Thursday, September 30, 2010


Yesterday, September 29, The Friar's Club honored legendary comedian and humanitarian Jerry Lewis with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Quentin Tarantino was on hand to present Lewis with his honorary bust.

Jerry Lewis is best-known for his slapstick humor in stage, radio, screen, recording and television. He was originally paired up with Dean Martin in 1946, forming the comedy team of Martin and Lewis. In addition to the team's popular nightclub work, they starred in a successful series of comedy films for Paramount Pictures. As an innovative filmmaker, Lewis is credited with inventing the video assist system in cinematography. Lewis is also known for his charity fund-raising telethons and position as national chairman for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Lewis has won several awards for lifetime achievements from The American Comedy Awards, The Golden Camera, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and The Venice Film Festival, and he has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2005, he received the Governors Award of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Board of Governors, which is the highest Emmy Award presented. On February 22, 2009, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awardEd Lewis the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award...


LAS VEGAS – Tony Curtis, the Bronx tailor's son who became a 1950s movie heartthrob and then a respected actor with such films as "Sweet Smell of Success," "The Defiant Ones" and "Some Like It Hot," has died. He was 85.

The actor died about 9:25 p.m. PDT Wednesday at his Las Vegas area home of a cardiac arrest, Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy said Thursday.

In 1958, "The Defiant Ones" brought him an Academy Award nomination as best actor for his portrayal of a white racist escaped convict handcuffed to a black escapee, Sidney Poitier. The following year, he donned women's clothing and sparred with Marilyn Monroe in one of the most acclaimed film comedies ever, Billy Wilder's "Some Like It Hot."

His first wife was actress Janet Leigh of "Psycho" fame; actress Jamie Leigh Curtis is their daughter.

In later years, he returned to film and television as a character actor after battling drug and alcohol abuse. His brash optimism returned, and he allowed his once-shiny black hair to turn silver.

"I'm not ready to settle down like an elderly Jewish gentleman, sitting on a bench and leaning on a cane," he said at 60. "I've got a helluva lot of living to do."

He also became a painter whose canvasses sold for as much as $20,000.

"He was a fine actor ... I shall miss him," said British actor Roger Moore, who starred alongside Curtis in TV's "The Persuaders."

"He was great fun to work with, a great sense of humour and wonderful ad libs," Moore told Sky News. "We had the best of times."

He first attracted critical notice as Sidney Falco, the press agent seeking favor with a sadistic columnist, played by Burt Lancaster, in the 1957 classic "Sweet Smell of Success."

Other prestigious films followed: Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus," "Captain Newman, M.D.," "The Vikings," "Kings Go Forth," "Operation Petticoat" and "Some Like It Hot." He also found time to do a voice acting gig as his prehistoric lookalike, Stony Curtis, in an episode of "The Flintstones."

"The Defiant Ones" remained his only Oscar-nominated role.

In 2000, an American Film Institute survey of the funniest films in history ranked "Some Like It Hot" at No. 1. Curtis — famously imitating Cary Grant's accent — and Jack Lemmon play jazz musicians who dress up as women to escape retribution after witnessing a gangland massacre.

Monroe was their co-star, and he and Lemmon were repeatedly kept waiting as Monroe lingered in her dressing room out of fear and insecurity. Curtis fumed over her unprofessionalism. When someone remarked that it must be thrilling to kiss Monroe in the film's love scenes, the actor snapped, "It's like kissing Hitler." In later years, his opinion of Monroe softened, and in interviews he praised her unique talent.

In 2002, Curtis toured in "Some Like It Hot" — a revised and retitled version of the 1972 Broadway musical "Sugar," which was based on the film. In the touring show, the actor graduated to the role of Osgood Fielding III, the part played in the movie by Joe E. Brown.

After his star faded in the late 1960s, Curtis shifted to lesser roles. With jobs harder to find, he fell into drug and alcohol addiction.

"From 22 to about 37, I was lucky," Curtis told Interview magazine in the 1980s, "but by the middle '60s, I wasn't getting the kind of parts I wanted, and it kind of soured me. ... But I had to go through the drug inundation before I was able to come to grips with it and realize that it had nothing to do with me, that people weren't picking on me."

One role during that era of struggle did bring him an Emmy nomination: his portrayal of David O. Selznick in the TV movie "The Scarlett O'Hara War," in 1980.

His health remained vigorous, though he did get heart bypass surgery in 1994.

He also had five other children. Daughters Kelly, also with Leigh, and Allegra, with second wife Christine Kaufmann, also became actresses. His other wives were Leslie Allen, Lisa Deutsch and Jill VandenBerg, whom he married in 1998.

He had married Janet Leigh in 1951, when they were both rising young stars; they divorced in 1963.

Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz in the Bronx in 1925, the son of Hungarian Jews who had emigrated to the United States after World War I. His father, Manny Schwartz, had yearned to be an actor, but work was hard to find with his heavy accent. He settled for tailoring jobs, moving the family repeatedly as he sought work.

"I was always the new kid on the block, so I got beat up by the other kids," Curtis recalled in 1959. "I had to figure a way to avoid getting my nose broken. So I became the crazy new kid on the block."

His sidewalk histrionics helped avoid beatings and led to acting in plays at a settlement house. He also grew to love movies. "My whole culture as a boy was movies," he said. "For 11 cents, you could sit in the front row of a theater for 10 hours, which I did constantly."

After serving in the Pacific during World War II and being wounded at Guam, he returned to New York and studied acting under the G.I. Bill. He appeared in summer stock theater and on the Borscht Circuit in the Catskills. Then an agent lined up an audition with a Universal-International talent scout. In 1948, at 23, he signed a seven-year contract with the studio, starting at $100 a week.

Bernie Schwartz sounded too Jewish for a movie actor, so the studio gave him a new name: Anthony Curtis, taken from his favorite novel, "Anthony Adverse," and the Anglicized name of a favorite uncle. After his eighth film, he became Tony Curtis...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Who can forget Jimmy Stewart's daughter in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE(1946)?

Karolyn Grimes (born July 4, 1940) is an American actress known for her role as "Zuzu Bailey" in the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. Grimes also played Bing Crosby's daughter in the big budget musical BLUE SKIES in 1946. She also played "Debbie" in the 1947 Christmas film, THE BISHOP'S WIFE starring Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young.

Grimes was born in Hollywood, California. Her mother pushed her into acting, but her acting career declined with her mother's health. The latter died from illness when Grimes was 14, and she lost her father from a car crash a year later. A court ruling sent her from Hollywood to Osceola, Missouri, where she lived in what she called a "bad home" with her aunt and uncle. She went to college, married, raised kids, and became a medical technologist.


Years after her movie stardom, she gave local interviews in the 1980s and national interviews in the 1990s. Her first husband's death in a hunting accident, 18-year-old son's suicide in 1989, and second husband's death from cancer in 1994 made it difficult for Grimes to move on. After she suffered a serious financial setback during the early 2000s recession, she made a career of her advocacy for the film, whose hopeful and optimistic message she now says she can relate to.

Today, she tours big-screen showings of It's a Wonderful Life at dinner theatres worldwide, signing autographs, sharing tidbits, and pointing out small 'goofs'. One such mistake is that she, 6 years old at the time, faked the lyrics to "Auld Lang Syne" in the movie's famous closing scene. "If you watch closely, James Stewart is holding me tightly and he looks at me and begins to laugh because he knows I'm not singing the right words", she says...

Monday, September 27, 2010


Legendary actress Gloria Stuart has died at the age of 100. She made movies from ROMAN SCANDALS(1933) with Eddie Cantor to TITANIC(1997) with Kate Winslet. Not many actors or actresses had the longevity that Gloria Stuart had...

LOS ANGELES – Gloria Stuart, the Hollywood actress of the 1930s who gained an Oscar nomination 60 years later for her role as the spunky survivor in "Titanic," has died. She was 100.

Her grandson, Benjamin Stuart Thompson, says Stuart died in her sleep Sunday night at her Los Angeles home.

In her youth, Stuart was a blond beauty who starred in B pictures as well as higher-profile ones like "The Invisible Man" and two Shirley Temple movies.

She resumed acting occasionally in later years and was selected to play the elderly Titanic survivor portrayed by Kate Winslet as a young woman.

The 1997 "Titanic" became the biggest modern blockbuster up to that point. Both Winslet and Stuart, then 87, were nominated for Oscars.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Grace Bradley has passed away, and although her name will not be known to many, she was a Paramount contract player, starred with Bing Crosby in TOO MUCH HARMONY(1933), and was the widow of Hopalong Cassidy. She was 97.

She was born on September 21, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York. On December 22, 1930 Bradley made her Broadway debut at New York's Hammerstein Theatre in Ballyhoo. Her next stage appearance came one year later at The Music Box Theatre in The Third Little Show. Soon Bradley found herself working in various New York nightclubs and theatres. In March 1933, she apperared in Strike Me Pink at the Majestic Theatre. Soon Bradley decided to give Hollywood a try. After she left Broadway her role in Strike Me Pink was taken over by Dorothy Dare, who would later become a musical film star.

Although she actually made one film in 1932 her real film career did not begin until 1933 when she starred in a lead role in the film Too Much Harmony (1933). In the 1930s she became one of the periods most popular musical stars and her other screen credits include parts in Girl Without a Room (1933), The Cat's Paw (1934), Anything Goes (1936), Wake Up and Live (1937), Larceney on the Air (1937), and The Big Broadcast of 1938.

During her career she co-starred opposite such notable figures as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Alice Faye, Bruce Cabot, William Bendix, Fred MacMurray, Harold Lloyd and W.C. Fields.In May 1937, Bradley submitted to a blind date and met Hopalong Cassidy star William Boyd and the two of them hit it off so well that they were wed in June 1937.

In the 1940s Bradley's star began to wain and in 1943 she starred in her last big role in Taxi, Mister. Following this Bradley had officially played out her Paramount contract and she spent the remainder of the 1940s alongside her beloved husband William Boyd and traveled around the country with him helping to promote his cowboy image. She did come out of her publicty trips with Boyd to make one more film appearance; an uncredited cameo role in Tournament of Roses (1954).

On September 12, 1972, just nine days before her 59th birthday, William Boyd died and Bradley became a widow. Following his death she retired from the entertainment world; however, since she shared such a strong union with her husband she still continued to do things to help keep Boyd's memory alive. Although she never bore children she considered all the children who enjoyed her husbands work as Hopalong Cassidy to be like her children. She also endured years of fighting for the legal rights to her late husbands sixty-six "Hopalong Cassidy" features. With her acting career behind her she devoted her time to a lot of volunteer work at the Laguna Beach Hospital where her husband had spent his final days.

Grace Bradley Boyd died on her 97th birthday; Tuesday, September 21, 2010. She left no survivors. On Thursday, September 23, 2010 private services were held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA. She was interred with her husband there...

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Connie Francis was a legendary singer in the 1960s, but her life has been filled with tragedy and problems. Here is a recent interview I discovered from June of 2010. Connie is now 71 years old...

Friday, September 24, 2010


1950s singer Eddie Fisher has passed away. Discovered by Eddie Cantor in the late 1940s, Fisher had a troubled career and an even more troubled relationship with his wives and children. He had been out of the spotlight for quite some time...

LOS ANGELES – Pop singer Eddie Fisher, whose clear voice brought him a devoted following of teenage girls in the early 1950s before marriage scandals overshadowed his fame, has died at age 82.

He passed away Wednesday night at his home in Berkeley of complications from hip surgery, his daughter, Tricia Leigh Fisher of Los Angeles, told The Associated Press.

"Late last evening the world lost a true America icon," Fisher's family said in a statement released by publicist British Reece. "One of the greatest voices of the century passed away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch."

The death was first reported by Hollywood website

In the early 50s, Fisher sold millions of records with 32 hit songs including "Thinking of You," "Any Time," "Oh, My Pa-pa," "I'm Yours," "Wish You Were Here," "Lady of Spain" and "Count Your Blessings."

His fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to movie darling Debbie Reynolds — they were touted as "America's favorite couple" — and the birth of two children.

Their daughter Carrie Fisher became a film star herself in the first three "Star Wars" films as Princess Leia, and later as a best-selling author of "Postcards From the Edge" and other books.

Carrie Fisher spent most of 2008 on the road with her autobiographical show "Wishful Drinking." In an interview with The Associated Press, she told of singing with her father on stage in San Jose. Eddie Fisher was by then in a wheelchair and living in San Francisco.

When Eddie Fisher's best friend, producer Mike Todd, was killed in a 1958 plane crash, Fisher comforted the widow, Elizabeth Taylor. Amid sensationalist headlines, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959.

The Fisher-Taylor marriage lasted only five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the Rome filming of "Cleopatra," divorced Fisher and married Burton in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th century.

Edwin Jack Fisher was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio.

Fisher's romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis period. Publicist-manager Milton Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon at Fisher's appearances.

After getting out of the Army in 1953 following a two-year hitch, hit records, his own TV show and the headlined marriage to Reynolds made Fisher a top star. The couple costarred in a 1956 romantic comedy, "Bundle of Joy," that capitalized on their own parenthood.

In 1960 he played a role in "Butterfield 8," for which Taylor won an Academy Award. But that film marked the end of his movie career.

After being discarded by Taylor, Fisher became the butt of comedians' jokes. He began relying on drugs to get through performances, and his bookings dwindled. He later said he had made and spent $20 million during his heyday, and much of it went to gambling and drugs.

In 1983, Fisher attempted a full-scale comeback. But his old fans had been turned off by the scandals, and the younger generation had been turned on by rock. The tour was unsuccessful.

He had added to his notoriety that year with an autobiography, "Eddie: My Life, My Loves." Of his first three marriages, he wrote he had been bullied into marriage with Reynolds, whom he didn't know well; became nursemaid as well as husband to Taylor, and was reluctant to marry Connie Stevens but she was pregnant and he "did the proper thing."

Another autobiography, "Been There, Done That," published in 1999, was even more searing. He called Reynolds "self-centered, totally driven, insecure, untruthful, phony." He claimed he abandoned his career during the Taylor marriage because he was too busy taking her to emergency rooms and cleaning up after her pets, children and servants. Both ex-wives were furious, and Carrie Fisher threatened to change her name to Reynolds.

At 47, Fisher married a 21-year-old beauty queen, Terry Richard. The marriage ended after 10 months. His fifth marriage, to Betty Lin, a Chinese-born businesswoman, lasted longer than any of the others. Fisher had two children with Reynolds: Carrie and Todd; and two girls with Stevens: Joely and Tricia.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


When Mel Brooks's movies first gained popularity in the early 1970s, he was considered vulgar and dirty, but looking back at his movies they were really good. Brook was also a talented writer for Sid Caesar in the early days of television. I personally think that he was one of the best directors and funny men of all time...

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Over the last couple of years a huge amount of great movies have been released on DVD. However, there are still a number of great films that still collect dust somewhere. In my opinion, here are 10 movies that should be released on DVD...

1. KID MILLIONS(1934) - This month two of Eddie Cantor's movies from the late 1940s are being released, but his movies from his golden era need to be released. KID MILLIONS is among his best. The movie is partially in color and features Irving Berlin tunes and a young George Murphy and Ann Southern...

2. SHOW BOAT(1935) - Everyone remembers the 1951 MGM remake of SHOW BOAT, but the 1935 version of the stage musical is far superior. It is really a crime that any film with Irene Dunne and/or Helen Morgan is not released yet...

3. THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK(1941) - A little known film from Columbia which starred Peter Lorre and Evelyn Keyes. Lorre tugs at your heartstrings in this movie. It is one of my favorite movies of all-time. Thankfully got TCM I have the movie, because it has never been released anywhere...

4. DIXIE(1943) - This is a rare Bing Crosby movie, where he portrays Dan Emmett, who wrote the song "Dixie". It has never been released, mostly because of the blackface in the movie, but it really is a great film...

5. THE ACCUSED(1949) - I saw this movie on AMC when they played old movies, and I have always wanted to see it again. The movie stars Loretta Young as a woman who is attacked and kills her assailant. It has been a long time sing I saw this film...

6. UNGUARDED MOMENT(1956) - This movie is one of the few films where Esther Williams does not swim or even take a bath. It is a drama about a teacher being stalked by one of her students. It is a rare Esther Williams gem...

7. GIGOT(1962) - In many ways I think GIGOT is a masterpiece. It is one of Jackie Gleason's finest roles as a deaf poor soul. Gleason makes the movie and does not speak at all. Of all the movies on this list, I would love to see this one released most of all...

8. SOLDIER IN THE RAIN(1964) - This is another Jackie Gleason movie. This one has Gleason as a sageant in the army, and a young Steve McQueen is a backwards private that befriends him. It is another fine movie that should not be forgotten...

9. DR. COOK'S GARDEN(1971) - This television movie starred an older Bing Crosby as an aging country doctor who takes matters into his own hands when it comes to his community and the people who live in it. Bing gives a chilling performance in this odd forgotten gem...

10. THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED(1972) - This is the infamous Jerry Lewis movie that has never seen the light of day. I have never liked Jerry Lewis much, but I would love to see this movie just because of curiosity and nothing else...


Does anyone remember the great orchestra of Russ Morgan?

In 1935, Russ Morgan formed what became a legendary dance band, with hits including So Tired, Cruising Down the River, Somebody Else Is Taking My Place, Forever and Ever, and his theme song, Does Your Beat for Me?.

After Russ passed away in 1969, one of his sons, Jack, took over the leadership of his dad's famed orchestra and has since kept his father's musical legacy going for more than 40 years. However, Jack has decided to call its quits with a "last hurrah" tour and retire at the end of 2010.

That means that during the 75 years that The Russ Morgan Orchestra has been in existence, there's been only two leaders: Russ and Jack. No other big band can make that claim!

Under his direction, Jack expanded the Orchestra's working music library to more than 1,800 songs, including a large number of Latin tunes. Besides playing the trombone and singing, Jack is a talented ballroom dancer, so he and The Russ Morgan Orchestra will finish out their performances with some dance dates later in the year...

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The Andrews Sisters were closely associated with Bing Crosby, but they did appear with another great crooner Dean Martin. This duet is from Dino's variety show. Sadly it also marked the last time the Andrews Sisters would appear together. Sister Laverne would pass away soon after this appearance...

Friday, September 17, 2010


The beautiful and talented Kim Novak was born Marilyn Pauline Novak in Chicago, Illinois, to Joseph and Blanche Novak. Her father was a second-generation Czech immigrant while her mother had a Bohemian background. Her father worked as a dispatcher on the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad and both her parents had been teachers.

While attending David Glasgow Farragut High School, she won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. After leaving school, she began a career modeling teen fashions for a local department store. She later received a scholarship at a modeling academy and continued to model part-time. She worked as an elevator operator, a sales clerk and a dental assistant.

After a job touring the country as a spokesman for a refrigerator manufacturer, "Miss Deepfreeze", Novak moved to Los Angeles, where she continued to find work as a model.

The 20-year-old actress began with an uncredited role in The French Line (1954). Eventually, she was seen by a Columbia Pictures talent agent and filmed a screen test. Novak was signed to a six-month contract, and the studio changed her first name to Kim. Novak debuted as Lona McLane that same year in Pushover opposite Fred MacMurray and Philip Carey, and played the femme fatale role of Janis in Phffft! opposite Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, and Jack Carson. Novak's reviews were good . People were eager to see the new star, and she received an enormous amount of fan mail.

After playing Madge Owens in Picnic (1955) opposite William Holden, Novak won a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer and for World Film Favorite. She was also nominated for the British BAFTA Film Award for Best Foreign Actress. That same year she played Molly in The Man with the Golden Arm with Frank Sinatra. In 1957 she worked with Sinatra again for Pal Joey, which also starred Rita Hayworth, and starred in Jeanne Eagels with Jeff Chandler. She was on the cover of the July 29, 1957, issue of Time Magazine. That same year, she went on strike, protesting her salary of $1,250 per week.

In 1958, Novak starred in the Alfred Hitchcock-directed classic thriller Vertigo, playing the roles of a brunette shopgirl, Judy Barton, and a blonde woman named Madeleine Elster.

Today, the film is considered a masterpiece of romantic suspense, though Novak's performance has received mixed reviews. Critic David Shipman thought it "little more than competent", while David Thomson sees it as "one of the major female performances in the cinema". Hitchcock, rarely one to praise actors, dismissed Novak in a later interview. "You think you're getting a lot," he said of her ability, "but you're not." In that same year, she again starred alongside Stewart in Bell, Book and Candle, a comedy tale of modern-day witchcraft that did moderately well at the box office.

In 1960, she co-starred with Kirk Douglas in the critically acclaimed Strangers When We Meet also featuring Walter Matthau and Ernie Kovacs. In 1962, Novak produced her own movie, financing her own production company in association with Filmways Productions. Boys' Night Out, in which she starred with James Garner and Tony Randall. It was received mildly well by critics and the public. She was paired with Lemmon for a third and final time that year in a mystery-comedy, The Notorious Landlady.

In 1964 she played the vulgar waitress Mildred Rogers in a remake of W. Somerset Maugham's drama Of Human Bondage opposite Laurence Harvey, and starred as barmaid Polly, "The Pistol" in Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid with Ray Walston and Dean Martin. Both films were critically panned. After playing the title role in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders (1965) with Richard Johnson, Novak took a break from Hollywood acting. She continued to act, although infrequently, taking fewer roles as she began to prefer personal activities over acting.

Her comeback came in a dual role as a young actress, Elsa Brinkmann, and an early-day movie goddess who was murdered, Lylah Clare, in producer-director Robert Aldrich's The Legend of Lylah Clare (1968) with Peter Finch and Ernest Borgnine for MGM. The movie did not do well . After playing a forger, Sister Lyda Kebanov, in The Great Bank Robbery (1969) opposite Zero Mostel, Clint Walker, and Claude Akins, she stayed away from the screen for another four years. She then played the role of Auriol Pageant in the horror anthology film Tales That Witness Madness (1973), which also starred Joan Collins. She starred as veteran showgirl Gloria Joyce in the made-for-TV movie The Third Girl From the Left (1973), and played Eva in Satan's Triangle (1975). She was featured in the 1977 western The White Buffalo with Charles Bronson, and in 1979 she played Helga in Just a Gigolo co-starring David Bowie.

In 1980, Novak played Lola Brewster in the mystery/thriller The Mirror Crack'd, based on the story by Agatha Christie and co-starring Angela Lansbury, Tony Curtis, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. She and Taylor portrayed rival actresses. She made occasional television appearances over the years. She co-starred with James Coburn in the TV-movie Malibu (1983) and played Rosa in a revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1985) opposite Melanie Griffith. From 1986 to 1987, the actress was a cast member of the television series Falcon Crest during its fourth season, playing the mysterious character Kit Marlowe (the stage name rejected at the start of her career). She co-starred with Ben Kingsley in the 1990 film The Children.

Her most recent appearance on the big screen to date came as a terminally ill writer with a mysterious past in the thriller Liebestraum (1991), opposite Kevin Anderson and Bill Pullman. However, owing to battles with the director over how to play the role, her scenes were cut . Novak later admitted in a 2004 interview that the film was a mistake.

Novak has not ruled out further acting. In an interview in 2007, she said that she would consider returning to the screen "if the right thing came along. I wish it would...

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Here is another forgotten star. Billy DeWolfe is basically forgotten now, except maybe his voice work in the cartoon FROSTY THE SNOWMAN. For years he was a dependable character actor though.

Born William Andrew Jones in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy, Massachusetts, DeWolfe was the son of a Welsh-born bookbinder who encouraged him to become a Baptist minister. Instead, "Billy" developed an interest in the theatre. He found work as an usher before becoming a dancer with a band. It was at this point that he changed his last name to De Wolfe, which was the last name of the manager of the Massachusetts theatre where he worked.

He signed with Paramount Pictures in 1943 and became a reliable comedian. His pencil-mustached and often pompous character contrasted humorously with the films' romantic leads. His best-known role of his Paramount tenure is probably the ham actor turned silent-movie villain in the fictionalized Pearl White biography The Perils of Pauline. De Wolfe became known for his portrayal of fussy, petty men ("Never touch!," he would say imperiously whenever someone accosted him physically).

After his Paramount contract lapsed, DeWolfe returned to the stage. He appeared in the revue John Murray Anderson's Almanac in 1953 and 1954, and starred in the last edition of the Ziegfeld Follies, in 1957.

Generations of TV viewers know Billy DeWolfe only by his voice: his is the voice of the frustrated magician in the Christmas perennial Frosty the Snowman. DeWolfe gave the role his usual fussy diction: "Mes-sy, mes-sy, messy! Bus-y, bus-y, busy!"

He died from lung cancer in 1974 in Los Angeles, California...

Saturday, September 11, 2010


There was never an actor quite like John Wayne. Many actors are different in real life than their personna in movies, but not the Duke. He was the same offscreen as the characters he played. Here is an interesting interview he did in 1974...


Olivia de Havilland, 94, looked radiant today as French President Nicolas Sarkozy pinned her with the Legion of Honor insignia at the presidential palace. Sarkozy told de Havilland, "You honor France for having chosen us." The American actress of British origin has lived in Paris since 1953, according to AP.

De Havilland played the role of fragile southern belle Melanie Wilkes in Gone With The Wind and is the last surviving major star of the 1939 classic.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Steve McQueen has been dead now for thirty years, but he has left behind many memorable movie roles. He was one of the best actors of his generation, and his movies are still loved today.

Terrence Steven "Steve" McQueen was born on March 24, 1930. He was nicknamed "The King of Cool." His "anti-hero" persona, which he developed at the height of the Vietnam counterculture, made him one of the top box-office draws of the 1960s and 1970s. McQueen received an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Sand Pebbles. His other popular films include The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Thomas Crown Affair, Bullitt, The Getaway, Papillon, and The Towering Inferno. In 1974, he became the highest-paid movie star in the world. Although McQueen was combative with directors and producers, his popularity put him in high demand and enabled him to command large salaries.

He was an avid racer of both motorcycles and cars. While he studied acting, he supported himself partly by competing in weekend motorcycle races and bought his first motorcycle with his winnings. He is recognized for performing many of his own stunts, especially the majority of the stunt driving during the high-speed chase scene in Bullitt. McQueen also designed and patented a bucket seat and transbrake for race cars.
By the time of The Getaway, McQueen had become the world's highest paid actor. But after 1974's The Towering Inferno, co-starring with his long-time personal friend Paul Newman and reuniting him with Dunaway, became a tremendous box-office success, McQueen all but disappeared from Hollywood and the public eye, preferring to focus on motorcycle racing and traveling around the country in a motorhome and on one of his vintage Indian motorcycles. He did not return to acting until 1978 with An Enemy of the People playing against type as a heavily bearded, bespectacled 19th Century doctor, in this adaptation of a Henrik Ibsen play. The film was shown briefly in theaters and has never been released on home video.

His last films were both loosely based on true stories: Tom Horn, a Western adventure about a former Army scout turned professional gunman who worked for the big cattle ranchers, hunting down rustlers, and who was later hanged for murder in the shooting death of a sheepherder, and then The Hunter, an urban action movie about a modern-day bounty hunter, both released in 1980.

McQueen died on November 7, 1980 at the age of 50 in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, following an operation to remove or reduce several metastatic tumors in his neck and abdomen.

Shortly before his death, McQueen had given a medical interview in which he blamed his condition on asbestos exposure. While McQueen felt that asbestos used in movie soundstage insulation and race-drivers' protective suits and helmets could have been involved, he believed his illness was a direct result of massive exposure while removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship during his time in the Marines.
A memorial service was presided over by Leonard DeWitt of the Ventura Missionary Church. McQueen was cremated, and his ashes spread in the Pacific Ocean...

Saturday, September 4, 2010


The song "Mississippi Mud" is another one of my favorite songs. "Mississippi Mud" is a 1927 song written by Harry Barris and James Cavanaugh,first made popular by Bing Crosby when he was still a member of The Rhythm Boys.It was originally recorded by Paul Whiteman's orchestra in 1928 with vocals by Irene Taylor and The Rhythm Boys. Later it was also sung briefly by the latter in the 1930 film KING OF JAZZ.

The song has been recorded by a number of artists since and become one of the standards of the American songbook, but with lyrics revised from the original politically incorrect version. The original lyrics featured the refrain line: "When the darkies beat their feet on the Mississippi Mud." which has since been revised to: "When the people beat their feet on the Mississippi Mud"...

Friday, September 3, 2010


Here is 1950s icon Guy Mitchell teaming up with English vocalist Petula Clark. Clark was quite young at the time, but she was very at ease with a song. This clip is from a 1960 Guy Mitchell special...