All you fellow baby boomers will no doubt remember the characters Ma and Pa Kettle, brilliantly portrayed by Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride in the series of movies from the ’50s. But what you may not know is that the first movie, The Egg and I, was an adaptation of a little book by a talented lady named Betty MacDonald. In 1945, Betty’s first book, also entitled The Egg and I, was published and became a HUGE success. We’re talking BIG TIME, folks. Think JK Rowling in 1945. (See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvaZivR6UcE )
The book is a quick read, and I highly recommend you pick up a copy at the local library or online. Good online sites for used or oop books: half.com and also abebooks.com.
You may also remember Betty’s children’s books, the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series. Happily, these books are easily found online, and there is a “new” book in the series – Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle – authored by Betty’s daughter, Anne. It was put together from notes left behind after her mother’s death, and is a lovely tribute to Betty’s legacy. Sadly, Betty died in 1958 of cancer, but her books (and movies) live on.
Epilogue: A European “fan club “has tried to capitalize on Betty’s death and the geographical distance between her family and their base in German, selling poorly written (and in some cases plagiarized items) via email. Betty’s family denounces them, and I have to agree, as they have questionable selling methods. Betty’s legacy deserves a proper web site, so we set one up: www.bettymacdonald.net. I encourage all to visit, and to be wary of anything from a blog that claims to be a Betty MacDonald fan organization.