Saturday, June 30, 2018


This pair of brown suede tap shoes worn by Fred Astaire date from the 1930s. We are still working to determine exactly when and where they were worn. Several biographers of Fred Astaire have noted his perfectionist tendencies. He reportedly practiced, practiced and practiced again to achieve his fluid, elegant dance persona. These well-worn shoes bear witness to this effort.

Even today, Astaire is considered a style icon. He is often remembered in elegant formal dress, as he wore in the 1935 film Top Hat. In his 1959 autobiography, Astaire admitted his dislike of formal wear, writing, "At the risk of disillusionment, I must admit that I don't like top hats, white ties and tails."1 He was fastidious about his wardrobe and had strong ideas about how men should dress. In an extensive GQ interview from August 1957, Astaire detailed his style preferences, including his taste in tie width, shirt cuffs, and tailoring. Most notable is Astaire's preference for using silk handkerchiefs instead of belts!  By the time he first appeared in a Hollywood film in 1933, Fred Astaire was already an experienced and popular performer...

Thursday, June 21, 2018


On this first day of summer I wanted to take a look at how some of the classic Hollywood stars celebrated the fun and the sun that is summer. As always, the classic stars always looked great...

Ann Sheridan

Eartha Kitt

Gene Kelly

Bing and Dixie Lee Crosby

Sammy Davis Jr and Maria Stinger

Ava Gardner

Saturday, June 16, 2018


As many of you know, I was raised on liking musicals. My Grandfather instilled in me a love of the song and dance movies of the 1940s and 1950s. I go through phases when I am more into musicals than at other times. I have Pandora streaming on my phone, and I have a musical station where I have been discovering some of the more modern musicals that I never really got into. I recently discovered the music of A Chorus Line. It is really out of this world. I have never seen a performance of the show, but I recently picked up a copy of the 1985 movie version. To say that this did not transfer to the screen would be an understatement!

In this poor cinematic retelling of the Broadway classic, dancers auditioning for a famous choreographer (Michael Douglas) show off their skills. But for the finalists, the dance steps quickly give way to more personal, and affecting, confessions about life: wayward fathers; embarrassing moments; and the hardship of constantly hustling for chorus jobs, among others. In the group is Sheila (Vicki Frederick), a thirtysomething dancer who proves she’s not past her prime; Diana (Yamil Borges), who sings of an acting teacher who made her feel nothing; and Cassie (Alyson Reed), a stage actress who sought Hollywood fame, only to return and start over.

Let’s start with the complaints: Though the Broadway version does somewhat hint at its age, this one outright screams it -- the lighting, the leg warmers, the cheesy keyboard and guitar riffs. And it’s not exactly faithful to the original, with flashbacks to bone up one romantic storyline, though it’s close. As for the actors, though they do a fine enough job, especially with the dancing. But one gets the feeling that, with few exceptions, they’d be understudies if they were onstage. There’s little electricity, no momentum. And the show’s signature song, “What I Did for Love” is sadly misused.

Nevertheless, one can’t argue with the brilliance of the show itself, whose basic essence is intact (though some songs, sadly, haven’t been transferred to the screen). The stories of triumphs and failures, of lives perpetually on the brink between stardom and chorus-line anonymity have survived, and, with some major caveats, so has this movie.

Michael Douglas looked bored in his role and had little enthusiasm. Seriously, Audrey Landers in a movie musical? For those that don't remember Audrey Landers - she was not know for being a Cyd Charisse! The film looks drab, the musical number uninspired, and now I understand why audiences stayed away from the movie. The film surprisingly cost $25 million to make and only made about $14 million in its initial run. I'm surprised that it made that much! Check out A Chorus Line if you are dare, and let me know if you agree with me. This is one of the worst musicals ever made! It makes Lucille Ball's Mame look like Singin In The Rain...


Sunday, June 10, 2018


Fats Domino is one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. "Fats" (Antoine) Domino was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, and his French Creole roots had an impact on his musical style. Domino racked up 5 certified gold selling singles in the early-to-mid 1950s. His piano-based r&b was driving and catchy. It captured the imagination of young music fans as the new rock sounds caught fire.Fats Domino had a total of 37 single releases that became top 40 hits. Along with the likes of Chuck Berry and Little Richard, he will always be included in any list of the first superstars of rock and roll. Here are 10 of the best known and best loved songs by Fats Domino.

5. "Blue Monday"

This is another Dave Bartholomew penned tune that was originally recorded by Smiley Lewis. The Fats Domino version was featured in the early rock and roll flick "The Girl Can't Help It." As a single release it reached number 5 on the pop charts in 1956. Domino's vocal is expressive and sells this r&b classic tale of getting through the work week in order get our rewards at the weekend.

4. "The Fat Man"

A 1950 release, this track is regarded as one of the first rock and roll releases. It was written by Domino and his frequent collaborator Dave Bartholomew. It was the debut disc by Fats Domino. This early bit of iconic r&b features Domino's piano and some scatting falsetto vocals ("Wah- wah")

3. "Ain't That a Shame"

Again written by Domino and Bartholomew, this was a single release that cracked the top 10 of the pop charts in 1955. Pat Boone's white bread cover of this rocker went to number one. The track features starts and stops and tempo changes that create some dynamics adding to the vibe of the tune. Domino's drawled vocal recounts a tale of love lost.

2. "I'm Walkin'"

This is pulsating with drive and energy generated by the pumping piano, rhythm section and honking sax. Domino's bluesy vocal sits on top perfectly. It was a number 1 r&b hit, and reached number 4 on the pop charts. The song was written by Domino and Dave Bartholomew.

1. "Blueberry Hill"

Fat's Domino's most successful pop crossover hit was his 1956 version of this song written in 1940 by Vincent Rose, Larry Stock and Al Lewis. It had been covered a number of times previously by various artists including Louis Armstrong in 1949. Domino's recording became a number 2 hit on the pop charts for three weeks and topped the r&b charts for eight weeks. His blues-inflected sensuous vocal made the song all his own. It is, out of all of Fats Domino's hits, the one tune that is considered to be his signature song.

Friday, June 8, 2018


American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, the Emmy-winning host of CNN‘s “Parts Unknown,” has died from suicide, the network said Friday. He was 61. CNN host Brian Stelter said on air that Bourdain hanged himself in his hotel room in France.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement Friday morning.

“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”

Bourdain, who was in France working on an upcoming episode of his show, was found unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning by his friend Eric Ripert, according to the network.

Ripert, whose French restaurant Le Bernardin in Manhattan boasts a top Michelin three-star rating, frequently appeared alongside Bourdain on “Parts Unknown” and made cameos on some of his earlier TV shows.

“I like to bring the distinguished three-star Michelin chef and good friend Eric Ripert someplace every year and torture him,“ Bourdain once said.

Authorities in France said Bourdain killed himself at the Le Chambard hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, near the border of Germany.

“We learned this morning about the death by hanging of an American chef at a luxury hotel of Kaysersberg, Le Chambard,” a prosecutor in Kaysersberg-Vignoble told French newspaper Dernière Nouvelle D’alsace. “At this point nothing suggests the intervention of a third party.”

Through his TV shows and books, the globe-trotting gourmand helped his audiences think differently about food and travel – collecting just about every award the industry has to offer along the way.

In 1999, he penned a New Yorker article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” that became a 2000 best-seller, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” which gained him international acclaim.

He hosted “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network before moving to “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” on the Travel Channel, a major hit that garnered him two Emmy Awards and more than a dozen nominations.

In 2013, CNN took a gamble by bringing Bourdain aboard a network best known for breaking news and headlines, but he quickly became a major draw during the primetime schedule.

Season 11 of “Parts Unknown” premiered on CNN last month.

While accepting the Peabody award in 2013, Bourdain described how he approached his work.

“We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said, “we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”

Bourdain was twice divorced. He was married to Ottavia Busia from 2007 to 2016 and Nancy Putkoski from 1985 to 2005.

He leaves behind one daughter, Ariane, whom he had with Busia.

As the news broke Friday, tributes poured in on social media.

“Master Chef” host Gordon Ramsay said he was “stunned and saddened” by Bourdain’s death.

“He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food,” Ramsay said. “Remember that help is a phone call away US:1-800-273-TALK UK: 116 123.”

Saturday, June 2, 2018


A blog reader recently requested a story on Suzanne Pleshette, whom I have never profiled. I did not know much about this talented actress, so it was great for me to learn more about her. Pleshette was born on January 31, 1937 in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn, New York City to Eugene Pleshette and Geraldine (née Kaplan) . Her parents were Jewish, the children of emigrants from Russia and Austria-Hungary.

She remained a Jewish but did not formally practice her religion in later years. Her mother was a dancer and artist who performed under the stage name Geraldine Rivers. Her father was a stage manager, manager of the Paramount Theater in New York City, manager of the Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, and later, a network executive. She graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts and attended Syracuse University for one semester before transferring to Finch College. She later graduated from Manhattan's prestigious acting school, the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre and was under the tutelage of renowned acting teacher Sanford Meisner.

The following year, she performed in the debut of The Cold Wind and the Warm by S. N. Behrman at the Shubert Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, directed by Harold Clurman and produced by Robert Whitehead.In 1959, she was featured in the comedy Golden Fleecing, starring Constance Ford and Tom Poston. (Poston would eventually become her third husband.)

That same year, she was one of two finalists for the role of Louise/Gypsy in the original production of Gypsy. During the run of The Cold Wind and the Warm, she spent mornings taking striptease lessons from Jerome Robbins for the role in Gypsy. In his autobiography, Arthur Laurents, the play's author stated, "It came down to between Suzanne Pleshette and Sandra Church. Suzanne was the better actress, but Sandra was the better singer. We went with Sandra."

Her early screen credits include The Geisha Boy, Rome Adventure, Fate Is the Hunter, and Youngblood Hawke, but she was best known at that time for her role in Alfred Hitchcock's classic suspense film The Birds. She worked with Steve McQueen in the 1966 western drama film Nevada Smith, was nominated for a Laurel Award for her starring performance in the comedy If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium opposite Ian McShane, and co-starred with James Garner in a pair of films, the drama Mister Buddwing and the western comedy Support Your Local Gunfighter. She also starred in a number of Walt Disney family films.

She provided the voices of Yubaba and Zeniba in the English dub of Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki's Academy Award-winning film Spirited Away and the voice of Zira in Disney's The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and sang the song "My Lullaby".

On May 19, 1971, TV producers saw her on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and noticed a certain chemistry between Suzanne and Johnny. She was cast as the wife of Newhart’s character on the popular CBS sitcom The Bob Newhart Show (1972–1978) for all six seasons, as part of CBS television's Saturday night lineup. She was nominated twice for the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. She reprised her role of Emily Hartley in the memorable final episode of Newhart's subsequent comedy series, Newhart, in which viewers discovered that the entire later series had been her husband Bob's dream when he awakens next to her in the bedroom set from the earlier series.

Her 1984 situation comedy, Suzanne Pleshette Is Maggie Briggs, was canceled after seven episodes. In 1989, she played the role of Christine Broderick in the NBC drama, Nightingales, which lasted one season. In 1990, Pleshette portrayed Manhattan hotelier Leona Helmsley in the television movie Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean, which garnered her Emmy and Golden Globe Award nominations. In addition, she starred opposite Hal Linden in the 1994 sitcom The Boys Are Back.

She had a starring role in Good Morning, Miami, as Mark Feuerstein's grandmother Claire Arnold in season one and played the mother of Katey Sagal's character in the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter following John Ritter's death, and appeared as the estranged mother of Megan Mullally's character Karen Walker in three episodes of Will & Grace. The role would prove to be her last. She died on January 19, 2008. She was only 70...