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...