Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Angel of the Evening

The petite (5'2" 100 lb) Donna Wilkes got her SAG card at 17 from a role in the Tim Matheson/Didi Conn vehicle Almost Summer (1978) which led to a role in Jaws 2. She played the oldest daughter in TV's Hello, Larry for one season in 1979 (until she was fired and replaced). She played a drug addict on "Days of Our Lives" and a problem teen in a Linda Carter TV-movie. By 1984, Donna, age 25, was starring in her first leading role in Angel ("Honor Student by Day / Hollywood Hooker by Night"). The $3 million dollar indie was such a hit and moneymaker that it spawned 3 film sequels (all bombs with new actresses in title role) and film imitators ("Savage Streets" with Linda Blair).

The 'Angel' press release began with the line:
What's a nice girl like Donna Wilkes doing portraying a teenage hooker? Or a teenage alcoholic? Or an unmarried, pregnant teenager?

Angel (1984) is a real classic in my book. It features 15-year-old likeable orphan Molly Stewart living on her own trying to get her diploma and working as a street whore to pay the bills. Her landlady is a foul-mouthed, cigar smoking lesbian named Solly (played by Susan Tyrrell) and Molly/Angel's pals include a street clown named "Yo Yo" and a has-been cowboy actor "Kit Carson" (played by Rory Calhoun - a real life has-been cowboy actor). Molly/Angel's fairy godmother Mae is a transvestite played by Dick Shawn, and her guardian angel LAPD pal is played by Cliff Gorman. The plot involves "Angel" trying not to get killed by a serial killer running loose around 80s Hollywood.

The scene of scenes comes later in the flick when Solly and Mae viciously fight over a game of cribbage. The dialogue goes like this:

Dick Shawn as Mae: That's called cheating, it's not nice.

Susan Tyrrell as Solly: How fuckin' dare you. How fuckin' dare you, you CUNT! To think I have to cheat to beat the likes of you !!

Dick Shawn as Mae: My father warned me, he said Rachel - never play cards with a jewish dyke - they cheat !

Susan Tyrrell as Solly: Ah screw you, Lulabelle !


fun fact: Donna Wilkes had a short-lived marriage at age 19 to 40-year-old Billy Gray (TV's Bud Anderson from Father Knows Best).

Extra fun fact from a wiki contributor: The motel in the film is the El Royale Motel at 11117 Ventura Boulevard, North Hollywood. It has scarcely changed since this film was shot in 1983. In fact, most of the film was shot at real locations on and around Hollywood Boulevard.

Donna Wilkes' last role was on TV in 1991. Wilkes turns fifty this November 11, 2009.

You owe it to yourself to learn about all things Donna here:
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