Wayland Parrott Flowers, Jr. (November 26, 1939 – October 11, 1988) was an American puppeteer. He was born and raised in Dawson, Georgia.
Flowers was best known for the puppet act he created with his puppet Madame.
His performances as “Wayland Flowers and Madame” were a major national success on stage and on screen in the 1970s and 1980s.
Madame was created by Flowers in the mid-1960s. Flowers’s first big break was an appearance on the The Andy Williams Show.
The character of Madame is an “outrageous old broad” who entertains with double entendres and witty comebacks.
Bedecked in fabulous evening wear and “summer diamonds” (“Some are diamonds; some are not”), Madame’s look is based on movie stars such as Gloria Swanson.
Madame is rumored to be based on a Washington, DC gay icon, waitress and restaurant hostess Margo MacGregor.
Madame’s many TV appearances included Laugh-In; a long run on the game show Hollywood Squares (replacing Paul Lynde in The Center Square); a recurring comedy skit on Solid Gold; a regular on ABC’s short-lived summer replacement show called Keep on Truckin’, various TV guest spots; and as the star of her own syndicated 1982 sitcom, Madame’s Place.
Flowers and Madame were in the center square on the final NBC episode of Hollywood Squares in June 1980; host Peter Marshall asked Madame the final game question of the daytime series, which was: “Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss lived in the same place.
Where did they all live?” Madame’s “comic” answer: “At the YMCA!” Then her “serious” answer: Germany. (The correct answer: Austria.)
After collapsing during a performance in 1988, Wayland Flowers began hospice care for AIDS-related cancer at the Hughes House in Los Angeles, California. He died there, at the age of 48, on October 11, 1988, at 48 minutes past midnight.
He is buried in his hometown of Dawson, Georgia. Flowers’s estate was left to Wayland’s then-manager, Marlena Shell.
Ten years after Flowers’s death, Madame returned to the stage with entertainer Rick Skye. After appearances on several television shows, performances of “It’s Madame with an E” began November 15, 2008 at Resorts Atlantic City. During 2010, the show also toured the US.
Madame is currently on display in the permanent collection of the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia.