Saturday, December 19, 2015

Countdown to Christmas 7- Fruitcake Lady

from Facebook Page /The Fruitcake Lady 
There are not many people who can say they showed Mel Gibson and Tom Cruise how to make fruitcake on TV. Marie Rudisill (1911-2006), known as the Fruitcake Lady was an author, a celebrated cook and a minor TV personality. She was well known on US television as a 90+year old who appeared regularly on "The Tonight Show" hosting an" agony aunt" segment, giving advice on all kinds of life's issues.  Her forthright answers and wicked sense of humour endeared her to audiences although she was outspokenly intolerant and irrationally biased.
The Fruitcake Lady's other claim to fame was that she was the aunt of Truman Capote, highly acclaimed author, and this connection was used in her own writing. Her published works included:

  • Truman Capote , The Story of  His Bizarre and Exotic Childhood by an Aunt Who Helped to Raise Him (1983) 
  • Sook's Cookbook : Memories and Traditional Recipes from the Deep South (1989) 
  • Critters, Cafes and Frog Tea: Tales and Treats from the Emerald River (1994) 
  • Fruitcake :Memories of Trumna Capote & Sook (2000) 
  • The Southern Haunting of Truman Capote (2000) 
  • Ask the Fruitcake Lady Everything You Would Already Know If You had Any Sense (2006) 
from Wikipedia. 

Marie Rudisill became the Fruitcake Lady after she appeared on the Jay Leno show , showing Jay and Mel Gibson how to make a fruitcake in 2000. The family's connection with fruitcake is recalled by Marie in her description of Truman Capote and his older cousin Sook. Together each Christmas, they would bake fruitcakes and send them to various people on their list - not family or close friends, but people they admired, for example Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"I tell you the most fantastic thing about Sook's cooking was her fruitcakes. Really I am not kidding! I mean really!"
However, her recollections about Truman Capote's life were not without controversy.  Even Harper Lee questioned the veracity of her accounts of their hometown, Monroeville in Alabama. Capote was not so much  upset by Rudisill's revelations about his life, but the cruel treatment of his mother, her older sister, in her books. Described as "Sweet as Sugar and Rude as Hell" , the Fruitcake Lady's finest legacy is probably Sook's  Cookbook as  a contribution to the history of  Deep South and its food traditions. Yet her family continued to dominate her writing and thinking ....  Rudisill said: "Somebody said to me one time: "Has being Truman Capote's aunt affected your life?'"My God, it sapped my life.
"It's a weird family, I kid you not. But it's a fabulous family. We took care of our own, there's no question about that." And I think this quote just about sums up the wit of the Fruitcake Lady...
 PS: I found a funny coincidence when researching this story. Marie Rudisill's trusted co writing companion was a Jim Simmons ( my husband's name!)  he co wrote at least 2 of her books. 
Tomorrow - we are going on a trip with fruitcake. 

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