Streakers, a king and a comic legend

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN
  • Updated: September 4, 2011 - 7:41 PM

The Flanagan Memo: Re: Norway's King Harald, our Dudley Riggs and everybody's Jim Rosenquist.

•••

It was an unforgettable moment in time that I remember well. Let's hope Jim Rosenquist, the renowned artist and famous local boy, also remembers.

The day was graduation at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design about 30 years ago. Rosenquist, who was a student there during his growing-up years in Minneapolis, was on hand to receive an honorary degree.

Since leaving in 1955 for New York -- where he painted billboards while he attended the Art Students League -- Rosenquist had scored big. Yes, really big. His canvases were billboard-sized.

Suddenly, as he was speaking, two most attractive young women darted on stage, dressed only in flower wreaths (on their heads) and carrying baskets of flowers. They pranced across the stage in front of everyone, including my husband. He was there as chairman of the College Board, prepared to hand out diplomas.

All jaws dropped. The two girls ran giggling out of the auditorium and Rosenquist was in shock for a minute or two. Then the program resumed.

They never did identify the two Rhine maidens.

So, who are they and where are they now?

Rosenquist is returning to the college Sept. 17 for its 125-year celebration. The honorary chairs are Clinton Morrison, whose family created the institution, and Mary Morrison, his wife who died last month. She was a great lady and she will be missed.

It will be an evening both grand and giddy. We hope the two streakers will show.

But wear a bit more than the first time. Please.

•••

Norway's King Harald was still a prince when he made his first trip to Minneapolis. I can't remember the year, but he was tall, nice looking and very quiet.

We met on Lake Minnetonka aboard a small boat owned by the late Winton Jones. We were en route to the home of Mr. and Mrs. John S. Pillsbury Sr., where the prince was to be guest of honor.

En route, I asked some questions and he asked me just one.

"Are there any Indian burial mounds around here?'' he said.

On Oct. 16, he will again be guest of honor at dinner along with his stunning wife, Queen Sonja; they will be accompanied by the Norwegian ambassador.

The event at the Minneapolis Hilton will draw a crowd. If the King and I should meet again in that jumble, I will be able to answer his question.

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Dudley Riggs has been around a long time and so have I. So I remember going to his place over across the river -- on University Avenue, I think -- and laughing up a storm at whatever he was presenting.

Riggs sold the theater to some of his actors but I can't believe he won't be on hand when his Brave New Workshop reopens in downtown Minneapolis this month. The company's school will continue to operate from its location at 2605 Hennepin Av. S.

The new space is in the former Hennepin Stages Theater, 824 Hennepin Av. S., and it's right across the street from the State Theatre.

Bravo to the BNW cast and crew and a special salute to Dudley.

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Two more downtown theaters to get excited about are the Cowles Center (formerly the Shubert) and the New Century, named in homage to the old Century, which burned down after giving us our first look at Cinerama.

The Cowles opens Friday with a dinner and a special program that includes some tap dancing, I hear. The New Century opens this fall and will feature musical theater. Hennepin Avenue and most of downtown is shaping up.

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The new eating spot on Hennepin is The Lowry at 2112 Hennepin Av. S. in Lowry Hill. It offers a menu that includes peanut butter waffles, which I did not have, and an amazing grilled cheese sandwich with tomato chutney --yum -- which I devoured. Check it out.

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