Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Singer LYNN EVANS died at the age of 95 on February 6th. She was the last surviving member of the original The Chordettes. The group performed from 1946 to 1963 and have huge hits like "Mr. Sandman" and "Lollipop". Lynn came out of retirement in 2004 to appear and sing at a PBS nostalgia special.
Actor SEAN CONNERY died at the age of 90 on October 31st. He is best known as the first actor to portray the character James Bond in film, starring in seven Bond films (every film from Dr. No to You Only Live Twice, plus Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again) between 1962 and 1983. Connery began acting in smaller theatre and television productions until his breakout role as British secret agent James Bond garnered him international recognition. Other great films included Marnie (1964), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), The Man Who Would Be King (1975), Highlander (1986), The Untouchables (1987), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996), The Rock (1996), and Finding Forrester (2000). Connery retired from acting in 2006.
Comedian TERRY JONES died on January 21st at the age of 77 from dementia. He was a Welsh actor, writer, comedian, screenwriter, film director and historian. He was a member of the Monty Python comedy team. He created Monty Python's Flying Circus with fellow Cambridge graduates Eric Idle, John Cleese, and Graham Chapman, and American animator/filmmaker Terry Gilliam. Jones was largely responsible for the programme's innovative, surreal structure, in which sketches flowed from one to the next without the use of punchlines. He was diagnosed with dementia in 2015.
Actor DANIEL GOLDMAN died on April 12th at the age of 80 from a stroke. He is most widely recognized as the voice of Brainy Smurf in Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs (1981–1989) and as the inquisitive medical student in the opening scene of Young Frankenstein (1974). He remained active as a casting director through 2012.
Actress OLIVIA DEHAVILLAND died on July 26th at the age of 104. The major works of her cinematic career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films and was one of the leading actresses of her time. She was the last major surviving star from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema and the oldest living and earliest surviving Academy Award winner until her death in July 2020. Her younger sister was the actress Joan Fontaine. De Havilland first came to prominence with Errol Flynn as a screen couple in adventure films such as Captain Blood (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). One of her best-known roles is that of Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she received her first of five Oscar nominations.
Singer LITTLE RICHARD died on May 9th at the age of 87. He was an influential figure in popular music and culture for seven decades. Nicknamed "The Innovator, The Originator, and The Architect of Rock and Roll", Little Richard's most celebrated work dates from the mid-1950s, when his charismatic showmanship and dynamic music, characterized by frenetic piano playing, pounding back beat and raspy shouted vocals, laid the foundation for rock and roll.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
"He Was Too Good for Me" was too good to be forgotten after it was cut from the show it was written for. It is one of those songs that became a standard without the aid of exposure in a show or movie. Intended for Lee Morse in Simple Simon, "He Was Too Good for Me" was dropped before the New York opening of the show. There was then talk of using it in the ill-fated Nine-Fifteen Revue (also from 1930) but again it was cut. Rodgers and Hart must have had faith in it because they published it independently, and after being found and recorded by artists such as Helen Merrill, Jeri Southern, Nina Simone, Doris Day, Carmen McRae, and others, it became clear it was headed to become a songbook standard. My favorite version is by the versatile Jeri Southern.
The thing has ended
Regrets are vain
I'll never find another half so sweet
And we'll never meet again
I got impatient
Told him goodbye
Sad eyes out in the rain
He was too good to me
How can I get along now
So close he stood to me
Everything seems all wrong now
He would have brought me the sun
Making me smile, that was his fun
When I was mean to him
He'd never say go away now
I was a Queen to him
Who's gonna make me gay now
It's only natural that I'm blue
He was too good to be true
Songwriters: Lorenz Hart / Richard Rodgers
He Was Too Good to Me lyrics © Concord Music Publishing LLC
Friday, December 18, 2020
ANSWER: Not 100% true
While Doris Day was alive she was one of the charitable celebrities of her day. She gave millions of dollars to charities, especially her work on behalf of animals. However, in regards to her relationships with men - that was a different story.
Doris Day married her first husband, trombonist Al Jorden when she was 19. He was abusive, and three more husbands would follow for Day. Doris had an illicit affair with producer Marty Melcher as well. Melcher was then the husband of Patti Andrews (of the Andrews Sisters). They were married from 1947 to 1950. During that time, Patti returned from the recording studio one day to find Melcher and Doris Day literally in bed together. After Marty divorced Patti, he married Doris Day in 1951.
When Marty died in 1968, it was discovered that he had spent all of Doris Day's money and signed contracts on her behalf that she was not aware of. Again, Doris Day was not a horrible person, she was just not the girl next door...
Monday, December 14, 2020
“The world and our family have lost a vibrant, amazing talent and beautiful soul. Ann was the heart of our family and the life of the party,” her family said in a statement on Monday. “She was visiting our brother in Washington state when she went to sleep and never woke up. We will miss her more than we can say. Heaven has the best choreographer available now. I’m sure they are dancing up a storm up there! Annie, we will love and miss you always!!!”
News of the actor’s death was first announced Monday on Facebook by dancer and choreographer Christopher Dean, who teaches Reinking’s niece.
“The lights on Broadway are forever more dim this morning and there is one less star in the sky,” he wrote. “The good news is that heaven has the very best choreographer on earth now.”
The star got her acting start in a Seattle Opera House production of “Bye Bye Birdie” in 1965. She soon found her way onto the Broadway stage when she was cast in the ensemble for the 1969 production of “Cabaret.”
“The hope is that in rediscovering ‘Chicago,’ audiences will rediscover what theater was,” Reinking told The New York Times at the time of the show’s revival. “It was sophisticated, complicated, adult.”
Reinking’s other Broadway roles include “Sweet Charity,” “Over Here!” and “Goodtime Charley.”
In Bob Fosse’s 1979 autobiographical film “All That Jazz,” Reinking played a fictionalized version of herself, as the main character’s girlfriend and one of his muses. Reinking, who was with Fosse for years, was played by Margaret Qualley in FX’s 2019 limited series “Fosse/Verdon.”
“I really did watch her [on video] in the back of a minivan on my way to dance countless times,” Qualley said of Reinking in a 2019 interview with IndieWire. “I was really nervous because I wanted to do right by her. I looked up to her for so long, was so familiar with her. More than anything, I wanted her to like it.”
Reinking choreographed for theater as well. Her work on the later “Chicago” ultimately earned her a Tony Award for best choreography.
She is survived by her husband, Peter Talbert, and her son Chris.
Many members of the theater community and Hollywood who knew Reinking paid tribute to the actor on social media Monday.
Billy Eichner, star of “Billy on the Street,” voiced his appreciation for her work in a Twitter post. “One of the most mesmerizing people I’ve ever seen on stage,” he dubbed Reinking based on her successful run on the “Chicago” revival...
Saturday, December 12, 2020
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
By Richard A. Lertzman with Lon Davis
(Prestige Cinema Books - December 2, 2020)
For 28 consecutive nights in February 1960, a dusty town called Las Vegas became the epicenter of the world. All eyes were on the party happening at the Sands Hotel and Casino, the new headquarters for the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra. Dubbed by many as “The Rat Pack,” “The Clan” and “The Summit”—Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford gave those lucky audiences an entertainment experience, the likes of which will never be seen again.
This explosive tell-all book brings the inside scoop of how the mob, the future president, and five popular performers took the world (Las Vegas and Hollywood with the film Ocean’s 11 ) by storm.
You will read exclusive interviews with the participants themselves, including assorted wise guys Moe Dalitz, Carl Cohen (a relative of the author’s), Mickey Cohen, and Max Diamond (a longtime employee of the author’s liquidation business)—and show business luminaries Jack Entratter, Nancy Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis, Buddy Hackett, and many, many more.
And what makes this story of the Rat Pack so unique is that it is taken from the perspective of the group’s last surviving member, Joey Bishop, who sat for numerous interviews with the author.
The New York Post, Closer Magazine, and the London Daily Express are among those already singing the praises of “Deconstructing the Rat Pack” by calling it a “A Book That Busts The Rat Pack Myth and a “Must Have.”
And let’s not forget, December 12th would have been Mr. Sinatra’s 105th birthday—so, let’s all celebrate with a swinging, retro time with the Rack Pack...
Monday, December 7, 2020
ANSWER: Not 100% sure but probably not!
Shortly after completion of The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock — his only starring film appearance without Bud Abbott — Lou Costello suffered a heart attack. He died at Doctors Hospital in Beverly Hills on March 3, 1959, three days before his 53rd birthday. Sources conflict on the circumstances of his last day and final words. By some accounts, restated in numerous "quotes" aggregates, he told visitors that the strawberry ice-cream soda he had just finished was "the best I ever tasted", then expired. By other reports, including several contemporaneous obituaries, the ice-cream soda exchange occurred earlier in the day; later, after his wife and friends had left, he asked his private-duty nurse to adjust his position in bed. "I think I'll be more comfortable", he said; but before the nurse could comply, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died...
Thank you for all the submittals for the holiday contest to win DVDs of Tim Janis's Buttons musical and Tim Janis' new Christmas CD.
Here are the winners, and I will be contacting you shortly:
1. Maria Meadows - Hartford, Connecticut
2. Angela Morgan - Clarks Summit, PA
3. Michael Belcher - Chicago, IL
4. Betty Humbel - Albany, NY
5. Marion Alberts - Chattanooga, TN
Thanks to everyone that sent in entries, and happy holidays to everyone!
Wednesday, December 2, 2020
1. The firecracker dance sequence required 3 days of rehearsal and took two days to film. Fred Astaire's shoes for the dance were auctioned off for $116,000 worth of war bonds.
2. The first public performance of the song "White Christmas" was by Bing Crosby on his NBC radio show "The Kraft Music Hall" on Christmas Day, 1941, during the middle of filming _Holiday Inn (1942)_, which was released seven months later. The song went on to become one of the biggest selling songs in the history of music. This was the first of three films to feature Crosby singing "White Christmas".
3. Irving Berlin got the idea for the film after writing the song "Easter Parade" for his 1933 show "As Thousands Cheer", and planned to write a play about American holidays, but it never materialized. He later pitched the idea to Mark Sandrich who got the ball rolling for this film.
4. Some controversy surrounded the history of the song "White Christmas" when it was reported in a 1960 news item that Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1938, which would have made it ineligible for an Academy Award nomination. But a biography and modern sources agree it was written for this film, and the sheet music has a 1942 copyright date.
5. The set of the Holiday Inn was reused by Paramount 12 years later for the musical White Christmas, also starring Bing Crosby and again with songs composed by Irving Berlin.
6. The script originally called for a Labor Day dance number, "This Is a Great Country." The holiday and song was cut from the film.
7. Until 1997, "White Christmas" was the best selling music single ever. It was passed at that time by "Goodbye, England's Rose", the Elton John rework of "Candle in the Wind" done for Princess Diana's funeral. These two songs still rank #1-2...
Friday, November 27, 2020
GLORIA SWANSON’S POTASSIUM BROTH
8 cups spring water, bottled water or purified water
1 cup Swiss chard or kale
1 cup zucchini
1 cup fresh string beans
1 cup celery
However much or however little garlic you like
Wash all vegetables thoroughly, preferably with a veggie brush, and then chop them well. Finely mince the garlic. Pour water into a large pot and add everything. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes, or until the celery is tender. Serve immediately, or turn off the heat and allow the broth to cool on the stove, pour into covered containers and refrigerate. Reheat to serve later.
Okay, a confession: I added the garlic to Gloria’s recipe. I am a total garlic hound. When I recently ordered pasta with garlic and oil from the local pizzeria, this was my plaintive cry: “Extra garlic, please. And then if you look at it and say, whoa, that was too much garlic, just add more garlic.” (My husband was away at the time.)
In this recipe, the garlic not only adds much-needed flavor, but tons of nutrition—and packs a wallop against winter cold and flu germs. If you’re not a garlic fan, you can add any herbs (or other vegetables) you like, or perk it up with chili powder, paprika, curry powder or other spices. Take it in any direction you choose!
This is a great way to start a meal or to serve as a little something to tide you over in middle of the afternoon. And if you close your eyes and use a little imagination, it will make you feel like a movie star prepping for a glamorous role, getting ready for your close-up…
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
2020 has been a difficult year for everyone, so now more than ever we need some good hearted family entertainment. Director and composer Tim Janis has defintely supplied us with some great entertainment that is suitable for the whole family.
Firstly he directed Buttons: A Christmas Tale in 2018, which starred such legendary actors Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury. Also Mr. Janis has put out a CD, titled "All Is Bright". If this does not get you into the Christmas spirit then you are a scrooge.
You can buy the DVD of Buttons: A Christmas Tale HERE.
You can buy the CD "All Is Bright" HERE.
However, Tim Janis himself has been kind enough to donate a few copies of each, and I would love to give them away to readers of my blog. All you need to do is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me your favorite Christmas memory. I will pick winners on December 7, 2020 and also use your memories in a future blog story.
Again, we need to share great heart warming memories more than ever! Also please support the work of Tim Janis. He is a brilliant entertainer that deserves our support. You can learn more about Tim Janis HERE
Happy Holidays and get your entries in!
Friday, November 20, 2020
Lee Wiley, whose gently husky voice and sensuous phrasing made her one of the outstanding jazz singers of the 1930's and 40's, died yesterday of cancer at Sloan‐Kettering Memorial Hospital. She was 60 years old. Her last public performance was at the Newport Jazz Festival in July 1972.
Miss Wiley's voice—warm and easy and with a wide vibrato—was often remarked on for its erotic effect. Such comments were invariably associated with admiration for her ability to choose superior matetrial and to deliver it with unusual sensitivity.
“Although she sings with devastating sex appeal,” George Frazier, one of her more ardent admirers, once wrote, “she does so in an exalted way.”
But Miss Wiley found nothing unusual about the way she sang.
“I don't sing gut‐bucket,” she once said. “I don't sing jazz. I just sing. The only vocal trick I've ever done is putting in the vibrato and taking it out. I don't believe in vocal gimmickry and I had never had the commercial instincts to concentrate on visual mannerisms.”
Although she broke into the top rank of pop singers while she was very young, her lack of “commercial instincts” kept her from following a path that might have brought her a large popular following. She was, instead, known primarily for her interpretation of the songs of Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart and George Gershwin with accompaniment by such jazz musicians as Bunny Berigan, Bobby Hackett, Fats Waller, Bud Freeman and Eddie Condon.
“I always sang the way I wanted to sing,” she once said. “If I didn't like something, just wouldn't do it. Instead, I'd take a plane to California and sit in the sun.”
Miss Wiley, who was part Cherokee Indian, a tall, striking‐looking woman with olive skin and corn‐color hair, was born in Port Gibson, Okla., on Oct. 9, .1915. She ran away from home at 15 and, with the help of a friend of her mother's, found work in nightclubs in Chicago and here. By the time she was 17, she was singing with Leo Reisman's Orchestra, one of the big names in the New York music world of the late 20's, and playing dramatic roles on radio.
During the early 30's, Miss Wiley was featured on radio on the Paul Whiteman show and the Kraft show with Victor Young, with whom she wrote several songs including “Any Time, Any Day, Anywhere,” which became closely associated with her. Later she was featured on the Willard Robison Show on CBS with orchestrations by William Grant Still.
In the late 30's, she made a series of record albums for small labels (Liberty, Rabson, Schirmer) of show tunes with jazz accompaniment that became her prime identification as a singer In 1944 she was married to Jess Stacy, the jazz pianist, and sang with the big band that he led for a year or two. The marriage lasted five years, after which she returned to working as a single, a career in which she was constantly requested to sing “Sugar,” which she recorded in 1940 on the back of her own favorite recording, “Down to Steamboat Tennessee.”
Miss Wiley was married to Nat Tischenkel, a retired businessman, in 1966. In addition to her husband, she is survived by a sister, Pearl Pegler, widow of Westbrook Pegler, and a brother, Ted Wiley of Somerset, N.J....
Friday, November 13, 2020
His career spanned six decades, taking him from the vaudeville stage, to radio, and then on to the golden lights of Hollywood. His trademark voice has been imitated by countless actors over the years, including Alan Tudyk in Disney’s 2012 film Wreck-It-Ralph. Walt Disney was an ardent fan of Wynn’s work, referring to him as “our good luck charm.”
Here are ten facts about the remarkable career of the man dubbed the Perfect Fool.
1. Wynn began his career on the vaudeville stage. Born in 1886, he began performing in 1903 after running away from home to join the theater. His trademark act, The Boy With the Funny Hats, involved transforming a Panama hat into a variety of odd shapes. In 1962, Wynn revived the act for an appearance on Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color for the Golden Horseshoe Revue’s 10,000th performance special.
2. Wynn’s iconic voice was created for his title character in the 1921 Broadway Show, The Perfect Fool, which he also wrote and produced. The show opened in November and ran for 275 performances, closing in July of 1922. The show included bits like an eleven foot pole (for when you wouldn’t touch something with a ten foot pole) and a piano mounted to a bicycle. The piano bit also appeared in the 1962 episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, with Wynn playing the piano and riding the bicycle while Betty Taylor sang the song Tea For Two.
3. In the 1930s, Wynn starred in the Texaco sponsored radio comedy, The Fire Chief. The show ran on Tuesday nights and was performed in front of a live audience. Each show ran a half hour long and featured a mix of comedy and music.
4. In 1961, Wynn appeared in the live action musical Babes in Toyland, alongside teen stars Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands. Wynn described his character, the Toymaker, as a combination of his Perfect Fool and Fire Chief characters. The film also led to Wynn’s appearance in the Backstage Party episode of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. The party, a staged promotion for the film, featured special performances by members of the Babes in Toyland cast. Wynn was celebrated in the episode, receiving a Mouse-car award for his sixty years in show business.
5. Walt Disney was planning a role for Wynn in Disney’s 19th animated feature, The Jungle Book. He did not end up acting in the film. He died in 1966 of esophageal cancer, a year before the movie’s release. His gravestone at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale reads, “Dear God, Thanks…Ed Wynn.”
6. Disney named Wynn a Disney Legend in 2013. Tom Bergeron spoke briefly, recapping Wynn’s career and Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger wished the audience a happy Un-Birthday in celebration of Wynn’s first Disney role. Wynn’s granddaughter Hilda Levine accepted the award on his behalf...
Monday, November 9, 2020
Dorothy Dandridge was born on November 9, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio, to aspiring entertainer Ruby Dandridge (née Butler) (March 3, 1900 – October 17, 1987) and Cyril Dandridge (October 25, 1895 – July 9, 1989), a cabinetmaker and Baptist minister, who had separated just before her birth. Ruby created a song-and-dance act for her two young daughters, Vivian and Dorothy, under the name The Wonder Children, that was managed by Geneva Williams. The sisters toured the Southern United States almost nonstop for five years (rarely attending school), while Ruby worked and performed in Cleveland.
The Dandridge Sisters continued strong for several years, and were booked in several high-profile nightclubs, including the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. Dandridge's first on-screen appearance was a small part in an Our Gang comedy short, Teacher's Beau in 1935. As a part of The Dandridge Sisters, she also appeared in The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1936) with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, A Day at the Races with the Marx Brothers, and It Can't Last Forever (both 1937) with the Jackson Brothers. Although these appearances were relatively minor, Dandridge continued to earn recognition through continuing her nightclub performances nationwide.
Dandridge appeared as part of a Specialty Number, Chattanooga Choo Choo, in the hit 1941 musical Sun Valley Serenade for 20th Century Fox. The film marked the first time she performed with the Nicholas Brothers. (She would be married for a time to one of the Nicholas Brothers). Aside from her film appearances, Dandridge appeared in a succession of "soundies" – film clips that were displayed on jukeboxes, including "Paper Doll" by the Mills Brothers, "Cow, Cow Boogie", "Jig in the Jungle", and "Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter's Rent Party" aka "Swing for my Supper", among others. These films were noted not only for showcasing Dandridge as singer and dancer and her acting abilities, but also for featuring a strong emphasis on her physical attributes.
In May 1951, Dandridge spectacularly opened at the Mocambo nightclub in West Hollywood after assiduous coaching and decisions on style with pianist Phil Moorex. This success seemed a new turn to her career and in a couple of years she would be an Oscar nominee for her role in Carmen Jones (1954). Sadly, even with that nomination, Dorothy would not become the star that she would deserve to be. She died at the age of 42 in 1965...
Thursday, November 5, 2020
The young woman in question is Terry (Claire Bloom), a ballerina suffering from what’s eventually determined to be a psychosomatic illness that prevents her from walking. Despondent, she attempts suicide, but is saved when her upstairs neighbor, the once-famous clown Calvero (Chaplin), smells the gas emanating from her apartment and breaks down her door. Calvero immediately takes Terry under his wing, giving her regular pep talks about why life is very much worth living. She, in turn, eventually uses her influence to get Calvero hired as Harlequin in her new ballet (invented for the film). She also falls in love with him, though he refuses to consider marrying her and does his best to steer her toward a young composer (Sydney Chaplin, Charlie’s son). Eventually, Calvero abandons Terry altogether to ensure that she’ll make a life without him, though she tracks him down years later and persuades him to headline a benefit concert.
Even for Chaplin, this is a saccharine wish-fulfillment fantasy: At age 63, he wins the enduring love of the ingénue—Bloom, in one of her earliest film roles, was only 21—nobly sacrifices his own happiness for hers (while pairing her with someone who shares half of his DNA), and redeems himself professionally with one final boffo performance. Thankfully, Calvero’s tender relationship with Terry, which is the heart of the movie, feels much more paternal than romantic, even as she keeps insisting that she loves him and only him. What’s more, Chaplin handles dialogue superbly, as if he’d devoted his lengthy career to Shakespeare and Ibsen rather than pantomime. Some of the speeches he’s written himself are a bit too floridly theatrical, but he sells them with a relaxed, casual delivery, demonstrating that he might well have been one of cinema’s towering figures even had he been born half a century later.
Alas, Limelight fails to make a case for Calvero as one of vaudeville’s towering figures. His big routine, in which he pretends to be working with trained fleas, is painfully unfunny, and while the initial flashback suggests that this is by design—that Calvero, by that point, had lost his gift and thus his audience—subsequent events make it clear that Calvero is meant to be a genius, and that it was the fickle public that ended his career. Sadder still, Limelight’s climactic benefit concert features the sole onscreen collaboration between Chaplin and Buster Keaton, with the latter in the tiny role of Calvero’s former partner. It’s a total bust. Keaton, who was six years younger than Chaplin (so only 57 at the time), is given little to do apart from fumble endlessly with a sheaf of sheet music, and Chaplin-the-director rarely even puts himself and Keaton in the same shot. In short, everything that sounds potentially magnificent about Limelight disappoints, while the aspect that sounds potentially dreary—Chaplin playing earnest life coach to a sickly ballerina—works like a charm. The man was full of surprises...
Sunday, November 1, 2020
|THE THREE STOOGES|