Saturday, January 28, 2017


John Hurt, the esteemed British actor known for his burry voice and weathered visage — one that was kept hidden for his most acclaimed role, that of the deformed John Merrick in David Lynch’s The Elephant Man — died Friday in London. He was 77.

The two-time Oscar nominee's six-decade career also included turns on the BBC’s Doctor Who and in A Man for All Seasons (1966), Midnight Express (1978) and three Harry Potter films.

He announced in June 2015 that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

On screens big and small, Hurt died what seemed a thousand deaths. “I think I’ve got the record,” he once said. “It got to a point where my children wouldn’t ask me if I died, but rather how do you die?”

One of his most memorable came when he played Kane, the first victim in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), in which he collapses over a table and a snakelike alien bursts out of his chest. (How'd they do that? There was an artificial chest screwed to the table, and Hurt was underneath.)

“Ridley didn’t tell the cast,” executive producer Ronald Shusett told Empire magazine in 2009. “He said, ‘They’re just going to see it.’ ”

“The reactions were going to be the most difficult thing,” Scott explained. “If an actor is just acting terrified, you can’t get the genuine look of raw, animal fear. What I wanted was a hardcore reaction.”

Hurt then lampooned the famous torso-busting scene for director Mel Brooks — whose production company produced 1980's The Elephant Man — for the 1987 comedy Spaceballs.

The Elephant Man received eight Academy Award nominations, including one for Hurt as best actor, but went home empty on Oscar night. (Hurt lost out to Robert De Niro as boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull.)

Hurt also garnered an Oscar best supporting actor nomination and a Golden Globe win in 1979 for Midnight Express, in which he portrayed a heroin addict in a Turkish prison. The Alan Parker drama was based on the true story of Billy Hayes (played by Brad Davis), an American college student caught smuggling drugs.

“I loved making Midnight Express,” he said in 2014. “We were making commercial films then that really did have cracking scenes in them, as well as plenty to say, you know?”

His more recent film appearances came in Snowpiercer (2013), The Journey (2016) and Jackie (2016). He is set to be seen in the upcoming features That Good Night and My Name Is Lenny and was to play Neville Chamberlain in the upcoming Joe Wright drama Darkest Hour.

John Vincent Hurt was born Jan. 22, 1940, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England. He studied art at his parents’ behest, earning an art teacher’s diploma. Disillusioned with the prospect of becoming a teacher, Hurt moved to London, where he won an acting scholarship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He studied there for two years, securing bit parts in TV shows.

Hurt made his London stage debut in Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger in 1962. That year, he acted in his first film, The Wild and the Willing, and his role as the duplicitous baron Richard Rich in Oscar best picture winner A Man for All Seasons helped him become more widely known in the U.S.

Hurt brought his peculiarly powerful persona to the role of Mr. Ollivander in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) and Part 2 (2011).

Hurt also was known for his rich, nicotine-toned timbre, which won him many voiceover assignments. He was the narrator in The Tigger Movie (2000), Dogville (2003), Manderlay (2005) and Charlie Countryman (2013).

For the small screen, Hurt starred in the TV shows The Storyteller, The Alan Clark Diaries, The Confession and Merlin and in the miniseries Crime and Punishment and Labyrinth. He notably played the War Doctor in the 2013-14 season of Doctor Who.

The accomplished stage actor performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In 1994, he starred opposite Helen Mirren in Bill Bryden’s West End production of A Month in the Country, and he scraped out an edgy and vigorously dour performance in Samuel Beckett’s autobiographical one-man drama Krapp’s Last Tape in 1999.

When asked about the difference between film and stage acting, Hurt explained: “It’s rather like two different sports. You use two completely different sets of muscles.”

In 2012, Hurt was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, then was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July 2015.

Survivors include his fourth wife Anwen Rees-Myers, whom he married in 2005, and sons Alexander and Nicholas...


LOS ANGELES — Barbara Hale, a movie actress who found her most famous role on television as steadfast secretary Della Street in the long-running Perry Mason series, has died. She was 94.

Hale was surrounded by family when she died Thursday at her Los Angeles areahome, said Jaqueline Stander, an agent for Hale's son, actor William Katt (The Greatest American Hero, Carrie).

"She was gracious and kind and silly and always fun to be with," Katt posted on his Facebook page Thursday, calling Hale a wonderful actress and a "treasure as a friend and mother."

Stander declined to provide the cause of death.

Hale appeared in Perry Mason on CBS from 1957 to 1966, winning an Emmy as best actress in 1959. When the show was revived in 1985 on NBC as an occasional TV movie, she again appeared in court at the side of the ever-victorious lawyer played by Raymond Burr.

She continued her role after Burr died in 1993 and was replaced by Hal Holbrook for the movies that continued into 1995.

"I guess I was just meant to be a secretary who doesn't take shorthand," she once quipped. "I'm a lousy typist, too — 33 words a minute."

Hale was born in DeKalb, Ill., daughter of a landscape gardener and a homemaker. The family moved to Rockford when she was 4, and she later took part in local theater. But her goals were to be a nurse or journalist.

When her ambition turned to art, she studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts, where she was often sought as a model. Her work for a modeling agency prompted an offer for a contract at the RKO studio in Hollywood.

When she reported to the casting director, he was speaking on the phone to someone who needed an immediate replacement for an actress who was sick.

"It hit every paper the next day: the Cinderella story," she recalled in a 1993 Chicago Tribune interview. "Of course they said it was a starring role. I had one line, but you know about those things."

The movie was a quickie, Gildersleeve's Bad Day, but she went on to appear with Pat O'Brien in The Iron Major, Frank Sinatra in Higher and Higher and Robert Young in Lady Luck.

Another co-star was a blond actor named Bill Williams (real name: William Katt), with whom she appeared in West of the Pecos and A Likely Story. They met over coffee in the studio commissary and married in Rockford in 1946. The couple had three children: Nita, William and Jody.

Williams, who died in 1992, later gained TV fame as star of The Adventures of Kit Carson. Their son goes by his father's original name, William Katt.

After her RKO contract ended, Hale worked at other studios, usually as the adoring wife of the leading man. She played opposite Larry Parks in Jolson Sings Again, James Stewart in Jackpot and James Cagney in A Lion Is in the Streets.
In 1957, she joined the memorable cast of Perry Mason that included Burr as the defense attorney who solved his cases in the courtroom, William Hopper as investigator Paul Drake, William Talman as never-winning prosecutor Hamilton Burger and Ray Collins as police lieutenant Arthur Tragg.

"When we started, it was the beginning of women not working at home," Hale said in the 1993 interview. "I liked that she was not married. My husband, Bill, didn't have to see me married to another man, and our children didn't have to see me mothering other children."

In the early 1970s, Hale took on another widely recognized role, touting Amana Radarange microwave ovens in TV commercials and print ads.

Burr and Hale were the only original cast members when the show resumed on NBC in 1985 in the movie format. Her son, William Katt, appeared in nine of the two-hour shows, as the investigator son of Paul Drake.

Hale's later films included the original Airport, playing the husband of Dean Martin's pilot character; The Giant Spider Invasion and Big Wednesday, in which she appeared with her son. She retired from making movies in 1995...

Friday, January 27, 2017


The entertainment world is full of forgotten artists, talented people who just never quite made it. One name that will not be remembered by anyone is the name of Buddy Doyle. Doyle was born on April 20, 1894 in Brooklyn, New York. Born Benjamin Taubenhaus) to Russian immigrants, he began acting in high school in minstrel shows in Brooklyn, New York. After he was discovered by comedian and vaudeville actor Lew Dockstader, his career as an impersonator, comedian, and singer landed him lead roles in all the major vaudeville circuits.

He had to quit vaudeville to fight during World War I, but returned after the war had ended. On Broadway he performed in the original 1923 revue Artists and Models. His film credits include At a Talkie Show (1929) and The Great Ziegfeld (1936), which he understudied for before playing Eddie Cantor. He also performed in several editions of The Ziegfeld Follies and was a replacement actor for Henry Williams in the 1928 Broadway production of Whoopee. Buddy was not only a performer but a song writer as well. He wrote a song with Gene Austin entitled All That You Left Me Were Two Empty Arms in 1926.

In 1927, Doyle married the beautiful Peggy Hoover. Peggy Hoover was an American dancer and actress for vaudeville, Broadway, and regional theater. She began dancing as a child in Denver, Colorado under Gladys Moore. During her freshman year of high school she was picked up by vaudevillian Gus Edwards to perform in his fifteenth annual revue at the Orpheum Theatre in Denver. Hoover would continue to perform with Edwards for several years in shows across the United States and in London. She also appeared in Bobby Sanford's well-received Showboat Revue and performed in multiple editions of Earl Carroll's Vanities. She made her Broadway debut in Hello, Yourself in 1928.

Buddy died suddenly during an appendix operation on November 9, 1939 in New York City, New York. He was only 45. Peggy Hoover later remarried and continued her career in radio and melodrama under the name Peggy Bloodgood. It's sad because as forgotten as Eddie Cantor is today - Buddy Doyle is forgotten even more...


Wednesday, January 25, 2017


TV icon Mary Tyler Moore died on Wednesday after being hospitalized in Connecticut, her rep confirmed to The Huffington Post. She was 80.

“Today, beloved icon, Mary Tyler Moore, passed away at the age of 80 in the company of friends and her loving husband of over 33 years, Dr. S. Robert Levine. A groundbreaking actress, producer, and passionate advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mary will be remembered as a fearless visionary who turned the world on with her smile,” her rep Mara Buxbaum told The Huffington Post in a statement.

Moore, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1936 and grew up in Los Angeles, rose to international fame starring on the 1960s sitcom “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” She later starred on the beloved 1970s sitcom “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” which is one of the first shows to feature a never-married, working woman as its central character. Moore played single, 30-year-old TV news producer Mary Richards.

The show, which featured Moore’s character asking for equal pay to her male co-worker and going on the pill, became a paradigm of the women’s liberation movement and is credited with inspiring women to break the mold confining them as wives and homemakers.

The real-life Mary commanded just as much respect. Her namesake show came to fruition in 1970, when she and her former husband Grant Tinker co-founded production company MTM Enterprises and successfully pitched the show to CBS. In its seven-season run, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” held the record for most Emmys won ― 29 ― until “Frasier” broke it in 2002.

“First and foremost Mary was a businesswoman and she ran her series beautifully,” friend and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” director Alan Rafkin recalled in his autobiography. “She was the boss, and although you weren’t always wedded to doing things exactly her way, you never forgot for a second that she was in charge.”

After the show, Moore continued her acting career and earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of a mother grieving the loss of her son in 1980’s “Ordinary People.” She most recently appeared in “Hot In Cleveland,” alongside her “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Valerie Harper in 2013.

Moore, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 33 and suffered near blindness resulting from the disease in recent years, has also been a longtime advocate for researching cures for diabetes and served as the international chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She published a memoir on the subject, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes, in 2009.

She was preceded in death by her son, Richard, in 1980 and is survived by her husband, Robert Levine...

Friday, January 20, 2017


Hollywood is full of some of the most different people in the world - working in the entertainment business I think puts some different people together that you would never picture being together. Here is the 4th addition of this series showing more odd pairings...

Lou Costello, Elvis Presley, and Jane Russell

Eddie Murphy, Ella Fitzgerald, and Michael Jackson

Jimmy Stewart, James Cagney, and Orson Welles

Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee

Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson

Bono and Frank Sinatra

Friday, January 13, 2017


I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone - if possible - Jew, Gentile - black man - white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness - not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost....

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men - cries out for universal brotherhood - for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world - millions of despairing men, women, and little children - victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish. .....

Soldiers! don’t give yourselves to brutes - men who despise you - enslave you - who regiment your lives - tell you what to do - what to think and what to feel! Who drill you - diet you - treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate - the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” - not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power - the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then - in the name of democracy - let us use that power - let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world - a decent world that will give men a chance to work - that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world - to do away with national barriers - to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Buddy Bregman, an arranger and composer who scored and/or orchestrated such films as The Pajama Game, The Wild Party and Born Reckless, died Sunday evening in Los Angeles after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 86.

Bregman’s death was confirmed by his daughter, The Young and the Restless actress Tracey Bregman.

Before his film work, Bregman got his start, at age 25, as the head of A&R at Norman Granz’s Verve Records. While there, he worked as an arranger with such artists as Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. He arranged two of the now-classic albums in Ella Fitzgerald’s song book project as well as several of her early Verve Records singles. Bregman later became Ethel Merman’s personal arranger.

Following his tenure at Verve, Bregman became the musical director of NBC’s The Eddie Fisher Show, and was the first American director hired for the BBC. In 1966, he was appointed head of light entertainment for the weekday ITV company Redifussion London, and later worked as a television producer and director in the United States and Europe.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by son Barry Bregman, former wife Suzanne Lloyd, four grandsons, a great grandson and a brother and sister-in-law...

Friday, January 6, 2017


When my wife was pregnant with our first child, pop singer Michael Jackson died. I was a fan of Jackson, and one of my favorite songs was an earlier one called "Ben". We were thinking of names for our son, and I came up with Ben. My wife exclaimed "You aren't naming our son after a song about a rat!" I still love the song and here is the story behind the "rat song"...

"Ben" is a song written by Don Black and composed by Walter Scharf for the 1972 film of the same name (the sequel to the 1971 killer rat film Willard). It was performed in the film by Lee Montgomery and by Michael Jackson over the closing credits. Jackson's single, recorded for the Motown label in 1972, spent one week at the top of the U.S. pop chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 20 song for 1972. It also reached number-one on the Australian pop chart, spending eight weeks at the top spot. The song also later reached a peak of number seven on the British pop chart.

"Ben" won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1973, losing to "The Morning After" from The Poseidon Adventure; Jackson performed the song in front of a live audience at the ceremony. The song was Jackson's first U.S. #1 solo hit.

Originally written for Donny Osmond, "Ben" was offered to Jackson as Osmond was on tour at the time and unavailable for recording. Although Jackson had already become the youngest artist to ever record a number-one ("I Want You Back" with The Jackson 5, in 1970), "Ben" made him the third-youngest solo artist, at fourteen, to score a number-one hit single. Only Stevie Wonder, who was thirteen when "Fingertips, Pt. 2" went to number one, and Osmond, who was months shy of his fourteenth birthday when "Go Away Little Girl" hit number one in 1971 were younger.

A live recorded version was released on the 1981 album The Jacksons Live! and remixed versions have appeared on The Remix Suite, The Stripped Mixes and some versions of Immortal. After Jackson's death, singer Akon released a remix of the song with his own background vocals and Jackson's original vocal solo.