Monday, July 29, 2013

Patrick Dennis: An Extraordinary Butler!

Miss Helen brought something to my attention I want to share with you tonight. Did you ever read the novel Auntie Mame? Or perhaps see the Broadway stage adaptation Mame, starring Rosalind Russell?

Later there was a Broadway musical starring Angela Lansbury, widely known on TV for Murder She Wrote. Or maybe you've seen the film adaptation and its many reruns on television, starring Lucille Ball, known on TV for I love Lucy. (Hollywood gossip has it that Ball got the part because of her wider fame at the time, not because of her voice, and the film didn't do well at the box office.)

In any case, the book was written by Patrick Dennis, and it was one of the best-selling novels of the 20th Century. On the New York Times bestseller list for two years, it sold over two million copies in five different languages - sometimes a thousand copies a day flying off book shelves.

But something happened to Patrick Dennis (which was his pen name, by the way) and he stopped writing altogether. No one really knows why for sure.

Then he started to use his real name, Edward Everett Tanner, and decided to become a butler. He took a job with Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald's, and Kroc would later say he and his family had no idea their butler was the world famous author.

Patrick Dennis/ Edward Tanner died in 1976, and his secrets went along with him.

His original manuscripts reside to this day with both Yale and Boston Universities.

Truly extraordinary, is all I can say.

Thank you for stopping by this evening.



  1. Hello Andrew and thank you for this post. I saw Angela Lansbury doing this role on stage when I was a child and never understood why Lucille Ball was chosen for the movie. Do you know anything about that? I'm really enjoying your blog. Lisa

    1. I do have some information about that Lisa. Ms. Lansbury was just a Broadway star at the time (before "Murder She Wrote") with a limited audience. But Ms. Ball was already a Hollywood star ("I Love Lucy") - a much bigger box office draw.

      I'm so happy you're reading, and thanks for your comment. Andrew

  2. For real?????? I loved that book!

  3. Dear Andrew You know it is one of the BEST ever !!!! THANKS for the information !! KEK

    1. And thank you KEK for reading. Always nice to hear from you.