Sunday, May 30, 2021


With the pandemic, 2020 was pretty much a wasted year for going to the movies. Right when the pandemic was breaking out, I saw a rerelease of 1933's King Kong but that was about it for movies in 2020. Fast forward to this year, and I returned to the movies to see Godzilla VS Kong - which was pretty good. My poor daughter who is a movie fan like me, has not seen a movie in theater's since 2019's Frozen 2. This weekend was saw Disney's Cruella together to kick off our joint return to the movies, and we were glad we picked this movie!

Cruella (stylized onscreen as Cruella de Vil) is a 2021 American crime comedy film based on the character Cruella de Vil from Dodie Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians and Walt Disney's 1961 animated film adaptation. The film is directed by Craig Gillespie with a screenplay by Dana Fox and Tony McNamara, from a story by Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, and Steve Zissis. It is the third live-action adaptation in the 101 Dalmatians franchise. Emma Stone stars as the title character, with Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Walter Hauser, Emily Beecham, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, and Mark Strong in supporting roles. Set in London during the punk rock movement of the 1970s, the film revolves around Estella, an aspiring fashion designer, as she explores the path that will lead her to become a notorious up and coming fashion designer known as Cruella de Vil.

Walt Disney Pictures announced the film's development in 2013, with Andrew Gunn as producer. Stone was cast in 2016 and also serves as an executive producer on the film alongside Glenn Close, who portrayed Cruella in the previous live-action adaptations, 101 Dalmatians (1996) and 102 Dalmatians (2000). Principal photography took place from August and November 2019 in England.

Cruella premiered in Los Angeles on May 18, 2021, the first major red carpet event since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and was released in the United States theatrically and simultaneously available on Disney+ with Premier Access on May 28. The film received praise from critics for Gillespie's direction, the performances (particularly Stone, Thompson, and Hauser), costume design, and soundtrack, but criticism for its screenplay.

Emma Stone was perfectly cast as Cruella. Emma Thompson was great as the equally crazy Baroness. Emma Thompson had a role in another Disney movie. She starred in 2017's live action Beauty And The Beast as Mrs. Potts. Stone and Thompson really made this movie, and the soundtrack almost stole the film. The soundtrack featured a lot of good music from Tony Martin to Doris Day, and from Judy Garland to the Rolling Stones. I'm so glad things are getting better in the world, and a day at the movies is a sign of a return to normalcy. During the pandemic, I spent a lot more time with my children, and I got to know my daughter more. I know why she is attracted to characters like Cruella. Like Cruella, my daughter is smart and brillant but also slightly crazy! This was a great movie to see, and I recommend it!

MY RATING: 10 out of 10

Saturday, May 29, 2021


Fifty-some years in one business is quite an accomplishment. Fifty-some years with one record label is almost unheard of, but those are some of the facts you will find in the story of Jerry Vale. The New York-born crooner with strong Italian roots has many a story to tell from that long career and tell them he did, to his biographer, Richard Grudens in the book “Jerry Vale: A Singer’s Life” published in November, 2000.

Although his birthday is listed occasionally as July 8, 1932, the singer told people once that he was born in 1930, in The Bronx to Louis and Fanny Vitaliano. Little Genaro, nicknamed Sonny, listened to his mother singing as she cleaned house and sometimes joined in, as did his father. The family occupied one floor of a three-flat. The other two floors housed Vale’s aunts and the home was owned by his grandmother.

Vale has seen his share of problems. When he was five, his then-three year old brother was killed, running across a street. Vale tells Grudens that his mother became overprotective of him from that point on, and that she eventually suffered a nervous breakdown. One aunt and Vale’s grandmother would later die on board the cruise ship The Andrea Doria when she collided with the Stockholm in the crowded New York shipping lanes.

But Vale’s life is filled with triumphs, too – success in the recording studio, on the charts, in concert and in his long marriage to wife Rita and their two children. He also established long-lasting friendships with many of the greats like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Perry Como and baseball legends Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
Jerry’s Big Break

Vale began working in a barbershop around the age of 11, singing while he shined shoes. The barber liked the boy’s voice and sent him to a coach for lessons in voice and piano. Vale began peforming in musical productions in school. He soon won a singing contest at a local nightspot, the Club del Rio and this led to performances at other supper clubs in and around New York City.

One of these gigs paid off well. Guy Mitchell caught Vale’s act, Mitchell set Vale up making demo records. That’s how Mitch Miller heard Vale and signed him with Columbia in the early 50’s. He remained with the label throughout his career with recordings of his beautiful high-tenor voice selling consistently for the Legacy division in recent years.

Vale first hit the charts in 1953 with “You Can Never Give Me Back My Heart” and followed that up with “Two Purple Shadows”, “You Don’t Know Me” and “I Live Each Day”. Vale remained true to his Italian roots, recording “Innamorata (Sweetheart)” in 1956 and in 1962 he was able to persuade Miller to let him do an album of Italian songs. I Have But One Heart came out in August of that year, followed six months later by Arrivederci, Roma and The Language of Love in September of 1963. All three albums did well on the charts.

The late 50’s and early 60’s were times of change in American music, and many Pop singers struggled to stay on top, but Vale’s records continued to sell, landing him in the Top 40 album charts six times between 1963 and 1966. The hits included There Goes My Heart and It’s Magic and the single which became his signature song, “Al Di La”.
Vegas, TV and Carnegie Hall

Vale credits Sinatra with landing him his first job at a Las Vegas casino, The Sands, a two-week engagement that was extended to 22 weeks. It was the beginning of two beautiful relationships which would run for years – Vale and Sinatra and Vale and Vegas.

In the late 60’s, Vale did what many other singers of standards did… he began recording contemporary songs, like “Little Green Apples” and Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”. But if the albums recorded in the late 60’s and early 70’s didn’t do as well as his earlier efforts, that fact did little to diminish his popularity with crowds in Vegas and with television audiences. Vale appeared frequently on TV shows, particularly Ed Sullivan.

The Vale Songbook is huge. Vale has recorded such classics as “Volare”, “Non Dimenticar” and “Pretend You Don’t See Her” as well as “Moonglow”, “More” and the Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition “Promises, Promises” among many, many others. He has done tribute albums to Nat King Cole, Buddy Clark and Russ Colombo. And in recent years, Hollywood has dipped into Vale’s discography, featuring his recordings on movie soundtracks for GoodFellas, Casino, and the Eddie Murphy film The Klumps.

In later years, Vale and his wife Rita lived in the Palm Desert area of California. Vale remained an active performer through early 2002, but a stroke later in the years resulted in Vale retiring. Jerry Vale died of natural causes in his sleep on May 18, 2014, at his home in Palm Desert, California. Vale was 83 years old. He and his wife had two children, Robert Vale and Pamela Vale Branch. He is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Cathedral City, California. His voice is now silenced, but his music and talent lives on through his recordings...

Saturday, May 22, 2021


Hollywood has attracted some of the greatest talents in the history of the world. Today, we get to honor the birth of one of the greatest actors - Laurence Olivier. Olivier was born on this day in 1907 in Dorking, Surrey, the youngest of the three children of the Reverend Gerard Kerr Olivier (1869–1939) and his wife Agnes Louise, née Crookenden (1871–1920).  In 1912, when Olivier was five, his father secured a permanent appointment as assistant rector at St Saviour's, Pimlico. He held the post for six years, and a stable family life was at last possible.

Olivier was devoted to his mother, but not to his father, whom he found a cold and remote parent. Nevertheless, he learned a great deal of the art of performing from him. As a young man Gerard Olivier had considered a stage career and was a dramatic and effective preacher. Olivier wrote that his father knew "when to drop the voice, when to bellow about the perils of hellfire, when to slip in a gag, when suddenly to wax sentimental ... The quick changes of mood and manner absorbed me, and I have never forgotten them."

In 1930, with his impending marriage in mind, Olivier earned some extra money with small roles in two films. In April he travelled to Berlin to film the English-language version of The Temporary Widow, a crime comedy with Lilian Harvey, and in May he spent four nights working on another comedy, Too Many Crooks. During work on the latter film, for which he was paid £60, he met Laurence Evans, who became his personal manager. Olivier did not enjoy working in film, which he dismissed as "this anaemic little medium which could not stand great acting", but financially it was much more rewarding than his theatre work.

Olivier and Jill Esmond married on 25 July 1930 at All Saints, Margaret Street, although within weeks both realised they had erred. Olivier later recorded that the marriage was "a pretty crass mistake. I insisted on getting married from a pathetic mixture of religious and animal promptings. ... She had admitted to me that she was in love elsewhere and could never love me as completely as I would wish". Olivier later recounted that following the wedding he did not keep a diary for ten years and never followed religious practices again, although he considered those facts to be "mere coincidence", unconnected to the nuptials.

In 1930 Noël Coward cast Olivier as Victor Prynne in his new play Private Lives, which opened at the new Phoenix Theatre in London in September. Coward and Gertrude Lawrence played the lead roles, Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne. Victor is a secondary character, along with Sybil Chase; the author called them "extra puppets, lightly wooden ninepins, only to be repeatedly knocked down and stood up again". To make them credible spouses for Amanda and Elyot, Coward was determined that two outstandingly attractive performers should play the parts. Olivier played Victor in the West End and then on Broadway; Adrianne Allen was Sybil in London, but could not go to New York, where the part was taken by Esmond. In addition to giving the 23-year-old Olivier his first successful West End role, Coward became something of a mentor.

In 1931, Olivier signed a two picture deal with RKO, and he was supposed to star in Queen Christina with Greta Garbo on loan to the studio, but he was removed from the film due to lack of chemistry with Garbo. Frustrated with Hollywood, Olivier returned to the stage. He would not make his mark on Hollywood until he starred in 1939's Wuthering Heights. After that movie was released, Oliver became a legendary Hollywood icon and the rest is history...

Saturday, May 15, 2021


Here is an early advertisement that a young Marilyn Monroe did in 1950 in conjunction with her appearance in the Marx Brothers' movie Love Nest. I'm not 100% sure what Monroe is selling, but I think it is for a bow tie?

Saturday, May 8, 2021


Here is the sixth edition of odd Hollywood/celebrity pairings. This feature has become an annual thing almost. I love seeing the different pairings of famous people...

Sammy Davis Jr & Clint Eastwood

Elvis Presley & Liberace

Hugh Hefner & Ella Fitzgerald

Danny Devito & Christopher Reeve

Marlene Dietrich and The Beatles

Martin Luther King Jr and Marlon Brando

Monday, May 3, 2021


To honor Bing Crosby on what would have been his 118th birthday, here are some facts that you night not known about the crooner who started it all...


The entertainer was born Harry Lillis Crosby, which doesn't have quite the same ring to it. The nickname "Bing" found him when he was just 7 years old. The Spokane Spokesman-Review ran a comic feature called The Bingville Bugle, which was a parody of hillbilly newspapers. The young Crosby thought the feature was a riot, and would giggle uncontrollably when reading it. A neighbor noticed his laughter and started calling Crosby "Bingo from Bingville." The "o" eventually went away, but the nickname stuck.


When television fans think of Columbo, they probably envision Peter Falk starring as the title character. However, the job could have been Crosby's. The Columbo character made his debut in 1960 on The Chevy Mystery Show with Bert Freed portraying the detective. Thomas Mitchell also spent some time in the role, but the character really exploded when NBC decided to make a television movie in 1968.

The film's producers wanted either Crosby or the great Lee J. Cobb to portray Columbo, but Cobb couldn't squeeze it into his schedule. Crosby turned down the role for a funnier reason: he thought it would interfere with his golfing. At that point Bing considered himself mostly retired, and he didn't want to deal with the long drag of shooting keeping him off of the links.


The Thin White Duke was set to appear on Crosby's Christmas TV special in 1977 when the production hit a snag. The producers had decided that Bowie would sing "The Little Drummer Boy," but Bowie felt the song wasn't really right for him and refused to sing it.

The nervous producers huddled and decided to rewrite the song in an attempt to get something Bowie would actually perform. With just hours to go before the broadcast, the musical team wrote an alternative version with a new melody and alternate lyrics. Bowie liked the new version, dubbed "Peace on Earth," and agreed to perform it with Crosby, complete with a stilted intro sketch.

The song actually had staying power, and RCA ended up releasing it as a single in 1982; it still gets little resurgences each holiday season.


Crosby wasn't just a golfer; he also enjoyed a little bit of action at the track. In 1937, he teamed up with a group of fellow superstars to open the Del Mar Racetrack just north of San Diego. In addition to Crosby, the team of investors included Jimmy Durante and Oliver Hardy. Crosby was at the track's gate on its opening day, shaking hands and greeting guests, and the track soon became one of California's hottest spots for celebrity sightings.

The racing itself wasn't too shabby, either: The track played host to the famous winner-take-all two-horse race between Seabiscuit and Ligaroti. The race was such big national news that NBC radio made it the company's first-ever national broadcast of a horse race.


Before denim-on-denim was a certified fashion trend, pairing a jean jacket or shirt with your favorite pair of blue jeans was considered a sartorial faux pas. Nicknamed the “Canadian Tuxedo,” the look has been the butt of many pop culture jokes for years—perhaps most famously in the movie Super Troopers.

However, Boing Boing traces the outfit back to Crosby. According to Levi’s Vintage Clothing, legendary singer Bing Crosby was denied entrance into a Canadian hotel in 1951 because he and his companion were clad in head-to-toe denim. Management soon realized that Crosby was a celebrity and let him in. However, tales of the incident spread, and designers at Levi Strauss and Co. eventually caught wind and designed Crosby a custom jean tuxedo jacket. That way, his denim would be dressed up enough for the swankiest of establishment.