Frankie Valli: 81 Years Old And Still Entertaining

I was watching Frankie Valli being interviewed on The Big Interview by Dan Rather, and was saddened to know,  that he had lost two children in a short time period. He lost his daughter Celia, when she fell off a fire escape, then six months later his daughter Francine died from a drug overdose. Their deaths drove him to drinking, but he eventually recovered from the deep depression he was in.

Valli  was born on May 3, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey as Francesco Stephen Castellucio. He was inspired to become a singer at the age of 7, when he saw Frank Sinatra in concert.

He told about growing up in a Mafia neighborhood, and how the word was out to leave him alone. He told Rather that he lost a lot of friends, who were found in trunks of car in mob killings.

His name was changed when his mentor “Texas” Jane Valli was helping him and he decided to take her last name. It was about this time, that Valli was barbering till he became successful in the music business.

The Four Seasons

First Number One Hits

Success didn’t come easy for Valli who started singing in 1951, and he sang with various groups till the Four Seasons were formed in 1960 and named after a cocktail lounge.

Vee Jay record label was the label that they found the most success with. Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry both debuted in 1962 and went to #1 on the Billboard chart. Walk Like a Man was their last #1 hit on the Vee Jay label in 1963.

Moved to Philips/Smash Label

They had their first hit on the Philips/Smash label, when they recorded Dawn which went to #3 in January of 1964. Rag Doll was their last #1 song in June of 1964. Valli started recording albums as a solo artist, but still worked with the Four Seasons.

May of 1967 would bring his first solo hit in My Eyes Adored You which went to #1 on the Billboard chart.

Changing Labels

Valli changed labels again and would record Oh What A Night in December of 1975 on Private Stock record label. He would record his last #1 hit in May of 1978, when Grease went to the top spot on the Billboard chart.

He didn’t record another single that charted after June of 1994 according to his Wikipedia discography.

More From Interview

Dan Rather asked Valli why he is still singing at 81, and he said that he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. He said he tried retiring a time or two, but it just made him want to return to singing. Rather mentioned the excellent memory of Valli and he said he memorized the lyrics to about 2,000 songs.

Valli also mentioned about his acting career and said he had been on Sopranos television program and was recently on a Hawaii Five-0 episode.

He said he had plenty of money, but still won’t buy something until it is on sale. He says he got that from his childhood.

The Four Seasons were one of those groups like the Beach Boys and Bee Gees, that had their own distinct sound. Valli’s falsetto voice is what made the Four Seasons stand out from the other groups.

We are wishing Frankie Valli a lot more years on the road. He is truly an American icon.

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Classic Television – Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

Ozzie Nelson, David Nelson, Harriet Hilliard and Ricky Nelson 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet was first broadcast on radio in 1944 and could be heard on radio, until 1954 when the radio show ended on June 18. 1954. Only 83 of the shows can be bought today for listening to, out of the hundreds of shows made during their 10 year run on radio.

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet television program was first televised on October 10, 1952, and for the first two years could be heard on radio and seen on television, till the radio series ended in 1954. The last television episode was telecast on September 3, 1966. The 14 year run on television makes the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet the longest running sitcom,  on American television still 49 years later.

Ricky Nelson recorded his first #1 song Poor Little Fool in 1957, which incidentally also was the first #1 song on the new Billboard Hot 100 chart. Ricky often sang on the show, which gave him even more exposure for his singing career.

Ozzie Nelson and Don Defore

Don Defore portrayed Ozzie’s neighbor Thorny on the show. He would later gain fame as playing George Baxter on Hazel, when Hazel would refer to him as Mr. B.

Ozzie Nelson wrote 178 of the 435 episodes of the show.

The shows are not being shown on any television network that I know of. If you know of the show being on television please comment, so we can share the information with other fans of the show.

It is sad that the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet shows are not being shown. The show represents life at a simpler time back in the 50’s and then continued to entertain fans, even though the country was at war with Vietnam in the 60’s and there was unrest on college campuses.

All four members of the Nelson family have died since the show left the air.

Ozzie Nelson died June 3, 1975 at the age of 79 in Hollywood, California.

Ricky Nelson died December 31, at the age of 45 in a plane crash in Dekalb, Texas. 

Harriet Hilliard died October 2, 1994 at the age of 85 in Laguna Beach, California.

David Nelson died January 11, 2011 at the age of 74 in Los Angeles, California. 

Dr. B.R.Lakin – Old Time Evangelist Gone But Not Forgotten

 

Dr. Bascom Ray Lakin was born January 5, 1901 in Fort Gay, West Virginia. He was one of the last of the old-time evangelists, that didn’t tell us what we wanted to hear, but told us what God wanted us to hear. He was known as a “country preacher”, but he preached at the huge Cadle Tabernacle, in Indianapolis, Indiana, that seated 10,000 and a choir loft with 1,400 seats. He received $7 a month in his first pastorate.

His mother wanted a “preacher man” and she got one with the birth of Dr. Lakin. Someone asked him once why he was born in a house, instead of in a hospital and he replied “I wanted to be close to my mother”.

 

 

 

This sermon is an excellent example of old-time preaching by Dr. Lakin.

Dr. Lakin died on March 15, 1984 at the age of 82, and was buried on the grounds of Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia and was so well-respected by Jerry Falwell, that the Religious Education building was named after Lakin.

45 of Dr. Lakin’s sermons can be listened to, or downloaded at this website.

http://gracebaptistchurchmadisonville.com/Speakers%20from%20the%20past%20CD/1%20Sermons%20by%20B.R.%20Lakin/Lakin_index.html

Dr. Lakin may have died 31 years ago, but audio and video recordings he made so many years ago make it possible, for us to listen to his preaching for years to come.

Television Killed The Old Time Radio Star

Families would gather around the radio during old-time radio days and listen to the shows together.

Old time radio was broadcast over the radio networks from 1926-1962. Old time radio died on September 30,1962, when the last scripted shows Yours Truly Johnny Dollar and aired on September 30, 1962.

Anyone that was born that day would be 52 years old today, since the 53rd anniversary won’t be observed, until September 30 of this year. A 10-year-old that day would be at least 52 years old today. Anyone in their 40’s or 50’s in 1962 would be in their 80’s, 90’s or even 100 years old today. For instance my dad was 48 years old in 1962 and is 100 years old exactly now.

The advent of television spelled the end of old-time radio, even though it was a slow death, as old-time radio hung on for several years, after the emergence of television. The best thing about old-time radio is that the listeners get to use their imagination, as they listen to the shows.

Old-time radio ruled for many years, but television killed the radio star.

 

I was about 10 years old when I first remember listening to old-time radio shows. Dragnet was one of my favorite shows and also remember listening to Bob Hope. My mother liked to listen to shows like Stella Dallas, Pepper Young’s Family, Lorenzo Jones, Just Plain Bill, Whispering Streets and Edge of Night, which ran from 1937 to 2009 on radio or television and sometimes simultaneously.

These are some of my favorite old-time radio shows that I have listened to the most:

Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden of Amos and Andy Show

Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were the stars of Amos and Andy from 1928-1960 on network radio. Correll and Gosden portrayed black characters from the radio studio. They had to use multiple voices, for the different characters in the shows. The radio series outlasted the television version of the show, since the television version ended in the middle 50’s.

The source of most of the humor on the show was from the Kingfish character, who duped the Andrew H. Brown character out of his money. The fights that Kingfish had with his wife Sapphire and his mother-in-law, who he lovingly referred to as the battle-axe were legendary.

Chester Morris & Joe Stone

Boston Blackie 1945-1950

Boston Blackie was portrayed by Richard Kollmar, who was the husband of columnist and TV celebrity Dorothy Kilgallen. The best part of the show for me was the interplay, between Blackie and Inspector Faraday, who thinks every crime committed on the show was done by Blackie since he was an ex-con turned detective.

William Bendix 1906-1964

Life of Riley 1941-1951

Chester A. Riley was a bumbling oaf who seldom did anything right on the Life Of Riley old-time radio series, but he was also one of the most likeable characters ever on radio. These shows are timeless, and just as funny today as they were 63 years ago, when the last show aired. Riley’s character was famous for saying “What a revoltin’ development this is”. He is paid a visit by the local undertaker Digby O’Dell who likes to use funeral jargon, when speaking to Riley like saying “Mummies the word”, instead of mum’s the word.

Harold Peary as the Great Gildersleeve

The Great Gildersleeve is one of my favorite old-time radio shows. Harold Peary was the perfect actor to portray Gildersleeve. He plays the water commissioner in a small town and the other characters make the show even better, from his son Leroy, to Peavy the druggist and Judge Hooker his friend/enemy depending on what was going on in a particular episode.

 

Old-Time Radio Websites

My favorite radio website is otrcat.com. The website has a free show to listen to of most shows mentioned on the website. It has a lot of information about each show, plus if you right-click on save as link you can download a show to your computer for free. The site now has a few shows on the home page, that can be downloaded.

http://www.otrcat.com/index.php

I found out in the 90’s that you could buy MP3 CD’s of the old-time radio shows and collected 17,000 episodes of old-time radio shows. The shows are on 178 MP3 CD’s and total over 8,000 hours of listening. It sounds like an expensive hobby, but I bought over 850 Jack Benny shows for only $12. This is my complete collection:

List of Old Time Radio Shows

This is a list of my old-time radio shows and the first number is how many episodes of a show I have in the collection and the last number on the right is the total number of hours of that show:

No. Of Shows CDs Name of Show Hours Total

44 same CD Maisie 22:00 22:00

1 same CD Breakfast Club 1:00 23:00

1 same CD Candid Microphone 1:00 24:00

2 same CD Groucho Marx 1:00 25:00

9 same CD Martin and Lewis 4:50 29:50

36 same CD My Favorite Husband 18:00 47:50

5 same CD Nazi Eyes 2:50 50:40

2 same CD Pete Kelly\’s Blues 1:00 51:40

869 9 Jack Benny 433:00 1135:40

100 1 Jack Benny 50:00 101:40

70 1 OTR Sampler 35:00 136:40

62 1 My Favorite Husband 31:00 167:40

296 2 Bob and Ray 100:00 267:40

360 4 Dragnet 180:00 447:40

190 2 Burns and Allen 95:00 542:40

138 2 Fred Allen 69:00 611:40

182 2 Life of Riley 91:00 702:40

199 1 Red Skelton 98:00 1233:40

96 1 Phillip Marlowe 48:00 1281:40

230 1 Cavalcade of America 115:00 1396:40

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 1422:40

79 1 Gangbusters 39:50 1462:30

114 1 Inner Sanctum 57:00 1519:30

41 1 Mel Blanc 20:50 1540:20

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 1591:10

209 2 Christmas Collection 104:50 1696:00

106 1 OTR CAT Sampler 53:00 1749:00

54 1 The Bickersons 25:00 1774:00

52 1 Box 13 26:00 1800:00

381 4 Family Theatre 190:50 1990:50

60 20 cass Walter Cronkite 60 Best 30:00 2020:50

64 1 Abbott and Costello 37:00 2057:50

76 1 Bob Hope 38:00 2095:50

164 1 Groucho Marx 82:00 2177:50

60 1 Ozzie and Harriet 30:00 2207:50

249 3 This Is Your FBI 124:50 2332:40

290 1 Easy Aces and Mr. Ace 75:00 2407:40

510 6 Great Gildersleeve 255:00 2662:40

105 1 Phil Harris-Alice Faye 52:50 2715:30

95 1 Nick Carter 47:50 2763:20

734 7 Fibber McGee and Molly 367:00 3130:20 (The number of shows available now is over 1,100 today January 9, 2018

189 2 Command Performance 12:00 3142:20

2 1 2 Complete Broadcast Days 36:00 3178:20

183 1 Variety CD 91:50 3270:10

78 1 Richard Diamond 39:50 3310:00

102 1 You Bet Your Life 56:00 3366:00

30 1 Mike Shayne 15:00 3381:00

95 1 Sampler CD 47:50 3428:50

82 1 Jack Webb Collection 41:00 3469:50

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 3495:50

255 1 Lum and Abner 64:00 3559:50

25 1 Rocky Forturne 12:50 3572:40

33 1 Milton Berle 16:50 3589:30

45 1 Big Band Remotes 22:50 3612:20

240 1 Easy Aces 60:00 3672:20

51 1 My Friend Irma 25:50 3698:10

539 10 Lux Radio Theater 535:00 4233:10

57 1 Dinah Shore Collection 28:50 4262:00

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4298:50

38 1 Honest Harold 19:00 4317:50

64 1 Gangbusters 32:00 4349:50

186 1 Your Hit Parade 50:00 4399:50

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4436:40

49 1 Richard Diamond 24:50 4461:30

71 1 Adventures of Maisie 35:50 4497:20

75 1 Father Knows Best 27:50 4525:10

182 2 Boston Blackie 91:00 4616:10

68 1 Nightbeat 34:00 4650:10

931 4 Lum and Abner 232:00 4882:10

201 2 Red Skelton 100:50 4983:00

367 3 Amos and Andy 183:50 5166:50

Part of shows 1 Bloopers and Outtakes 12:00 5178:50

65 1 Broadway Is My Beat 32:50 5211:40

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 5262:30

24 1 Martin and Lewis 12:50 5275:20

104 1 OTR CAT Sampler Vol. 2 52:00 5327:20

62 1 Sam Spade 31:00 5358:20

485 5 Gunsmoke 242:50 5601:10

94 1 Let George Do It 47:00 5648:10

81 1 Duffy\’s Tavern 40:50 5689:00

181 1 Mary Noble 40:50 5648:50

414 4 Bing Crosby 212:00 5860:50

68 1 Birthday CD 34:00 5894:50 (CD of shows broadcast on my birthday)

129 1 Bill Stern 30:00 5924:50

117 1 Johnny Dollar Vol. 4 47:00 5971:50

61 1 Radio City Playhouse 30:50 6002:40

48 1 Railroad Hour 24:00 6026:40

88 1 Words of War 44:00 6070:40

88 1 Christmas Collection 44:00 6114:40

48 1 Nightwatch 22:00 6136:40

124 1 Christmas-Cinnamon Bears 50:00 6186:40

79 1 Jimmy Durante-Martin & Lewis 39:00 6225:40

48 1 Nightwatch 24:00 6249:40

81 1 Broadway Is My Beat OTR CAT 42:00 6291:40

232 1 Perry Mason 58:00 6349:40

25 1 Stand By For Crime 12:50 6362:30

96 1 Hopalong Cassidy 48:00 6410:30

94 2 Screen Director\’s Playhouse 47:00 6457:30

34 1 It Pays To Be Ignorant 17:00 6474:30

99 2 My Favorite Husband 44:50 6519:20

19 1 Curtain Time 9:50 6529:20

104 1 Guest Star 25:00 6554:10

175 2 Screen Guild Theater 87:50 6642:00

92 1 Theater Of Romance 46:00 6596:00

34 1 Bright Star 17:00 6613:00

205 2 Escape 102:50 6715:50

31 1 Nero Wolfe 15:50 6731:40

30 same Crime Club 15:00 6746:40

141 1 Grand Ole Opry 50:00 6796:40

122 1 Christmas Shows-Cinnamon Bears 61:00 6857:40

53 1 The Lineup 106:00 6963:40

258 3 Calling All Cars 129:00 7092:40

929 7 Suspense 464:50 7557:30

41 1 Six Shooter 20:00 7577:30

79 1 OTRCAT Sampler #5 43:30 7620:30 (Love these CD’s which have 1 complete show of  up to 100 different shows on 1 CD)

229 2 Wild Bill Hickok 47:00 7667:30

22 1 Arthur Godfrey 11:00 7678:30

61 1 Eddie Cantor 30:30 7719:00

29 1 My Little Margie 14:30 7733:30

102 1 Bickersons – Blondie 51:00 7784:30

174 2 Bob Hope 87:00 7871:30

56 1 Frances Langford 28:00 7899:30

85 1 Mr. District Attorney 42:30 7942:00

31 1 Henry Morgan 13:00 7955:00

68 1 I Was A Communist For FBI 34:00 7989:00

78 1 Information Please 39:00 8028:00

36 1 FBI In Peace And War 18:00 8046:00

49 1 Edward G. Robinson 24:30 8070:30

17225 178 8070:30

The 17,225 is the number of episodes…178 is number of MP3 CD\’s the shows are on…The 8070:30 is the number of total hours of old time radio in the collection.

 

Jack Lord : From Stoney Burke to Hawaii Five-O

Jack Lord 1920-1998

Jack Lord was born John Joseph Patrick Ryan on December 30,1920 in Brooklyn, New York according to the rememberingjacklord.com website. Jack attended John Adams High School in Queens.

It didn’t take Jack long to understand what hard work meant, since his father sent him on freighters, during the summer, which traveled all over the world. He had the unique distinction of playing on the varsity football team, and being an accomplished artist, while attending high school.

After graduating from high school Jack played on the New York University football team as a tackle. He and his older brother Bill opened the Village Academy of Art in Greenwich Village, and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibited two of his paintings.

These two paragraphs from his biography at rememberingjacklord.com tell of his first marriage and being torpedoed by German U-boats during World War II:

In 1942, Jack married Ann Cicely Willard. Jack described it as a youthful romance and said they married following a whirlwind courtship. The marriage was not a good one, for the couple were young, and Jack was working away from home. They had a child, John Ryan, Jr., who died at the age of 13 following a brief illness. 

During World War II, Jack served with the U. S. Maritime Service aboard Liberty ships.  It was not an easy assignment, for the German U-boats were always on patrol. The ship on which Jack was serving was torpedoed. With the fantail, rudder, and after-stern were destroyed, and the ship began to sink. There being no time to send an SOS, the captain ordered the crew to abandon ship. The ship sank in seven minutes, and Jack drifted in a life boat for sixteen hours before being rescued.

He was visiting his brother Bill in Woodstock, New York, when he saw a house that interested him. After meeting the owner Marie L. De Narde they were married later on January 17, 1949.

Changed His Name To Jack Lord

Jack found out there was already an actor, in the actor’s union with the name Jack Ryan, so changed his name to Jack Lord, but only for acting purposes, as he didn’t change his legal name. He picked the name Lord from his family tree.

His first acting job was in the movie Project X in 1949, which was followed by Cry Murder in 1950.

Jack Lord as Stoney Burke 1962-1963

1957 would see him appear in Have Gun – Will Travel and Gunsmoke. He would alternate between television and the movies, for the next few years, until he was given the starring role of Stoney Burke on the Stoney Burke television series from 1962-1963. He portrayed a rodeo cowboy on the show.

Jack would freelance between television and movies for the next five years, before landing the job that would make him a household name.

 

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-O

I am now watching Hawaii Five-O on Netflix and have almost finished Season 9. I like the way that Jack as Steve McGarrett takes charge and gives almost impossible orders, like Chin Ho and Danno. He tells them to do things, like check every surfboard shop on Oahu, and get the name of everyone, that has bought a surfboard in the last 10 years. Well, maybe not that drastic, but if you watch the show you will notice him giving out orders.

Jack Lord has a presence on the screen, that tells everyone, that he is the one to see, if anyone wants something done the right way.

There are two Hawaii Five-O shows out there now, with CBS running a newer version currently, but the 1968-1980 series is the one I watch, since I left Hawaii in 1966 and can identify, with some of the locations shown and/or mentioned during an episode.

Jack Lord and his wife Marie

Jack Lord made his only appearance, after the end of Hawaii Five-O in M Station: Hawaii a television movie in 1980. He never acted again in the years, which led to his death, on January 21, 1988 in Honolulu,Hawaii at the age of 77.

He lived the last 30 years of his life in Hawaii with his wife and liked to walk on Kahala Beach, where he had his ashes scattered after his death.

After he and his wife died they left $40 million to many charities in Hawaii, which are detailed in the following article:

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jan/22/ln/FP601220358.html

Jack was considered for the part of Captain Kirk in Star Trek 1966, but was turned down, since he wanted to be co-producer and own a percentage of the series, so William Shatner had to be thrilled, that Lord turned down the role.

I have noticed that it is difficult to find a photo online of Jack Lord in later life.

This website tells about Jack’s interaction with the other actors:

  • Lord was infamous for being imperious and hard to work with. However, fellow?Hawaii Five-Operformers Kam Fong, Zulu, Harry Endo, and Jimmy Borges have credited him as professional, generous, and normally soft-spoken. Many cast members considered him a friend and a mentor. Jack Lord was 6’2″ and liked to appear as the tallest actor on-screen – he often wore elevating footwear when appearing with Richard Denning, Al Harrington, and tall guest stars.

Other trivia from this same article:

http://www.jack-lord.info/about-jack-lord-hawaiifive-0/176-jack-lord-trivia.html

 

 

 

70 Years of Christmas Memories

 

This article could have been titled 62 Years of Christmas Memories, since my first memory of Christmas would be of 1952 Christmas, when we lived close to Louisiana College in PIneville,, Louisiana. My first memory is of the Christmas stockings that were not hung by the chimney with care, since we had no chimney, but they still were hung with care. I will never forget my mom staying up all night, to wrap presents and hang the stockings.

One of my favorite memories was going to S.H. Kress store in Alexandria and trying to make my money stretch enough to buy presents for everyone in the family, which consisted of mom, dad, two brothers and one sister at the time. It was fun wrapping the presents, even though my wrapping skills were rudimentary at best.

Another memory is the Christmas tree lighted up with lights. We bought our trees from the Lion’s Club, where they were sold in front of Huey P. Long Hospital on Main Street.

It was exciting to ride on the Boy’s Scouts float in the Christmas parade, when I was with the Pineville Boys Scouts.

 

I will never forget the miniature church that would be displayed every Christmas in downtown Alexandria. It was misplaced for a few years, but the last I knew it is back on display again .

City Hall lighted up for Christmas in the 1950’s.

This photo was taken from the 2013 Christmas parade in Pineville. I can remember some brutally cold nights, on the night of the Christmas parade over the years. I haven’t been to a Pineville Christmas parade for at least seven years now, but time can’t erase the memories of the ones I have seen.

The Alexandria water tower lighted up for Christmas has been another Christmas tradition for many years. It was easy to find since it could be seen from a distance.

 

Policemen Injured in Christmas Parade Accident

One Alexandria Christmas parade in 70’s had an accident, which I personally witnessed. A reserve sheriff’s deputy was talking to my mom, then said he had to get back to work. A couple of minutes later that same deputy directed a car on a side street onto the street where the parade was almost starting . However, a Alexandria policemen, on a motorcycle on the parade route was hit by the car. The policeman flew up in the air and landed on the car. He was seriously hurt and if I remember right the accident happened before the start of the parade. I will never forget the policeman going airborne, before landing on the car.

 

Annual Christmas Party at Louisiana College

It was a highlight for me every Christmas when the faculty of Louisiana College and their families would have their annual Christmas party.

 

Christmas Eve Services At Pineville Park Baptist Church

I miss the Christmas Eve services at Pineville Park Baptist Church on Christmas Eve. The lighted candles, the music and the words spoken by the pastor made it a special night, that I always looked forward to each year.

 

Christmas Lights in Pineville

It wasn’t Christmas in Pineville, until  the Christmas lights were put up during the Christmas season.

 

Family Altar On Christmas Morning

We always had our family altar, before we opened Christmas presents. My mom would read the devotional that day, from the Home Life magazine.

 

Christmas Bonuses

We would receive our Christmas bonus at the Alexandria Town Talk, for many years till Gannett bought the Town Talk and put a screeching halt to that nonsense. I was working for the Monroe Morning World in Monroe, Louisiana from 1974-1976 and will never forget the $10 Christmas bonus. It really wasn’t a $10 bonus, though since they took tax out of the $10, so the check was for $9 and a few cents left over.

 

Christmas With 8 Degree Weather

I will never forget one Christmas, when it was 8 degrees. The car wouldn’t start, when I tried to start it later that day, so I could go to work. I ended up walking the two miles, to the Town Talk and freezing in the cold wind.

 

Christmas In Hawaii

I spent three Christmases in Hawaii, while stationed at Schofield Barracks,  in 1963, 1964 and 1965, before being sent to Vietnam. I went to a USO show, that had performers singing I’ll Be Home For Christmas. It wasn’t a great song selection, since I didn’t want to be reminded, that I wouldn’t be going home that Christmas.

 

One of my favorite Christmas albums

 

Christmas Music

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the great Christmas music. O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, with O Little Town of Bethlehem a close second.

My favorite secular Christmas songs are songs like The Christmas Song,  White Christmas, Blue Christmas, Please Come Home For Christmas and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. 

 

Bob Hope and Connie Stevens appearing in Bob Hope Christmas Show in 1970.

Andy Williams on Christmas Show

Christmas Specials On Television

The Bob Hope Christmas specials were another favorite part of Christmas. I was impressed that he missed many Christmases at home, to entertain American troops around the world. I also enjoyed the Andy Williams Christmas specials each year.

 

Old Time Radio Christmas Programs

I collect old-time radio shows and some of my favorite shows are the Christmas episodes, of shows like Fibber McGee and Molly, Jack Benny and the Great Gildersleeve. One of my all time favorites is A Daddy for Christmas, which was heard on Family Theater.

This is the funniest show I have ever heard on old-time radio. It is the first Fred Allen radio show ever broadcast from 1932 and is now 82 years old. Best part is when a speaker gives a pep talk to the employees of the Mammoth Department Store. Fast forward through the music at the first to get to show. It can be heard on You Tube. You can be glad you weren’t around in 1932, because the music is terrible, but just fast forward through it, especially the lady that is making a futile attempt at singing. It is sad they didn’t have the technology in 1932,  to rid the show of all the horrific singing.

Funniest Christmas Show Ever

The Jack Benny Christmas program is hilarious, and the dialogue between Jack Benny and Mel Blanc shown in photo is priceless. The show is funny from start to finish.

Best Christmas Movie

It’s A Wonderful Life is the best of all the Christmas movies, but that is only my opinion and my opinion with three dollars will buy a gallon of gas, so it is not really worth that much. Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed are the most recognizable stars in the movie, but Frank Faylen, who portrayed the father of Dobie Gillis, in the show of the same name was a cab driver in the movie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Christmas Songs

 

I have been hearing the same Christmas songs, for most of my life, but never tire of them. I know I will leave out some great Christmas songs, but will list some of my all-time favorite Christmas songs with name and writer/writers of the songs. 

White Christmas 1940 – Irving Berlin 

This is one of most well-known Christmas songs. 50 million copies of this song have been sold, which makes it the best-selling song of all time.

Irving Berlin wrote White Christmas in 1940, but there is some question, if that is the correct date. Berlin told his secretary, that he had just written the best song ever written. That was saying something, since Berlin had written a lot of very well-known songs over the year. Bing Crosby was the first to sing this song, when he sang it on Christmas Day 1941, on his radio show. It is ironic that the song was first sung just 18 days, after Pearl Harbor had been bombed.

500 versions of the song have been recorded.

Blue Christmas 1948 – Billy Hayes, J.W. Johnson

Doye O’Dell was the first singer to record Blue Christmas, but Ernest Tubb took it to #1 on the Most Played Country Juke Box Records chart, in January of 1950. Elvis Presley recorded it in 1957. I like both the Ernest Tubb and Elvis Presley versions best of the over 65 recorded versions.

O Holy Night 1843 – Placide Cappeau

It is amazing that the songwriter Placide Cappeau was an atheist, and it is surprising, that an atheist could write such power words and music. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, to hear sung at Christmas. John Sullivan Dwight, who was an Unitarian minister wrote the song for singing in 1855. O Holy Night was the second song, to be heard in radio history. Tenor Enrico Caruso recorded, what is the most famous version of the song in 1916. It isn’t Christmas, if this song is not heard at least once, during the Christmas season.

Please Come Home For Christmas 1960 – Charles Brown, Eugene Redd

I am surprised that Please Come Home For Christmas peaked at #76 on the Hot 100 Billboard chart. Some people refer to the song as “Bells Will Be Ringing”. The Eagles recorded the song in 1978 and it went to #18 on the Billboard chart. I never get tired of hearing this song sung and it starts like this:

Bells will be ringing the sad, sad news
Oh what a Christmas to have the blues
My baby’s gone, I have no friends
To wish me greetings once again

Choirs will be singin’ ‘Silent Night’
Christmas carols by candlelight
Please come home for Christmas
Please come home for Christmas
If not for Christmas by New Year’s night

Friends and relations send salutation
Sure as the stars shine above
But this is Christmas, yes Christmas my dear
It’s the time of year to be with the one you love

I’ll Be Home For Christmas 1943 – Kim Gannon, Walter Kent, Buck Ram

Bing Crosby was the first to record I’ll Be Home For Christmas in 1943. It was recorded during World War II, to honor servicemen overseas, who weren’t able to come home for Christmas. I know firsthand, how this song hits home, since I spent Christmas in Hawaii in 1963, 1964 and 1965. I played the song on my record player in Hawaii, but it wasn’t well received by the other soldiers in the barracks, who said they didn’t want to be reminded, that they would be going home for Christmas. The Crosby version peaked at # 3 on the Billboard chart.

Astronauts Frank Borman and Jim Lovell requested this song be played, while on a Gemini 7 mission, in December of 1965. My personal favorite recording of the song was by Johnny Mathis.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 1868 – Phillips Brooks, Lewis Redner

Phillips Brooks was inspired by visiting Bethlehem in 1865, and three years later in 1868 wrote the words to O Little Town of Bethlehem. His church organist Lewis Redner wrote the tune for the song. I like this song so much, that I have sang it often, over the years for special music at church. The song conjures up images of how it was on the night Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Christmas In My Hometown

There is little information about Christmas In My Hometown, but did find out the writer was Lassaye Van Buren Holmes. My favorite version of the song was the Bobby Vinton version, but Charley Pride also recorded an excellent version of the song. This song reminds me of the times we used to travel, to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas with family, as far as 200 miles away over the years.

Christmas in Dixie 1982 – Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry, Randy Owen, Mark Herndon

By now in New York City, there’s snow on the ground
And out in California, the sunshine’s falling down
And, maybe down in Memphis, Graceland’s all in lights
And in Atlanta, Georgia, there’s peace on earth tonight

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

It’s windy in Chicago the kids are out of school
There’s magic in Motown the city’s on the move
In Jackson, Mississippi, to Charlotte, Caroline
And all across the nation, it’s the peaceful Christmas time

Christmas in Dixie, it’s snowin’ in the pines
Merry Christmas from Dixie, to everyone tonight

And from Fort Payne, Alabama
God bless y’all, we love ya
Happy New Year, good night
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas tonight

Christmas in Dixie not only had great words in the song written, by the members of Alabama in 1982, but also made me think of what it was like living in Knoxville, Tennessee, during the Christmases of 2007, 2008 and 2009. This is the kind of song, that will take a listener back in time, to the good old days in the south, when families spent Christmas together.

The Christmas Song 1944 – Bob Wells, Mel Torme

The Christmas Song was first recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946. This song is special for me, since I was born in 1944 and the song was written that year, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme. It is strange, that Torme wrote the song, but didn’t record it himself till later.

The song has been recorded from artists like Trace Adkins, to Justin Bieber, to Garth Brooks, to James Brown, to Glen Campbell, to Frank Sinatra, to Bob Dylan, to New Kids on the Block, to George Strait. My favorite version is by the great Johnny Mathis, who has been recording for 58 years now and is 79 years old.

Jingle Bell Rock 1958 – Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe

Bobby Helms recorded Jingle Bell Rock in 1957 and it was released in 1958. Brenda Lee later recorded it. This is one song you can almost be sure of hearing, at least once during the Christmas season. It has been recorded numerous times, by artists from many different genres of music, from Alvin and the Chipmunks to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth 1944 – Donald Yetter Gardner

Donald Yetter Gardner wrote the novelty song All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth in 1944. He was a second grade teacher, who asked the kids in his class, what they wanted for Christmas, and noticed most of them were missing at least one tooth. It gave him the idea to write the song and he was surprised it became a national hit.

Spike Jones and his madcap band the City Slickers were the first to record the song. It wasn’t until 1947, when Spike and his band recorded the song.

The song has been recorded by a diverse range of singers from Alvin and the Chipmunks to George Strait. I just can’t imagine George Strait singing this song. The writer Gardner preferred the Nat King Cole version. The song went to #1 twice for Spike Jones and the City Slickers.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus – Tommy Connor

Jimmy Boyd was 13 years old when he recorded I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in 1952. The song went to #1 on the Billboard Singles chart in December of 1952. The song was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, until Boyd explained the premise of the song to the Archdiocese and the ban was lifted.

                                                                                                                    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 1949 – Johnny Marks

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was based on the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer story written for Montgomery Ward. Johnny Marks wrote the song in 1949 and Harry Brannon first sang it on a radio program in November, then  . Gene Autry recorded it in December of 1949. The song made history, by becoming the first song to fall completely off the chart, after reaching #1.

Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1950 and the song reached #14 on the Billboard chart. Dolly Parton and the Rugrats were two of many singers or groups to record the song over the years.

Jimmy Boyd would appear a few years later, in the Bachelor Father television series and is shown the above photo, with John Forsythe and Noreen Corcoran, whose character was his love interest in the show.

Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) 1600’s or 1700’s – Writer unknown

Adeste Fideles or O  Come All Ye Faithful, as it is known in the United States has an unverified history, so there is no known date of it being written, nor is the identity of the writer known. This article explains, why the origin of this so song is so questionable. One thing that is known is that it is one of the most sung songs in churches and also sung by carolers.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3674120/The-story-behind-the-carol-O-come-all-ye-faithful.html

I know there will be a lot of great songs left out of this article, but time restraints restrict me from writing any longer, since this has taken about three hours to put together.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!

Classic Television: Green Acres 1965-1971

Green Acres 1965-1971

First Row – Eva Gabor, Eddie Albert, Eleanor Audley

Second Row – Alvy Moore, Tom Lester, Pat Buttram

Green Acres was one of the cornier CBS country comedies of that era, but at the same time it was one of the most entertaining. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor were involved in the main plot, for each episode but the comedy ensemble backing them up is what set the show apart.

Eva Gabor and Eddie Albert as Oliver and Lisa Douglas who gave up big city life to move to Green Acres.

Who can forget county agent Hank Kimball played by Alvy Moore? Then Tom Lester the farmhand who was portrayed by Tom Lester. Mr. Haney kept us entertained as the con man, who sold Oliver Douglas useless items, that didn’t work often during the life of the show.

Green Acres - 03x30 A Star Named Arnold is Born (2)

Arnold the pig studying movie script for next movie. 

Fred Ziffel played by Hank Patterson, on the show owned a pig named Arnold. It turned out that Arnold like to steal scenes, from the humans appearing the show. Arnold would be about 50 this year, if still living at the Retired Home for Animals Who Acted.

The rumor that the cast had a luau after the last episode was aired, with Arnold as the main course was completely untrue.

Mr.Haney the fast talking con man trying to pull over on Oliver. 

Eva Gabor portrayed Lisa Douglas the wife, who didn’t really want to live on the farm, but put up with it for the sake of her husband Oliver Douglas, whose dream was to own a farm. He never would have followed his dream, if he knew ahead of time that he would be dealing with a shady con man in Mr. Haney, a inept county agent in Mr. Kimball, a pig that liked to watch television and a farmhand that didn’t know a wheelbarrow from a hay wagon in Eb.

Eddie Albert revealed that he had a 10 percent interest in the show, so probably reaped a rich dividend, when the show went into reruns.

Grave marker for Alvy Moore better known as Hank Kimball on the show. 

Mr. Haney according to imdb.com based his character on Col Tom Parker, who reportedly took 51 percent of the income of Elvis Presley, with Elvis having to eke out a living on the other 49 percent.

Oliver usually wore business clothes, even when working on the farm.

Some funny quotes from the show from imdb.com:

Lisa Douglas: Why do you want to irritate your corn?

Oliver Douglas: Irrigate. It means put water on it.

Lisa Douglas: Won’t that irritate it?

 

Eustace Charleton Haney: [after learning Oliver and Lisa are going to be out-of-town for a few days] While yer away on yer trip, I thought you might like to avail yerself of Haney’s Farm Mindin’ Service.

Oliver Wendell Douglass: HANEY’S FARM MINDING SERVICE?

Eustace Charleton Haney: Yessir, at Haney’s Farm Mindin’ Service, for a nom-yew-nal fee we will move into yer house, eat yer food, drink yer likker, and turn away any unwanted relatives that might show up at yer door.

 

Oliver Douglas: Why don’t we give away this one?

Lisa Douglas: No that’s the dress I graduated from high school in.

Oliver Douglas: How about this one?

Lisa Douglas: That’s the dress I wore the first day of college.

Oliver Douglas: [holding a black, low-cut dress] What about this one?

Lisa Douglas: That’s the one I got expelled in.

 

Green Acres was a victim of the CBS purge of rural comedies, because CBS thought the shows were only attracting rural and older audiences. Just writing this article makes me want to watch one of the Green Acres shows, but not sure if it is even shown anywhere on TV today.

Sadly most of the cast is no longer with us. These are the main cast members and their birth and death years, with the alive cast members at the bottom:

Eddie Albert 1906-2005

Eva Gabor 1919-1995

Pat Buttram 1915-1994

Frank Cady 1915-2012….played Sam Drucker the grocery store owner

Alvy Moore 1921-1997

Hank Patterson 1888-1975….was 83  when show started and 87 when it ended

Sid Melton 1917-2011….portrayed Alf Monroe on the show. He also appeared in 93 episodes of Make Room For Daddy, in which he played Charley Halper. 

Mary Grace Canfield 1924-2014….was Ralph the wife of Alf on the show. She also played Gomer Pyle’s girlfriend on an episode of Andy Griffith. 

Tom Lester 1938-present….only surviving cast member of the show and is now 76 years old. 

TV Classics Hard to Find Today

 

Highway Patrol was one of many classic television shows, that are either hard to find or not on television today. The plots of the show were simple, which is unlike some shows today, that take awhile before you even figure out who the bad guy is.

Broderick Crawford 1911-1986

Broderick Crawford was perfectly cast as Chief Dan Mathews in Highway Patrol. Chief Mathews portrayed a no-nonsense cop, who was famous for saying 10-4 on is police phone. The problem today is that it is seldom seen on television today or if it is, then it is relegated to an early morning slot like 4AM. The show to me was better than a lot of detective shows being seen today. The show was on television from 1955-1959.

                                                                                                                    Bob Denver, Tuesday Weld and Dwayne Hickman in a scene from Dobie Gillis.

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-1963) was one of my favorite shows to watch. It doesn’t seem possible, but Dwayne Hickman who portrayed Dobie is now 80 years old. 51 years have passed, since it was last seen on network television. Actors who appeared on the show and went on to greater fame included Bob Denver, Tuesday Weld, Warren Beatty and William Schallert. Frank Faylen who played Dobie’s father appeared in the Christmas classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life as a cab driver. This is another show that as far as I know can only be found in the early morning hours.

 Life of Riley 1953-1958

William Bendix on The Life of Riley was one of my favorite shows to watch. The show had already been on television a year, before we even bought our first TV set in 1954. Loved watching Bendix portraying Chester A. Riley, who was the polar opposite of Ward Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver and Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best who portrayed next to perfect fathers on television. Riley on the other hand was a stumbling, bumbling oaf, that while he had good intentions had a proclivity for being put in the worst possible predicaments. Riley was known for saying “What a revoltin’ development this is”. Sadly, as far as I know this show cannot be found anywhere,  on television today 56 years after the last show was aired.

Gomer Pyle 1964-1969

Anyone that has served in the military has encountered someone who reminded them of  Gomer Pyle at some point in their career. Jim Nabors, who left the Andy Griffith Show to portray the same character, that he had portrayed in the city of Mayberry, North Carolina. The casting director could have taken years, to cast the role of Sergeant Vince Carter, but they got it right the first time, by hiring Frank Sutton for the role. Sadly Sutton died 40 years ago in Shreveport, Louisiana when he was acting in a dinner theater.  Gomer Pyle used to also be shown in the early morning hours, but the last I knew it is not being shown on television today.

Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin

Father Knows Best 1954-1960

Father Knows Best is the first show I think of when thinking of a typical American family. They had their share of problems, but they were solved by the time the show ended 30 minutes later.  I was in the Veteran’s Hospital in Houston and the Antenna TV channel had Father Knows Best and it was fun to watch the show, and helped take my mind of the cancer surgery I had recently, even if only momentarily. This is only channel that I know of, that shows this show 54 years after the last show aired on network television.

Mannix 1967-1975

Mannix was one of my favorite detective shows on television. Mike Connors who portrayed Mannix is now 89 years old. He made his last television appearance on Two and a Half Men in 2007. I remember the show, as a show that could hold your interest. Gail Fisher portrayed his secretary Peggy Fair and was the only one on the show besides Connors, that appeared in at least 100 episodes.Fisher died 14 years ago tomorrow (December 2). This show is not seen on television today as far as I know.

George Maharis and Martin Milner in Route 66 1960-1964

I recently saw an episode of Route 66 on a streaming service and it reminded me, that I had not seen an episode of the show in the last 50 years, since it left network television 50 years ago. The episode as described at imdb.com:

S1, Ep30
16 Jun. 1961

Incident on a Bridge

Tod and Buz, in Cleveland, Ohio working as laborers on a “three-week job at a gravel yard”, stay at their Russian supervisor’s home. He has a mute daughter who has a miserable life. When a fellow Russian, whom the community has ostracized, shows his love for her tragedy follows. The two ill-fated people meet an uncertain end. Nehemiah Persoff portrays the father of the mute daughter, who is portrayed by Lois Smith. Classic television fans will notice Allan Melvin, who was later Sam the butcher on Brady Bunch and also appeared on episodes of Andy Griffith and Sgt. Bilko shows.
Jack Webb 1920-1982
Dragnet 1951-1959
I never was too enthused about the newer 1967 version of Dragnet, after having seen the original  black and white version from 1951-1959. I like color television, but still don’t mind watching black and white shows, since they let you concentrate more on the show, than the color scenery shown on a color program.
Jack Webb and Ben Alexander shown in scene from Dragnet.
I have always liked the photo of Joe Friday’s partner Frank Smith in the middle of the above photo. He seems to be falling asleep on the job and is grabbing some shuteye, while Friday does all the work and questioning. Dragnet to me was television at its best. These shows are rarely if ever seen today, since the cable networks seem to opt for the color version, with Harry Morgan of M*A*S*H fame portraying Officer Bill Gannon. I am not saying the later version was not a good show, but after you have seen the best, then you don’t care as much about later version.
Note – Anyone that knows where any of these shows can be seen today are welcome, to post that information to the comments section…Thank you. 

Dick Van Dyke – Eight Decades of Entertaining

Dick Van Dyke in a scene from Sgt. Bilko television series in 1957.

Dick Van Dyke was born as Richard Wayne Van Dyke on December 13, 1925 in West Plains, Missouri. Van Dyke had considered becoming a minister at one time, but decided to become an entertainer, after appearing on stage in a high school play.

His first job was as a disc jockey on a local radio station in Danville, Illinois. He later traveled across the country as part of a comedy act, till he was hired by WDSU TV in New Orleans as an entertainer. That job led to a job with the CBS network on their morning program. He anchored the program, which also featured Walter Cronkite as his newsman.

Dick Van Dyke and Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie.

His big break came when he appeared in the Broadway play Bye Bye Birdie playing the part of Albert Peterson and won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor.

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.

Then in 1961 he was hired to portray Rob Petrie on the Dick Van Dyke Show which ran from 1961 to 1966 and 158 episodes were filmed. The show was on the brink of cancellation, before it caught on with television viewers. Then five years later he starred in the New Dick Van Dyke Show which ran for 72 episodes from 1971-1974.

It was about this time, that Van Dyke publicly announced he had been an alcoholic for 25 years.

1988 would see Van Dyke appear in his third show, with his name in the title, when he appeared in the Van Dyke Show, that only lasted for 10 episodes.

Dick Van Dyke portraying Doctor Mark Sloan on Diagnosis:Murder

His next starring role in a television series was when he portrayed Dr. Mark Sloan, in Diagnosis Murder. It would run for 180 episodes, which was even more episodes, than the original Dick Van Dyke Show had run.

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

He was best-known for his movies Bye Birdie (1963), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964) and Mary Poppins (1968). He has appeared in three of the Night of the Museum movies.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb movie, in which Van Dyke appears was recently completed this year and another movie Life is Boring is in post-production at the time of this writing. He also appeared in Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which was released in October of 2014 by the Walt Disney Pictures.

Van Dyke is now in his eighth decade of entertaining.

Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver don’t seem to be concerned about their 46 year age difference.

Dick Van Dyke was married to Marjorie Willett from 1948-1984, then lived with Michelle Triola from 1976 till her death in 2009. Van Dyke reportedly paid Triola $600,000, which was the amount she had sued actor Lee Marvin for in a palimony suit, but the court ruled against her. That ended Van Dyke’s marriage to Marjorie Willett, when she learned about his payment to Triola. Van Dyke has been married to Arlene Silver for the last two years. She is 46 years younger than Van Dyke and is about 44 years old now, while he will be 89 in December.

Imdb.com has some very interesting trivia about Dick Van Dyke. These are just a few of them since there 106 in all.

Van Dyke turned down a chance to host Price is Right. If he had taken the job he may never have become an actor, when considering, that game show host for the most part stay game show hosts.

He and his first wife Margie were so poor after their wedding, that they lived in their car for a while.

Was a heavy smoker for 50 years before quitting. He used to smoke 60 cigarettes a day.

Was 36 when he appeared in his first movie.

Received a lemon cake at Christmas for 16 years from actor Charles Bronson.

Producer Sheldon Leonard gave Van Dyke the lead role, in the Dick Van Dyke Show, after seeing him in stage production of Bye Bye Birdie.

For more trivia and quotes from Van Dyke:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001813/bio?ref_=nm_dyk_qt_sm#quotes

Harry Morgan: From December Bride To M*A*SH

Fichier:Harry Morgan Spring Byington December Bride 1958.JPG
Harry Morgan dancing with Spring Byington in an episode of December Bride.

 

Harry Morgan was born Harry Bratsberg on April 10,1915 in Detroit, Michigan. He would later change his last name to Morgan and using Henry as his first name. There was another Henry Morgan at the time heard on radio and seen on television, so he changed his first name back to Harry.

He was a little man, that stood only 5 foot six inches. He made his first appearance in the movies in To the Shores of Tripoli in 1942 at the age of 27.

His first regular television role was in December Bride, in which he was seen in 155 episodes from 1954-1959. He portrayed Pete Porter in the series, who lived next to neighbor Lily Ruskin (portrayed by Spring Byington). His wife was never seen, but was referred to often.

Harry Morgan and Cara Williams in Pete and Gladys

 

He was seen in a spinoff from December Bride with the wife, that was never seen on December Bride. The new show was named Pete and Gladys and he portrayed his Pete Porter character from December Bride and Cara Williams was seen as Gladys Porter. The show ran from 1960-1962, with Morgan being 47 when the show ended. 72 episodes of the show were seen, before it was taken off the air.

His father Henry Bratsberg was a native of Norway while his mother Hannah was a native of Sweden.

Harry Morgan and Jack Webb in a scene from Dragnet.

Morgan would appear as a free-lance actor in movies and television, till when he acted with Jack Webb in Dragnet, as he portrayed Officer Bill Gannon, who was the partner of Jack Webb’s character Joe Friday. He portrayed Officer Bill Gannon as early as 1953 in the original black and white version of Dragnet. He also appeared as Officer Bill Gannon in the color version of Dragnet in 1966. He appeared in 99 episodes.

He would then appear in many different television shows and movies, including eight appearances in the television show Hec Ramsey and four episodes of Gunsmoke.

Morgan joined the cast of M*A*S*H in 1974 in its fourth season and portrayed Colonel Sherman T. Potter in 180 episodes. He also acted in the short-lived series After Mash that was seen from 1983-1984. He also portrayed Colonel Potter in this series in 29 episodes.

He then acted in movies, TV movies and various television series, until he retired in 1999 after 47 years of acting.

Harry Morgan in his later years.

 

Harry Morgan died in his sleep on December 7, 2011, in Los Angeles, California.

He died two and a half years ago, but his memory will live on for years, who have been fans of his work on December Bride, Pete and Gladys, Dragnet and M*A*S*H.

 

 

 

 

 

Great Character Actors of the Past: Gale Gordon

 

 

 

Gale Gordon 1906-1995

 

Gale Gordon was February 20, 1906 in New York City, New York as Charles T. Aldrich Jr. He changed his stage name to Gale Gordon, at some point in his career, but never legally changed his name, so he was still Charles T. Aldrich Jr. at the time of his death.

Prolific Radio Actor

Gordon was one of the most prolific radio actors having acted in 1,352 radio programs according to radiogoldindex.com. He was first heard on radio in 1932 and was heard on radio into the 1970’s.

His first regular role on a radio series was when he was heard on Tarzan and the Apes from 1932-1933.

He would begin portraying Flash Gordon on radio on May 4, 1935 and would also be heard on several other radio programs.

The following list of radio shows he was in during a short period of time shows how much in demand he was as a radio actor:

MAY 24, 1948 – CAVALCADE OF AMERICA

MAY 25, 1948 – FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY

MAY 26, 1948 – THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE

MAY 27, 1948 – MAXWELL COFFEE HOUSE TIME

MAY 28, 1948 – OLD GOLD TIME

MAY 29, 1948 – MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (Movie re-enacted for radio)

JUNE 1, 1948 – FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY

Gordon had one day off in an eight day stretch.

1948 would also be the year, that he began being heard on Our Miss Brooks, in which he portrayed the principal Osgood Conklin.

He would also be heard on My Favorite Husband, which also starred Lucille Ball.

Movie Career

Gordon made his first credited movie appearance in 1942 in Here We Go Again. He appeared in the movie version of Our Miss Brooks in 1956.

His movie career flourished in the years from 1958-1961 with seven movie appearances.

He would make his last movie appearance in The ‘Burbs in 1989, after a 21 year absence from the big screen, after he appeared in Speedway.

Television Career

Gale Gordon focused on regular roles on television shows, for the most part during his career.

It is no surprise, that one of his first appearances on television was Lucille Ball’s I Love Lucy in 1952. Ironically, he was offered the role of Fred Mertz on the show, but was already in line to play Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks.

He also appeared in 130 episodes of the television version of Our Miss Brooks, which ran from 1952-1956. I don’t recall this show being in reruns the last few years on any network.

One of his better known roles was as John Wilson in Dennis the Menace, in which he portrayed John Wilson in 44 episodes, after the death of Joseph Kearns, who had played George Wilson.

His association with Lucille Ball was renewed when he appeared in 109 episodes of The Lucy Show from 1963-1968 and then appeared in 109 episodes of Here’s Lucy from 1968-1974.

Lucille Ball would try once more to capture her magic on the small screen, in 1986 with Life of Lucy show that lasted only 13 episodes. This was the last regular role for Gordon on television.

We will never forget Gordon portraying Mr. Theodore Mooney on The Lucy Show. He would become exasperated with the actions of Lucy, which led to many funny situations.

There was no doubt about the respect that Lucille Ball had for Gordon. He appeared in every radio or television series, in which Ball appeared since 1940.

He would make his last television appearance on the New Lassie series in 1991.

Gordon traveled 160 miles one way to appear in the different television series with Ball, which shows the appreciation he had for her help, in obtaining those roles for him.

Addenda

Gale Gordon was married to Virginia Curley from 1937-1995, until the time of her death. She died about a month before Gordon died in the same facility.

He died of lung cancer on June 30,1995 at the age of 89 in Escondido, California.

Among his honors are his enshrinement in the Radio Hall of Fame and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his radio acting. That seems strange that he wasn’t awarded a star for his work in television.

Summary

Gale Gordon was a perfect foil for Lucille Ball’s comedy and made Here’s Lucy and The Lucy Shows classics, that will endure for many years to come.

His portrayal of blustery Theodore Mooney the bank president will never be forgotten, by those who saw those shows back  then or in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bobby Rydell Performing Again After Liver, Kidney Transplant

Bobby Rydell

Bobby Rydell was born Robert Louis Ridarelli on April 26, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He will be 72 years old tomorrow.

It doesn’t seem possible that 55 years have passed, since he had his first hit song, with the release of Kissin’ Time in 1959.

Before that he had won a talent contest and became a member of the cast of Paul Whiteman’s TV Teen Club. Whiteman had difficult pronouncing his last name Ridarelli, so changed his last name to Rydell.

He joined the Rocco and the Saints band at the age of 16 and the band also had a soon to be famous trumpet player in Frankie Avalon.

First Million Selling Single

We Got Love, which was his first million selling album peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Wild One was his next million selling single and it reached #2 on the charts and it was released in 1960. My personal favorite Bobby Rydell song Volare was also released in 1960 and went to #4 on the charts. Sway also did well for Rydell in 1960 going to #14 on the charts. Swingin’ School also reached the charts in 1960 and peaked at #5.

Sadly, Rydell only had one more Top Ten hit, when he released Forget Him in 1963, which peaked at #4 on the music charts.

His last new song to make the Billboard Hot 100 charts was Diana, which barely made it onto the charts at #98 in 1965.

It has been 49 years, since he had a song that made the Billboard Hot 100.

More recent photo of Bobby Rydell

Failing Health

He had to cancel a 2012 tour to Australian because of health problems. Rydell would have his liver and kidneys replaced in a double organ transplant. The transplant took place at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in July of 2012.

After recovering for six months Rydell performed in a three night engagement in Las Vegas.

With the health problems behind him Rydell has been very active. He has appeared in international concerts, which included a 2014 tour in Australia. He also has appeared as part of a stage act, with fellow Philadelphian rock and rollers Fabian and Frankie Avalon.

Interesting Trivia From IMDB.com

Rydell High School in Grease was named after Rydell.

He was married to his first wife Camille Quattrone Ridarelli from 1968-2003 until the time of her death. He remarried in 2009 to Linda Hoffman.

Started playing drums at the age of six.

The city of Philadelphia named Bobby Rydell Boulevard after him.

He was a victim of the British invasion, as his recording career was never the same after the Beatles hit American shores.

Has Remained Active

Bobby Rydell has remained active after his recording career more or less ended, by hitting the night club circuit and appearing in concert. However, he did appear in the movie Bye Bye Birdie in 1963, at the height of his popularity.

He has appeared in Time-Life infomercial for Malt Shop Memories.

It was sad that his recording career fizzled out at the age of 23, but he was too talented and too young to walk away from the music scene.

When he turns 72 tomorrow he can reflect on a long career in music and has been a fine representative for the city of Philadelphia.

Dick Clark played a part in the success of Bobby Rydell, by having him appear on American Bandstand.

He may have not had the long recording career, of some recording artists, but that has only made his fans treasure, more than ever, those years in the 60’s, when he was making memories for all of us.

 

 

 

 

Mickey Rooney Dies After 92 Years In Show Business

 


Mickey Rooney 1920-2014

Mickey Rooney has died at the age of 93 in his North Hollywood home with his family present, at the time of his death.

He was born Ninian Joseph Yule Jr. on September 23, 1920 in Brookyln, New York City, New York. He died on April 6, 2014 in North Hollywood, California.

Rooney was only 17 months when he made his first appearance on stage, with the vaudeville act of his father and mother in 1922. His death ends what probably is the longest career of any entertainer.

His first movie appearance was in the 1926 movie short Not To Be Trusted  the last year of the  silent movies , before talking movies started in 1927. Rooney who would only grow to be 5 foot two inches high never let his height slow him down. on his road to stardom.

His next role was as Mickey McGuire in a series of movie shorts, in which he appeared from 1927-1934.

Then he began to appear in the Andy Hardy movies in 1937, with his appearance in You’re Only Young Once. That would be followed by 13 more Andy Hardy movies, with the last one Love Laughs At Andy Hardy being released in 1944.

26 years after his first movie appearance Rooney would appear on television, for the first time on Celanese Theater in the Saturday’s Children episode.

Later in 1954 Rooney would star in the Mickey Rooney Show in all 33 episodes. He alternated in movie and television. He made his last appearance in a TV movie the Empire State Building Murders in 2008. He was appearing in Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde movie at the time of his death. He had two other movies in pre-production also, so was very busy at his advanced age.

Mickey Rooney was married eight times, with the first marriage being to Ava Gardner in 1942. He married his last wife Jan Chamberlin, in 1978 and they were still married 36 years later at the time of his death. Wikipedia lists his marriages below:

Children 9
Parents Joseph Yule,
Nellie W. (née Carter)
Awards Juvenile Academy Award, Academy Honorary Award, Emmy, 2 Golden Globes
Website
mickeyrooney.com

It is amazing that Rooney has been in show business from 1922 till 2014. He has appeared in movies, in ten consecutive decades.

Just some of the trivia about Rooney at imdb.com:

His parents divorced in 1923 when he was 3 years old.

Was considered for role of Archie Bunker on All In The Family.

He was married longer to his last wife Jan Chamberlin longer, than his other seven wives combined.

Only silent movie actor to still be acting in the 21st century.

During World War II he served 22 months in the U.S. Army, five of them with the Third Army of Gen. George S. Patton. Rooney attained the rank of Sergeant, and won a Bronze Star, among other decorations.

Rooney did not have any kind words for Ernest Borgnine: [on his feud with Ernest Borgnine] All the Oscars in the world can’t buy him dignity, class and talent. I don’t know why he is famous and why he is a star. Talk about a lucky jerk

 

America lost another icon yesterday who has entertained in vaudeville, stage, movies and television. He has left behind a rich legacy of work since his first film in 1926.

Turner Classic Movie cable network is probably at work right now, with a tribute to Mickey Rooney, who epitomizes the golden days of Hollywood. TCM showed many Esther Williams movies, after she passed away and I am positive they will pay tribute to Mickey Rooney by showing many of his Andy Hardy movies and other movies he starred in.

This New York Times obituary gives even more details of the life of Mickey Rooney:

 

 

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.

 

Stringbean: Murdered After Grand Ole Opry Appearance In 1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

David “Stringbean” Akeman was born July 4, 1916 in Annville, Kentucky and died in Ridgetop, Tennessee on November 10, 1973.  His friend and co-star of Hee Haw Grandpa Jones found him and Stringbean’s wife Estelle murdered the next morning. Stringbean had been shot and killed inside the house, while his wife was found dead outside.

Stringbean acquired his nickname when the star of a show he was in introduced him as Stringbean and he has been known as Stringbean ever since.

He made a homemade banjo as a child out of a shoebox and thread. Then later he would barter two chickens, for a real banjo and then really began to learn how to play the banjo in the old style.

The Depression would cause Stringbean to find work, with the Civilian Conservation Corps and he built roads and planted trees, as part of that work.

 

Signs With Bill Monroe’s Band

Bill Monroe signed Stringbean as one of the Bluegrass Boys. Monroe had discovered Stringbean when he was playing semi-pro baseball. Earl Scruggs would later replace Stringbean as the banjo picker in the Bluegrass Boys band.

He married Estelle Stanfill in 1945.

Even though he had been playing music and singing since the 1930’s he didn’t record his first album till the 1960’s.

 

Started Sagging Britches Fad

Stringbean might have been an inspiration for the sagging britches fad, as can be seen in the photo on the right. The only difference was that Springbean wouldn’t wear that outfit once he stepped off the stage. That outlandish outfit by itself was enough to draw laughs from the audience.

He never did learn to drive a car so his wife Estelle did all the driving. Grandpa Jones had to clean his guns for him, since he didn’t know how.

 

First Television Appearance

His first television appearance was when he appeared on the Porter Wagoner Show in 1963 and was on another show in 1970. He made one appearance on the Johnny Cash Show in 1971. His big break came when he started appearing on Hee Haw and would be seen in 92 episodes from 1969-1974. The 1974 shows had been filmed previously, before his tragic death in November of 1973.

There were rumors that Stringbean didn’t believe in keeping his money in banks, since he grew up in depressions and saw how many had lost their life savings, when the banks failed. He was known to flash his cash around and apparently John and Marvin Brown, who were 23 year old cousins decided to try finding that money, while Stringbean and his wife were at the Opry.

 

Stringbean Surprised Burglars

Apparently, they didn’t time it right and the Akemans returned from the Opry, on the night of November 10, 1973, before they thought they would or perhaps they were laying in wait for them, so they could rob them of more cash and both Stringbean and his wife Estelle were shot by the intruders. Ironically, they found only $250 and also stole only a chain saw and some firearms. Stringbean probably drew his gun, but was shot before he could shoot the intruders. By shooting him they didn’t have a chance to question Akeman, about where the money was being hid.

They didn’t notice the $3,000 in his overalls pocket or the $20,000 hidden in a chimney. The $20,000 wouldn’t be found till 23 years later. The money had deteriorated so badly, that it was unusable.

Grandpa Jones would find Stringbean’s wife outside and he found Stringbean also dead inside the house. Stringbean was only 57 at the time of his death. Archie Campbell another co-star, from Hee Haw said that he never heard Stringbean say an unkind word about anyone.

To make things worse for Grandpa Jones the tabloids insinuated that Jones had been having an affair with Stringbean’s wife.

 

Murderers Sentenced To 198 Years

John and Marvin Brown, who committed the murders of Stringbean and his wife were each sentenced to 198 years in prison. Marvin Brown died in Brushy State Prison in Petros, Tennessee in 2003, which was 30 years after the murders. John Brown has served 41 years of his sentence. He applied for parole in 2011 and won’t be able to apply again till 2017.

This is what John Brown had to say about the murders: He has a devoted wife who had married him shortly before he was arrested, and she says, “John says that he hopes David and Estelle are in heaven, looking on his life and saying that something good did come of this.”

 

Senseless Tragedy

Country music fans have lost an icon in Stringbean. He grew up dirt poor during the Depression and had to struggle to make it in the world of country music. Then when he finally makes the big money he can’t help but show it off. He had come a long way from having nothing in the 30’s to living comfortably in the 70’s, but his life came to a tragic halt on November 10, 1973. He died at 57 which is young for country music performers, who sometime perform into their 80’s like the great Ray Price who recently died.

City Confidential television show filmed an episode in 2003 about the murders of Stringbean and his wife.

The world of country music lost one of its biggest stars on November 10, 1973, but his memory will live on for years to come among fans of country music.

Perry Como: From Barber To Million Selling Singer

Perry Como 1912-2001

 

Perry Como was born as Pierino Ronald Como on September 18, 1912 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. His parents Pietro and Lucia Como had immigrated from Italy in 1910. Perry was the first of 13 children to be born in America and was the seventh son of a seventh son. Ironically, he would have 13 #1 songs.

He was only 11 when he began his career as a barber and by the age of 14 had his own barber shop. He would receive his first break when offered a job by the Freddy Carlone Orchestra. He had to choose between earning $28 a week with the orchestra or keep drawing the $125 a week he was earning as a barber. His dad talked him into accepting the singing job, since Perry would never know if he would be a success as a singer, until the gave it a try and began traveling with the orchestra in 1933.

His big break would come when bandleader Teddy Weems signed him to sing with his orchestra in 1936.

 

Perry Como early in his career.

 

Como now was in the big money going from $28 a week, with the Freddy Carlone Orchestra, to $50 a week with the Ted Weems Orchestra. Perry almost got fired when with the Weems Orchestra, because the listeners couldn’t understand the words he was singing. He corrected the problem and kept his job. By 1940 he was earning $250 a week.

1942 was a fateful year for Perry who would quit the Ted Weems band and return home to become a barber again. However, before he could negotiate a lease, for his barber shop he was offered a CBS radio program.  He went on the radio program for CBS in 1943. Later that same year he would be offered a recording contract with RCA Records. The relationship would last for 44 years, which is longer than any other major artist.

 

A Perry Como Christmas album that was in my collection at one time.

 

Perry Como was part of a revolutionary broadcast on April 5, 1946, when the Chesterfield Supper Club was broadcast from 20,000 feet in the air. He had to use handheld mike, which became very heavy due to cabin pressure.

Como in Movies and Television

Perry was seen in only five theatrical movies from 1943-1948 and never acted in another movie the last 53 years of his life.

He first appeared in his own television show in Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall from 1950-1966. I can remember Dream Along With Me being his theme song and the Sing to Me Mr. C. part of the show. Another memory of his show was when the singers sang ” We get letters, stacks and stacks of letters.” It would be great to see some of those old shows again if they even still exist.

Perry Como Christmas 1974 Christmas special.

 

Perry’s Christmas specials were a treat during the years they were shown. His Christmas show became as big of a part of Christmas and the Bob Hope Christmas special. He sang Ave Maria on the specials, but never sang it during a live performance, since he said it is a special song that had to be sung at the right time and at the right place.

Some interesting trivia about Perry from IMDB.com:

Perry Como was a short man who was only 5 foot 6.

He sold over 50 million records and was so humble, that he never asked for certification of most of his records that achieved gold record status.

His only marriage was to Roselle Beline, whom he was married to from July 31, 1933 till her death on August 10, 1998.

Was signed to RCA Records from 1943-1988.

He was the godfather of Debby Boone.

This quote by Perry Como signifies his humbleness: I’ve done nothing that I can call exciting. I was a barber. Since then I’ve been a singer. That’s it.

Perry Como died on May 12, 2001 at Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida. He was suffering from Alzheimer’s at the time of his death.

 

Perry Como was reportedly as casual as he appeared on television. However, he did not like wearing sweaters, even though he was seen wearing sweaters on television.

A list of 587 songs recorded by Perry Como:

http://www.whosdatedwho.com/tpx_25003/perry-como/songs

When I think of his song Round and Round I think of hearing it played at roller skating rink and it was the perfect song for roller skating.

His first #1 song was Till The End of Time in 1945 and his last #1 song was And I Love You So in 1973.

The complete list of his songs that charted:

http://musicvf.com/Perry+Como.art

This album has 100 of Perry’s hits at a reasonable price and a great way to augment your Perry Como collection, without buying several albums.

http://www.amazon.com/100-Hits-Legends-Perry-Como/dp/B002LZUNCW/ref=sr_1_4?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1395524835&sr=1-4&keywords=perry+como

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Martin – 56 Years of Entertaining

Dean Martin 1917-1995

 

Dean Martin was born Dino Paul Crocetti on June 7, 1917 in Steubenville, Ohio. He didn’t speak English until he was five years old. Then he dropped out of school in 10th grade and delivered bootleg liquor, dealt cards as a blackjack dealer and did some boxing as a welterweight. He made this comment about his boxing ability  “I won all but 11.”[, which was nothing to brag about since he was only in 12 boxing matches.  His boxing name “Kid Crochet” probably didn’t help his boxing career.

Martin sang with the Ernie Kay Orchestra and then was drafted by the Army in 1944 and served in Akron, Ohio. He appeared in his first full length movie in 1949, when he appeared in My Friend Irma.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Lewis is now 88 years old.

 

Dean Martin first team up with Jerry Lewis at the 500 Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey on July 24, 1946. The first show did not go well and the owner threatened to fire them, if they couldn’t do better in their second act. That is when they came up with the act, where Martin tries to sing a serious song, while Jerry is doing everything possible to distract from his singing. The act went over big and began their run as a team.

They were heard on radio from 1948 to 1953 on the Martin and Lewis Show. The pair would go on to star in movies that seemed to feature Lewis more than Martin, because of his madcap actions on the big screen. Martin was incensed when a Look magazine cover only showed Lewis, since Martin had been cropped out of the photo.

Their association ended ten years exactly, from their first appearance in Atlantic City. Their friendship was really never the same, until Frank Sinatra brought Martin on stage at the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon in 1976, which was 20 years, after their 1956 breakup. They remained friends, until the death of Martin in 1995.

Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop and Dean Martin who comprised the Rat Pack.

Martin was part of the Rat Pack that included Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop. They would entertain audiences with their mixture of singing and comedy.

He was also active in acting in motion pictures, with his appearances in Young Lions (1957), Rio Bravo (1959) and would appear in Cannoball Run (1981) and Cannonball II (1984).

This was an active time for Martin as he was appearing on stage, recording record albums, appearing in movies and in 1965 he would start appearing on the NBC show Dean Martin’s Comedy Hour, which would remain on the air until 1974. 263 episodes were filmed of the show and hope they can be seen somewhere on a television network 49 years, after the first show debuted on television. Martin also hosted many Dean Martin Celebrity Roast shows in later years.

 

Made Impact As A Singer

 

1958 would see his recording of Return to Me top out at #4 and  Volare peak at #12. It may have been able to climb higher on the charts, but it had been recorded many times, before Martin released his version of Volare.

 

Surprisingly his song You’re Nobody Till Somebody Love You was only #25 on pop chart, but reached #1 on adult contemporary chart. This was the year the Beatles hit America, so that probably had something to do with it.

The year 1967 would see his last two #1 hits, which only went to #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, when In the Chapel in the Moonlight and In the Misty Moonlight would take the #1 spot.

Dino: The Essential Dean Martin Collection has 30 of his biggest hits and can be found at Amazon.com for one cent, plus shipping if you buy a used copy of the collection.

http://www.amazon.com/Dino-The-Essential-Dean-Martin/dp/tracks/B00021LPIS/ref=dp_tracks_all_1#disc_1

Dean Martin may be one of the most successful school dropouts ever. He became successful as part of the Martin and Lewis comedy act, singing as soloist for big bands, recorded for many years, acted in many blockbuster movies and hosted a successful television show for nine years.

 

 

 

Classic Televison: Donna Reed Show

Donna Reed, Paul Petersen, Carl Betz and Shelly Fabares shown in a scene from the Donna Reed Show.

Donna Reed Show was one of the few family sitcoms, that featured the mother. The show debuted on September 24, 1958 and the last show aired on March 19, 1966.

Reed who was Donna Stone in the series was the wife of pediatrician Dr. Alex Stone played by Carl Betz. Paul Petersen who was Jeff Stone and Shelly Fabares portrayed Mary Stone in the series.

Donna Reed 1921-1986

Donna Reed

Donna Reed was born Donnabelle Mullenger on January 27, 1921 in Denison, Iowa. Her first movie role was in 1941, when she appeared in The Getaway. She would act in two other films that year.

1942 was a busy year for Reed, since she appeared in seven movies that year including The Courtship of Andy Hardy. She is remembered for co-starring with James Stewart in It’s A Wonderful Life in 1947, which has become a Christmas classic.

Reed would also appear in From Here To Eternity in 1953. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the movie.

Her first television appearance was in an episode of Ford Television Theatre in 1954. Reed appeared in six more movies and made appearances in three television shows, before she took the role of Donna Stone in the Donna Reed Show.

After the show ran from 1958-1966 she wouldn’t appear on-screen again, till 1979 when she appeared in a TV movie, which was named The Best Place To Be. Reed was last seen as Ellie Ewing in Dallas, in 1984 and 1985 before her death in 1986.

Donna Reed died of pancreatic  cancer on January 14, 1986 at the age of 64 in Beverly Hills, California.

Carl Betz 1921-1978

Carl Betz

Carl Lawrence Betz was born on March 9, 1921 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Betz portrayed Collie Jordan on the Love of Life soap opera in 1951 in his first television role. Betz would appear in his first credited movie The President’s Lady in 1953.

He then appeared in five more movies in 1953, then wouldn’t appear in another movie till 1966, when he appeared with Elvis Presley in Spinout. He had barely finished his last episode of the Donna Reed Show, when he was in the cast of Judd For The Defense from 1967-1969. He appeared in 50 episodes of the series as Clinton Judd. Betz appeared mostly in various television series till the end of 1977.

Betz also died of cancer on January 18, 1978 in Los Angeles, California at the age of 56.

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen

Paul Petersen was born as William Paul Petersen on September 23, 1945, in Glendale, California. Petersen recorded a song She Can’t Find Her Keys during the time he was on the Donna Reed Show. Petersen made his first television appearance at the age of 11 on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color in 1956 in the Along the Oregon Trail episode.

He would appear in all 275 episodes of the Donna Reed Show and was the only one besides Donna Reed to appear in all the episodes filmed. He appeared in 83 more episodes than Shelley Fabares, who played his sister Mary.

Peterson appeared in numerous television series, after the show ended its run in 1966.

He will be seen in The Executive which is currently filming and Kathy Garver, who portrayed Cissy on Family Affair will also be in the cast.

The role of Jeff Stone later would cause Petersen much anguish, because he wasn’t being taken seriously, when looking for more mature roles. He had been an original Mousketeer on the Mickey Mouse Club at the age of 8 in 1955.

Petersen would start an organization named A Minor Consideration, which was a child actor support group.

When he couldn’t find work as an actor Mickey Rooney talked him into attending college.

This quote from Petersen explains why he became a child actor:

“I became a child actor because my mom was bigger than I was.”

Petersen was not happy when actor Bill Bixby took his wife: [on losing wife Brenda Benet to Bill Bixby] I was so angry I couldn’t see straight, and what doubled this pain was that Bill was really visible. You know, he was going great guns and I was going in the toilet.

He has reached out to many former child stars, who needed emotional support from someone like him, who had been under the same stress as they were experiencing.

It is hard to believe that the teenage Jeff Stone will be 70 next year.

Shelley Fabares

Shelley Fabares

Shelly Fabares was born as Michele Marie Fabares on January 19, 1944 in Santa Monica, California.

Fabares has 90 acting credits in her acting resume and continued to receive many acting roles, after Donna Reed Show had left the air.

She was in her first movie The Girl Rush in 1955 and also acted in three television series that year.

Her first major role was when she appeared in 15 episodes of Walt Disney Presents: Annette in 1958. That same year would see her appear in her first episode of the Donna Reed Show. She went straight from making her last appearance on the show in 1965 to appearing in three Elvis Presley movies. She appeared with Elvis in  Girl Happy in 1965, Spinout in 1966, and was also in his 1967 movie Clambake.

Then she appeared in 47 episodes of the Brian Keith Show which aired from 1974-1976. Fabares would appear in 27 episodes of The Practice 1976-1977. She would appear in One Day At A Time 1978-1984 in 23 episodes.

Coach would be her next big show, in which she appeared in all 198 episodes from 1989-1997.

Since then Fabares has acted very infrequently with mostly voice roles since then. Her only acting job since 1997 was Playing to Win: A Moment of Truth Movie (TV Movie) which was shown in 1998, so she has not been seen on a television or movie screen in the last 16 years.

She was married to record producer Lou Adler from 1964-1980, then married Mike Farrell of M

She is the niece of actress/comedienne Nanette Fabray who is now 93 years old.

Fabares would have a #1 Billboard hit with Johnny Angel.

One of her major movie roles was in Brian’s Song 1971 when she appeared as the wife of Brian Piccolo.

Carl Betz portrayed her father on both the Donna Reed Show and in the movie Spinout.

Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner’s Daughter To Queen Of Country Music

A young Loretta Lynn early in her career

Loretta Lynn was born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. Loretta was named after actress Loretta Young.  She was born to coal miner Melvin Webb and his wife Clara Ramey.

She married Oliver Vanetta Lynn at the age of 15 in 1948. They moved to the state of Washington and she began, to sing while living in Washington.  Her sister Crystal Gayle also became a well-known country artist. She was also related on her mother’s side of the family to Patty Loveless.

  • Betty Sue Lynn, birth date: November 26, 1948 died July 29, 2013 (age 64)[5]
  • Jack Benny Lynn, (1949-12-07)December 7, 1949 died July 22, 1984 (age 34)
  • Ernest Ray Lynn, April 12, 1951-
  • Clara Marie Lynn (Cissie), April 7, 1952-
  • Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen Lynn (twins; latter named for Patsy Cline), August 6, 1964

Lynn became a grandmother by the age of only 29 and it is hard to believe, but she will be 82 next month.

Loretta Lynn with the prettiest blue eyes that I remember seeing when talking to her after a concert in Alexandria, Louisiana in the 1960’s.

I was fortunate enough, to see Loretta Lynn in concert at Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria, Louisiana when she and Ernest Tubb were a duo. She was very gracious to me, when I asked for her to autograph one of her greatest hits albums. I was struck by her beauty and dazzled by her blue eyes.

This is more about the album that she autographed for me:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loretta_Lynn%27s_Greatest_Hits

Her husband would die in 1996, which was 48 years after their marriage.

Loretta Lynn had this to say about their marriage:  “He never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice”.

The Wilburn Brothers helped her get her a recording contract with Decca Records. However, they also helped themselves, by gaining publishing rights to her material. She fought to have the publishing rights in her name, but when that fail she stopped writing songs in 1970.

Loretta Lynn joined the Grand Ole Opry on September 25, 1962 and has remained a member for the last 52 years.

Loretta Lynn Discography

I’m A Honky Tonk Girl was her debut single in 1960 and it climbed to #14 on the country charts.

Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin (With Loving On Your Mind) would be her first #1 hit I 1966. Fist City would go to #1 in 1968 and Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone) was #1 in 1969.

The 1970’s would see eight more of her songs take the top spot on the country music charts:

1970 – Coal Miner’s Daughter

1971 – One’s On The Way

1972 – Rated X

1973 – Love Is The Foundation

1974 – Trouble In Paradise

1976 – Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight)

1976 – She’s Got You

1977 – Out Of My Head And Back In My Bed

She has not had another #1 hit since 1977, which encompasses 37 years.

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Loretta Lynn – Conway Twitty Studio Albums, Singles

Loretta Lynn would team up with Conway Twitty to release 11 studio albums from 1971-1988. Four of the studio albums would be #1 on country charts.

Five of their singles would chart at the #1 position on the Billboard Country charts.

1971 – After The Fire Is Gone

1971 – Lead Me On

1973 – Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man

1974 – As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone

1975 – Feelins

Movie Released

The Coal Miner’s Daughter would be released in 1980 and it told the story of Lynn’s rise to stardom and how she and her husband traveled to radio stations plugging their songs.

Loretta Lynn is 81 today and has been a grandmother for 52 years.

Tony Bennett: Still Singing Eight Decades Later

A young Tony Bennett who sang in 1962 at Carnegie Hall.

 

Tony Bennett was born as Anthony Dominick Benedetto on August 23, 1926 in Astoria, Queens, New York City.

Bennett first sang for money at the age of 13 and this August will make 75 years in show business, when he turns 88 years old.. He also was an artist at an early age and still is painting today. He was first heard on radio in 1950 and would be heard on radio 25 times.

Artwork of Tony Bennett

Bennett became a pacifist, after being in the infantry in last days of European Theater in World War II in France and Germany in World War II. He said being in the infantry was akin, to having a front seat in hell.

He would receive a demotion to the Graves Registration Service, while in Germany for dining with a black friend, at a time when white soldiers were not to be seen with black soldiers.

Bob Hope saw Bennett singing with Pearl Bailey and changed his name to Tony Bennett.

 

Tony Bennett Discography

Because of You was the first No.1 hit for Bennett in 1951 and it would be followed by another No.1 hit in Cold, Cold Heart. Both songs became gold records.

Rags to Riches would be his next No.1 hit in 1953. His signature song I Left My Heart in San Francisco only went to No. 19 on the charts, but it did sell enough copies, to be awarded a gold record.

Who Can I Turn To and Time For Love both went to No.3 on the Adult Contemporary charts in 1965. Surprisingly, he has never had another song go as high as No.3 in the last 49 years.

Bennett has released three duet albums, with Duets: An American Classic released in 2006, Duets II in 2011 and Viva Duets in 2012.

His next album Cheek to Cheek, a collaboration with Lady Gaga was to be released in January, but is now being targeted, for a September 2014 release date.

Tony Bennett in his later years.

 

Zen of Bennett On Netflix

I have been watching the Zen of Bennett being shown on Netflix now. The documentary takes you behind the scenes, as Bennett records duets with such stars, as Carrie Underwood, John Mayer, Michael Buble and Norah Jones.

Bennett tells of a Thanksgiving when he was growing up, when his mom said it was Thanksgiving Day and they had no food for Thanksgiving. It just so happened there was a raffle and Bennett entered and won and the prize was a turkey.

This is a very interesting film, since you get to see Bennett singing and also doing some of his artwork.

The following link will take you to eBay and will show a painting of Bennett’s, that is currently in an auction, for the staggering price of $1.5 million.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tony-Bennett-Original-Oil-San-Francisco-Street-Scene-1-Of-1-/191092650913?pt=Art_Paintings&hash=item2c7e0273a1

Bennett has been married three times:

Patricia Beech (m. 1952, sep. 1965, div. 1971)
[children D’Andrea (b. 1954), Daegal (b. 1955)]
Sandra Grant (m. 1971, sep. 1979, div. 2007)
[children Joanna (b. 1970), Antonia (b. 1974)]
Susan Crow (m. 2007)

Tony Bennett fans might be interested in buying this box set: Fifty Years: The Artistry Of Tony Bennett (5CD) [Box set, Original recording remastered]

It may not be close to being a complete set, but to be able to buy this album for as little as $23.00 new and $10.70 used is a real bargain. This album is a good representation of his work.

http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Years-Artistry-Tony-Bennett/dp/B00049QNXA/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1394158466&sr=1-1&keywords=tony+bennett

This set of 73 CD’s and 3 DVD’s by Tony Bennett leaves out 28 songs, according to a Bennett collector. However, the album is price prohibitive, except for the wealthiest collectors. There are only two new albums available at Amazon, but the cheapest is $544.90.

http://www.amazon.com/Tony-Bennett-Complete-Collection-DVDs/dp/B0067NFXNS/ref=sr_1_14?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1394158664&sr=1-14&keywords=tony+bennett

Struggled After Losing Record Label

The last years of the 1970’s were not kind to Bennett. His Improv record label was out of business. That left him without a recording label to record his music on. He almost overdosed on cocaine and the IRS was trying to take his Los Angeles home. His second marriage saw him separate from his wife Sandra Grant in 1979, but they wouldn’t divorce until 28 years later in 2007.

The 80’s would see Bennett begin to connect with younger audiences and in 1986 he re-signed with Columbia Records. His 1994 appearance on MTV Unplugged sparked even more interest in his music.

Looks like Bennett hasn’t even thought, about retiring since he showing no signs of slowing down, even though he will be 88 in August.

If anyone has seen it all it is Tony Bennett. He grew up in the Great Depression, since his father passed away, when Tony was only 10 years old.

He has received 17 Grammy Awards, over a 49 year time period.

He has had his shares of ups and downs, over the years but he is still going strong today.

If there was ever a consummate professional singer it would be Mr. Tony Bennett.  May he sing for many more years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Skelton: He Enjoyed Making Us Smile

Red Skelton 1913-1997

 

Red Skelton was born as Richard Bernard Skelton in Vincennes, Indiana on July 18, 1913. He could be heard in 349 radio episodes of his own show and other shows. He first was heard in 1939 on the Avalon Time radio program, of which he was in the starring role. He appeared in vaudeville at the age of 15.

Red Skelton and Esther Williams who starred in some movies together.

 

Red Skelton appeared in his first movie in Having A Wonderful Time in 1938.

He appeared exclusively in movies until 1955, when he appeared on the television series Climax. When his movie contract ended Red Skelton would start the long run of the Red Skelton Hour which would be seen on NBC from 1951-1953, then was shown on CBS from 1953-1970.

One of my favorite parts of the show was when Skelton would ad-lib unexpectedly and it was fun to see the reaction of his co-stars in that episode. My father watched almost no television, but on Tuesday nights he would make a point of watching Red Skelton.

I always enjoyed seeing Skelton portray his many famous characters like Freddie the Freeloader, Clem Kaddidlehopper, San Fernando Red, Cauliflower McPugg and George Appleby.

Bobby Rydell portrayed cousin Zeke Kadiddlehopper in 10 episodes from 1959-1969. Even Don Knotts appeared in five episodes as Steady Fingers Ferguson.

The following cast lists includes almost everyone in show business it seems:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043224/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast

Skelton married Edna Stillwell in 1931 and they divorced in 1943, which caused Skelton to be drafted, since he was no longer eligible for the married exemption. He married Georgia Davis in 1945 and they remained married till 1971 for a 26 year marriage.

His last marriage would be to Lothian Toland in 1973 till his death in 1997. He was married to his three wives for a total of 62 years.

Life dealt Skelton and his wife at the time Georgia Davis a tragic blow, when their son Richard was diagnosed with leukemia and given a year to live. They took him to London, so he could some of the world. The British papers mentioned their son’s impending death, which when found out by his son Richard caused Skelton to end the trip.  He died on May 10, 1978 just 10 days before his tenth birthday.

18 years after her son’s death Georgia Davis shot herself and died and Skelton took the loss of his ex-wife very hard.

Fittingly, Red Skelton would make his last television appearance appearing as Freddie the Freeloader on Standing Room Only in 1981. He would not appear on television again the rest of his life.

Skelton died on September 17, 1997 in Rancho Mirage, California, with death caused by pneumonia.

 

Skelton was the son of a former circus clown, which explains his lithographs drawn of circus clowns. He started his career as an artist in 1943 and his artwork was valued as high as $80,000. Skelton himself said that he earned $2.5 million a year from his artwork.

Red Skelton – The Pledge of Allegiance

From the Red Skelton Hour, January 14, 1969


“Getting back to school, I remember a teacher that I had. Now I only went, I went through the seventh grade. I left home when I was 10 years old because I was hungry. (laughter) And .. this is true. I worked in the summer and went to school in the winter. But, I had this one teacher, he was the principal of the Harrison school, in Vincennes, Indiana. To me, this was the greatest teacher, a real sage of..of my time, anyhow.

He had such wisdom. We were all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance one day, and he walked over. This little old teacher … Mr. Lasswell was his name. He said:

“I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?

I

me, an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge

dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

Allegiance

my love and my devotion.

To the Flag

[of the]

our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

United

that means that we have all come together.

States

[of America]

individual communities that have united into 48 great states. 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose, all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

and to the Republic

For Which It Stands

Republic … a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

One Nation

One Nation … meaning, so blessed by God.

Indivisible

incapable of being divided.

With Liberty

which is freedom, the right of power to live one’s own life, without threats, fear, or some sort of retaliation.

And Justice

the principle or qualities of dealing fairly with others.

For All

For all … which means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.

Interesting Trivia About Red Skelton

Inducted into International Clown Hall of Fame in 1989

Inducted into Radio Hall of Fame in 1994

Despite playing a drunk Freddie the Freeloader he never drank and was in fact allergic to alcohol.

Disliked blue humor and wouldn’t let it be used on his show. This quote explains how he felt about off-color humor:

I think most of today’s comedians are victims of laughter…they get nervous and resort to an insult or a four-letter word for a quick, cheap laugh. That goes on night after night until the whole act is cheapened. But that doesn’t last. Usually, a couple of years later they are remembered only as the old what’s-his-name who used all the dirty words.

He never forgave CBS for cancelling his show and may be why we are not able, to see Red Skelton shows in re-runs, even though it ended 44 years ago.

His birth year is usually listed as 1913, but he reportedly told associates, that his true birth year was 1906.

These two quotes by Red Skelton sum up his life nicely:

I always believed God puts each one of us here for a purpose and mine is to try to make people happy.

      If I can make people smile, then I have served my purpose for God.

 

 

 

Danny Thomas: Founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital

 

The St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was founded in 1962 by actor/philanthropist Danny Thomas. He promised St. Jude Thaddeus that he would build a shrine to St. Jude, if he would help him support his family financially.

He was able to amass a fortune and kept his promise and the shrine he built for St. Jude was St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which Thomas founded in 1962.

Roman Catholic Cardinal Samuel Stritch of Tennessee suggested, that Thomas build the hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. 52 years later the hospital has played a part in saving the lives of many children, who may have died without the medical care provided at St. Jude.

The Chili’s restaurant chain donated $50 million toward the construction of the Chili’s Care Center in 2007, which added 24 labs and 16 beds to the campus.

Sterling Jewelers opened a lounge area named Kay Kafe. It has become a place where families and staff can relax, when the children were not undergoing treatments.

Marlo Thomas, the daughter of Thomas is the National Outreach Director for St. Jude. His son Tony is also very involved in the administration of St. Jude.

The survival rate of  acute lymphoblastic leukemia has improved from 4 percent in 1962 to 94 percent today.

Families of the patients only pay what is covered by insurance and no family without insurance is turned down for treatment. Patients are also provided with a place to stay, while the children undergo treatments, to lessen the financial burden for families.

Many corporations like CVS/pharmacy, Dollar General and Kay Jewelers assist in finances for the hospital, in addition to too many others to name them all.

Wikipedia tells about a million dollar winner of the McDonald’s Monopoly game donating their winning card to St Jude:

McDonald’s Monopoly

In 1995, St. Jude received an anonymous letter postmarked in Dallas, Texas, containing a $1 million winning McDonald’s Monopoly game piece. McDonald’s officials came to the hospital, accompanied by a representative from the accounting firm Arthur Andersen, who examined the card under a jeweler’s eyepiece, handled it with plastic gloves, and verified it as a winner.[36] Although game rules prohibited the transfer of prizes, McDonald’s waived the rule and has made the annual $50,000 annuity payments, even after learning that the piece was sent by an individual involved in an embezzlement scheme intended to defraud McDonald’s.[37]

 

Danny Thomas
1912-1991
Founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

 

Danny Thomas along with Jerry Lewis are the best known celebrities, who have shared their fortune and time, to help less than fortunate children, who are battling health problems at a time, when they should be out playing, with the other kids in their neighborhood.

Thomas was born as,Amos Muzyad Yakhoob Kairouz  in Deerfield, Michigan on January 6, 1912. He would later change his name to Amos Jacobs, then later to Danny Thomas.

He would make his radio debut on March 5, 1944 on the Radio Hall of Fame program. He could be heard in 61 episodes of radio programs from 1944 to 1983.

 

Marlo Thomas

His daughter, Marlo Thomas went on to have her own acting career and was best known for her series That Girl (1966-1971). Actress Loretta Young was the godmother of Marlo, who also became very involved with the work of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and can be seen on commercials for St. Jude today.

Thomas was a standup comedian and also acted in movies and television. His first movie appearance was in The Unfinished Dance which was released in 1947, when Thomas was 35 years old. He became a major star, his show Make Room For Daddy debuted in 1953 and would be on network television till 1964.

He would make his last appearance as an actor in the Empty Nest in 1991, which was the same year as his death.

Thomas was a producer or executive producer in many well-known television series, which included Andy Griffith, Real McCoys, Joey Bishop Show, Dick Van Dyke, Rango, Guns of Will Sonnett and Mod Squad.

He was a founding minority owner in the Miami Dolphins professional football team.

His only marriage was to Rose Marie Mantell in 1936 and they remained married till his death 55 years later in 1991.

Mary Tyler Moore was chosen by Thomas to co-star in Dick Van Dyke show.

This quote by Thomas personifies the way he lived his life “Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others.”

Danny Thomas died of heart failure on February 6, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. He and his wife both were buried on the grounds of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Most of us will remember Danny Thomas portraying Danny Williams on the Danny Thomas Show, but his most lasting contribution was the founding, of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. There are a lot of children laughing and playing today in their homes, because Danny Thomas cared enough to build a hospital, that treated their cancer and best of all never turned anyone down, because they didn’t have money to pay, after the insurance had paid their portion or had no insurance at all.

If only more of us could leave a legacy like Danny Thomas, who may have died 23 years ago, but his promise to build a shrine, which turned out to be the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has brought hope to families, who had no hope by providing a hospital for their children, where they can be treated for cancer.

Thank you Danny for caring about the children with cancer.

Dan Blocker: Teacher, Korean War Veteran, Purple Heart Recipient, Actor and Restaurant Franchise Owner

Dan Blocker 1928-1972

 

Dan Blocker may have passed away 42 years ago, but his memory is still alive for viewers of Bonanza, which is still being shown 55 years, after the first episode was shown on NBC in 1959.

Blocker was born as Bobby Don Davis Blocker on December 10, 1928 in De Kalb, Texas. Reports say that Blocker was the heaviest baby, ever born in Bowie County at 14 pounds. Blocker would attend college at Hardin-Simmons and Sul Ross State Teacher’s College. He also played on the football team for both institutions. He graduated from Hardin-Simmons with a degree in English, then earned his master’s degree at Sul Ross in dramatic arts.

Bad things happened whenever Hoss made this face.

He reportedly lifted a car off a man, after a jack had fallen and pinned the man. Blocker served during the Korean War as an infantry sergeant and was awarded the Purple Heart for combat wounds.

Blocker taught and acted, while being a history teacher at Sonora High School in Sonora, Texas from 1953-1958. He did appear on Broadway and made his first television appearance Sheriff of Cochise in 1957. He was extremely busy from then till he was chosen as a cast member for Bonanza. The following website will show all of his acting roles on television and in the movies. He appeared in 415 episodes of Bonanza, with only Lorne Greene and Michael Landon appearing in more episodes, with 430 and 426 episodes respectively.

Bonanza was on NBC for 14 years from 1959-1973.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0088779/?ref_=nmbio_bio_nm

Then he received his big break, when he took his family to California, with plans to earn his Ph.D from UCLA. However, he was spotted in a phone booth, in western garb and was spotted by an agent. He then received the role of Hoss on Bonanza and that was the end of his plans for a Ph.D.

I learned just last week than Dan Blocker had started the Bonanza Steak House business in 1963.

Blocker ballooned to 365 pounds at one point and it is no surprise after seeing what he ate at one breakfast:

Dan Blocker Breakfast

Dozen eggs

Two loaves of bread

Two quarts of milk

So it was no wonder, that Blocker had a serious weight problem.

Dan Blocker was buried at Woodmen Cemetery in De Kalb, Texas.

 

Life came to an end for Dan Blocker on May 13, 1972 in Los Angeles, California. He died of a pulmonary embolism after gall bladder surgery. Dan Blocker was 43 at the time of his death.

Lorne Greene sat with Dan’s wife Dolphia in the Blocker home, after his death and Greene couldn’t stop crying. – The Show Must Go On: How the Deaths of Lead Actors Have Affected Television …by Douglas Snauffer

Summary: Most of us will remember Dan Blocker as Hoss on Bonanza, but he was also an educator, a war veteran who received Purple Heart, for wounds in Korean War. He also started the Bonanza Steak House franchise, that grew to be very successful.

Most of all from all indications Dan Blocker was a good person, who was only trying to earn a living to support his family. Dan Blocker the person may not still be alive 42 years after his death, but his memory will live on for years and years, due to Bonanza being shown to new generations, in the years to come.

 

 

 

 

Classic Television: Make Room For Daddy

Danny Thomas and Marjorie Lord as Danny and Kathy Williams on Make Room For Daddy.

 

Make Room For Daddy was one of the longer running situation comedies, to be shown on network television. It debuted in 1953 and would run till 1965. Danny Thomas is the only one to appear in all 334 episodes. His first wife on the show was Jean Hagen who played Margaret Williams from 1953-1956. Hagen tired of playing a mother after four seasons and left the show.

She was replaced in 1957 by Marjorie Lord who played Kathy Williams for the last eight years of the show.

Penny Parker would play Terry Williams after Sherry Jackson left the show. Danny Thomas had turned down Mary Tyler Moore, for the role because she didn’t look like she could be his daughter.

 

Marjorie Lord, Angela Cartwright, Danny Thomas on first row with Rusty Hamer and Sherry Jackson on second row and appeared on Danny Thomas Show  Jackson left the show during 1958..

 

I checked the schedule for Cozi TV and saw that Make Room For Daddy was on at 3:30 PM Central Time. It had been shown in the early morning hours, so it was good to be able to watch the show yesterday. It brought back a lot of memories, since this show was on television, before we even had a television.

Make Room For Daddy goes back to the golden days of television. Two old-timers Sid Melton and Pat Carroll played Charley and Bunny Halper on the show.

Who can forget Hans Conried playing Uncle Tonoose in 24 episodes of the show? Other well-known actors often seen on the show were Mary Wickes, Sheldon Leonard, Pat Harrington Jr. (later known for playing Schneider on One Day At A Time.

Bill Dana was Jose Jiminez on the show and Gale Gordon appeared in seven episodes.

Other stars appearing on the show included Bob Hope (5 episodes)  and Annette Funicello (5 episodes).

Scrolling down the cast list is like a walk down memory lane, as you see some of the faces (if IMDB.com has them available) and some of the names, of stars who went on to fame on their own.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045410/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast

One of the most famous shows in the series is when Danny travels through Mayberry, North Carolina and encounters a hick sheriff named Andy Taylor. This episode would lead to the Andy Griffith show being shown on CBS.

Danny Thomas was not too fond of Jean Hagen, who played his first TV wife as evidenced by this statement:

Danny Thomas was forced against his will to have Jean Hagen as his TV wife. He could not stand her attitude or what he considered her slovenly appearance. During one rehearsal he is said to have have shouted “For God’s sake, Jean, put on a little lipstick”. She left after the third season and, at the beginning of the fourth season, to assure that she could not come back he had her character die.

Primary Actors

Danny Thomas born as  Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob   on January 26, 1912 in Deerfield, Michigan. He died February 6, 1991 at the age of in Los Angeles, California.

Jean Hagen who played his first wife Margaret on the television show was born Jean Shirley Verhagen in Chicago, Illinois on August 3, 1923 and died on August 29, 1977 of throat cancer at the age of 54 in Los Angeles, California.

Marjorie Lord was born Marjorie Wollenburg on July 26, 1918 in San Francisco, California. She will be 96 in July.

Rusty Hamer was born as Russell Craig Hamer in Tenafly, New Jersey on February 15, 1947. He would die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in DeRidder, Louisiana on January 18, 1990 at the age of 42.

Sherry Jackson was born coincidentally the same date as Hamer on February 15 of 1942, in Wendell Idaho some five years earlier. She is now 72 years old.

Angela Cartwright was born as Angela Margaret Cartwright on September 9, 1952 in Altrincham, Cheshire England UK and will be 62 in September.

 

Make Room For Daddy debuted on television 61 years ago and the last show aired 49 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

Shirley Temple Black Dies At 85

 

 

Shirley Temple 1928-2014

 

America has lost another of our greatest entertainers in Shirley Temple Black, who died Monday night, February 11, in her home near San Francisco at the age of 85. She was preceded in death by her husband Charles Alden Black, who died in 2005. They had been married 55 years at the time of his death.

It has been said that Shirley Temple was the most famous child actor in the history of the movies. Very few would want to argue that point.

She was born Shirley Jane Temple, on April 23, 1928 in Santa Monica, California.

A young Shirley Temple early in her career.

Her first two appearances on-screen was in two shorts in 1932 and her first credited role in a movie was for Red Haired Alibi released in 1932. She appeared in several more shorts and uncredited roles in movies and her scenes in Mandalay in 1934 were deleted. However, before the end of 1934 she would appear in seven more movies in credited roles. Little Miss Marker and Bright Eyes were just two of those movies released in 1934.

Temple was also heard on old-time radio in 42 programs.

1935 would see four more Shirley Temple movies released including The Little Colonel and Curly Top. She had appeared in 20 movies by the time she was 7 years old.

By the time 1940 was over Temple had appeared in 34 movies and she was only 12 years old. She then started appearing as a teenager in movies later in the 40’s, including Kiss and Tell and  Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.

Shirley Temple seen in a scene with Cary Grant from Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer.

Surprisingly she made her last movie in 1949 at the age of 21, when she appeared in a Kiss For Corliss Archer.

Nine years would pass before she would appear in her own television series Shirley Temple Storybook from 1958-1961. She would make her second and last television appearance on Red Skelton Show in 1963.

By the time of her death last night she hadn’t made a movie in 65 years and hadn’t appeared on television in 51 years.

 

IMDB.com lists some interesting trivia about Shirley Temple:

She was 5 foot 2.

1935-1938 were the years of her peak popularity. She was box office champion during those years, topping more famous adult actors and actresses like Clark Gable and Joan Crawford.

By 1939 her popularity had declined.

She married actor John Agar at the age of 17 and the marriage lasted from 1945-1950. They were divorced on December 7, 1950.

Shirley Temple Black shown with her husband Charles Alden Black.

Nine days later she would marry Charles Alden Black, to whom she remained married to, for 55 years until his death in 2005 from bone marrow disease at the age of 86.

Ironically her new husband had never seen any of her movies.

She may have been Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, but 20th Century Fox refused to lend her to MGM to make the movie.

Shirley Jones and Shirley MacLaine were both named after Shirley Temple.

Would serve as U.S. Ambassador to Ghana.

Was on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

Her new contract from 20th Century Fox in 1936 paid her $50,000 per film.

A cocktail named after her became known as the Shirley Temple cocktail. It consisted of Ginger Ale or 7-Up, Grenadine and orange juice topped with a Maraschino cherry and a slice of lemon. Temple said she didn’t like the drink.

Gary Cooper asked for Shirley Temple’s autograph, when he met her in 1934.

She made an attempt at political office: In 1967 she ran against Paul McCloskey in the Republican primary for California’s 11th Congressional District. McCloskey won with 52,878 votes to her 34,521. One of the newspaper headlines read: “McCloskey Torpedoes Good Ship Lollypop”.

Some of her other political appointment jobs:

U.S. Chief of Protocol

      U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia
      Delegate to the United Nations
She acted in the movies while the country was in a depression and has this to say about that:
I class myself with Rin Tin Tin. People in the Depression wanted something to cheer them up, and they fell in love with a dog and a little girl.
Shirley Temple brought a lot of happiness to a lot of people during her 17 year movie career and she went on to serve our country as an ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia and as a delegate to the United Nations.
Her acting career may have ended over 50 years ago, but her movies will live on in the hearts, of those who have seen them and will continue to see them, as they are handed down from generation to generation.
I suspect a lot of DVD and VCR players will be playing Shirley Temple movies today and tonight, as we remember the little girl in the movies, who cheered up a country deep in depression so many years ago.
RIP Shirley Temple

For those who want to see a list of all the Shirley Temple movies:

 

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000073/?ref_=nmbio_bio_nm

 

 

 

 

1968: Columbo and Hawaii Five-O – Detectives With Different Modus Operandi

Peter Falk as Columbo

 

Peter Falk as Frank Columbo usually investigated crimes alone. He drove a beat up looking Peugeot and arrived at crime scenes looking, as if he had just got out of bed and had slept in his overcoat. Columbo had bad hair days every day, since there was never a hair in place.

I have seen a lot of Columbo episodes, but can’t recall him ever pulling a gun on anyone. He makes a general nuisance of himself, while investigating crimes and the prime suspects usually either hate him with a passion, or enjoy trying to outsmart Columbo.

The criminals seem to have committed the perfect crime, but Columbo doesn’t take long to unravel the perfect crime. He uncovers some key piece of evidence or fact, that causes the prime suspect to be on edge, especially when they sense that Columbo is close to solving the crime.

Columbo made an art of exiting a room, only to re-enter the room for one more question. Columbo is a very low-key detective and often mentions that Mrs. Columbo likes the criminal, if she has read a book or seen the prime suspect on television. However, I have yet to see Mrs. Columbo in any episode.

Lieutenant Columbo is not your average detective. He just keeps plugging away until he solves the crime and returns to question the prime suspect repeatedly, which usually infuriates the suspect.

Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett

 

Jack Lord who portrays Steve McGarrett is the polar opposite of Columbo. He wears suits that look like they just came off the rack, from the best men’s clothes designers in Hawaii. He is never seen smoking like Columbo and has been known to pull a gun on a criminal if needed.

McGarrett unlike Columbo has a few assistants, while Columbo worked almost alone exclusively. McGarrett is a decisive detective, that wants things done yesterday. He also has to answer to the governor, which Columbo never had to worry about.

Another difference between the two detectives is that McGarrett is captured by the criminals, like the episode in which Wo Fat the master criminal places McGarrett underwater. Today’s episode showed McGarrett and others in his office being the target of a bomb. The bad guy sneaks into the hospital and fires several shots into what he thought was Garrett. However, he is captured by Danny Williams and McGarrett is shown in a closet, after having seeing the criminal pump lead into him a few minutes earlier.

Lord liked Hawaii so much, that he lived there for the rest of his life and suffered with Alzheimer’s disease, before his death.

 

Summary:

Columbo and Hawaii Five-O may have used different modus operandi, but the results at the end of the show were the same, with the culprits headed to prison. Columbo looked disheveled, while McGarrett looked like he walked out of a catalog for men’s clothes. Columbo had a comedy flair to it, while Hawaii Five-O was a no-nonsense no hold barred detective show.

Hawaii Five-O was a fast paced show, while Columbo took his time solving crimes and seemed to be in no hurry to solve the crime.

Both shows started being shown on television 46 years ago, but they are both as much fun, to watch all these years later, as they were when they were first seen.

One thing both shows had in common was they were both entertaining and captured the interest of the viewer from the first scene to the last scene.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Classic Television: Real McCoys 1957-1963

The Real McCoys debuted on television on October 3, 1957. The show ended its run on network television on June 23, 1963. It has been 51 years since the last show aired on a major network.
I have been watching it in the last week on Cozi Network at 5PM Central time and have enjoyed watching the show again, after not seeing it for at least 30 years, if not longer than that.
The show centers around the McCoy family, who had traveled from Virginia to settle down in California. Walter Brennan, who has one of the most recognizable voices on radio and television plays Grandpa Amos McCoy. He plays the part of an old codger set in his ways. He can neither read or write, which provides many storylines in the series.
Richard Crenna is Luke McCoy the son of Grandpa and his wife Kate McCoy is portrayed by Kathy Nolan. Their two children Little Luke and Hassie are played by Michael Winkleman and Lydia Reed respectively. Their farmhand Pepino is portrayed by Tony Martinez.
Walter Brennan 1894-1974
Walter Brennan was heard on 35 old-time radio programs, according to radiogoldindex.com, while Richard Crenna was heard frequently on both Our Miss Brooks and the Great Gildersleeve programs.
Brennan made his first movie appearance in 1925 in Lorraine of the Lions, but it was an uncredited role. He was uncredited in eight of his first nine movies. Brennan was seen in 27 movies before 1930 and would appear in 19 movies in 1932 alone. One of the highlights of his movie career was when he appeared in Pride of the Yankees in 1992.
After Real McCoys left the air he starred in two other television programs, which included appearing in 30 episodes of The Tycoon and 50 episodes of Guns of Will Sonnett. He made his last movie appearance at the age of 80 in the movie Smoke in the Wind which was released in 1975.
Brennan made an amazing 242 appearances on television and in the movies.
Richard Crenna 1926-2003
Richard Crenna was a veteran of old time radio, television and the movies. He made his first radio appearance in 1945 in an episode of Great Gildersleeve and first was heard on Our Miss Brooks radio program in 1948. He also appeared in  the television version, of the show and played high school student Walter Denton in both versions.
His career spanned 58 years from 1945 to 2003, when he made his last appearance in the television movie Out of the Ashes. He appeared as the star of Slattery’s People, which debuted in 1964 the year after after Real McCoys left the air, but the show only lasted one season.
Crenna is well-known for portraying Col. Sam Trautman in both Rambo: First Blood Part 2  in 1982 and in Rambo III in 1988.
Real McCoys is 1950’s television at its best. The shows would often show the ornery side of Grandpa Amos, in the first part of the show, but by the time the show ended he had mellowed and the family was happy again.
Yesterday’s episode featured Grandpa Amos letting a man promoting a gambling place in Las Vegas paint his barn. Only catch was that the man would put up a sign on the roof of the barn. However, Grandpa Amos had no idea that the barn would be promoting gambling in Las Vegas, so consented to letting the barn be painted.
The pastor visited their home, so they covered up the offending part of the sign to have it read better. Then the wind kicked up and the canvas uncovered the sign, so that the pastor could see they had a sign on the roof promoting gambling, but the pastor wasn’t upset saying they had painted his barn for free too and had made a sign he didn’t like either.
Real McCoys for some reason has not been seen much, since it left the air 51 years ago, so was tickled to see it on MeTV last week.

Classic Television: Hawaii Five-O 1968-1980

Some shows were never meant to be brought back, in later years and Hawaii Five-O is one of those shows. The original Hawaii Five-O show debuted on September 26, 1968.

I can identify with the show, since I was stationed in Hawaii, at Schofield Barracks while serving in the United States Army, from June 1963 to January of 1966. Have watched the first three shows, of Season 1 on Netflix and they have reminded me of how much I enjoyed the show, which aired in parts of three different decades. Hawaii Five-O debuted about two years after I left Hawaii for Vietnam.

Jack Lord 1920-1998

Jack Lord was meant to be Detective Steve McGarrett and fit the part perfectly. His sidekick was James MacArthur who portrayed Dan Williams, on the show and McGarrett calls him Danno and most of us can remember the familiar phrase “Book him Danno”.

I may be prejudiced, but I think the new Hawaii Five-O show airing currently is not close, to being as good as the original show.

Richard Denning  starred on old-time radio as the husband of Lucille Ball’s character in My Favorite Husband and later co-starred on television in Mr. and Mrs. North.

Last week was the first time to see a Hawaii Five-O show in too many years to remember. It didn’t take long to recall why I liked the show so much, because the combination of the story and the Hawaiian scenery captured my interest.

I watched Season 1 Episode 3 Tiger by the Tail which guest starred Sal Mineo and Harold J. Stone. Mineo portrayed a singer who planned his own kidnapping, in order to draw attention and hopefully get more bookings for singing gigs. However, when his father offered to pay the kidnappers, whatever they wanted they made a change of plans. The two kidnappers asked for half a million dollars from his father and when it was evident that they were going to get the money they decided to kill Sal Mineo’s character. That plan didn’t go well, as McGarrett stopped one of the kidnappers from killing him. It was a good story from start to finish.

Today I watched the Season 7 Episode 20 Hawaii Five-O and the title of the episode was And the Horse Jumped Over the Moon, with Ed Flanders and Bruce Boxleitner as the guest stars. I watched it on ME-TV and it can be seen on weekdays at 12:00 PM ET.

The stars of Hawaii Five-O are dead now with Jack Lord dying first in 1998 at the age of 77. Kam Fong who played Chin Ho on the series died next in 2002 at the age of 84, then James MacArthur died in 2010 at the age of 72.

Jack Lord only acted one more time, after Hawaii Five-O ended its run, when he appeared in the TV movie M Station: Hawaii.

His only other starring role on television, was when he starred in Stoney Burke from 1962-1963.

Interesting trivia about Jack Lord from imdb.com:

He was being considered for the role of Captain Kirk on Star Trek, but the producer didn’t approve of him asking to be co-producer and take a percentage of the profits.

His estate donated $40 million to the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Lord had Alzheimer’s disease for two years, before his death from congestive heart failure.

He died in Honolulu, Hawaii on Oahu and his ashes were scattered near his Kahala condominium.

Jack Lord always insisted on using as many Hawaiian actors, as possible and all scenes were shot at Hawaiian locations.

Who’s Alive From Classic Television Shows

Ron Howard and Jim Nabors are only Andy Griffith stars still alive.

Andy Griffith Show

The Who’s Alive and Who’s Dead website lists Ron Howard 59 and Jim Nabors 80 as the only surviving stars of the Andy Griffith Show. Howard McNear who portrayed Floyd the Barber was the first cast member to die, since he passed away in 1969 the year after the show left the air. He died at a comparatively young 63. Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee) died 20 years later in 1989 at the age of 86.

Batman

Adam West (Batman) 85 and Burt Ward (Robin) 68 are two of four surviving members of the Batman cast.

Two actresses who played Catwoman are the only other surviving members of the cast. Yvonne Craig is now 76 and Julie Newmar is 78. Madge Blake who portrayed Aunt Harriet died in 1969 at the age of 69. The next one on Batman to die was Stafford Repp who played Chief O’Hara, who died in 1974 at the age of 56.

Donna Douglas 80 who portrayed Elly May and Max Baer Jr. 76 are the last members of Beverly Hillbillies cast that is still alive.

Beverly Hillbillies

Irene Ryan who played Granny on Beverly Hillbillies was the first to die, at the age of 70 in 1973. Raymond Bailey who portrayed banker Milburn Drysdale died next at the age of 75 in 1980.

David Canary who played Candy Canaday on Bonanza is only surviving member of the show at the age of 75 and Bonanza was on the air from 1959-1973.

Bonanza

Dan Blocker who portrayed Hoss Cartwright died before the show finished its run dying, at the age of only 43 in 1972 due to a pulmonary blood clot. Michael Landon who played Little Joe Cartwright died at the age of 54 in 1991 from pancreatic cancer.

Robert Reed who portrayed Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch and Allan Melvin who played Sam the butcher are only actors on the show who have died at the age of 59 and 85 respectively.

Brady Bunch

Ann B.  Davis 87 who played Alice on Brady Bunch is one of several Brady Bunch actors and actresses still alive. Florence Henderson is now 85 and portrayed Carol Brady. Barry portrayed Greg Brady and is now 59. Maureen McCormick who played Marcia Brady is now 57. Christopher Knight is now 56 and was Peter Brady on the show. Eve Plumb played the part of Jan Brady and is 55 years old. Mike Lookinland is now 53 and played Bobby Brady. Susan Olsen is the youngest surviving Brady at the age of 52. She played Cindy Brady on the show.

To check to see what other celebrities are alive and which ones have passed on:

http://www.whosaliveandwhosdead.com/default.asp

Doris Day Will Be 93 In April

Doris Day made her motion picture debut 69 years ago in 1948 in Romance on the High Seas at the age of 24.

 

Doris Day may be one of the most likeable motion picture and television actresses, that has graced the silver screen. However, she was first known as a singer, as she sang with the Bob Crosby and Les Brown bands. One of her first hit songs was Sentimental Journey.

She was born as Doris Mary Anne Von Kappelhoff  on April 3, 1924 in Evanston, Ohio and will be 93 this year. She would later change her name to Day, with her name coming from her song Day by Day.

Her career included 99 old-time radio shows, which included appearances on the Bob Hope Show and her own radio show.

Doris Day Golden Girl: Columbia Collection from 1944-1966.

 

I have the Golden Girl: Columbia Collection 1944-1966 in my compact disc collection. 27 Amazon reviewers give the album 5 stars, while only one gives it one star and no reviewer gives the album no stars. The album is on two discs with a total of 48 songs in the album.

Her rendition of It Had To Be You alone makes the album worthwhile. Again is another one of my favorite tracks on the album. It is good to hear music, that you can understand the words, as you listen to the album. She also sings the classic I Only Have Eyes For You. I listened to the entire album last week and was mesmerized to hear Doris Day at her best.

Amazon.com has short clips of all 48 songs and the album can be bought used for as little as 30 cents as of January 2, 2017.

Day married trombonist Al Jorden in 1941 and their divorce became final in 1943. Her only child Terry was born during this marriage. Her next marriage to saxophonist George Weidler was in 1946 and that marriage was over by 1949.

Then two years later she married Martin Melcher her agent, who later became her husband in 1951. Melcher produced many of her movies from 1956-1968. Melcher died at the age of 52 in 1968.

It was after his death, that she learned he had gone through her $20 million fortune and leaving her in debt. She may have been even deeper in debt, if not for his death. His business partner Jerome Rosenthal was sued by Doris Day for his financial dealings that burned through her fortune. Day has stated that she didn’t think her husband realized what Rosenthal was doing. She was awarded $22 million in damages in 1974.

Day found out after the death of Martin Melcher, that he had her lined up to do a television series and a couple of special shows. She still completed her obligation in the contract and she never acted again after the Doris Day Show ended in 1973. It has been 41 years since she last acted on television or on the screen.

Between the income from the television shows and her financial settlement there was no reason, for Day to ever act again. She did appear in some shows which didn’t involve acting.

Her son Terry Melcher, who had been adopted by her husband Martin Melcher was a successful record producer. He was introduced to Charles Manson by Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. Melcher was considering signing Manson to a recording contract but never signed Manson, which angered Manson. He did use two songs penned by Manson with the Beach Boys singing those songs.

Melcher was living with his girlfriend Candice Bergen at 10050 Cielo Drive house he was renting. Melcher and Bergen moved out of the house after Melcher and Manson had parted ways. Manson went to the house asking to see Melcher, but by then Melcher had moved.

It was on August 9, 1969 that members of the Manson family entered the home and murdered Sharon Tate, who was the wife of Polanski was eight months pregnant. Four others were murdered in the house including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and hairdresser Jay Sebring.

There has been much speculation about whether Manson knew Melcher was no longer living in the house. One thing for certain is that if he wanted to get Melcher’s attention, then he was so successful, that Melcher hired a bodyguard.

Doris Day had lost her husband one year before and now her only son was apparently being targeted by Charles Manson.

Some trivia about Doris Day from imdb.com:

Did not like swear words and required anyone using a swear word to put a quarter in the “Swear Jar”.  She would not even allow her songs to be used in movies, in which there was swearing.

Her mother named her after her favorite silent film star, Doris Kenyon. By coincidence, in the mid 1970’s when Day wrote her autobiography, Kenyon was her neighbor on Crescent Drive in Beverly Hills.

Son Terry Melcher was born February 8, 1942. She named him after the character in a comic strip she loved as a little girl, “Terry and the Pirates”. Sadly, he passed away of cancer on November 19, 2004.

Was a two-and-a-half pack a day smoker until about 1951.

She has two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 6278 Hollywood Boulevard and for Motion Pictures at 6735 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

In 1976, Doris married Barry Comden, 12 years her junior. They met at the Beverly Hills Old World Restaurant where he was the maitre d’. In the 1970s, Comden opened an Old World restaurant in Westwood and supervised the construction of another restaurant, Tony Roma’s, in Palm Springs. It was Comden who came up with the idea for a line of pet food that would feature Doris’ name. Doris Day Distributing Co. unraveled mainly because of a pyramid-type scheme that the couple had been unaware of. They lived in Carmel but Comden complained that Day preferred the company of her dogs more than him and they divorced in 1981.

Underwent a hysterectomy during the filming of Julie (1956) after being diagnosed with a tumour the size of a grapefruit that was growing into her intestines.

Some quotes attributed to Doris Day:

I like joy; I want to be joyous; I want to have fun on the set; I want to wear beautiful clothes and look pretty. I want to smile and I want to make people laugh. And that’s all I want. I like it. I like being happy. I want to make others happy.

[on Rock Hudson] I call him Ernie, because he’s certainly no Rock

[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.

      [dismissing allegations that she “stole” husband Martin Melcher from his former wife, singer Patty Andrews] A person does not leave a good marriage for someone else.

 

Doris Day at the age of 89 is still involved with protecting animals from abuse. She may not have acted in the last 41 years, but her legacy of films in her 25 years of acting will keep us entertained for years to come. It is sad that her television show is seldom seen in reruns, but it can be seen on DVD. It might even be the best way to watch the show, as the show was known for its many season to season changes in its five-year run. In addition she has recorded many albums during her recording career.

I watched Move Over Darling last week, in which James Garner appeared with Doris Day. It was a hilarious movie, in which a husband is marrying a new bride, after his wife who “died” in a plane crash five years before and was now legally dead. Only problem was that she was rescued and comes back home to find her husband married to another woman. Chaos ensues as she and the character played by James Garner try to get back together again.

 

 

 

 

Netflix Junkie For Three Hours A Day

Our DISH satellite was suspended for nine months recently, so are spending only $5 a month on DISH to keep the account open. We get to watch mostly infomercials for the $5, so we signed up for Netflix, which is much less than DISH was before the suspension. In fact one On Demand movie on DISH costs almost as much as the $7.99 a month charge for unlimited watching on Netflix. Not that we planned on watching any On Demand movies.

However, we can only use Netflix from 2AM to 8AM, because that is only time our DISH internet service allows us, to watch videos or listen to any music. So I now wake up at 5AM and watch Netflix till 8AM. I have found myself drawn to some shows more often than others.

The two shows that really stand out for me are The Rockford Files and Columbo. I will list those two shows, plus others that I have made a habit of watching.

The Rockford Files

I have watched 25 episodes of The Rockford Files. Have already seen all of Season 1 and have watched the first episode of Season 2. Netflix has 123 shows available to watch of the show, which was first seen in 1974.

It amazes me how much punishment James Garner as Rockford sustains in the show. He reportedly did his own stunts for the show, so that makes me respect him even more. One of my favorite parts of the show is when the telephone answering machine can be heard, with the caller leaving a very funny message at the opening.

Another highlight for me is the interplay between Dennis Becker a policeman portrayed by Joe Santos and Rockford. Becker is not a happy camper, when Rockford asks for a favor like running down a license number for Rockford. The show for me is a perfect mix of drama and comedy. This show has a lot of chase scenes, where it is usually Rockford trying to shake the bad guys, who are tailing him and he often maneuvers his way through the traffic, to lose the bad guys.

Imdb.com readers rate The Rockford Files 8.0 on a scale of 10.

Columbo

There are 43 episodes available on Netflix and am already into Season 4 with episode 2 next to be seen, for a total 27 episodes seen. Columbo shared its time slot, with some other shows, so that is why there were only 7 or 8 shows made a season. The first episode aired in 1968 and by the time the show left the air in 2003 Peter Falk had gray hair.

Falk was perfectly cast as Columbo. The crime was shown at the first of the show, so this was no mystery. It was more a case of watching Columbo catch the criminals, who always seemed to think they had committed the perfect crime. Columbo may have looked a little scruffy in his rumpled raincoat, but he was a very intelligent detective, who picked up on any clue in short order. It was fun watching the criminals squirm, whenever Columbo came around and they sometimes became very agitated, because of Columbo popping up unannounced so often.

Columbo may have been portrayed as a buffoon, but when it came down to solving a crime he always got his man or woman, depending on who was the guilty culprit, in a particular episode.

Imdb.com readers gave Columbo a 8.1 rating.

Dragnet 1967

I had preferred watching the 50’s version of Dragnet, but the more I watched this later version the more I liked it. So far, have watched 11 episodes of Dragnet and have come, to appreciate the comedic exchanges between Sgt. Friday played by Jack Webb and Officer Bill Gannon, who is portrayed by Harry Morgan. Sometimes you will see a familiar face on this show, as Friday and Gannon make their investigation. Dragnet 67 pulls down a respectable 7.8 rating at imdb.com.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

This show is another one that draws me back to it, since all of the 16 episodes I have seen have been outstanding. It is rated 8.7 by the readers of imdb.com, which is the best rating I have seen so far. It is amusing to see Hitchcock open and close the shows. Be prepared for a surprise turn of events at the end of the episodes. Just when you think you have it figured out Hitchcock throws his viewers a curve.

Alfred Hitchcock has 74 episodes on Netflix and skips Season 1 and I have watched 16 episodes. The show is in black and white, but that only makes the show more realistic for me.

Adam 12

Some have called Adam 12 the most realistic cop show on television. I have seen nine episodes of the show, with 174 episodes available on Netflix. The first show aired in 1968.

The first episode shows Officer Malloy portrayed by Martin Milner showing rookie Reed played by Kent McCord the ropes and the proper way to do things. The ninth episode in Season 1 features a man who is very upset, because someone stole his front lawn.

Adam 12 receives a 7.3 from imdb.com readers.

Twilight Zone

Netflix has only 65 shows available of Twilight Zone which started in 1959 and is rated an amazing 8.9 at imdb.com. I have watched nine episodes so far. One of my favorite episodes is about a man, who is always being told that he can’t read books by his wife and his boss. When a nuclear catastrophe occurs he is the only man left on earth. He happens to find the ruins of a library and sorts out books in piles to read in different months. However, he breaks his glasses and is unable to read any of the books. This is one of the most popular television shows ever.

Magnum PI, McMillan and Wife

Am having problems being interested in either of these shows. Have nothing against Magnum PI, ….just no interest in it. McMillan and Wife is a good show, but not the kind of show I would want to invest an hour and a half into. Matt McMillan portrayed by Rock Hudson is not realistic as a police commissioner. Seems unrealistic to me, that the commissioner of police is fighting thugs in warehouses, while realistically a real life commissioner is not likely to leave his office, except for a news conference.

Have not watched enough of either show to even count.

Law and Order – Criminal Intent

This show starts with Season 6 on Netflix and it runs through Season 10, with 83 episodes available to watch. The episodes have kept my interest so far. Season 11 for some reason is not available on Netflix, even though the show ended its run in 2011. Law and Order – Criminal Intent received a 7.2 rating from imdb.com readers.

Leave It To Beaver

I remember watching Leave It To Beaver at my grandpa’s farm in Missouri in 1959, which was two years after the show debuted in 1957. Interesting sidenote about this show is that Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher, who created Leave It To Beaver had been writers for the Amos N’ Andy show earlier in the 50’s.

This show is rated 7.6 by the readers at imdb.com. Netflix has 234 episodes of Leave It To Beaver available for watching. So far have only seen 15 shows, so still have 219 shows left to watch. This show to me is television comedy at its best. It was smart of the producers to make Eddie Haskell a regular in the series after being a guest star. Ken Osmond, who played Eddie later became a Los Angeles policeman and was shot in the line of duty. Jerry Mathers who played the Beaver and Wally Dow and Osmond found little work in movies and television after the show left the air in 1963. It has been 21 years since Osmond has appeared in any production that didn’t have a connection to Leave It To Beaver.

Documentaries

I have watched part or all of several documentaries. Since there are multiple parts to some documentaries have watched a little at a time. Watched Hitler’s Children about children related to Nazi war criminals, who were in Hitler’s inner circle. One relative was shown as he visited Auschwitz many years after the holocaust. He was moved to tears, when a survivor of Auschwitz came up to him and shook hands with him telling him, that he didn’t blame the son for what his father did.

One of my favorites to watch was the 30-30 documentary from ESPN that told the story behind Michael Jordan playing minor league baseball in 1994, because he dad who had been murdered had wanted him to play baseball.

The Ken Burns documentary about World War II is particularly interesting, since I was only alive for the last two years of World War II. The episode I am watching now tells about soldiers from three American towns who joined the Army and about how the war affected the soldiers and those left at home. This is a seven part series, so will be watching this for a long time.

I also watched a documentary about Marilyn Monroe living in New York and another Ken Burns documentary about the history of jazz. Really enjoyed the part about pianist Art Tatum, who was almost blind, but was a piano virtuoso, who added a lot of notes to the basic melody.

Netflix Movies

Netflix also has movies, but I am interested mainly in the television shows and documentaries. I have heard that a lot of good movies never are shown on Netflix. One negative about Netflix is that a movie or television show may be available one day, but then gone the next day. That can be attributed to companies switching to other vendors, after fulfilling their contract with Netflix.

Know the Face, But Can’t Think of the Name – Burt Mustin

Burt Mustin 1884-1977

 

Burton Hill Mustin was born February 8, 1884 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He made his acting debut in 1951 at the age of 67. Most people would have retired by that age, but Mustin would appear in motion pictures and television till the age of 92. In fact Mustin had retired and had moved to Tucson, Arizona. He was discovered by director William Wyler, who saw Mustin appearing in a stage production of Detective Story and his career in movies and television had begun at an age, when most people his age were living off their Social Security checks.

He married in 1915 and they remained married till her death in 1969 and they had no children.

Mustin appeared in his first movie Detective Story in 1951 and would appear in his last role in Phyllis in 1976. He has 178 acting credits in his 25 years in movies and television. He first appeared on television, when he was seen in an episode of the Adventures of Kit Carson in 1951.

Burt Mustin shown portraying Gus the fireman on Leave It To Beaver from ago of 73-77.

 

Leave It To Beaver featured Mustin in 14 episodes in which he played Gus the fireman. He also appeared in 14 episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. Mustin played six parts on the show including Jud Fletcher, the Townsman, Jubal, Sam Benson, Mister Crowley and The Old Geezer.

He appeared on many other shows, but never made more than seven appearances on any of them. His movie career kept him busy, but his name was seldom in the credits, in many of his movies. He made his last movie appearance in Train Ride to Hollywood and he was 91 years old at the time.

Mustin was one of the more prolific character actors in show business, as he was seen several of the top television shows, while he was an actor.  He had the kind of face, that you could remember, but it is unlikely, that most moviegoers and television viewers knew what his real name was.

Life came to an end for Mustin on January 28, 1977 in Glendale, California. He was born 43 years before the first talking motion pictures were made, but lived another 50 years, after talking movies became commonplace.

Burt Mustin’s gravesite is located at Forest Lawn in Hollywood Hills, California.

 

 

 

Classic Television: Still Being Seen Many Years Later

One of the attractions of Netflix is that you can watch classic television shows on your tablet, computer and digital television.

Netflix includes classic television, among their many television shows of the past and present, being presented on their service. My favorite shows to watch on Netflix are Columbo, The Rockford Files, Adam 12, Leave It To Beaver, Twilight Zone, Andy Griffith and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The best aspect of watching the shows on Netflix is that you don’t have to watch any commercials.

Classic Television Networks

There are some classic television networks on cable television, but satellite providers don’t seem, to be interested in including the networks on their systems. TV Land which is seen on most satellite systems used to feature more classic television shows, than they do now, since they are starting to create their own programming on TV Land.

Antenna Classic Television Services

Last weekend we moved our antenna, to another position and picked up Me TV and Cozi TV, which both feature classic television shows.

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis – September 29, 1959 – June 5, 1963.

Me TV

Me TV has one of the best lineups of classic television shows I have seen. Me TV has been on the air since December 15, 2010 and shows some of the harder to find programs, that are featured on their network, like Dobie Gillis, The Untouchables, the original Hawaii Five O and Ironside, which to me are far better than the current versions seen on network television today.

Route 66 and My Three Sons fans will be glad to know they can still watch these shows today.

This is the complete list of classic television shows on Me TV today:

http://metvnetwork.com/programs.php

Robert Young, Elena Verdugo and James Brolin stars of Marcus Welby MD – September 23, 1969 – July 29, 1976

Cozi TV

Cozi TV features classic television shows like Charlie’s Angels, Lassie, Run For Your Life, Marcus Welby, MD and The Bionic Woman. Cozi TV was launched nationally on January 1, 2013.

This is a three-day listing of shows being shown on Cozi TV:

http://www.titantv.com/programming/channel.aspx/callsign/CoziTV/channel/12/major/12/minor/3/cid/14618/sid/90657/network/COZITV/pt/2/hd/1/lid/6c352f1f-8039-447d-90fc-aa6bade01186/date/20131125/

Burns and Allen Show
October 12, 1950 – September 22, 1958

Antenna TV

I still remember coming home from summer school and watching the Burns and Allen show, during the noon hour, on our local television station KALB -TV, which was located in Alexandria, Louisiana. The show starred the comedy team of George Allen and Gracie Allen. It was fun watching Gracie come up with such great lines, in the comedy scenes. It is great to know the shows can still be watched 63 years later in 2013. This may be one of the oldest shows still being seen today. Antenna TV was launched nationally on January 1, 2011.

To see a list of classic television shows on Antenna TV:

http://antennatv.tv/shows/

 

The Real McCoys – October 3, 1957 – June 23, 1963

Retro TV

Retro TV features show like The Real McCoys, which starred Walter Brennan, as the cantankerous Grandpa Amos McCoy and his grandson Luke who was portrayed, by Richard Crenna who had appeared as Walter Denton in the TV version of Our Miss Brooks.

Other shows featured on Retro TV include Circus Boy, which featured a young Mickey Dolenz, who would later gain fame as a member of the Monkees. Highway to Heaven, Soupy Sales, Mr. Magoo, Naked City and Route 66 also can be seen today on Retro TV. Retro TV was launched nationally in 2005.

Shows that can be seen on Retro TV:

http://www.myretrotv.com/shows.html

 

If you live sort of close to a bigger city, then you can probably pick up one or more of these channels on an outside antenna, or maybe even a stronger inside antenna.

Watching these shows from my childhood in the 50’s and 60’s brings back memories, of a  simpler time when you could watch television, without all the double entendres and violence found on network television today.  So if you are longing for the good old days of classic television, then a simple turn of your antenna may bring back the shows of your youth.

Ken Osmond: Eddie Haskell to Los Angeles Motorcyle Policeman

Ken Osmond who will always be Eddie Haskell to Leave It To Beaver fans.

Kenneth Charles Osmond was born on June 7, 1943 in Glendale, California. Osmond made his first credited appearance in Screen Director’s Playhouse in 1955 at the age of twelve. He appeared in many television series and a couple of movies, until he got his big break in 1957.

Osmond was cast as Eddie Haskell in Leave It To Beaver, which debuted in 1957 and ran till 1963 on network television. Haskell had a penchant for talking Wally Cleaver into doing things, that he ordinarily wouldn’t do and wind up getting Wally in trouble.

Eddie would sweet talk Mrs. Cleaver, to try to get on her good side. He had little use for Beaver Cleaver and only tolerated him, while mostly detesting the Beaver.

 

Ken Osmond seen in his LA motorcycle cop outfit.

 

Osmond would be seen in Leave It To Beaver from 1957-1963. He would only appear only twelve times, in movies and television over the next 24 years. Originally, Osmond was supposed to appear as Eddie Haskell only once, but he made an impression on producers and became a regular member of the cast.

Then in 1983 The New Leave It To Beaver began a seven-year run, that ended in 1989. Osmond was seen in 96 episodes of the original Leave It To Beaver and was shown in 101 episodes of the New Leave It To Beaver series.

 

A more recent photo of Ken Osmond.

 

It was easy for Osmond to disguise his looks by growing a mustache, while on the Los Angeles police force. He worked a lot of his 18 years in the Central Traffic Division.

Osmond also served in the vice squad and was shot three times, while in the line of duty. He retired with a medical disability pension.

The fame of being on Leave It To Beaver typecast Osmond, Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers. Their careers as actors were over for the most part, after being the iconic Eddie Haskell, Wally Cleaver and Beaver Cleaver.

The show can still be seen 50 years later on television and like the Andy Griffith Show it continues its popularity over 50 years later.

 

 

 

JFK Assassination: Only 24 Percent Think Oswald Acted Alone

Texas Schoolbook Depository Building with the sixth floor window circled, to show where the alleged shots fired at President John F. Kennedy were fired from at 12:30 PM on November 22, 1963 by an unidentified sniper.

75 percent of Americans still are not convinced, that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone 50 years ago, when an assassin or assassins shot and assassinated the 35th president of the United States, President John F. Kennedy, in the streets of Dallas on November 22,1963.

59 percent of Americans think more than one person was involved in the assassination, according to an Associated Press – GfK poll. When the 59 percent thinking the assassination was a conspiracy is combined, with the 16 percent, who are unsure it adds up to about 75 percent ,who have not been convinced Oswald was not part of a conspiracy. Close to 24 percent think that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman.

The only reason the proliferation of books have been written, about the JFK assassination is because, of Americans wanting to know exactly happened on that cold day in November of 1963.

The number of Americans who believe there was a conspiracy involved, in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has dropped over the last few years, but with 75 percent not convinced yet that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone means, that there has not been a smoking gun that has convinced Americans, beyond a doubt that a conspiracy was involved.

Nobody has explained to my satisfaction why the fingerprint of Mac Wallace, who was the hitman for LBJ was found on a box, in the sixth floor “sniper’s nest” in the Texas School Book Depository Building. There is no proof, that I am aware of, that places Oswald in the sixth floor window, at the time the fatal shots were fired. He was seen on the second floor by Motorcycle Patrolman Marion Baker a short time later. The elevator was apparently out-of-order shortly after the assassination, which would make it almost impossible for Oswald to be on the sixth floor at the time of the shooting and make it down to the second floor, without being out of breath or acting like someone, who had just shot President John F. Kennedy

The following blog by William E. Kelley, Jr. goes into great detail about what happened with Baker and Oswald and the building manager Roy Truly, on the day of the assassination..

http://jfkcountercoup2.blogspot.com/2012/12/why-oswald-is-innocent-proof.html

This alone is enough for me to doubt the findings, of the Warren Commission in their report.

I don’t expect everyone to agree with my opinion, that Lee Harvey Oswald was part of a conspiracy led by Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson and in a coalition of the FBI, CIA, organized crime and Texas oilmen bankrolling the assassination.

Those with views, that differ from mine are welcome to post comments. However no flaming or use of bad language is allowed and those comments will not be posted. Any other well thought out comments written, without showing hatred, for other commenters are welcome and will be posted as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Classic Television: The Rockford Files

1974-1980

The Rockford Files was first seen on national network television on September 13, 1974 and the last show aired on January 10, 1980.

James Garner was born in Norman, Oklahoma on April 27, 1928 and is now 85 years old.

Garner had only been appearing in movies and on television, for only one year when he captured one of the lead roles in Maverick as Bret Maverick in 1957.

Maverick was shown for the last time in 1962 and his next starring role is in the television series Nichols, which ran from 1971-1972.

The Rockford Files began its run on NBC television in 1974 and Garner appeared in all 122 episodes of the show.

I hadn’t seen a Rockford Files episode for many years, until this last week when I watched some of the very first episodes of the show.

Garner was seen in some short-lived series like Bret Maverick, 18 episodes, Man of the People, 10 episodes, Chicago Hope, 4 episodes, God, the Devil and Bob, 13 episodes and First Monday, 13 episodes.

He would return in 45 episodes of 8 Simple Rules, which was 14 more episodes, than John Ritter had appeared in, before his untimely death. 8 Simple Rules ended its run on network television in 2006 and it was Garner’s last appearance on a regular television show, although his voice has been used for some short videos.

The last movie appearance for Garner was in 2006, when he appeared in The Ultimate Gift, which didn’t fare well at the box office making only $3.4 million in about 9 weeks of being shown in theaters.

Rockford Files was ranked  39th in the list of the 50 All-Time Greatest TV Shows by TV Guide in 2002.

The Museum of Broadcasting has an interesting article, which states that The Rockford Files was one of the best private eye shows of the 1970’s.

http://www.museum.tv/eotv/rockfordfile.htm

James Garner as seen on Maverick television series.

Jim Rockford was portrayed by James Garner and his father “Rocky” Rockford was played by Noah Beery, Jr. who had already been acting in movies and television for 54 years, when The  Rockford Files debuted on the NBC television network.

Noah Beery, Jr. who portrayed “Rocky” on the Rockford Files.

It is fun watching Jim Rockford tell his clients he demands $200 a day for his detective services, but then taking less in some cases.

The best thing about The Rockford Files is that it commands your attention, from start to finish and the casting director does an excellent job of casting the roles.

Anyone who receives Netflix can watch this series, at their leisure and most private eye fans won’t be disappointed, after giving the show a test spin, if they have never seen it before.

Jerry Mathers: Will Always Be the Beaver

Jerry Mathers seen as the Beaver in an early episode of Leave It To Beaver.

Jerry Mathers was born Gerald P. Mathers, on June 2, 1948 in Sioux City, Iowa. He has been in show business for 53 years, since being a department store model at the age of two. He appeared on an episode of Ozzie and Harriet at the age of four and on a I Love Lucy episode at the age of five in 1953.

I watched the very first episode of Leave It To Beaver this morning. His teacher gave him a note to take home to his parents, but Beaver was afraid they were going to expel him from school and didn’t give them the note.

The next day his teacher found the note under his desk and asked him why he didn’t give the note to his parents. Beaver made up a story about their house being on fire. Beaver eventually found out the note was about the teacher asking for permission, of his parents for Beaver to play Smokey the Bear in a school play.

He had an uncredited role in Son of Paleface movie in 1952. He then appeared in the movies Men Of the Fighting Lady and This Is My Love in 1954. Mathers was seen in six other movies between 1955-1958 and had been in a total of nine movies by the age of 10.

Mathers was nine years old when he first appeared in Leave It To Beaver in 1957 and would be 15 years old, by the time Leave It To Beaver ended its six-year run in 1963.

The show has appeared in 80 countries and in 40 languages. Mathers says the show was called “The Happy Boy and His Family in Japan and that fans would come up to him and say “Hi Happy Boy”.

 

Beaver shown trapped in a cup of soup in one of the most famous episodes of Leave It To Beaver.

 

There was a rumor in 1969 that Mathers had been killed in Vietnam. He had served in the Air National Guard, but had never left the country.

He and his TV brother Tony Dow became the first two non-athletes to appear on a Wheaties box.

Mathers took the loss of Barbara Billingsley very hard and had this to say about her after her death:  I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend and lifetime mentor Barbara Billingsley. She will live in the hearts of her fans as a wonderful actress and be remembered by her friends as a gracious lady. She will be deeply missed by all of her family, friends, fans and most especially by me.

He also sad Barbara Billingsley was as nice in person, as she appeared on the show. He also said she taught him good manners:  Well, you know, Barbara was very much on manners, so she taught me a lot of manners. I was always a rambunctious little boy, and so when we go places [a lot of times], she would walk [of course, as a lady] very slowly, and I would sometimes try to dash ahead of her, and she would always grab me by the little hairs right there in the back of my neck, and she would say, ‘Ladies first!’ And I would always say, ‘OK, oh, but I wanted to make sure nobody was going to hurt you, you know?’ No, no! She said, ‘Ladies first!’, and she pulled me back. She had a way of teaching manners that stuck with you.

Mathers has been married three times and is currently married to Teresa Modnick, who he married in 2011.

It was learned by Mathers in 1996, that he had diabetes.

Jerry Mathers may look older now but you can still tell he used to be the Beaver.

 

His career has been tied to the Beaver character, since he joined the cast and he appeared in all 235 episodes of Leave It To Beaver and then another 101 episodes of The New Leave It To Beaver show, plus also appeared in the TV movie Still The Beaver. That is 337 episodes of shows or movies connected with the Beaver.

After Leave It To Beaver left the air Mathers only appeared in only one episode of ten television series, in the last 50 years.

He has had a variety of jobs in his working career. He worked in real estate, banking, catering, Mathers actually used a cleaver as a butcher with his catering company, so Beaver Cleaver was using a cleaver to prepare meat.

My son was at a Portland (Oregon)  Beavers baseball game a few years ago, where Mathers was signing autographs. Another play on words with Beaver signing autographs for the Beavers baseball team.

No matter what other roles Mathers may take in the coming years we will always remember him best, from the years he appeared on Leave It To Beaver. In summation, he will always be the Beaver to us.

Mathers is now 65 years old. It is hard to believe that the Beaver is collecting Social Security checks now, but time marches on, much too fast for most of us.

50 years have passed since Leave It To Beaver was shown on regular network television, but it is still being seen and enjoyed by those of us who remember the show and hope it will be enjoyed by generations to come, so the kids of the future will know that families used to eat together back in the 50’s and 60’s.

 

Classic Television – Adam 12

Kent McCord as Officer Jim Reed and Martin Milner as Officer Pete Malloy on Adam 12.

Saw my first Adam 12 show in many years yesterday and it reminded me, of how much I enjoyed watching the shows.

The first episode of the Adam 12 aired on September 21, 1967 and the last show was telecast on May 20, 1975.

I saw the Season 1 Episode 1 show yesterday and Officer Malloy was going to retire, after working the shift and was none too happy, about having to work with a rookie on his last day. However, by the end of the shift Officer Malloy had a change of heart and decided to stay on with the force, to keep Officer Reed killing himself.

Jack Webb and Ozzie Nelson directed two of the episodes in the series, while Harry Morgan and David Nelson directed one show each.

The show features many familiar actors, such as singer Trini Lopez, American Bandstand host Dick Clark, Donna Douglas of Beverly Hillbillies fame and too many others to list them all, so will just link to the complete cast list for the entire run of the show:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062539/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

The show ran for seven seasons and 174 episodes were filmed.

One goof in the show was that the dispatcher at the police station tells them to report to investigate a crime, so they drive off with no address given.

Martin Milner

 

Martin Milner was born December 28, 1931 in Detroit Michigan. He made his first movie appearance at the age of 16 in Life With Father in 1947.

Milner appeared in six episodes of Dragnet from 1952-1955. He appeared in four episodes of Life of Riley from 1953-1957.

His big break came when he was hired to play Tod Stiles in all 116 episodes of Route 66 from 1960-1964. Four years later he was chosen for the role of Officer Pete Malloy in Adam 12 and appeared in every episode from 1967-1975.

He never acted in another movie, but did a lot of free-lance work in television, with his final appearance being in 1997 in an episode of Diagnosis Murder. Milner will be 82 next month.

Kent McCord

 

Kent McCord was born as Kent Franklin McWhirter on September 26, 1942 in Los Angeles, California. He met Ricky Nelson at a football game and their friendship resulted in him getting a part in the Ozzie and Harriet television series. He appeared in 40 episodes of Ozzie and Harriet, partly due to the fact that he was a bodyguard for Ricky Nelson.

His big break came in 1967, when he was chosen to co-star in Adam 12 with Martin Milner.

McCord’s movie career did not start off too well with eight uncredited roles to start his career, including four Elvis Presley movies.

All eight movies were filmed in 1964 and 1965. He was still going by the name Kent McWhirter, when he appeared in the Ozzie and Harriet show.

He had changed his last name to McCord by the time he appeared in eight episodes of Dragnet 67′ in 1967 and 1968.

His career in television and movies ended in 2005, after he made his last appearance in a TV movie Tides of War.

McCord is currently 71 years old.

Kent McCord seen four years ago at the age of 67.

 

Martin Milner seen three years ago at the age of 79.

I had forgotten just how good of a show, that Adam 12 was but it only took watching one episode to remind me.

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