When asked about the real Bess in a 1995 interview in MAGIC magazine, Janet Leigh said, "I think she was strong. Completely believing in him and helping in all ways. She obviously truly loved him. It was a great love story, as far as I could determine. At least that's what we tried to make it."
Performance wise, Edwards is superb. She especially knocks it out of the park during the final scenes when Houdini comes back to her (or does he?). In abilities, Janet Leigh and Sally Struthers matched the actors who played their more famous husband (no small task when considering the charisma and acting chops of Tony Curtis and Paul Michael Glaser). But in Stacy Edwards' case, I believe she's the first Bess to surpass her Harry.
This was one I was fortunate enough to see when it played The Stella Adler Theater in Hollywood. From what I recall, the attractive Ms. Lores did a terrific job as Bess. In fact, I think by the time the evening ended, I had developed a Janet Leigh-level crush on her. How could I not? She was Bess!
My apologies to any other actresses who didn't make the list. These are the performances that I'm familiar with, but I'm certain there are scores of other Bessie's out there, particularly on stage. Please feel free to post any missed names and performance in my Comments.
This weekend we are Wild About Bess.