the outrageous 300 pound female
impersonator who starred in such
cult classics as Pink Flamingos and
Lust in the Dust, died at age 42 on
the verge of acceptance as a legiti-
mate character actor, his manager
said.
Divine, whose real name was
Harris Glenn Milstead, was a gar-
ishly made-up, loud and foul-
mouthed character who was intro-
duced in 1972's Pink Flamingos as
"the filthiest person alive." Milstead
made the same campy character suit-
able for a wider audience in the cur-
rent movie Hairspray.
. "He was finally getting respect
within the industry," said manager
Bernard Jay. "He was getting the le-
gitimate screen and television offers
that showed the industry had finally

accepted him as the very good char-
acter actor he always knew he was."
Milstead, found in his bed at the
Hollywood Regency Plaza Hotel on
Monday, apparently died of asphyxi-
ation in his sleep, said publicist
John West of PMK.
The Los Angeles County coro-
ner's office said it was investigating
the cause of death.
Last Friday, a doctor declared
Milstead in excellent health, other
than his weight, "which has been a
constant problem throughout his
life," said Jay.
Milstead said in a 1985 interview
he grew up fat and was taunted by
classmates in the Baltimore suburb
of Lutherville. Milstead told an in-
terviewer he had a fantasy life re-
volving around female movie stars
and dreams of becoming a celebrity.

Milstead was made a celebrity, at
least among fans of after-midnight
art films, by one of his few friends
from high school, director John Wa-
ters.
Waters cast Milstead in trashy and
bizarre roles as the female-
impersonating star of Pink Flamin-
gos, Lust in the Dust, Polyester,
and Female Trouble.
Despite his dressing in drag for
acting roles, Milstead wasn't a
transvestite at heart, Waters wrote in
his book Shock Value.
"'He says he sometimes dreads
getting into drag but realizes these
flamboyant outfits are his work
clothes,"' Waters wrote.
With each film, Waters and Mil-
stead found a wider audience. The
Waters-directed Hairspray, a spoof
of the '60s, was rated number 16 last

weekend in the box office, earning
$577,258 at 79 theatres.
In Hairspray, Milstead played
dual roles. In men's clothing, he was
a television station operator deter-
mined to keep Black and white
youngsters from appearing together
on a dance show. As Divine, he
starred as the stage mother of a
chubby, teenage dance show contes-
tant.
"The character is a real person,"
Milstead once said of Divine.
"Sometimes she's just too bold,
but she has socially redeeming
qualities, no matter what she does.
She's her own person and a lot of
people like that. The camp element
is something out of the ordinary,
this big man playing a sexy
woman.'
Besides film roles, Milstead also
used the Divine persona in a night-
club act.

Doily Photo by SCOTT LITUCHY

Female impersonator Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as his
onscreen persona Divine, sings at a 1985 Nectarine Ballroom
performance.

'Manon'

:

A

successful

sequel of
By Andrea Gacki
Revenge is, as they say, sweet
- but does it also make a movie?
Claude Berri's Manon of the
Spring, the second part to Jean de'
Florette, is the tale of young,
beautiful Manon's revenge for her
father Jean's death at the hands of
the greedy Soubeyrans. Or, rather,
it's her revenge for his death due to
the rock that fell on his head due to
the dynamite blast which was due to
his pursuit of water which was due .
. . well, anyway, it's the
Soubeyrans' fault. Obviously, any
film which requires this much
reliance on another film to tell its
story cannot hope to equal, let alonel
surpass, it. Manon of the Spring'
does approach, however, the'
splendor and charm of Jean de
Florette, and that's enough to'
guarantee a very good film.
It is 10 years after the tragic
death of the hunchback Jean. The
brutal Papet Soubeyran (Yves
Montand) and his weasel of a

sweet revenge

nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil)
now have a flourishing carnation
farm on the once barren land that
was Jean's, for surprise, surprise, it
now has quite a bountiful spring.
Manon (Emanuelle B6art) roams the
countryside with her herd of goats;
she's a proud, mystical creature,
who refuses to live with her mother
who has since returned to the opera.
The revenge of Manon begins when
Ugolin encounters her dancing and
playing her father's harmonica while
she dries in the sun after bathing.
Needless to say, he is smitten.
Manon could never love, let
alone stomach, Ugolin; instead, she
loves the young teacher in the
village. Nevertheless, Ugolin
persists, going even so far as to sew
one of her hair ribbons to his chest.
One day, Manon by chance
discovers the source of the village's
water supply. Her desire for
vengeance is overwhelming, and she
corks the source.
Out of the misery of the drought
comes the required punishment for
the death of Jean de Florette, and the

mystery of Florette's and Papet's
relationship is finally unveiled. This
is all very fine, and one genuinely
wants to see this crime brought to
some justice, but the entire film
exists almost as a court's sentence
for the death of Jean. The
tremendous sympathy that was felt
for Jean in the first film is all but
missing for Manon; you already
know that she will exact her revenge
and gain retribution, so there's
nothing to worry about. As a result,
Manon of the Spring cannot quite
achieve the substance of Jean de
Florette.
Nevertheless, Manon of the
Spring is a necessary and
anticipated sequel; it still possesses
endearing characterizations and the
melodramatic charm of classic
movies. Realistically, it cannot be
expected to duplicate Jean de
Florette, and, actually, it isn't
necessary. As the second part to a
magnificent film, much of the
splendor and charm is retained, and
Manon of the Spring is not to be
missed.

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