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Velma Von Tussle is one of the antagonists in every version of Hairspray.

Role

In the musical and Hairspray (2007), Velma is the widowed station manager of WYZT, which hosts The Corny Collins Show. She uses this position to promote her daughter, Amber Von Tussle, and to push her own racist and antiquated beliefs.

In the 1988 film, she is a trophy wife and homemaker.

In all versions, Velma is a blond former beauty queen obsessed with reliving her glory days. She pushes Amber to follow in her footsteps, going to extreme lengths to ensure that her daughter comes out on top.

Velma is portrayed as conniving, narcissistic, and racist. Throughout the show, she is seen to manipulate and insult those around her, including her daughter, Amber.

She has conservative and bigoted stances, and hold The Corny Collins Show's cast strictly to them. Despite this, she herself is shown to be a hypocrite.

In (The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs, she starts off criticizing her daughter and the other dancers for their "dirty" moves, telling them, "remember, mother knows best." Later in the song though, it is revealed that she did not win her own crown through her dance moves, but through seduction.

"Those poor runner-ups
might still hold some grudges.
They padded their cups,
but I screwed the judges"
-Velma Von Tussle, (The Legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs
The stage age for this role is 40+.

Hairspray (2007)

When it becomes clear that Amber is losing the Miss Teenage Hairspray pageant to Brenda, Velma talks to Brenda. This leads to the implied exposure of Brenda's possible pregnancy and Brenda's departure from the show, creating an opening for Tracy to audition.

Later, when Amber is losing to Tracy, Velma attempts to seduce Wilbur Turnblad in order to break up his marriage with Edna and get Tracy removed from the show by her mother.

When that fails, she begins stealing ballots and replacing them with forged votes for Amber. Edna catches Velma switching the tallies and exposes her, causing her to be fired. In a deleted scene, she is arrested.

Velma's Hair Explodes

Velma's Hair Explodes

Hairspray (1988)

Afraid that their daughter could lose the Miss Auto Show pageant, Franklin and Velma smuggle a bomb into the pageant in Velma's wig. This backfires when the bomb unexpectedly goes off in Velma's wig, proving to only be explosive enough to ruin her hair.

Songs

Velma performs several songs.

* "Velma's Revenge" and "The Big Dollhouse" are only performed in the musical.

** "The New Girl in Town" and "Big, Blonde and Beautiful (reprise)" only appear in Hairspray (2007). She appears during "The New Girl in Town," but does not actively participate as either a singer or dancer. She sings the reprise of "Big. Blonde and Beautiful" with Edna Turnblad.

*** In the musical, Velma gives and dances to "You Can't Stop the Beat." While she is present in this scene during the 2007 film, she is distraught and does not dance.

Relationships

Husband

In the 2007 version, it is implied that she murdered her husband, possibly by suffocating him with a pillow.

"Sadly, there is no mister at the moment...My husband accidentally suffocated."
- Velma Von Tussle to Wilbur Turnblad
In the 1988 version, her husband is Franklin Von Tussle, the racist owner of Tilted Acres Amusement Park.

Daughter

Velma treats her daughter like an extension of herself, rather than her own person. She dresses the two of them alike and continuously pushes Amber to win Miss Teenage Hairspray. She plays on her daughter's insecurities and admonishes her for trying to improvise her own dance moves.

Whether it is because she is stilted by her mother's strict standards for her or because she is not a talented dancer, Amber is not seen by viewers, cast mates, or Corny as a very strong dancer. It is implied that Amber is only on the Corny Collins Show council because of her mother's position at the station.

Despite this, Velma insists that her daughter should be in the spotlight at all times, even going so far as to threaten the cameraman.

Corny Collins & The Council

Velma is constantly interfering with the show. She tries to control what dances are done, which songs are performed, and how much airtime each cast member receives. She uses her role as the station manager to promote Amber while dismissing other members of the cast. It is implied that she used her position to secure Amber a spot on the Council.

Corny and Velma are constantly butting heads. She makes demands and he circumvents them the best he can. When he defends Tracy and talks about integrating the show, Velma threatens to fire Corny. This leads him to respond, "gee, Velma, how do you fire Corny Collins from the Corny Collins show?"

While the Council members seem to begrudgingly respect Velma's authority, they dislike her and resent her obvious favoritism of Amber. This leads to Amber getting "accidentally" shoved, tripped, or dropped during dances. Velma dismisses their actions as being born from jealousy over Amber's talent , not out of frustration over her management.

Motormouth Maybelle & The Motormouth Kids

Velma is openly racist, once commenting, "'Detroit sound?' What's that? The cries of people being mugged?" and talking about how Baltimore's kids need to be steered in the "white direction."

She desperately wants to cancel Negro Day. When Corny suggests cancelling it and mixing the two casts, Velma freaks out. She decides, however, to use the opportunity to cancel Negro Day, sans integration, telling Motormouth Maybelle that it was, "time to get some real ratings."

The Turnblads

Velma is looks down on both Tracy and Edna. She doesn't understand why Tracy is so popular on the show and confident in herself. Velma takes every opportunity to insult Tracy and her mother, causing Edna to cry. When she realizes that she can't get under Tracy's skin, she fears that Amber could lose the crown. Velma tries to seduce Wilbur Turnblad, hoping to break up his marriage with Edna and force Tracy to drop out. Unfortunately for her, it doesn't work.

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