Lifestyle, Opinion

Krause: Born in Lynn, Verna bloomed on screen

It’s always fun, in hard-scrabble cities such as Lynn, to pick out and identify the people who have done us proud.

They’ve had the same humble beginnings — or, at least, humble periods of their lives — living in Lynn before getting out and onto bigger and better things. Entertainers especially.

We like hearing these stories. Perhaps it gives us a visible connection to that aspect of life that most of us will never experience. And to others, perhaps it gives hope. Hey, if Telly Savalas can go to Cobbet Jr. High and end up a big star on “Kojak,” so can I.

There are the other obvious big-name stars like Walter Brennan, who was an Academy Award nominee, and who appeared in television’s “The Real McCoys.”

Neil Hamilton, a/k/a the police commissioner of Gotham City; and Estelle Parsons, Clyde’s sister-in-law in “Bonnie and Clyde,” were both born here.

Lynn English graduate Jack Noseworthy is doing very well in Hollywood.

And anyone who listened to the radio in the 1960s knows who Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon is. The “Palisades Park” singer was born in Revere and matriculated to Lynn.

Among the many stars who were either born here or passed through here was Verna Bloom, who died last week.

You may know Bloom better as the lady at the Food King who compared cucumbers with Eric “Otter” Stratton in “Animal House.”

She played the seductive Marion Wormer, wife of Dean Wormer, the hapless foil of all things Delta House in the iconic 1978 movie that virtually everybody who came of age during that era knows well.

She had three memorable scenes in that movie — the first being the verbal flirtation at the Food King with Tim “Otter” Matheson; the second when she shows drunk up at the fraternity’s toga party and ends up in, shall we say, romantic embrace with “Otter”; and the third during the homecoming parade, when the frat boys run amok and cause chaos and destruction.

The Blooms, a family of four, lived in Ward 4, according to a census report in 1940 when Verna was a year old. Other aspects of her bio reveal that her father, Milton, ran a grocery store (in the 1930s and 40s there was no shortage of those in Lynn) until the couple divorced, whereupon Bloom’s mother, Sara, took over the store.

Bloom majored in Fine Arts at Boston University and began acting upon graduation. She was actually a serious actress at the outset, having signature roles in “Medium Cool” in 1969 and “High Plains Drifter” with Clint Eastwood in 1974.

Her appearance in the play “Marat/Sade” led to her appearance in “Medium Cool,” her first movie role, which dealt with the 1968 Democratic National Convention and the riots in Grant Park in Chicago. Most her roles required depth. For example, after “Animal House,” she appeared in “Playing for Time,” a film with Vanessa Redgrave about concentration camp inmates who survived because of their musicianship.

She stepped out of those roles in “Animal House,” but Matheson said in the Sunday New York Times that Bloom never demeaned the role, or the frat-boy cast and crew.

Bloom may not have appeared in a lot of movies during his career, choosing to take a break to focus on her son, Sam.

But she worked with some heavyweights during her career, including director Martin Scorsese in “The Last Temptation of Christ.” The two became friends early in her career, and she was in two other Scorsese films: “Street Scenes” and “After Hours.” Her final acting appearance was on a 2003 episode of “The West Wing.”

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