Tuesday, December 12, 2017

SCOTT GIMPLE AND THE DEATH OF THE WALKING DEAD

I have to admit that I was never a huge fan of zombies. When I was little I was afraid of everything, including zombies. As I got older I watched George Romero's Night Of The Living Dead, but I did not really embrace the genre until my brother in law talked me into watching AMC's "The Walking Dead". I started watching during the third season, and I quickly became addicted to the show. I rewatched the seasons that I missed, and I became devoted to that show.

Now "The Walking Dead" just ended the first half of its 8th season, and although the show is still the top rated program on AMC, the show is very different that one the I started watching five years ago. I barely got through the first eight episodes of this season, and my devotion to watching the show has turned to an obligation to watch it. I'm not sure if I will be back as a viewer when the show returns in February.


The show was always more about the people than the zombies, and that is why I like them. Unfortunately under the direction of show runner Scott Gimple, the program has been really going downhill the last two seasons. Gimple came on board during season 4, and that season with the villain the Governor fighting Rick, the leader of the survivors, is one of my favorites. However, each season since then has been full of nonsensical story lines, huge plot holes, and a pretty overt disregard for the audience and fan. Under Gimple, the majority of the minority cast members have been killed off. In a matter of two seasons we have lost the minority characters of Tyrese, Bob, Noah, and Sasha.

The deaths of many characters were done for shock value rather than to expand the story line. I expect people to die on the show. After all, it is the zombie apocalypse. However, the major deaths are only during the mid season finale or the season finale. You can predict when someone will die. In the first few seasons you did not know from episode to episode who would be left. The latest death - the death of Carl, has left fans shocked - and not in a good way. The character of Carl is still alive in the comic book version of The Walking Dead, and he is a major character in the future storyline. There is no reason Scott Gimple had Carl killed off other than shock value. It goes deeper than that. Chandler Riggs, the actor that plays Carl, was shocked about being killed off, and his father has gone on record to say he never trusted Gimple or AMC.


"The Walking Dead" is not dead yet. One way AMC could fix the show is to get rid of Scott Gimple, plain and simple. Gimple has lttle regard for the Walking Dead storyline as well as a blatant disregard for the fan base. He is often interviewed on the after show "Talking Dead", and with each appearance he seems more cold and unfeeling. I never thought this would be happening to my favorite show. The ratings have dropped majorly this season, and I can not believe AMC is not wondering why. Again I have to say to them is two words: Scott Gimple. We see a lot of deaths on the show, but I hope the next person to leave the show is Scott Gimple. I may not be able to watch how the zombie apocalypse plays out until he is gone. I once said this show was a modern classic, but with Scott Gimple in charge, he is slowing killing this show. Like the zombie outbreak on the show, The Walking Dead iteself is running out of time to cure itself...


Friday, December 8, 2017

HEALTHWATCH: ARTIE LANGE

Whenever comedian Artie Lange used to come to Pittsburgh I would go to one of his shows. I have bought him dinner, got his autograph, and have laughed with him through the years. Since Lange left the Howard Stern show though, I have grown tired of his comedy. It is not his comedy, but his disregard for his own health and life. Watching the comedy of Artie Lange now is almost like watching a very slow snuff film. In recent years it seems like we are watching him die right before our eyes.

Artie Lange had all the makings of a great comedian along the likes of his idol John Belushi. Both Lange and Belushi have/had great comedic timing. They also share something else, a love of drugs. Lange got fired from the television show MadTV in 1997 and the Howard Stern show in 2010.

Now it looks like Artie is continuing on his downward spiral. Lange's mom admits doctors are worried about his deteriorating condition. Struggling substance abuse addict Artie Lange sent fans into a frenzy on December 6 when he unexpectedly cancelled his appearance on the Artie and Anthony Show. While the former Howard Stern sidekick blamed the flu for his absence, RadarOnline.com has learned exclusively it’s his uphill battle with drugs that’s causing him to cancel on his podcast and other shows.

His mother, Judy Lange, revealed the truth about her son’s constant troubles exclusively to Radar, saying: “Artie has to take care of a few things. He’s got diabetes, so that doesn’t help. He’s okay, as much as he can be. But he is fighting addiction — trying to get through that, and hopefully he will.”


As fans know, followers of the comedian became skeptical of the 50-year-old’s excuse to cancel his appearance when he said he took antibiotics as a remedy — a medication that only fights bacteria, not viruses.

As Radar previously reported, Lange was hospitalized multiple times this year due to drug related issues. As recent as October, Lange cancelled a show in Akron, Ohio after having to make an emergency trip to the hospital for a blood sugar problem. In July, he was hospitalized for days following emergency open heart surgery.

Godspeed funny man Artie Lange. Please don't end up like John Belushi or Chris Farley. Artie Lange is a cat and he is on his ninth life...



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

FINAL RESTING PLACES: VERA-ELLEN

Vera-Ellen is best remembered for her role of 'Judy Haynes' in the movie, "White Christmas" (1954), playing opposite fellow actors Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney. Born Vera-Ellen Westmeyer Rohe in Norwood, Ohio, she began dancing at the age of ten, and within a few years, became one of the youngest Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, and a Broadway dancer.

In 1945, she was spotted by film producer Samuel Goldwyn and invited to Hollywood, where she was cast opposite Danny Kaye in "Wonder Man" (1945). There she earned a reputation as a hard worker. She would also dance with Gene Kelly in "On the Town" (1949) and with Fred Astaire in "Three Little Words" (1950). 


She married twice, first to fellow actor and dancer Robert Hightower (1945 to 1948) and then to millionaire Victor Rothschild (1954 to 1966); both marriages ended in divorce. She would also date Rock Hudson for three years, but this was a publicity event orchestrated by his agent, yet they remained good friends for years after. After her success in "White Christmas", the motion picture industry decided to make fewer musicals, and it did not consider her for non-dancing roles. To keep her weight down, Vera-Ellen also became anorexic, which caused premature aging, and expressed itself mostly in her upper body and neck (this eventually came out as the explaination as to why she always covered her neck in "White Christmas"). 

In addition, her only child and daughter, Victoria Ellen Rothschild, died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 1963. Her last film, "Let's Be Happy", was made in 1957, and she then retired from public life. She continued to dance, in part to fight the arthritis she suffered later from. She would die of cancer in Los Angeles, California. Author David Soren wrote a book, "Vera-Ellen: the Magic and the Mystery," about her life; it was published by McGraw-Hill Press.

Her mother, Alma Catherine Westmeier Rohe died a year before Vera did in 1980 at the age of 89. Her 2nd husband remarried after their divorce. Victor Bennett Rothschild died in 2008 at the age of 85. Vera-Ellen is buried in a modest grave at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California...




Sunday, December 3, 2017

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE - WEB EPISODE 2

Here is episode two of my You Tube series. This time it's the ladies turn as we look at my five favorite female singers. Please keep the comments and suggestions coming!


Friday, December 1, 2017

RECENTLY VIEWED: JUSTICE LEAGUE

I recently took my kids to see the new Justice League movie. The critics and some fans are complaining about the movie, and the film isn't doing as well at the box office, but I've got to say it was a great movie. I've seen a lot of movies in 2017, and this was my favorite new movie next to Beauty And The Beast.

It is the fifth installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film is directed by Zack Snyder, with a screenplay by Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon, from a story by Terrio and Snyder. It features an ensemble cast that includes Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, and J. K. Simmons. In Justice League, the titular superhero team forms to honor Superman following his death and to save the planet from the catastrophic threat of Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons.

The film was announced in October 2014 with Snyder on board to direct and Terrio attached to write the script. Initially announced as Justice League Part One, with a second part to follow in 2019, the second film was indefinitely delayed to accommodate a standalone Batman film with Affleck. Principal photography commenced in April 2016 and ended in October 2016. Snyder then hired Joss Whedon to write scenes that would be filmed during reshoots; however, Snyder left the project in May 2017 following the death of his daughter. Whedon was hired to oversee the remainder of post-production, including directing additional scenes written by himself. Snyder received sole director credit for the film, with Whedon receiving a screenplay credit.


With an estimated production budget of $300 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made. Justice League premiered in Beijing on October 26, 2017, and was released in the United States in 2D, 3D, and IMAX on November 17, 2017. It has grossed over $481 million worldwide.


I don't want to give too much of the plot details away, but you can read them anywhere on the internet. However, the best part of the movie was Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. I can not say enough good things about Wonder Woman, and she is easily the best character in the DC Universe. Also they did well with showing new characters like The Flash and Cyborg. If I had to pick out a complaint it would be the villain in Steppenwolf. He looked like a reject from an old Power Rangers movie. I would have rather seen a movie with a Batman villain or some bad guy I was familiar with. Other than that it is a really good film. Also, listen for the original Batman and Superman themes from the earlier movies of the 1970s and 1980s for some cool nostalgia. I hope this is the beginning of some more great movies in the DC Universe. Next up is Aquaman next year - and by the way, this is not your parent's Aquaman either. Please support this film - it is worth it...

MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10





Thursday, November 30, 2017

RIP: JIM NABORS

Jim Nabors, who gave popular culture its most enduring image of a wide-eyed, good-natured if none too bright hayseed in a character whose very name – Gomer Pyle – would become synonymous with lovable rube, died Thursday in Hawaii. He was 87.

Nabors’ husband, Stan Cadwallader, confirmed the death to the Associated Press, noting that the actor had been in failing health for a year, with his immune system diminished by a liver transplant 20 years ago. Cadwallader was at his side, at their home in Hawaii, when Nabors died.

With catchphrases “Shazam!” and “Gollllly!” (the latter drawn out to four or five lilting syllables), Nabors debuted his downhome, gas station attendant character in 1962 on The Andy Griffith Show, where the slow-going, dim-witted Gomer was a constant irritation to Don Knotts’ officious, high-strung Deputy Barney Fife.

The Gomer character, and Nabors’ odd-couple chemistry with Knotts, proved so popular with audiences that he was given his own spin-off series in 1964. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, co-starring Frank Sutton as his ever-yelling drill sergeant Vince Carter (“I can’t heeearrrr youuu!”) ran until 1969 on CBS. (The Gomer character was replaced on Andy Griffith with cousin Goober Pyle, played by George Lindsey in a Jughead-style cap).


Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.was an instant smash when it debuted in September 1964. The series finished No. 3 among all primetime shows that season with a 30.7 rating –- ahead of Andy Griffith – and was No. 2 behind Bonanza for the following 1965-66 season. The series slipped in the ratings after its move from Fridays to Wednesdays for the 1966-67 season, but CBS returned Gomer Pyle to Fridays the following season and it ranked No. 3 and No. 2 in primetime during the next two seasons.

Nabors got his start as a cabaret act at Santa Monica’s The Horn, appearing in a musical comedy routine that included his performance as a Gomer-like character. He was noticed by Andy Griffith and hired for a one-episode appearance as Mayberry’s gas station attendant.

Nabors’ comic persona, with his natural Alabama accent stretched to a near-cartoon drawl, evaporated when switched gears to sing, utilizing a baritone that sounded both formal and trained, a dichotomy used to great effect as far back as the Griffith show.


His 1966 LP Jim Nabors Sings with All Your Heart, made the Billboard Top 25 and went gold. He charted a dozen albums through 1972 and though he never matched that initial chart success two more were half-million-sellers. One of those was Jim Nabors’ Christmas Album, which topped the holiday albums chart in 1967 and again two years later.

His singing made him a frequent guest of variety shows in the 1960s and ’70s, including The Johnny Cash Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Dean Martin Show, The Flip Wilson and, most notably, The Carol Burnett Show, where his appearance on each season premiere became an annual tradition. He hosted his own variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour, from 1969-71.


Nabors even became a Indianapolis 500 tradition with his rendition of Back Home Again in Indiana performed during the race’s opening ceremonies since 1972. He would do this every year until 2014.

On the big screen, Nabors made appearances in a string of moving starring friend Burt Reynolds, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Stroker Ace and Cannonball Run II...


Saturday, November 25, 2017

BAD CINEMA: POULTRYGEIST: NIGHT OF THE CHICKEN DEAD

My friend is a guru of bad B-movies, and he has instilled in me a love of this genre of films so bad they are good. A couple of weeks ago, we went to a midnight viewing of the film Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead. Yes, that is the name of movie - it was everything I thought the movie was and more!

The film is a 2006 black comedy musical-horror film from Troma Entertainment, directed by Lloyd Kaufman and co-directed by former long-time Troma editor Gabriel Friedman from a screenplay by Friedman and Daniel Bova. Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead was released in 2006 in theaters and in 2008 on DVD. Poultrygeist follows a group of consumers and ordinary citizens who are trapped inside a New Jersey fried chicken fast food restaurant – the American Chicken Bunker – which is being attacked by a chicken-possessed zombie demonic alien spirit because the building is erected on top of a sacred Native American burial ground. The protagonist is Arbie (Jason Yachanin), an ACB employee trying to win back the heart of his ex-girlfriend Wendy (Kate Graham), an activist protesting against the restaurant, who has left Arbie for another woman.

Poultrygeist first began as a spec script of the same title submitted to Troma Entertainment by Daniel Bova around 2002. After a number of re-writes at the hands of several Troma employees, the script reached a final draft in 2004, completed by long-time Troma editor Gabriel Friedman. Then given the title Poultrygeist: Attack of the Chicken Zombies, Troma heavily promoted the film in the mid-2000s in an attempt to gain funding, though ultimately failed to secure adequate financing.

The budget for Poultrygeist was roughly around $500,000, a typical budget for a Troma film. A large part of the film's financing came out-of-pocket from Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz, while Kaufman and his wife, Patricia Swinney Kaufman, dipped into their personal retirement savings to help fund the film.


Much of Poultrygeist's crew was made up entirely of volunteers who had answered advertisements posted by Troma on such websites as Craigslist and horror-based message boards looking for available crew members. According to Fangoria, hundreds of people applied, and volunteers traveled from as far as Sweden, Germany, Australia and numerous parts of the United States to work on the film, serving in various crew positions or as production assistants. Duggie Banas, who composed the movie's musical numbers, became attached to the film after answering an online ad looking for composers who'd be willing to work on a film for free. Many of the props and masks featured in the film were donations from special effects studios from around the world.

Shot on 35 mm film by long-time Troma cinematographer Brendan C. Flynt, principal photography for Poultrygeist took place during the summer of 2005 at an abandoned McDonald's in the Bailey-Kensington neighborhood of Buffalo, New York. Over 80 crew members and 300 unpaid extras worked on the film. A nearby abandoned church was rented out by Troma, where over 70 cast and crew members resided for the duration of the shoot, despite only housing one working bathroom.


As chronicled in Poultrygeist's making-of documentary Poultry in Motion: Truth Is Stranger Than Chicken, the production was plagued with numerous problems, including malfunctioning special effects, delayed and over-scheduled filming, pay disputes with the actors and even the restaurant set being prematurely deconstructed on the last day of shooting. Despite the production hardships, Poultrygeist managed to successfully complete its principal photography by August 2005.

The film is no Citizen Kane, and I was worried I could stay awake seeing this film at midnight, but the film kept me captivated. The musical numbers were great, and even though the acting was cheesy - I laughed a lot and just simply enjoyed this crazy movie...

MY BAD RATING: 10 OUT OF 10


Thursday, November 16, 2017

COOKING WITH THE STARS: MARILYN MONROE

Who knew that the great sex bombshell Marliyn Monroe could cook. With Thanksgiving and the holiday season here, I found a recipe for Monroe's stuffing. It sounds good...


FOR THE STUFFING:
-No garlic
-Sourdough French bread – soak in cold water, wring out, then shred
-For chicken giblets – boil in water 5-10 mins
-Liver – heart then chop
-1 whole or ½ onion, chop & parsley / four stalk celery, chop together following spices – put in rosemary
-Thyme, bay leaf, oregano, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper,
-Grated Parmesan cheese, 1 handful
-1/2lb – 1/4lb ground round – put in frying pan – brown (no oil) then mix raisin 1 ½ cups or more
-1 cup chop nuts (walnuts, chestnuts, peanuts)
-1 or 2 hard boiled eggs – chopped mix together


TO PREP THE BIRD:
-Salt & pepper inside chicken or turkey – outside same and butter
-Sew up clamp birds put chicken or turkey in 350 oven
-Roasting chicken – 3 or 4lbs or larger
-Cooks 30 min to 1lbs
-Brown chicken or pheasant (vinegar, oil, onion, spices) – let cook in own juice
-Add little water as you go
-½ glass vinegar – put in when half done
-Cooks 2 hours

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: WEB EPISODE 1

Welcome to my first episode of my You Tube show - titled as you guessed it A Trip Down Memory Lane. From time to time I will do a little 30 minute episode highlighting some of the great stars of our times. For this first episode I will count down my five favorite male singers. I hope you enjoy it, and I encourage comments and suggestions...


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

GUEST REVIEWER: GOOD NEWS

For a long time when I was first watching classic movies, the 1947 film Good News was my favorite musical. It's not my favorite any longer but it's still a pretty good film. Our guest reviewer Bruce Kogan makes his return to our pages reviewing this musical...

Good News was the best musical from the Roaring Twenties from the premier songwriting team of DeSylva, Brown & Henderson. It ran on Broadway for 557 performances in the 1927-29 season and gave the team a number of song hits identified with them like the title song, Just Imagine, Lucky In Love, and The Best Things In Life Are Free. All of those songs made it as well as one of the great dance numbers of the Roaring Twenties, The Varsity Drag.

The musicals of that era had the lightweight nonsensical plots which also was taken from the Broadway show. Big man on campus, Peter Lawford, has to get a passing grade in French to stay eligible for the football squad. He gets mousy student librarian June Allyson assigned as a tutor and the inevitable happens as it does in these films. After that Lawford has to choose between mercenary coed Patricia Marshall and Allyson. It's a struggle, but you guess who he winds up with.


This film is strictly about the music and dance numbers and it offers a rare opportunity to see Joan McCracken singing and dancing which she mostly did on the Broadway stage. She introduces a song especially written for the film Pass That Peace Pipe which was a big hit in 1947 and won for Good News its only Academy Award nomination. Pass That Peace Pipe lost to Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah for Best Song. But the number is one of the best dance numbers ever to come from an Arthur Freed produced MGM musical. Joan McCracken died way too young as oddly enough her dancing partner Ray McDonald.

Good News presents an idealized version of the Roaring Twenties and is the quintessential college musical which flooded Hollywood mostly in the years before World War II. It holds up well as entertainment and the songs are still fabulous...


BRUCE'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10
MY RATING:9 OUT OF 10


Sunday, October 29, 2017

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: FACES OF THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER

During this Halloween season, I wanted to take a look at one of my favorite horror story characters and that is Frankenstein's Monster. Since 1931, he has been played on the screen numerous times, but here are some photos of the famous actors playing the unfortunate monster...


BORIS KARLOFF (1887-1969)


GLENN STRANGE (1899-1973)


BELA LUGOSI (1882-1956)


CHRISTOPHER LEE (1922-2015)


PETER BOYLE (1935-2006)


ROBERT DE NIRO (BORN 1943)

Friday, October 27, 2017

HEALTHWATCH: KEELY SMITH


It's sad to me to report, but Keely Smith - a legendary singer of the 1950s and 1960s is in failing health. Her daughter has had to take of her, and unfortunately they have hit hard times. Keely Smith is now 86. Here is the posting from their Go Fund Me page:

Dearest Friends, New & Old -

My name is Toni Prima and I am the eldest daughter of Louis Prima & Keely Smith.

My family & I desperately need your financial help and sincerely appreciate anything you can do for us.

Mother had to retire over five years ago for health reasons and I had to stop working two years ago now due to my own physical problems. I also had a bad car accident a year ago that forced me further into illness. I am now on a walker and unable to stand for very long.

I was having a blast working with the UK's great jive & swing band - The Jive Aces. I was also regularly singing with the marvelous Johnny Holiday Show in downtown Los Angeles.

Once I had to stop working and Mother had been stopped for a few years - as you can imagine all the savings went out the door. We have all gone into terrible debt and been selling things as we could.
It simply is not enough and we need help!!!

At this point we are unable to pay household bills, buy groceries & medicine, and keep our caregivers with us which is of utmost importance.

Please if you are able to help us out it will be such a blessing!!! No amount is too little - every penny is appreciated - and please share this post!!!

God Bless you all and thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

Toni


I don't have the exact info on what is ailing Keely Smith but I believe it is a heart ailment. If you would like to give to their Go Fund Me page, you can see their info HERE.

I will keep everyone posted on any additional news...


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

RIP: FATS DOMINO

The legendary New Orleans singer and pianist Fats Domino, known for hits like "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain't that a Shame," has died. He was 89.

Domino, whose real name is Antoine Domino Jr., died on Tuesday afternoon of natural causes, Mark Bone of the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office confirmed to the Daily News.

The iconic artist was born and raised in New Orleans and first broke out into the city's rock and roll scene in the late 1940's after joining the band The Solid Senders.

His first record "The Fat Man" garnered him national attention — selling one million copies by 1953 after it was released in 1949.

It was said to be the first rock and roll record to reach that achievement and some music historians have even credited it to be the first rock and roll record to exist, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Domino ultimately sold 65 million records, which is more than any rocker of the '50s except Elvis Presley. His songs landed him on the Billboard pop chart 63 times and the R&B chart 59 times throughout his years.


Domino first found himself sectioned to only the R&B charts until his song "Goin' Home" made it to No. 30 on the main chart and the following year his song "Goin' To The River" landed at No. 24. In 1955, "Ain't It A Shame" helped propel Domino's sound across genres and landing at No. 10 on the pop charts.

A cover of the track, retitled "Ain't That a Shame," was done by Pat Boone and landed even higher on the pop charts at No. 1 for a period of two weeks.

Domino was featured in two films during his heyday, including "Shake, Rattle & Rock!" and "The Girl Can't Help It," both in 1956.


He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987. Former President Bill Clinton gave Domino the National Medal of Arts in 1998.

The Hall of Fame largely credited him with influencing the likes of Billy Joel, Elton John and Paul McCartney.

Rolling Stone put him on the list of "Greatest Recording Artists of All Time" at No. 25.

Harry Connick Jr. credited the musician with paving the way for New Orleans piano players.

"See you on top of that blueberry hill in the sky," Connick Jr. wrote...


Friday, October 20, 2017

ED WYNN: THE PERFECT FOOL

People love to be entertained by movies and music. However, the viewing audience, especially the American viewing audience have a short attention span. So many great actors and comedians are forgotten as soon as they breath their last breathe. That is such the case with Ed Wynn. Wynn went from a vaudeville giant to a lovable character actor in his later years. He deserves to be up there with the great geniuses of vaudeville like WC Fields and Eddie Cantor. People won't really remember his vaudeville work, but they still should be aware of some of his great movie and television roles later in his life.

Born Isaiah Edwin Leopold in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 9, 1886, he ran away from home in his teens and eventually adapted his middle name "Edwin" into his new stage name, "Ed Wynn", to save his family the embarrassment of having a low comedian as a relative. In his youth, Wynn worked as an onstage assistant to W. C. Fields. Fields caught him mugging for the audience during his "Pool Room" routine and knocked him unconscious with his cue. Wynn became a headliner in vaudeville in the early-1910s, and was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies starting in 1914. He was best known as a comedian, billed as The Perfect Fool (and starring in a musical revue of that name on Broadway in 1921). Wynn also wrote, directed and produced many shows. He was famous for his silly costumes and props, and he always worked "clean," making his shows suitable for the entire family.


He hosted a popular radio show, The Fire Chief for most of the 1930s, heard in North America on Tuesday nights, sponsored by Texaco gasoline. Like many former vaudeville performers who turned to radio in the same decade, the stage-trained Wynn insisted on playing for a live studio audience, doing each program as an actual stage show, using visual bits to augment his written material, and in his case, wearing a colorful costume with a red fireman's helmet. He usually bounced his gags off announcer/straight man Graham McNamee; Wynn's customary opening, "Tonight, Graham, the show's gonna be different," became one of the most familiar tag-lines of its time. Sample joke: "Graham, my uncle just bought a new second-handed car... he calls it Baby! I don't know, it won't go anyplace without a rattle!"

By 1930 Wynn was a radio superstar, and he reprised his radio character in two movies, Follow the Leader (1930) and The Chief (1933). Near the height of his radio fame he founded his own short-lived radio network, the Amalgamated Broadcasting System, which lasted only five weeks in 1933.

Wynn was offered the title role in MGM's 1939 screen adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, but he turned down the role, as did his Ziegfeld contemporary W. C. Fields. The part finally went to Frank Morgan. In the late 1940s Ed Wynn hosted one of the first comedy-variety television shows, and won an Emmy Award in 1949. Buster Keaton made guest appearances with Wynn, establishing him in television as well.


After the end of Wynn's television series, his son, actor Keenan Wynn, had encouraged him to make the career change rather than retire. Ed Wynn reluctantly began a career as a dramatic actor in television and movies. The two appeared in two productions: the 1957 Playhouse 90 broadcast of Rod Serling's play Requiem for a Heavyweight. Ed was terrified of straight acting and kept goofing his lines in rehearsal. When the producers wanted to fire him, star Jack Palance said he would quit if they fired Ed. On live broadcast night, Wynn surprised everyone with his pitch-perfect performance, and his quick ad libs to cover his mistakes. Ed and his son also worked together in the Jose Ferrer film The Great Man, Ed again proving his unexpected skills in drama.

Requiem established Wynn as serious dramatic actor who could easily hold his own with the best. His role in The Diary of Anne Frank won him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in 1959. Also in 1959, Wynn appeared on Serling's TV series The Twilight Zone in "One for the Angels". Serling, a longtime admirer, had written that episode especially for him, and Wynn later starred in the episode "Ninety Years Without Slumbering". For the rest of his life, Ed skillfully moved between comic and dramatic roles. He appeared in feature films and anthology television, endearing himself to new generations of fans.


Wynn provided the voice of the Mad Hatter in Walt Disney's film, Alice in Wonderland and appeared as the Fairy Godfather in Jerry Lewis' Cinderfella. His performance as Paul Beaseley in the 1958 Jose Ferrer film The Great Mangarnered him nominations for a "Best Supporting Actor" Golden Globe Award as well as a "Best Foreign Actor" BAFTA Award. The following year saw him receive his first (and only) nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Mr. Dussell in The Diary of Anne Frank (1959). In That Darn Cat! (1965) he played Mr. Hofstedder, the watch jeweler. One of his best-known performances during later years was Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins. In addition to Disney films, Wynn was a popular character in the Disneyland production The Golden Horseshoe Review. His last movie was The Gnome-Mobile (1967) in which he played the character Rufus. His role as the toymaker in "Babes in Toyland" is a classic featuring all of his charisma and comedic talent.

Ed Wynn died June 19, 1966 in Beverly Hills, California of throat cancer, aged 79. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. His grave marker is beautiful, and it summed up his life...



Saturday, October 14, 2017

THE LAST DAYS OF BING CROSBY

The year 1977 began poorly for Bing. In March 1977, during a televised concert to celebrate his fifty years in show business, he fell backwards into an orchestra pit headfirst. He ruptured a disc in his back, and was hospitalized for a month. After recovering, he made appearances all over the world, from Norway to England to tape a Christmas special, which featured David Bowie the famous Christmas duet. After taping the special, he recorded his final album, Seasons.

Bing’s next stop was the London Palladium for a two-week engagement. Then he and his band went to Brighton where they performed their final performance on October 10. The next day Bing was a guest on the Alan Dell radio show, where he sang eight songs with the Gordon Rose Orchestra. Later that day he posed for photos for the Seasons album. The next day Bing headed for Spain to play golf and die.

On the afternoon of October 14, 1977, Bing was playing at the La Morajela golf course near Madrid, Spain. He finished 18 holes with a score of 85, and with a partner, defeated two Spanish golf pros. After his last putt, Bing bowed to applause and said, "It was a great game." He was about 20 yards from the clubhouse, when he collapsed from a massive heart attack. His three golfing companions remarked that he did not look tired and was even singing around the course, though he seemed to be favoring his left arm near the end of the game. They thought he had slipped. They carried him to the clubhouse, where a physician attempted to revive him, to no avail. Bing Crosby was dead on arrival, at the Red Cross hospital. He was 74.


A few hours after learning of her husband’s death, Kathryn issued a statement, "I can’t think of any better way for a golfer who sings for a living to finish the round." Their son Harry, 19, and the family’s former butler, Alan Fisher, flew to Spain to accompany Bing’s body back to LA.

The most widely heard voice of the 20th Century and maybe all time was silenced on that fateful day on October 14, 1977...


Friday, October 6, 2017

RECENTLY VIEWED: THE KING OF COMEDY

I have a confession to make. I do not like Jerry Lewis. When he was teamed with Dean Martin, I always thought that Dean was the talented one, and his character in all of Jerry's movies were the same. Personally, Jerry Lewis always seemed like a bitter and angry man. However, one of my favorite movies of all-time was The King Of Comedy. Since Lewis died a couple months ago, I got the opportunity to watch the underrated 1982 film, and surprisingly Jerry was the best part of the film. The King of Comedy is an American satirical black comedy film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard. Written by Paul D. Zimmerman, the film focuses on themes including celebrity worship and American media culture. 20th Century Fox released the film on February 18, 1983, in the United States, though the film was released two months earlier in Iceland. The film began shooting in New York on June 1, 1981, to avoid clashing with a forthcoming writers' strike, and opened the Cannes Film Festival in 1983.

After Raging Bull was completed, Scorsese thought about retiring from feature films to make documentaries instead because he felt "unsatisfied" and hadn't found his "inner peace" yet. He had purchased the rights of a script by film critic Paul D. Zimmerman. Michael Cimino was first proposed as director but eventually withdrew from the project because of the extended production of Heaven's Gate. Scorsese pondered whether he could face shooting another film, particularly with a looming strike by the Writers Guild of America. Producer Arnon Milchan knew he could do the project away from Hollywood interference by filming entirely on location in New York and deliver it on time with the involvement of a smaller film company.


In the biography/overview of his work, Scorsese on Scorsese, the director had high praise for Jerry Lewis, stating that during their first conversation before shooting, Lewis was extremely professional and assured him before shooting that there would be no ego clashes or difficulties. Scorsese said he felt Lewis' performance in the film was vastly underrated and deserved more acclaim.

Robert DeNiro prepared for Rupert Pupkin's role by developing a "role reversal" technique, consisting in chasing down his own autograph-hunters, stalking them and asking them lots of questions. As Scorsese remembered, he even agreed to meet and talk with one of his longtime stalkers. DeNiro also spent months watching stand-up comedians at work to get the rhythm and timing of their performances right. Fully in phase with his character, he went as far as declining an invitation to dinner from Lewis because "he was supposed to be at his throat and ready to kill him for [his] chance."


According to an interview with Lewis in the February 7, 1983, edition of People magazine, he claimed that Scorsese and De Niro employed method acting tricks, including making a slew of anti-Semitic epithets during the filming in order to "pump up Lewis's anger." Lewis described making the film as a pleasurable experience and noted that he got along well with both Scorsese and De Niro. Lewis said he was invited to collaborate on certain aspects of the script dealing with celebrity life. He suggested an ending in which Rupert Pupkin kills Jerry, but was turned down. As a result, Lewis thought that the film, while good, did not have a "finish." In an interview for the DVD, Scorsese stated that Jerry Lewis suggested that the brief scene where Jerry Langford is accosted by an old lady for autographs, who screams, "You should only get cancer," when Lewis politely rebuffs her, was based on a real-life incident that happened to Lewis. Scorsese said Lewis directed the actress playing the old lady to get the timing right.

Even though Jerry Lewis was basically playing himself in the film, he definitely had a good range. Surprisingly DeNiro took a back seat to Lewis in the film. My favorite scene in the film is near the end when a crazed Sandra Bernhard is trying to seduce Jerry. It was pure film gold. The film originally did not make a lot of money, but in recent years it has developed a big following. The movie also showed that Jerry Lewis was a lot more than the slow man-child that he portrayed in most of his films...

MY RATING: 9 out of 10