Ready for more "Little Women"? Here are the basics


The previous blog is a story I wrote about "Little Women," which runs on the next two Sundays (May 13 and 20) on PBS. Here's an extended box with some of the details:

-- When: 8-9 p.m.
Sunday, PBS; then 8-10 p.m. the following Sunday, May 20.

-- Follow-up: From
10-11:30 May 20, PBS reruns an “American Masters” portrait of
author Louisa May Alcott.

-- The story: With
her husband (Dylan Baker) working as a Civil War chaplain, Marmee
March (Emily Watson) is raising their four daughters with little
money and much love. Others are better off, including her husband's
aunt (Angela Lansbury) and a neighbor (Michael Gambon) whose orphaned
grandson has just arrived from college.

-- The book: It was
published in 1868 – the 150th anniversary is this year –
with a second half (sometimes considered a sequel) the next year. Two
more sequels followed. Alcott, who was 35 when it came out, based the
characters on her and her three sisters, but adjusted the time and

-- The movies: The
major ones came out in 1933, 1949 and 1994. There were two silent
films and several TV films, including one in the U.S. (Susan Dey
played Jo) in 1978 and three in England.

-- And more. An
opera debuted in 1998. On Broadway, a play opened in 1912 and was
revived four times during Christmas seasons. A musical ran briefly in
2005, with Sutton Foster as Jo.

-- Those four
sisters. Here they are, from oldest to youngest, with the actresses
who have played them:

... Meg described as
the beautiful one. She works (reluctantly) as a governess, does
domestic chores at home and, at 16, has her society debut. Played by
Janet Leigh in 1949, Trini Alvarado in '94, Willa Fitzgerald now.

... Jo, the heart of
the story. At 15, she loves reading books, writing stories, creating
plays to act out with her sisters. Unlike the others, she shows
little interest in guys and marriage. Her hair, a sister is quick to
point out, is her one bit of beauty. Played by Katharine Hepburn in
1933, June Allyson in '49, Winona Ryder in '94, now Maya Hawke.

... Beth, sweet and
shy. She's a gifted pianist but, at 13, too awkward to visit a family
and play the piano. Then illness strikes. Played by Margaret O'Brien
in '49, Claire Danes in '94, now Annes Elwy.

... Amy, with curly
blonde hair, artistic talent and a personality that comes with
forever being the youngest. At 12, in a fit of jealousy, she does
something that strains Jo's ability to forgive. Played by Elizabeth
Taylor in '49, Kirsten Dunst in '94, now Kathryn Newton.