A Professor, Female Screenwriters and a Monkee Walk into a Lecture …

Rosanne Welch in front of a book store displaying her book When Women Wrote Hollywood. (Pikram.com)

You know how you are going to lecture on topics from your new book and then something happens in the big old world that touches on your previous book?

Such is happening to Rosanne Welch, who is a writer and adjunct professor at Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut and Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.

She is scheduled to give one of the Faculty Noon Time Talks in CSUF’s Pollock Library from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 5. These events are based on faculty research, which in Welch’s case is partly encapsulated in her most recent book, When Women Wrote Hollywood: Essays on Female Screenwriters in the Early Film Industry (McFarland & Co., 2018).

However, on Feb. 21, actor/composer/musician Peter Tork, who is best known as the bass player/keyboardist with the Monkees, passed away, which prompted the re-release of something Welch had said about him:

“Peter was quite polite and he was quite the true hippie of the day. He really believed in the message of peace. He also believed in the message of Buddhism, actually, so he wasn’t a pushy guy. Now as they have toured in later years he tends to sing all of the songs Davy sang in concert and he is quite proficient at them. So it’s kind of sad that he didn’t get into the mix more deeply himself.”

That quote is from a previous lecture Welch delivered in relation to the publication of her book Why the Monkees Matter: Teenagers, Television and American Pop Culture (McFarland & Co., 2018). She argues that the band changed television, introducing a new generation to the fourth-wall-breaking slapstick created by Laurel and Hardy and the Marx Brothers.

(I’d also add the influence of the Beatles’ hit movies Help! and A Hard Day’s Night, which only came out a year and two years respectively before The Monkees debuted on NBC in 1966.)

Welch charts the through line from Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider’s Emmy-winning creation of The Monkees and their Raybert Productions’ movies Head, Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces (with key appearances by Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper along the way).

Here is her full presentation:

Watch Now: Rosanne Welch talks about “Why The Monkees Matter” with Jean Hopkins Power [Video] (45 mins)

When Women Wrote Hollywood covers female screenwriters from the Silents through the early 1940s “when women wrote over 50 percent of films and Frances Marion was the highest paid screenwriter (male or female) and the first to win two Oscars.”

However, as Welch will also tell you, Marion does not appear in film history books, “which continue to regurgitate the myth that male directors did it all–even though it’s been proven that the only profitable movies Cecil B. de Mille ever directed were all written by Jeannie Macpherson.”

As a screenwriter herself, Welch has credits that include TV’s Picket Fences and Touched by an Angel and the ABC News/Nightline documentary she also produced, Bill Clinton and the Boys Nation Class of 1963.

Find out more about what she is and has been up to at welchwrite.com.

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