Thursday, November 15, 2018

RIP: ROY CLARK

Roy Clark, the legendary guitarist and singer, Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member, Grammy, ACM and CMA award winner and co-host of the “Hee Haw” television series, died today at the age of 85 due to complications from pneumonia at home in Tulsa, Okla.

His 24-year sting on the at times deliberately corny “Hee Haw” show belied his stellar musicianship and deep pedigree as a country-music pioneer, particularly the “Bakersfield” sound of the late 1950s and early 1960s in which he was deeply involved with fellow picker Buck Owens, who also appeared on the show. With the later rise of country stars ranging from Emmylou Harris and Dwight Yoakam to Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, Clark’s vast influence has received its proper due.

During the 1970s, Clark frequently guest-hosted for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and enjoyed a 30-million viewership for Hee Haw. Clark is highly regarded and renowned as a guitarist and banjo player, and is also skilled on classical guitar and several other instruments. Although he has had hit songs as a pop vocalist (e.g., "Yesterday, When I Was Young" and "Thank God and Greyhound"), his instrumental skill has had an enormous effect on generations of bluegrass and country musicians. He has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1987 and, in 2009, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.


He is survived by Barbara, his wife of sixty-one years, his sons Roy Clark II and wife Karen, Dr. Michael Meyer and wife Robin, Terry Lee Meyer, Susan Mosier and Diane Stewart, and his grandchildren: Brittany Meyer, Michael Meyer, Caleb Clark, Josiah Clark and his sister, Susan Coryell.

A memorial celebration will be held in the coming days in Tulsa, Okla., details forthcoming...


Monday, November 12, 2018

FORGOTTEN ONES: DICK STABILE

This article was written by my good friend BG on his Geezer Music club blog. He gave me permission to republish the excellent story here. Here is a link to his page and the original story: Geezer Music Club!

One of the things I enjoy about reading biographies of entertainment legends is learning about the less famous people whose lives revolved around the stars, like the guy I ran across in a book about Dean Martin. An accomplished saxophonist who’d gotten his start in the early big band era, Dick Stabile was the musical director for Martin and Lewis at the height of their fame as a comedy team, and for many years also backed up Dino on some of his best records. Along the way he found time to have a pretty good career as a bandleader.

Growing up in Newark meant that Stabile was just a stone’s throw from New York, and he wasted no time moving there in the 1920s to make a living as a professional musician. Still just a teenager, he bounced around a while and ended up in the well-regarded Ben Bernie’s orchestra, where he would spend the next decade learning the music business inside and out.

By the late 1930s Stabile had formed his own band and he found a lot of work in New York nightspots, including hotels and ballrooms, a fertile field for bands at that time. He also married singer Gracie Barrie, which proved to be a good move. Not only was she popular with fans of the band, she was also the one who kept the outfit going when Stabile later left for service in World War II.


In the post-war years the big band era was in decline and Stabile began to change with the times, working more in radio and eventually relocating in Los Angeles, where he later began to work with Martin and Lewis. He would spend a number of years as the duo’s musical director, appearing on stage with them and eventually on TV too. Even after the comedy team split, he continued to provide musical accompaniment for Martin on some of his best records. He also recorded with other stars — Della Reese for one — before eventually returning to the leadership of a band of his own. In his later years he relocated to New Orleans, where he was a popular part of the local music scene until his death in 1980, at age 71....


Friday, November 9, 2018

JONI MITCHELL AT 75

As an adoring-but-anxious crowd wondered if she'd appear at an all-star concert celebration on her 75th birthday, Joni Mitchell was stuck in traffic. It was only fitting for a singer and songwriter whose music helped define the experience of modern Southern California.

Glen Hansard could have been describing the guest of honor when he sang of "a prisoner of the white lines on the freeway" in his rendition of Mitchell's "Coyote" soon after the show finally began, nearly an hour late.

James Taylor, Chaka Khan, Kris Kristofferson, Rufus Wainwright and Seal were also among those serenading Mitchell with her own songs Wednesday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Mitchell didn't speak or say a word all night, but just showing up was a triumph. For 3 1/2 years, she has been almost completely absent from public life after an aneurysm left her debilitated and unable to speak, and little has been revealed of her condition since.

"You know, Joni has had a long and arduous recovery from a really major event," Taylor, one of Mitchell's oldest friends, told The Associated Press before the show. "But she's doing so much better."

Mitchell needed help walking in and getting to her seat in a front corner. She suffered a brain aneurysm in 2015. The audience greeted her with a standing ovation and spontaneous chorus of "Happy Birthday."


The crowd's love for Mitchell was matched by the artists themselves, especially the women, many of whom said Mitchell was much more than a musical influence.

"Joni Mitchell is an inspiration to every girl who ever picked up a guitar," Emmylou Harris said after singing Mitchell's "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire." That inspiration apparently has its limits. Harris didn't play guitar on the song, saying with a laugh that the "chords are too hard for me."

The songs were interspersed with photos of Mitchell and audio clips of her speaking throughout her career, allowing her to serve as the evening's narrator even as she remained silent.

Later in the evening, film director and Mitchell mega-fan Cameron Crowe presented her with the Music Center's Excellence in the Performing Arts Award at a dinner gala whose guests included David Geffen, Lily Tomlin, Anjelica Huston and Tom Hanks.


The concert brought four decades of songs that showed the twisting career path of the onetime Canadian folkie who became the quintessential California singer-songwriter behind albums like "Blue" and "Court and Spark" and then took her music to places her soft-rock contemporaries would never dare go.

Diana Krall showed the depth of Mitchell's jazz influence as she sat at the piano and sang "Amelia" from 1976. Kristofferson and Brandi Carlile showed that Mitchell could be a little bit country with their version of 1971's "A Case of You" and its memorable chorus, "I could drink a case of you darling. Still I'd be on my feet."

As the show approached its end, the curtain fell and the crowd chanted for an encore. They went wild when it rose to show Mitchell standing at the front of the stage in a long red coat, black hat and cane.
She blew out candles on a birthday cake and swayed to the rhythm as all of the night's musicians combined for 1970's "Big Yellow Taxi."

Monday, November 5, 2018

RECENTLY VIEWED: THE NUTCRACKER & THE FOUR REALMS

It's hard to imagine that Christmas movies are already coming out, but that is what is happening! This past weekend I took my daughter to see The Nutcracker And The Four Realms. Sadly it looks like the movie is not doing well in the box office, (It made $20 million in its opening weekend off of $125 million plus budget), but I found it to be pretty good. It does not compare to last year's Beauty And The Beast, but this was a fun movie to take my six year old to.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is a fantasy adventure film directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston and written by Ashleigh Powell. It is a retelling of E. T. A. Hoffmann's short story "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" and Marius Petipa's The Nutcracker, about a young girl who is gifted a locked egg from her deceased mother and sets out in a magical land to retrieve the key. The film stars Keira Knightley, Mackenzie Foy, Eugenio Derbez, Matthew Macfadyen, Richard E. Grant, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman.

All Clara wants is a key - a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift from her late mother. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer's annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key-which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It's there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip, a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers, and Land of Sweets. Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to the tyrant Mother Ginger, to retrieve Clara's key and hopefully return harmony to the unstable world.


Mackenzie Foy was really good in the female lead playing Clara. She best known for appearing as Renesmee Cullen in the 2012 film The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Also veteran actors like Morgan Freeman and Helen Merrin are their usual bests. They never put in a bad performance in any rule. However, the stand out for me was Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy. I never really thought much of her as an actresses, but she was unrecognizable in her role, and she really did a great job on her character.

The movie is not perfect. I feel that the poor box office is due the movie being released too early in the holiday season. Also, i think that more explanation is needed for how the Four Realms were created. However, to a six year old and her father (who is always trying to make time for his beautiful daughter), this film was great. I had a tear in my eye during some parts of the movie, and as the lights came up on the movie theater I walked out with my very independent daughter, and she grabbed my hand to hold. I think this movie did it's job...

MY RATING: 8 OUT OF 10


Sunday, November 4, 2018

HISTORY BREAK: EVA PERON

“Evita! Evita! La santa Peronista!” Anyone who has seen Andrew Lloyd Weber’s operetta Evita knows at least a little something about the life of Eva Perón, one of Argentina’s most beloved and controversial political figures. While she was never an elected official, Evita had a profound and lasting impact on the social and political landscape of Argentina.

Born in 1919 in the town of Los Toldos, Argentina, Maria Eva Duarte grew up with her parents and four siblings. Her family was quite prosperous at the time she was born. Evita’s father, Juan Duarte, was given the role of Deputy Justice of the Peace in 1908, and the family enjoyed a great deal of prominence. At this time, the leftist Radical Party had won the presidency, and conservative ideologies continued to become increasingly unpopular: bad news for Juan Duarte, who was solidly affiliated with the Conservatives.

After moving to Buenos Aires, Evita worked as an actress, and made her way in the big city as best she could without any real financial stability. It wasn’t until 1944 that Evita would meet Juan Perón, who, as a result of his involvement with a military coup that resulted in a takeover of the Argentine government, was currently the Secretary of War and Labor.


Evita and Juan Perón were married in 1945, and in that same year, Juan Perón was imprisoned by opposition from within his party over fears that he would eclipse the presidency. Released a short time later, Juan Perón went on to win the presidency, and thus came the rise of Evita as an influential political figure.

The Peróns were both popular among the poor and working classes and unions in Argentina. The particular set of policies and beliefs held by Juan Perón eventually became a political party and political philosophy known as Perónism. While Perónism was popular among lower socioeconomic classes in Argentina, Argentina didn’t necessarily have too many sympathetic friends abroad, particularly in Europe.

As first lady, Evita was tasked with meeting foreign leaders in Europe, and in 1947, an invitation by the president of Spain lead Evita on a trip known as the Rainbow Tour. On this tour, Evita met with leaders in Italy, Portugal, France, Switzerland, and Monaco, as well as Argentina’s South American neighbors, Brazil and Uruguay. Evita used these special visits to promote her husband’s agenda abroad. She was also accompanied by a huge entourage, and traveled in style.


Despite criticism against her (some justified, some not), Evita is credited with many wonderful accomplishments. She was instrumental in passing a law that gave women the right to vote in Argentina in 1947. In 1948, she established the Maria Eva Duarte de Perón Foundation, which served poor children and elderly people. Evita is perhaps best known for championing the rights of the descamisados (meaning “the shirtless ones,” referring to working class laborers). Throughout her political career, Evita supported legislation that would improve working conditions and wages for some of Argentina’s poorest workers.

Eva Perón experienced and accomplished all of this on only 33 years, the age when she died of cervical cancer. Evita died in 1952, but the legacy she and Juan Perón left behind when they started the Peronist movement is every bit as active in Argentina today as it was when they first rose to prominence. The subject of endless debate, Evita’s Peronism (and its opposition) is still very much a defining political and social feature of Argentina. Because of this, Argentina’s future will forever be entwined with the history of La Santa Peronista...



SOURCE

Monday, October 29, 2018

CELEBRITY ADS: LYNN BARI

With Halloween right around the corner, I figured it would be fun to find a classic Hollywood advertisement from the holidays. I found this cool ad featuring Lynn Bari hawking Sinclair Motor Oil. This advertisement is circa 1948, and Bari was currently appearing in the movie The Man From Texas...


Monday, October 22, 2018

FIVE THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT BORIS KARLOFF

One of my favorite times of the year is Halloween. I love everything about the holiday, especially I love the Halloween movies. One of the best of the classic movie horror stars was Boris Karloff. A lot of people love his acting but don't know too much about the man...


1. No one really thought Frankenstein would be such a success and the studio never imagined that Karloff would emerge as its star. Another British actor, Colin (“It’s alive! It’s alive!”) Clive got top billing as Dr. Frankenstein – remember, Frankenstein is the creator, not the monster. Second billing went to the literal bride of Frankenstein, Mae Clarke, perhaps most well-known for being on the receiving end of James Cagney’s grapefruit in Public Enemy. The opening credits don’t even list Karloff’s name, just a question mark, a promotion gimmick certainly, but one the studio probably would not have used with a more famous actor.

2. There was no bad blood between Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Daughter Sara Karloff told an interviewer that rumors of a rivalry between Karloff and Lugosi were simply untrue. The two worked together on many films, she said, and there was no “personal animosity or professional jealousy – that was all studio hype – and it worked – the studios fed on that, and it made for good box office.”


3. Boris Karloff was one of the founding members of the Screen Actor’s Guild. Karloff’s legendary performance in Frankenstein was also a grueling one, said Museum of the Moving Image curator David Schwartz. Although the role made his career, the hours of makeup were brutal and made him realize how important safe working conditions were to actors – leading him to become one of the founders of the Screen Actors Guild, said Schwartz.

4. Boris Karloff loved cricket and gardening – and all things British. Although he left England for Canada in 1909, he never gave up his British citizenship. He did, however, shed his name, perhaps to shield his family from the disdain they feared from having an actor in the family. Publicly, Karloff said that Pratt seemed like an unfortunate name for an actor, suggesting pratfalls.

5. Boris Karloff’s favorite actor was George Kennedy.When she was asked who her father’s favorite actors were, Sarah Karloff said the only performer whose craft he’d ever specifically mentioned to her was veteran American actor George Kennedy, who’s been in more 200 movies and TV shows and who won an Oscar for his performance in Cool Hand Luke...


Sunday, October 14, 2018

MUSIC REVIEW: BING CROSBY - SEASONS

Bing Crosby died 41 years ago today. It is amazing how the years are passing by. To commemorate this sad day, I wanted to take a look at Bing's final original album he recorded. It was a fitting end to a mammoth career. Seasons is a 1977 vinyl album by Bing Crosby which was issued by Polydor Records under catalogue No. 2442 151. The album is particularly significant in that it was the final studio album completed before Crosby's death on October 14, 1977; it was released posthumously, and was marketed with the tagline "The Closing Chapter". Crosby was backed by Pete Moore and his Orchestra and the Johnny Evans Singers. Moore also did all the arrangements for the album, which was recorded at CBS Studios, Whitfield Street, London on September 12,13 & 14 1977 - except for one song "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year" which was recorded at United Western Recorders, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood on January 19, 1976. This song was also produced by Ken Barnes and arranged by Pete Moore.

The album entered the UK album charts in December 1977 and remained there for seven weeks with a peak position of #25.

Variety commented: "If it were merely that this is the last recording Bing Crosby ever made, it would be more than enough reason to run and buy it. But it also happens to be a marvelous representation of the later Crosby years."

Billboard reviewed it and said: "This album is billed as the last commercial recording by the beloved crooner, who died one month after recording these tracks. This is a concept album in that it contains 12 songs which either deal with a specific time of the year or more generally on the passing of time. Excellent mix of rousing sing-along numbers like “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” and “Sleigh Ride” (which feature some high-stepping female background singers) with more sophisticated, elusive melodies like “Autumn in New York."


Song Listing:
1. "Seasons"
2. "On the Very First Day of the Year"
3. "June in January"
4. "Spring Will Be a Little Late This Year"
5. "April Showers"
6. "June Is Bustin' Out All Over"
7. "In the Good Old Summer Time"
8. "Summer Wind"
9. "Autumn in New York"
10. "September Song"
11. "Sleigh Ride"
12. "Yesterday When I Was Young"


All of the songs we well sung. I think Bing could have picked a better song to record than the ancient "In The Good Old Summertime", but the marjority of the songs are spot on. My favorite songs are "Seasons" (the title song - written especially for the album) and the fitting "Yesterday When I Was Young". Bing's voice was a little weak on "Autumn In New York", but again it is not a song that needs to be sung powerful.

For the album cover, Bing was supposed to be captured in different seasonal poses, but in typical style Bing came in one day and told the photographer to take a picture as he was. The result again is very fitting. The "Seasons" album is widely available on CD with many special tracks, so I highly recommend this album. It was the end of Bing Crosby's recording career, but it was not the end of the enjoyment he gave to millions of fans...

MY RATING: 9 OUT OF 10


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

SINGER SPOTLIGHT: KITTY KALLEN

While she was best known for her wistfully romantic 1954 chart-topper “Little Things Mean a Lot,” singer Kitty Kallen had previously enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a swing-era, big band vocalist.

A gifted child with an expressive voice, Kallen had her own radio show on Philadelphia‘s WCAU at age 11 and within a few years, when she was just 14, was featured as a vocalist for bandleader Jan Savit. By 16, she had graduated to a spot with the great clarinetist Artie Shaw.

Billed as “Pretty Kitty” Kallen, she was far more than just easy on the eyes. As a band vocalist, Kallen was compelled to hold her own against the best girl singers in the business, giants like Ella Fitzgerald, Helen Forrest and Anita O’Day, and demonstrated more than a few times that she had the pipes and chops to compete. Her resume included stints with the biggest and most artistically progressive units in the field: Jimmy Dorsey, Jack Teagarden, Harry James and Shaw, with whom she recorded a highly regarded version of the steamy standard “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” Replacing Helen O’Connell in Dorsey’s aggregation, Kallen’s arresting vocals propelled his 1944 version of “Besame Mucho” to No. 1 on the pop chart.

By the early 1950s, the heyday of the great swing bands was ending and Kallen concentrated on radio and nightclub work. She was sidelined temporarily in the early '50s when her voice gave out but, but by 1954 Kallen’s throat and drive were again in top condition. Recording for Decca, her “Little Things Mean a Lot” was a smash that Billboard magazine designated as the year’s top disk, and ably characterizes Kallen’s impressive, and graceful, transition from classic big band swing to modern post-war pop.


Her first marriage, to Clint Garvin, a clarinetist in Teagarden’s band, was annulled. In 1947, at the Copacabana in New York, Frank Sinatra’s first wife, Nancy, introduced Ms. Kallen to Budd Granoff, a press agent who represented Sinatra, Jimmy Durante, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Doris Day and many other entertainers. Mr. Granoff was instantly smitten and told a companion that he had just met the girl he would marry. They did marry, in 1948, and Mr. Granoff soon gave up his other clients to manage Ms. Kallen’s career full time.

The couple and Jonathan, their only child, lived most of the time in Englewood, except for a few years in the Los Angeles area, when Mr. Granoff worked in television. Jonathan Granoff said he was 12 or so before he realized that not everyone’s mother sang on “The Ed Sullivan Show” or had strange, loud, funny friends like Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and Zero Mostel.

She went on to spend five “lost” years “in the clutches of psychoanalysts,” she told The American Weekly in 1960. One therapist urged divorce (she refused) and dragged her back through painful childhood memories of her mother’s death and of being called homely and nicknamed Monkey.


Another therapist, she said, thought everything was based on sex and had an office full of “strange contraptions.” Expected to undress for psychotherapy sessions, she quit. Yet another talked mostly about himself but also counseled divorce, she said. A fourth hypnotized her.

Finally, in 1959, she began to recover — no thanks, she said, to her therapists. The turning point came when her son, then 11, found her weeping over her mother-in-law’s death and tried to comfort her by saying that everything was in God’s hands. It was what she needed to hear, she said. Those words inspired a new degree of religious faith and enabled her to return to work. She retired in the mid-1960s.

At some point after retirement, her son said, several women in different parts of the country tried to pass themselves off as Kitty Kallen, showing up to sing at retirement homes and other places. His father, he said, would call them and say: “Stop it. You’re crazy,” but they were incorrigible.



In 1978, Ms. Kallen and her family were startled to hear reports of her death. One of her impersonators had checked into a hospital in a Los Angeles suburb and died there. The hospital announced Kitty Kallen’s death, and the news spread.

Frank Sinatra called to offer his condolences, Mr. Granoff recalled. His father said: “She’s here. She’s just sleeping.” But Sinatra would not desist until his father finally put Ms. Kallen on the phone.

In 2008, Kallen joined artists Patti Page, Tony Martin, Dick Hyman, Richard Hayman and the estates of Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, Woody Herman, Les Brown, the Mills Brothers, Jerry Murad, Frankie Laine, and the gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a suit against the world's then largest music label, Universal Music Group, alleging the company had cheated them on royalties.

In 2009, Kallen was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.

Kallen died on January 7, 2016 at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico, at the age of 94. The beautiful songbird was survived by her son, her three grandsons, and millions of fans...


Sunday, October 7, 2018

RIP: SCOTT WILSON

Scott Wilson, who played the murderer Robert Hickock in 1967’s In Cold Blood and was a series regular on The Walking Dead, has died. He was 76.

AMC, the show’s network, announced Wilson’s death on Saturday. The network calls Wilson’s character on The Walking Dead, veterinarian Hershel Greene, “the emotional core of the show.”

Wilson starred on the series from 2011 to 2014. His return for the upcoming season was announced just hours earlier on Saturday. Wilson had already filmed his scenes for season nine.

In the same year as Wilson’s breakthrough in In Cold Blood, the movie version of Truman Capote’s devastating nonfiction novel about the murder of a family in Kansas in 1959, Wilson also played murder suspect Harvey Oberst in the smash “In the Heat of the Night.”

He appeared in the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby as George Wilson and in The Right Stuff as pilot Scott Crossfield. The actor earned a Golden Globe nomination in 1980 for his performance in The Ninth Configuration, in which he played a former astronaut.


Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer of The Walking Dead, also paid tribute on social media. She tweeted: “Scott was one of the greats, both as an actor and a man. We in The Walking Dead Family are truly grief stricken. He lived life to the fullest with his true love, his wife Heavenly. He is now a shining star in heaven spreading kindness and light forever.”

He also portrayed a prison chaplain in Sean Penn's Dead Man Walking (1995), and his character, a john, was slain by Charlize Theron's victim turned serial killer in Patty Jenkins' Monster (2003).


For a performer of his obvious ability, Wilson went lengthy stretches without working. He filled one slow period by painting drug stores.

"Not many people survive a long period of time as actors," Wilson told the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2016. "I've been fortunate to have a long career and play a variety of roles. I've had my down periods. I went four years without work. You have stretches where it feels like starting over. But a lot of people never even get the first break. You're incredibly fortunate if you get that."



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

HISTORY OF A SONG: SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES

What I enjoy about the great songs of tin pan alley is that they are timeless. There are so many songs that I forget about and then get reintroduced to. I recently heard a recording of the song "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", and I realized who great the song was all over again. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for their 1933 musical Roberta. The song was sung in the original Broadway show by Tamara Drasin. Its first recorded performance was by Gertrude Niesen, who recorded the song with orchestral direction from Ray Sinatra, Frank Sinatra's second cousin, on October 13, 1933. Niesen's recording of the song was released by Victor, catalog# VE B 24454, with the B-side, "Jealousy", featuring Isham Jones and his Orchestra.

Paul Whiteman had the first hit recording of the song on the record charts in 1934. The song was later reprised by Irene Dunne, who performed it in the original 1935 film adaptation of the musical, co-starring Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Randolph Scott. The song was also included in the 1952 remake of Roberta, Lovely to Look At, in which it was performed by Kathryn Grayson, and was a chart hit in 1958 for The Platters.


The song has been covered by numerous artists; the first being Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra, with a vocal performance from Bob Lawrence. This version of the song topped music charts in 1934. Other early covers of the song include that of the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, who released their contemporary version in 1938, with His Master's Voice. The B-side to Dorsey's single was "Night And Day". During the mid-to-late 1930s Larry Adler and Henry Hall recorded live radio performances of the song on BBC Radio broadcasts; Adler's rendition, a complex, syncopated, harmonic arrangement, and Hall's, a full orchestral performance with the BBC orchestra and a vocal performance from Dan Donovan. Henry Hall's version was also released as a 10" single. Art Tatum said in an introduction to a 1955 performance of the song that he performed "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in the 1930s, contributing to the song's popularity. However, it is unclear whether Tatum recorded the song during that decade; if a recording was made at that time, it may not have survived to the present day.

Possibly the most well-known version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was recorded in 1958 by The Platters, for their album Remember When?. The group's cover became a number one hit in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart. In 1959 the version went on to peak at number three on the Rhythm and Blues chart.The song spent 20 weeks on the UK charts, peaking at Number 1 for one week on 20 March of that same year. The Platters' producer, Buck Ram, reported that Harbach "congratulated Buck Ram and the Platters for reviving his song with taste." Jerome Kern's widow, on the other hand, disliked the recording so much she considered taking legal action to prevent its distribution...


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

COOKING WITH THE STARS: ELIZABETH TAYLOR


I am not a huge fan of the legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, but I was intrigued by her recipe for chicken with avocado and mushrooms...


INGREDIENTS:
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 (2 1/2 pound) chickens, cut into serving pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup butter
3 finely chopped shallots
3 tablespoons cognac
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken stock
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Sprinkle avocado with lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet, over low heat, heat 3 to 4 tablespoons butter and sauté chicken until juices run yellow when it is pricked with a fork, about 35 to 40 minutes. Use two skillets if necessary, adding more butter as needed. Transfer cooked chicken to a serving dish. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Keep warm in a 300 degree F oven for 15 minutes, while preparing a sauce.

To make the sauce, add shallots to skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring and scraping sides and bottom of a pan with wooden spoon. Add cognac and wine and bring to a boil. Boil until mixture has almost evaporated. Add cream and boil 5 minutes longer. Add chicken stock to cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. While sauce cooks, sauté mushrooms over high heat in butter. Add the mushrooms, remaining cognac, and avocado cubes. Stir until well blended. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

GUEST REVIEW: ONCE A THIEF

Bruce Kogan is back to review another film. I have to admit I have never of 1951's Once A Thief but after reading this review I want to see it now!

Cesar Romero and June Havoc star in this shoestring B film about a woman who falls for the wrong guy and both pay for it in the end.

June Havoc plays a waitress in a Los Angeles beanery who's been around the block a few times and sets in motion a train of events when she feels sorry for Marie McDonald when she can't pay her bill and gets her a job at her place of work.

McDonald barely escaped from a heist she was in on up north and she's wanted. Romero is a flashy small time crook who runs a bookmaking parlor with Lon Chaney, Jr. in back of Chaney's tailor shop.


All three, Romero, Havoc, and Chaney are in parts that they would have gotten more critical acclaim for had they been at a major studio for this film. Romero who was usually second leads and/or romantic rival of the leading man really shows some acting chops in this part. Chaney also showed he was capable of more than the horror films Universal Pictures put him in.

As for Havoc she spent most of her career on the stage, but her film appearances were in mostly B films. She's the hardboiled dame in love with the wrong guy and great at the part.


Fans of all three of these people, this dental floss budget film should not be missed by any of you...

BRUCE'S RATING: 5 OUT OF 10
MY RATING: HAVE NOT SEEN YET!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

DICK HAYMES AT 100

There was a time when the name Dick Haymes meant more to the record buying audience than Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby. However, September 13th marks what would have been Haymes 100th birthday. Many people will not remember this crooner with one of the best voices in the business. Dick Haymes was most popular in the 1940s but early on he worked with several bandleaders before beginning a solo career that took him to Hollywood stardom. His brother, Bob, was a successful songwriter. (Bob Haymes wrote the standard "That's All").

In 1937, the family briefly settled in California, where Dick’s mother hobnobbed with movie stars, before returning to New York. Both brothers set their sights on singing. Many auditions later, Haymes landed a spot with Bunny Berigan’s orchestra in 1939 but left after only a few dates. Berigan’s band was in serious decline at that point, and Haymes had other ambitions.

Haymes found sporadic work singing on the radio and decided to try his hand as a songwriter. After pitching his work to bandleader Harry James, he ended up being hired as a vocalist. His deep baritone voice quickly won over both the critics and the public. He remained with James until the end of 1941 when, expecting his first child, he left for greener pastures.


In January 1942, Haymes signed with CBS for his own three times weekly radio series, and in May, he organized his own band in which he was to play piano as well as sing. The endeavor quickly fell victim to the draft, and he joined Benny Goodman as vocalist. He left Goodman at the end of 1942, finding a new home with Tommy Dorsey.

Haymes stayed with Dorsey for only a few months, going solo in May 1943. He signed a recording contract with Decca and in August signed a film contract with Twentieth Century Fox, beginning what would be a very successful screen career. He starred in many of the top Fox musicals of the era, including Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe and State Fair. He hosted his own new CBS radio program from 1944 to 1948, teamed up with singer Helen Forrest in the first two years. The pair often recorded together. Haymes also appeared on various other radio programs in the 1940s and 1950s.


Near the end of the war, Haymes faced the prospect of being drafted, and he registered as a resident alien, waiving his right to citizenship in order to avoid being called to duty. He claimed he only did so due to a family crisis which needed his attention. He later volunteered for the service but was refused on medical grounds, so he became one of the USO’s most ardent volunteers instead.

In 1947, when his Fox contract ran out, Haymes signed with Universal for two pictures. His records still sold well but a troubled home life began to take its toll. Problems with drinking and his handling of money caused his career to suffer. During the early 1950s, he appeared in several B movies and starred in an action/adventure radio series on ABC. His contract with Decca ended in 1952.


He made a few outstand recordings for Capitol in the late 1950s before moving to Ireland in 1961, where he spent the decade cleaning up his life. When he did manage to make records, they are all wonderful and shows a crooner in great voice. He began to make a comeback in the 1970s and returned to the U.S. in 1972, but his chance at good fortune was short-​lived. Dick Haymes died in 1980 after losing a fight with lung cancer. Dick Haymes deserves to be remembered especially now on his century birthday...

Thursday, September 6, 2018

RIP: BURT REYNOLDS

Burt Reynolds, the mustachioed megastar who first strutted on screen more than half a century ago, died Thursday, according to his agent Todd Eisner. He was 82.

The Georgia native, whose easy-going charms and handsome looks drew prominent roles in films such as "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Boogie Nights, suffered a cardiac arrest, Eisner said.

An iconic Hollywood sex symbol in front of the camera, Reynolds also tried his directorial hand behind it, and later earned a reputation for philanthropy after founding the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film & Theatre in his home state of Florida.

His roles over the years ranged and pivoted from Southern heartthrob to tough guy to comedy, notably for his role as Rep. David Dilbeck in the 1996 film Striptease which flopped at the box office but earned him widespread praise for his comedic prowess. But it was John Boorman's 1972 thriller Deliverance which cast Reynolds as outdoorsman Lewis Medlock, that is widely credited for launching his early career. Reynolds called it "by far" his best film.


"I thought maybe this film is more important in a lot of ways than we've given it credit for," he said in an interview years later. The movie's infamous rape scene may have helped the public -- especially men -- better understand the horrors of sexual attacks, Reynolds said.

"It was the only time I saw men get up, sick, and walk out of a theater," he added. "I've seen women do that (before)," but not men.


Born in South Georgia, Reynolds and his family moved to Michigan and eventually wound up in southeastern Florida, according to the website of the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1993. At Palm Beach High School, he first made a name for himself as a football star and earned an athletic scholarship to Florida State University. But when injuries derailed a promising athletic career, Reynolds turned to acting.

He then scored small parts in the late 1950s before landing a role in the New York City Center revival of "Mister Roberts" in 1957, as well as a recurring spot in the TV series "Gunsmoke."By 1974, Reynolds had hit it big and starred as an ex-football player who landed in prison in the film The Longest Yard.  Reynolds' notoriety soared through the late 1970s and 1980s, during which time he spearheaded the Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run movie franchises. He also earned People's Choice Awards in 1979, 1982 and 1983 as all-around male entertainer of the year.

But he also turned down some of the biggest roles in Hollywood history. From James Bond to Hans Solo in George Lucas' 1977 blockbuster "Star Wars," Reynolds also reportedly was among Paramount Pictures' top choices to play Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 epic "The Godfather."


His love life also drew headlines after a high-profile divorce to actress Loni Anderson preceded Reynolds bankruptcy filing in 1996, amid a budding romance with actor Sally Field. Before Field, he was linked to singer Dinah Shore, who was nineteen years older that Burt. Like many of the movie roles he chose, he made bad decisions in love as well.

In 1998, Reynolds scored his sole Oscar nomination for best supporting actor after his portrayal of a porn film producer in the film Boogie Nights despite his dislike of the film and its apparent glorification of the porn industry. Years later, with a mustache gone gray, he suffered from health issues that included open heart surgery. Reynolds also checked into a drug rehab clinic in 2009. The purpose was "to regain control of his life" after becoming addicted to painkillers prescribed following back surgery, his manager said.

Once among Hollywood's highest-paid actors, Reynolds later fell into financial trouble amid private ventures in an Atlanta restaurant and a professional sports team, though he continued to make cameo appearances and teach acting classes...