In "Retire In Hawaii...Forever," Aunt Clara mentions people from her distant theatrical past, David Belasco (1853-1931) and William Gillette (1853-1937) whom she either knew of or worked with. As the slimy rest home owner Haven convinces Clara to take part in his scheme to claim money from expired bank accounts, Danno says that she is "a regular Sarah Bernhardt," referring to the woman who was one of the greatest actresses of all time, who lived from 1844 to 1923. Helen Hayes in her autobiography On Reflection recalls that she received some acting tips from a woman who studied with Bernhardt in Paris.

According to a bio-bibliography of Helen Hayes, she worked with Gillette in a play called Dear Brutus which opened in 1918; I'm don't think she ever worked with Belasco, but she did appear in a 1932 MGM movie based on a play by him called The Son-Daughter, where she played a Chinese woman named Lien Wha. Variety reviewed this movie, saying that it "contains nothing to distinguish it from other subjects on Frisco Chinatown intrigue. It's old time stuff, moving slowly and laboriously toward a sad climax ... Miss Hayes is more often playing Helen Hayes than Lien Wha, although a neat change of pace in a role that calls for a Protean switch from lotus flower to tiger lily makes the part continually interesting, if not always true to type." A further comment in the book says "This oriental romance film, with Caucasians in all major Asian roles, failed to please critics or attract moviegoers."

I think I have finally figured out why James MacArthur had such a negative reaction when I asked him about non-Asians playing Asians on Five-O when I had lunch with him many years ago ... because I was basically saying "Yo mamma" to him!