Saturday, January 31, 2015

HEALTHWATCH: JERRY LEWIS

Since late last year comedian Jerry Lewis has been looking more and more frail. Many friends say that  the ailing comedy legend is nearing “the end,” and friends say he’s ready to meet his son Joseph in heaven.

Shocking photos show “The Nutty Professor” wheelchair-bound on Jan. 8. He looked extremely pale while in Washington, D.C., before a scheduled comedy show.

Said a source: “Jerry is insisting on performing to the very end. That’s how much of a trouper he is!

“He doesn’t need the money. He’s worth a reported $50 million, but he needs to hear the applause a few final times before he meets his Maker.

“He’s joked, ‘I’ll die on stage – in the middle of a joke.’ But the fact is, it’s a struggle to go on.”

While Jerry is proud of his six sons and daughter, he desperately misses his beloved son Joseph.

“He was rocked to the core when Joseph, who battled drugs, took his life in 2009 at age 45. Not a day goes by when Jerry doesn’t think of him,” the insider divulged.

After his son’s tragic death, a shattered Jerry said: “To this day, I don’t understand it because it’s unfair … I beat myself a thousand times.”

Meanwhile, Jerry has battled prostate cancer and suffered two heart attacks. He has type 1 diabetes and took the steroid prednisone for pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease.

Jerry also remains in severe spinal pain, a result of years of pratfalls.

Added the source: “Jerry’s accomplished so much! He raised nearly $2.5 billion for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through his annual charities. He was one of a kind.”

Some people inside the Jerry Lewis camp, say the wheelchair usage is only used to ease Jerry's back pain before a concert...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

THE WALKING DEAD: BING CROSBY VERSION

The Walking Dead is returning to AMC Television on February 8, 2015, zombies are very popular still in television and movies, and I found this story about if Bing was a zombie. It is bizarre and not for everyone, but it is about Bing...



Warning: Some “colorful” language within, might not be good for little ones. -Matt

Christmas Eve. A time of peace and caroling. Stockings are hung by the fire in hopes that the patriarchal paradigm will reward us for our submissive behavior. Soon St. Nick will appear. Unless you die first, of course. Police in the metro area are getting reports of a sloppily dressed crooner with a pipe singing for people and then eating them.

“The front door rang” said one survivor.

And I opened the door. Bing Crosby was standing there in the flesh. Well, as much flesh of him that hadn’t fallen off. He started singing. Normally I would have shut the door but who can resist Bing Crosby singing White Christmas on Christmas Eve? So I invited him in.

After being invited in, Crosby, or his zombie equivalent, sat by the fire place and regaled the family with Christmas tunes and stories of Hollywood in its glory days. I remember during the making of Road to Singapore Bob Hope and I had a bet on who would be the first to sleep with Dorothy Lamour. I thought I would win. What woman can resist a crooner.

It was this off-color anecdote that convinced the family to throw Crosby out.

It was then that he got belligerent. He grabbed my wife and started eating her arm. At first I thought it was just some crazy Hollywood joke but then my wife started screaming. I got scared and hit Crosby with a shovel and threw him out. Now my wife’s a zombie! But on the bright side if she’s dead I don’t have to pay her alimony I guess.

After being thrown out Crosby went from house to house, knocking on doors and asking the residents if they had seen Bob Hope. When told that Hope had not been spotted Crosby would take a bite out of whomever answered the door.

It was after the eighth house had been attacked that police mobilized.

“We’ve been expecting the zombie apocalypse for years” said a police lieutenant.

We have drones, explosives, enough ammunition to kill every Mormon. What? We’re not fighting Mormons? Never mind. We still have enough ammunition to kill every damn zombie we see. I was just hoping it would be W.C. Fields and not Bing Crosby. I’ve always liked his singing.

Despite their ammunition the police were not able to stop zombie Bing.

I guess we didn’t think it through too clearly. I mean he’s already dead. What good would shooting him do? I know, you’re supposed to shoot zombies in the head. But we are police officers. We’re notoriously bad shots, except against private citizens defending the second amendment.
With all other options gone, police decided to pay a call on David Bowie.

He was reluctant at first to help us. ”Please don’t make me sing Little Drummer Boy again” he kept begging. But eventually we wore him down. We told him it was his patriotic duty to help us. He agreed. Though it might have been our crisp blue uniforms.

After being flown into the kill zone, Bowie was dropped off and told to distract Crosby. He was unsuccessful as zombie Crosby attacked Bowie, throwing him onto his stomach and biting his neck and back. Bowie could be heard screaming, “Stop! I gave up this sexual practice in the 1980s!” With Bowie now turned into a zombie, he and Crosby cut a wide swath across the United States, eating anyone unlucky enough to cross their paths.

President Obama is scheduled to address the nation about the Crosby/Bowie zombie menace. Those who have seen a rough draft of the president’s speech say that it asks all Americans to remain calm and to remember the many contributions zombies have made to world culture.

“Let us welcome zombies into our homes. Now is not the time to appear triumphalist about being non-dead.”

***Breaking News***

Zombie Bob Hope has joined forces with Crosby and Bowie and they threaten to eat every last living person. And then make a Road movie.

SOURCE

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

HOLLYWOOD URBAN LEGEND: CLARK GABLE

URBAN LEGEND: Matinee idol and movie heartthrob Clark Gable had horrible bad breath.

STATUS: This foul mouthed rumor is 100% TRUE.


By the time he was 32 years old, William Clark Gable had almost a full set of dentures. The pin-up actor and star of Gone with the Wind suffered with gum problems when he was young and a serious bout of pyorrhea in 1933 led to his dentist extracting most of his teeth. After being hospitalised for several days, Gable retreated to Canada to rest and to allow his gums to recover enough for dentures. After being fitted with a dental plate, the infection returned and Gable was again hospitalised. This time he had his gall bladder removed. Out of action for a month, the star’s illness caused delays to the filming of Dancing Lady and the movie went $150,000 over budget. MGM’s Louis Mayer was so annoyed that he withheld a fortnight’s pay from Gable and loaned him out to the struggling Columbia Pictures studio to teach him a lesson. Although this move turned out well for Gable, with his appearance in It Happened One Night winning him his only Oscar, it left a lot of ill-feeling between him and Meyer.

Gable’s mouthful of dentures left him with persistent halitosis and he became known throughout Hollywood for his bad breath, particularly among his leading ladies. His Gone with the Wind co-star, Vivien Leigh, complained about his breath on more than one occasion over the course of filming...

Sunday, January 25, 2015

HEALTHWATCH: JOANNE WOODWARD

Hollywood legend Joanne Woodward is nearing her final days after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease according to reports by the Associated Press. The 84-year-old film legend and widow of actor, the late Paul Newman's deteriorating health issues became more evident and concerning for friends and fans after Woodward was a no show recently at a scheduled appearance a the Westport Country Playhouse in Connecticut.

Taking Woodward's place was her daughter Clea Newman. It was revealed that soon after the event started and it was evident that Joanne was unable to attend that friends and fans began realizing that Woodward's health was the cause of her absence. The Associated Press also revealed that Woodward is being cared for in her home in Westport by her daughter Melissa.Woodward is best known for long Hollywood film career and her Oscar win for her role in the 1957 film “The Three Faces of Eve."

Joanne, who is ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease, hasn’t been seen at public events since early 2013.Woodward married Newman in 1958 and share three daughters, Nell Newman, Melissa Newman, Claire Olivia Newman. Joanne Woodward began her log running Hollywood film career in 1955. During this time she continued her career move between Hollywood and Broadway, before becoming the understudy in the production of Picnic, which featured Paul Newman.

Newman and Woodward met and fell in love on the set and later married in 1958 after their work together in the film "The Long, Hot Summer." Throughout their career's Joanne and Paul appeared alongside each other in ten films. Woodward also starred in five feature films directed by her late husband Paul Newman. Newman married Woodward on February 2, 1958, in Las Vegas and remained married for 50 years until Newman's death from lung cancer in 2008.

Woodward's friends and fans are wishing her and her family comfort and peace throughout her final days....


Saturday, January 24, 2015

RIP: JOE FRANKLIN

Joe Franklin, known as The King Of Nostalgia has died. He was 88. Franklin was an American radio and television host personality from New York City, best known for pioneering the television talk-and-variety show format that set the standard for television talk shows. His show began in 1950 on WJZ-TV (later WABC-TV) and moved to WOR-TV (later WWOR-TV) from 1962 to 1993. He interviewed over 300,000 guests during his 43 year television career.

Born in the Bronx, New York in 1926, as a teenager Franklin "followed around" Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor, who eventually began buying jokes from the young Franklin and whose Carnegie Hall show he later produced. At age fourteen, Franklin began working behind the scenes for The Kate Smith Hour and at sixteen, Franklin officially began his entertainment career as a record picker on radio sensation Martin Block's Make Believe Ballroom where he became known as "The Young Wreck with the Old Records". He is considered an authority on popular culture of the first half of the 20th century, including silent film. He has been called "The King of Nostalgia" and "The Wizard of Was" for focusing on old-time show-business personalities. Franklin was also a pioneer in promoting products such as Hoffman Beverages and Ginger Ale on the air.

A&E's documentary It's Only Talk, The Real Story Of America's Talk Shows, (Actuality Productions) credits Franklin as the creator of the TV talk show. Franklin is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the Longest Running Continuous On-Air TV Talk Show Host, more than a decade longer than Johnny Carson's legendary run.


After retiring from his television show, Franklin concentrated on his overnight radio show, playing old records on WOR-AM on Saturday evenings, and mentoring thousands of aspiring entertainers who for decades have sought an audience with him at his notoriously cluttered Times Square office. Through mid-January 2015, in spite of failing health, Franklin continued working and his celebrity interviews called "Nostalgia Moments" could be heard daily on the Bloomberg Radio Network.

Franklin's guests included (sometimes on the same panel) Charlie Chaplin, John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe (with whom Franklin co-authored "The Marilyn Monroe Story" in 1953), Jayne Mansfield, Cary Grant, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Rudy Vallee, Jimmy Durante, Madonna, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Bing Crosby, The Ramones, Captain Lou Albano, and five U.S. Presidents juxtaposed with countless unknown local performers, fringe bands, balloon-folders, self-published authors, celebrity impersonators and lounge singers, all of whom gave the show a surreal atmosphere.

Joe died on January 24, 2015 after a lengthy illness. Joe Franklin will be greatly missed...


Thursday, January 22, 2015

COMING SOON: AFRICAN-AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH

Since February is African-American history month, we are dedicating the entire month to the artistic merits of African-American entertainers during the golden age of Hollywood. African-Americans did not get the roles that they deserved in the 1930s and 1940s, and the roles they did get were as "waiters", "porters", or "mammies".

Join us for the whole month of February as we celebrate the lasting contributions of African-Americans in entertainment...


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

FOR SALE: BOB HOPE'S LAST HOME


Bob Hope's Toluca Lake home, the place the entertainer and later his wife Dolores spent their final days, has returned to Los Angeles market -- this time with a $23 million price tag.

Toluca Lake is a neighborhood just north of Universal Studios where Steve Carell, Zac Efron, Kiefer Sutherland, Miley Cyrus and Melissa McCarthy also live. The Hopes' English traditional house, just a half mile from where buddy Bing Crosby lived, is far less spectacular than the couple's Palm Springs contemporary, also on the market with a 50 percent price slash to $25 million.

The 5.6-acre Toluca Lake property -- really, a gated compound –- was "the" place for entertainers and politicians to meet and greet in the 1940s and 1950s. Richard Nixon reportedly once landed his helicopter on the grounds on his way to play golf.


At one time, the Hopes were considered among the largest private landowners in California. But of their many properties, this Toluca Lake estate is where they called home. Hope would often drive a golf cart around the neighborhood on his way to the Lakeside Golf Club down the street. Obituaries for the couple say they both died at home in Toluca Lake -– Bob at 100 in 2003 and Dolores at 102 in 2011.

The property spans four parcels and clearly dwarfs anything in that neighborhood. It has a large main house, pool house, and staff quarters/production office. It originally was listed for $27.5 million in 2013, then reduced to $21.8 million when two acres were lopped off the listing, taken off the market for about five months, then returned with those two acres for $23 million.

The 15,000 square-foot mansion was built in 1939 for the Hopes by architect Richard Finkelhor (who also designed homes for Zeppo Marx and Barbara Stanwyck), and later renovated in the 1950s by John Elgin Woolf, known as the king of the Hollywood Regency style that melds 19th-century French, Greek Revival and Modernist styles into a glitz-glam look. Woolf's celebrity-studded client list included Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Lillian Gish...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

RECENTLY VIEWED: THE EDDIE CANTOR STORY

After the life stories of Al Jolson and George M. Cohan were turned into successful movies in the 1940s, Hollywood was trying to find their next subject. The life of Eddie Cantor had everything that would make a good movie, and it is one of those movies you really want to like. While the real life Eddie Cantor is seen going into a screening room at Warner Brothers to watch this movie with his beloved wife Ida, you sort of have to wonder what he really thought about it. The story and songs are there, but it is really an imitation of his life with a poorly cast Keefe Brasselle (1923-1981) in the title role. He's sort of creepy for the most part with enlarged eyes that seem to parody Cantor rather than portray him, and even without the eyes, he really doesn't resemble Cantor, with a speaking voice too shrill to match Cantor's real voice for those of us familiar with the real deal.

What starts off as "The Bowery Boys Meet Banjo Eyes" turns into "Cantor Sings Again", covering his discovery by Gus Edwards as a child (after being used by some street gang members to distract audience members from their pick-pocketing), his struggles to get into the "Ziegfeld Follies", and then his moving on to light-hearted book musicals like "Kid Boots" and "Whoopee!". Dramatically, it also tells of his childhood romance with Ida, their issues with his constantly being away, and finally some health issues which threaten to curtail his career for good.



There is also of course, his use of blackface, but it never really goes into detail of why he chose that route since he had been popular as himself. Certainly, that aspect of his entertainment personality is dated now and quite offensive, but it is a part of our history that we can't change and certainly shouldn't repeat. Of course, there's going to be comparisons to "The Jolson Story", and the one good thing which can be said is that Cantor didn't have Jolson's massive ego, and mentions of him in Broadway and Hollywood memoirs describe him as a very giving performer. What is interesting is Larry Parks was supposed to recreate his role as Al Jolson for this Cantor film, but Parks was blacklisted during the Red Scare and was dropped from the film.



Cantor's marriage to Ida (Marilyn Erskine) wasn't nearly as troubled as Jolson's to Ruby Keeler, but the real love of his life seems to have been his delightfully spry grandmother (lovingly played by Aline MacMahon). One very touching moment in the film is Cantor's Follies debut where he looks out into the audience and sees only her.


As Cantor does get to do all his own singing, there are all those great numbers, and Brasselle, at least in the black face, does capture his glove hand clapping and prancing routines downpacked. The various Ziegfeld production numbers, however, seem more 50's in style than 20's and 30's. When the movie came out, it was not successful and many people blamed Brasselle himself. It is not entirely his fault, because it is virtually impossible for anyone else to capture the real Eddie Cantor. (On HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” Stephen DeRosa portrays Eddie very convincingly though).
The soundtrack to the movie is the big draw, and even as Eddie’s health was beginning to suffer in 1953, he still could sing his songs. The movie is not good, but it is worth watching. Eddie Cantor’s personality was so much more than this movie managed to capture. His movies, his recordings, and his generosity to charities and social issues really make one think that Eddie Cantor was the true greatest entertainer of all time...

MY RATING: 5 OUT OF 10…

Thursday, January 15, 2015

NICO CHARISSE: A HOLLYWOOD OFFSPRING STORY

You probably do not recognize the name Nico Charisse, but he is the son of famous parents dancer Cyd Charisse (1921-2008) and singer Tony Martin (1913-2012). Actually his real father was Nico Charisse Sr (1906-1971). Nico Sr. was actually his mother's dance teacher and Cyd married the much older dance teacher in 1939 at the young age of 18. The age difference and Cyd making a move to Hollywood was too much for the marriage, and the couple divorced on February 17, 1947. The elder Nico would remarry and have another child in the 1950s.


Nico Jr. would be pratically adopted by Tony Martin after Martin married Cyd on May 18, 1948. With two parents now happy and in love, as well as with a new half brother Tony Martin Jr born on August 28, 1950, Nico had pretty much a perfect Hollywood family and upbringing. His parents were both healthy and raised their sons without the drama that face other Hollywood families.

In the late 1960s, Nico met the beautiful Shelia Marie Snodgrass. They were married and life seemed pretty good for the couple. Nico was going to school to become a lawyer, and he was admitted to the star bar in 1977 and began practicing law in California. Tragedy would strike the family when Shelia was killed on May 25, 1979 when the American Airlines Flight 191 crashed just outside of Chicago. All 258 passengers and 13 crew on board were killed, along with two people on the ground. It is the deadliest aviation accident to occur on U.S. soil. The disaster and investigation received widespread coverage in the media, assisted by new news gathering technologies. The impact on the public was increased by the dramatic effect of an amateur photo taken of the aircraft rolling which was published on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on the Sunday following the crash (the crash was on a Friday).


Nico remarried a second time - unfortunately unsuccessfully. His career as a lawyer was almost ruined when he was disciplined for misconduct. Charisse's misconduct involved three separate clients and included failing to properly maintain and supervise his client trust account, keep clients informed about the status of their case, perform legal services competently, and improper withdrawal from representation.

In one instance, Charisse was employed by a client who maintained that trees in his orchard were damaged by a crop dusting company. Charisse filed the complaint but did not comply with fast track rules; the case was dismissed and he was sanctioned for failing to appear at a hearing.

His client was unsuccessful at many attempts to check on the status of his case and Charisse did not tell him that the case was dismissed. The client requested an accounting and refund of unearned fees, which Charisse neglected to do.

In mitigation, Charisse was suffering from extreme clinical depression which was exacerbated by a personal family law matter, including a child custody fight from his second wife. Charisse was suffering from alcoholism at the time of his misconduct, but has received inpatient treatment and is involved in a continuing program of sobriety. Nico rose above these tough times and continued to practice law until he retired in 2007.

After receiving the National Medal Of Freedom from President George Bush in 2006, Cyd Charisse began having heart troubles. She suffered a massive heart attack on June 16, 2008 and died the following day at the age of 86. Nico openly wept at the funeral of his mother who was buried at the Hillside Memorial Park.

More tragedy struck on April 10, 2011 when his half brother Tony Martin Jr died at the age of 60. I have not discovered the exact cause of death, but it was reported that Tony Martin Jr had been in ill health for years, and his parents had to pay most of the medical bills. It was also reported that Tony Jr was in a car accident in 2001, but I am not sure if that contributed to his death.

At this point Nico helped to care for the now elderly Tony Martin Sr. Tony was always a pillar of health and energy and performed into 2008, but after the death of his beloved Cyd and then the death of their only son together, Tony Sr. stopped performing. Tony Martin Sr. died on the evening of July 27, 2012 at the age of 98. Nico Jr has had a lot of tragedy in his life, and despite having a happy upbringing from his famous parents, you never quite know where life will take you.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

WHAT A CHARACTER: PATSY KELLY

I think there are not a lot of good roles for women in Hollywood these days. If I think it is bad now, it was even harder for women to get good roles in Hollywood in the 1930s. There were a steady group of wonderful woman characters during that time. In my humble opinion, one of the funniest comedy character actresses was the great Patsy Kelly.

Kelly was born Sarah Veronica Rose Kelly on January 12, 1910 in Brooklyn to Irish immigrants parents John (died 1942) and Delia Kelly (1875-1930). She began her career in vaudeville as a dancer at the age of 12. While in vaudeville, she performed in Frank Fay's act, first in a song-and-dance routine and later as Fay's comic foil.  She remained with Fay for several seasons until Fay eventually dismissed her. Kelly made her Broadway debut in 1928. In 1930 and 1931, she performed for producer Earl Carroll in his popular Sketches and Vanities musicals.

Kelly, like other New York actors, made her screen debut in a Vitaphone short subject filmed there. In 1933 producer Hal Roach hired Kelly to co-star with Thelma Todd in a series of short-subject comedies. (Kelly replaced ZaSu Pitts, who left Roach after a salary dispute). The Todd-Kelly shorts cemented Patsy Kelly's image: a brash, wisecracking woman who frequently punctured the pomposity of other characters. Later entries in the series showcased Kelly's dancing skills. Kelly made 35 shorts with Todd before Todd died in 1935. Lyda Roberti replaced Todd, but died of heart failure in 1938.

After the popularity of shorts began to wane, Kelly moved to full length feature films, often playing working-class character roles in comedies and musicals. One of her memorable roles was as Etta, the cook, in the five Academy Awards-nominated 1938 comedy movie Merrily We Live. By 1943, Kelly's film career had began to decline. She appeared in films for Producers Releasing Corporation, the smallest and cheapest of the movie studios. Her last starring roles were in two PRC comedies, My Son, the Hero and Danger! Women at Work, both released in 1943. Kelly left Hollywood and would not make another film for 17 years.

After leaving Hollywood, Kelly returned to New York City where she worked in radio and did summer stock. She also worked as a personal assistant to Tallulah Bankhead (whom she later claimed she had a sexual relationship with). Kelly returned to the screen in the 1950s with television and sporadic film roles. On television she appeared in guest roles on 26 Men, Kraft Television Theatre, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Wild Wild West, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, as well as many unsold pilots. She also made a memorable appearance as Laura-Louise in the film thriller Rosemary's Baby (1968), directed by Roman Polanski, alongside veteran actors Sidney Blackmer, Ruth Gordon, and Maurice Evans.


She returned to Broadway in 1971 in the revival of No, No, Nanette with fellow hoofers Ruby Keeler and Helen Gallagher. Kelly scored a huge success as the wisecracking, tap-dancing maid, and won Broadway's 1971 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her performance in the show. She matched that success the following year when she starred in Irene with Debbie Reynolds, and was again nominated for a Tony.

In 1976, she appeared as the housekeeper Mrs. Schmauss in the film Freaky Friday starring Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris. Her final movie appearance came in the 1979 Disney comedy The North Avenue Irregulars, also co-starring Harris, along with Cloris Leachman, Edward Herrmann and Karen Valentine. Kelly's last onscreen appearance was a guest spot in a two-part episode of The Love Boat in 1979. In January 1980, Kelly suffered a stroke while in San Francisco which caused her to lose the ability to speak. She was admitted to Englewood Nursing Home in Englewood, New Jersey, on the advice of her old friend Ruby Keeler where she underwent therapy. 

She slowly began recovering from the stroke, when cancer was detected. On September 24, 1981, Kelly died of cancer at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California. She is buried with her parents, John and Delia Kelly, in Calvary Cemetery in Queens. Patsy Kelly remained quite a character through nearly six decades of entertaining. Not a bad run by Hollywood standards at all...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

MY FIVE FAVORITE BING CROSBY MOVIES NOT ON DVD

With new mammoth Universal box release of some twenty Bing Crosby movies on DVD in late 2014, you would think that the loyal allegiance of Bing Crosby fans would be clamoring to buy the expensive and yet seemingly extensive collection of Bing films. However, I do not think it will be the case, because all of these films have already been issued on DVD – sometimes for the fifth and sixth time. It got me thinking of the countless Bing Crosby movies that have never seen the light of day. Here are five films that in my opinion deserve to be released:



1. THE BIG BROADCAST (1932)
It is really shocking that this early musical is not on DVD yet. It was never even been issued on video. It not only was Bing’s first feature film for Paramount Studios, but it also had a huge cast of radio superstars in addition to Bing like: George Burns, Gracie Allen, Kate Smith, The Boswell Sisters, and The Mills Brothers just to name a few. Bing gets so sing some great standards as well like: “Please”, “Here Lies Love”, and “Dinah”. The old days of radio may seem outdated these days, but it is fun to see how the most important medium of 1932 worked.

2. THE STAR MAKER (1939)
This forgotten film was Bing’s first movie where he played a character based on a real person. Bing played entertainer Gus Edwards (1879-1945). Edwards did not want his life made into a movie, so they changed Bing’s name in the movie to Larry Earl. The movie did not really touch upon the songwriting ability of Gus Edwards but more about his work as a child show producer. Bing sings some great vintage numbers like “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now” and “School Days” as well as singing some new songs like “An Apple For The Teacher” and “Still The Blue Birds Sing”. Again, it amazes me that such a cheerful and fun movie has not even been released on video, let alone DVD.


3. DIXIE (1943)
I do not think the film Dixie will ever see the light of day because of how racist blackface is viewed as. It is an outdated and sort of embarrassing genre of entertainment, but I believe it is a part of American history no matter how it is perceived now. Bing again played a real person, songwriter Dan Emmett (1815-1904) who wrote the popular song “Dixie”. This film was important because it was Bing’s first movie in color, and the story is actually pretty good. Aside from Bing trying to make it as a song writer and performer he had an interesting love triangle with Marjorie Reynolds and Dorothy Lamour. A nicely remastered version of this Technicolor film would be great to see.


4. MR. MUSIC (1950)
Of the five Bing films I put on this list, Mr. Music is the only film that was released on video. So it is a shame it is not on DVD. The movie is not great, and unfortunately the songs are not that memorable either, but Bing was in great voice. The film is the charming story of a lazy songwriter (another songwriting role) who is facing financial ruin if he does not start writing again. The cast included guest appearances by Groucho Marx, Peggy Lee, and Dorothy Kirsten to name a few. Bing and Kirsten duet on “Accidents Will Happen”, which is a sleeper favorite of mine, and Bing is great on the number “And You’ll Be Home”. The movie was no Holiday Inn, but it is a breezy fun movie in my opinion.


5. MAN ON FIRE (1957)
Man On Fire was one of the four films Bing made at MGM Studios. The other three were Going Hollywood (1933), High Society (1956), and That’s Entertainment (1974). This 1957 film is distinctive because it was one of the few movies Bing did not sing it. The film is a tense drama about a husband divorcing his wife and fighting for the custody of his only son. Many people do not like this dramatic side of Bing Crosby’s movie career, but I enjoy the film. TCM plays the movie from time to time, but it has yet to be released on DVD. Viewing this movie even makes me wish Bing would have done more dramas.


All five of these films are worthy to be released on DVD. Maybe in time they will be. Fortunately I have been able to get bootleg copies of all five movies, but again they deserve an official studio release…

Friday, January 9, 2015

RIP: ROD TAYLOR

Acclaimed Australian actor Rod Taylor has died in Los Angeles aged 84. Taylor, who was famous for his role in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 horror movie The Birds, is believed to have died of natural causes at his home.

He was also known for performances in The Time Machine and The Train Robbers and more recently played Winston Churchill in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

The veteran actor passed away surrounded by his family, The Associated Press said, citing The Birds co-star Tippi Hedren.

"Rod was a great pal to me and a real strength. We were very, very good friends," said 84-year-old Hedren.

"He was one of the most fun people I have ever met, thoughtful and classy, there was everything good in that man."

Born in Sydney, Taylor made a variety of film and television appearances in the 1950s.  But his big break in Hollywood came with his starring role in director George Pal's The Time Machine in 1960.

He went on to make dozens of films including lending his voice to Disney's animated 101 Dalmatians. He appeared with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in The V.I.P.s, which was released the same year as The Birds, in which he portrayed Hedren's love interest Mitch Brenner.

Taylor also played opposite Jane Fonda in Sunday in New York and John Wayne in The Train Robbers.

Taylor had retired from acting when Tarantino offered him the Inglourious Basterds role, which he initially declined, suggesting Tarantino should cast Albert Finney instead.


He had long voiced reluctance at playing the kind of roles which earned him the biggest fame.

"Pretending to still be the tough man of action isn't dignified for me anymore," he said in a 1987 interview.

"There comes a time when you're over the hill and there are plenty of great looking younger actors who can take your place."

Taylor's daughter Felicia, a former CNN news correspondent, said in a statement: "My dad loved his work. Being an actor was his passion, calling it an honourable art and something we couldn't live without."

"He once said: 'I am a poor student sitting at the feet of giants, yearning for their wisdom and begging for lessons that might one day make me a complete artist,'" she added, cited by People.

The actor is survived by his third wife Carol Kikumura, whom he married in 1980, and his daughter...


Thursday, January 8, 2015

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: SMOKIN' CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD

The world knows now that smoking cigarettes is not the healthiest thing you can do for your body. However, back in the days of classic Hollywood, almost everyone smoked. Yes, it is a nasty habit, but classic Hollywood made it look good. Just look at some of these pics of the stars lighting up...


JANE GREER (1924-2001)


BURT LANCASTER (1913-1994)

JUDY GARLAND (1922-1969) and FRANK SINATRA (1915-1998)



PAUL NEWMAN (1925-2008)

BETTE DAVIS (1908-1989)


NATALIE WOOD (1938-1981)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

HISTORY OF A SONG: SPRINGTIME FOR HITLER


One of my favorite directors all time is Mel Brooks. I have loved almost everything he did. He not only made great comedies, but some of the songs from his comedies I just can't get out of my head. One of those songs was "Springtime For Hitler".

Springtime For Hitler" is the title song of a play subtitled A Gay Romp With Eva And Adolf At Berchtesgaden. The play itself does not actually exist but appears in the 1968 comedy The Producers which was written and directed by Mel Brooks, who is by his own admission a great fan of bad taste.The leading characters of The Producers are accountant Leo Bloom who is played by Gene Wilder, and Max Bialystock who is played by Zero Mostel. The two decide to raise money for and put on a musical which will flop badly, as a tax dodge. To this extent they seek out the worst play ever written, hire the worst director, the worst actors in New York and open on Broadway. They raise two million dollars for the play, which costs a mere hundred thousand, and when it sinks they disappear to South America with the balance. At least that is the plan, but just as satire sometimes misses the mark, so do people read things into plays, songs, etc that isn't really there.

The musical is interpreted by the public as a broadside at the Third Reich, and is a massive success, leaving them with the problem of paying dividends to their expectant investors. Brooks turned the film into a smash Broadway hit, and it was remade on film in 2005. The talented Gary Beach played Hitler and got to sing "Springtime For Hitler" on Broadway and in the 2005 film remake...



Saturday, January 3, 2015

BORN ON THIS DAY: MARION DAVIES


Marion Davies is remembered mostly for being the mistress of paper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and reportedly she got many of her roles in Hollywood from her connection to Hearst. However, she made some really enjoyable films in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the first movies I saw her in was an early Bing Crosby film Going Hollywood(1933). Davies even attempted to sing in that movie opus.

Marion Davies was born on this day - January 3rd - in 1897. Davies was born in Brooklyn, the youngest of five children born to Bernard J. Douras (1857–1935), a lawyer and judge in New York City; and Rose Reilly (1867–1928). Her elder siblings included Rose, Reine, and Ethel. A brother, Charles, drowned at the age of 15 in 1906. His name was subsequently given to Davies' favorite nephew, screenwriter Charles Lederer, the son of Davies' sister Reine Davies. The Douras family lived near Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The sisters changed their surname to Davies, which one of them spotted on a real-estate agent's sign in the neighborhood. Even at a time when New York was the melting pot for new immigrants, having a British surname greatly helped one's prospects – the name Davies has Welsh origins. Educated in a New York convent, Davies left school to pursue a career. She worked as a model and posed for illustrators Harrison Fisher and Howard Chandler Christy. In 1916, Davies was signed on as a Ziegfeld girl in the Ziegfeld Follies.


After making her screen debut in 1916, modelling gowns by Lady Duff-Gordon in a fashion newsreel, she appeared in her first feature film in the 1917 Runaway Romany. Davies wrote the film, which was directed by her brother-in-law, prominent Broadway producer George W. Lederer. The following year she starred in three films – The Burden of Proof, Beatrice Fairfax, and Cecilia of the Pink Roses. Playing mainly light comic roles, she quickly became a film personality appearing with major male stars, making a small fortune, which enabled her to provide financial assistance for her family and friends.

In 1918, Hearst started the movie studio Cosmopolitan Productions to promote Davies' career and also moved her with her mother and sisters into an elegant Manhattan townhouse at the corner of Riverside Drive and W. 105th Street. Cecilia of the Pink Roses in 1918 was her first film backed by Hearst. She was on her way to being the most infamously advertised actress in the world. During the next ten years she appeared in 29 films, an average of almost three films a year.  She remained devoted to William Randolph Hearst, and as the years went on her movie career vanished more and more. In Hearst's declining years, Davies provided financial as well as emotional support until his death in 1951. She married for the first time eleven weeks after his death, a marriage which lasted until Davies died of stomach cancer in 1961 at the age of 64...


Friday, January 2, 2015

RIP: DONNA DOUGLAS

Donna Douglas, who played voluptuous tomboy daughter Elly May Clampett on the 1960s TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies," has died. She was 81.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, TV station WAFB, a CNN affiliate, reported that Douglas died Friday morning. Douglas lived in Zachary, Louisiana. Her assistant, Jeffrey Dalrymple, confirmed her passing to CNN.

Douglas spent nine years as Elly May, one of the main characters of the hugely popular "Beverly Hillbillies." The series concerned a poor Ozark family who stumbled upon an oil fortune and then moved to the Southern California bastion of wealth, where their rural ways often clashed with the local swells -- particularly Margaret Drysdale, the wife of the man who ran the bank where the Clampetts kept their money.

In some ways, Douglas -- who was born Dorothy Smith -- was a natural for the role. She was from a small town, Pride, Louisiana, and was a genuine tomboy. A beauty queen, she moved to New York in the late '50s and attracted attention as a model and for her appearances as Perry Como's "Letters Girl." She had some small roles in films and bigger ones on TV series, including a memorable "Twilight Zone" episode, "Eye of the Beholder."

But it was "The Beverly Hillbillies" that made her a star. At its peak in the early '60s, the show was the most popular on television, drawing stratospheric ratings seldom equaled by episodic television, despite criticism from reviewers who disliked its broad humor. In fact, a number of 1964 episodes still rank among the most-watched TV shows (non-Super Bowl division) of all time.

However, Douglas found it hard to break away from Elly May. Her only starring movie role was in "Frankie and Johnny," a 1966 Elvis Presley vehicle. She and the King did become friendly, bonding over a shared interest in spiritual subjects, according to a website dedicated to Presley's female co-stars.

Douglas was married twice and is survived by a son, Danny Bourgeois...