When I grow up (or old; or older), I want to become the Fruitcake Lady. She was the woman who said whatever was on her mind, whenever she pleased, often with a biting tongue and pointed truth. People laughed out loud at her responses to sometimes ridiculous questions that were presented to her on “The Tonight Show.”
In case your long-term memory is coming up short, check out this video compilation of some of her classic responses to really dumb questions.
This woman is a hero to me. She got paid to do what most people are too young or afraid to try: to point out the obvious or make fun of the human condition on national TV and get paid for it. I want a job like that.
So how did this elderly woman with silver hair, a soft southern accent and arthritic fingers become a celebrity at the ripe old age of 90-something? It wasn’t just because of her ability to make fruitcakes (although this was oddly the springboard to her late-in-life career and celebrity). The moniker was coined after her first appearance with Jay Leno, where she explained how to make the often-hated holiday dessert. But it was her sense of humor that catapulted her to fame.
Marie Rudisill was no stranger to an audience, albeit a silent one. She was a gifted writer who authored eight books in her lifetime, many of them about southern food and cooking. She marched to the beat of a different drummer and married a Japanese man in the 1930s against her family’s wishes, eventually caving to their disapproval and divorcing him. Most interestingly, she was the aunt of Truman Capote and along with her sister, helped raise him.
These back stories alone may explain her quick wit and ability to scathingly cut the above-average idiot to the bone. Or perhaps it better explains where Capote inherited these traits. As the saying sometimes goes (or gets rewritten), “The fruitcake doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
The ability to convert a critical eye and astute observations into a late-in-life career makes me think that if I live long enough, I just may have a chance of getting discovered after all.
Or maybe I’m just plain nuts.