Saturday, January 18, 2020

BORN ON THIS DAY: JOAN CARROLL

Today marks what would have been the birthday of actress Joan Carroll. Joan Carroll was one of the smart child actresses that retired before she had "outgrew" her time in Hollywood. Carroll was born Joan Marie Felt to Wright and Freida Felt on January 18, 1931. Her father was a government electrical engineer, and her mother was a club and stage pianist. Carroll took dramatic lessons when she was very young and was performing locally by age 4. Her family moved to California in 1936, where she received a bit part in The First Baby (1936).

Between 1937 and 1940 she appeared in supporting roles in several movies. Her big break came the 1940 film, Primrose Path, as Ginger Rogers's younger sister, for which she won a Critics Award. The same year she became the first child star to be summoned from Hollywood in order to appear in the leading role in a Broadway musical, Panama Hattie, which ran from October 30, 1940 to January 3, 1942.

Carroll became RKO Radio Pictures' resident juvenile personality in both "A" and "B" pictures. RKO starred Carroll in the leading role with Ruth Warrick in two zany comedy vehicles, Obliging Young Lady (1941) and Petticoat Larceny (1943). She continued to work in films as an adolescent, but less frequently. Two of her best-remembered pictures came from this period: Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) as Judy Garland and Margaret O'Brien's sister, and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945), in which she played a troubled teenager alongside Bing Crosby's Father O'Malley character.


After The Bells of St. Mary's in 1945, Carroll retired. She married in 1951 to James Joseph Krack; the couple had four children. She and her brother donated a historic family lamp to the Nevada State Museum on July 7, 2011.The lamp was originally given to her father, Wright Felt, who was the Public Works Administrator for Nevada at the time the Hoover Dam was built. The lamp was created out of materials used in the construction of the 155-mile, $900,000 power line to the Hoover Dam, and was presented to him by the Lincoln County Power District No. 1 on September 25, 1937, for his assistance with the project.

Carroll died on November 16, 2016 near her home in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, aged 85. She was survived by her husband, their four children and extended family...


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A TRIBUTE TO CAROL CHANNING - ONE YEAR LATER

It has been one year since we lost Broadway superstar Carol Channing (1921-2019). She is gone but she never will be forgotten...





Saturday, January 11, 2020

THE LAST DAYS OF CHARLES BOYER

It seems like that suicide is on the rise in this country. The stress of everyday life is hard for some people. There seems to be so much pain that people have to deal with. Some people can not deal with it. Suicide affects all social classes, and Hollywood is not immune to the epidemic of Hollywood. There are countless stories of Hollywood stories, but an especially sad story is that of Charles Boyer.

Charles Boyer was a French actor who appeared in more than 80 films between 1920 and 1976. After receiving an education in drama, Boyer started on the stage, but he found his success in American films during the 1930s. His memorable performances were among the era's most highly praised, in romantic dramas such as The Garden of Allah (1936), Algiers (1938), and Love Affair (1939), as well as the mystery-thriller Gaslight (1944). He received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actor.

In the seventies, Boyer went for a health check-up and suggested his wife (Pat Boyer) did the same. Pat was diagnosed with inoperable colon and liver cancer and was given a year to live. Boyer kept this from her and the coupled moved to Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Arizona, for what she believed was his health. Boyer read constantly to his wife as she became sicker. He refused to have nurses take care of his wife. Charles took care of her exclusively.  On August 24, 1978, at 3am, she died aged 67 of the disease, as Boyer hold her hand. Boyer was grief-stricken and two days later he took an overdose of Seconal. He died in hospital in Phoenix. He was buried next to his wife and next to their son. His son son believing himself a loser, had committed suicide, in 1965 with a 38 calibre revolver. He was only 22 years old.


Charles Boyer did not leave a suicide note, but he was despondent on losing his beloved love after 44 years of marriage. His wife Pat had been his devote wife during his Hollywood triumphs and some of the tragedy that seemed to follow them both. For Boyer, the suicide ended his suffering and pain. He made his last movie appearances in 1974, but I hope fans remember him for his roles, and not the way he died. His suicide did not define who he was. It was a way to end it on his own terms. The end of Charles Boyer was both sad and brave. It was romantic as well, like so many of his roles, because he had to be back with his wife once again...


Tuesday, January 7, 2020

ON THIS DAY: JANUARY 7

On this day in entertainment history...


1911: Actress Mary Pickford (19) weds actor Owen Moore (25).

1913: Shirley Ross [Bernice Maude Gaunt], American actress (Cafe Society, Prison Farm, Waikiki Wedding), born in Omaha, Nebraska (d. 1975).

1925: Musical "Big Boy" with Al Jolson premieres in NYC.


1967: "Newlywed Game" premieres on ABC TV.


1982: "Fame" premieres on NBC TV.


2015: Rod Taylor, Australian actor (Time Machine, The Birds), dies at 84.


Saturday, January 4, 2020

THE BLACKLISTING OF PAUL ROBESON

The son of a runaway slave, Paul Robeson rose to unprecedented heights: he was an All-American athlete, lawyer, activist, and performer, largely remembered now for his voice, his roles in the movies The Emperor Jones (1933) and Show Boat (1936), his 1943 performance as Othello (still the longest running Shakespeare play on Broadway), and his Communist sympathies.

For a time he was the most famous and respected African American in the U.S., and probably the world. But after 1949, he was the most vilified American alive, blacklisted, spied on, and threatened by racist vigilante terror. His passport was stripped from him by the State Department because it was thought that his singing abroad (even in Canada and Hawaii) was a danger. A strong voice for labor rights, civil rights, and anti-colonialism was rather successfully contained. What happened?

In short: the Cold War. Performance Studies scholar Tony Perucci explores how Robeson was portrayed as insane. During the Cold War, the shared “critical goal” of the federal government and psychoanalytic psychiatry was “to eliminate dissent against American political order.” Because Communists (real or imagined) were said to be so good at masking their true selves, only psychoanalysis could break through outer falsehood of the “red mask.” It followed that they had to be insane to be Communists or fellow-travelers.


In short: the Cold War. Robeson was labeled a psychopath because his views on the Spanish Civil War, labor, segregation, colonialism, and other issues were considered “un-American.”

Robeson was labeled a psychopath—the word came into common use in the post-war era—because his views on the Spanish Civil War, labor, segregation, colonialism, and other issues were considered “un-American.” The immediate cause of Robeson’s downfall was what he purportedly said at the 1949 Paris Peace Conference: that black Americans shouldn’t fight against the Soviet Union. He was called a traitor in the U.S. as soon as the newspapers hit the streets. But historians have shown that the supposed quotes were flashed around the world by the AP before he actually spoke.


Robeson was definitely a supporter of the Soviet Union, which had just a few years previously been the U.S.’s ally in World War II. He had been rapturously received in Moscow in 1934 and later he praised Stalin effusively on the dictator’s death in 1953. But did that make him insane? As Perucci notes, “madness, Communism, homosexuality, theatricality, and blackness and their articulation became key elements in a semiotics of disloyalty.” Robeson had the strikes of being black, an anti-fascist left-winger, and a performer all going against him. Other African Americans were pressured to condemnhim. The NAACP shied away from him.

Robeson’s passport would not be restored until 1958, thanks to the Supreme Court. Robeson lived in the United States, largely out of the public eye, until his death in 1976. His response to a question by a HUAC Congressman in 1956 as to why he didn’t live in the USSR if he liked it so much? “Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part just like you.”



Friday, January 3, 2020

HEALTHWATCH: TERRI GARR

Teri Garr, who has appeared in films from Tootsie to Young Frankenstein, is expected to be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday after an overnight stay.

The Press reported that the 75-year-old retired actress suffered a “medical emergency” and a possible stroke at her home in California’s San Fernando Valley and was transported via ambulance to a local medical center on Monday morning. Her rep clarified later that night that Garr was hospitalized for dehydration — and expected to be released today.

“Teri is fine,” her spokesperson told the Press “She had some confusion which it turns out was caused by dehydration. To be cautious they are keeping her overnight and she’ll be home [Tuesday]. I spoke to her and she sounds good.”

The Academy Award nominee, who also appeared in Mr. Mom and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, has had several major health issues through the years. While she first started experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis in 1982, she was finally diagnosed in 1999 and went public with the news in 2002. She then suffered a brain aneurysm in 2006.

While she returned to acting after the aneurysm, she retired in 2011. However, she continued to make some public appearances, celebrating her work with the cast of Young Frankenstein and attending MS charity events through the years...


RECENTLY VIEWED: STAR WARS - RISE OF THE SKYWALKER

I was a child of the 1980s, so Star Wars was my life. This is before computers and cell phones and instant bombardment of the senses. There was not much by way of entertainment in the 1980s, so Star Wars was huge. I feel bad that it is not as huge to children today. My son, who is 10 now, has instant entertainment at his finger tips with his IPOD, and X-box and countless other devices. However, we did it old school on January 1st and went to see the ninth Star Wars movie - Star Wars: Rise of The Skywalker. We both loved the film!

It is the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and the final episode of the nine-part "Skywalker saga". It was produced by Lucasfilm and Abrams's production company Bad Robot Productions, and was distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The ensemble cast includes Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams. It features the second posthumous film performance by Fisher, who died in 2016 and appears through the use of unused footage from The Force Awakens.


The Rise of Skywalker follows Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they lead the Resistance's final stand against Kylo Ren and the First Order, who are now aided by the return of the deceased galactic emperor, Palpatine. After the new trilogy was announced following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, it was originally reported that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson would write the script for Episode IX. In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was hired to direct and to write a script with his collaborator Derek Connolly; both ultimately retained story credit with Abrams and Chris Terrio. In September 2017, Trevorrow left the project following creative differences with producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Abrams returned as director. Principal photography began in August 2018 at Pinewood Studios in England and wrapped in February 2019. Post-production was completed on November 24, 2019.

The Rise of Skywalker had its world premiere in Los Angeles on December 16, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 20, 2019. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the cast performances and visual effects but criticized the story, pacing, and perceived departures from the themes and story of The Last Jedi. It has grossed over $815 million worldwide against a production budget of $275 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 2019.


The movie has everything a Star Wars fan would want. I have seen all nine Star Wars movies in the theater and after being disappointed at The Last Jedi, I really enjoyed this film. I was concerned how Princess Leia would be shown since Carrie Fisher had passed away before the 2nd movie had even come out. I had thought that they should have just killed her off in the last movie, but the way they did it was very tasteful, and I am amazed at how big of a part she had. This movie brought back memories of a little kid in Pittsburgh seeing the movies with my uncle, and sitting in the movies and watching my son's excitement made me realize that despite all of the technology the kids have today, little boys (and big boys) are all the same...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10