‘Mrs Doubtfire’ Stunt Leads To Resignation Of Cranston, R.I. Official

While it seemed like a good idea at the time – getting a man to dress like a woman Mrs. Doubtfire style, all in a good cause and for the camera – things went horribly wrong. Now the Cranston, Rhode Island Director of Elder Affairs has had to resign after her efforts to aid the elderly failed so dismally.

When it comes to TV, everyone likes to put their best side forward. When Sue Stenhouse, Director of Elder Affairs for Cranston, arranged a press event to promote a city program, she really wanted it to go well.

As reported by the Providence Journal, the program was aimed to recruit high school students to shovel the walks of the elderly in Cranston, and Stenhouse felt that she needed a little old lady standing next to her and the mayor during the press event to give the full effect.

The trouble arose when there were no old ladies available to play the part, so she got a male employee to put on a dress, makeup and wig to do a Mrs. Doubtfire gig for the TV cameras. This turned out not to be the best idea.

Most people will remember the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, where Robin Williams dressed as an elderly female housekeeper in order to get close to his estranged family. That also went a little wrong along the way.

The employee, wearing a dress, earrings, makeup and a wig, also wore a name tag, reading “Cranston Senior Home Resident.” Photos and video were taken at the January 5 event, with the Mrs. Doubtfire lookalike posing next to Stenhouse and the mayor of Cranston, Allan Fung.

The problem arose when the disguise reportedly didn’t fool everyone; in fact, it probably didn’t fool anyone at all. According to the Providence Journal, several men at the Cranston senior center were shown photos taken at the press event and most of them immediately recognized the person standing next to Stenhouse as the man who drives the senior shuttle bus.

Reportedly, on Thursday morning, a group of men at the senior center passed around a cell phone photo of the person and laughed.

One man said, “We all thought it was a joke,” adding he doesn’t know what was going on, but that the man is a “very nice guy.”

The story even headed on to Twitter, where a parody account was made under the handle @Eldercranston. The account’s bio reportedly originally read, “You don’t have to be at the podium alone!! Available for appearances at press conferences all over the Ocean State,” but now has a reference to “No one would have heard of Snow Angel without me.”

Naturally, the Twitter feed is full of humorous comments including the famous words, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

While there was plenty of humor, as the news spread around town Stenhouse, who reportedly earned $55,000 a year, felt it necessary to step down from her position.

According to an article in Mass Live, Jerry Carnevale, 85 is one of the residents of the Cranston Senior Center and he said he was sad to see Stenhouse leave her job. Reportedly during her tenure she had implemented several popular programs including tai chi, yoga and chair exercise classes and had also added pool tables for the residents.

“She made this a much better, safer place to be.”

“She did her job well and showed nothing but kindness for me.”

Reportedly, the office of Mayor Fung had no comment about the issue. Chief of Staff for the mayor, Carlos Lopez Estrada, reportedly said he couldn’t comment on Stenhouse’s resignation as it was a “personnel issue.”

When asked about the bus driver disguised as a woman for the press event, Lopez Estrada said he really couldn’t comment.

[Photo screen capture from Mass Live video]