Saturday, July 31, 2021


Eddie Cantor has been gone now for over 55 years, but his the memory of his talent and personality should not be diminished. Not only was he a great entertainer, but he was an even better human being. Here are six candid photos of Eddie through the years...

With Eddie Fisher & Sammy Davis Jr

With Laurel & Hardy

With Jane Wyatt
With Marlene Dietrich

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


Billboard has celebrated 81 years since the release of its very first music chart. In July of 1940, the publication shared its first chart ranking the sales of recorded songs.

The "National List of Best Selling Retail Records" included the top 10 best-selling songs in the US at the time.

16 years later, the Billboard 200 would make its debut, showcasing the top-selling weekly album. Then, in 1958, the Billboard Hot 100 (singles chart) was introduced.

Since then, a number of charts have been added to Billboard's list, keeping track of some of the most popular tunes and artists in the world.

Take a look at the top 10 songs from Billboard's first chart below:

1. I'll Never Smile Again - Tommy Dorsey

2. The Breeze and I - Jimmy Dorsey

3. Imagination - Glenn Miller

4. Playmates - Kay Kyser

5. Fools Rush In - Glenn Miller

6. Where Was I? - Charlie Barnet

7. Pennsylvania 6-5000 - Glenn Miller

8. Imagination - Tommy Dorsey

9. Sierra Sue - Bing Crosby

10. Make Believe Island - Mitchell Ayres


Bob Odenkirk, star of hit TV shows "Breaking Bad" and "Better Call Saul," was rushed to the hospital after collapsing on set on Tuesday, the TMZ entertainment website reported.

The actor was shooting "Better Call Saul" in New Mexico when the incident happened, TMZ reported. A person with knowledge of the matter confirmed the accuracy of TMZ's report to CNN.

"Better Call Saul" is currently in production for its sixth season. It is a prequel to the AMC crime series "Breaking Bad," which introduced Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, the criminal defense attorney for the show's protagonist, Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston.

According to TMZ sources, "Odenkirk went down, and was immediately surrounded by crew members who called an ambulance."

It is unclear what Odenkirk's condition is at present.

Odenkirk co-created and co-starred in the HBO sketch comedy series "Mr. Show with Bob and David." He has won two Emmy awards and received 16 nominations, including nine for his work on "Better Call Saul."

Tuesday, July 27, 2021


 From producer Alan Eichler...

I am thrilled to announce that "Boulevard! A Hollywood Story," a project I have nurtured since 1994, has finally reached fruition thanks to Jeffrey Schwarz's brilliant new documentary, which traces Gloria Swanson's ill-fated efforts to turn "Sunset Boulevard" into a Broadway musical as a stage vehicle for herself. With two gay writers assisting her, it very nearly did get produced before it all fell apart, and this is that story. 

The feature-length film, of which I am one of the executive producers, will have its world premiere on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at the Director's Guild Theater in Hollywood, as part of Outfest. Tickets are on sale now on the Outfest website and it will also stream for three days, Aug. 18-20 on their app. Another big feather in Jeffrey's cap, totally due to his perseverance and brilliance. And I'm also on screen in it!

Saturday, July 24, 2021


There are a lot singers like Peggy Lee and Jo Stafford that were icons of an era. However, for every Peggy Lee there is two or three singers who never really became popular. One such singer was Joan Edwards. Joan was born in New York City on February 13, 1919. Edwards' father was Ben Edwards, a song plugger. Music ran in her family; uncle Gus Edwards was a vaudeville entertainer, uncle Leo Edwards wrote music, and aunt Dorothy Edwards was a vocal teacher. Despite the family's show business background, she was urged to go in a different direction. In fact, Gus Edwards told her, "Stay out of show business."

As a child, Edwards had a heart murmur, and doctors advised her to start playing the piano "to keep her busy outside of school hours." She graduated from George Washington High School in Manhattan, where she directed the glee club. She went on to major in music at Hunter College, planning to be a teacher. However, her interest in singing and playing the piano won out, leading to a career in music.

Edwards' first job after finishing at Hunter College was performing with Rudy Vallee. Her guest appearance on his radio program was so successful that she toured the United States with Vallee and his orchestra for eight months. She also appeared with bandleader Paul Whiteman and with her uncle, vaudevillian Gus Edwards. A December 6, 1941, newspaper article reported that she had "played the leading vaudeville theaters in the country." In the early 1940s, she also was "appearing at one of Broadway's top night clubs."

Joan's early appearances on radio came "via small stations in New York City." Her first network appearance was on Fred Allen's program. Beginning March 3, 1941, Edwards had her own program, Girl About Town, on CBS. The 15-minute show was broadcast Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time. Although her singing was featured, she played the piano for one song in each episode.

In December 1941, Edwards was selected as the new female soloist on Your Hit Parade. There she gained the most fame. Three years later, an article in Tune In magazine observed, "Joan Edwards sets something of a record, lasting through the regimes of three male singers -- Barry Wood, [Frank] Sinatra, [Lawrence] Tibbett -- in a three-year period." Her tenure on the program eventually reached five years, and the list of male singers' names grew to include Dick Todd and Johnny Mercer. She was dropped from Your Hit Parade in 1947 when the sponsor, American Tobacco Company, changed format, using guest stars rather than regular soloists.

In 1942, Edwards performed at the Copley-Plaza hotel in Boston, Massachusetts, with what one newspaper columnist called "the year's most unusual night-club contract." The time off was reserved so that she could fly to New York City to perform on Your Hit Parade on Saturdays. In 1950, she appeared on stage at the Capitol Theatre in a show with bandleader Russ Morgan and others.

Edwards was also a regular on The Danny Kaye Show  and on Songs for Sale. She was also heard on George Jessel's program, Duffy's Tavern, Here's to Romance, and Swing Session.

As the music industry begane to change, Edwards knew her singing was not going to continue on. On March 3, 1952, Edwards began a morning disc jockey program on WCBS-AM in New York City.

Edwards had her own program, The Joan Edwards Show, on the DuMont Television Network in 1950. The 15-minute program was broadcast on Tuesday and Thursday nights. She also was seen in a TV version of her Girl About Town radio program in 1941.

After she ended her singing career, she began composing. Edwards was co-composer of the Broadway musical Tickets, Please! (1950). She also "wrote scores for nightclub revues as well as many successful advertising jingles." Edwards and Lyn Duddy wrote the songs for Arthur Godfrey's songbook Arthur Godfrey's TV Calendar Songs, published 1953.

Edwards was married to Julius Schachter, a violinist who died in 1976. They had three daughters and one son. Joan Edwards died in Manhattan, New York, of an apparent heart attack on August 27, 1981. She was only 62, and if you have a chance to listen to any of her recordings please do so. She had a wonderful voice that deserves to be remembered...

Saturday, July 17, 2021


One of the most iconic television shows of all time was The Andy Griffith Show. The show may seem dated now, but in the 1960s it showcased an easy going surburban life that all of middle America dreamed of. The star was Andy Griffith but one of the most endearing characters was Aunt Bee, played by character actress Frances Bavier. After the Andy Griffith Show ended in 1968, Bavier played a few more roles before retiring. Her final years is mostly a mystery as she became a recluse.

According to her obituary from the Associated Press, which appeared thousands of miles away in the Los Angeles Times, she almost never left her house. The Studebaker in her garage had four flat tires. The obituary also said her cats used a downstairs shower stall as a litter box, but Vickie Russell, who lives with her husband in Bavier’s former house, says that’s just not true. The Russells bought the house six months after Bavier died and Vickie Russell said there was never any sign that the shower was used as a litter box — or that the cats were anything but well cared for. The hardwood floors in the house, she adds, were not stained in the least.

Shortly after taking up residence in Chatham County in 1972, Bavier did charity work for both Christmas and Easterseals, wrote Chip Womick of the (Asheboro) Courier-Tribune in the early 1980s. But she soon dropped out of sight, declining interviews, keeping fan mail in a pair of trunks.

Frances Bavier liked her privacy, but even in the little town she moved to people would harrass her. A visit to the town center meant all eyes casting judgment, the ladies at the beauty parlor never forgave her for not joining one of their churches. There were unceasing invitations to Sunday services wherever she went. “Don’t forget, you went to church in Mayberry,” passers-by would say with a sickly-sweet, curt grin. That was one of Bavier’s signature moves on the show!

Week after week the same goobers would bump into her asking, “Was that Opie I saw mowin’ yer grass on Sadiddy?” She’d want to scream, “Why are you fixated on my yard?!?” Young couples followed her down the aisles of the Piggly-Wiggly, “Yer not makin’ pickles this summer are ya, Aint Bee?”

Small wonder that, by the 1980s, the former television star was living out of her back bedroom, curtains pulled tight, with 14 devoted kitties for company. She loved her feline companions so much she converted a 250-square-foot bathroom into a sprawling cat box with kitty litter inches deep. What few visitors she had in her final years, store clerks and deliverymen mostly, were overwhelmed by the peeling paint, filthy living conditions and an atmosphere steeped in soft-cream clouds of ammonia that hung over everything like a suffocating umbrella.

In 1986, three years after she’d stopped venturing out in public, Andy Griffith and Ron Howard made a surprise visit to Siler City’s reclusive cat lady. Bavier refused to allow her decade-long coworkers inside, speaking to them only momentarily through the closed front door. This was after declining repeatedly to be part of their Mayberry reunion movie. Why would she participate? She never liked Andy Griffith from the very beginning.

“She wasn’t the woman you saw on TV,” said Floyd Bowers, who worked at an Exxon station near Bavier’s grave and spoke to press about her in 2004. “She liked her privacy, and she was hard to please. My wife worked at the hospital, and she was what the nurses call a hard patient.” There were reports that Bavier suffered a chronic heart condition and neighbors described her as senile, saying she didn't like to wear clothing and had to be prevented from leaving home in a state of undress.

Frances Bavier, forever Aunt Bee, died on December 6, 1989 at the age of 86...

Last known photo of Frances Bavier - c. 1983

Saturday, July 10, 2021


SAN FRANCISCO, SEPT. 6, 1982 — Mary Martin and Janet Gaynor, two of the most famous actresses of their time, were seriously hurt Sunday night in an automobile accident that killed Miss Martin's personal manager and companion. Ben Washer, a longtime friend of Miss Martin and her late husband, Richard Halliday, Paul Gregory, Miss Gaynor's husband, was also injured.

The accident occurred about 7:30 Sunday evening when a speeding van hit their taxicab broadside, knocking it into a tree at Franklin street, and California street intersection. The van's driver, Robert Cato, 36, of San Francisco, was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, felony drunken driving, reckless driving, speeding and running a red light.

Miss Gaynor, 77, the most seriously injured, was reported to be in stable but critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital with the outlook ''very guarded'' after four hours of surgery.

''The outcome in her case will not be decided for many days,'' said Dr. Frank Lewis, chief of emergency services at the hospital. ''She had multiple trauma and has needed nine pints of blood and she's likely to need more. In a lady her age, the magnitude of the injuries is very critical.'' The Academy Award-winning actress had five broken ribs on the right side, six on the left, a right collarbone fracture, multiple pelvic fractures, a ruptured bladder and bleeding around the right kidney. Her breathing was being aided with a ventilator. 

Miss Martin, 68, was in stable but serious condition, according to Leslie Lingass, a hospital spokesman. The actress had fractures to two right ribs and her pelvic bone, as well as contusions to a kidney. A broken rib had punctured her right lung. 

In 1928, Miss Gaynor won the first Academy Award for best actress for her roles in the 1927 films ''Seventh Heaven'' and ''Sunrise'' and the 1928 movie ''Street Angel.'' Before retiring from the screen in 1939, she appeared in numerous other films, including the original ''A Star Is Born,'' ''State Fair,'' ''High Society Blues'' and ''Daddy Longlegs.'' 

Miss Martin, known for her role as Nellie Forbush in the 1949 musical ''South Pacific'' and as Peter Panin the won three Tony Awards for her work on Broadway and three New York Drama Critics awards. Shewon an Emmy in 1955 for the television version of ''Peter Pan.'' Her Broadway appearances included ''Leave It to Me,'' in which she sang the show-stopping ''My Heart Belongs to Daddy.'' She also starred in ''One Touch of Venus,'' ''Annie Get Your Gun'' and ''The Sound of Music.'' The actor Larry Hagman, Miss Martin's son, flew here from Los Angeles to be with his mother. Mr. Hagman plays ''J.R.'' in the ''Dallas'' television series.

The taxicab had picked up Miss Martin and her friends at her home and was headed east on California Street to go across Nob Hill and down to Grant Street and Chinatown to Kan's Restaurant, according to a spokesman for the Veterans Taxi Company. 

According to witnesses, as the taxi entered the Franklin Point intersection, a van headed north collided broadside with the taxi. Mr. Cato, the van's driver, was jailed after he and his passenger, John McCue, 30, of Oakland, were treated for minor injuries. The police said he had borrowed the van.
Ronald Drury, 46, the cab driver, was also treated and released last January, tougher drunk-driving lawswent into effect in California. The law requires that a first offender pay a fine of $375 and serve two days in jail or have his license suspended for 90 days...

Saturday, July 3, 2021


URBAN LEGEND: Did a trip to the dentist cause Peter Falk's dementia?

ANSWER:  There is a scientifical possibility that it did.

For the last four years of his life, TV actor Peter Falk, who died in June of 2011 at the age of  83, suffered from severe Alzheimer’s disease.

Tragically, his family revealed that he was even unable to recall his most famous role as Lieutenant Columbo, the shabby detective whose apparent absentmindedness hid a razor-sharp brain.

Yet at the beginning of 2007 he was still intellectually sharp enough to be working. But within weeks he ‘rapidly slipped into dementia after a series of dental operations’, according to his own doctor.

Researchers from Southampton University report compelling evidence that surgery, as well as injury and infection, can dramatically accelerate the disease and the rate of brain death in people who already have early Alzheimer’s disease.

The first stages of this type of dementia make the brain abnormally sensitive to the inflammatory proteins that the body produces to promote recovery, triggering severe Alzheimer’s.

Falk’s own doctors had no explanation for the sudden onset of the disease — though they suggested his sudden decline could be due to the anaesthetics or some other reaction to his dental surgery...