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Theda Withel

Theda Withel says of herself that she "comes from a little town you probably haven't heard of". After running away from there to "be someone" - to be the most famous person in the whole world, she finds herself in the Moving Pictures industry at Holy Wood, where she takes the name Ginger. She is clearly a composite of many of the key Hollywood movie stars and sex symbols of the last century (see popular references below)

Using the name Delores De Syn, she stars in several movies with Victor Tugelbend, usually as the maiden to be rescued, typical of the silent movie era in the Roundworld. The two clearly are romantically involved. She is likely descended from the High Priestess of Holy Wood, and while sleeping, she was repeatedly possessed by an unknown force, which attempted to use her to awaken the Holy Wood guardian, which would have stopped the Holy Wood magic and prevented the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions from breaking through to the Discworld.

She ends up as famous as she wanted to become because when sitting next to Lord Vetinari people recognise her but not him. Once the Holy Wood magic dies and is pretty much wiped from the mass consciousness, nothing more is known about her.

She is not known to be any relation to Stren Withel. Indeed, the only relative she mentions is her Uncle Oswald, whom she only saw once while attending his funeral.

Popular References[]

The novel is full of hundreds of film references. The following relate to Theda Withel.

Her name is clearly a reference to Theda Bara who was a very famous movie star of the 1910s and considered to be the first movie sex symbol. Her portrayal of evil women in movies like When a Woman Sins and The She Devil caused the current meaning of the word 'vamp' (from vampire) to be added to the English language. Theda Withel's stage name of 'Ginger' is clearly a reference to Ginger Rogers another famous movie star. There is much of Marilyn Monroe about her, too, as evidenced by Withel's daydream of the famous blowing skirt picture of Monroe. Her character also has a brief reference to Greta Garbo and her famous line "I want to be alone" - this was misheard in the book as "I want to be a lawn".

In the scene near the end of the book a 50-foot high Ginger carries an ape (the Librarian) up a tower. This is a reference to Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman combined with a reversal of King Kong, and - once the scales and tentacles start to emerge - Godzilla.

In the audiobook version of Moving Pictures, narrator Nigel Planer speaks Theda Withel's parts with a faux American accent. This is an interesting parallel, as English actress Vivien Leigh had to fake a "southern" American accent while playing Scarlet O'Hara, Withel's Gone With the Wind counterpart. Pratchett claimed no connection between Ginger's name and Scarlett's (being both colours).


Moving Pictures