Auntie Mame is a 1955 novel by Patrick Dennis that chronicles the madcap adventures of a boy, Patrick, growing up as the ward of his deceased father's eccentric sister, Mame Dennis. The book is a work of fiction inspired by the author's eccentric aunt, Marion Tanner, whose life and outlook in many ways mirrored those of Mame. In real life, Dennis was raised by his parents. 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. In 1958, Patrick Dennis wrote a sequel, Around the World with Auntie Mame.
The novel was adapted for the stage by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. The original Broadway production starred Rosalind Russell in the title role. The original Broadway cast also included Robert Allen as Mr. Babcock, Robert Smith as Beau and Peggy Cass as Agnes Gooch. Both Russell and Cass were nominated for Tony Awards in 1957 with only Cass winning.
In December 1958, a film of the same title, based on the play, was released by Warner Brothers, with Russell 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.
A musical version, titled Mame, starring Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur, opened on Broadway in 1966. It was a triumph in New York and then toured the country with great success. The musical was made into a film of the same title in 1974 starring Lucille Ball, Beatrice Arthur, and Robert Preston. This film was a success at the box office (even making records with audience attendance at its run at Radio City Music Hall) but critics generally panned for the lack of Ball's singing ability and thought she was not up to the part (she was 62 years old).
The book was re-released in paperback in September 2001 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  .
Full article ▸