Friday, March 29, 2024


Louis Gossett Jr., Star of ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’ and ‘Roots,’ Died at 87/

The Brooklyn native also appeared in the original Broadway production of 'A Raisin in the Sun' and wrote a song with folk legend Richie Havens.

Louis Gossett Jr., the tough guy with a sensitive side who won an Oscar for his portrayal of a steely sergeant in An Officer and a Gentleman and an Emmy for his performance as a compassionate slave in the landmark miniseries Roots, died Friday. He was 87.

In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, his family said, “It is with our heartfelt regret to confirm our beloved father passed away this morning. We would like to thank everyone for their condolences at this time. Please respect the family’s privacy during this difficult time.”

With his sleek, bald pate and athlete’s physique, Gossett was intimidating in a wide array of no-nonsense roles, most notably in Taylor Hackford’s Officer and a Gentleman (1982), where as Gunnery Sgt. Emil Foley he rides Richard Gere’s character mercilessly (but for his own good) at an officer candidate school and gets into a memorable martial arts fight.

He was the second Black man to win an acting Oscar, following Sidney Poitier in 1964.

For the role, the 6-foot-4 Gossett trained for 30 days at the Marine Corps Recruitment Division, an adjunct of Camp Pendleton north of San Diego. “I knew I had to put myself through at least some degree of this all-encompassing transformation,” Gossett wrote in his 2010 biography, An Actor and a Gentleman.

In 1959, Gossett played George Murchison in the original Broadway production of Lorraine Hansberry’s domestic tragedy A Raisin in the Sun, then segued to Daniel Petrie’s 1961 Columbia film adaptation along with his stage co-stars Poitier and Ruby Dee, launching his career in Hollywood.

It was his eloquent portrayal as Fiddler, an older slave who teaches a young Kunta Kinte (LeVar Burton) to speak English on the eight-part ABC miniseries Roots, that earned him his first significant dose of national recognition. Eighty-five percent of the U.S. population tuned in for at least a portion of Roots, and the finale drew more than 100 million viewers in January 1977.

“All the top African-American actors were asked, and I begged to be in there,” Gossett once said. “I got the best role, I think. It was wonderful.”

Gossett also starred in the critically acclaimed telefilm Sadat (1983), in which he played the assassinated Egyptian leader (Sadat’s widow, Jehan, personally chose him for the part), and he portrayed a baseball immortal in Don’t Look Back: The Story of Leroy “Satchel” Paige in a 1981 telefilm.

During his 60-year-plus career, Gossett excelled in a number of non-stereotypical racial roles, playing a hospital chief of staff on the 1979 ABC series The Lazarus Syndrome and the title character Gideon Oliver, an anthropology professor, on a 1989 set of ABC Mystery Movies. He work up until last year and appeared in the movie musical remake of  "The Color Purple"...

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


Jo Stafford (1917-2008) was one of the greatest female vocalists in all of pop music history/. In the 1940s and 1950s she had a huge musical output. On this studio session she got to record with the great Nat King Cole on piano...

March 28, 1946 (Thursday)

Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home (with Nat King Cole - piano) (Matrix No. 1054) * Recorded for single Capitol 15171
Cindy (with Nat King Cole - piano) (Matrix No. 1055) * Recorded for single Capitol 259
Ridin’ On The Gravy Train (with Nat King Cole - piano) (Matrix No. 1056) * Originally unissued
I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time (with Nat King Cole - piano) (Matrix No. 1057) * Recorded for single Capitol 277

‘Ridin’ On The Gravy Train’ (Matrix No. 1056) was issued in 1991, on the CD ‘Capitol Collectors Series: Jo Stafford’ (Capitol CDP 7 91638 2)

Thursday, March 21, 2024


M. Emmet Walsh, the character actor who brought his unmistakable face and unsettling presence to films including Blood Simple and Blade Runner, died Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at age 88, his manager said Wednesday.

Walsh died from cardiac arrest on Tuesday at a hospital in St. Albans, Vermont, his longtime manager Sandy Joseph said.

The ham-faced, heavyset Walsh often played good old boys with bad intentions, as he did in one of his rare leading roles as a crooked Texas private detective in the Coen brothers' first film, the 1984 neo-noir "Blood Simple."

Joel and Ethan Coen said they wrote the part for Walsh, who would win the first Film Independent Spirit Award for best male lead for the role.

Walsh played a crazed sniper in the 1979 Steve Martin comedy "The Jerk" and a prostate-examining doctor in the 1985 Chevy Chase vehicle "Fletch."

In 1982's gritty, "Blade Runner," a film he said was grueling and difficult to make with perfectionist director Ridley Scott, Walsh plays a hard-nosed police captain who pulls Harrison Ford from retirement to hunt down cyborgs.

Born Michael Emmet Walsh, his characters led people to believe he was from the American South, but he could hardly have been from any further north.

Walsh was raised on Lake Champlain in Swanton, Vermont, just a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border, where his grandfather, father and brother worked as customs officers.

He went to a tiny local high school with a graduating class of 13, then to Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

He acted exclusively on the stage, with no intention of doing otherwise, for a decade, working in summer stock and repertory companies.Walsh slowly started making film appearances in 1969 with a bit role in "Alice's Restaurant," and did not start playing prominent roles until nearly a decade after that when he was in his 40s, getting his breakthrough with 1978's "Straight Time," in which he played Dustin Hoffman's smug, boorish parole officer.

Walsh was shooting "Silkwood" with Meryl Streep in Dallas in the autumn of 1982 when he got the offer for "Blood Simple" from the Coen brothers, then-aspiring filmmakers who had seen and loved him in "Straight Time."

"My agent called with a script written by some kids for a low-budget movie," Walsh told The Guardian in 2017. "It was a Sydney Greenstreet kind of role, with a Panama suit and the hat. I thought it was kinda fun and interesting. They were 100 miles away in Austin, so I went down there early one day before shooting."

Walsh said the filmmakers didn't even have enough money left to fly him to New York for the opening, but he would be stunned that first-time filmmakers had produced something so good.

"I saw it three or four days later when it opened in LA, and I was, like: Wow!" he said. "Suddenly my price went up five times. I was the guy everybody wanted."

In the film he plays Loren Visser, a detective asked to trail a man's wife, then is paid to kill her and her lover.

Visser also acts as narrator, and the opening monologue, delivered in a Texas drawl, included some of Walsh's most memorable lines.

"Now, in Russia they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else. That's the theory, anyway," Visser says. "But what I know about is Texas. And down here, you're on your own."

He was still working into his late 80s, making recent appearances on the TV series "The Righteous Gemstones" and "American Gigolo."

And his more than 100 film credits included director Rian Johnson's 2019 family murder mystery, "Knives Out" and director Mario Van Peebles' Western "Outlaw Posse," released this year.

Sunday, March 17, 2024


Here is the beautiful Jane Russell with an advertisement for Westmore cosmetics. This was around 1952/1953 because the ad talks about Jane appearing in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes...


Sunday, March 10, 2024


This recording contains to one of my favorite drum solos of Dave Tough. What a genius!

Friday, March 8, 2024


If you are a fan of jazz and big band music, please familiarize yourself with the drummer of Dave Tough. He was a brillant and yet troubled soul. He was born  on April 26, 1907 in Oak Park, Illinois and died December 9, 1948 in Newark, New Jersey. From an early age he was passionate about drumming. While in high school, Tough became a member of the Austin High School Gang. The Austin High Gang was an ever evolving group that formulated the Chicago style of jazz which was very popular in the 1920s, initially comprised of Bud Freeman, Jimmy and Dick McPartland, Frank Teschmaker, Jim Lanigan, and Dave North. From early on Tough was an ensemble player, who preferred to solidify a groove rather than transform or change it. In doing so, Tough relied on his great sense of musical quality.

In 1932 he was forced into temporary inactivity through illness, returning to the scene in 1935. Although his work up to the time of his illness had been primarily in small groups, he now slotted into the big band scene as if made for it. He played first with Tommy Dorsey and later with Red Norvo, Bunny Berigan, Benny Goodman and Dorsey again. Tough then joined Jimmy Dorsey, Bud Freeman, Jack Teagarden, Artie Shaw and others. His employers were a who's who of the best of the white big bands of the swing era.

There were a number of reasons for his restlessness, among them his insistence on musical perfection, irritation with the blandness of many of the more commercial arrangements the bands had to play, and his own occasionally unstable personality.

During World War II he was briefly in the US Navy (where he played with Shaw) but was discharged on medical grounds. On his discharge he joined Woody Herman, with whom he had played briefly before the war. The records of Herman's First Herd demonstrated to fans worldwide that the physically frail and tiny Tough was a powerful giant among drummers. Despite his broad-based style, Tough believed himself unsuited to bop and for much of his career he sought to develop a career as a writer.

His disaffection with the changing jazz scene accelerated his physical and mental deterioration. Although helped by many people who knew him, among them writers Leonard Feather and John Hammond, his lifestyle had numbered his days. Walking home one night, he fell, fractured his skull and died from the injury on 9 December 1948. His body lay unrecognized in the morgue for three days. Whether playing in small Chicago-style groups or in any of the big bands of which he was a member, Tough consistently demonstrated his subtle, driving swing. It was with Herman, however, that he excelled, urging along one of the finest of the period's jazz orchestras with sizzling enthusiasm...

Thursday, March 7, 2024


Steve Lawrence, the Fifties and Sixties crooner, actor, and comedian who teamed with his wife Eydie Gormé to form the duo Steve and Eydie, has died at the age of 88.

Lawrence died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles from complications from Alzheimer’s disease, a spokesperson for the family told Variety; Lawrence was forced to retire from touring after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2019.

“My Dad was an inspiration to so many people,” his son David Lawrence said in a statement. “But, to me, he was just this charming, handsome, hysterically funny guy who sang a lot. Sometimes alone and sometimes with his insanely talented wife. I am so lucky to have had him as a father and so proud to be his son. My hope is that his contributions to the entertainment industry will be remembered for many years to come.”

The New York City-born Lawrence got his start in show business as an 18-year-old singer hired by Steve Allen’s late-night show in 1953; a year later, the program was rebranded as The Tonight Show, with Allen its first host. While at The Tonight Show, Lawrence met fellow singer and cast mate Eydie Gormé, with the pair marrying in 1957.

The couple together embarked on a recording career in addition to their television appearances — after Allen left the Tonight Show, the duo briefly launched their own The Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé Show — with Steve and Eydie releasing a string of singles over the late Fifties and early Sixties. Steve and Eydie also won a pair of Grammy for Best Performance By a Vocal Duo or Group.

Over the ensuing decades, Lawrence was a fixture on the small screen, appearing on programs like the Carol Burnett Show, What’s My Line? and his own variety show. Lawrence also appeared on Broadway, starring and earning a Tony Award nomination for his role in the 1964 musical What Makes Sammy Run? Eyde Gorme died in 2013...

Monday, March 4, 2024


My son asked if I wanted to watch a movie with him. As a teenager, he still does not want to do much stuff with me so I jumped at the chance. He picked a Lifetime movie of all things. The movie was called  Girl In The Basement. It originally aired on Lifetime, but it was streaming on Hulu. Based on the infamous true story of Elisabeth Fritzl, who was locked up and abused for 24 years (from 1984 to 2008) by her father Josef in Amstetten (Austria). In these years of imprisonment she was mother of seven children as result of the abuses.

Judd Nelson, of  The Breakfast Club fame, headlined the movie as the evil father. Joely Fisher, half sister of Carrie Fisher, played his clueless wife. The real story of the crime of Josef Fritzl is more horrid than this cheap imitation. Here the american version, for america has no cases like this within its borders. Here the ceiling in the basement is high and room plentiful. It's still horrific but read up about the case for a true perspective on the horrors of this man.

Performance wise, it's a tv movie but better than most but still has a certain sheen to proceedings even through the dirtiness of matters. Judd is very good in the controlling role but I can't help but think, the way this is handled to sanitise for the American market cheapens the horrors from Austria. Even though this was a sanitized Lifetime version, I still found some parts difficult to watch. Any normal father of children, would have a difficult time.

So of the acting is weak, and this was a strange movie for a first time director Elizabeth Rohm to direct, and it shows. However, Judd Nelson really does a great job as the evil father, and Stefanie Scott is exceptional as the imprisoned and abused daughter. It's not a bad movie, but it is pretty far away from a great movie. After you watch this movie, research the true case. I believe there are some documentaries out there. You will be truly horrified...

MY RATING: 6 out of 10