Alice Drummond, veteran character actress of stage and screen, passed away today at the age of 88. She’s best known for a brief role that doesn’t even have an official name: that of the “Librarian” in the original Ghostbusters movie. She also has several other notable credits to her name: Awakenings is one of her other well-known film appearances, and in terms of stage work, she got nominated for a Tony for her role in The Chinese and Dr. Fish on Broadway, and she won a drama desk award for her work in A Memory of Two Mondays / 27 Wagons Full of Cotton.
But let’s circle back to Ghostbusters, for a moment, since it’s probably the role for which most of us knew her. There are a lot of little things that make her performance so great: Drummond manages to bring the campy comedy to a moment that would otherwise feel like a horror movie, without making it too scary, because Ghostbusters is also a comedy, and a family-friendly one at that. She’s got just the right blend of true terror and over-the-top hilarity in that pivotal scene running through the library stacks, during which the audience first realizes ghosts are real in this world.
Of course, she has to climb uphill in order to get other people to believe her. In one of Venkman’s slimiest moments, he questions the librarian and disbelieves every word she says, even asking her if she’s menstruating. Venkman soon learns that ghosts are real, and that the librarian was right–not that he ever apologizes to her for that. Instead, he gets rich off the discovery!
In any case, she plays the perfect comedic foil to Bill Murray in that famous scene:
Bravo, Alice Drummond. Feel free to haunt libraries with your winning comedic talents in future.
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