Fiction, Novel, Reference
Auntie Mame (1958)
Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Around the World with Auntie Mame
Mame Dennis, Vera Charles, Gloria Upson, Dwight Babcock, Patrick
Patrick Dennis books, Novels
Auntie Mame is a 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis chronicling the madcap adventures of a boy, Patrick, growing up as the ward of the sister of his dead father. The book is often described as having been inspired by Dennis' real-life eccentric aunt, Marion Tanner, whose life and outlook mirrored those of Mame, but Dennis himself denied the connection. The novel was a runaway best seller, setting records on the New York Times bestseller list, with more than two million copies in print during its initial publication. It became the basis of a stage play, a film, a stage musical, and a film musical.
In 1958, Dennis wrote a sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame.
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The novel was adapted for the stage by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Running from October 31, 1956, to June 28, 1958, at the Broadhurst Theatre, the original Broadway production starred Rosalind Russell in the title role. The original Broadway cast also included Robert Allen as Mr. Babcock, Yuki Shimoda as Ito, Robert Smith as Beau, Polly Rowles as Vera Charles, and Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch. In 1957, both Russell and Cass were nominated for Tony Awards with Cass winning.
In December 1958, a film of the same title based on the play was released by Warner Brothers with Russell, Shimoda, and Cass reprising their roles. Russell was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for her portrayal. The film was the highest grossing U.S. film of the following year.
In 1966, a musical version, titled Mame, starring Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur, opened on Broadway. It was a triumph in New York and then toured the country with great success.
In 1974, the musical was made into a film of the same title starring Lucille Ball, Bea Arthur (reprising her stage role), and Robert Preston. This film was a failure at the box office—despite breaking attendance records during its Radio City Music Hall run—and critics generally panned it for Ball's singing ability and thought she was not up to the part (she was 62 years old).
In 2016 screenwriter Annie Mumolo told Vanity Fair that she was working on a "modern-day" adaptation of the novel as a film with Tilda Swinton as Mame.
In September 2001, the book was re-released in paperback by Broadway Books, an imprint of Random House.
In 2009, the Italian publisher Adelphi re-released the book, which had been out of print for many years in its Italian translation, under the title Zia Mame: the book reached the top spot on Italian bestseller lists and stayed there for many weeks, an unusual performance for a re-release.