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Category Archives: Books

Neville Brand: From Decorated World II Hero To Portraying Al Capone in The Untouchables

 

Lawrence Neville Brand was born on August 13, 1920 in Griswold, Iowa. He enlisted with the U.S. Army on March 5, 1941. He was sent to the European Theater in December of 1944 and arrived there on December 16, 1944. He was a much decorated World War II hero as outlined in this article, which gives more details of his accomplishments in World War II:

http://jodavidsmeyer.com/combat/military/neville_brand.html

Brand has been credited as the fourth most decorated soldier in World War II, but that claim has never been proven.
His first credited movie role was in 1950, when he appeared in D.O.A. He would be seen on television and in movies often from 1950-1958. One of his best known roles would come, when he portrayed Al Capone in The Untouchables
in the “Big Train” two parter.

Brand starred in Laredo from 1965-1967, when he portrayed Reese Bennett. He would appear in many westerns mostly, but also appeared in TV movies, free-lanced as an actor in other television series and acted in movies till 1985, which would be his last appearance on either television or movies. His last movie was Evils of the Night.

He was an avid reader and had a huge book collection of over 30,000 books,  in his Malibu home, but a fire destroyed most of his book collection, along with other mementoes in 1978.

He died at the age of 71 from emphysema on April 16, 1992 in Sacramento, California. His ashes were stored in a vessel shaped like a book that showed the years that he lived.

The world lost not only a great actor, but more importantly a World War II hero, when Neville Brand died but his memory will go on due to the the many television shows and movies he appeared in during his lifetime.

 

 

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Classic Television: Johnny Carson on Tonight Show

Johnny Carson 1925-2005

 

With Jay Leno retiring soon from his hosting duties on the Tonight Show it reminded me, that it was only 22 years ago, when Johnny Carson left the show in 1992. Even if you count Conan O’Brien’s short stay of 143 episodes, then Jimmy Fallon will be only the fourth host of the show in the last 46 years, since Carson debuted in 1962, when he is new host in February of 2014..

I still consider Johnny Carson the best of the many personalities,  that have appeared on late night television. Many tried to topple Carson, but failed like Joey Bishop, Joan Rivers, Merv Griffin and Arsenio Hall and others. It is sad that very few if any, of the Tonight shows with Johnny Carson have been shown in their entirety.

Ed McMahon 1923-2009

 

There have been some collections of the best and/or funniest moments from the show that have been released. Carson reportedly owns the shows, so it is questionable if the shows will ever be seen again. It would be fun to relive those days again, especially like the shows of October 1962, when the Cuban missile crisis was going on and I was wondering if the Cuban missile crisis was mentioned on some of those shows. It sure wasn’t monologue material, but if he had any political guests they may have mentioned the crisis.

Joan Rivers learned the hard way, that Carson was not the kind to take loyalty lightly. Despite being his permanent fill-in host she neglected to tell Johnny, that she was going to Fox to compete directly with him, on another late night show. She finally called Johnny, but he hung up on her and never talked to her again. He gave a lot of young comedians and comediennes their first big break and expected their loyalty in return, so was upset that Rivers didn’t let him know she was signing with Fox, to do another late night show.

Ed McMahon not only appeared with Carson on the Tonight show, but had also appeared with him on Who Do You Trust quiz show, from 1957-1962. McMahon and Carson were a team from 1957-1992, so they teamed together for 35 consecutive years. We will never forget McMahon announcing the guests for that night’s show and then he would say “Here’s Johnny” in a way only he could say it.

Carson knew how to poke fun at politicians, but never was one to push his own political agenda. He was smart to not alienate half his audience.

Johnny Carson listening to Bette Midler sing One For My Baby in the closing moments of his last appearance on the Tonight show.

 

One of the most memorable moments, in the history of television was when Bette Midler sang One For My Baby to Johnny Carson as he completed 30 years, as the host of the Tonight Show.

Watching the Tonight show became a habit for many television viewers, since celebrities knew an appearance on the show would generate a lot, of publicity for authors who were releasing books and for actors and actresses plugging their latest movie.

I missed the first four years of the Tonight show for the most part, since I was in service and it was lights out before the Tonight show came on and most servicemen back then didn’t have a television.

 

 

 

There have been many books written about Johnny Carson and the book Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin may not have been written, if Carson was still alive since he was infuriated with Bushkin’s financial dealings, which eventually ended their friendship. Bushkin is the last person that Carson would want to be writing a book about his life.

If you want the inside scoop on the life of Johnny Carson this is the book to read.

423 readers of the book at Amazon.com give the book 5 stars, while only 34 give it one star.

 

There are many other books, that have been written about Carson, but don’t know if there is an authorized biography out there.

 

 

The most remarkable aspect of Carson’s time, on late night television is that his show was No.1 for all 30 years. We may never see another show prime time or late night, that can hold on to the top spot for so many years.

The Tonight show with Johnny Carson was more than a television show. Johnny Carson had become like a family member, who made a nightly visit, into our homes for an hour and a half and later one hour.

We miss you Johnny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fonz Will Be 68 This Week

Henry Winkler shown in his most famous role as Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli on Happy Days which aired on television from 1974-1984.

 

Henry Winkler was born in Manhattan, New York City, New York on October 30, 1945 and will be celebrating his 68th birthday tomorrow.

His parents who were Jewish emigrated from Germany in 1939, escaping from the Nazi regime. His childhood was not an easy one for Winkler, since his parents were critical of his difficulties in school. His father spoke 11 languages, so had little patience with a son struggling with his studies. Winkler said he was punished for his learning problems in school.

Winkler graduated from the Yale School of Drama in 1970, with a Master of Fine Arts Degree. It would be four years later, before he landed some television roles and also appeared in 30 commercials.

He appeared in an episode of Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart and Rhoda in 1974. He also appeared in two movies released in 1974, which were Crazy Joe and Lords of Flatbush.

His big break came later that year, when he was cast as Fonzie in Happy Days. Winkler was cast as a high school dropout, even though he was 29 years old at the time. In retrospect looking back it seems strange that a 29-year-old man would be hanging around with teenagers in high school.

My own experiences in high school told me that the popular kids in high school like Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham did not hang out with someone like Fonzie, who was from the other side of the tracks.

Still, the show caught on with viewers and Fonzie was treated like family by the Cunninghams. One of my favorite scenes was when Fonzie and the guys were on a camping trip and the birds and animals in the woods were making an awful racket and Fonzie said “cool it” or something to that effect and the woods became so quiet you couldn’t hear a sound.

Fonzie was also adept at making balky coke machines work, by hitting them a certain way and the cold drink would come out. ABC television network at first was reluctant to let Fonzie be shown in the early episodes, in fear that he would be known as a hoodlum. His character became so popular, that he was being featured more often in the episodes.

Ratings shot up for the show after Fonzie became a central character in the show. The best thing about Winkler is that he never let his popularity go to his head and was kind to his fans.

Winkler was married in 1978 to Stacy Weitzman and they have now been married for 35 years.

He is the cousin of actor/comedian/writer Richard Belzer and you can see the resemblance in their facial features.

An interesting bit of trivia is that he rode the same motorcycle in Happy Days, that Steve McQueen rode in the Great Escape film.

Even though Fonzie was seen with a motorcycle on Happy Days he never rode one on the show and in fact fell off the motorcycle, when he attempted to ride it off camera.

Winkler also authored 12 novels and they were about his struggles with dyslexia as a child, which he didn’t learn he had till he became an adult.

He portrayed Fonzie in five different series, including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Mork and Mindy, The Fonz and Happy Days Gang and Joanie Loves Chachi.

Winkler doesn’t have any kind words about actor Tom Hanks. He was fired from the movie and said he got along better with Hooch in the movie Turner and Hooch, than he did with Hanks.

His production company Winkler-Rich Productions produced the television show MacGyver. He did act in the movie Waterboy playing a high school football coach in the Adam Sandler movie.

 

A more recent photo of Henry Winkler.

Winkler is currently appearing in the comedy-drama Royal Pains on the USA Network. He is also filming a new television series Hank Zipzer, which should be seen on the small screen in 2014, with Winkler being the lead actor in the series.

By the time Happy Days left the air in 1984 Winkler was 39 years old and still playing a high school dropout of a much younger age.

It is good to know that Winkler went from an unhappy childhood, because of learning problems, to receiving a bachelors, masters and doctors degree.

Happy 68th birthday Fonzie!!!

 

 

 

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50 Years Later: Recalling the JFK Assassination and Aftermath

It was a typical Friday morning in Hawaii when I went to work subbing for the 25th Administration Company mail clerk on November 22, 1963. The regular clerk had taken a leave to New York. I was only 19 and was in sixth month of service in Hawaii.

When I heard the news that President Kennedy had been shot, on a Honolulu radio station I informed the company commander, who didn’t know about it yet.

Meanwhile, the regular postal clerk was flying standby to New York, but was detoured through Dallas, so his plane arrived in Dallas about the same time, that President Kennedy had been shot.

I can’t remember much else about that day, but do remember almost seeing Lee Harvey Oswald being shot in the Dallas Police station on November 24, 1963. I was on my way to the day room to watch television, when I was told about Oswald being shot minutes earlier.

A couple of days later we marched in a memorial parade for President Kennedy on the parade grounds. It was a time I will never forget, knowing that we had lost our president.

50 Years Later

Fifty years will have passed on the 22nd of November of 2013, since the day President John F. Kennedy was slain on a Dallas street.

The Warren Commission convened a few months later and after hearing many witnesses, their consensus was that a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald had shot and killed the president.

Many witnesses that were there, or knew information about the assassination have died untimely deaths over the years. It is my personal opinion that so many witnesses dying, before they could testify tells me there was a conspiracy to keep the world from ever knowing the details of what went on that Friday in Dallas fifty years ago.

Hundreds of books have been written about the JFK assassination in the last fifty years. Some of those authors say that the assassination was the culmination of a nefarious plot by various agencies, of the government conspiring to have the president killed.

Other authors have refuted all the conspiracy theories and steadfastly stand by their assertion, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Two Other Killings That Weekend

President Kennedy was shot about 12:30 Dallas time, but it wouldn’t be the only death that weekend connected with the assassination. We will follow the timeline for that weekend, to better show how all three killings occurred and when.

It was only eight minutes later at 12:38, when the president arrived at Parkland Hospital. Lee Harvey Oswald had exited the Texas Schoolbook Depository building five minutes earlier at 12:33. However, Dallas police officer Marion Baker verified with Roy Truly, who was the building superintendent that Oswald was an employee, before he was allowed to leave the building. If Baker had held Oswald and brought him to the police station, then it may have saved the life of Officer J.D. Tippit.

1:00 PM – The president is pronounced dead after being given his last rites at Parkland Hospital. Governor John Connally, who had also been wounded in the assassination had two emergency surgeries that day.

The scene where Dallas Police Officer J.D. Tippit 39, was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald or someone that looked like Oswald at 1:15 PM on November 22, 1963.

1:00 PM – Oswald arrived back at his boarding room and 15 minutes later killed Officer Tippit, who had seen Oswald walking and stopped his patrol car to question him, then was shot and killed by Oswald at 1:15 PM.

13 people reportedly saw Oswald or someone looking like Oswald shoot Officer Tippit. Oswald then proceeded to walk to the Texas Theater and entered without paying.

1:40 PM – The clerk at the ticket window called the Dallas police.

1:50 PM – The police attempt to arrest Oswald, but he resisted arrest and tried to shoot a patrolman and punched another patrolman before being taken away to the Dallas Police station.

From 12:30 PM – 1:50 the president of the United States had been assassinated, taken to Parkland Hospital and died at 1:00 PM. Oswald had in that same time had allegedly shot the president, was confronted by Officer Baker and exited the Texas School Book Depository building. He had taken a bus, then a taxi to his boarding room, then left walking down the street, until he was stopped by Officer Tippit, who Oswald shot and killed. He then was arrested inside the Texas Theater. All of this happened in a time frame of 80 minutes.

Cronkite First Television Newsman To Report Assassination

Walter Cronkite of CBS was the first national television newsman to report the assassination at 12:40 Dallas time, with an audio only report, since camera was not ready to transmit video, only 10 minutes after the fatal shots had been fired by the sniper. It would be 1:00 PM, before the CBS cameras were operational.

Flight Back To Washington

Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson was sworn in as the 36th president  of the United States, aboard Air Force One at 2:38 Dallas time, which was two hours and eight minutes, after the shots had rang out at Dealey Plaza. President Johnson insisted on Jacqueline Kennedy being in his inauguration, which to me seemed to show he was more concerned about the way the ceremony looked, than considering the feelings of the wife of a dead president.

Newly sworn in President Lyndon Johnson arrived in Washington at 6PM Eastern time and 5PM Dallas time, so in a matter of four and-a-half hours President Kennedy had been assassinated and died 30 minutes later in Parkland Hospital and the new president Lyndon Johnson had landed at Andrews Air Force Base.

Oswald at the Police Station

Lee Harvey Oswald was charged with the murder of Officer J.D. Tippit at 7:05 Dallas time on Friday. It would be 11:26 PM, before Oswald would also be charged with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Two days later at 11:21 on November 24,1963 Dallas time Oswald would be shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby in the basement of the Dallas police station, preventing a country in mourning, from still not knowing 50 years later, if he was the lone gunman or was like he said a patsy, set up to take the blame for the assassination. Ruby took that chance of knowing away from us that Sunday, as he became judge, jury and executioner.

Ironically, Oswald died 2 days and 7 minutes after the president’s death had been announced and both had been taken to Parkland Hospital.

Warren Commission Report

President Johnson was determined to show there was no conspiracy involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, so rushed to set up a commission to study the assassination. To me it was a whitewash job, but that is just my opinion. The Warren Report was on the president’s desk about 10 months after the assassination.

50th Anniversary Events

With the approaching 50th anniversary of the assassination even more books have been written about that day in November fifty years ago.

Just going to Amazon.com and searching JFK Assassination will bring up many books, that already have or will be released later this year. One book in particular sparked my interest.

A Rose By Many Other Names: Rose Cherami and the JFK Assassination is a book about the lady who knew ahead of time that  the JFK assassination was going to take place. She was traveling to Dallas with two men, who were driving to Dallas to assassinate the president. They became angered at her and threw her out of the car. She was run over by another car and told authorities, about their plan to kill the president in two days.

Apparently nobody believed her when she said she was going to Dallas to pick up her baby, sell some drugs and assassinate the president.

One reason for my interest in Rose Cherami is that she was traveling through Louisiana, when she was hit by the car.

The Warren Commission apparently glossed over her story and don’t think it even was mentioned in the Warren Report, but would have to check to make sure.

The following article tells more about her connection with Jack Ruby and Lee Harvey Oswald, both of whom she claimed to have seen together in Ruby’s nightclub:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/JFKcheramie.htm

These are some of the books about the JFK assassination that have been or will be released before November 22:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=JfK+assassination

There is also a TLC documentary that will be airing closer to the assassination anniversary named “Letters To Jackie”. A few of the 800,000 notes of condolence will be read by Hollywood actors and actresses.

Parkland is a feature movie, that was produced by Tom Hanks and will recount the JFK assassination. It will be released on October 4.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2345112/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Legacy of Secrecy movie should also be released before the 50th anniversary of the assassination, but no release date is listed at imdb.com as of today. It was adapted from the book Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the Kennedy Assassination written by Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartmann. The authors claim that Carlos Marcello confessed to being one of the conspirators in the Kennedy assassination.

http://www.amazon.com/Legacy-Secrecy-Long-Shadow-Assassination/dp/1582435359

I am currently reading Killing JFK: 50 Years, 50 Lies: From the Warren Commission to Bill O’Reilly, A History of Deceit in the Kennedy Assassination. The book is written with the intention of debunking 50 lies that have been made about the Kennedy assassination. It is a very readable book, that will keep the attention of most JFK assassination aficionados. There is only one review of the book, since it was released in August. Reverend Dr. Lance Moore is the author and once was a professional rock guitarist.

http://www.amazon.com/Killing-JFK-Commission-OReilly-Assassination/dp/1492248177/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1379447333&sr=1-1&keywords=Killing+JFK+50+Lies

One of the most seen photos of the last fifty years, as Jack Ruby steps in and shoots Lee Harvey Oswald as policeman James Leavelle watches..

James Leavelle the policeman who walked with Lee Harvey Oswald into the chaos on the Sunday morning of November 24, 1963 two days after the assassination and saw Jack Ruby shoot Oswald, who would die a few hours later.

James Leavelle is shown at the age of 91, but now is 93 as we remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy fifty years later.

Summary: Jack Ruby has made a lot of people rich, by not letting the American people know exactly how Lee Harvey Oswald wound up in the sniper’s nest in the sixth story of the Texas Schoolbook Depository building. Ruby by silencing Oswald caused thousands of books to be written about the assassination. There are some that think, that Oswald didn’t even fire the fatal shots that day and that a professional marksman may have fired the actual shots. Some books have even claimed that Mac Wallace the personal hitman, for Lyndon Johnson fired the shots from the school book depository. However, that is just another of the many questions not answered to the satisfaction of those who long, to find out what happened on that Friday in November 50 years ago.

We may not ever know exactly what happened fifty years ago on November 22, unless the government releases all the documents which have been held for all these years, but we may never know if any of the key documents have been destroyed to prevent us from ever knowing the rest of the story. There may be a smoking gun in a file cabinet somewhere in Washington, that would blow the lid off the case, but it seems the government is intent on any information that may incriminate government officials and/or agencies will remain sealed.

Personally, I think President Johnson with the assistance of government agencies and the underworld was the mastermind behind the assassination. It is a problem for me, that he ducked down behind the seat, when his limousine reached the killing zone, before the first shot was fired, so he would be out of the line of fire.. Even more puzzling is why he would not tell his wife what was about to happen leaving her at risk and still waving at the crowd. Johnson reportedly ordered  President Kennedy’s limousine to have the top down for the motorcade, which made the assassination possible.

The assassination of President Kennedy was one of the biggest news events of my life. The only news event that had more of an impact were the 9/11 attacks, since 3,000 lives were lost, instead of the three that died during the assassination weekend. I was born three years after the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, but my older brother was born less than two months earlier on October 11, 1941.So I missed being alive for three of the biggest events in the history of the United States.

 

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Melanie Amaro Wins X-Factor

 
 Melanie Amaro Wins 1st X-Factor in U.S.
 
Melaine Amaro joins America Idol champion, Scotty McCreery and Voice winner Javier Colon as winners of the three major singing competitions in the United States, by becoming the winner of the inaugural season of X-Factor.
 
I would have been surprised if she had not won, since Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik were not up to her level. I think we can count on hearing from Chris and Josh in the future, if they still sign a recording contract.
 
It is safe to say that Scotty McCreery has been the most successful recording artist, having sold in excess, of half a million albums. Javier Colon released his new album last month, so it is too soon to tell how it will do over the long run. It may be spring before Melanie Amaro’s debut album is released.
 
Back to Melanie….She came close to not even being in the Final 12, when Simon Cowell told her she didn’t make it and sending her home. However, Simon came to his senses and drove to the home of Melanie and told her she was back on the show. I am surprised that Simon didn’t choose in the first place. All is well that ends well for Melanie and we should hear some of her music on an album, in the not too distant future.
 
I am not worried that Chris Rene and Josh Krajcik, will never be heard of from again. They have too much talent for a record company not to sign either of them.
 
Chris is more versatile than the young rapper Astro. We will hear from Astro again, but doubt we will ever hear him sing, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas the way Chris did last night.
 
X-Factor only garnered about half the ratings of American Idol, but it doesn’t matter that much, since both shows are seen on the Fox network. One thing for sure, is that Simon will not make any brash predictions about X-Factor drawing 20 million viewers, which never happened in 2011.
 
We want to congratulate Melanie Amaro on winning X-Factor and the $5 million recording contract that will go with it. May she have great success, as a musician and may she enjoy every minute on stage.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Steven Tyler: “Snorted $20 Million Worth of Cocaine”

Steven Tyler has said in his new book that he snorted $20 million worth of cocaine which should boost sales of his new book Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? which hits the bookstores tomorrow.

The book is already #9 in sales at Amazon.com in pre-sales. The 400 page book came out at a good time with Tyler at the height of his popularity as a American Idol judge.

However, the American Idol producers may not be too happy with one of their judges saying he snorted $20 million worth of cocaine. It is the ultimate waste of money to me. There are hundreds of charities who could have used that money more wisely.

The main selling point of this book besides the debauchery (which is a selling point to some)  is that it tells of how he rebounded from the depths of depravity to spark a resurgence for Aerosmith.

Amazon is selling the hardcover book for $15.05 which is a reasonable price these days and is actually cheaper than the Kindle price of $14.99.

 

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Doris Day: Celebrates 89th Birthday

Doris Day celebrated her 89th birthday earlier this week.

Doris Mary Ann Von Kapplehoff was born on April 3, 1922. She is better known to her fans as Doris Day.

She hasn’t been seen on television except as a guest or in the movies since the Doris Day Show ended in 1973. For the last 38 years she has lived a low profile life.

When her third husband, Martin Melcher died in 1968, she claimed to not know he had planned a television series the Doris Day Show before his death.

She did the series and it was successful, which was the last time she appeared on television in a regular series of her own.

Her fear of flying probably was a huge factor in retiring, since she probably wouldn’t have consented to fly to movie or television locations.

She never liked anyone swearing around her and once required anyone that swore to place a quarter in the “swear box’ during a recording session.

Day surprisingly believes a couple should live together before being married as she stated in her 1975 autobiography:

[In her 1975 autobiography] You don’t really know a person until you live with him, not just sleep with him. Sex is not enough to sustain marriage. I have the unfortunate reputation of being Miss Goody Two-shoes, America’s Virgin, and all that, so I’m afraid it’s going to shock some people for me to say this, but I staunchly believe no two people should get married until they have lived together. The young people have it right. What a tragedy it is for a couple to get married, have a child, and in the process discover they are not suited for one another! If I had lived with Al Jorden for a few weeks, God knows I would never have married him. Nor would I have married George Weidler. But I was too young and too inexperienced to understand any of this. Now my heart was busted and I had lost my way.

She didn’t think much of Elizabeth Taylor’s penchant for wearing expensive jewelry saying it could have been better used:

[about Elizabeth Taylor‘s diamonds] When I see Liz Taylor with those Harry Winston boulders hanging from her neck I get nauseated. Not figuratively, but nauseated! All I can think of are how many dog shelters those diamonds could buy.


 

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