Friday, March 31, 2023

RIP: THE CAREER OF BRUCE WILLIS (1980-2023)

It has been rather bewildering to witness no less than two dozen low-budget action movies involving Bruce Willis being churned out over the last three years. That legacy-dimming run ends with “Assassin,” which arrives almost exactly one annum after his family announced a retirement due to diagnosis of cognitive disorder aphasia (and, later, frontotemporal dementia). Like nearly every preceding opus featuring the erstwhile global superstar in roles of prominent billing but little screentime, this rote genre exercise is little more than a time-killer, and as such a regrettable close to a significant career. Saban Films is releasing it to U.S. theaters, digital and VOD platforms on March 31.


It is … um, sometime in the near future, somewhere or other. Alexa (Nomzamo Mbatha) and Sebastian (Mustafa Shakir) are a married couple both in the U.S. Army, though they get to see each other less than they’d like between separate tours of duty. An unhappy reunion occurs when he comes home in a long-term coma. Demanding to know what happened, Alexa is told Sebastian was shot while inhabiting another body on top-secret assignment — it’s “the future of drone warfare,” snarls chief Valmora (Willis) — and now she must follow his lead to save him...

Sadly, the career of Bruce Willis has ended and ended with this film...



Sunday, March 26, 2023

CELEBRITY ADS: BUSTER KEATON

 I am not sure what the year is on this print advertisement, but I would guess to be late 1950s or early 1960s. The great Buster Keaton is selling malt liquor! It is interesting what the stars would put their name to!


Wednesday, March 22, 2023

THE BOX OFFICE STARS: 1947

The year 1947 marked great prosperity for the States in their 2nd year of post war relaxation. Audiences were flocking back to the movies, and they were going to see Bing Crosby movies. He was the number one star again. Here are the top ten movie stars of 1947...




TOP BOX OFFICE STARS - 1947

1. BING CROSBY
2. BETTY GRABLE
3. INGRID BERGMAN
4. GARY COOPER
5. HUMPHREY BOGART
6. BOB HOPE
7. CLARK GABLE
8. GREGORY PECK
9. CLAUDETTE COLBERT
10. ALAN LADD




Friday, March 17, 2023

HISTORY OF A SONG: A PRETTY GIRL MILKING HER COW

I remember hearing Judy Garland's Decca recording of the song "A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow", but I never knew where the song came from. I never realized how old the song was! "A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow" is a traditional 18th-century Irish ballad. The English version is attributed to Thomas Moore (1779–1852). Originally sung in Irish Gaelic, the song was popular through the early 20th century.

The song was sung by Jack Jones the teenage son of Anne Jones the publican of the Glenrowan Inn (Victoria, Australia) while it was under siege by the Kelly Gang. The siege was broken by the Victorian Police on the morning of Monday June 28, 1880. Jack Jones died of injuries sustained during the police assault on the hotel.

Percy Grainger recorded an English language version on wax cylinder from Joseph Leaning of Lincolnshire in 1906, which has been digitised and can be heard online. In 1907, the Austrian ethnologist Rudolf Trebitsch used the same technology to record an Irish language version in County Kerry. Some time in the early 1900s, the famous uilleann piper Patsy Touhey was recorded playing a version, which is available on the Irish Traditional Music Archive.


It enjoyed a revival when an updated swing version sung by Irish-American singer/actress Judy Garland was featured in the 1940 film Little Nellie Kelly. The updated version is true to the original musical air, and incorporated original lyrics by MGM Musical Director Roger Edens, and featured Garland singing the song to George Murphy using some of the original Gaelic lyrics in the first chorus, which was true to the traditional air, before moving into an up-tempo swing version typical of the era.

The song was released as the B-side of the more popular Garland song It's A Great Day for the Irish by Decca Records in 1940. It became a popular song for Irish-Americans during St Patrick's Day celebrations. It remained a popular number for Garland throughout her career, and most notably she sang it live in its original Irish language version in July 1951 at her Theatre Royal concerts in Dublin, Ireland. A Dublin review stated: "Remember the song she sang in "Nellie Kelly" – "The Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow." Judy is providing herself with the Irish version – "Cailin Deas Cruidte na mBo" while in Ireland". Later in 1951, she included the song in her first record-breaking appearance at New York's Palace Theatre, although this time reverting to the new version that combined both English- and Irish-language lyrics. The song is also featured on Garland at the Grove on Capitol Records, recorded live in 1958 at the Coconut Grove in Hollywood. I always thought the song was written for Judy Garland. It was not, but she made it sound like it was!



Wednesday, March 15, 2023

GUEST REVIEW: PATHS OF GLORY

Here is a review from Bruce Kogan's massive amount of movie reviews on the IMDB...

Almost one hundred years later the concept of that static war of the trenches that was the Western front of World War I is almost unfathomable. After the French army stopped the German offensive at the Battle of the Marne, the French and British armies faced the Germans in a line of trenches that stretched from Belgium to Switzerland. About a quarter of France was occupied for four years in that time. The casualties ran into the millions in that stalemate that gains were only measured in meters.

It was always just one more offensive over the top charging into automatic weapon fire that would break the other guy. Just such an offensive was planned one day in 1916 against a German stronghold dubbed the ant hill.

General George MacReady, promised a promotion by his superior Adolphe Menjou, orders a beaten and tired battalion to charge the ant hill. The attack flops and MacReady looks for scapegoats. He decides after coming down from shooting 100 men to a selected three drawn by lot. The unlucky three are Joseph Turkel, Ralph Meeker, and Timothy Carey.


The commander of the three Kirk Douglas asks to serve as their counsel and he makes a good show of it at the kangaroo court martial they have. But the fix is definitely in.

Except for Spartacus, Kirk Douglas rarely plays straight up heroic types in film. Even his good guys have an edge to them, a dark side. But as Colonel Dax, Douglas is at his most heroic. He may be one dimensional here, but he's great. Especially in that last scene with Adolphe Menjou when he tells the man off in no uncertain terms, mainly because Menjou has misread Douglas's motives.


Menjou and Macready portray two different military types. The arrogant MacReady as versus the very sly Menjou. Not very admirable either of them. Menjou was not very popular at this time in Hollywood because of the blacklist. He favored it very much, his politics were of the extreme right wing. Nevertheless he was a brilliant actor and never better than in this film, one of his last.

The enlisted men are a good bunch also. They're kind of like the posse in The Oxbow Incident, just an ordinary group who become ennobled in martyrdom as they go to the firing squad for the sake of politics.

Paths of Glory is one of the best anti-war films ever made. It ranks right up there with All Quiet on the Western Front which showed the war from the German point of view. Both will be classics 200, 300, a thousand years from now...

BRUCE'S RATING: 10 out of 10
MY RATING: 9 out of 10



Saturday, March 11, 2023

SIDNEY KIBRICK: THE LAST LITTLE RASCAL

As of the death of child star Robert Blake on March 9, 2023 - former actor Sidney Kibrick has become the last surviving member of the Our Gang series. Sidney most notably appeared in the Our Gang short subjects film series, over a ten-year period from 1933 and 1943.

Kibrick was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 2, 1928. He attended Mount Vernon Junior High. Kibrick made a brief non-dialogue appearance as an extra in the feature film Dead End, observed as one of three or so children huddled together during one of the river dock scenes. He made his uncredited film debut in Out all Night (1933), and after a few more uncredited roles was cast in 1935 in Our Gang, from 1937 to 1939, in that series he portrayed "Woim" (a vernacular pronunciation of "worm"), the sidekick of the neighborhood bully "Butch", played by Tommy Bond.


Kibrick worked as a real estate developer and architect after leaving show business in the 1940s. He kept in touch with Our Gang members at reunions, some of which he used to host. In 1991, he acknowledged that he had avoided the tragic lives that former child actors often ended up having as adults. As Sidney got older, his roles became limited. He made his last appearance on film un credited in the 1943 movie Keep 'Em Slugging.

Admittedly, Sidney stayed friends with George McFarland for years, but never liked Carl Switzer, who he refers to as being disagreeable. Sidney has looked back fondly on his time as a child actor, but knows he lucked out by having a normal adult life compared to some of his other Our Gang co-stars...






Thursday, March 9, 2023

WHY I DISLIKE CONNIE FRANCIS


So millions of people love the music of Connie Francis. I was one of them! My Grandparents saw the 1960s pop star in concert countless times, and I enjoyed her soulful singing which was reminisant of Judy Garland or Al Jolson. When I officially began collecting music when I was 6, Connie Francis was a part of my collection. However, that changed about eight years ago.

I have a You Tube channel that I started in 2014. I do it for fun - I do not make any money on it whatsoever. I created initially to share my favorite music with the world, and I want to connect more younger fans of this type of music together. Connie made a album in 1969 called "Connie & Clyde: Music Of The 1930s". The album was spectactular, and the crowning recording in this gem is "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime". At the time, the album was not available anywhere so I posted that recording from the album.

In about a days time, I received notification from You Tube that the agent of Connie Francis flagged my upload, and wanted it deleted from the channel. The agent went so far as to report me to You Tube to get my channel shut down, but this was my first offense, and You Tube has a three strike rule. So You Tube put me on probation for six months - which I was successful to work through. I wrote to the agent to explain that I did not make money from my channel, and I was just uploading the video to help keep the memory of Connie Francis and her contemporaies alive. My only response I got was that if I disputed the access, I would be taken to court.

As a result, I got rid of all my Connie Francis records and CDs, and I only listen to her if her voice comes on as part of a movie soundtrack. At one time she was one of my favorite songbirds, but as a result of this action, Connie as flown the coup as one of my favorites. I rarely talk about this, but I cringe when I read about her. For this reason, I dislike Connie Francis...



Wednesday, March 8, 2023

RECENTLY VIEWED: HISTORY OF THE WORLD - PART 2

At 96, I did not think I would see a new production out of Mel Brooks. I mean he was an original writer on Sid Caesar's Your Show Of Shows, and Brooks' comedic movies like Young Frankenstein (1974) and Blazing Saddles (1975) caused a lot of my laughter growing up. However, Mel is back with History Of The World Part II! History of the World, Part II is an American sketch comedy limited series, which debuted on March 6, 2023 on Hulu. 

The series is a sequel to Mel Brooks's 1981 feature film History of the World, Part I, and is written and produced by Brooks, Wanda Sykes, Nick Kroll, Ike Barinholtz, and David Stassen. Like the earlier film, it features sketches parodying events from different periods of human history and legend.

After 40 years, there is finally a sequel to the seminal Mel Brooks film, History of the World, Part I, with each episode featuring a variety of sketches that take us through different periods of human history. The cast features a large ensemble, including a core of several regulars who are also among the series writers: 

- Mel Brooks as Narrator
- Wanda Sykes as various characters
- Nick Kroll as various characters
- Ike Barinholtz as various characters


Despite the title History of the World, Part I, there were initially no plans for a sequel to the film. The title was a play on The History of the World by Sir Walter Raleigh, which was intended to be published in several volumes but only the first was completed. However, in October 2021, Hulu and Searchlight Television announced that a sequel series titled History of the World, Part II, was in the works, with production beginning in spring 2022. Mel Brooks would produce and write the series along with Wanda Sykes, Ike Barinholtz, and Nick Kroll, who would also appear in it.

I have seen four of the episodes now, and I think it is a good follow up to Mel's 1981 movie. Like the older movie, some of the skits fall flat, but as a whole I know what I am in for when I watch a Mel Brooks production. The 30 minute episodes is a way for me to escape and have a few cheap laughs along the way. Yes there are fart jokes, but they humor is also geered for 2023 audiences. 

If you are not a Mel Brooks fan, don't see this Hulu production. However, if you grew up on Mel, then I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure if this show warrants a part III, but it's a good reminder that Mel Brooks remains one of the most talented and funny men on the planet...

MY RATING: 7 OUT OF 10



Sunday, March 5, 2023

GUEST REVIEW: ROUGHLY SPEAKING


The late Bruce Kogan returns to this blog with memories of this Rosalind Russell film that I never saw...

Based on a true story, someone had the genius over at the Brothers Warner to shell some bucks out for the services of Rosalind Russell for the lead. She really is so right for the part of Louise Randall Pierson a woman who through time and circumstance is forever reinventing herself. A little like Mame Dennis who lives to the fullest and like Molly Brown, she maybe down, but she ain't licked.

From Donald Woods she gets her four kids, but they are incompatible and divorce. She then marries Jack Carson who has ideas, but he's content to be a Vice President with his dad's flower nursery firm. Roz kick starts the ambition in him and their lives are quite the rollercoaster, but they are happy. And the kids are completely accepting of him

The image we have of Jack Carson in most of his roles is the lovable blowhard. But he had a really never appreciated talent for taking it down however many pegs necessary to achieve a great serious performances in a lot of serious roles. He and Russell work well together in Roughly Speaking.


There's a nice epic quality to Roughly Speaking. Coming out as it did at the nd of World War Ii it exudes a cheerful optimism about America and its people. The kind of stuff people wanted to hear in 1945.

It still holds up well as good entertainment...

BRUCE'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10



Thursday, March 2, 2023

THE TRUE SIDE OF BETTY HUTTON

 A few years ago I published an article on my blog about Betty Hutton and her three daughters. Betty has been gone now for over sixteen years, and her three daughters are themselves becoming older women. However, the comments have been overwhelming to what happened to the relationship or lack of relationship Betty had with them. Everyone has an opinion on why the daughters did not go to Betty's funeral, but no one truly knows what went on being the offspring of a troubled Hollywood star but those daughters. 

Here are some of the comments I got via my blog or to my email that I wanted to share:

"I saw the Betty Hutton interview on TCM, when it first aired. Knowing first hand, from one of the countless people who tried to help her, what a delusional, self-centered egotist she could be, seeing her decades later was just more of the same. She never took any responsibility for the grief she had caused herself and others, instead, whining that the cast of ''Annie Get Your Gun'' hated her. That is just one example. There are people who have had horrible role models, but rose above the chaos and misery to become fine human beings. Betty Hutton chose to be a professional victim to the end. There are enough stories told by her peers in Hollywood to more than suggest that she cared for nobody but herself. She may have gotten away with that while she was riding high and making big money, but it caught up with her before long. Her daughter were probably trying to avoid any more heartache at her hands. And, in the end, she got precisely what she deserver." - Phil Lindholm, 10/21/2019

"This was the woman who said in an interview "My children didn't bring me happiness" when her youngest daughter was just 13 years old. Remarks like that can kill the last lingering shreds of affection a child has toward an absent and shaky parent. I just watched the interview with Robert Osborn that replayed on the movie channel last night. Hutton as an old woman was bubbly, pious, unfiltered, but seemingly lacking in self-awareness of her part in her own misfortune and estrangements. Children estranged from a parent always, always have a valid point of view, even when reconciliation is possible. Hutton came across as incapable of recognizing or acknowledging any point of view but her own." -Jaiquai, 3/19/2017


"I was neighbors with Betty in her later years in Palm Springs, and I asked her about her daughters because she did not have pictures around her place. She told me that they were part of her old life. I found that to be odd. They were part of her old life but she had pictures all around her of old stars she worked with like Howard Keel and Bing Crosby. To me it seemed like she blamed everyone else but herself. Talking about Hollywood, she blamed her co-stars. Talking about her ex husbands, she blamed them. I went out to lunch with her a few times, and it was embarrassing how she still thought she was Hollywood royalty. Once Betty realized I wasn't going to crazy over who she was, we sort of stopped talking" - Annoymous. 2/16/2023

In the 1990s, I interviewed actress Marjorie Reynolds's daughter Linda, and she gave me some interesting accounts of Betty Hutton's behavior at Paramount Studios in the 1940s. I'll have to dig those out. Sadly, there is a lot of Hollywood stories out there about stars like Betty. Betty was a great star and talented entertainer, but sadly it did not transfer to her private life.

If anyone is in touch with anyone that knew Betty Hutton, please feel free to reach out to me. I want to hear your stories!



Sunday, February 26, 2023

A TRIBUTE TO JONI JAMES - ONE YEAR LATER

It is hard to believe that fabulous singer Joni James has been gone one year now. Her voice has been silenced, but her memories she left us will live on forever...


Sunday, February 19, 2023

BORN ON THIS DAY: ANN SAVAGE

The beautiful Ann Savage was born on this day (February 19th) in 1921. Ann Savage was born in Columbia, South Carolina. During her early years, her family moved often as her father, an officer in the United States Army, relocated from base to base.After he died when Berniece was four years old, her mother moved the two of them to Los Angeles. Growing up around the corner from the Jewelry District, the Broadway movie palaces of downtown Los Angeles served as her babysitter while her mother worked selling jewelry.

She attended 64th Street Grammar School and Mount Vernon Junior High and first stepped on a sound stage at the age of 17 at MGM Studios and was screen tested by Edgar Selwyn. Ann spent time among the more famous Hollywood kids of the day, such as Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Freddie Bartholomew, and Deanna Durbin. Her MGM test did not work out, prompting her to get her teeth capped and acquire theatre training at the Max Reinhardt workshop on Sunset Boulevard. Reinhardt oversaw her name change, and Berniece became Ann Savage. The Reinhardt school's manager, Bert D'Armand, became Savage's agent, and the two later married. Savage was offered a screen test by Fox, but she decided not to turn up, as she knew the studio already had a bevy of pretty blondes.

Savage instead made a screen test with Columbia Pictures—after playing Lorna in a Reinhardt acting showcase of Odet's Golden Boy"—and was offered a contract. Recalling Columbia mogul Harry Cohn as "a friendly Uncle type", Savage remembered Cohn being intimidated by acid-tongued Rosalind Russell. The two actresses featured together in What a Woman!, one of a dozen films with Savage released in 1943.


Although Columbia typically groomed its girls in the mold of Rita Hayworth, Savage's look echoed Ann Sheridan, although her customary blonde locks were reddened for Footlight Glamour (1943) "so that the star, Penny Singleton, would be the only blonde on screen." She joined Joan Davis and Jinx Falkenburg in Two Senoritas from Chicago (1943) and starred (as a brunette) in the first of several outings with Tom Neal in Klondike Kate (1943). At this time, during World War II, Savage was also a popular pin-up model, including posing for a centerfold in Esquire shot by George Hurrell. 

Although Savage and Neal did not see eye-to-eye (she found him "childlike"), the duo would star together in Two Man Submarine and The Unwritten Code (both 1944) before their most famous film, the 1945 film noir Detour. Reminiscing in the 1980s about her career as a stalwart actress in B movies, Savage dismissed most of her roles as "mindless", saying: "The actresses were just scenery. The stories all revolved around the male actors; they really had the choice roles. All the actresses had to do was to look lovely, since the dialogue was ridiculous". Detour, she felt, was different. The two leads underwent role reversal, with Savage's Vera blackmailing Neal's Al, in a style described by her manager Kent Adamson as "vicious and predatory... very sexually aggressive".

When Detour entered the public domain, it frequently was syndicated on television channels and released in numerous VHS incarnations. Gaining cult status and garnering critical acclaim as "arguably film noir's greatest low-budget feature", this exposure earned Savage a new, younger following. From the 1980s, Savage also attended a number of film festivals, helping to bolster her personal status and leading her to emerge once more as "a glamorous figure-about-Hollywood at film festivals and galas".

The rest as they say is history...



Friday, February 17, 2023

RIP: STELLA STEVENS

Stella Stevens, the actress best known for her roles in The Nutty Professor and The Poseidon Adventure and starring opposite Elvis Presley in Girls! Girls! Girls!, died today in Los Angeles after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 84. Stevens’ passing was confirmed to Deadline by her son, actor-producer Andrew Stevens, and her longtime friend John O’Brien.

A former Playboy centerfold from January 1960, Stevens was modeling in her hometown of Memphis when she was discovered and given a screen test by 20th Century Fox. She wound up under contract with Paramount and then Columbia through the ’60s, starring opposite such big names as Presley in Girls! Girls! Girls!, Dean Martin in How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life, Bobby Darin in Too Late Blues, Chuck Conners in Synanon and Glenn Ford in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

She won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer for her first film, 1959’s Say One for Me, which starred Bing Crosby and Debbie Reynolds. Stevens also appeared in Lil Abner that year.

She went on to play Jerry Lewis’ dream girl in The Nutty Professor — which was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2004 — and the lippy wife of Ernest Borgnine in The Poseidon Adventure, the star-packed pic that was among the biggest hits of 1972 and helped fuel that decade’s disaster-movie trend.


Her many other film credits include The Silencers, The Ballad of Cable Hogue, Sol Madrid, Where Angels Go Trouble Follows! and The Secret of My Success.

Born on October 1, 1938, in Yazoo City, MI, Stevens was also a steady presence on television, appearing in dozens of TV movies and guest-starring in more than 40 series, from Bonanza and Ben Casey in the ‘60’s through The Commish and Arli$$ in the ‘90s.

For two seasons in the early ‘80s, she starred in the primetime soap Flamingo Road and later had recurring roles in Santa Barbara and General Hospital. Reportedly, Stevens came to regret her association with Playboy, finding the sexpot label confining.


“I did the best I could with the tools I had and the opportunities given me,” she was once quoted as saying. “I was a divorced mom with a toddler by the time I was 17. And Playboy did as much harm as it helped. But in spite of that rough start, I did OK.”

Due to her illness, Stella made her last movie in 2010.

Along with her son, Stevens is survived by three grandchildren. She was predeceased by her longtime partner, rock musician Bob Kulick....



HEALTHWATCH: BRUCE WILLIS


Bruce Willis is suffering from a form of dementia, specifically frontotemporal dementia (FTD), his loved ones announced on Thursday. In a statement, the Willis family said the 67-year-old actor's condition has worsened since he was diagnosed with aphasia last year.

"Unfortunately, challenges with communication are just one symptom of the disease Bruce faces. While this is painful, it is a relief to finally have a clear diagnosis," they shared. The Willis family wants to shed light on FTD by coming forward with the news.

"FTD is a cruel disease that many of us have never heard of and can strike anyone. For people under 60, FTD is the most common form of dementia, and because getting the diagnosis can take years, FTD is likely much more prevalent than we know. Today there are no treatments for the disease, a reality that we hope can change in the years ahead. As Bruce's condition advances, we hope that any media attention can be focused on shining a light on this disease that needs far more awareness and research," the family added.


"Bruce always believed in using his voice in the world to help others, and to raise awareness about important issues both publicly and privately. We know in our hearts that — if he could today — he would want to respond by bringing global attention and a connectedness with those who are also dealing with this debilitating disease and how it impacts so many individuals and their families," the Willis's continued.

"Bruce has always found joy in life — and has helped everyone he knows to do the same. It has meant the world to see that sense of care echoed back to him and to all of us," the statement concluded. "We have been so moved by the love you have all shared for our dear husband, father, and friend during this difficult time. Your continued compassion, understanding, and respect will enable us to help Bruce live as full a life as possible."


Thursday, February 16, 2023

DICK VAN DYKE AT 97

When other 97 year olds are in nursing homes or relaxing in their final years, Dick Van Dyke is still working! This week Dick made an appearance on TV's The Masked Singer. Dressed as a gnome, he made a huge splash on The Masked Singer stage.

The wild disguised celebrity singing show returned for its 9th season on Fox Wednesday night, and the first elimination of the evening was touted for weeks as the "the most legendary, decorated and beloved unmasking in history," and they weren't wrong. After performing Billie Holiday's "When You're Smiling," Gnome was the first to get axed.

After taking off the mask, Gnome was revealed to be Tony, Emmy, and Grammy winner Dick Van Dyke, which sent the audience and panelists Robin Thicke, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong, and Jenny McCarthy-Wahlberg into quite a tizzy. Scherzinger in particular started to audibly sob in the presence of the beloved Mary Poppins and Dick Van Dyke Show star...


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

RIP: RAQUEL WELCH

Raquel Welch, a veteran actress who rose to fame in the 1960s in the films “One Million Years B.C.” and “Fantastic Voyage,” has died, according to a statement provided by her manager, Steve Sauer.

She was 82.

Welch died Wednesday morning in Los Angeles after a “brief illness,” the statement said.

The actress, with more than 70 film and television credits, got her start as a spokesmodel on a variety show, “Hollywood Palace,” and had a small role in the Elvis Presley film “Roustabout” in 1964.

Her career took off two years later, with the release of the science fiction film “Fantastic Voyage,” about a team of scientists shrunken and injected into a critically ill man’s body; and “One Million Years, B.C.,” a prehistoric drama that cast Welch as the cavewoman Loana, with the photos of her in a fur bikini becoming the foundation of the movie’s marketing campaign, while turning Welch into an international sex symbol. (The poster later became a central device in the acclaimed movie “The Shawshank Redemption.”)


A number of starring roles for Welch followed in the late 1960s, including the westerns “Bandolero” and “100 Rifles,” the latter notable for her then-controversial interracial love scene with former football star Jim Brown.

Welch leaves behind her two children, son Damon Welch and her daughter Tahnee Welch, according to her manager’s statement. Raquel made her last movie and television appearance in 2017, and her health in recents has been the subject of much gossip...



Sunday, February 12, 2023

THE LAST WILL OF JACKIE GLEASON

Interesting news story about the will of Jackie Gleason from 1986...

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Comedian Jackie Gleason changed his will the day before he died, decreasing his wife’s share of his estate from half to one-third and increasing bequests to his two daughters and secretary.

The size of Gleason’s estate was not listed in the initial will, and his attorney, Brian Patchen, declined to estimate its value.

Gleason,  died of liver and colon cancer June 24, 2986 at the age of 71.. A death certificate filed with the will in Broward Probate Court said death came two months after he was stricken with the liver cancer, but did not say when he contracted colon cancer, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reported today.

On June 23, too weak to sign his name, Gleason told Patchen and business associates Richard Green and Irwin Marks to amend the document, the attorney said. ″It’s a very amicable thing ... very straightforward.″

Gleason decreased the share of his third wife, Marilyn Gleason, from half to one-third and raised the bequest for his secretary of 29 years, Sydell Spear of Hialeah, from $25,000 to $100,000.

The balance is to be divided equally by Gleason’s daughters from his first marriage, Geraldine Chatuk of Los Angeles and Linda Miller of Santa Monica, Calif., each of whom was originally to receive a quarter of the estate.

Gleason did not provide for a stepson from his last marriage or any arts organizations or charities.

The star of ″The Honeymooners″ television series and several movies left his personal effects, including jewelry, clothing, art works and automobiles to his wife, the sister of choreographer June Taylor. Mrs. Gleason was also appointed executor of the will originally drawn up in April 1985...


Thursday, February 9, 2023

RIP: BURT BACHARACH

Burt Bacharach, the acclaimed composer and songwriter behind dozens of mellow pop hits from the 1950s to the 1980s, including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You” and the theme from the movie “Arthur,” has died, a family member of Bacharach confirmed to the Associated Press. He was 94. A major figure in 20th century pop music, Bacharach scored major hits in a variety of genres, from Top 40 to country to rhythm and blues and film scores. He wrote hit songs for a wide range of artists, including Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, Neil Diamond, the Carpenters and Christopher Cross.

Many of his songs were classified, perhaps unfairly, as “easy listening” – a gentle, old fashioned style of music with few rough edges. Most were far removed from the sounds of rock and roll, funk, disco or other popular genres of his time.

And yet Bacharach, with longtime collaborator Hal David, churned out many of the catchiest songs of the era. Many of them – “Say a Little Prayer,” “Walk on By,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” – became hits for Warwick, one of the biggest-selling female vocalists of the 1960s.


Bacharach also wrote such massive hits as Perry Como’s “Magic Moments,” the Shirelles’ “Baby It’s You,” Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat?”, Jackie DeShannon’s “What the World Needs Now is Love,” Herb Alpert’s “This Guy’s In Love With You,” Neil Diamond’s “Heartlight” and the Patti Labelle-Michael McDonald duet “On My Own.”

One of his biggest and most impactful hits was “That’s What Friends Are For,” the charity collaboration between Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, and Stevie Wonder that topped the charts in 1986 and raised millions for AIDS research.

“Never be afraid of something that you can whistle,” Bacharach told NPR’s Scott Simon in 2013.

Over his long career Bacharach earned almost every major award in music, including six Grammys, three Oscars and – with Hal David – the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, awarded by the Library of Congress. In 2008 the Grammys proclaimed him music’s greatest living composer...




TONY CAPRA AND HIS GRANDFATHER'S LEGACY

When “It’s a Wonderful Life” comes on TV, Tony Capra – like so many others – will be watching at home.

If Capra’s name rings a bell, it’s because he shares it with Frank Capra, the film’s legendary director, producer and co-writer. Tony Capra is senior director at NBC News in Washington, D.C. and Frank was his grandfather. Tony grew up in California watching the film with his family every year like many other families. He says he has seen it all the way through “about 50 times.” But unlike other families, the Capras watched an original 16mm version.

“There’s the obvious connection and it does bring me close to my grandfather and the relationship I had with him,” Capra said.

Frank Capra was born in Sicily in 1897. He moved to California with his family when he was five years old. He became Hollywood’s highest-paid director in the 1930s thanks to classic movies like “It Happened One Night,” “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” “You Can’t Take It with You,” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” He was nominated for Best Director six times – including for “It’s a Wonderful Life” – and won three Oscars.

“If you watch all of his films, it’s like the culmination of all of his films.”

Capra, who volunteered in both World Wars, died in 1991 at the age of 94.


“He was very smart and very funny but could not tell a joke to save his life but he would have you falling on the floor telling stories,” Capra said.

When ‘It’s a Wonderful Life” came out in 1946, a year after the end of World War II, it was not a blockbuster. Reviews were mixed but it was nominated for five Oscars including Jimmy Stewart for Best Actor for his portrayal of down-on-his-luck George Bailey. The movie did not become an iconic film until the 1970s when its copyright lapsed and television stations all around the country started playing it often, especially during the holidays. It is now considered one of the greatest films of all-time.

The 1946 movie has become the definitive holiday classic that resonates with so many people, standing the test of time with its universal messages.


Seventy-six years after the movie’s release, people come up to Capra at work — especially this time of year — to say how much the movie means to them. “It’s a meaningful film. It makes people feel good. It means a lot to me,” Capra said. “It is important, it’s got a message and he was very proud of it,” Capra said.

And though his grandfather was a Hollywood legend, “he was just a normal grandfather,” Capra said. “He taught me how to fish, how to do all sorts of stuff. I feel very lucky to have had him in my life. He was a wonderful person to be around. He was a wonderful grandfather.” You’ll excuse Capra if he uses the word “wonderful” more often than most. He’s got a pretty good excuse.

And, yes, he’ll be watching Saturday night with his family just like he has every year for as long as he can remember. “It always gets me.”