As an long-ago 11-year-veteran of orphanage life, I always related to Little Orphan Annie. I read the comic strip daily through the 30s and 40s, feeling a kinship with that little red-headed optimist. I also enjoyed “Annie”, the 1982 movie based on the hit 1977 Broadway play.
Don’t tell anyone, but this long-retired ad writer once bastardized the lyrics of the Annie hit song, “Tomorrow,” in corporate sales rallies. With that lofty inspiration, our greedy insurance agents were motivated to go out and sell our sleazy products to hapless family breadwinners. The pitch was to frighten the hell out of them, warning they may suddenly croak and have no tomorrows.
Now, based on seeing the TV promos of the new Annie, this grumpy nearly-90-year-old guy rants: What the hell is with the latest version, a racially-revised, politically-correct, rap ear-blaster? All right, all right! Since I haven’t yet seen the movie, I’ll hold my opinion until the box office receipts are posted.
I admit I do have a problem with the newest Annie. The cute little African-American girl’s last name is Wallis, but I’m confused by her alphabet-soup first name. It’s spelled Quvenzhané, and pronounced who knows how.
When my grandparents arrived at Ellis Island from Russia, as with all immigrants of the time, they were forced to Americanize their names. I faintly recall my father’s Russian name, but can neither spell nor pronounce it.
In my day, all ethnic entertainers Americanized their names. F’rinstance: Alan Alda (Alphonso D’Abruzzo), Billy Holiday (Eleanora Fagan), Bo Diddley (Elias Bates), Charlie Sheen (Carlos Irwin Estevez) and Danny Thomas (Muzyad Yakhoob).
Are you ready for singer Charo’s original one? Can you pronounce Maria del Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baezsa de Rasten? Imagine the electric bills if her real name went up in lights.