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Prudy Pingleton

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Allison Janney as Prudy in the 2007 film

Prudy Pingleton is a supporting antagonist of John Waters' 1988 film Hairspray, its stage musical adaptation, and its (the stage musical's) 2007 film adaptation. She is the devout Catholic (yet racial) mother of Penny Pingleton, whom she forbids to go to the house of her best friend Tracy Turnblad, though she happens to be an acquaintance of Tracy's mother Edna. She doesn't sing in either film, but she does in the musical before one and after the other. Her husband is present in the 1988 film, but is said to be in prison in the 2007 one.

In the 1988 film, she is all-frantic and called to tell Edna Penny was punished (and she knows it), though it's not known why. When she finds her, she forces her to wear a giant "P" on her blouse every day to school to symbolize that she's punished forever. Eventually, when she punishes Penny again and hears laughter, she finds Seaweed, Penny's black love interest, under her bed, and makes a citizen's arrest.

In the 2007 film, because Penny hadn't gotten permission to be at the Turnblads' house, Prudy bans her not only from going there, but also from watching The Corny Collins Show, pointing out (when she says without it, she has nothing) that having nothing builds character.

Much later, in the same adaptation, because Tracy is at the Pingletons' and the police are on their way, and also because Penny had harbored a fugitive without her permission, Prudy ties her to her bed with a jumprope, plays a recording of "The Lord's Prayer", forces her to live on only saltine crackers and Tang, and sprinkles holy water on her yelling "Devil child! Devil child!". Unknown to her, Seaweed entered through the window and cut the jumprope after finding out the knots couldn't be untied. The next day, while Prudy is reading the Bible, she finds Penny on TV with Seaweed, to her (Prudy's) dismay.

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