The Soft Strains of "I'll Be Seeing You,"
Tabloid Tales and A Trusting Heart of Fourteen Karat Gold
Charlene Frazier was raised a strict Baptist in the small town of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. She is the eldest of thirteen children born to Norvelle "Bud" Frazier and Ione "Dot" Hogg. Her naive and trusting personality is equally obnoxious and endearing, and she has the biggest heart of anyone her co-workers have ever known. Though it has been known to get the ladies in trouble on occasion, Charlene's naive trust in people allows her to see the world from such a romantic perspective. She was even naive enough not to realize that all her friends growing up with were engaging in sex --- despite a pact to save themselves until marriage. (She finds out later from her best high school friend Monette, who --- to her surprise --- has become the madam of a brothel).
She's never met a stranger and can find the good in anyone.
Mary Jo says that Charlene is the kind of woman "who would have dated Lee Harvey Oswald in high school."
Her best friend is Mary Jo Shively, with whom Charlene shares all her finest moments. The two of them share a very special bond, but even Mary Jo can get frustrated by Charlene's continual fascination with "absolutely nothing". Charlene's "thirst for knowledge" equips her with comments and insights gleaned from her exploration of everything from the National Geographic to the National Enquirer. She is also very proud of her knowledge of all the world's capitols. Charlene always has a story to share or relate to anything --- though often times a little off topic. Her tendency to ramble on about any subject, relevant or not, often annoys her co-workers --- especially straight-shooting Julia Sugarbaker and her sister Suzanne (who finds Charlene's "hill-billy" tales to be a constant interruption of her scintillating stories).
It is interesting to notice that the concept of Charlene's character evolves in a less obvious way than the others over the first few seasons. Charlene, though always naive and seeing things differently, is sexier and softer spoken early on. Her kind of sassy persona seems to be overtaken by the loud innocent country girl the audience tends to remember her as the most. Some things are always present though; her unyielding belief in people, her strong loyalty to friends and family, and the true romantic in her. She is always romanticizing World War II--- wishing that she could have been there to meet every soldier at port. Her favorite song is "I'll Be Seeing You," and she also worships music legends like Jerry Lee Lewis, his cousin Mickey Gilley, and of course Elvis Presley.
Charlene is both practical and a dreamer. At an early age, she dreamed of becoming a preacher and traveling the world spreading the word of God. She also dreamed of becoming a country music singer and fulfilling her mother's fantasy of singing at the Grand Ole Opry. During high school, Charlene worked as a car-hop at A&W and a theatre usherette. She attended the Three Rivers Secretarial Academy and then moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where she became a secretary at the state capitol. From there, she moved to Atlanta where she was a secretary for Hayden McIlroy, Julia's husband, until his death. When Julia decided to form Sugarbaker's Design Firm, she asked Charlene to be the office manager and an equal partner. While the business was getting started, Charlene sold cosmetics on the side. She also took classes to get a real estate agent's license.
Though constantly guided by her psychic advisor, Charlene's search for a man often puts her in the middle of trouble. She always lets her heart and trusting nature guide her. As Suzanne often points out --- at a whole party full of attractive eligible and wealthy men, Charlene would end up cheek to cheek with the waiter. Often though, her gullible nature combined with her gorgeous looks make her an obvious target for con men. When the design firm first opened, Charlene was dating Shadow, a secret government agent who did undercover work in jail. The other ladies doubted the legitimacy of his work, but he proved to be on the level. After Shadow, Charlene dated 320 pound entrepreneur, Mason Dodd, who moved to Japan.
Her search for her prince ends though, when the man of her dreams enters Sugarbakers. Thinking that her friends arranged his appearance as a surprise answer to her birthday wish for a soldier right out of WWII, Charlene begins a whirlwind romance with Air Force Colonel Bill Stillfield --- eventually culminating in marriage and the birth of their daughter Olivia Frazier Stillfield. Both are from out of a different time, when romance was truly alive. When Bill gets reassigned to England, Charlene takes a leave of absence to become a full-time mother, asking her baby sister Carlene Dobber to fill in for her while attending the university.
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