Best known for his roles in the John Waters cannon of cult films, Divine had a short career highlighted by his ability to play trashy women, wayward gals, doting matrons and overzealous sex pots. While he found fame in the seedy underside of Hollywood, the actor also worked to be taken more seriously -- but his other roles (many out of drag) are still relatively unknown in popular culture.
In celebration of the opening of I Am Divine this Friday, January 17 at the Sie FilmCenter, we've rounded up a handful of the larger-than-life star's lesser known characters, from the big and small screens.
Ambassador Chia Fung in Tales From the Darkside (1987)
Guest starring on an episode of Tales From the Darkside -- a television show that surprisingly ran for four seasons -- Divine plays a Himalayan ambassador who appears on a family's doorstep in the 'burbs. But as with anything involving Divine, weirdness ensues, and the episode involves a teenage boy who likes to knit, stereotypical '80s TV parent behavior and Divine playing an almost pared-down version of himself (sort of) out of drag.
Arvin Hodgepile in Hairspray (1988)
Though Divine is best known for playing Rickie Lake character Tracy Turnblad's doting mother Edna Turnblad in John Waters's now classic Hairspray, he also takes a turn as Arvin Hodgepile. In just a quick scene, Divine shows that he's also good at playing sweaty, obese amusement-park owners who are openly racist. If you still haven't seen the original Hairspray, it is one Waters's most accessible films, as well as one of Divine's last great performances.
Rosie Velez in Lust in the Dust (1985)
Reunited with Polyester heartbreaker Tab Hunter, Divine plays damsel Rosie Velez in this campy '80s Western. Full of girl fights, toilet humor and slapstick, the movie is like a John Waters-lite script for Divine, who does the character of Rosie well -- but the movie kind of just makes you want to watch Polyester instead.
Hilly Blue in Trouble in Mind (1985)
Divine stars in another '80s take on a genre of the past, with the film noir-like Trouble in Mind. Alongside Kris Kristoferson and Keith Carradine, this out-of-drag performance sees Divine playing a mob boss in a film with no determinate place in time. Yes, Divine was good with hysterical female characters, but he was also great portraying a slimeball.
Detective Langella in Out of the Dark (1989)
In the last on-screen role filmed before he passed away in 1988 at the age of 42, Divine had a brief cameo in the b-movie Out of the Dark. Again, Divine plays a relatively unappealing gentleman, working to solve the murders of several phone sex operators in L.A.
And there could have been so much more: At the time of his death, Divine was scheduled to play a part in Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare and had been rehearsing for a television role on Married... With Children.
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