OF THE BABY NAME VELMA
Velma Kelly is one of the main characters in the hugely successful 1975 musical, Chicago, itself based on a 1926 play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins, and also made into an award winning 2002 movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma. Velma is a deliciously corrupt and manipulative singing and dancing murderess, constantly seeking the spotlight, and finding it more often than not. She is in prison for killing her husband and sister, who were having an affair. Longing to be back in vaudeville and hoping to escape the gallows, Velma is kept in the limelight by the corrupt matron, “Mama” Morton, but incoming murderess/prisoner Roxie Hart steals the show momentarily. Velma is intent on doing harm to this upstart, but in the end they triumphantly both end up free and back on the entertainment circuit in a fetching duet, the “Hot Honey Rag”.
Velma Dinkley is a character in the television animation program, Scooby Doo, about the gang of four teen-aged ghost-mystery solvers and their Great Dane sidekick, which debuted in 1969 and has enjoyed a long life in re-runs, films and video games. Velma is “the brainy one”, dressed in pleated skirts and baggy sweaters and sporting her ever-troublesome glasses, which she is constantly losing. Smart as she is, Velma usually gets to the core of the mystery first, and she is as brave as she is intelligent, often encouraging the somewhat cowardly Scooby Doo when he is afraid. Sometimes our Velma is involved in an innocent and sweet romance with Shaggy, but it never goes very far. As Velma herself would say: “Jinkies!” She’s too busy for such goings-on.
Velma Valento is a character in Raymond Chandler’s 1940 Philip Marlowe detective novel, Farewell, My Lovely, memorably played by Charlotte Rampling in the 1975 movie version of the same name. Velma, a one-time nightclub singer and gangster’s moll, is the alter-ego of the properly married Helen (Mrs. Lewin Lockridge) Grayle, who is trying to hide her less than illustrious past. Suffice it to say, this being a Chandler novel, there are enough plot twists and turns to stymie a cheese seeking laboratory rat; what is important is that the gorgeous Velma, whom Chandler describes as “a blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window”, is one of the all time best femme fatales in literary history. Yes, she comes to a bad end, after causing a string of murders herself, but she takes us on a memorable journey getting there.
Velma Von Tussle is a character in the 1988 John Waters film, Hairspray, which was adapted to a successful Broadway musical by the same name in 2002 and yet again to a movie in 2007. The teen-aged heroine, Tracy Turnblad, lands a spot on the local 1960’s television dance party show, and promptly proceeds to racially integrate the cast. In this she is thwarted by the snobby and prejudiced producer of the show, Velma Von Tussle. Velma takes her place with the best of baddies (and our favorite portrayal is that of Michelle Pfeiffer). Velma unashamedly campaigns for her own daughter, Amber, as “Miss Hairspray”, including rigging the votes; she does everything in her power to keep African Americans off the show; she openly derides the “pleasantly plump” Tracy, she tries to break up Tracy’s parents’ marriage and she finally contrives to have Tracy framed for assaulting a police officer. Well, of course, such wrongs have to be righted, and, of course, they are, but the wicked Velma was fun to watch while it lasted.