Friday, March 29, 2019


A new excellent book from author Torchy Smith has been released. It really is a must-read for nostalgia fans...


Torchy Smith’s new book covering celebrities from 1950s-1970s TV & Film
March 4, 2019 – Archway Publishing
With A Foreword by Geraldo Rivera

Gleaned from interviews on his radio show “Baby Boomers Talk Radio,” Torchy Smith shares stories and insights about baby boomer celebrities in his new book “Shooting the Breeze with Baby Boomer Stars! Surprising Celebrity Conversations for the Retro Generation.”

The book presents 50 first-hand accounts of baby boomer celebrities from beloved TV shows and films such as Jerry Mathers (Leave it to Beaver), Bill Mumy (Lost in Space), Cubby O’Brien (Mickey Mouse Club) Stephen Furst (Animal House), Butch Patrick (The Munsters), Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley) and Clint Howard (The Andy Griffith ShowGentle Ben) The interviewees discuss their memories working on projects, behind the scenes secrets, and the lasting cultural impact of the baby boomer generation.

You will read trade secrets never before revealed as stars chat about being on set for Animal House, Star TrekLeave it to Beaver, and more.

You will go back in time with Baby Boomer icons as they relive behind-the-scenes snafus and fights all while honoring the glory days of television.

Where are they now, and what are they doing? You're about to find out.

“Shooting the Breeze with Baby Boomer Stars” is an entertaining collection of first-person stories and histories for pop culture enthusiasts.

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About the author
Torchy Smith has interviewed well over 100 celebrities on his talk show “Baby Boomers Talk Radio.” May 4th, 1970 was Smith’s last day at Kent State, where he witnessed the shootings by the Ohio National Guard. He was a graphic design student and had worked doing advertising layouts for several employers. After gravitating to sales and building a successful career selling to large retailers, Smith began investing in real estate in the 80s.

At the same time, he also started a ribbon business, which he sold in 2006 and went into semi-retirement. Smith always had an interest in seeking a way to combine his nostalgia obsession with communications through the internet. As a self-starter, he learned and kept up with the computer age that was surging in the 90's. Smith was then able to combine those skills with his graphic design background. What resulted was his accomplishments in creating videos and communications with celebrities from the past. Smith has been on numerous radio programs, commenting on the pulse of where baby boomers now fit into today's world.

To learn more, please visit

“Shooting the Breeze with Baby Boomer Stars: Surprising Celebrity Conversations for the Retro Generation” by Torchy Smith
ISBN: 9781480867840 (softcover); 9781480867857 (hardcover); 9781480867864 (eBook)
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


Is there anyone out there who is fascinated with the Ragtime era of the early 20th century as much as I am? Probably not, but that will not stop me from having a Ragtime theme next month. Running from April 8th - April 29th, all of the stories on my blog will have a Ragtime theme. I hope you'll enjoy the theme as we remember this bygone era!

Sunday, March 24, 2019


Screen legend Marlene Dietrich created a mysterious image of herself that not many people were able to break through. Like every human being, Dietrich was born to a regular normal family, but as Dietrich became famous, she changed many facts about her early years. She was a family history revisionist (I wonder if she knew my mom!), but here are some of the facts of her early years.

Dietrich was born on December 27, 1901 at Leberstraße 65 in the neighborhood of Rote Insel in Schöneberg, now a district of Berlin. Her mother, Wilhelmina Elisabeth Josephine (née Felsing), was from an affluent Berlin family who owned a jewelry and clock-making firm. Her father, Louis Erich Otto Dietrich, was a police lieutenant. Dietrich had one sibling, Elisabeth, who was one year older. Dietrich's father died in 1907.His best friend, Eduard von Losch, an aristocratic first lieutenant in the Grenadiers, courted Wilhelmina and married her in 1916, but he died soon afterwards from injuries sustained during the First World War.Von Losch never officially adopted the Dietrich girls, so Dietrich's surname was never von Losch, as has sometimes been claimed.

Her earliest professional stage appearances were as a chorus girl on tour with Guido Thielscher's Girl-Kabarett vaudeville-style entertainments, and in Rudolf Nelson revues in Berlin. In 1922, Dietrich auditioned unsuccessfully for theatrical director and impresario Max Reinhardt's drama academy; however, she soon found herself working in his theatres as a chorus girl and playing small roles in dramas. She did not attract any special attention at first. She made her film debut playing a bit part in the film The Little Napoleon (1923).

It was in musicals and revues such as Broadway, Es Liegt in der Luft, and Zwei Krawatten, however, that she attracted the most attention. By the late 1920s, Dietrich was also playing sizable parts on screen, including roles in Café Elektric (1927), Ich küsse Ihre Hand, Madame (1928), and Das Schiff der verlorenen Menschen (1929).

In 1929, Dietrich landed the breakthrough role of Lola Lola, a cabaret singer who caused the downfall of a hitherto respectable schoolmaster (played by Emil Jannings), in the UFA-Paramount co-production of The Blue Angel (1930). Josef von Sternberg directed the film and thereafter took credit for having "discovered" Dietrich. The film is also noteworthy for having introduced Dietrich's signature song "Falling in Love Again", which she recorded for Electrola and later made further recordings in the 1930s for Polydor and Decca Records.

In 1930, on the strength of The Blue Angel's international success, and with encouragement and promotion from Josef von Sternberg, who was already established in Hollywood, Dietrich moved to the United States under contract to Paramount Pictures. The studio sought to market Dietrich as a German answer to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's Swedish sensation, Greta Garbo. Sternberg welcomed her with gifts, including a green Rolls-Royce Phantom II. The car later appeared in their first US film Morocco. In Morocco (1930), Dietrich was again cast as a cabaret singer. The film is best remembered for the sequence in which she performs a song dressed in a man's white tie and kisses another woman, both provocative for the era. The film earned Dietrich her only Academy Award nomination. The rest as they movie history...

Thursday, March 21, 2019


I am not a big television fan unless I am watching classic movies or re-runs of The Office or The Twilight Zone. However, I finally entered the modern age and became a Netflix member. I was recently lucky enough to catch the new series After Life. After Life is a British dark comedy web television series created, executive produced, and directed by Ricky Gervais (who also plays its main character), that premiered on 8 March 2019, on Netflix.

After Life follows Tony, who has a perfect life before his wife dies from a battle with breast cancer. After contemplating suicide, he then decides to live long enough to punish the world for his wife's death by saying and doing whatever he wants to. Although he thinks of it as sort of a superpower, the situation turns tricky when everyone around him starts trying to make him a better person again.

No review can do justice to the show. Season one is six episodes long, and I have never had a television show affect me the way that Gervais' show did. I laughed. I squirmed. I cried. This is all within a 28 minute episode. Luckily, I have never lost a spouse, but I have lost extremely important people in my life like my grandfather and my father. Ricky Gervais' portrayal of Tony is just amazing. He manages to capture every emotion that someone has when they lose a loved one. I have always liked Ricky Gervais' work, and he makes me laugh hysterically with his stand up comedy specials, but I never realized what a striking actor he is. He deserves and Emmy for this role.

After watching the sixth and final episode the other night, I crawled in bed with my wife who went to bed earlier, and I just looked at her and held her hand as she slept. (Unfortunately, she woke up and was none to happy with me!). This show made me laugh, but it also made me realize that I will never take my wife for granted. After Life made me realize that I want to make every moment to matter with my wife and kids, because life is too short.

If you want a show that will make you ball your eyes out as well as cause you to pee your pants in laughter, then Ricky Gervais has really given us a treat with this new show. Keep the tissues and clean underwear handy when you watch this one. The only fault I could find with After Life is that a six-episode season is too short. I hope there will be a season two...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10

Sunday, March 17, 2019


Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day, and classic Hollywood is no different. Here are some pictures of some great St. Patrick's Day poses. I spotlighted some Irish inspired photos in 2017. You can see that photo gallery HERE. Here are some different great pics...

Maureen O' Hara

Fred Astaire

Adele Mara

Jimmy Cagney and Joan Leslie

Bobby "Wheezer" Hutchins and Mary Ann Jackson

Greer Garson

Tuesday, March 12, 2019


This clipping features the comeback of vocalist Harlan Lattimore. He was a the talented singer in the Don Redman Orchestra of the 1930s. This article was featured in the Washington Afro-American newspaper on November 1, 1949...

Monday, March 4, 2019


Peter Lorre was one of the best character actors of all-time. Even the horrible movies he made were made better because of Peter's acting. Sadly though, Peter's personal life was sad and scary like some of his movies. Lorre suffered from an addiction to morphine and spent much of the 1940s trying to get clean. It was there at a clinic that he met his thrd and final wife - Anne Marie Brenning. They were married in 1953, and they had a child right away. Catharine was the only child of actor Peter Lorre and Anne Marie Brenning Lorre, and she was born on September 21, 1953.

Cathy had a number of strikes against her. Peter and Annemarie (Brenning)’s marriage was in trouble as early as 1956. Finally, they separated in 1962, when Cathy was nine years old. She was only 11 when her father died of a stroke on March 23, 1964. Annemarie was an alcoholic and died a few years later on April 26, 1971. What to do with Cathy? No one seemed to want her. Finally, Celia Lovksy, Peter’s first wife, offered theater and film critic James Powers (who was married to Karen Verne until her death in 1967) the upstairs of her house on Crescent Heights if he would adopt Cathy. He did and Celia moved into the basement. (Cathy thought of Celia [“Mumili”] as a grandmother. As such, she functioned as a hub for the Lorre family, connecting all to the center, even the actor’s second and third wives.)

Catharine nearly fell victim to "Hillside Stranglers" Angelo J. Buono and Kenneth A. Bianchi, who approached her one night in 1977 intending to abduct and murder her as they had and would do to ten women before the law caught up with them. Learning she was Peter Lorre's daughter, they just let her go. They were movie fans and liked Lorre's work. Catharine was 25 at the time. After the capture of Bianchi and Buono, and their photographs were made public, Catharine realized who they were. Later in interviews, Catharine stated that she never felt threatened by either man: She believed it to be a casual and friendly encounter. Bianchi and Buono stated that the only reason her life was spared was because Peter Lorre was her father.

In 1980, Catharine got married and had a few happy years, but her husband lost his life in a tragic motorcycle accident, leaving her a widow.

Catherine never took care of herself with no real parental guidance around and, she suffered from juvenile diabetes- As she grew older, complications from her diabetes took a greater toll until in her final year she was hospitalized at Harbor General. At that point, she was suffering vision and circulation problems. She spent upwards of a year there and died shortly after. She died of sepsis and encephalomalacia, complications from diabetes, on May 7, 1985, at age 32.

Sadly, unbeknownst to family and friends, she remained in the morgue for nearly a month before funeral arrangements were made. Only a few people attended her funeral. The only people at her funeral were Larry Lorre, Cathy’s cousin; Peter Lorre’s attorney, Robert Shutan; his son Peter Shutan (named after the actor); and Cathy’s nurse. She was buried at Inglewood Cemetery on June 4, 1985. It seemed like at every turn Cathy had bad things happen to her. The pain that she endured in her short 32 years seems overwhelming, but hopefully she did have some happiness and she is at peace now...

Friday, March 1, 2019


Music has played such an important part in my life. It really is the soundtrack to my life. As everyone knows, I love the old singers. I last published my favorite male singer list in 2013, so here is my updated list. They all had a way with a song...

5. DICK HAYMES (1918-1980)   
Dick Haymes burst on the scene in the early 1940s after paying his dues as a vocalist with the Harry James and Tommy Dorsey Orchestras. His deep baritone highlighted many songs of the era like: "You'll Never Know', "Little White Lies", and "It Might As Well Be Spring". Signed with Decca Records, Dick got second choice of songs due to Bing Crosby being the main crooner at the studio. Dick had trouble with alcohol and marriages in the 1950s and 1960s, but his voice remained rebust and engaging until his death from lung cancer. 2013 ranking: 6

4. TONY MARTIN (1913-2012)
I had the opportunity to see and hear Tony Martin perform live in 1999, and he remained a great vocalist throughout his career. His recording career started in the mid 1930s, and he emerged as a very capable singer. He had numerous hits throughout his career like: "It's A Blue World", "Tennement Symphony", "I Get Ideas", "Stranger In Paradise", and "All The Things You Are" among countless other songs. He faced a lot of heart ache in later years. His wife, the beautiful Cyd Charisse died in 2008, and his only son Tony Jr died in 2011. 2013 ranking: 10

3. BOBBY DARIN (1936-1973)
Bobby Darin filled more living and life in his 37 years on this earth than most people do in a lifetime. He burst on the scene with his hit "Splish Splash" in 1958. He wanted to be bigger than Sinatra, and in ways he was a more dynamic performer. He had many signature songs like "Mack The Knife", "Beyond The Sea", and "Artificial Flowers". He acted in movies, was a top draw in Las Vegas, and made countless records. Unfortunately, his life was cut short when he had heart surgery and never recovered. He was way too young to die.  2013 ranking: 3

2. DEAN MARTIN (1917-1995)
Dean Martin was one of those singers that made singing look so easy. It looked like he was lazy but in the 1940s and 1950s he worked hard to become a great crooner like his idols Bing Crosby and The Mills Brothers. He gained wide recognition being a part of a comedy team with Jerry Lewis, but when he broke up with Lewis in 1956, Dean became a superstar. He had numerous hits in his career like "That's Amore", "Memories Are Made Of This", "Sway", and "Volare" among others. He was one of the biggest television stars of his time, headlining his own variety series from 1965 to 1974. Dean was never the same after his son was killed in 1987, and Dino died alone on Christmas Day 1995.  2013 ranking: 2

1. BING CROSBY (1903-1977)
Bing Crosby has the most widely recorded voice in the history of humankind. During World War II, Bing was voted the most widely respected person in the world. He recorded his first record in 1925, but it was not until the 1930s that Bing soared to super stardom. He first recorded with Brunswick Records and had hits like: "Please", "Brother Can You Spare A Dime", and "I Surrender Dear". He made his starring movie debut in 1932's The Big Broadcast. Bing was a top movie draw at Paramount Studio from 1932 to 1956, and he was signed to Decca Records from 1935 to 1957. Bing was the first multi media star, and I could write for pages what Bing did for the entertainment industry. He was and is and has been my favorite singer for decades. I doubt that will ever change.  2013 ranking: 1

Again, this is just my list and only my top five favorites. My five runners up would be: Buddy Clark (1912-1949), Vic Damone (1928-2018), Nat King Cole (1919-1965),  Al Jolson (1886-1950),  and Frank Sinatra (1915-1998). I have numerous singers that I love and collect, but these are my favorite...