British actress's onstage veiled insult against an American actress
January 31, 2015 5:30 AM   Subscribe

Which British actress was it insulting which American actress onstage by replacing the word "can't" in all her dialogue?

Some time back I read this story and I can't find it again. Instead I'm just finding endless discussions of whether the word "cunt" is offensive and/or various people declaiming that one actress or another is a cunt.

Bonus question: other notable instances where the primary point is not to say a sentence which makes sense so much as to drop in a vicious insult--other than Neil Patrick Harris's 2013 Tony routine, which is apparently debatable (let's not debate it here) but which is nonetheless what started the discussion which prompted this question.
posted by johnofjack to Human Relations (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've only ever heard that anecdote as being about the mother abbess in the Sound of Music. "I can't face it!"
posted by Zephyrial at 12:16 PM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I always assumed the Abbess's "What is it you c*nt face?" was humourous error rather than deliberate insult, but you never know.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:34 PM on January 31, 2015

It might be, but I too am sure I have read about this, or something very similar - thinking 1940s-50s - Olivia De Havilland?
posted by GeeEmm at 7:05 PM on January 31, 2015

While it is unlikely to fully represent the usage of the word in spoken English, Google Ngrams suggest that "cuntface" (or "cunt face") did not really arrive as a word until the 1970s, after the time of the film. (Who knows? Perhaps the film actually inspired the slang.) Keep in mind as well that a British actress with a Babelfish in her ear would hear "arsehole" rather than "fanny".

As to any anecdotes, TVTropes seems not to have heard of them (viz. "Real Life").
posted by dhartung at 11:37 PM on January 31, 2015

Hamlet talking to Ophelia: 'Do you think I meant c(o)untry matters?' (3:2)
posted by Sebmojo at 11:39 PM on January 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

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