'Baby Agnes' as Senior Sweetheart?

September 28, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

In the 1930s, 8-year-old Agnes Schwabline sang and danced in talent shows at the Hippodrome Theater on North Eutaw Street in Baltimore. After an appearance with screen star Clark Gable on the Maryland Theatre Program, one newspaper dubbed her "Baby Agnes."

Next month, the 69-year-old woman who now is Agnes Tudor, will take to the stage again in search of another title: Ms. Senior Sweetheart of America.

She will be Maryland's representative in the first such national pageant at the Performing Arts Center in Providence, R.I., competing against about 40 other women from across the country.

She even has a note from Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who predicted she would "represent our state with charm and grace."

But she nearly was forced to pull out of the pageant.

Three weeks ago, she fractured her left little toe while stumbling around in the dark in her bedroom at her home in Glen Burnie.

Although the toe has healed some since then, she still wonders whether she can bear wearing high heels with a long, black sequin gown at the pageant.

As the show business adage insists, however, the show must go on.

"If I have to use crutches, I'm going," Mrs. Tudor said firmly, sitting on her living room sofa examining the bandaged toe. "I'd have to be on my deathbed. I'm very excited."

It's been a long time since she's done anything remotely similar to this. She performed in shows at the PTA and Masons and Elks lodges as she and her husband, Eugene, raised two sons.

But those shows were nothing like this. This is the stage.

She didn't have to audition for the pageant, as she did for the children's shows in the 1930s.

But she did have to answer questions about her age, weight, height and life's accomplishments, after two friends who had seen regional winners from last year on television submitted her name to contest organizers.

Friends and relatives contributed money to help her with the $450 entry fee.

The pageant, for women over 59, includes a swimsuit competition where the contestants are to dance wearing old-fashioned swimsuits.

Mrs. Tudor said she will wear rompers beneath her full-body swimsuit and long stockings.

She also has a navy blue blazer, white blouse, white pants and white sneakers to wear for a patriotic number that includes all the women, and a full-length gown and a shorter-length black sequin dress to sing in.

"I don't go for anything real bare," said Mrs. Tudor, who grew up in South Baltimore. "I didn't want something too gaudy."

She has strung together a medley that includes show tunes "Second Hand Rose," "Mame" and "Cabaret"; Patsy Cline's country hit, "Crazy," and closes with Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A."

She has only three minutes to pull this off, so her friends, George and Inez Silate, have been helping her practice, using the timer on her microwave oven.

"We are rooting for her," said Mrs. Silate.

Mrs. Tudor's sons, Glenn Tudor, of Severna Park, and Larry Tudor, of Glen Rock, Pa., and their families bought ads in the pageant's program guide wishing her luck.

Glenn Tudor, his wife and two daughters plan to be in Providence to see her perform.

"I'm really not shocked she'd like to try it," said Mr. Tudor. "She's always entertaining in some way. We're proud of her."

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