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Dingbats and Drag Queens!

225px-all_in_the_familyAlways hilarious and sometimes controversial,  All in the Family was one of the best shows on Television,  and the episode “Archie the Hero” from season 6 was probably the funniest and most controversial.

While driving working part time as a cab driver,  Archie picked up a lady customer who passed out cold in the back seat of his cab.  Without hesitation, he pulls the cab over and proceeds to save her life with mouth-to-mouth.

But this was no lady!  It was female impersonator  Beverly La Salle!!  Archie returns home anxious to let everyone know of his heroics, until Beverly arrives at the Bunker house to personally thank her savior.  When offered a 50 dollar bill to cover her cab fare and “something extra” for her hero, Archie immediately assumes she is a prostitute.  As Archie says “I never say ‘no’ to a lady”.  And when he asks her how she prefers to be addressed:  Miss, or Mrs. , Beverly removes her wig and says “Call me MR.” revealing to Archie that she is no lady.  Immediately Archie changes his tune and wants to have nothing to do with this getting out in the open.  Archie’s boss at the cab company wants the story to be printed in the paper and get some publicity for the cab company, but Archie insists on being quiet about the whole thing.  And why not?  If it ever got out that Archie gave mouth-to-mouth to a man, his reputation would be ruined!  But after some quick thinking on Beverly’s part, everyone is convinced that a mysterious truck driver gave her “the breath of life”, and not Archie.  What else could Archie do, but tell Beverly:  “For a lady, you’re one hell of a guy!”

The part of Beverly La Salle was played by Don Seymour Mc Lean (aka Lori Shannon).  Mc Lean was an openly gay female impersonator who was long associated with the drag revues at the famous Finocchio’s nightclub in San Francisco.  His stage personna was notable for his 6’6″ frame, raspy voice and sarcastic sense of humor, but best known perhaps to the general public for portraying Beverly La Salle in this and two other episodes of All in the Family.  Sadly,  the world of drag lost this giant of a talent to a massive heart attack on February 11, 1984 at the age of 45, but who’s legacy will go on thanks to Archie Bunker!!

Until Next time, you meatheads!!

Michael Queenstown

Follow me on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/MQueenstown

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