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A Look at Miss Joan Hackett

by Tony Nash

(All Opinions are of the author alone)

I said it before and I’ll say it again: the men in this town ain’t nothin’ but a bunch of lowdown, miserable, cowardly curs!

Joan Hackett as Prudy Perkins in Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)

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A great actress of her day, though hindered in projects because of her difficult perfectionism, Joan Hackett was the embodiment of what a good character performer should be: resourceful, intelligent, capable, and diverse. Whether she played mothers, daughters, American, European, Latino, eccentrics, etc, she did what she thought best for the role, and no one would tell her different. Her most memorable performance was in Support Your Local Sheriff!, playing the clumsy, but very independent and wise, Prudy Perkins, daughter of the town Mayor. She and Jack Elam borderline stole the show from James Garner with their very wacky characteristics, and clever one liners. Other equally good performances were in the TV Western Bonanza, playing a no-nonsense, speaks her mind, Spanish spitfire Contessa in one episode, and a timid, but very much determined clairvoyant helping to solve the disappearance of a young boy in another. Another good independent woman role on TV was an appearance on Daniel Boone as a headstrong, gun-toting Mountain Woman. Her appearance in the Twilight Zone episode A Piano in the House showed she was equally adept at serious, dramatic, parts, proving she was diverse in the kinds of roles she was capable of. Her only other movie role of note was as an on her own, and good at it, female rancher raising her little boy in the Charlton Heston led Will Penny.

Image result for joan hackett

Image result for joan hackett

Image result for joan hackett

Those who knew the woman, knew she differed in some respects to her on-screen roles: a wonderfully eclectic, intellectual Hostess, a supporter various charities and causes, and a firm believer in Spiritualism. Known to be very approachable and fun to be around, Hackett proved to be well liked by many off camera, though some admitted she could be trying when performing, even then admitting her dedication made her great at what she did. She continued to perform regularly until a battle with cancer began taking it’s toll on her. In spite of this, she remained as optimistic and professional in her career and private life. Many were saddened by her death in 1983, after a long valiant battle against a dangerous illness. Ironically, she asked that on her headstone, it read under her name, Go away – I’m asleep, which lends itself to the absurd as she loved hosting parties, but it’s humorous as sleep didn’t come easy when making TV or films. Sadly, she isn’t spoken of much today, and she should be as she was a constant professional, never demeaning others and doing what was best for the project at hand. Her style may have been erratic, but it was one to learn from as it garnered her acclaim and helped her get more roles. Very talented, though forgotten with the passage of time, she’s slowly making a comeback with the advent of DVD and Blu Ray, and entire new generations of fans are beginning to see the talent their parents and grandparents saw back in the day. Gone, but never forgotten by fans of the film and TV mediums.

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(I highly recommend watching Miss Hackett’s film and TV appearances, she’s very talented and her work is well worth watching.)

All images courtesy of images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/Joan Hackett

Wikipedia/Joan Hackett

All quotes from the IMDB Support Your Local Sheriff! quotes page and Miss Hackett’s bio page


Filed under: Film: Actor/Actress Spotlight

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