Saturday, February 24, 2024

The Joker, aka Arthur Fleck, aka Joaquin Phoenix Wasn’t the First to Immortalize Grand Concourse Steps: That was Rhoda


Suddenly, the Grand Concourse is back in fashion. This is thanks to “Joker,” and the scene in which Arthur Fleck aka Joaquin Phoenix, dances jubilantly down the stairs on Shakespeare Avenue in the Bronx.

But you know, everything old is new again. Arthur Fleck wasn’t the first screen character to immortalize the steps on the Grand Concourse. Rhoda Morgenstern did it first, on October 28, 1974.

Rhoda, aka Valerie Harper, ran UP, not down, the big double stairs on the Concourse when Phyllis (Cloris Lindstrom) failed to pick her up for her wedding. Rhoda’s Wedding was as big a hit on TV as Joker is now in the movies. 52 million people watched that show, half the viewing audience for the night.

Remember? It’s a lot easier to go down then to come up those stairs, especially in a wedding gown and heels. Alas, Rhoda’s marriage to Joe was a disaster, and they divorced. But the episode remains one of the funniest and cleverest of all time. (And “Mary Tyler Moore” creator Jim Brooks rides the subway with Rhoda when she can’t find a cab.)

Rhoda’s Wedding

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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