by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent
So, here’s the story, as they say in the movies… Sunday night Jan. 8, at the Golden Globes hosted by Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), award-winning actor/legend Meryl Streep stepped in it by “calling out” the new US President-Elect with a pointed speech on bullying as an undesirable trait. Long story, short, the soon-to-be-installed President Donald J. Trump, ignited a Twitter firefight in which he dubbed Streep as among the most “overrated” actors in Hollywood.
Well, in this tiny press window before the 89th Oscar ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 26, let’s get one thing straight: there are many overrated actors in Hollywood, but New Jersey-native Streep is not one of them. Without naming names, those actors know who they are – but do we really know who Meryl Streep is?
Just look at the interwebs traffic spikes since the Trump Twitter war started, then scroll below for the real deal on America’s (Elder) Sweetheart.
25 reasons Streep isn’t just hype… some obscure & just plain fun ones
1. Was inspired mostly by Mary, her mother, “who lit up a room” and was of Irish extraction. Also wished “my mother and father were alive to hear” the news of her Kennedy Center honor.
2. Streep’s Aunt Jane apparently didn’t think Meryl was an attractive child, also too bossy. It took years, but Meryl finally won her over. Family first focused Streep strikes again.
3. Wanted to be an opera singer, thought better of it, but fell in love with Ethel Merman, Carol Channing and Georgia Brown, iconic crooners on Broadway.
4. Claims she never wanted to be inside the “Sandra Dee Box,” meaning Streep always looked at widening acting for women in strong lead roles.
5. Even though she was Homecoming Queen – and a cheerleader – Meryl still wanted to be the female Spencer Tracy acting-wise.
6. Thumbed her way out of her small Jersey town, hitchhiking with a total stranger at age 21.
7. The legendary Joe Papp, of New York theater world fame, pegged Yale graduate Streep as a “pure actor.” Going on the record with the quote “There are only a few people I would call pure actors. Meryl is one.”
8. Her first TV screen appearances included a part in breakthrough mini-series Holocaust in 1978, which by its overseas air date in 1979, was said to have “captured the imagination of Germans” in translation. Meryl’s later role in Sophia’s Choice, also translated into German, came with a built-in audience.
9. When TIME magazine published a cheeky article entitled “What Makes Meryl Magic” on Sept. 7, 1981, she confounded the hype by actually pulling off the magic trick of being one of the most nominated actors in Hollywood History.
10. Although “Meryl Streep: A Critical Biography” was published by Eugene E. Pfaff and Mark Emerson in 1987, she managed to build a remarkable career for the next three decades that defied all expectations.
11. When Newsweek Editor Jack Kroll died in 2000, he was still being credited as one of the first to recognize Meryl Streep’s considerable talents with a full-blown cover story photo and headline of the newcomer that read: “A Star for the ’80’s.” Little did he know this trend would continue today.
12. Has had her share of career disappointments. Meryl even got jealous of Jessica Lange when she landed the part in Sweet Dreams, Patsy Cline’s biopic, but never held it against Lange.
13. Calls the thinspiration sexy ingenue craze in Hollywood the “Victoria Secret Syndrome.”
14. Survived the nadir of her career when she played the Australian woman heard around the world with the phrase “dingo got my baby” in A Cry in the Dark (1988). Incidentally, the “Dingo Baby” cold case was revisited 24 years later because of this film.
15. Nicked the part of Italian lover to Clint Eastwood’s character in Bridges of Madison County from Sophia Loren by accident, but balances that out by the fact her husband was dumb-struck as a young man by Sophia Loren emerging from the sea in 1957’s campy flick Boy on A Dolphin. They’re great friends now.
16. Has stayed substance abuse free, and according to one magazine writer, Meryl Streep orders drinks for friends as “two waters, please.”
17. Wanted her daughter Mamie to study nuclear physics rather than acting, but later admitted she was kidding about the nuclear physics part – though initially seriously against acting.
18. Told Esquire magazine’s writer in 1984 that the problem with baby strollers in Manhattan is that they are at the level of car exhaust pipes, cementing her status as a truly caring mother.
19. Meryl Streep claims she does not have a favorite director. Implying many things about her diplomacy skills.
20. Has encouraged Martin Scorsese to feature a balanced, strong female lead character but doubts he will do it during her lifetime.
21. Admitted she was a below average cook while playing Julia Child in Julie & Julia.
22. Inspired a young Brittany Murphy with her performance in “Crayon versus Crayon” – before Murphy could pronounce the title. Sadly Murphy didn’t live to see her mentor continue to flourish.
23. Though inexplicably disliked by Katharine Hepburn, who may actually have sensed a threat to her own legacy in Hollywood, Streep didn’t let it phase her.
24. In 2003, when the reasons for Katharine Hepburn’s dislike of Streep were made public in the Scott Berg book “Kate Remembered,” the deceased Grand Dame labeled Meryl too technical as an actor and too cerebral — two traits Hepburn was famous for in the industry. Uh, Hepburn was also revealed to be a huge fan of John Travolta and enchanted with Michael Jackson. Streep: 1, Hepburn: 0.
25. Mary Louise “Meryl” Streep championed Patricia Arquette at the 2015 Oscar ceremony when Arquette demanded “equal pay for equal work” about women’s compensation in the industry. Not just talk, Streep has always championed the word “actor” for women instead of the throwback term “actress,” and in 2015 began funding a Women over 40 Screenwriting Program through New York Women in Film & Television to give unsung mature women a chance to shine in writing.
BONUS Points: As of Jan. 9, 2017, Meryl Streep, 67 years wise, refuses to respond to a Trump Twitter war slamming her speech denouncing bullying at the 2017 Golden Globes, held Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.
So there’s 25 clues for Streep fans, as well as Mr. President-elect. While there is no Oscar for The Peaceful Transfer of Power in a Democracy, let’s all act accordingly. With Meryl Streep as a shining example of grace under pressure.
[Editor’s Note: Sources for this list include GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, TIME, Newsweek, book references as indicated, and archival interviews. Visualization from GRAPHIQ. The views expressed here are not designed to start a Twitter war with the incoming US President, God Bless America.]
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