Nancy Wilson – 59 Years of Singing Easy Listening Music

Nancy Wilson

 

Nancy Wilson was born on February 20, 1937 in Chillicothe, Ohio. She is now 78, and knew she would be a singer at the age of four.

Wilson recorded Like in Love in 1959, which was her first album. She recorded her last album Turned to Blue in 2006. That album won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album, which was very impressive, when considering that she was 69 at the time. She had won another Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album two years earlier for R.S.V.P (Rare Songs, Very Personal)

Her career was a paradox, in that she was an excellent singer, but had little commercial success, with no single she recorded reaching the Top 10. However, she still recorded 70 albums, and made a career of covering songs sang by other singers.

Guess Who I Saw Today

Guess Who I Saw Today is a song is an unusual song in that it is a conversational song, in which she is telling her husband she saw him earlier that day. Her vocal delivery and the orchestration combine to make the song easy listening at its best.

Our Day Will Come

It doesn’t matter that Nancy Wilson didn’t record the original version of Our Day Will Come, because she captures the essence of the song better than in the original sang by Ruby and the Romantics. This song to me was meant to be recorded by a soloist, since it needs the softness of one voice to make it an easy listening song. It has been covered by many artists ranging from singers, who passed away like Julie London, Isaac Hayes and Amy Winehouse.

You Don’t Know Me

Nancy Wilson singing the classic You Don’t Know Me. It has been covered by a long list of artists, but Nancy sings it as well if not better than any of them. It is hard to believe that 60 years have passed, since country singer Eddy Arnold first recorded it in 1955.

 

Nancy Wilson has been on the periphery of being a huge star. It is difficult to establish a name in music, when a singer becomes better known for their covers of the songs of other artist, and that has been the fate of Nancy Wilson. I still collect her music, because she is the epitome of an easy listening singer. Her music soothes and entertains and is even better when heard through headphones, so you can hear the nuances of her voice and the background music.

She is one of the last female singers who started in the 50’s that is still singing today. There are a few newer singers like Diana Krall who sing some of the standards from the 40’s and 50’s, to keep easy listening music alive, and she like Wilson combines great vocals, with great orchestration, with her piano stylings, and surrounds herself with musicians like guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist John Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton.

Krall is carrying on the kind of music Wilson has been singing since 1959, into the 21st century.

Thank you Nancy Wilson for the memories, and hope you keep singing for years to come.

What We Didn’t Have in 1950

1954 Admiral Television

I was 10 years old in 1954, when we bought our first television. We didn’t even buy the television to watch television. If I remember correctly my sister had a lazy eye, and prescribed a television (talk about an expensive prescription) so she would use her lazy eye more. We fixed a screen on one side that fit over half the screen, that made her use her lazy eye. If it wasn’t for her eye problem we probably wouldn’t have bought a television so soon.

The first thing I remember watching on the television was the movie Buck Privates (1941) with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Howdy Doody would come on at about 3:30 in the afternoon, then was followed by Pinky Lee, then usually a western movie with Bob Maynard, Kit Carson, Gene Autry and many others would come on till it was time for the Camel Caravan news program with John Cameron “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking” Swayze doing a 15 minute news program. He was later well-known for being the spokesman for Timex watches, as he demonstrated how much abuse the watches could take and keep on ticking.

We only had one channel at first, so we had no problem working the controls. It became more complicated, when cable television companies began to go into business. We then had the old wired remote controls, which later went the way of the do-do bird and gave way to remote controls with batteries. Now we could not only change the channels, but could also turn the volume up and down, adjust the picture, record programs to watch later and best of all could zap through the commercials. Sponsors of the television programs were not too hep on the idea, since you record a show, then watch it about 20 minutes later and zap through the commercials and cut an hour-long show into about 40 minutes minus the commercials. After the show we would wonder who was sponsoring the show.

We got along fine without cell phones, since there was no such thing in 1950. I only had a cell phone when I needed one for working as a caregiver, since I had to call the office all night, so they knew I wasn’t dozing off at work. I haven’t had a cell phone since 2011, since I never did learn to text on the contraptions.

We didn’t Google it in 1950. We would just go to the library and would usually find the information there. It would be 48 years later, before we could Google it and find information in seconds, that used to involve riding to library and digging through index cards, or going through the reference books section to find the same information, that we can find in seconds today.

I don’t remember having a microwave oven, while growing up so got along well without one. I did find out later, that after buying one years later, that it was easy to ruin popcorn, by cooking it too long. Now I never cook it as long as recommended, to prevent having to throw out charcoal popcorn. My favorite use for microwave ovens is to melt ice cream in it. I am not a fan of ice cream right out of the freezer, so would put it in microwave and leave it on for about 2 hours….just kidding….about 35 seconds later the ice cream would be good and creamy but still cold.

It was about 1966 or 1967 when we got our first air conditioner. I was about 21 at the time and had just came back from Vietnam, and was thinking it would have been nice to have an air conditioner over there. I didn’t know how to act with an air conditioner, since I had lived 21 years without one, so it took awhile to get used to putting on a jacket when the air conditioner was running. I didn’t have to worry about putting on a jacket from 1992 to 1998, since I was in bankruptcy and had to choose between eating and staying cool and eating won out. I bought a 10 inch box fan and had it blowing on my face, and I was able to sleep at night with no problem during those six years. I couldn’t wait to get to work at Town Talk, since air conditioning usually worked there.

I remember when we were growing up that we bought ice in blocks and put the blocks in the refrigerator. About 60 years later we bought our first icemaker, since my wife liked to have crushed ice. It was nice having crushed ice, till the icemaker went on the blink. Best of all it saved paying $2 or more for a bag of crushed ice.

The only personal computer we owned back in 1950 was our brain that computed what we learned in school, and solved math problems before Common Core made it all complicated. My mother bought us our first computer, a Commodore 64 which was very rudimentary compared to the computers of today. It was mostly a machine to play games on, and we sometimes would type the code for games out of magazines published for Commodore 64 users. Later on we bought more advanced computers, but they were still too complicated for me. It took me a year to figure out how to send emails. I have never been a computer whiz. I know how to do the basics like copy and paste, but don’t ask me how to hook up a router or modem, or the computer may cease to function.

Before we bought our television in 1954 the only entertainment we had been listening to was old-time radio shows on our table radio, and playing records on our phonograph player. Then cassettes became popular, but were a real headache if the tape got tangled up inside the tape player. 8 track players were also around about this time, but I completely missed the boat on 8 track players, since I never owned a 8 track player or a 8 track tape.

The compact disc became the most popular way to listen to music, since the CD players let you pick a certain track if you wanted to play it, unlike cassette players where you had to more or less play the whole tape to hear a song from the starting point.

It was 2004 when I bought my first MP3 player and I was surprised to learn that you could carry thousands of songs, in one device and the Creative Nomad Zen Xtra Jukebox (pictured above) was my first MP3 player. It was 40 GB and I had 3,000 songs on it the last time I checked. You could go directly to any of the 3,000 songs in a matter of seconds.

One of my favorite uses for the MP3 player was to listen to old-time radio shows from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I found out I could buy 800 Jack Benny shows for $12 on a MP3 CD. Sam’s at about that time was selling about 10 shows for $20, so I bought the MP3 CD’s exclusively from old-time radio retailers and ebay sellers and it was possible to build up my collection fast. I currently own 17,000 episodes of many old-time radio shows of all genres. Best thing all 17,000 episodes fit inside one binder manufactured for CD’s.

All I had to do was place the MP3 CD’s into the computer and copy the files into the computer, then transfer them from computer to the MP3 player, and it works the same way with regular music CD’s.

Whoever invented the GPS probably had me in mind, since I hated folding and unfolding paper maps, to find out if I was going the right direction, to arrive at my destination. I don’t know how many times I had taken wrong roads, before the GPS was invented. It still is scary when the GPS tells you that you have arrived at your destination, when you are in the middle of nowhere with no houses in sight.

It is amazing to me that this lady telling me directions is flying around up in space, with nothing better to do, than to keep an eye on my vehicle, and if I miss a turn she is nice enough to say recalculating and letting me know we will still arrive even if it is a 20 mile detour to get to the destination.

One of the handiest inventions is the automated teller machine, that gives people money at all hours of the day and night. It used to be if they locked up the bank on Saturday afternoon, then the customer would have to wait till Monday morning to make a transaction. Now they can drain their bank accounts down to nothing in just minutes, instead of draining it a little bit at a time, while waiting in line at the bank.

Sometimes criminals have to call for assistance even with automated banking, if the bank card they stole won’t work, or even worse the automated teller machine takes the card and won’t return it to the bank card thief. The bank will send someone to the bank and tell them the pin number for the card and apologize for the inconvenience.

My mom was very slow when using the automated tellers, and more than once someone would walk in the building housing the ATM machine and get aggravated about the long wait, then finally go back to their car, drive off with wheels squealing in search of a ATM machine with someone faster using the machine.

Sometimes I wonder how we got by back in 1950 with no television, no cell phone, no Google, no icemaker, no GPS, no MP3 player, no ATM machine, no personal computer and no microwave oven. We managed to get by without all of these inventions, because most of them hadn’t been invented in 1950.

Five Innocent People Convicted of Murder

Eric Glisson released after 17 years in prison for crime he didn’t commit.

We all have heard prisoners say they didn’t do the crime, that they are imprisoned for, but in the case of Eric Glisson he was telling the truth. It took 17 years before his innocence was proved, but he is a free man today after being imprisoned in Sing Sing Prison.

A livery cab driver Baithe Diop had been killed on August 19,1995, and a few weeks later a lady Miriam Tavares told the police she knew who did it. She claimed to have seen the crime from her bathroom window. Then she proceeded to name the killers, and claimed to hear their conversation, even though her bathroom window was 100 yards from the crime scene.

Sister Joanna Chan who helped Glisson procure a lawyer to prove his innocence.

Glisson and three men and a woman were sent to prison for the crime. Glisson exhausted his appeals eleven years later in 2006. Sister Joanna Chan, a Catholic nun was doing volunteer work at Sing Sing, and took an interest in Glisson’s case. She contacted Peter Cross, who was a corporate lawyer and told him about Glisson’s case. Cross took the case, even though he was not a criminal lawyer, and agreed to not charge Glisson.

Attorney Peter Cross and Eric Glisson

Cross went to the bathroom window, that the lady claimed to have seen the crime from, and there was no way she could have seen the crime scene from that window, since it was not in the line of sight. The detectives working the case had never taken the trouble, to see what they could see from that window.

Glisson mentioned on the Dateline broadcast, that this particular lady didn’t like him, so that is probably why his name was mentioned by her to the detectives. She died of a drug overdose in 2002, so she couldn’t be re-questioned about the murder.

2012 would bring Glisson the documents he had been requesting for years, due to the Freedom of Information Act. He received cell phone records which showed, that Jose Rodriguez and Jose Vega of the Bronx Sex, Money, Murder gang had placed phone calls from the cab driver’s cell phone minutes after the murder.

Then Glisson wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney telling him he had information that proved, that he had not killed the cab driver. John O’Malley who had known that Rodriguez and Vega had confessed to the murder of the cab driver 10 years earlier traveled to Sing Sing to talk personally to Glisson.

After getting the letter, O’Malley went to Sing Sing and told Glisson he knew who really killed the Diop.

“Immediately John O’Malley just stood up and he asked me, ‘Did you write this letter?’ And I said, ‘Yes,’” Glisson told Dateline. “He shook my hand. And he said, ‘I– I’m sorry.’ And I said, ‘Sorry for what?’ He says, you know, ‘I know you’re innocent.’“

“When he said that, I said, ‘You — what are you talkin’ about, sir?’ He said, ‘Listen, I know the guys who committed this crime.’

He asked Glisson if he was the one who wrote the letter, then when Glisson said yes he told Glisson, that he was innocent, and that he knew who had committed the murders. O’Malley signed an affidavit stating that Glisson was innocent.

The wheels of justice still turned slow and it was four months before the prosecutors agreed, to request the judge to set Glisson and Cathy Watkins free. Glisson was 18 when sent to prison and his daughter was a week old. Glisson was 37 when released from prison. The rest of the five prisoners wrongly arrested and imprisoned had their convictions overturned, in January of 2013 ending a nightmare for the five, who spent so many years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

Glisson returned to college and received his degree, then opened a fresh juice store named Fresh Take, which was derived from him having a fresh take on life, after being released from prison.

His story makes me wonder how many prisoners were wrongly convicted of murder, and are resigned to dying in prison. The prison system probably have a lot of Eric Glissons in prison, that are hoping that someone like Sister Joanna Chan takes an interest in their case, and contacts a lawyer that can help prove the prisoner is innocent.

Jim Ed Brown Dies at 81

Jim Ed Brown 1934-2015

Jim Ed Brown has died from lung cancer at the age of 81 in Franklin, Tennessee on June 11, 2015.

He was born James Edward Brown in Sparkman, Arkansas on April 1, 1934.

The Browns and Elvis Presley

Brown and his sisters Maxine and Bonnie formed the group The Browns and their first hit song was Looking Back To See If You Were Looking Back At Me which went to #8 on country charts in 1954Jim Ed wrote the song, which was recorded in later years by other artists. The Browns biggest hit was Three Bells recorded in 1959 and I heard a southern gospel group singing the song about 55 years later. The Browns broke up in 1967 as Jim Ed became a soloist.

Jim Ed and Maxine singing Looking Back To See many years later after the original recording from 1954. 

Brown had five Top 10 songs as a soloist with Pop a Top going to #3 in 1967, then Morning peaked at #4 in 1970, and Southern Lovin’ in 1973 topped out at #6, and his last Top 10 hits were 1974’s Sometime Sunshine and It’s That Time of Night both peaked at #10.

Jim Ed Brown singing Ain’t You Even Going To Cry

Brown revealed in September of 2014, that he was being treated for lung cancer. He announced in January that his cancer was in remission, but it was announced on June 3 by his daughter Kim, that the cancer had returned somewhere else, but not in the lungs. Then 9 days later he died in Williamson Medical Center in Franklin, Tennessee.

Bill Anderson gave him his Country Music Hall of Fame medallion on June 4, since Brown wouldn’t be alive for his CMA Hall of Fame induction this fall.

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius singing their #1 hit I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius formed a duet that began in 1976. Their recording of I Don’t Want To Have To Marry You went to #1 on the country chart. Five other singles made the Top 10 country charts.

Jim Ed and Helen singing I’m Leavin’ It Up To You

Country music has lost another of the icons in Jim Ed Brown. RIP

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.

The Voice Clobbering American Idol in TV Ratings Battle

 

 

American Idol Season 14 Judges – Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. 

If there was ever any doubt, about which singing competition show is more popular it has been removed. The Voice Season 8 has attracted less than 10 million viewers only 4 times this season, while American Idol attracted less than 10 million viewers 16 times.

American Idol Season 14 peaked on January 8 with 11.23 million viewers watching. The show bottomed out on Episode # 24, with 6.58 million fans, and attracted only 7.36 million in the show that aired last week.

The February 18th show of American Idol was the last to draw more than 10 million viewers. American Idol is down to only four remaining contestants, but the fans apparently don’t really care who wins, since the ratings continue to drop week to week.

The Voice Season 8 peaked on March 3, when Episode #4 attracted 15.54 million viewers. The show which aired last week drew only 9.49 viewers, which totals over 6 million fewer fans than those that watched it at its peak in March.

Still it has topped American Idol in the ratings all season, so should definite return this fall for Season 9.

However, American Idol seems to be on shaky ground. It still draws more viewers than most shows on the Fox weekly schedule, but Fox may rather drop the show, then see the show die a slow death, over the next year or two.

American Idol to me still is the better show, since it has produced some big stars, while the winners of The Voice seem to disappear after the finale in which they win.

Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood have had the most success, after winning Idol and are still both recording 10 years after Underwood won.

Season 5 through Season 13 winners have had some success, but nothing like the success of Clarkson and Underwood.

Season 12 winner Candace Glover and Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson have failed to sell many albums. Their lack of success may have cooled interest in the show by viewers.

The Voice while seeing a drop in their ratings, as the season went on is still the clear winner, in the battle of the TV ratings battle with American Idol.

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.

Kenny Rogers – From Houston Projects To Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers and First Edition singing Don’t Take Your Love to Town in 1972

Kenny Rogers was being interviewed by Dan Rather on The Big Interview, and it gave me a chance to learn more about Kenny Rogers. He told Rather about growing up in Houston in the projects, and that his mother only had a third grade education.

He said he didn’t realize how poor they were, till he started school and realized his family was on another rung.

Dan Rather interviewing Kenny Rogers on The Big Interview

Rogers was born Kenneth Donald “Kenny” Rogers on August 21, 1938, when the president was President Franklin Roosevelt. He had a poor, but happy childhood and his mom told him to be happy where you are, and he remembered that advice during his career.

21 of his songs have reached #1 on the record charts. It was 38 years ago in 1977, when Lucille became his first #1 country hit. Daytime Friends also went to # 1 in 1977. Love or Something Like It went to #1 in 1978, while The Gambler peaked at #2 that year.

Kenny Rogers singing his 1979 hit She Believes In Me

She Believes in Me, You Decorated My Life and Coward of the County went to #1 in 1979. The hits kept coming in 1980 with Lady going to #1. Two lesser known songs reached #1 on adult contemporary charts in 1981, but two of his biggest hits Love Will Turn You Around and Through the Years topped the adult contemporary charts in 1982.

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing Islands in the Stream

1983 would see Rogers have #1 duet hits with Sheena Easton on We’ve Got Tonight and Islands in the Stream with Dolly Parton.

His  #1 hits in 1984 were Rogers singing with Kim Carnes and James Ingram on What About Me. It went to #1 on adult chart, but only to #70 on country chart. Crazy was his other #1 hit in 1984.

Morning Desire was his only song that charted in 1985 and it went to #1. Tomb of the Unknown Love was his only #1 song in 1986. Another duet this time with Ronnie Milsap on Make No Mistake, She’s Mine in 1987 was his last #1 hit in the 80’s.

Kenny Rogers singing Through the Years a great song for a 50th wedding anniversary

12 years would pass, before he had another #1 hit. It was Buy Me a Rose, which was recorded with Allison Krauss and Billy Dean in 1999. His only other #1 songs were with Dottie West on When Two World Collide in 1978 and All I Ever Need is You, which was in 1979.

Starred in The Gambler movies

Kenny Rogers starred in a series of movies about The Gambler. He also appeared in 17 other films and television shows. His last movie was a 2001 movie Longshot. His last television appearance as an actor was in How I Met Your Mother six years ago in 2009.

He made six appearances as himself in 2014 and in five of those shows he sang, or was shown singing in a clip Islands in the Stream.

Five Marriages

He talked about his five marriages and how he may have been too selfish, and was away from home too much, because of his concert schedule. He expressed concern that he might not be around too much longer, for his 10 year old identical twin sons, since he is 76 and will be 77 in August.

His current marriage with Wanda Miller will reach 18 years on June 1. He was previously married to Marianne Gordon of Hee Haw fame for 16 years.

Kenny Rogers being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame

Country Music Hall of Fame

Kenny Rogers showed Dan Rather the Kenny Rogers exhibit, at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and it was an impressive exhibit. He was inducted in 2013 and he seemed to be glad that he wasn’t inducted sooner, when he might not have appreciated it as much as he does now.

He sold 10 million copies of his Greatest Hits album, which earned him the prestigious Diamond Award, for selling 10 million albums.

Rogers is currently on his Through the Years tour and is showing no signs of slowing down. He sure isn’t doing it for the money, since he is reportedly worth $250 million.

TOUR DATES

  • WINCHESTER, VA

  • March 07, 2015 7:00 p.m.
  • Patsy Cline Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • TAMPA, FL

  • March 21, 2015 5:00 p.m.
  • Busch Gardens – Gwazi Field – Food & Wine Festival
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 10, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • RAMA, ONTARIO, CANADA

  • April 11, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Casino Rama – Entertainment Centre
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LAS CRUCES, NM

  • April 24, 2015 9:00 p.m.
  • Las Cruces Country Music Festival – Downtown Las Cruces
    Through The Years World Tour
  • CHANDLER, AZ

  • April 25, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino
    Through The Years World Tour
  • ANGOLA, IN

  • May 08, 2015 7:30 p.m.
  • T. Furth Center for Performing Arts – Trine University
    Through The Years World Tour
  • GREELEY, CO

  • June 28, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • Greeley Stampede
    With Special Guest Ronnie Milsap
    Through The Years World Tour
  • LANCASTER, PA

  • July 16, 2015 8:00 p.m.
  • American Music Theatre
    Through The Years World Tour

 

The Kenny Rogers interview may be repeated on the AXS TV network, so check listings for the times. 

American Idol On Speed

Ryan Seacrest, Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. return for American Idol Season 14

American Idol Season 14 has been on speed the last two nights, with the males singing on Wednesday night and the females on Thursday night. Fox network has reduced the show to an hour this season, and gone were the long-winded judges opinions and the hi and bye conversations, with Seacrest and the contestants helped speed the show along. I think Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. are doing an excellent job of judging, but they won’t be on screen much, with the shows being shortened. The shows were frenetically paced on both nights, with two singers singing, then a round of commercials, then repeating till the show was over.

The show had to squeeze 12 singers into about 40 minutes, so there was no time for a lot of needless filler, like we saw in previous seasons. There is a huge difference in having two hours to sing 12 songs, than to have them sung in only an hour. The result shows will only be 30 minutes this year, so once American Idol is down to the 12 or so contestants, American Idol will only be on television screens an hour and-a-half a week.

Ryan Secrest can no longer build up the drama on result nights for an hour, so will have to cut to the chase sooner. There will still be time for guest singers on results night, since a half hour show really only lasts about 22 minutes, after leaving time for commercials.

Mark Andrew takes us back to the 70’s with his version of The Weight.

The Band’s version from the The Last Waltz movie featuring Leverne Helm and the Staples Singers from the late 70’s.

The Voice Pulling Away From American Idol in Ratings

The Voice continues to attract more viewers, than American Idol, as the ratings showed 14.6 million viewers watched the second episode of The Voice Season 8. Meanwhile, American Idol only attracted 11.76 million, in their highest rated episode, American Idol Season 14 has not drawn more than 11 million viewers, to any episode since February 4.  The Voice ratings are almost 3 million ahead of American Idol, when comparing most watched episodes of the two shows.

American Idol may never regain the popularity it once had, since the show peaked on May 21, 2003 finale, with 38.06 million visitors tuned in. The 2014 season finale bottomed out at 10.53 million viewers. It is not a good sign, when a show loses 28 million viewers.

The purpose of American Idol and The Voice is to produce stars, who make it big in the music business, and The Voice still hasn’t done that.

American Idol Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery and Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips have both had platinum albums and platinum singles. However, Season 12 winner Candice Glover’s first and only album so far sold only 27,000 copies and her only single peaked at #93 on the US chart.

Season 13 winner Caleb Johnson’s debut album, which was released in August of 2014 has sold only 11,000 albums. It is ironic, that Chris Daughtry who came in fourth in Season 5 has had the most success in record sales, among the rock singers on the show.

Daughtry and his band’s debut album sold 7 million copies worldwide, and his second album went platinum, and third album went gold. His fourth album has not done as well with only 90,000 albums sold, after the album was released in November of 2013.

Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood have been by far the most successful singers, who have been produced by American Idol, with both of them going strong many years, after they appeared on American Idol.

The Voice may be winning in television ratings, but American Idol is the winner when it comes to producing stars, that make it and sustain careers in music.

American Idol may not be around much longer, if the ratings don’t improve, but then it may be around for years to come, since they may have a problem finding a show that can garner higher ratings, than American Idol has done for many years.

Pharmacist Robert Courtney: Got Rich While Cancer Patients Suffered and Died

Robert Courtney At Work

Pharmacist Robert Courtney diluted chemotherapy drugs.

Many criminals have been featured on American Greed, since the first show was telecast in 2007, but pharmacist Robert Courtney took greed to a whole new level.

Courtney diluted chemotherapy drugs, so he could make even more money, by selling them to doctors in watered down form. The American Greed narrator last night said that Courtney would buy chemotherapy drugs in powder form, for $500 for the medicine,  and would then sell the drugs to doctors for $1,000. However, by diluting the drugs he was able to sell the doctors three diluted preparations for $3,000, which gave him a profit of $2,500, after he had originally spent $500 to buy the drugs.

The cancer patients were wondering why they weren’t having many side effects, from their chemotherapy medicine. It was because they were only receiving a third or even less, of their chemotherapy medicine. One man who didn’t experience the normal hair loss, after his chemotherapy sessions later would find out, that his cancer was spreading, to other parts of his body, because he hadn’t been given enough chemotherapy medicine.

Georgia Hayes, who was a victim of the watered down chemotherapy medicine sued Robert Courtney, because of his unethical behavior. She received a $2.2 billion judgement, but it is unlikely, that she actually received any money. However, she evidently never saw any money from the judgement. Her daughter appeared at the trial and said she wanted her mom to be there, when she graduated and was married, but her mom died before any of that happened.

Courtney was active in the Assembly of God Church in Kansas City and was a deacon and sang in the choir.

The diluted drugs were making Courtney a rich man and he had assets of $18.7 million. Investigators asked him why he did it, and he said he had promised the church $1 million, for a building project, but that made no sense, since he had 18 times that amount in his assets at the time.

These are the horrifying statistics from his criminal activity:

98,000 diluted prescriptions

4,200 patients

72 different drugs were diluted

Courtney pled guilty to 20 counts of tampering and adulterating chemical therapy drugs.He was sentenced to 30 years in 2002 and will be released in 2032 at the age of 80 years old.

The sentence didn’t fit the crime, since no telling how many patients died, who were given less than the required amount of chemotherapy medicine.

There was very little remorse coming from Courtney, except when he mentioned one patient by name saying that was the only one, that really hurt him, since the guy was a nice guy.

Courtney was so absorbed in building his bank account, that he forgot or didn’t care about the patients, that were taking longer to recover from their chemotherapy, because he had diluted their drugs.

The FBI agents who investigated the criminal activity of Courtney were sometimes moved to tears, after talking to patients, who thought they were getting the required amount of chemotherapy medicine in their IV bags.

He should have been sentenced to life, since so many of the patients he affected died because of his negligence.

American Greed features criminals mostly who took the money of investors, but Courtney wasn’t taking the money of investors, but was risking the health of cancer patients, who had pinned their hopes of recovery, on their chemotherapy medicine, for his own financial gain.

Bernard Ebbers: Billionaire to Prison Inmate

Bernard Ebbers in prison till the age of 87 at the least.

Bernard “Bernie” Ebbers was the first Bernie, to be imprisoned for investor fraud. Ebbers first formed LDDS, which was a discount telephone company in 1993. Two years later he changed the name of the company, to WorldCom in 1995. By then WorldCom owned 60 telecommunications companies, and in 1997 would merge with MCI for $37 billion.

Ebbers was born Bernard John Ebbers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on August 27, 1941 and is now 73 years old.

He operated a chain of motels in Mississippi and was known to have cleaned rooms himself, to save on housekeeping expenses.

The ultimate corporate shopaholic, Ebbers bought an obscure telephone carrier in the 1980s and went on a 17-year acquisition binge that turned it into the world’s largest telecom company. Alas, his passion for deal­making didn’t translate into the savvy necessary for running the complex business. When telecom stocks went south in 2000, the company’s massive debt was exposed. Ebbers tried to disguise it through fraudulent accounting. In 2005, three years after WorldCom filed for bankruptcy, he was convicted of overseeing $11 billion worth of accounting fraud. He’s now serving a 25-year prison term.

THE STAT: When Ebbers resigned, in 2002, WorldCom stock had fallen to $1.79 from a peak of $64.50 in 1999. (from CNBC.com)

The WorldCom debacle hit me personally, since I had an Army friend lose his job, because of the WorldCom collapse, since he worked for WorldCom. It devastated him and I don’t know if he will ever recover, from the loss of his job.

At one point Ebbers was earning $37 million a year, between his salary and other financial considerations. However, that didn’t stop him from ending free coffee for WorldCom workers, as coffee machines that charged 35 cents a cup took the place of the free coffee.

Home for Bernie Ebbers through 2028

Ebbers resigned from WorldCom on April 30,2002. He was later convicted of conspiracy, securities fraud, and false regulatory findings in 2005. He wouldn’t be sentenced till 2006, after the appeals process had been exhausted. He drove himself, to the Oakdale, Louisiana Federal Prison and reported for his incarceration.

This is what a typical day in prison is like for Ebbers:

A typical day would start at 6 a.m. with work starting 1 and a half hours later.

Work usually ends at 3:35 p.m.

At 4 p.m. comes “count time” when each inmate, unless he is assigned to the food service area, must be by their bunk, Truman said.

Mail call follows count time which is then followed by dinner, served in staggered shifts.

After that, inmates can typically walk in the recreation yard around the track or go to the chapel or the library, Truman said.

Depending on the institution, the day most likely finishes around 9 p.m. when inmates are required to be back in their bunks with lights out.

Ebbers will be required to wear a khaki uniform. An on-facility commissary allows inmates to buy personal items such as soap, toothpaste, or toothbrushes.

From money/cnn.com

Ebbers was convicted by a jury in March 2005 of nine counts of conspiracy, securities fraud and other crimes that led to the phone company’s July 2002 bankruptcy.

Ebbers transformed WorldCom into a telecommunications powerhouse through a string of takeovers. He was known as a grandfatherly CEO who preferred cowboy boots to suits, but he also has been described as an exacting, cost-obsessed boss.

WorldCom emerged from bankruptcy as MCI Inc., which was later acquired by Verizon Communications Inc (up $0.46 to $37.96, Charts). Ebbers agreed last year to forfeit almost all of his personal wealth in a settlement with WorldCom investors.

Mail can be sent to Ebbers at this address, which may not be the correct address after 2028. Former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards was housed, in the same facility until his release.

INMATE NAME & REGISTER NUMBER
FCI OAKDALE
FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION
P.O. BOX 5000
OAKDALE, LA  71463

Beach Boys: 56 Years and Counting

Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love, Dennis Wilson and Carl Wilson

There have been some great pop singing groups, over the last 56 years, but my favorite would have to be the Beach Boys. I saw them in concert at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii at the Conroy Bowl at some point between 1963-1965. I can’t pinpoint what year, but can say they put on a great concert that night.

Heard a great story about the Beach Boys, on a documentary a few minutes ago. Brian Johnston, who would join the group in 1965 told about a lady, who asked Brian if they were the beach boys, and he said “Yes we are”. So she told them she needed a table and a couple of chairs. It was a humbling experience, to know someone didn’t even know they were a singing group.

Brian Wilson 74 years old

BRIAN WILSON 

Brian Wilson was the leader of the Beach Boys and his songwriting skills enabled them, to still be active 54 years, after they were first founded in Hawthorne, California. However, the Beach Boys only had four #1 hits in their career with I Get Around in 1963 and Help Me Rhonda in 1964. Two years later in 1966 they would have their next #1 hit in Good Vibrations. 22 years would pass, before their last #1 hit Kokomo went to the top of the charts.

He mostly focused on surfing music from 1961-1965, but the Beach Boys rarely recorded surfing music after 1965.

Brian was the quarterback on his high school football team, and also played baseball was was a cross country runner.

The stress of writing, producing and concerts became too much for Brian to handle. He had a nervous breakdown on a plane flying from LA to Houston and decided to come off the road. However, he started taking LSD after coming off the road and got his inspiration for California Girls during the time he was into LSD.

His use of drugs expanded to cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines and psychedelics. Mickey Dolenz recalls taking LSD with Brian, John Lennon and Harry Nilsson in the 1970’s. Drugs continued to create problems for Brian, and he was alleged to have offered drugs to his children.

Brian has been hallucinating for the last 50 years, since he first started taking psychedelic drugs in 1965.

However, he continues to appear in concert mostly as a solo artist.

Al Jardine 74 years old

AL JARDINE

Al Jardine joined the Beach Boys, then left them twice, but still played with them in each calendar year, since their inception from 1961-1998. Jardine met Brian Wilson at Hawthorne High School in Hawthorne, California, when they both played for the football team.

Folk music was Al’s passion, but he met with resistance, when he tried to push the Beach Boys into being a folk band. He sang lead on the #1 hit Help Me Rhonda. He is the one that suggested that the Beach Boys record the Mamas and Papa’s hit California Dreamin’ which peaked at #8 on the charts.

Carl Wilson 1946-1998

CARL WILSON

Carl Wilson was a musician, who could play seven instruments, and his lead singing on God Only Knows shows how talented of a singer he was. He was heavily influenced musically, by Chuck Berry and the Beach Boys sound had a Chuck Berry guitar sound.

He became the leader of the band in concerts, after Brian came off the road in 1965. Carl was disillusioned in 1981, with the Beach Boys lack of focus,  and left the group, to be a solo artist that year. He would declare himself, to be a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

His lifetime smoking habit since he was 13 caused him, to have lung cancer, that was diagnosed in 1997. Carl continued to perform with the Beach Boys, even while undergoing chemotherapy. He would sit while performing, except for standing to sing God Only Knows. 

He died on February 6, 1998, while surrounded by his family, which included his wife Gina, who was the daughter of Dean Martin.

Dennis Wilson 1944-1983

DENNIS WILSON

Dennis Wilson actually lived the surfing lifestyle depicted in their early surf music. He was reluctant at first to sing with his brothers, but later became the drummer for the Beach Boys. His drumming skills were limited, so his brother Brian would hire drummers for the studio recording sessions.

He would be a distraction sometimes onstage. I watched the Live From Knebworth DVD of their concert at Knebworth England, and in during that concert he was intent on distracting Mike Love on stage.  His main claim to fame is that he co-wrote You Are So Beautiful with Billy Preston.

His connection with Charles Manson is told in this paragraph from his Wikipedia writeup:

In 1968, Dennis Wilson was driving through Malibu when he noticed two female hitchhikers, Patricia Krenwinkel and Ella Jo Bailey. He picked them up and dropped them off at their destination.[3] Later on Wilson noticed the same two girls hitchhiking again. This time he took them to his home at 14400 Sunset Boulevard near Will Rogers Park. Wilson then went to a recording session. When he returned at around 3 a.m., he was met in his driveway by a stranger, Charles Manson. When Wilson walked into his home, about a dozen people were occupying the premises, most of them female. Wilson became fascinated by Manson and his followers; the “Manson Family” lived with Wilson for a period of time afterwards at his expense. In late 1968, Wilson reported to journalists:

I told them [the girls] about our involvement with the Maharishi and they told me they too had a guru, a guy named Charlie who’d recently come out of jail after 12 years. … He drifted into crime, but when I met him I found he had great musical ideas. We’re writing together now. He’s dumb, in some ways, but I accept his approach and have learnt from him.

Things got worse with Manson and his followers and he eventually had to move out of his own house:

As Dennis Wilson became increasingly aware of Manson’s volatile nature and growing tendency to violence, he finally made a break from the friendship by simply moving out of the house and leaving Manson there. When Manson subsequently sought further contact (and money), he left a bullet with Wilson’s housekeeper to be delivered with a cryptic message, which Wilson perceived as a threat. In August 1969, Manson Family members perpetrated the Tate/LaBianca murders. Wilson rarely discussed his involvement with the Manson Family, and usually became upset when the subject was broached.

His life came to a tragic end on December 28, 1983, when he died at the age of 39 in a drowning accident, probably caused by drinking prior to the drowning.

Mike Love 75 Years Old

MIKE LOVE

Mike Love has been the front man for the Beach Boys and was the cousin of Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson. His lead singing has been instrumental, in the success of the Beach Boys. He is the one Beach Boy, that is not seen playing a musical instrument during the concerts.

He was the co-writer on their #1 hit Kokomo. His interest in transcendental meditation began in 1967. Brian wrote some lyrics for songs on their Friends influenced by his TM interest, but the album sold very few copies.

When the Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Mike made some uncomplimentary remarks about Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney:

Also in 1988, he, along with the other founding members of the Beach Boys, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he made an infamous hostile speech, calling out, among others, Mick Jaggerand Paul McCartney. He was, however, happy that Muhammad Ali was in attendance.

Mike has been married to Jacqueline Piesen since 1994. He had been married four times, before his current marriage.

Bruce Johnston 74 Years Old

BRUCE JOHNSTON

Bruce Johnston was not an original Beach Boy. He joined the group in April of 1965. He wrote the Barry Manilow hit I Write The Songs, which won the Song of the Year Award Grammy and has been recorded by 200 artist. This happened after he had left the Beach Boys in 1972. He returned in 1978 and has been with the Beach Boys in the last 37 years consecutively.

He was adopted by the William and Irene Johnston family and his father was president of Owl Rexall Drug Company in Los Angeles.

Bruce replaced Glen Campbell on the touring Beach Boys group. Campbell had filled in for Brian Wilson and Wilson needed a replacement for Campbell, so Johnston joined the group to play keyboards, guitar and harmonize and also played the saxophone.

Currently, Bruce is touring with Mike Love as the Beach Boys,since Mike owns the name, and had to sue Al Jardine for using the Beach Boys name for his group.

So the Beach Boys are now split into three acts, with Brian Wilson as a solo act, Mike and Bruce using the Beach Boys name and Al Jardine having his own group, and no longer using the Beach Boys name.

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

 

 

 

American Idol Draws 4 Million Less Viewers

American Idol returns for its 14th season in 2015 with judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez

and Harry Connick, Jr., with Ryan Seacrest who has hosted the show since its inception.

American Idol started its 14th season, by drawing 4 million fewer viewers, than they attracted for the first show of Season 13. That was a decline of 25 percent from the Season 13 premiere. The show reached its peak in Season 6, when they attracted 37.44 million viewers for the premiere that year in 2007.

The premiere this year attracted 26 million fewer viewers, than watched the show in 2007.

Randy Jackson, who was a mentor during Season 13 won’t be seen in Season 14, unless it is in a guest appearance, since he is no longer employed by the show.

There should be no Coca-Cola cups at the judge’s table in Season 14, since Coca-Cola no longer is a sponsor.

The Voice Providing Competition

The Voice on NBC has attracted more viewers recently, than American Idol, but The Voice has had less success in launching careers of their winning contestants.

Season 8 of The Voice premieres on February 23, 2015, so the two shows will be on different nights.

I have watched American Idol since Season 2, so will probably go down with American Idol ship, when it sinks out of sight in the next year or two. I like the chairs turning around gimmick on The Voice, but not a fan of the battle rounds competition. Not to say it isn’t a good show….it is just my loyalty to American Idol  supersedes that of The Voice.

Aftermath for American Idol Winners

American Idol has had some winners like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, that have sold millions of albums, but then they have their share of singers like Phillip Phillips who made second albums, that didn’t sell nearly as well as their first album, as shown in this Billboard.com review of his sales for his second album:

Phillip Phillips, Behind the Light

First-Week Sales: 42,000

Previous Album’s First Week: The World From the Wrong Side of the Moon, 169,000

Year-to-Date Sales: 123,000

Why It Looks Bad: The American Idol champ’s debut was buoyed by a hit single, “Home,” something his second has yet to produce. And more than a regular artist, people expect a sophomore slump from an Idol champ — so his low first-week tally wasn’t a good look.

Counterpoint: Like 50’s album, the year-to-date total sales for Behind the Lightaren’t terrible. In fact, with the holidays approaching, sales for Phillips’ second are higher than they’ve been in weeks, suggesting there’s life in the album yet.

Scotty McCreery is now 21, after winning Season 10 four years ago. His album and single sales have done well, with him his first album Clear Day going platinum and his second album Christmas With Scotty McCreery earning a gold album certification.

Caleb Johnson Season 13 Winner

Caleb Johnson, who won Season 13 has seen his singing career get off to a very slow start, as indicated by this entry about his first album at Wikipedia:

Chart performance

The album debuted on Billboard 200 at No. 24 with 11,000 copies sold in its debut week, giving him the distinction of having the lowest first week sales and inaugural chart position of any American Idol winner.[8]Johnson also has the distinction of being the first American Idol winner to have their Idol coronation song, “As Long as You Love Me,” fail to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

On the other hand Kelly Clarkson has released six albums and all six have gone platinum and have peaked at either #1, #2 or #3 on the album charts. She has recorded four #1 hits.

Carrie Underwood has recorded 12 #1 hits on the country charts.

It doesn’t seem possible that it has been 10 years, since Carrie Underwood won Season 4 of American Idol in 2005. All four of her albums have gone platinum. It is hard to believe, that she hasn’t recorded an album since 2012, so we should see another Carrie Underwood album released, in the not too distant future. Her 12 #1 hits is the most recorded by any of the American Idol winners.

Results Show Shortened To Half Hour

The Fox network will be shortening the Thursday night results show of American Idol, to half an hour in Season 14. It will be a welcome relief, to American Idol fans, who were tiring of all the filler used in the results show in past seasons. Ryan Seacrest won’t have so much time to stretch out the drama, of who will be going home that night.

Ryan Seacrest has promised that Season 14 will have great talent, but American Idol fans will believe that, when they see and hear the shows.

I personally believe this is the best set of judges since the debut of the show. It will be nice to not hear “Yo dog” and “In it to win it” in Season 14, even though we didn’t hear it in Season 13 either. It is a huge improvement over the train wreck of a judging panel, when Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey took their battle public and overshadowed the contestants, by their constant bickering.

The back stories for  the contestants are what make American Idol so great in my book. Like the blind man, who sang a Spanish song for Jennifer Lopez on last week’s show. He may not be the next American Idol, but he will be one of the highlights of Season 14 for me.

So far this season the focus has been more on the talented singers, and less on the singers who have no talent. We know the judges just see a small percent of the singers, since they have others, that weed out the less than prime-time ready singers.

The Voice may have passed American Idol in the ratings, but American Idol will be the show I watch, till it fades out for the last time.

By this time next year we should know if Season 14 has produced another Caleb Johnson or another Carrie Underwood, or a singer somewhere in the middle of the two singers.

American Greed: Television Documentary Series That Details How Greed Leads to Prison

American Greed is a television documentary series, that details how unscrupulous criminals deceive investors, into investing millions of dollars. Only problem is that the money invested almost always goes into the bank account, of the criminals whose only investment is in their lifestyle.

The series will be showing previously unaired shows starting Thursday at 10 PM ET on the CNBC Network. Previously aired shows can be found at the CNBC listings at your cable or satellite provider, and can be found, at various hours during the week, with most shows being shown after market hours. It is easy to catch up on shows that may have been missed, by searching for them and recording them as you find them for later viewing. Full episodes can also be seen at CNBC.com.

The show is aptly named, since the show centers on criminals, that offer ridiculously high interest rates, in return for an investor investing thousands or millions of dollars. Ponzi schemes continue to flourish, despite the demise of ruthless criminals like Bernie Madoff and Allen Stanford, whose Ponzi schemes ended, with Madoff receiving a 150 year prison sentence, with a 2159 release date, when he would be 220 years old, and Stanford received a 110 year sentence, that would make him 171, upon his release in 2122.

Many of the criminals profiled in the shows were successful businessmen already, but succumbed to the urge to make even more money, even if it meant crossing the line, into criminal activity that could lead to prison if exposed. It all goes back to the age old question, of how much money is enough. It is usually never enough, for a businessman, that wants to live a lavish lifestyle.

The Bob McLean profile on American Greed is a prime example, of a man who went too far, to amass a huge fortune. McLean hob-nobbed with the most influential politicians, while donating money to charities, which included the Country Music Hall of Fame. The episode tells about McLean showing how he kept track of the stock market, by having a ticker in his office. It was later revealed, that he didn’t invest a penny for a five and-a-half year period.

McLean made a sizable donation to Middle Tennessee State University, for a medical school which was named in his honor. However, his name was removed from the building, when it was revealed that he was a crook, that cared only about himself.

His close friend Ray Vanatta was one of the investors bilked out of millions of dollars. These paragraphs from a New York Times article tell about the financial devastation experienced by Vanatta:

Last spring, the scheme began to collapse. Ron Vannatta, who had been in the same fraternity as Mr. McLean and invested $8.5 million, was among the first to realize something was amiss. Mr. Vannatta said he had asked Mr. McLean to send him more than $350,000 to pay his 2006 taxes. But April 15 passed, and no check arrived. Other investors said they, too, stopped getting checks.

Mr. Vannatta and other investors sued, forcing Mr. McLean into involuntary bankruptcy. Three federal agencies raided his offices here.

When accountants pored over Mr. McLean’s books, they found no investments, just a paper trail showing his juggling some $20 million among investors and spending millions more on houses, cars and charitable contributions — even underwriting an independent movie.

“He got away with it for years,” Mr. Vannatta said. “He simply did not have enough new fish putting money in to pay the old fish.”

That same scenario has spelled the end for many Ponzi schemers, who see their world come crashing down. Ponzi schemes will work only as long, as the original investors keep getting their money, while newer investors may or may not get checks from the likes of McLean.

Ponzi schemes would be more successful, if the criminals would not spend money so fast. Instead they spend the money on themselves, then have nothing to pay the investors. Then the evasion tactics start, which include the bank had a problem, so that is why a check wasn’t paid on time.

There were only losers when Bob McLean committed suicide, in September of 2007, in a church parking lot in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

9/11 Survivors Not Exempt From Financial Ruin

This American Greed special show tells about how 9/11 survivors were victims of financial scams:

3 “9/11 Fraud” September 7, 2011
When Jamie Amoroso’s husband, a Port Authority officer, is killed on 9/11 her life is drastically changed. A trusted family friend and broker uses her friendship to create a joint account without Amoroso’s knowledge and forges her signature on wire transfers, stealing more than $248,000 from this young widow. Pennsylvania contractor, Thomas Cousar, defrauds the U.S. government by overcharging $800,000 for work done by his company in rebuilding the Pentagon after the attacks. Conman Patric Henn lies about a life partner lost in the twin towers and receives $68,000 from the American Red Cross. His efforts to collect additional money are thwarted when agencies cannot find any record of his partner’s death or even existence.

This is a complete list of American Greed shows from 2007-2014 and gives a much better range of get rich schemes, that usually mean someone is getting bilked out of their money. One particularly sad episode was when elderly people lost their houses, because of financial wrongdoing.

Anyone with a lot of money to invest should watch this show, before investing a cent, so they will know how wide of a range of crooks there are out there, who only care about themselves and will break laws to get that money.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_Greed_episodes

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. 

My Hometown: Growing Up In Pineville, Louisiana

Pineville, Louisiana is located across the Red River from Alexandria, Louisiana. It has a population of 14,555 according to the 2010 census.

Front of Alexandria Hall the main building at Louisiana College. 

Louisiana College where my father Dr. Paul R. Godfrey taught chemistry for 24 years was founded in 1906 and is now 108 years old. 

I was one year old, when our family moved to Pineville, Louisiana from West Lafayette, Indiana in 1946. Our first home was located on 110 Lawrence Boulevard if I remembered the correct house number. We later moved to 1608 Holloway Drive and then moved to 313 Burns Street in February of 1952.

We started attending College Drive Baptist Church on College Drive in Pineville in 1948. The church was originally comprised, of Army barrack buildings moved from Camp Livingston. I remember apple boxes being used as pews in the early days of the church, before the modern building shown in the photo was built. The church was founded in 1947 and is now 67 years old. I can remember driving home for supper one night and the Masters V gospel singing group had their bus in front of the church. This was when James Blackwood, Jake Hess, J.D. Sumner, Rosie Rozell and Hovie Lister comprised the Masters V. We attended College Drive for many years and I later led the music there, from 1997-2007, before we moved to Tennessee.

The home at 1608 Holloway Drive was unusual, in that our home was only separated by only a ditch, from the railroad track that ran next to us.

My first year at Pineville Elementary started in 1950 and remember walking to school, with my older brother for about a mile to school each day. I can still remember the 10 cent school lunch back then. The price has probably gone up over the years since then.

Moved To 313 Burns Street

I can remember living at 313 Burns Street. We had a cow, some sheep and chickens back then. It was like living on a farm inside the city limits.

Radio Hall of Fame disc jockey Dick Biondi once worked for KSYL in Alexandria, Louisiana.

Dick Biondi lived in the house behind us for a while, and he worked for KSYL radio station. He would later become famous, as a disc jockey in Chicago and was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1998 and is now 82 years old. His main claim to fame is that he was the first disc jockey to play a Beatles song according to his Hall of Fame page. This is his Radio Hall of Fame page, which includes a very short clip of his radio program.

http://www.radiohof.org/dick_biondi.htm

 

I can remember going to see Roy Rogers dock his motorboat on the Red River and he stayed at Hotel Bentley.

Earl K. Long once gave away free chickens at a political rally at the Trailways station in Alexandria.

Faith Ford

Kelly Ripka and Faith Ford

The best nationally known person from Pineville would probably be Faith Ford. She attended Pineville High School many years after I attended there. She is best known for playing Corky on Murphy Brown television show. She also appeared in Hope and Faith.

The middle building is drugstore where we bought our prescriptions.

Veteran’s Hospital where I still go for medical services many years after this photo was taken.

Vincent Price

I can remember the time Vincent Price made an appearance at Louisiana College, with protesters carrying signs that were protesting him appearing in a liquor commercial.

This photo was taken from the Pineville side of the Red River, that was adjacent to Alexandria, Louisiana. The pedestrian walkers going across the bridge had to be careful, to see if there were any missing planks, to avoid falling into the river. I walked across the bridge for many years as I walked to job at the Alexandria Daily Town Talk. One time I was walking across the bridge to work early in the morning, when I was stopped by police and questioned by police, since a murder had just been committed at a night club in Alexandria. I convinced them I was not a murderer and they let me proceed on to work.I never saw the Red River look as blue as depicted in the photo.

I attended this school from 1950-1958 and it burned down in 1959.

I can remember finding out about the fire that night and rode my bike the mile to school. A Town Talk photographer had climbed up the fireman’s ladder, that was attached to the fire truck to get a photo looking down into the fire. I was a sophomore in high school the night of the fire. Had a lot of memories over the years at Pineville Elementary School and it was sad that the building only lasted one year after I started high school.

Summary:

68 years have passed since we first moved to Pineville in 1946. We used to ride our bikes out Highway 28, without encountering much traffic, but today Highway 28 is not the safest place to ride a bicycle, with so many businesses along the route now and many cars traverse Highway 28 today.

We left Pineville in 2007 to move to Tennessee, but it will always be home for us, since I spent most of my life here. It is the perfect size for me. Not too large and yet not too little. Pineville has a lot of businesses for a city of less than 15,000.

Maybe someday we can move back to Pineville. We do come back from time to time, for appointments at the Veteran’s Hospital. I have always been puzzled why the Veteran’s Hospital uses Alexandria as their address, when the buildings are in Pineville.

Thanks for the memories Pineville, since you will always be home to me.

LBJ: JFK Assassination Kept Him Out of Prison

Bobby Baker and President Lyndon Johnson

If President John F. Kennedy hadn’t been assassinated on November 22, 1963, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson would have almost certainly been removed from office.

Vice President Johnson was having problems buying life insurance, after a 1955 heart attack. Bobby Baker contacted Don Reynolds, who sold the insurance to LBJ. I thought Reynolds was doing LBJ a favor, but LBJ requested some kickbacks from Reynolds.

Stone writes that Lyndon B. Johnson instructed Richard Nixon to hire Ruby onto the House of Representatives payroll in 1947

President Lyndon Baines Johnson: Most to Gain From JFK Assassination

This is some background of why Vice President Johnson was so concerned, about what was going on, in Washington on November 22, 1963. Whether LBJ knew about the assassination in advance may never be known, but if the whole story had been revealed to media and to the public surrounding the kickbacks LBJ was receiving LBJ almost surely would have been sent to prison.

On the afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, Don Reynolds, the Maryland broker who had written the life insurance policy for Johnson, was telling investigators for the Senate Rules Committee that he had been pressured to buy advertising time on an Austin television station owned by Johnsoneven though the insurance salesman was unknown in Texas and could hardly expect to generate business there.
“And on November 22 … after lunch, in the Senate Rules Committee investigation [of] Bobby Baker, Don Reynolds was going to really spill his guts. But when President Kennedy was killed, it basically killed the Baker investigation. You know, President Johnson acted like he did not know me. … I think the Reynolds testimony plus the absolute hatred of Bobby Kennedy of Johnson [would have forced LBJ off the 1964 Democratic ticket if Kennedy had lived]. Poor old Walter [Jenkins, one of Johnson’s most trusted aides, who had worked with Reynolds to buy the advertising time on the Johnson station], had President Kennedy not been killed, he either would have had to take the Fifth Amendment and quit, or tell the truth and Vice President Johnson would have definitely been off the ticket in 1964, had it [been] shown that he had really been the party in the back of this.”

The Spartacus Educational website goes into more detail about the background, of Don Reynolds and the kickbacks he paid to LBJ. Reynolds sent a Magnavox stereo costing $585, when including setup and delivery. Reynold was also told to purchase $1,208 of advertising from a television station, in Austin Texas that was owned by Lady Bird Johnson.

President John F. Kennedy shown with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson on day of assassination.

Can’t help but wonder if Vice President Johnson knew in advance, that President John F. Kennedy would be dead before the day was over. There is only circumstantial proof, that LBJ knew exactly what was going to happen and when. There still has not been smoking gun evidence, that reveals that LBJ was behind the assassination of JFK.

There is plenty of circumstantial evidence and motives to be the mastermind of the assassination:

Had most to gain by the assassination, by becoming president and no longer being in the background, while President Kennedy and his brother Bobby Kennedy kept LBJ, out of the loop as much as possible.

Reportedly had a meeting with Texas oilmen, underworld figures and Richard Nixon the night before the assassination.

Told his mistress Madeleine Duncan Brown that night: “Those SOB’s will never embarrass me again”.

LBJ had motorcade routed through Dealey Plaza.

Don Reynolds was testifying before the Senate Rules committee and was being questioned about kickbacks, at the time JFK was being assassinated in Dallas.

Life magazine was going to release information about the illegal activities of LBJ.

Fingerprints of LBJ’s hitman Mac Wallace found on sixth floor of Texas Schoolbook Depository Building. ( I still believe Oswald was in the sixth floor window, so witnesses would think he was the one firing the shots.)

The only way LBJ would be safe from his name being mentioned in the Senate Rules committee testimony was to become president on November 22, 1963.

JFK Assassination Smoking Gun

Next week will be the 51st anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. You would think, that 51 years later there would have been a smoking gun, that would have proved there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK.

All I know is that LBJ had the motive to have JFK assassinated, since he became president immediately. He was able to stop the Senate Rules committee investigation, for the most part and prevented his name, from being mentioned in the testimony.

I am not going to say that LBJ had JFK assassinated, but I think he surely had knowledge of it. It was a matter of him using the power, of the presidency to cover it up.

It was no coincidence, that so many witnesses that saw the assassination or had knowledge of who was involved suddenly died.

It is looking like the only way we will ever know more about the assassination, than we do now is when evidence that has been locked up for 51 years is released to the media and the general public.

There is no doubt, that if JFK had not been assassinated, that LBJ would have had to serve time for receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars, in kickbacks during his time in office.

It is no coincidence that LBJ and JFK were the richest presidents, since Teddy Roosevelt ended his presidency in 2009.

Other Articles Related To Assassination:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2012/04/02/the-transition

Click to access LBJ-Reynolds.pdf

http://spartacus-educational.com/JFKreynoldsD.htm

http://jfkfacts.org/assassination/poll/why-roger-stones-jfk-book-cant-be-dismissed/

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/jfk50/reflect/20131123-swift-merciless-transition-elevated-lyndon-johnson-of-texas-to-the-presidency.ece

Classic Southern Gospel Quartets – The Blackwood Brothers

This record album was my favorite Blackwood Brothers album. It was released in 1964 and my favorite

songs on the album were I’ve Got To Walk That Lonesome Road, The Old Country Church, God Made

                   A Way, In Times Like These and Precious Memories. I played this album so much I wore out grooves on

the record and had to order a new copy.

The Blackwood Brothers Quartet bus which can be found at the Southern Gospel Music Museum at Dollywood.

The original Blackwood Brothers quartet was formed 80 years ago in 1934. The group was founded in Choctaw County, Mississippi and some of the descendants of that group are stil singing, under the Blackwood Brothers Quartet name in 2014.

Roy Blackwood, James Blackwood, Doyle Blackwood and R.W. Blackwood was the original configuration for the Blackwood Brothers in 1934.

Tragedy For Blackwood Brothers in 1954

Tragedy struck the Blackwood Brothers Quartet, when two of its members R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles were killed, in a plane crash on June 30, 1954. Cecil Blackwood would later replace R.W. Blackwood and J.D. Sumner replaced Bill Lyles as bass after the plane crash.

The Absolute Gospel website has an excellent article describing the accident and the aftermath:

http://absolutelygospel.com/index.php?/content/articles/3948

Trendsetters For Southern Gospel Innovations

The Blackwood Brothers were the first southern gospel group, to customize a bus for traveling to concerts.

They also founded the National Quartet Convention which started in 1957 and is still active 57 years later and is held every September.

James Blackwood 1919-2002

I was fortunate to see James Blackwood sing with the Blackwood Brothers many times over the years, when they performed in concerts in the Central Louisiana area. He was an excellent spokesman for the group, during their concerts and was one of my favorite Blackwood Brothers singers.

J.D. Sumner 1924-1998

J.D. Sumner is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records, as singing the lowest note ever sung. I remember in one Bill Gaither video, that he was singing a song, when the organist started to play faster, than Sumner wanted him to. The look he gave the organist was priceless. It may or may not have been a prank on Sumner, but if it was a prank it was not well received.

Two of my favorite Blackwood Brothers Quartet songs featuring Sumner were I’ve Got To Walk Than Lonesome Road and There’s A Light. 

J.D. Sumner on stage with Elvis Presley in 1976, which was a year before Elvis died.

J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet often toured with Elvis Presley. Still not sure if southern gospel was represented well during this time, since they were singing so much secular music during these years. J.D. Sumner gave credit to Elvis for helping him stop being an alcoholic. Shame J.D. couldn’t return the favor and convince Elvis to stop using drugs. Instead J.D. was more of an enabler and more or less discounted reports, that Elvis was a user, when he debunked those reports at the funeral for Elvis. That was before the extent of drug usage was known by the general public, but Sumner with his close proximity to Elvis probably knew exactly what Elvis was doing with drugs.

The golden era of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet are long gone, but their music will live on for years to come. I have a collection of their music from the early days till later years on cassette. It is great to hear the gospel style singing and piano playing, that most of us grew up with in the 50’s and 60’s.

James and J.D. and most of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet singers of the past are gone, but they will never be forgotten.

 

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

38 Years of Newspaper Production – 1966-2004

1883- Present

The first Alexandria Daily Town Talk newspaper was published on March 17, 1883. I started working there in 1966, when the paper was 83 years old and today it is 131 years old, so 48 years have passed since I first set foot inside the Alexandria Daily Town Talk at the time. Today it is known as The Town Talk.

I had returned earlier from my tour of duty in Hawaii and Vietnam and was 21 and looking for work. The lady from the Louisiana Employment called and said there was an opening at the Town Talk. Found out later that the previous worker had drowned and they needed someone to take his place.

Earning $11.20 a Day

The interviewer told me they usually don’t start workers, as much pay as I was getting.  I found out later, that I was making the minimum wage of $1.40 an hour, which came out to $11.20 an eight hour day and $56 a week. The pay for a typical 22 day month was $246.40 and $2,912 a year. Four years later I had worked my way up to $3 an hour.

This is the way we saw hot metal type when working with it – upside down and backwards.

First Job As a Dump Boy

My first job was as a dump boy and went to work on August 24, 1966, and  received type from those working with the linotype machines. They would bring the trays called galleys with very hot metal slugs, with each slug being about an inch tall and a line of type printed on it. The proofreaders would read a proof of the story in that galley and if there was a mistake we would take out the old lines and insert the corrected lines. Then we would turn the galleys around, so the page compositors could place the type in the page forms, in the proper place according to a page layout designed by the wire desk or sports department.

Stopped By Police

When I first started working at Town Talk my starting time was 5:30 AM. One morning I was walking the usual two miles to work and was crossing the Murray Street bridge, when I was stopped by police. Someone had been killed at the Melody Grill Bar that morning, so they questioned me, before realizing I was just walking to work and had nothing to do with the murder.

Became A Page Compositor

After I had been dump boy for a while I became a page compositor. Our job was to place the ads in the page, then place photos and type to fill in the rest of the space on the page. Each page form was on a truck with wheels. that sometimes was called a turtle for some unknown reason.

We were using the hot metal process, so we used zinc photos or photos from scan-o-graver that would make photos. Things really got hectic around deadline time, as we rushed to get the pages ready for the press. After we finished the pages a pressman would process the pages in a mat rolling machine, that would make impressions of the page, that would be placed on the printing press.

Sunday Paper Starts in May of 1967

The first Sunday paper was published by the Town Talk in May of 1967 and has been published each Sunday, for the last 47 years since that date. I had been walking to and from work, but with the night hours finally bought my first car a 1954 Oldsmobile, so I wouldn’t have to walk through town at 1 AM in the morning.

Friday Night Football

To say nights at work during Friday night football were chaotic is putting it mildly. The sportswriters would return to Town Talk, to write-up their articles on that night’s game. It took time for them to write their articles and then sports desk person had to decide how to lay out the pages and what photos of the games to use. Those of us in page composition couldn’t do much, till the pages were designed and we received the layouts. The sportswriters would work with us on the page, in case we had any problems and if an article ran long they would tell us what part of the article to cut, so it would fit in the page form. It was always a relief to turn the last page over to the pressroom, so they could get it on the press, as soon as possible.

Election Night Fun

Elections were a lot of fun, if someone thought working way past time to leave work is fun. We had to wait till late at night, so we could get the latest results of the elections in the newspaper and we would make a second edition to get even later election results. Election nights would see many of the politicians gathering at the Town Talk, so they could see firsthand how many votes they were receiving.

Pressman Died At Work

I was talking to a pressman about a pro football game and it wasn’t long after, when I found out he had a heart attack and died at work. He had been a long time employee, but it still came as a shock to me, when learning he had passed away.

Married and Moved to Riverfront Street

In September of 1970 was married and moved to Riverfront Street in Pineville. I walked to work, so my wife could drive to her work and I remember there was a Russian lady living on Riverfront, that was living in a tent. Never did find out what had happened to her, after the last day I saw her.

Our $75 a month rent was too much to pay at once, so our landlord let us split it up into two $37.50 payments.

End of Hot Metal Composition

It was in 1972, that the Town Talk ended hot metal composition and started using cold type composition. Those of us working hot metal no longer had ink all over our hands, since we were working with paper. Working with the hot metal had caused most of us in hot metal composition, to have to have hernia surgery.

We would have to lift full pages of type from the bottom shelves of page racks, which was extremely heavy, since the full-page galleys were full of metal that was inch high. Imagine how heavy that is when you look at a page, in the newspaper and think of it being full of inch high metal.

Cold Type Composition 

Now we were no longer working with metal, but worked with paper type. We now used scissors, glue sticks, X-Actos and razor blades, to work on the new technology. It took some getting used to the new technology, but thanks to Elvis Presley I wouldn’t be working in hot type composition from April of 1974 till March of 1976, except at the very end.

Elvis Presley Finds Me a New Job

We were watching television, once when we found out Elvis Presley was going to be in concert at Monroe, Louisiana.  So we bought our tickets and drove to Monroe later to see the show. While we were driving to the concert we saw the local newspaper plant and my wife suggested I try to find a job there. I sent in my application and was called in for an interview and was hired. So if it hadn’t been for Elvis Presley I would have never worked for the Monroe Morning World.

Had worked for Town Talk for almost eight years, when I got the Monroe Morning World job and got a huge raise from $159 a week to $167 a week. I didn’t know at the time that I would earn $5,000 more in my first year at the Morning World, because they offered much more overtime. In fact I worked 49 days in a row, without a day off for one stretch. Boss kept asking if I wanted to work both my days off and I kept saying yes.

To Be Continued – Part 2

Sgt. Carter Actor Frank Sutton Not Good Enough For Marines

Frank Sutton 1923-1974

 

Frank Spencer Sutton was born October 23, 1923 in Clarksville, Tennessee. He is best known for his portrayal of Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle. 

His father was a linotype operator for the Nashville Tennessean and died, when his son Frank was 14 years old.

Sutton tried to join the Marines, but was turned down for failing to pass the physical, because one arm was bent too far back at the elbow.

However, he was able to join the Army and participated in 14 assault landings, including those at Leyte, Luzon and Corregidor during World War II.

After the war he returned to work as an announcer on a Nashville radio station. However, that didn’t go so well, when his boss turned on the radio and heard silence, since Sutton had fallen asleep. That ended his radio career, but it helped launch his acting career, since he went to Columbia University and graduated  cum laude in Dramatic Arts.

First Television Job

Sutton’s first television acting job was on Captain Video and His Video Rangers in 1949.

He appeared in his first movie The Glenn Miller Story in 1954, but it was an uncredited role. He had another uncredited role in 1955 in the movie Marty.

His next major role was in Town Without Pity  in 1961, in which he portrayed Sgt. Chuck Snyder

First Big Break With Gomer Pyle USMC

Frank Sutton had acted in many movies and television shows from 1949-1964, but his big break came, when he was cast as Sgt. Vince Carter on Gomer Pyle USMC. He portrayed a tough guy sergeant, who encounters a green recruit in Gomer Pyle, who was portrayed by Jim Nabors. It was a classic match of a tough Marines sergeant, who was frustrated by a gentle Gomer time after time.

Both Sutton and Nabors were perfectly cast in their roles as Sgt. Carter and Gomer Pyle. Sgt. Carter is the sergeant, that most of us who served in the military encountered at some point, during our tour of duty, so was easy to identify with. We can all remember recruits like Gomer who didn’t have a clue, about what military life was all about. However, we also know that a recruit like Gomer would not have lasted through boot camp in real life.

Sgt. Carter helping Gomer Pyle through his first difficult days of military service.

Gomer infuriated Sgt. Carter by his actions, but Gomer never retaliated in kind. Gomer was a prime example of a soft answer turning away the wrath of Sgt. Carter.

The show was on television from 1964-1969. Sutton and Pyle both appeared in all 150 episodes of the show.

CBS originally rejected the show, since they were afraid the military theme would not go over well with their female viewers. However, when Danny Thomas the producer threatened to take the show to NBC, which caused CBS to rethink their decision and carry the show on the CBS network after all.

The show apparently used real Marines in some of the scenes, since Jim Nabors didn’t like watching the opening scene of the introduction to the show, which showed the Marines marching, since several of those soldiers had been killed in Vietnam later.

Gomer Pyle was never higher than private first class during the five-year run of the show.

Nabors decided to leave Gomer Pyle after five seasons, to star in the Jim Nabors Hour, which ran for 1969-1971. Sutton would appear on only 3 of the 51 episodes of the show.

The television of career for Sutton was over for the most part, after Gomer Pyle left the air. He appeared in five segments of Love American Style from 1970-1973.  He acted in two TV movies  Ernie, Madge and Artie (1973)  and Hurricane (1974).

The role of Sgt. Carter not only made him a star, but it also ended his acting career, since he was too closely identified with the Sgt. Carter character.

Frank Sutton died of a heart attack at the age of 50, in Shreveport, Louisiana on June 28,1974 while rehearsing for a dinner theater production. Sutton had went from television stardom, to acting on the dinner theater circuit, which showed how fast his fame flamed out after being Sgt. Carter.

Sadly, Gomer Pyle is one of the more difficult shows to find in reruns today. Even when it was being shown in reruns it was being shown in the early morning hours like around 4:30 in the morning.

It was one of my favorite television shows ever and would like to be able to see those shows again, if they are ever shown again.

 

The Carbonaro Effect

Michael Carbonaro pours a drink into what appears to be a levitating cup on The Carbonaro Effect on Tru TV.

 

I was going through the on-screen programming guide, when I ran across a show called The Carbonaro Effect. I was curious about the show, so I recorded one episode. I liked it so much have been recording every episode I can find.

The show can be seen at 10 PM ET and 9 PM CT on truTV.

 

The Carbonaro Effect is a fun show to watch, as the victims of the tricks try to figure out what just happened. Michael Carbonaro the magician/host of the show is perfectly cast, as his easygoing way with the victims of his magic tricks leads some of them to believe his off the wall reasons for the magic occurring.

Below is the video of the magic trick done with the bowling ball and basketball:

Some of my favorite tricks are when Michael is looking for a key in the trunk of a car and “accidentally” locks himself in the trunk. The man he was talking to when this happens tries, to figure out how to get him out of the trunk. Before he can get him out Michael comes out the front door of the hotel and says “I found the key”. The look on the face of the man, who was trying to help him get out is priceless, when Michael appears with the key.

Another favorite trick is when he thinks he has the winning ticket for a new car in a raffle. There is a security guard with a table in front of the car which is in front of a temporary garage. Michael gives him some identification, but then realizes he left his winning ticket at home, so tells security guard he will walk home to get his ticket.

After Michael leaves the security guard looks behind him where the car was parked and the car was gone. A few minutes later Michael drives up in the same car, that he was supposed to win, and tells the security guard that he found the winning ticket. The security guard is going crazy trying to figure out how Michael got the car, that he was supposed to be guarding. You have to see this magic trick to really comprehend how good of a trick that it was.

The following clip shows Michael knocking out passenger windows of cars and telling the owners, that all new cars today come with four windows. He tells them the first window is a dealer window and that all they have to do is break the dealer window and roll up the good windows. Some of the victims of this trick are not exactly happy campers to see him smash out their windows.

 

The Carbonaro Effect is totally different from most shows on television today. This article from Newsday says that the show has been renewed for another 13 weeks, before it was ever shown on television:

http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/the-carbonaro-effect-long-island-magician-michael-carbonaro-debuts-his-pranks-on-trutv-1.7998828

I don’t want to give away any more of the tricks, but will say that another favorite trick is when he pours a huge pitcher of a drink, into a small cup and the cup still isn’t full. The lady tells him, that he is messing with her cognitive development, after looking amazed, that so much drink was poured into such a small cup.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

George Strait – 60 #1 Hits and Counting

George Strait

 

George Strait was born on May 18, 1952, in Poteet, Texas and recently celebrated his 62nd birthday.

Strait may not be mentioned nearly as much as country singers like Hank Williams, George Jones, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, but he leads them all in #1 hits. Hank Williams had 11 #1 hits, if you include posthumous #1’s in Your Cheatin’ Heart and Kawliga.

George Jones had 14 #1 hits, but five of those were duets with female country singers. Conway Twitty had 40 #1 hits, while Merle Haggard had 38 #1 hits.

However, George Strait has outdone them all, when it comes to #1 singles with 60 songs reaching the top of the charts.

Only Elvis Presley and the Beatles have had more gold and platinum albums, than Strait. He won his first Entertainer of the Year Award in 1989 from the Country Music Association and won it again, as recently as 2013 showing his popularity has not waned since he recorded his first album in 1981, which was 33 years ago.

Just found out today, that George Strait was stationed at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii during the Vietnam War and may have been in the same unit I was, since he was a finance clerk and the finance clerks I knew were in our 25th Administration Company as part of the 25th Infantry Division.

George Strait and wife Norma

George Strait married his wife Norma Voss on February 23, 1972. They have now been married for 42 years.

George Strait Jr.

George Strait has collaborated with his son George Jr. on some of his songwriting projects.

Jenifer Strait and her dad

 

Tragedy struck the Straits when their daughter Jenifer was killed in an automobile accident on June 25, 1986 in San Marcos, Texas. She was 13 years old.

 

 

This 72 song collection of George Strait music is the only George Strait music in my collection. It was released in 1995 and yet is now obsolete, since he has recorded another 19 years of music since then. However, it has all his early hits like Amarillo By Morning, Unwound, Cowboy Rides Away, All My Ex’s Live in Texas, You’re Something Special To Me, The Fireman and too many others to name them all.

George Strait and Alan Jackson singing Murder on Music Row

A lot of the names of songs in the box set may not be instantly recognizable, but that doesn’t matter, since any song George Strait sings is something special. 112 Amazon reviewers gave the box set 5 stars and only one gave it 1 star.  You will want these songs on your MP3 player as soon as possible. Amazon is currently selling the box set new for $29.88, but can be bought used for as little as $8.79 for the 4 CD box set.

His first hit song was Unwound which climbed to #6 on the country music charts. His first #1 song was Fool Hearted Memory in 1982. 1983 would see Strait release two more #1 songs in A Fire I Can’t Put Out and  You Look So Good in Love.

George Strait singing Cowboy Rides Away on December 31, 1986 at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Strait went from one #1 song in 1982 to two #1 songs in 1983, then had four #1 songs in 1984, with Right or Wrong, Let’s Fall To Pieces Together and  Does Fort Worth Cross Your Mind all going to #1. The Chair would be his only #1 song in 1985, but 1986 would start a streak of 11 consecutive #1 singles starting with Nobody In His Right Mind Would Have Left Her and ending with Ace in the Hole in 1989.

George Strait closing out his New Year’s Eve concert with Marina Del Ray and Unwound. A woman comes out of the audience and runs on stage and hugs Strait at the 5:08 mark in the video.

River of Love was his last #1 song in 2008. That is a 26 year stretch from his first # 1 song till the last one.

George Strait is in the last days of his Cowboy Rides Away farewell tour which ends June 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas.

 

George Strait is the best role model ever for a country music singer in my book.

 

 

             

                                                                                   

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

President Reagan Assassination Attempt: 33 Years Later

 

                                                                                                                         President Ronald Reagan pushed by Secret Service agents into the presidential limousine.

 

The United States came very close to having two presidents assassinated in 18 years, when President Ronald Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr. 33 years ago, who wanted to impress actress Jodie Foster, by shooting President Reagan the 40th president of the United States. President John F. Kennedy the 35th president had been assassinated only 18 years earlier in Dallas, Texas.

President Reagan had been in office only 69 days, when the assassination attempt took place on March 30, 1981.

Rohm RG 14 revolver used by John Hinckley Jr in attempt to kill the president.

 

The day started off as another normal busy day for the president and he entered the Washington Hilton Hotel at 1:45 PM ET. He was delivering a speech to AFL-CIO representatives. The president and his party emerged from the hotel, at 2:27 PM ET and chaos ensued as Hinckley fired six shots at the party, which took only 1.7 seconds to fire the six shots. The bullets were the Detonator type, that were supposed to explode on impact, but only the bullet hitting Brady exploded. Hospital staff had to wear bullet proof vests, when removing the bullet from Officer Delahanty’s neck, because the bullets still could explode at any time.

1st bullet – Hit White House Press Secretary James Brady in the head.

2nd bullet – Hit District of Columbia Police Officer Thomas Delahanty in back of head, as he tried to protect President Reagan.

3rd bullet – Hit window of building across the street.

4th bullet – Hit Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy in abdomen as he attempted to shield President Reagan.

5th bullet – Hit bullet resistant glass window of door of limousine.

6th bullet – Ricocheted off the armored side of the limousine and hit President Reagan in his left underarm, grazing a rib and lodging in his lung, stopping nearly 1 inch (25mm) from his heart.

                                                                                                                                                          Secret Service Agent Robert Wanko wields Uzi at shooting scene.

Aftermath of Shooting

Chaos ensued after the shooting as onlookers and Secret Service agents brought Hinckley to the ground and relieved him of his gun. Meanwhile, others at the scene were trying to assist the shooting victims.

The presidential limousine left the scene and Secret Service Special Agent in Charge, who had earlier pushed Reagan into the limousine had first thought Reagan was alright. Parr ordered the limousine to return to the White House, after saying Rawhide is OK, with Rawhide being the code name for the president.  However, after seeing that the president was in pain he ordered the limousine, to be driven to George Washington Hospital.

The limousine arrived at hospital only four minutes later and the president attempted to walk on his own, but his knees buckled and he had to be assisted, as he entered the emergency room.

President Reagan was upset that his suit was cut off of him, since it was a $1,000 suit and had been a gift from his wife Nancy. His systolic blood pressure was only 60, while it was normally 140. It helped the president by being shot  with a 22 caliber bullet, rather than a 38 caliber, which may have lessened his chance of survival.

The president’s wife Nancy had learned of his shooting and arrived at  the hospital in time for the president to tell her “Honey, I forgot to duck”.  He later would tell the operating room staff “I hope you are all Republicans”.

Benjamin L. Aaron the surgeon performed a thoracotomy which lasted 105 minutes. The president lost half of his blood volume during the surgery.

President Reagan was the first president to survive after an assassination attempt.

Vice President George Bush was in Fort Worth, Texas and when told the president was alright went on to Austin to make a speech. After learning the seriousness, of the president’s injuries Bush flew to Washington immediately.

Meanwhile back at the White House, Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that he was in charge at the White House, despite being fourth in line of succession, when House speaker Tip O’Neill should have been next in line, since President Reagan was unable to govern and Vice President Bush was in Texas at the time.

President Reagan left the hospital on April 11 after 13 days in the hospital. He didn’t return to the Oval Office, until April 25 which was about 27 days after the shooting.

John Hinckley Jr. mug shot on day of assassination attempt.

Background of John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Jr. was born May 29, 1955 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He will be 59 years old next month and was 25 on the day, that he shot President Reagan 33 years ago.

Hinckley moved with his family to Evergreen, Colorado when his father moved his Hinckley Oil company headquarters from Dallas.  He graduated from high school, but seemed to have little ambition. He attended Texas Tech University from 1974-1980.

The movie Taxi Driver released in 1976 had a character played by Robert DeNiro, who was planning to assassinate the president. Hinckley saw this movie many times and the movie also starred Jodie Foster. He would become obsessed with Foster and went so far as to enroll in college at Yale, when he heard she was attending there and stalked her with notes and telephone calls.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                  Jodie Foster stalked by John Hinckley Jr.

John Hinckley Jr.’s obsession with Jodie Foster led him to also stalk President Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential campaign. He was in shooting distance of President Carter once, but had left his guns at the hotel that day. He posed for a photograph in front of Ford Theatre, where President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated. Incidentally, President Reagan had visited Ford Theatre only 9 days, before the assassination attempt and mentioned, that if anyone really wanted to assassinate a president, that they would be successful.

This poem written by Hinckley shows how troubled of a mind he possessed:

Guns Are Fun

See that living legend over there?
With one little squeeze of this trigger
I can put that person at my feet
moaning and groaning and pleading with God.

This gun gives me pornographic power.
If I wish, the president will fall
and the world will look at me in disbelief,

all because I own an inexpensive gun.
Guns are lovable, Guns are fun
Are you lucky enough to own one?

Back to Hinckley and Foster, he called her and wrote notes and letters to her many times. This is the letter that Hinckley wrote to Foster on the day of his assassination attempt, but it was never mailed:

3/30/81

12:45 P.M.

Dear Jodie,

     There is a definite possibility that I will be killed in my attempt to get Reagan.  It is for this very reason that I am writing you this letter now.
     As you well know by now I love you very much.  Over the past seven months I've left you dozens of poems, letters and love messages in the faint hope that you could develop an interest in me.  Although we talked on the phone a couple of times I never had the nerve to simply approach you and introduce myself.  Besides my shyness, I honestly did not wish to bother you with my constant presence.  I know the many messages left at your door and in your mailbox were a nuisance, but I felt that it was the most painless way for me to express my love for you.
     I feel very good about the fact that you at least know my name and know how I feel about you.  And by hanging around your dormitory, I've come to realize that I'm the topic of more than a little conversation, however full of ridicule it may be.  At least you know that I'll always love you.
     Jodie, I would abandon this idea of getting Reagan in a second if I could only win your heart and live out the rest of my life with you, whether it be in total obscurity or whatever. 
     I will admit to you that the reason I'm going ahead with this attempt now is because I just cannot wait any longer to impress you.  I've got to do something now to make you understand, in no uncertain terms, that I am doing all of this for your sake!  By sacrificing my freedom and possibly my life, I hope to change your mind about me.  This letter is being written only an hour before I leave for the Hilton Hotel.  Jodie, I'm asking you to please look into your heart and at least give me the chance, with this historical deed, to gain your respect and love.

I love you forever,

John Hinckley

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/hinckley/hinckleytrial.html is a website with much more information about John Hinckley Jr. and excellent source of trial information.

 

 

The above letter shows just how deranged of a mind Hinckley had, at the time of the assassination attempt. This letter was written less than two hours, before his assassination attempt to kill President Reagan. The timing of the assassination attempt may have been influenced by the ultimatum by his parents, to move out of their home by the end of March.

This is strictly my opinion, but I think if John Hinckley Jr. had not seen Taxi Driver he would not have had the motivation, to attempt to kill President Reagan and his obsession with and stalking of Jodie Foster would never have happened.

 

The Trial

John Hinckley Jr. went on trial in 1982 and the trial ended on June 21, 1982, when the jury rendered a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. If he had been found to be sane, then he would have probably would have been sentenced to life without parole, but instead he was sent to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, where he still resides 33 years later.

The prosecution insisted that Hinckley was legally sane, while the defense said he was insane. Jodie Foster was distraught to know that Hinckley had been found not guilty. She may have not been shot on March 30, 1981, but her life was forever changed, by Hinckley stalking her on the Yale campus and then finding out, that John Hinckley Jr. had attempted to kill President Reagan to impress her.

Hinckley was able to book several flights in various places, during October of 1980. He was in New Haven, Connecticut at least three times in that October, and he flew there at least twice that month. Just my opinion, but I don’t think an insane person is capable of  booking flights and being on the plane in time for takeoff.  That brings to the mind, that Hinckley was not working, yet was able to fly around the country many times, while being bankrolled by the wealth of his parents.

The not guilty by reason of insanity verdict for Hinckley has brought about changes in some states. Those changes have made it more difficult in those states, to receive a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict.

Addenda

It was ironic that all four shooting victims were Irish with surnames of Reagan, Delahanty, McCarthy and Brady.

John Hinckley, Jr. is now permitted to spend 17 days a month, which is 204 days a year at home in Virginia with his mother Jo Ann who is now 86. Hinckley is now 58 and is even allowed to drive a car and likes to buy cheeseburgers at Wendy’s. James Brady will be in a wheel chair the rest of his life, while Hinckley can drive his Toyota Camry around and walk wherever he wants.

Hinckley still was obsessed with Jodie Foster as late as 1987, when he still had a collection of Jodie Foster photographs.

It is being requested by Hinckley to have 24 days of freedom a month, but so far that request has been denied. That would give him 288 days of freedom a year, if allowed in the coming months or years.

George Bush I would have been president 7 years sooner, if President Reagan had died on that day in 1981.

The Daily Mail from Great Britain has an article in today’s edition about John Hinckley and shows several photographs of him today at 58 and a photo of his 86-year-old mom Jo Ann.

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                   

 

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.

 

 

 

 

The Voice Winning Ratings Battle With American Idol

AMERICAN IDOL

American Idol Season 13 bottomed out this season with only 7.63 million viewers for their Top 8 results show last Thursday. Season 13 drew 15.19 viewers for their debut this season. That is a drop of approximately 7.5 million viewers 27 shows into the season.

The 2003 Season 2 finale drew the largest audience for a premiere or finale, by attracting 38.06 million viewers. Compare that with the 7.63 million viewers last Thursday and that is a drop of almost 31 million viewers.

January 13, 2009 was the last time that a premiere, final performance or season finale show drew over 30 million viewers.

The May 23, 2012 finale was the last time American Idol attracted more than 20 million viewers.

March 12, 2014 was the last show to draw over 10 million viewers for a Season 13 episode.

I think one problem this season is that Season 13 has few good singers. I look for Caleb Johnson to be the next American Idol. If not him, then it might be Jena Irene or Jessica Meuse. C.J. Johnson will probably go home on Thursday night, unless he has a superb performance on Wednesday night.

The judges this season Harry Connick, Jr., Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban have been refreshing, after the feud between Mariah Carey and Nicky Minaj took the focus off the contestants in Season 12.

This could be the right time to end American Idol. Ryan Seacrest will probably not be paid $15 million a season again and Jennifer Lopez is scheduled to do a cop show, so can’t see her having time to do American Idol, due to the filming schedule of a weekly series. Seacrest is probably ready to move on to other jobs and American Idol ties him down during the auditions and regular season and he sure doesn’t need the money.

It is time to end the show before its ratings fall even further behind those of The Voice.

 

THE VOICE

The premiere of The Voice was shown on April 26, 2011 and drew 11.78 viewers. Season 2 drew 37.61 million viewers due to Super Bowl lead-in. Season 3 attracted 12.8 million viewers for premiere. The Voice drew about a million more viewers, for each year and this year attracted 15.86 million for the premiere.

Season 4 finale night for the June 18,2013 drew 15.59 the most ever for a finale.

The finale night for Season 5 on December 17, 2013 fell to 14.01 viewers, so it will be interesting to see if Season 6 finale ratings fall below that number.

Season 6 ratings have fallen from a season high of 15.86 million, for the premiere of the Blind Auditions on February 24, 2014. Last Tuesday’s episode drew 11.08 million, which is a dropoff of about 4.78 million viewers.

If The Voice and American Idol were aired in the same time slot, then it would be almost a certainty that American Idol would be clobbered.

The interplay between coaches Blake Shelton, Shakira, Usher and Adam Levine has been, in my estimation a big part of the success of The Voice. It is fun to watch them beg for the contestants to choose them, as their coach and belittling the other coaches in the process.

It is a more of a fun show than American Idol. I haven’t watched during the battle rounds and playoff rounds, so I can’t say how good the singers on The Voice are. I will resume watching when they start the live shows and will get a better idea of who the best singers are.

The Voice is the king of the singing competitions and may find itself the only singing competition, if American Idol ends its 13 year run after this season.

 

 

 

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.

The Voice Drawing More Fans Than American Idol in 2014

Versus

The Voice

American Idol started Season 13 back on January 15, 2014. 15.19 million viewers tuned in, to watch the 2014 premiere of the long-running singing competition show. By the time Episode 17 aired on September 6 the ratings had fallen to 9.76 million viewers, which was a drop of 5.43 million viewers from the premiere episode.

The Voice opened Season 6 with 15.86 million viewers and by the time the sixth episode had aired on March 11 the ratings had fallen to 13.51 million viewers. That was a drop of 2.35 million, which made The Voice the winner in attracting viewers so far this season with The Voice holding on to more of the viewers from their premiere, than the American Idol was able to do.

It is too early in the season to tell which show has the better singers, but right now I would give a slight edge to The Voice, since they have 48 singers still in the competition, while American Idol is down to 11 singers left.

The blind audition rounds to me are what really interest me, since it is always fun to watch the coaches turn around or not turn around for a contestant. It is fun to watch the interplay between coaches Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton, as they unashamedly beg the contestants to pick them as their coach.

I think the current panel of coaches is the best, since there seems to be better chemistry, when Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green (who won’t be returning) are not on the show.

The Voice begins the battle rounds on Monday, March 17 and they will end on March 25. I have never been a fan of the Battle Rounds, since it seems to me, to be more of a contest, to see who can hit the highest note. The battle rounds can eliminate contestants, because they may have to sing a song, that doesn’t best showcase a particular singer.

So once the Battle Rounds are over and the live shows began will begin to watch The Voice again. I dislike the fact that a singer chosen by a coach in the first episode of the Blind Auditions might not even be seen,, till 8 or 9 weeks later.

If The Voice returns this fall it won’t face any other competition, from other singing shows, since X-Factor won’t be returning this fall.

American Idol

American Idol to me better promotes their contestants, with them being on every show, after the Final 13 have been chosen. We learn the contestants easier, because we see them  singing week after week. After next Thursday’s results show on March 20 there will be only 10 contestants left.

I don’t think American Idol could have hired better judges than the trio of Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. You can see the compassion the judges have for the contestants. Harsh Harry as Harry Connick Jr. has been called seems to be the sterner of the three judges.

Jennifer Lopez will reportedly have her own detective show on NBC next year, so that will probably mean she won’t be returning for Season 14 next January. Ryan Seacrest contract for three years for $45 million will end after the last show airs in May. It remains to be seen if he will return, or if American Idol will even return for Season 14.

American Idol has lost its invincibility factor, as The Voice has proven it can draw more viewers consistently. American Idol attracted 10.11 million viewers last night, which was only bettered by Criminal Minds with 10.72 million viewers.

While American Idol may be slipping in the ratings it still is drawing well, when compared to the viewers watching shows on the other networks.

The Voice is outdrawing American Idol by three or four million viewers, so they are the king of the singing competition shows, unless American Idol can reverse its downward trend in the ratings.

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.