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In trying to summarize the talents of Ronnie Claire Edwards, perhaps Earl Hamner said it best: "There are personalities so imbued with the magic of the theatre that they become ‘theatre’ themselves. The most ordinary event shared with them becomes extraordinary. Such people are risky to be around. They dare us to leave our mundane worlds and rise to the zestful heights of their own. An exacting imaginative use of language comes into play. Insights are revealed. It was true of Tallulah Bankhead, Noel Coward, Bette Davis, Lawrence Olivier and a few other stars. It is true today of certain rare individuals such as Ronnie Claire Edwards."

ike-cora2.jpg (15203 bytes) Ronnie Claire claims she was "born off center" in Oklahoma. Her father was a lawyer and her mother wrote stories for True Confessions Magazine. When asked how she became an actress, she gives credit to the mix of her parents and her Scottish-English-German heritage. Her grandparents participated in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, driving a buckboard and staking out a claim. Although poor at the time, the land proved rich and her grandparents became wealthy. Her grandmother had expensive tastes in clothing, furs and jewelry, and the family eventually spent their fortune.

The family lived in a huge house with dozens of "nutty relatives," from "poor relations to the seriously strange." Her grandparents took in cousins, ancient maiden aunts, the recently divorced, in-laws, and "delicate ladies with medical conditions." There was uncle Jim who was a licensed physician who preferred to embroider table cloths. His divorced wife, whom he ignored, lived on the fourth floor while he lived on the third. They never spoke. There was a poet who lived in the attic. Her nerves caused her to claw the skin from her hands. Her meals were delivered to her and she never left the attic. And there was the Judge, no relation, who sat on the veranda drinking patent medicine heavily laced with alcohol. And the stories go on and on.

That unconventional childhood helped shape Ronnie Claire and her interest in acting. "I always wanted to act. We had these French doors and I was always coming in through them and performing. My grandmother took me to operettas and I loved the rodeos, but nobody we knew was in show business." She studied drama at the University of Oklahoma and has worked in everything from the tent show circuit to Broadway, movies and television.

Corabeth Godsey was created by John McGreevey who authored numerous Waltons episodes. It was to be a limited appearance, but everyone liked the part so much she became a regular. Ronnie Claire calls The Waltons "a rare and wonderful experience. Everybody loved to hate Corabeth. I always felt I had the best part, the best character in the show. People still remember, ‘No credit Mr. Godsey.’ I am very fond of Corabeth."

It is little wonder, with such a varied background, that Ronnie Claire was able to write a loosely autobiographical one woman stage production, The Knife Throwers Assistant, Or a Life On The Cutting Edge. The show has received rave reviews and won the Fringe Best Award at the Edinburgh International Festival. Robert Osborne of The Hollywood Reporter sums it up this way: "It’s a show that’s as hard to capsulize as Edwards herself, zigzagging as "Knife" does through the many subjects that fascinate the lady most, like sideshow freaks, Dear Abby columns, possum breeding and Hollywood. Edwards tells her wacky tales with a mix of wide-eyed wonder, knowing wit, sarcasm and compassion, never forgetting that although she is a spinner of outlandish stories, it is also wise to pepper them with some basic horse sense as well as a bit of P. T. Barnum-style showmanship, something that she provides with apparent pleasure. She is unpredictable and as much fun to be around as all three Marx brothers on their best day."

Don’t miss an opportunity to see Ronnie Claire’s play and wait at the stage door to introduce yourself to an old friend, Corabeth Walton Godsey from Doe Hill, Virginia.


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