The most celebrated members of the famed Rat Pack have always been the men, but the truth is that even with its exclusivity, it was hardly strictly a fraternal troop.
The 2013 Kennedy Center Honors were given out in December and Shirley MacLaine was among the five honorees. With headlines from news sites such as CNN’s “Shirley MacLaine opens up on JFK, Rat Pack,” we are led to believe we’re going to learn something dark and sinister, but MacLaine flashes her membership card by praising the members and subtly letting the listener know one of their secrets was to stay in the headlines, even if it meant staging something that may not come off as terribly flattering.
Other female Rat Pack members included: Judy Garland; Lauren Bacall (it was she who is said to have coined the name “Rat Pack;” Katharine Hepburn; Angie Dickinson; Juliet Prowse; and even Marilyn Monroe, whom MacLaine had to serve as an impromptu understudy for when Marilyn threatened not to sing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy.
Shirley won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1983 for her role in Terms of Endearment and has been a legitimate triple threat throughout her career, able to excel in dance, acting and singing in addition to being an author and activist. Hardly a meek wallflower, MacLaine credits her honesty as one of the reasons she was accepted into the Rat Pack, having “always told them the truth.”
She goes on to state that she had a crush on Dean Martin for about fifteen minutes, but it never amounted to anything. One could say that her ability to focus on her professional career without getting it confused with her personal life has contributed to her longevity and success in the industry.
Shirley remains very active, appearing in films and even the acclaimed British television show, Downton Abbey that also shows a cult-like following in the US on PBS. Like so many of the Rat Pack, MacLaine remains a current figure in entertainment.