Sunday, April 24, 2022


Never a huge star, character actor Ben Blue nevertheless was a popular fixture in countless movies. He was born Benjamin Bernstein in Montreal, Quebec on September 12, 1901 to David Asher Bernstein and Sadie Goldberg. Blue emigrated to Baltimore, Maryland at the age of nine, where he won a contest for the best impersonation of Charlie Chaplin. At the age of fifteen he was in a touring company and later became a stage manager and assistant general manager. He became a dance instructor and nightclub proprietor. In the 1920s Blue joined a popular orchestra, Jack White and His Montrealers. The entire band emphasized comedy, and would continually interact with the joke-cracking maestro. Blue, the drummer, would sometimes deliver corny jokes while wearing a ridiculously false beard. The band emigrated to the United States, and appeared in two early sound musicals — the Vitaphone short subject Jack White and His Montrealers and Universal's feature-length 2-strip Technicolor revue King of Jazz (1930).

In 1930, Blue toured with the "Earl Carroll Vanities". Blue left the band to establish himself as a solo comedian, portraying a bald-headed dumb-bell with a goofy expression. Producer Hal Roach featured him in his "Taxi Boys" comedy shorts, but Blue's dopey character was an acquired taste and he was soon replaced by other comedians. Later in the 1930s he worked at Paramount Pictures, notably in The Big Broadcast of 1938, and later at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, in films such as Easy to Wed. One of my favorite roles he had was as Gene Kelly's buddy in the 1942 MGM musical For Me And My Gal.

In 1951, Blue began concentrating on managing and appearing in nightclubs in Hollywood, California and San Francisco. He once appeared in a Reno, Nevada nightclub called the Dollhouse where he lost $25,000 to its owner, Bill Welch. Blue and Maxie Rosenbloom owned and performed in Hollywood's top nightclub in the 1940s called "Slapsie Maxie's." Again, in the 1960s he opened a nightclub in Santa Monica, California, called "Ben Blue's". It quickly became the "in" place and night after night was packed with top celebrities. Ben closed the club three years later because of health problems. Blue made the cover of TV Guide's June 11, 1954 Special Issue along with Alan Young, headlining an edition featuring that season's summer replacement shows. He also made appearances in TV shows such as The Jack Benny Program and The Milton Berle Show.

In 1964 he was indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts of tax evasion for the non-payment of more than $39,000 (approximately $325,000 today) in income taxes from the nightclub he operated, the Merry‐Go‐Round, in Santa Monica, California. The case was contested for five years, before he pled no contest to a single count of evading corporate tax. He was fined $1,000, with the payment suspended.

He also had a recurring role in Jerry Van Dyke's television series Accidental Family in 1967. His film roles included many cameo appearances. In It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963), his role was the pilot of the Standard J-1 biplane that flew Sid Caesar and Edie Adams, and he played Luther Grilk, the town drunk, in The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). His other film appearances included small roles in The Busy Body (1967), A Guide for the Married Man (1967) and Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968). He made one of his last television appearances in Land of the Giants in 1969. He was also seen the following year in the Dora Hall vanity syndicated television special, "Once Upon a Tour". Blue died in Hollywood, California on March 7, 1975. He may never have starred in a movie, but he made many movies better because he was a part of them...

Thursday, April 21, 2022


Robert Morse, who translated Broadway stardom into a film career in the 1960s, then re-emerged decades later as one of the stars of “Mad Men,” has died. He was 90.

Writer-producer Larry Karaszewski, who serves as a VP on the board of governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, tweeted news of Morse’s death on Thursday.

“My good pal Bobby Morse has passed away at age 90,” he wrote. “A huge talent and a beautiful spirit. Sending love to his son Charlie & daughter Allyn. Had so much fun hanging with Bobby over the years – filming People v OJ & hosting so many screenings (How To Succeed, Loved One, That’s Life).”

Morse was Emmy nominated five times for playing the sage Bertram Cooper, the senior partner at the advertising firm that was the focus of AMC’s prestigious series “Mad Men,” from 2007 to 2015. In 2010, he shared the SAG Award that “Mad Men” won for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series.

The eccentric Bert Cooper was known for his bow ties and his collection of Japanese art and architecture; while at times he seemed indifferent to the business affairs at Sterling Cooper, he could be crafty and manipulative when necessary. Cooper died the night of the first moon landing — and that 2014 episode afforded Morse the opportunity to show off his singing and dancing skills in a fantasy number, imagined by Jon Hamm’s Don Draper, to the tune of “The Best Things in Life Are Free.”

“The opportunity to shine in the spotlight that Matt Weiner gave me — it was an absolute love letter. Christmas and New Year’s, all rolled into one,” Morse told the New York Times.

Morse also won an Emmy in 1993 for a PBS “American Playhouse” adaptation of Morse’s one-man show “Tru,” about Truman Capote.

Morse, known for his impish, gap-toothed grin, became a star on Broadway in the musical comedy “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” for which he won his first Tony, as best actor in a musical, in 1962. The enormous hit ran for more than 1,400 performances and was adapted for the big screen in a 1967 film in which Morse reprised his starring role of J. Pierpont Finch.

Reviewing the movie, Variety said: “Plot concerns window-washer Morse who, by superior instinct for advancement and survival, becomes a top exec in (Rudy) Vallee’s company in a matter of days. He becomes so big that former well-wishers plot his downfall. The pixie-like Morse is excellent, with both voice and facial expressions right on target all the time.” Morse not only sang but danced in the musical; later, in reviewing the actor’s performance in “Tru,” Frank Rich of the New York Times said, “Mr. Morse kicks a loose-limbed leg as high and friskily as he did when joining Bob Fosse’s hoedown for the ‘Brotherhood of Man’ finale in ‘How to Succeed.’ “

The actor won his second Tony for the one-man show “Tru,” in which he played Truman Capote, appearing on Broadway for 297 performances in 1989-1990. Makeup man Kevin Haney, whose credits include the movies “Altered States” and “Wolfen,” turned Morse into the bloated mass that Capote became before he died in 1984.

“With his mad shopping-bag woman’s cackle and darting lounge lizard’s tongue, Mr. Morse so eerily simulates the public Capote of the pathetic waning years that he could be a Capote robot,” wrote Frank Rich. “One is glad to have met up with this actor again, is impressed by his command of his technique and his audience, and is moved by the courage that has allowed him to return to a Broadway stage in so unlikely a vehicle.”

Morse appeared in a number of other movies in the 1960s, including Tony Richardson’s satire of the funeral industry “The Loved One” (1965), also starring Jonathan Winters. Variety said: “Robert Morse as the poet who falls in love with the lady cosmetician (later promoted to embalmer) while making arrangements for his uncle’s interment, plays it light and airy, like a soul apart.”

In 1967, in addition to the “How to Succeed” adaptation, Morse starred with Walter Matthau in the comedy “A Guide for the Married Man,” in which Morse’s character tries to convince Matthau’s married man to keep an affair secret from his wife, and his points are illustrated in skits that featured a large number of celebrities.

(According to a 2014 article in Playbill, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” and “A Guide for the Married Man” served as inspirations for Matthew Weiner when he created “Mad Men.”)

Morse starred opposite Doris Day in the 1968 film comedy “Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?”

In 1968-69 Morse starred with E.J. Peaker in the innovative ABC musical comedy series “That’s Life,” in which the story of how a young couple met, fell in love, and married was told through a series of monologues, sketches, and song and dance routines. He earned his first Emmy nomination for his work on the series.

The actor starred in the Disney comedy “The Boatniks” (1970), and made a few guest appearances on series including “Love, American Style” and “Fantasy Island” during the 1970s; in the 1980s he guested on shows including “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “Murder, She Wrote.”

Morse was among the performers on Marlo Thomas’ celebrated “Free to Be … You and Me” children’s album in 1972.

In 1987 he starred in a Cannon Films version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” with Sid Caesar as the Emperor and Morse playing the Tailor.

He was featured in ABC’s 1993 series “Wild Palms” and was a series regular on Steven Bochco’s brief-running CBS hospital drama “City of Angels,” starring Blair Underwood, in 2000.

Morse was born in Newton, Massachusetts. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. A drama teacher in high school inspired him to become an actor, and after graduating he headed to New York City’s prestigious Neighborhood Playhouse, where his older brother, Richard, was already studying acting. He also studied with Lee Strasberg. He made his stage debut in 1949 production of “Our Town” in New Hampshire.

He made his Broadway debut in 1955 in “The Matchmaker,” the Thornton Wilder play that would serve as the basis for the musical “Hello, Dolly!” (Ruth Gordon starred as Mrs. Dolly Gallagher Levi); he played Barnaby Tucker. After appearing in an uncredited role in the 1956 film “The Proud and Profane,” starring William Holden and Deborah Kerr, the young actor made his credited big-screen debut two years later in the film adaptation of “The Matchmaker,” starring Shirley Booth. The New York Times said, “Robert Morse does a fine stint in re-creating his stage role as his wide-eyed, fellow adventurer.”

In 1959 he earned his first Tony nomination, for best featured actor in a play, for the original hit comedy with music “Say, Darling,” in which he spoofed the director Harold Prince. The next year he earned another Tony nomination, for best actor in a musical, for “Take Me Along,” which was also nominated for best musical and drew nominations for Jackie Gleason and Walter Pidgeon.

After “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which ran from 1961-65, Morse starred in the original musical comedy “Sugar,” based on the classic Billy Wilder comedy “Some Like It Hot.” It ran for 505 performances in 1972-1973. In 1976, he appeared in the musical “So Long, 174th Street,” whose source material was a book by Carl Reiner.

Morse did not return to Broadway until he appeared in “Tru” in 1989-90, and he did not appear on the Rialto again after that. In 1995, however, he starred in a Canadian production of “Show Boat”; in 2002 he played the Wizard in the San Francisco run of the musical “Wicked” but was replaced by Joel Grey when it opened on Broadway; in 2014, he appeared onstage at Vassar’s Powerhouse Theater as part of the cast of Christopher Gattelli’s dance ensemble piece “In Your Arms.”

Morse was twice married, the first time to “West Side Story” actress Carole D’Andrea from 1961 until their divorce in 1981.

He is survived by second wife Elizabeth Roberts, whom he married in 1989; three daughters by D’Andrea, Andrea Doven, Hilary Morse and Robin Morse, all actresses; and two children by Roberts, son Charles Morse and daughter Allyn Morse...


Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli brought the chaotic 2022 Oscars to a close last month when they appeared together to present the award for Best Picture to “CODA.”

Not long after the March 27 ceremony was thrown into disarray when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage, Gaga and Minnelli’s joint appearance drew praise from entertainment outlets. Minnelli was greeted with a standing ovation.

But a collaborator and friend now claims the “Cabaret” star was “very disappointed” by the experience.

“She was sabotaged,” singer Michael Feinstein said in an appearance on SirusXM’s “The Jess Cagle Show” that aired Tuesday.

“That’s a terrible word to use, but she only agreed to appear on the Oscars if she would be in a director’s chair, because she’s been having back trouble. She said, ‘I don’t want people to see me limping out there.’ She said, ‘You know, I want to look good. I don’t want people to worry about me.’”

Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli brought the chaotic 2022 Oscars to a close last month when they appeared together to present the award for Best Picture to “CODA.”

Not long after the March 27 ceremony was thrown into disarray when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage, Gaga and Minnelli’s joint appearance drew praise from entertainment outlets. Minnelli was greeted with a standing ovation.

But a collaborator and friend now claims the “Cabaret” star was “very disappointed” by the experience.

“She was sabotaged,” singer Michael Feinstein said in an appearance on SirusXM’s “The Jess Cagle Show” that aired Tuesday.

“That’s a terrible word to use, but she only agreed to appear on the Oscars if she would be in a director’s chair, because she’s been having back trouble. She said, ‘I don’t want people to see me limping out there.’ She said, ‘You know, I want to look good. I don’t want people to worry about me.’”

Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli at the 2022 Academy Awards in March. (Photo: Neilson Barnard via Getty Images)

Lady Gaga and Liza Minnelli at the 2022 Academy Awards in March. (Photo: Neilson Barnard via Getty Images)

Plans for the setup changed at the last minute, Feinstein said, in part because organizers had been “shaken up” by Smith’s actions earlier that night. According to the singer, a stage manager informed Minnelli she’d be seated in a wheelchair instead of in a director’s chair just minutes before she was due to appear onstage.

“She was nervous, and it made her look like she was out of it,” he said. “Can you imagine being suddenly forced to be seen by millions of people the way you don’t want to be seen? That’s what happened to her.”

Minnelli’s representative did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for confirmation of Feinstein’s account.

A representative for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences declined to comment on his remarks.

A five-time Grammy nominee, Feinstein has performed alongside Minnelli on numerous occasions. Earlier this year, the pair recorded the jazz standard “Embraceable You” as a duet for Feinstein’s latest album, “Gershwin Country.”

Last month, Minnelli’s former publicist Scott Gorenstein told People that Gaga had personally requested that Minnelli be her Oscars night co-presenter. The two stars have enjoyed a friendly relationship for about a decade. In 2011, Gaga invited Minnelli to attend one of her concerts at New York’s Madison Square Garden, later citing her as a personal inspiration during the show...

Sunday, April 17, 2022


 Even with World War II raging on, America still loved going to the movies. It was a form of escape for an otherwise bleak world. In 1944, Bing Crosby was crowned king of the box office - a title he would hold for the next 5 years! Here are the top box office stars of 1944...


1. Bing Crosby
2. Gary Cooper
3. Bob Hope
4. Betty Grable
5. Spencer Tracy
6. Greer Garson
7. Humphrey Bogart
8. Abbott & Costello
9. Cary Grant
10. Bette Davis

Thursday, April 14, 2022


Groucho Marx is one of the greates comic minds of all time. Everything Julius Henry Marx, better known as Groucho, was comic gold. With his zany brothers Harpo, Chico, and sometimes Zeppo, he conquered American vaudeville, the Broadway stage, motion pictures, radio and television. (There was a fifth brother, Gummo, who was not a performer preferring, instead, to earn his daily bread in the dress business and, after Zeppo opened a lucrative talent agency in Hollywood, representing movie stars for 10 percent of their earnings).

By the time Groucho was an old man, however, he experienced significant problems in his daily activities, medical decision-making and the management of his estate. He suffered from elements of dementia, a heart attack and congestive heart failure, falls resulting in a broken hip, and after that hip was repaired, another fall and broken hip, urinary tract infections, strokes and hypertension.

The legal battles over Groucho’s money and possessions carried on long after he died.

Groucho died over 44 years ago, on Aug. 19, 1977, at age 86 of pneumonia, which is known as “the old man’s friend.” The turmoil of his last few years are all too familiar to adult children everywhere who are concerned with the welfare of their elderly parents and other relatives.

Groucho’s “girlfriend” and consort, Erin Fleming, was accused of elder abuse and, to make matters worse, his relationships with his son Arthur and daughter Miriam (children from his first marriage, to Ruth Johnson, a dancer in the Marx Brothers’ vaudeville act) were strained for various reasons. Arthur wrote several works based on life in the Marx family; at one point, Groucho threatened to sue his son over his depiction in one of Arthur’s memoirs.

Groucho also had a complicated relationship with Melinda, his third daughter from his second marriage to Kay Mavis Gorcey. Melinda often performed on her father’s television show, “You Bet Your Life,” and famously inspired a Groucho quip when he was told that she was forbidden from swimming in a country club pool because the family was Jewish. Groucho wrote the country club president, between puffs of his famous cigar: “She’s only half Jewish. How about if she only goes in up to her waist?”

After he divorced Eden Hartford — his third wife who was about 40 years younger than him — in 1969, Groucho met Erin Fleming in 1971. She played some minor roles in films, including Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask” (1972).

Her most famous role, however, was as Groucho’s secretary-manager and she was responsible for his popular comeback in the early 1970s. He played various colleges and eventually Carnegie Hall, a performance that resulted in the hit album, “An Evening With Groucho” (1972). That same year, there were revivals of his films at movie houses and libraries across the nation.

The problem was that many of Groucho’s friends felt Fleming was pushing him too hard to perform, evidenced by his advanced age and an inability to remember all of his lines. On the other hand, it was Fleming who waged a successful campaign for Groucho and his brothers to receive a special Academy Award in 1974. In his acceptance speech, after thanking Harpo and Chico, the actress Margaret Dumont, his long suffering foil who never understood his jokes, and his mother, Minnie, “because without her we never would have been anything,” Groucho thanked “Erin Fleming, who makes my life worth living and who understands all my jokes.”

That same year, Fleming was appointed his guardian and temporary conservator of an estate worth between $2 million and $4 million. In 1975, Groucho even tried to adopt her, until a psychologist declared he was not mentally competent to do so.

Groucho’s son, Arthur, took Fleming to court and accused her of having a harmful and destructive influence on his father, including threatening his well-being and being abusive. Arthur further alleged that Fleming pushed Groucho to perform, whether he was able or not, for her own financial gain. Groucho’s nurses claimed Erin overdosed the comedian on tranquilizers and called him nasty names like “pig” and “crazy old man.” Accoridng to court testimony, There were other occasions when Fleming reportedly walked about Groucho’s home naked to taunt him. Melinda Marx, too, testified that Fleming terrorized her father, yelled at him, and tried to alienate him from his family. Others, such as the comedian George Burns and actor Carroll O’Connor, disagreed and felt that her presence made an elderly and ill Groucho want to live.

During Groucho’s final days, a judge appointed the 72-year-old Nat Perrin, a close pal of Groucho’s and who co-wrote the Marx Brothers’ most anarchically funny 1933 film, “Duck Soup,” as temporary conservator of Groucho’s well-being and estate. Later, his 27-year-old grandson, Andrew, was named permanent conservator.

The legal battles over Groucho’s money and possessions carried on long after he died and into the early 1980s. Although he left most of his estate to his three children, Groucho left administrative control of his name, image and movie rights to Fleming. This, too, was a source of legal contretemps. Not only were such rights valuable, but they also carried the potential to encroach upon the income of the heirs to Chico and Harpo’s estates. The lawsuits were ultimately resolved in favor of Groucho’s children. A judge ordered Fleming to pay $472,000, which she bilked from Groucho’s bank accounts while she worked for him. Fleming spent much of the 1990s in and out of mental health facilities, suffering from a variety of psychiatric illnesses, and was often homeless. She died by suicide in 2003 at the age of 61.

Back in the late 1970s, the term “elder abuse” had not even been coined. Even though it clearly existed, it was rarely recognized until it was too late. Today, public health agencies, including the World Health Organization, have declared elder abuse to be a growing problem around the world and have detailed a long list of harmful activities, including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological forms of abuse and neglect, as well as the theft or withholding of financial assets needed to survive...

Tuesday, April 12, 2022


Comedian Gilbert Gottfried has died at age 67, according to his family.

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing of our beloved Gilbert Gottfried after a long illness," his family wrote in a statement shared to his Twitter account.

Gottfried died at 2:35 p.m. ET on Tuesday from Recurrent Ventricular Tachycardia due to Myotonic Dystrophy type II, according to Glenn Schwartz, his longtime friend and publicist.

Gottfried, who has been performing stand-up comedy for over 50 years, became known as "the comedian's comedian" "because his live performances put aside political correctness while he delivers jokes that know no boundaries," his representative said in a statement.

His comedic career led to roles in films including "Beverly Hills Cop II," "Problem Child," "Look Who's Talking II" and "The Aristocrats." He was also the voice of the wise cracking parrot Iago in Disney's iconic animated film "Aladdin."

More recently, in 2017, he was the subject of the documentary "Gilbert," about his life. He also co-hosted a podcast, "Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast!", where he and Frank Santopadre interviewed Hollywood icons and legends.

His family described him as "the most iconic voice in comedy" as well as a "wonderful husband, brother, friend and father to his two young children."

"Although today is a sad day for us all, please keep laughing as loud as possible in Gilbert's honor," his family wrote.

Gottfried is survived by his wife Dara, daughter Lily, 14, son Max, 12, sister Karen and nephew Graham..

Sunday, April 10, 2022


Tony Martin Jr. was driving north on the I-5 expressway on October 31, 2003, presumable on his way home. He had just passed the Templin Highway interchange, and was just north of it when he lost control of his car. His car veered towards the guardrail, but the section that he would have hit had been removed after being destroyed a week earlier by a previous accident. His car ran off the embankment and reportedly rolled several times, injuring Tony Martin Jr. very severely. He suffered from severe brain injuries, a broken pelvis, broken knee, and serious cranial fractures. He spent 5 weeks in a coma before awakening.

His mental level was found to have been reduced to that of a 5 year-old child. Liv Lindeland Martin sued the State of California in 2006, for the missing guardrail. The State of California's position was that there had not been time to repair the guardrail in the 6 days since it's original damage and removal, because at that same time, all available CalTrans personnel were occupied with forest fire and wildfire control on the expressways in other areas, that even if the guardrail would have been in place, it would not have saved him from the injuries, and that the original accident was Tony Martin Jr.s' fault for losing control of his car, which was NOT caused by any road condition or highway problem.

The State of California lost their case, and Liv Lindeland Martin was awarded $893,000 in direct damages, and future damages for the perpetual around-the-clock care of Tony Martin Jr. of $9,200.000.00. Tony Martin Jr. died on April 10th, 2011. Tony Martin Sr. died July 27th, 2012. Liv Lindeland Martin settled the Martin estate, and moved back to her native Norway in late 2012...

Sunday, April 3, 2022


 Natalie Wood died way too young and way too tragically. Her beauty never faltered in all her years in Holywood. Here are a few examples of that beauty...