Monday, July 11, 2011

MONDAY MUSINGS: Characters Who Influenced Me

A few days ago my group and I touched on characters that were role models as we grew up. I got to thinking about women characters I liked and why. I’ll admit, these characters also influenced my writing in so far as female characters go.

Amanda Bonner (Kate Hepburn, Adam’s Rib)
She was smart, a snazzy dresser, a career woman, and yet she was also married and juggled both. It wasn't all roses. She had problems to overcome, but then, so do all good characters.

Of course, Hepburn always played the accomplished woman who was strong, smart, bucking against stereotype of her time, but not afraid of being a woman. She let her dry wit and sense of humor out to play.  Hepburn always played my favorite type of character, intelligent, funny, sassy, sexy, and confident.

Some of Hepburn’s leading men were favorites of mine too. Gary Grant, suave, dashing, funny, and sexy. Or a man’s man, like Humphrey Bogart in African Queen. But Heroes are a subject for another blog. 

These old movies have fond memories for me because my mom and I loved Hepburn and we always watched them on TV when I was a girl. I still catch them when I can

Honey West (Anne Francis)

Oh, I watched this faithfully as a young girl. I loved Honey West. She was everything I wanted to be when I grew up. She was physically strong to do what she did, she had confidence galore—which was very attractive to me at that age. Honey was a judo/karate expert and she could kick ass and take names. Honey, was a great character because she took the labels of the time and poked holes through them. She was the first female private eye to ever appear on television. Plus, she had, Bruce, a very cool cat (ocelot). As the show progressed she got tougher. Yes, she celebrated her womanhood, used her looks to disarm the bad guys, but when push came to shove she could hold her own. Honey knew her limitations but she also demonstrated a quality I've always admired. If you use your brain you can figure out most things. Honey showed that you didn't have to be mannish to be a strong and competent woman and I liked that. She was always classy.

Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas That Girl)

I watched it and loved the idea that Ann was young and enthusiastic, had a goal and was willing to leave the safety of home to achieve it. I like the fact the focus was on a young single woman and it reflected the changing roles of women. This show was the forerunner of two shows (and characters) I also loved—the highly successful Mary Tyler Moore Show and Murphy Brown (I was a big fan of this one even more than MTM)

Pepper Anderson (Angie Dickinson)


Pepper was smart, pretty, and capable. Able to be what she wanted to be regardless of what people thought the role of woman should be. She had a tough job but was still celebrated her femininity. She had compassion, a sense of humor, and used logic and reason to get through to people—whether they were coworkers, bad guys, or families she had to share bad news with. Angie Dickinson’s role opened doors for more dramas that featured women in lead roles.

Kate Lawrence (Sada Thompson, on Family)


Why Kate? Because she had the courage of her convictions in a time when wife and mother were becoming synonymous selling out and being unliberated. She was loving and strong woman. Kate was tough when she needed to be and very fierce in protecting her family—even against themselves. She seemed so wise and confident. Actually, I think she showed there was nothing weak or wimpy about the job of being a mother and a wife. Even in this day of *new* paganism (especially in books) and worship of the mother goddess, wasn't one of her roles motherhood and wife. The goddess perfected the strength required to do both and do it well.


  • Who were some of your favorite film characters?
  • Do find yourself using their type or style in your writing?    

Coming up: Wednesday: Stephanie Julian, What a Goddess Wants, Friday: is historical author Lavina Kent.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Can you tell I still love Honey West? lol!

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Sia, Laura from Little House on the Prairie. And she might crop up every once in a while in my writing from the prairie; yes indeed. :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Roxane, you're a certainly a prairie girl. I didn't watch that show very often even though Michael Landon was in it. I did love the books. I read them all.

Hilary said...

Hi Sia .. Angie Dickinson I used to watch .. I'm not sure the others 'made' the tv when I was watching .. the Avenger ladies' - Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley .. so I can see where you're coming from .. I'd aspire to them.

Loved Michael Langdon too and Clint .. but they're men (I think!!) .. cheers Hilary

Karen Walker said...

Sia, this is a such a wonderful topic. I hadn't thought of Sada Thompson on Family for years - loved that character and the show. I didn't watch Honey West, but I remember Pepper Anderson. And you're so right about the characters Katherine Hepburn played, as well as who she was in real life. Wonderful role models, indeed.

Elle J Rossi said...

No laughing, Sia! I was a total fan of Wonder Woman. Kick ass female superhero? Hell yeah! Another fave of mine was Claire Huxtable from the Cosby SHow. She did it all and still had the best sense of humor with a healthy dose of sarcasm. In answer to your question, I absolutely use these traits for my heroines!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, I loved Claire too! And, I watched Wonder Woman too, lol! I enjoyed the show.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I meant to say, Elle, both of those shows were on TV after I left home.

Karen, I still enjoy watching Kate Hepburn's old movies, especially some of her romantic comedies.

Laurie said...

Sorry, put me down for guy role models.

Ilya Kuriakin -- wow. Learned Russian because of him. Learned to hold my fork in my left hand because of him.

Rhett Butler -- ditto. Who wanted to be Scarlett in a corset when you could have been a riverboat gambler? I mean, really!

Do I use them in my writing? Hmmm. Never really thought about it.

Viola Russell said...

I loved Jo March in "Little Women." She was a wonderful character, and I wanted to be a writer after I read that book. The unabridged version of it is marvelous. When the recent film was made, I really thought Winona Ryder captured Jo in all her complexity: teacher, writer, longing soul.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Admit I always liked Ford's Han Solo, although that type of character never made it into my book.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I'll be doing guys in a later article. Wait, that sounds wrong.

Alex, I loved Hans solo.

Hilary, oh yes, who could not love the Avenger ladies? That's exactly where I was coming from with tough and capable and yet feminine,

~Sia McKye~ said...

Violet, Little Women was a favorite read of mine growing up. My mom introduced me to Louisa May Alcott. I haven't seen Winona in that role. I'll have to check it out.

Laurie, I liked Rhett. A favorite hero type of mine.

Jo said...

I too was nuts about Ilya Kuryakin. Loved the Avenger girls, but also loved Debbie Reynolds females. A lot of the others mentioned were US only and I live in the UK. Today, what about the Duchess of Cambridge???

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo. The world is fascinated with the Duchess of Cambridge, even the those in Quebec were interested and they don't like the Royal house on principle.

Tonya Kappes said...

I LOVE this post!! I'm a big ole Doris Day fan!! My characters in my novels are that quirky, sweet heroine!! Honey West!! Tooo fun!

Kat Sheridan said...

Loved most of the characters you named, particularly Marlo Thomas, and Murphy Brown. And like Hilary, I loved Diana RIgg as Mrs. Peel (and she's likely to show up as one of my heroines!)