Thursday, July 19, 2018

RIP: GARY BEACH

Gary Beach, a Broadway and TV veteran whose portrayal of a truly terrible theater director in Mel Brooks’ monster hit “The Producers” won him a Tony Award in 2001, has died, according to his agent, Steven Unger. He was 70.

Unger said Beach died Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs, California. No cause was given.

Beach’s other Broadway roles included Lumiere in “Beauty and the Beast” and Albin in the 2004 revival of “La Cage aux Folles,” both of which earned him Tony nominations.

“The Producers” opened in 2001 and starred Nathan Lane as Max and Matthew Broderick as Leo, and featured Cady Huffman as Ulla and Roger Bart as Carmen Ghia.

Beach played the self-absorbed and beyond-flamboyant director who gets to go on as Hitler and leads the cast in “Springtime For Hitler,” the show’s most famous number. He reprised the role in the 2005 film.


Born in Alexandria, Virginia, Beach at age 11 saw the original road tour of “The Music Man,” starring Forrest Tucker, at Washington’s National Theatre and was hooked on musical theater.

“I always wanted to be a performer, but it never occurred to me to be a television performer or a movie actor,” Beach told The Associated Press in 2001. “To me, it was always Broadway.”

Beach started college at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia, as a political science major but read a magazine article about the North Carolina School of the Arts, where “show business goes to school” — and found his true calling.

He did over 1,000 performances in New York and on the road of three musicals: “Annie,” ‘’Les Miserables” and “Beauty and Beast,” and over 800 performances in “1776,” the show that got him to Broadway.


He survived flops — “The Mooney Shapiro Songbook,” a one-performance bomb in 1981 — and moments of intense gladness, like the comedy “Legends” by “Chorus Line” author James Kirkwood starring two real-life theater legends, Mary Martin and Carol Channing. Gary also starred opposite actress Betty Hutton in a production of "Annie".

After nearly 20 years in New York, Beach moved to Los Angeles. “I fell in love with the idea of having a car like an adult,” he said. There, he acted in such shows as “The John Larroquette Show,” ‘’Murder, She Wrote,” ‘’Saved by the Bell” and “Will & Grace.”


He stayed in California for 13 years, only coming back to do “Beauty and the Beast.” He broke his ankle during the run after falling off a stack of dishes, went back to Los Angeles and got a call asking him to do a reading of “The Producers.”

Beach then told Brooks, “You know what you’ve done? You’ve made ‘The Producers’ the toughest satire on Broadway.”

In a statement, The Baruch Frankel Routh Viertel Group, the producers of “The Producers,” honored Beach as “an actor of consummate skill and artistry, was a glorious human being; a gifted, generous and incredibly funny actor whose presence in a rehearsal room or on the stage lifted everyone’s spirit and inspired them to be the best they could be.”


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

RIP: WAYNE MARTIN

A sad day for fans of Bing Crosby. Earlier this year Wayne Martin, the editor and vice-president of Club Crosby until 2003 died...


Wayne LeRoy Martin, 87 of Higginsville, Missouri died on Friday, February 23, 2018, at his home. Born Tuesday, March 11, 1930 in Corder, Missouri, he was the son of the late LeRoy Martin and the late Golda Belle Welliver. He married Sandra Hostetter Martin on July 16, 1974. She survives of the home. He was a Veteran of the Korean War serving in the United States Army. He received a masters degree in Library Sciences from the University of Colorado and a masters degree in English from Central Missouri State University.

He was a former editor for the Bing Crosby magazine and the Director of Libraries for Brentwood, Missouri school systems, retiring in 1989. He was a member of United Church of Christ in Kirkwood, Missouri prior to moving to Higginsville in 2011. Surviving are one daughter, Robin Teter and her wife, Sandra Martin. A funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at the Hoefer Funeral Home with Rev. Dr. Tommy Faris officiating. Interment will be in the City Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at Hoefer Chapel. Memorial contributions may be sent to Beacon of Hope in Oak Grove, MO...

Monday, July 16, 2018

RECENTLY VIEWED: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3 - SUMMER VACATION

I am a big movie fan so I like old and new movies. I think some of what is coming out of Hollywood is trash these days but some recent movies are quite good. One actor I never liked was Adam Sandler. Some of his early work was mildy amusing, but I'm not a big fan of a 50 year old acting like he is 20. With that being said, I took my daughter to see Hotel Translyvania 3 for a daddy/daughter day. I loved the movie, and even though Dracula is voiced by Adam Sandler, I forgot it was him!

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation (known internationally as Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation) is a 2018 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Sony Pictures Animation and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. The third installment in the Hotel Transylvania franchise, it is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and written by Tartakovsky and Michael McCullers, and features Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, David Spade, Steve Buscemi, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, Fran Drescher, and Mel Brooks reprising their roles as well as new additions to the cast like Kathryn Hahn and Jim Gaffigan.

Taking place a few months after the events of the previous film, the story centers on Dracula, Mavis, Johnny, and the rest of their family, both human and monster, and friends as they take a vacation on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship. Dracula becomes attracted to the ship's mysterious captain Ericka, the great-granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing, the notorious monster slayer and Dracula's ancient archenemy.


The night before I went to see this movie with my daughter, I watched 2017's IT on HBO, so I think I was in the mood for a mindless and innocent film. The movie is very family friendly, and it was released on Friday July 13th to an audience that obviously wants to see more from this franchise since the movie had the second biggest opening of the three films.

The plot is simple: Dracula (Sandler) is looking for love. Frankenstein (Kevin James) is trying not to lose an arm and a leg (literally) at the casino, and Mel Brooks is back as Dracula's elderly father. I wish there was more Mel Brooks in the film. All in all, it's a great movie, and my daughter loved the movie. With popcorn and fruit punch, our daddy-daughter Sunday was a great success! Thanks Adam Sandler...

MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10


Sunday, July 15, 2018

NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS: RUDY VALLEE AND ALICE FAYE

In this new feature, I am going to take a look at some classic newspaper clippings on classic Hollywood stars. Here is an interesting news stories that I never heard about. It was taken from The Evening Independent of August 21, 1933...



Saturday, July 14, 2018

RIP: NANCY SINATRA SR.

Nancy Sinatra Sr., the first of Frank Sinatra’s four wives and the mother of the legendary singer’s three children, died Friday. She was 101. Sinatra’s daughter, pop singer Nancy Sinatra, who had a 1966 hit with “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” confirmed her mother’s death Friday on Twitter and the Sinatra family’s website.

“Our mother was a fighter until the end when her brave, loving heart gave out. She is survived by her sister, her daughters, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren. She made a difference,” Nancy Sinatra Jr. wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning.

My sister and I thank you all for your very thoughtful messages of condolence. Our mother was a fighter until the end when her brave, loving heart gave out. She is survived by her sister, her daughters, her grandchildren and her great grandchildren.

Nancy Sinatra Sr. was 17-year-old Nancy Rose Barbato, the dark-haired daughter of a Jersey City, N.J., plastering contractor, when she met a skinny, 18-year-old fledgling singer from Hoboken in the summer of 1934 while they were both vacationing on the Jersey Shore.


“I was a poor, lonely and discouraged kid when I met her,” Frank Sinatra told American Weekly in 1952. “In Nancy, I found beauty, warmth and understanding.”

They continued dating, and the following summer, he took her to see Bing Crosby at a theater in downtown Jersey City. “Bing had always been his hero,” Nancy recalled in “Frank Sinatra: An American Legend,” her daughter Nancy’s 1995 book. “ ‘Someday,’ he told me on the way home, ‘that’s gonna be me up there.’ ”

Frank and Nancy were married Feb. 4, 1939, in a Catholic church in Jersey City, where they set up housekeeping in a three-room apartment. The frugal young bride bargain-hunted at the grocery store and sewed her own clothes; she once cut up one of her dresses and used the material to make a bow tie for Frank that would match what he planned to wear on a singing job. During their early years, she later said, she made all of his bow ties. As newlyweds, Nancy was working as a $25-a-week secretary and Frank was working as a $25-a-week singing waiter and master of ceremonies at the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. Several months after the wedding, trumpeter Harry James heard Frank sing and hired him to be the featured male vocalist in his new orchestra.

As Frank’s singing career took off and then soared — he was named top male band vocalist by Billboard in 1941 — Nancy gave birth to their children: Nancy in 1940, Frank Jr. in 1944 and Christina in 1948.


The Sinatras’ marriage, however, was a far cry from the storybook image presented in fan magazines. Frank, whose work frequently took him away from home, was a legendary womanizer, and Nancy reportedly was frequently humiliated by her husband’s flings and affairs, ranging from showgirls to movie stars.

According to Kitty Kelley’s 1986 book, “His Way: The Unauthorized Biography of Frank Sinatra,” press agent George Evans promoted Frank’s image as a happily married family man and did everything he could to break up the singer’s extramarital romances and to keep the Sinatras together. That included, Kelley wrote, slowly transforming Nancy “from a little Italian housewife into an extremely winning woman. Knowing that Frank was fatally attracted to glamour, he wanted Nancy to be able to hold her own.”

He was heavily involved in a high-profile romance with the sophisticated Ava Gardner in 1950 when Nancy filed for separate maintenance against him and asked for custody of their children.

“Unfortunately, my married life with Frank has become most unhappy and almost unbearable,” she said at the time.


Shortly after the Sinatras were divorced in 1951, Frank married Gardner. In 1966, when Sinatra was 50, he married 21-year-old actress Mia Farrow, though the union was short-lived. He was married to his fourth wife, Barbara, when he died in 1998 at age 82. Nancy never remarried.

Nancy, who was born March 25, 1917, has been described in the press as having remained “remarkably loyal” to her ex-husband. In his later life, according to a 1998 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Frank was welcome in Nancy’s home, and he was known to drop by at odd hours, stoke the fire in the fireplace and fall asleep on the sofa. And as the 20th-century music icon became progressively more ill in the year before his death, Nancy reportedly visited him several times.

Their son, Frank Sinatra Jr., died in 2016. Nancy Sinatra Sr. is survived by her sister, her daughters and various grandchildren and great-grandchildren...


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

CELEBRITY ADS: WALTER PIGEON

Walter Pigeon was one of the great character actors of our times, but as the classic Hollywood system was dying out, Pigeon even found himself looking for work. This print add for liquor mix features a very distinguished looking Walter Pigeon. I am not sure of the date of the ad, but I am guessing around the mid to late 1960s period...



Monday, July 9, 2018

RIP: TAB HUNTER

Tab Hunter, the chiseled 1950s heartthrob who portrayed Joe Hardy in the Damn Yankees! movie, had a No. 1 record and starred in two outlandish films with the drag queen Divine, has died. He was 86.

Hunter died Sunday night in Santa Barbara from a blood clot that caused a heart attack, Allan Glaser, his romantic partner of more than three decades, told The Hollywood Reporter, describing his death as "unexpected and sudden."

After decades of silence, the leading man confirmed long-standing rumors about his homosexuality in his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential: The Making of a Movie Star, published in 2005.

With his Malibu-style, boy-next-door looks and stage name dreamed up by Henry Willson — the agent for Rock Hudson as well — the blondish Hunter was a constant presence on the front of fan and teen magazines in his heyday. (A photo of him with him bare-chested was used as the cover of the 2000 book Shirtless! The Hollywood Male Physique.)


After Hunter beat out James Dean and Paul Newman to portray a young Marine in Raoul Walsh's Battle Cry (1955), Warner Bros. picked up his option and signed him to a seven-year contract, and he appeared in The Girl He Left Behind (1956) and Burning Hills (1956).

Studio head Jack Warner then purchased the film rights to the Tony-winning Broadway musical Damn Yankees! (1958) for Hunter to star in as Washington Senators slugger Hardy. He replaced Stephen Douglass as the lone principal actor who did not make the transition from the stage.


In The New York Times, critic Bosley Crowther wrote: "Tab Hunter may not have the larynx that Stephen Douglass had as the original hero, but he has the clean, naive look of a lad breaking into the big leagues and into the magical company of a first-rate star. He is really appealing with Miss [Gwen] Verdon in the boogie-woogie ballet, "Two Lost Souls," which is done in a smoky, soft-lit setting and is the dandiest dance number in the film."

In a similar athletic vein, Hunter played troubled Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall on a 1955 episode of the CBS anthology series Climax! Like the 1957 movie that starred Anthony Perkins, it was based on the ballplayer's memoir, Fear Strikes Out.

Hunter's recording of "Young Love" for Dot Records in 1957 reached No. 1 and stayed there for six weeks, knocking Elvis Presley's "Too Much" out of the top spot and prompting the creation of Warner Bros. Records. (Jack Warner was annoyed that his studio did not have a record company to capitalize on Hunter's vocal skills, so he started one.)

Skewing his surfer-boy image, Hunter played Todd Tomorrow, a dashing owner of a drive-in, opposite Divine in the John Waters black comedy Polyester (1981), which introduced Odorama to theaters via a scratch-and-sniff card. (Among the scents: "Flatulence," "Model Building Glue" and "Smelly Shoes.")


He was born Arthur Andrew Kelm on July 11, 1931, in New York City. When he was young, his family moved to California, where his natural athleticism flourished, and he became an avid horseman.

At 15, he enlisted in the Coast Guard, lying about his age. Following the service, he was introduced by actor Dick Clayton to Willson, who decided that his birth name did not have the right commercial ring and that the actor needed a new "tab" (slang for "name" at the time).

"I never mentioned my sexuality to Warner Bros. at all, and they never mentioned it to me, thank God," Hunter told Feinberg. He did have a serious relationship with Perkins, however.


Hunter starred for a season (1960-61) on NBC's The Tab Hunter Show, playing a bachelor cartoonist who lives in Malibu. (Future Community actor Richard Erdman played a playboy and his best friend.)

He starred in such films as That Kind of Woman (1959), Operation Bikini (1963) and Man With Two Faces (1964), but then the countercultural '60s had arrived, and Hunter's teen-idol image went out of fashion. Long hair and rebellion were in, epitomized by anti-establishment stars like Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson.

Yet Hunter rode with the cultural wave instead of against it, seeking out balmy, offbeat projects. He co-starred in a mordant satire of the funeral industry, The Loved One (1965), with such loony luminati as Liberace and Jonathan Winters.


He played the substitute teacher Mr. Stuart in Grease 2 (1982) and a decade later penned the story for Dark Horse (1992), which starred Ed Begley Jr. and Mimi Rogers in a story about a spoiled girl who goes to a horse ranch.

A feature documentary about him, also titled Tab Hunter Confidential, was released in 2015 and produced by Glaser.

"If I had come out during my acting career in the 1950s, I would not have had a career," Hunter said in an October 2017 interview. "Not much in Hollywood has changed in 60 years. I really didn't talk about my sexuality until I wrote my autobiography.

"My film career had long since been over by then. I believe one's sexuality is one's own business. I really don't go around discussing it. Call me 'old school' on that topic."