Wednesday, November 30, 2022

CELEBRITY ADS: MAUREEN O'HARA

 As the holidays are approaching, it was always important for the classic Hollywood ladies to look their best, Here is screen beauty Maureen O'Hara and a 1947 advertisement showing Max Factor lipstick....




Tuesday, November 29, 2022

RIP: LOUISE TOBIN

Louise Tobin, the big band singer and ex-wife of Harry James, who helped to discover a young Frank Sinatra died on November 26th at her grand-daughter's home. She was 104. Tobin began singing professionally in her teens in the 1930s, working with notable bandleaders including Bobby Hackett (1915–1976) and Jack Jenney (1910–1945).

In 1939, she joined Benny Goodman’s (1909–1986) band, singing on hits including “I Didn’t Know What Time it Was” and “There’ll Be Some Changes Made.” She married bandleader Harry James (1916–1983) in 1935; the marriage didn’t last long, but it did result in one important musical partnership. Tobin was listening to the radio in 1939 and heard a broadcast from the New Jersey club the Rustic Cabin. Their young emcee, Frank Sinatra, was singing, and she told James he should tune in another night to hear Sinatra’s skill. James was impressed and hired Sinatra as part of his band. The gig with James was the steppingstone to Sinatra’s meteoric rise to fame.


After their divorce, Ms. Tobin spent several years working in Los Angeles with bands led by pianist Emil Coleman and trumpeter Ziggy Elman before returning to Texas. Tobin took time off from her singing career to raise her children with James, but she returned to performing in the 1960s, including at the Newport Jazz Festival. In 1960 Tobin ran into Peanuts Hucko, a clarinetist who had played on her first recording in 1939 with Jack Jenney’s band. When Hucko opened his jazz club in Denver in 1967, he hired Tobin as his vocalist and she became his wife. They sold the restaurant in 1969 and Hucko led the Glenn Miller band in the early ‘70s and was also a favorite performer on the Lawrence Welk show. In the ‘80s the pair performed together in Hucko’s own band.

Although Tobin did not become the star that other singers did with Goodman’s band, she can be heard on several of the early recordings.Survivors include two sons, Harry James Jr. and Jerin Timothyray “Tim” James; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren...



Saturday, November 26, 2022

A TRIBUTE TO STEPHEN SONDHEIM: ONE YEAR LATER

  Hard to believe that this musical genius was silenced one year ago today...


 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: MELINDA DILLON

Melinda Dillon is perhaps best known for her role as the mother of Ralphie and Randy in Bob Clark's 1983 movie A Christmas Story. The film was based on a series of short stories and novels written by Jean Shepherd about young Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley) and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa Claus.

Four years later, Dillon co-starred with John Lithgow in the Bigfoot comedy Harry and the Hendersons. She continued to be active in stage and film throughout the 1990s, taking roles in the Barbra Streisand drama The Prince of Tides, the low-budget Lou Diamond Phillips thriller Sioux City, and the drama How to Make an American Quilt.


In 1999 she appeared in Magnolia, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, as Rose Gator, the estranged wife of terminally ill television game-show host Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall). In 2005, she guest-starred in the episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "Blood".

Melinda retired from acting in 2007 after appearing as Ginger Timpleman in the movie Reign Over Me. She also appeared that year in television series Heartland as character Janet Jacobs on three episodes. Even though it has been close to 40 years since her most famous role as the mother in A Christmas Story, her role in that film will never be forgotten. Sadly, she could not be persuaded to come back for the upcoming sequel (her role is being racast with Julie Haggerty, Melinda is now 83 and living in quiet retirement...



Saturday, November 19, 2022

RECENTLY VIEWED: FALLING FOR CHRISTMAS

 The whole family was home this past weekend, and with a busy family it was nice to not have anything to do. I wanted to watch a classic movie like White Christmas (1954), but I was outvoted, and instad we put on a Netflix movie called Falling For Christmas. The movie is a 2022 American Christmas romantic comedy film directed by Janeen Damian, in her directorial debut, from a screenplay by Jeff Bonnett and Ron Oliver. The film stars Lindsay Lohan, with Chord Overstreet, George Young, Jack Wagner and Olivia Perez appearing in supporting roles. Lohan plays a spoiled heiress who loses her memory in a skiing accident and lands in the care of a lodge owner widower (Overstreet) at Christmastime.

It marked Lohan's first role in a major production in over a decade following a series of career setbacks while recovering from addiction and legal issues. Brad Krevoy and Michael Damian serve as producers on the film, which was first announced in May 2021. It began production in Utah in early November 2021 and wrapped the following month.

Spoiled hotel heiress Sierra Belmont has been newly appointed as "vice president of atmosphere" at her father's flagship resort in Aspen despite having no interest in the business. When her influencer boyfriend Tad proposes to her at a mountain top, she suffers a skiing accident, after which she becomes separated from Tad and loses her memory. As the hotel staff at the Belmont think Sierra and Tad are away on a trip, nobody comes looking for them.


As her identity cannot be verified at the hospital, Jake Russell, who discovered her and whom she bumped into earlier just after his failed business pitch to her father, offers her a place at his bed and breakfast hotel, the Northstar Lodge. Sierra, taking up the name of Sarah, adjusts to normal life and bonds with Russell and his family. As the hotel is struggling, Sierra comes up with a party to raise funds for the hotel. Meanwhile, Tad gets lost in the woods and finds shelter with recluse Ralph, who takes him to town on foot.

After 4 days, Sierra's father realizes she is missing and informs the Sheriff, who has just retrieved Tad and Ralph. At the party, the town comes together to support the Northstar Lodge, which is declared a historic site. Before Jake can thank Sierra, Tad and her father rush in to take her home, restoring her memory. Sierra decides she will do things for herself going forward and resigns from the position her father created for her realizing the hotel business is not for her. Meanwhile, Jake's daughter Avy reveals that her wish was for Jake to find love and convinces him to seek out Sierra. Jake confesses his love to Sierra who in turn breaks off her engagement with Tad to be with him. Sierra's father believes he owes Jake a debt of gratitude for finding her and so decides to invest in Northstar Lodge. They end with a very happy Christmas all together.


Sure the movie is predictable, and it follows a movie 101 formula, but I found myself rooting for Lindsay Lohan's character in the film. Her character got a second chance on a happy life, just like Lohan is getting. There was a cute nod to "Jingle Bell Rock" in the movie which is a reference to Lindsay's most popular film 2004's Mean Girls. At one point in the film we also see that Lindsay has a mic on her, but nevertheless it is a cute Christmas movie. It's not as corny as I thought it would be, and who cares! Christmas is meant to be corny. I am rooting for Lindsay Lohan too, and I hope her life is back on track now. Falling For Christmas was a surprise Christmas present that I didn't think I would like, but I am happy that I opened...

MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10




Monday, November 14, 2022

RECENTLY VIEWED: THE GIVER

 My son had to read a novem in his 7th grade English class, and although he is not a big reader he really enjoyed "The Giver", written by Lois Lowry. The book came out in 1993 so I was already in college and never read it. After reading the book, I discovered it was a movie so my son and I watched it together this past week. The movie version of this dystopian novel was directed by Phillip Noyce and starred Jeff BridgesBrenton ThwaitesOdeya RushMeryl StreepAlexander SkarsgårdKatie HolmesCameron MonaghanTaylor Swift, and Emma Tremblay. The Giver premiered on August 11, 2014, and was released theatrically in the United States on August 15, 2014. It grossed $67 million on a $25 million budget and received a People's Choice Award nomination for "Favorite Dramatic Movie".

Following a calamity referred to as "the Ruin", society has been reorganized, taking away any sense of emotion, good or bad. Babies are brought into being through genetic engineering, and sexual desire is chemically suppressed. All memories of the past are held by one person, the Receiver of Memory, to shield the rest of the community from reviver of Memory and his protégé are the only people able to see in color, which is otherwise eliminated from the community to prevent envy. 

The community is ruled by elders, including the Chief Elder. Jonas is an 18-year-old boy whose best friends are Asher and Fiona. On graduation day, Jonas is told that he will become the next Receiver of Memory and will progressively receive memories of history from his predecessor, the Giver. During his training with the Giver, Jonas gradually learns about the past and about joy, pain, death, and love. He stops taking his daily injections (which stop him from dreaming and thinking about Fiona, for whom he has feelings) and begins to experience emotion. Those who leave the community are said to have been "released to Elsewhere", but Jonas learns that to be a euphemism for murder by lethal injection. Jonas also learns that the Giver's daughter, Rosemary, had preceded Jonas as Receiver of Memory. When she began her training, however, Rosemary became so distraught from the memories that she received that she asked to be "released".

Jonas learned the memories received from the Giver and accidentally shares his memories with a baby, Gabriel, who was brought home by his father. He develops a close relationship with Gabriel upon discovering that they share a birthmark, the mark of a potential Receiver of Memory, and both can see in color.

Appalled by the deception of his community and the Elders' disregard for human life, Jonas comes to believe that everyone should have memories of the past. Eventually, the Giver and Jonas decide that the only way to help the community is for Jonas to travel past the border of their land to "Elsewhere". Doing so would release memories and color back into the community. When Jonas tries to leave his neighborhood, he encounters Asher, who tries to stop Jonas but is punched by Jonas. Jonas retrieves Gabriel, who is to be "released" for having failed to meet a developmental marker, at the Nurturing Center.


Meanwhile, Jonas' mother and Asher go to the Chief Elder to say that Jonas is missing. Jonas steals a motorcycle and drives away with Gabriel. Asher is assigned by the Chief Elder to use a drone to find Jonas and "take" him. When Asher finds Jonas and Gabriel in the desert, Jonas beseeches Asher to trust him and to let them go. Instead, Asher captures them with the drone but sets them free by dropping them into a river. When he is questioned by the Chief Elder, Asher lies and says that he has followed her orders.

Fiona is condemned to be "released" for helping Jonas. Just as she is about to be "released" by Jonas' father, the Giver tries to persuade the Chief Elder that the Elders should free the community. Unmoved by the Giver's arguments, the Chief Elder asserts that freedom is a bad idea because when they are left to their own devices, people make bad choices.Jonas and Gabriel enter a snowy area. Jonas falls to the ground and is overcome by the cold weather. However, he sees a sled like the one that he rode in a memory that he had received from the Giver. Jonas and Gabriel ride the sled downhill and cross the border into Elsewhere, which frees their community and also saves Fiona's life as Jonas' father stops short of "releasing" her upon realizing his intentions. Jonas realizes that he has succeeded in his quest.


Jeff Bridges initially wanted to film the movie in the mid-1990s, and a script was written by 1998. Various barriers marred the production of the film, including when Warner Bros.bought the rights in 2007. The rights then ended up at The Weinstein Company and Walden Media. Bridges originally intended that his own father, Lloyd Bridges, would play the title character, The Giver, but he died in 1998.

The movie itself seems rushed, like it could be twenty mintues longer. Katie Holmes spends the whole movie frowning, but is good as the mother. Taylor Swift has a small role, which she is horrible in. Someone must have owed her a favor for her to get this role. Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges are the rocks of this movie, and I would have loved to have seen some of their back story. The movie I actually preferred a little bit more than the novel, but I recommend both...

MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10



Sunday, November 13, 2022

THE LAST DAYS OF DICK POWELL

Dick Powell’s ability to reinvent himself made the television-movie giant a legend of Hollywood who died before his time.

“The Conqueror,” got filmed in 1954 among the red bluffs and white dunes close to Saint George, Utah. An area handpicked by the director/producer of the film, Dick Powell.

Due to its similarity to the central Asian steppes, Dick thought it the perfect place for the sappy love story between Genghis Khan and a captive princess to play out.

With reassurances from the federal government, no one knew that the atomic testing range only 137 miles away at Yucca Flat in Nevada posed a health hazard to those in Saint George.

With a cast and crew of over 220, an astonishing 91 developed cancer shortly after the movie got shot — one of those being Dick Powell.

When Dick went to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica on September 13, 1962, to get treated for what he thought to be an allergy, doctors discovered cancer in his neck and chest.

Seven days and several cobalt treatments later, Dick went home and returned to his studio a few days later to continue work on six television shows.

Dr. Jason Stein at the UCLA Medical Center treated Dick felt happy with his reaction to the treatment and reported a vast reduction in the size of the tumor. “Dr. Stein is pleased with my progress and told me he expects to eliminate the condition,” Dick said at the time.


A few months later Dick’s condition took a turn for the worst when he slipped into a coma on the cusp of 1963. On January 2, 1963, with his third wife, June Allyson by his side, Dick passed away during the early afternoon at the age of 58.

A People magazine article in 1980 reported that of 220 cast and crew, 91 had contracted cancer, with 46 of them dying. No bombs were tested during the filming, but the article quoted Robert Pendleton, director of radiological health at the University of Utah, saying radioactivity from previous blasts probably lodged in Snow Canyon.

In addition to director Dick Powell succumbing to cancer - the major stars in the film: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Agnes Moorehead all died of cancer as well. As Agnes lay dying, she told Debbie Reynolds, her best friend, “I should never have taken that part.” Her co-star on “Bewitched,” Sandra Gould recalled that Agnes ones told her that “everybody in that picture has gotten cancer and died.”

Whether it was the location of that film that killed Dick Powell or not, his final days were not happy, and Powell died way too young...



Sunday, November 6, 2022

WHAT A CHARACTER: MARY WICKES

Mary Wickes' name you may not remember, but you will definitely remember her face. She was in countless movies for decades. I remember her most as the snooping housekeeper in 1954's White Christmas as well as the older nun in 1992's Sister Act

Wickes's first Broadway appearance was in Marc Connelly's The Farmer Takes a Wife in 1934 with Henry Fonda. She began acting in films in the late 1930s and was a member of the Orson Welles troupe on his radio drama The Mercury Theatre on the Air; she also appeared in Welles's film Too Much Johnson (1938). One of her earlier significant film appearances was in The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942), reprising her stage role of Nurse Preen.

A tall (5'10") woman with a distinctive voice, Wickes would ultimately prove to be an adept comedian. She attracted attention in Now, Voyager (1942) as the wisecracking nurse who helped Bette Davis's character during her mother's illness. She had already appeared earlier that year with Davis in The Man Who Came To Dinner, and joined her again six years later in June Bride. (Wickes and Davis also reteamed in 1965 when Wickes played a supporting role to Davis in a television pilot, The Decorator.

In 1942, she also had a large part in the Abbott and Costello comedy Who Done It? She continued playing supporting roles in films during the next decade, usually playing wisecracking characters. Wickes moved to the new medium of television in 1949, starring in the title role of a Westinghouse Studio One version of Mary Poppins. In the 1950s, Wickes played the warm yet jocular maid Katie in the Mickey Mouse Club serial Annette and regular roles in the sitcoms Make Room for Daddy and Dennis the Menace. She also played the part of a ballet teacher, Madame Lamond, in the I Love Lucy episode "The Ballet" (1952). Wickes also served as the live-action reference model for Cruella De Vil in Walt Disney's One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), and played Mrs. Squires in the film adaptation of Meredith Willson's The Music Man (1962). 

Wickes' career had a resurgence in the late 1980s and 1990s. She was cast as the mother of Shirley MacLaine's character in the film Postcards from the Edge (1990) and portrayed Marie Murkin in the television movie and series adaptations of The Father Dowling Mysteries (1989–91). One of her most notable roles happened in this time frame, when she was cast as Sister Mary Lazarus in Sister Act (1992) and in the sequel Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993). She appeared in the 1994 film version of Little Women before she became ill.

Wickes suffered from numerous ailments in the last years of her life that cumulatively resulted in her hospitalization, where she fell and broke her hip, prompting surgery. She died of complications following the surgery on October 22, 1995 at the age of 85 at the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.


Her final film role, voicing Laverne in Disney's animated feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was released posthumously in 1996. Wickes reportedly had only one voice recording session left for the film when she died. Jane Withers came in to finish the character's remaining six lines of dialogue. Whether doing the voices for a Disney movie or being a wisecracker housekeeper, Mary Wickes was quite a character in all of her movies...