Monday, January 31, 2011

Bounce me, brother, with a solid four

Seventy years ago today, Bud Abbott & Lou Costello’s first starring feature Buck Privates (1941) was released to motion picture theaters…and to commemorate this auspicious occasion, I prepared a little essay on the film—which I encourage you to read at your leisure at Edward Copeland on Film…and More.  When I was a tad, the TV stations that showed Bud & Lou’s films had an annoying habit of editing out their routines but keeping the musical numbers in order to squeeze in more commercials—but Privates is one of their rare vehicles where the music is every bit as good as the comedy.  (I’ve always been a lifelong Andrews Sisters fan, which no doubt helps a bit.)

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I can tell you right now that my motivation to resurrect Mayberry Mondays starting today is pretty much nil—I stayed up past my usual bedtime last night to watch the breathtakingly gorgeous Louise Brooks (*sigh*) in the 1929 G.W. Pabst classic Pandora’s Box, followed by a pair of Pabst talkies—The 3 Penny Opera (1931) and A Modern Hero (1934).  So I’m probably going to have to have a disco nap this afternoon, at the time when I’m usually gazing intently at the misadventures of Sam Jones and his Mayberry cronies.  (My greatest fear is that I’ll end up abandoning this project like I did that Jungle Queen [1945] thing…but I hope it won’t come to that.)  I apologize profusely in advance…I’m just so weak.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coming distractions: April 2011 on TCM

I had a feeling that if I kept checking the bookmark I set for TCM’s tentative schedule it would eventually pay off—and it did yesterday morning, as The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (ka-ching!) has their April lineup posted…and as always, the films listed are subject to change at their merest whim.  I have a sneaking suspicion that my esteemed blogging colleague Laura of Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings fame will be doing cartwheels of joy (though when you think about it, I don’t recall ever seeing anybody do a cartwheel of sorrow) at the news that the channel’s Star of the Month is her longtime pretend boyfriend, Ray Milland—who’ll be featured in a total of 29 films (thirty if you count the Screen Director’s Playhouse episode) every Tuesday night throughout April.  Here’s the lineup:

April 5, Tuesday
10:00pm The Crystal Ball (1943)
11:30pm A Woman of Distinction (1950)
02:45am Let's Do It Again (1953)
04:30am Irene (1940)

April 6, Wednesday
06:15am The Bachelor Father (1931)
08:00am Polly of the Circus (1932)

April 12, Tuesday
08:00pm So Evil My Love (1948)
10:00pm Dial M For Murder (1954)
12:00am The Safecracker (1958)
02:00am Ministry of Fear (1944)
03:30am Hostile Witness (1968)
05:15am Payment Deferred (1932)

April 13, Wednesday
06:45am Blonde Crazy (1931)

April 19, Tuesday
08:00pm Kitty (1945)
10:00pm Reap the Wild Wind (1942)
12:15am Beau Geste (1939)
03:45am The Uninvited (1944) (also showing on April 7th at 8pm)
05:30am Screen Director’s Playhouse: “Markheim” (04/11/56)

April 20, Wednesday
06:00am Wise Girl (1937)

April 26, Tuesday
08:00pm The Lost Weekend (1945)
10:00pm Close to My Heart (1951)
11:45pm High Flight (1957)
01:15am Night Into Morning (1951)
02:45am A Life of Her Own (1950)
04:45am The Man Who Played God (1932)

April 27, Wednesday
06:15am Strangers May Kiss (1931)
07:30am Just a Gigolo (1931)

I was kind of disappointed to see some of Ray’s classic forays into B-picture villainy left off this list, particularly his nasty turn in Frogs (1972)…and where the heck is Escape to Witch Mountain (1975; I know TCM has this, they show it all the time)?  There’s a few movies on here that I’m stoked about seeing; I haven’t watched Reap the Wild Wind since it was on AMC (and I guess you know I don’t have to go there) and I have So Evil My Love on an unobtainable VHS somewhere in the storage area annex of the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives, so it will be nice to revisit that one as well.  (It would be positively jaw-dropping if the channel could get its hands on some of the rare and early titles in the Milland catalog—like We’re Not Dressing [1934], Four Hours to Kill! [1935], The Glass Key [1935], The Jungle Princess [1936] and Easy Living [1937].)

TCM’s other big event for the month is a festival of films with a Civil War theme—or as the people here in the Peach State who didn’t read the newspaper article about the South losing like to call it, “the woah of Nawthun aggreshun.”  Every Monday and Wednesday night in April Bobby Osbo (and a guest TBD, I’ll wager) will focus on movies dealing with the War Between the States…and though as a dedicated Yankee (on my mother’s side) I usually stare at flicks like these with only a modicum of interest there is some pretty good stuff scheduled…including a great lineup of silent films on the 11th (they’ll be re-showing Thomas H. Ince’s The Coward, which Chris Edwards at Silent Volume recommended to me and I’m most glad that he did).  Here’s what’s on tap:

April 4, Monday
08:00pm Gone With the Wind (1939)
12:00am Raintree County (1957)

April 6, Wednesday
08:00pm Friendly Persuasion (1956)
10:30pm Band of Angels (1957)
12:45am Of Human Hearts (1938)
02:45am Little Women (1949)

April 11, Monday
08:00pm The Birth of a Nation (1915)
11:30pm The Coward (1915)
01:00am The General (1927)
02:30am Grandma's Boy (1922)
03:30am Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927)

April 13, Wednesday
08:00pm A Southern Yankee (1948)
10:00pm The Littlest Rebel (1935)
11:30pm Advance to the Rear (1964)
01:15am Golden Girl (1951)
03:15am General Spanky (1936)

April 18, Monday
08:00pm The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
10:30pm Major Dundee (1965)
01:00am The Horse Soldiers (1959)
03:15am Escape from Fort Bravo (1953)
05:00am A Time for Killing (1967)

April 20, Wednesday
08:00pm Alvarez Kelly (1966)
10:00pm Virginia City (1940)
12:15am Siege at Red River (1954)
03:30am Hangman's Knot (1952)
05:00am Devil’s Doorway (1950)

April 25, Monday
08:00pm Glory (1989)
10:15pm Gettysburg (1993)

April 26, Wednesday
08:00pm Abraham Lincoln (1930)
09:45pm Tennessee Johnson (1942)
11:45pm Drango (1957)
03:30am Count Three and Pray (1955)

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the other goodies in store for us loyal TCM viewers for the rest of April, shall we?

April 1, Friday – My life’s philosophy can be boiled down to simply this…there are two kinds of people in the world—those who love Jane Powell, and those who—oh, who am I kidding?  How could you not love Janie?  But if by some odd chance I’m wrong about this, you might want to find some other way to spend April Fool’s because if the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise Ms. Powell will turn 81 on that day and TCM will mark the occasion with showings of Small Town Girl (1953; 6am), Three Daring Daughters (1948; 8am), Nancy Goes To Rio (1950; 10am), Two Weeks With Love (1950; 12noon), Rich, Young and Pretty (1951; 2pm), Hit The Deck (1955; 4pm) and Three Sailors and a Girl (1953; 6pm).

Later that evening, one of Powell’s co-stars from Two Weeks with Love—Debbie Reynolds—gets a night of her own with a lineup that spotlights Tammy and the Bachelor (1957; 8pm), Mary, Mary (1963; 10pm) and The Mating Game (1959; 12:15am).  After this trio of Reynolds films, TCM Underground will unspool a pair of Joseph Losey-directed films, Secret Ceremony (1968) and These are the Damned (1963) at 2 and 4am, respectively…but Boom! (1968), a Losey joint that TCM had at one time penciled in and then scrubbed continues to be MIA.

April 2, Saturday – April marks the final month for TCM’s showing of the longest-running feature film series in movie history (48 in all): The Bowery Boys; Looking for Danger (1957) airs at 10:30am, with Up in Smoke (1957) the following week (April 9) and the final Boys opus, In the Money (1958) on the 16th.  So what does TCM have planned for that time slot thereafter?  Buck Rogers in the 25th Century!!!  You read that right; on April 23 the channel shows the first two chapters of the 1939 Universal serial, “Tomorrow’s World” (11am) and “Tragedy on Saturn” (11:30am)…and then the week after Chapters 3 (“The Enemy’s Stronghold” at 11am) and 4 (“The Sky Patrol” at 11:30am).

TCM will also start on this day another popular movie series in the Tarzan films; the inaugural Lord Greystoke epic, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) gets a showing at 12 noon.  Then in the weeks to follow at that same time you can see Tarzan and His Mate (1934; April 9), Tarzan Escapes (1936; April 16), Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939; April 23) and Tarzan’s Secret Treasure (1941; April 30).

Later on TCM Essentials, an 8pm showing of the 1962 classic The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (a great little movie, by the way) kicks off a festival of films starring the distinguished thesp Tom Courtenay—it’s Billy Liar (1963) at 10pm, followed by The Dresser (1983; 12mid), Otley (1968; 2:15am) and Private Potter (1962; 4am).

April 3, Sunday – Will I need to remind Stacia to record Black Narcissus (1947) at 12 noon?  (Turning over 8-ball) It reads: “Signs point to yes.”

April 4, Monday – It’s Anthony Perkins’ natal anniversary, but for reasons unexplained TCM doesn’t get the ball rolling until 10:30am with The Actress (1953).  (I wonder if this means they’ll want a late check-out.  Get it?  Check-out?  Anybody?  Bueller?)  This is followed by Green Mansions (1959; 12:15pm), Tall Story (1960; 2pm), Goodbye Again (1961; 3:45pm) and Five Miles to Midnight (1963; 6pm).

A good while back me mate Matthew Coniam composed a great blog post on British comedy institution The Crazy Gang…and while my first inclination was to see if I could acquire some of their films via Region 2 DVD, my wallet argued vociferously against such a notion.  So I’m glad I waited; two of the Gang’s cinematic achievements, The Frozen Limits (1939) and Gasbags (1941), will air after the Civil War movies at 3am and 4:30am respectively.

April 5, Tuesday – It’s Macon, GA native Melvyn Douglas’ turn to blow out some candles and while I never really warmed to Mel’s work until he got much older (movies like Hud [1963] and The Candidate [1972], for example) TCM will show a B-picture I’ve been on the lookout for at 5:15pm, Tell No Tales (1939).  The other films to be shown are The Vampire Bat (1933; 6am), Prestige (1932; 7:15am), Dangerous Corner (1934; 8:30am), She Married Her Boss (1935; 9:45am), And So They Were Married (1936; 11:30am), Theodora Goes Wild (1936; 12:45pm), I'll Take Romance (1937; 2:30pm), Good Girls Go to Paris (1939; 4pm), and On the Loose (1951; 6:30pm).  (Check out this description for Vampire Bat: “Villagers suspect the town simpleton of being a vampire.”  “Hey, Skeeter—Rayford don’t seem to be too tightly wrapped…you suppose he could be one of the blood-suckin’ undead?”)

April 6, Wednesday – More cake and ice cream will be on hand when screen great Walter Huston is feted with a birthday tribute that starts at 9:15am with Dodsworth (1936), and that’s followed by The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941; 11am), American Madness (1932; 1pm), The Criminal Code (1931; 2:30pm), Kongo (1932; 4:15pm) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948; 5:45pm).

April 7, Thursday – Looks like I picked the wrong month to go on that diet.  It’s TDOY idol James Garner’s turn in the birthday chair with the following films on tap: Boys' Night Out (1962; 6:30am), The Wheeler Dealers (1963; 8:30am), The Americanization of Emily (1964; 10:15am), 36 Hours (1965; 1:15pm), Grand Prix (1966; 3:15pm) and Mister Buddwing (1966; 6:15pm).  There’ll also be a showing of Private Screenings: James Garner (2001) at 12:15pm.

April 8, Friday – It’s Mary Pickford’s birthday, and TCM celebrates with two of her my very favorites of her silent films: The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917; 6am) and Sparrows (1926; 7:15am).  Unfortunately, what follows is a sterling example of why the Academy Awards are a joke—Pickford’s Oscar-winning turn in Coquette (1929; 8:45am).

I guess that must be all the Pickford vehicles TCM has permission to show because the channel then turns things over to the delightfully deadpan Virginia O’Brien for a retrospective of her work: Hullabaloo (1940; 10:45am), Ship Ahoy (1942; 12:15pm), Du Barry Was a Lady (1943; 2pm), Meet the People (1944; 3:45pm), The Great Morgan (1946; 5:30pm) and Merton of the Movies (1947; 6:30pm).  (Why they do this is a puzzler—O’Brien’s birthday is April 18.)

So by now you’re probably thinking: What could possibly top this Virginia O’Brien salute?  Why, a mini-festival starring French actress Suzanne Georgette Charpentier—better known by her nom de screen as Annabella (and also at one-time Mrs. Tyrone Power).  Wings of the Morning (1937) kicks things off at 8pm, followed by The Baroness and the Butler (1938; 10pm), Le Million (1931; 11:30am) and Bridal Suite (1939; 1:00am).

(Oh, check out this description for Galaxy of Terror [1981], a TCM Underground movie scheduled at 2:15am: “Members of a space mission are attacked by their deepest fears.”  I guess this means I would have to go mano a mano with a Margaret O’Brien film festival.)

April 9, SaturdayTCM Essentials’ showing of Splendor in the Grass (1961; 8pm) can only mean that more of director Elia Kazan’s oeuvre isn’t far behind; The Sea of Grass (1947; 10:15pm), America, America (1963; 12:30am) and A Face in the Crowd (1957; 3:30am) bolster this hypothesis.

April 10, Sunday – Something for everyone—a comedy tonight!  The fun begins at 8pm with a two-film tribute to one of my comedy heroes, Phil Silvers (“Glad to see ya!”)—A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), followed by Top Banana (1954) at 10. 

Then TCM’s Sunday Silent Nights gets into the act with Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus (1928) at midnight, accompanied by his 1919 short A Day’s Pleasure at 1:30am

TCM then journeys across the pond for a showing of French clown Jacques Tati’s Jour De Fete (1949) at 2am…and then winds up the evening with two movies from one of my favorite Goons, Spike Milligan—Postman’s Knock (1962; 3:30am) and Invasion Quartet (1961; 5am).  (“It’s all rather confusing, really…”)

April 12, Tuesday – Ever have one of those days where you’d just rather sit around and watch Ann Miller tap dance?  Seriously?  I thought I was the only one!  Well, let’s throw caution to the winds and play hooky with a film tribute that starts at 6am with Stage Door (1937), and continues throughout the day with Room Service (1938; 7:45am), Tarnished Angel (1938; 9:15am), Too Many Girls (1940; 10:30am), Watch the Birdie (1950; 12noon), Texas Carnival (1951; 1:15pm), Two Tickets to Broadway (1951; 2:45pm), Kiss Me Kate (1953; 4:45pm) and Eve Knew Her Apples (1945; 6:45pm).

April 13, Wednesday – The classic movie gods, outraged by the Margaret O’Brien joke I cracked a few paragraphs ago, get their revenge by cursing my TV with a Shirley Temple festival.  I find myself incapable of turning off the TV (it's kind of a nightmarish Twilight Zone scenario) due to this bad juju as the films Little Miss Marker (1934; 8:15am), Poor Little Rich Girl (1936; 9:45am), Heidi (1937; 11:15am), The Little Princess (1939; 12:45pm), Kathleen (1941; 2:30pm) and Since You Went Away (1944; 4pm) are showcased.

Since TCM sagely knows that their younger viewing audience is up at three in the morning (well, that’s usually when the Chuck-E-Cheese’s begin closing) they’ve scheduled the Bert Wheeler & Robert Woolsey comedy Kentucky Kernels (1934) at 4:30am, right after General Spanky.  (Both movies, as you may have guessed, feature Our Gang member George “Spanky” McFarland.)

April 14, Thursday – Julie Christie and Rod Steiger share a birthday today and since both thesps worked together in Doctor Zhivago (1965), you can watch that film classic at 10:45am.  Before Zhivago, however, Julie’s in the spotlight with Far From the Madding Crowd (1967; 6am) and Billy Liar (1963; 9am); then TCM turns the afternoon over to Rod with The Loved One (1965; 2:45pm) and In the Heat of the Night (1967; 5pm).

TCM will then show The Glass Key (1942) at 8pm.  Will I be able to turn this off should I happen to be watching?  (Turning over 8-ball) It reads: “Outlook not so good.”

April 15, Friday – If you were wondering when TCM was going to pick the proper time to showcase films about British prisoners of war, then whoever had the income tax deadline wins the pool.  The mini-festival of POW films kicks off with The Wooden Horse (1950) at 8 pm, followed by the 1955 classic The Colditz Story at 10 pm and Breakout (1959) at 12 midnight.

But before that gets underway, TCM rolls out at 7:30pm an installment of Screen Director’s Playhouse that didn’t make the cut of the January Hal Roach salute: “It’s Always Sunday” (01/11/56) starring Dennis O’Keefe and Fay Wray and directed by Allan Dwan.

April 16, Saturday – “I’m drivin’ in my car/I turn on the radio…”  TCM schedules a mess o’ film titles with the word “fire” beginning at 8pm with my favorite Barbara Stanwyck film, Ball of Fire (1941) on TCM Essentials.  After that, the lineup will be Crossfire (1947; 10pm), Fire Down Below (1957; 11:30pm), Ring of Fire (1961; 1:30am), Green Fire (1954; 3:15am) and Cross Fire (1933; 5am)—the last one being different from the 1947 version in that it’s a Tom Keene B-western with slow burn maestro Edgar Kennedy in the cast.

April 17, Sunday – TCM’s Silent Sunday Nights has the 1921 Alla Nazimova-Rudolph Valentino version of Camille on tap at midnight, so I’ll definitely have to fire up the DVD recorder for that.  A pair of films by Chantal Akerman—a director I’ve read about but, sadly, I’m not familiar with her work—follow: Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) at 2am and Hotel Monterey (1972) at 5:30.

April 19, Tuesday – A couple of B-pictures kind of caught my eye; the first entitled Midnight Court (1937; 11:45am), which is described as “a district attorney sells out to the mob until he falls for an honest girl.”  TDOY fave Ann Dvorak is in it, and so is character great John Litel—he plays the lawyer, and I’m sure you’ll agree this is quite a stretch for him.  The other is Exclusive Story (1936) at 3:30pm, with Franchot Tone as a legal eagle out to expose a numbers racket.  Joseph Calleia is in the cast, and while I don’t want to say anything before all the facts are in I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’s one of the bad guys.

A Man to Remember (1938) gets an airing at 6:30pm—I wrote a good while back that I thought this remake (written by Dalton Trumbo and directed by Garson Kanin) of 1933’s One Man’s Journey was superior to the original…though I’m certainly willing to consider this might be because I saw Remember first.  Tell you what—Journey is scheduled on April 15th at 1:15pm; watch ‘em both and then judge for yourself.

April 20, Wednesday – Happy birthday to the third genius: Harold Lloyd.  Honest to my grandma, you simply cannot go wrong with such silent comedy classics as Safety Last! (1923; 7:15am), Girl Shy (1924; 8:30am) and The Freshman (1925; 10am)…but as for Welcome Danger (1929; 11:30am)…well, there’s an alternate silent version of Lloyd’s talkie debut out there that I’d like to see one day because it’s supposed to be an improvement.

April 21, Thursday – I’ll bet you’re pretty fed up with having to constantly kick in money for a cake and a birthday card—but it’s Anthony Quinn’s natal anniversary and I think he’s worth it; the tribute starts at 7am with Bullets for O’Hara (1941) and is followed by Knockout (1941; 8am), The Black Swan (1942; 9:30am), Road to Morocco (1942; 11am), Back to Bataan (1945; 12:30pm), La Strada (1954; 2:15pm), Lust for Life (1956; 4:15pm) and Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962; 6:30pm).

Later that evening TCM spotlights films with a China background by airing The Painted Veil (1934) at 8, followed by China Sky (1945; 9:30pm), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958; 11pm), Shanghai Express (1932; 2am), China Doll (1958; 3:30am) and West of Shanghai (1937; 5:15am).

April 22, Friday – When I was young I fell in love…I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead.  “Will we have rainbows, day after day?”  Here’s what my sweetheart said: “Will you put a sock in it, fat boy?!!  I want to watch this Doris Day movie!!!”  Okay, you try coming up with something novel to announce that TCM is showcasing Dodo with Julie (1956; 6:30am), Love Me or Leave Me (1955; 8:45am), My Dream is Yours (1949; 11am), Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960; 12:45pm), Romance on the High Seas (1948; 2:45pm), Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968; 4:30pm) and With Six You Get Eggroll (1968; 6:15pm).

April 23, Saturday – With TCM Essentials’ showing of Gunga Din (1939) at 8pm, the channel decides to settle in for the evening with a collection of films featuring Oscar-winning character thesp Victor McLaglen: Sea Fury (1958; 10:15pm), Sea Devils (1937; 12mid), The Lost Patrol (1934; 1:45am), The Informer (1935; 3am) and Call Out the Marines (1942; 4:45am).

April 24, Sunday – TCM celebrates Easter Sunday with a slew of films centering on religion and faith beginning with The Silver Chalice (1954) at 6:30am.  The other movies are Barabbas (1962; 11am), King of Kings (1961; 1:30pm), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965; 4:30pm), Jesus Christ Superstar (1973; 8pm), Godspell (1973; 10pm), The Godless Girl (1929; 12mid), Ordet (1955; 2:15am) and The Miracle Woman (1931; 4:30am).  The only film that’s sort of out of place here is Easter Parade (1948; 9am) but if you subscribe to the belief (as I do) that Ann Miller is an absolute angel you can kind of make it work.

April 26, Tuesday6,000 Enemies (1939), another little B-picture delight that’s been on my radar for a good while now gets a showing at 7:30am.

April 28, Thursday – TCM loves you a bushel and a Peck…Gregory Peck, that is.  It’s not his birthday, so there must be some other special occasion—with a lineup of films that kicks off at 6am with The Yearling (1946), followed by Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951; 8:30am), The Chairman (1952; 10:30am), Night People (1954; 12:30pm), On the Beach (1959; 2:30pm), The Big Country (1958; 5pm) and The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952, 8pm).

April 29, Friday – The channel begins another broadcast day with One Million Years B.C. (1966) at 6pm…and brother, if that can’t jump-start your motor in the morning it’s time to call the code.

Later that evening beginning at 8pm, royalty ties the knot in such regal matrimonial films as Royal Wedding (1951), Roman Holiday (1955; 10pm), The Glass Slipper (1955; 12:15am), The Swan (1956; 2am) and The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927; 4am). Ah, love!

April 30, Saturday – “I love a Gershwin tune/How about you…”  Spend the evening with the timeless tunes of George and Ira Gershwin as TCM starts the evening with the Oscar-winning Best Picture of 1951, An American in Paris on TCM Essentials at 8pm—and then follows this with Girl Crazy (1943; 10pm), Rhapsody in Blue (1945; 12mid), Shall We Dance (1937; 2:30am) and Give a Girl a Break (1953; 4:30am).

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Can you hear those Pioneers

PBS’ critically-acclaimed documentary series on one of my favorite subjects—namely the boob tube—is back for a second season; I missed the premiere of Pioneers of Television the week previous, which covered shows of a science-fiction nature, but was fortunate to remember to watch Wednesday night, when TV westerns was the topic.  (And to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have seen it had I not glimpsed a notice about it on Facebook, so those annoying ads can’t be all bad.)

The discussion of television oaters made for a lively hour but I think that was my biggest nit-pick about this particular Pioneers of Television: it tried to cover a very broad topic in a short span of time.  Kelsey Grammer, who narrated the doc (I guess Sam Elliott wasn’t answering his phone), points out that there were over 100 western series featured in the history of the boob tube but “only a few stand out”—and those chosen for closer scrutiny were Maverick, The Rifleman, Bonanza, The Big Valley, The Wild Wild West, Gunsmoke, Daniel Boone and The High Chapparal.

Now, I’m very fond of all the westerns on this list with maybe the exception of Bonanza—but even though this program wasn’t to my liking I’d still insist that it have been included because, my personal preference aside, it was an important show: the second-longest running oater in TV history and the Number One-rated series in the Nielsen rankings from 1964-67.  But some of the others…well, it’s long been a suspicion of mine that a lot of these programs make the cut in these presentations because there are still people who were associated with the show around to chat them up.  The clearest example of this is Boone, which featured observations from Ed Ames, Veronica Cartwright, Darby Hinton, Roosevelt Grier and the late Fess Parker.  Boone was a popular series (but was not, as Pioneers erroneously pointed out, created by Walt Disney) during its six seasons on the air but I can’t quite figure out why it was discussed in depth and other popular oaters—Rawhide and Have Gun – Will Travel were the two most egregious omissions—were not.

Pioneers does argue that Daniel Boone was a bit groundbreaking in its depiction of race relations (you had Ames’ and Grier’s characters, an Indian and a former slave respectably, pals with the titular hero) and that’s also why High Chapparal was in the lineup; it featured Anglo and Hispanic family members in close harmonial contact.  I understand that it’s not possible to include every single sagebrush saga that aired on TV when you only have an hour but they left out a lot of “pioneers,” if you will.  I thought snubbing Cheyenne (TV’s first hour-long western) and The Virginian (TV’s first hour-and-a-half-long western) was unseemly, and I’d also have argued for the inclusion of The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp as TV’s first “adult” western (though the presence of Gunsmoke kind of makes up for that—but really, you can’t talk about TV westerns and leave Gunsmoke off the list).  Though Grammer mentions that westerns were a TV staple almost from the beginning the early oaters like The Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy were MIA—the only one mentioned was The Cisco Kid, and that was to demonstrate how far a series like Chapparal had progressed in its presentation of Latinos.

With all that grousing aside, here are some observations I made with regards to the various westerns discussed on the telecast:

Maverick – If you watched Pioneers of Television, you would have learned that James Garner had a co-star (and even viewed a photo or two of him, working on the set with Jim) but the writers and producers apparently forgot his name.  (“John…Jeff…little help here?  I know it was two first names…”) Honest to my grandma, I’m the biggest Garner partisan you’ll ever meet but Jack Kelly has to be my candidate for the Rodney Dangerfield of TV westerns.  Also, since Nichols is mentioned in the documentary as being Garner’s favorite of all his TV shows, how about getting this bad boy to DVD before Jim rides off into the sunset?  (Oh…hang on a sec…the show is a Warner Bros. property.  I don’t know what the heck I was thinking…)

The Rifleman – I forget whether I read it somewhere or saw veteran director Joseph H. Lewis talking about it in an interview but I remember he once proffered the information that you could always tell which episodes he directed without looking at the credits because the stories would focus more on the warm relationship between father-and-son Lucas and Mark McCain…and the episodes helmed by Sam Peckinpah (the show’s creator) featured Lucas shooting up half the town.  I thought of this because co-star Johnny Crawford says on Pioneers that many people were intimidated by star Chuck Connors (“A lot of people were afraid of him”).  Gosh—I wonder where they could have gotten that impression?  (Seriously—has Johnny ever watched the opening credits to this show?)

Bonanza – Creator David Dortort deliberately kept this show an all-male preserve because he believed a regular female presence would emasculate the main characters.  (I’m beginning to think Scott Clevenger’s ma was right when she accused Ben Cartwright of being a Bluebeard.)

The Big Valley – Not a whole lot revealed about this show but I did enjoy Linda Evans’ recollections that star Barbara Stanwyck was the complete opposite of her ball-breaking persona (a real softie and “a pussycat”).  She choked up when remembering Babs with great affection and I had something in my eye at that time, too, so it only looked like I was crying.  (And I may be in the minority on this, but I think Evans is far more attractive nowadays than her younger self…I feel the same way about Angie Dickinson and Pat Crowley, who were also featured in the doc.)

The Wild Wild West – I loved this show when I was a kid.  I mean…loved it.  (And my devotion to it hasn’t diminished now that I’m no longer a kid.)  I think it’s a little out of place here because the program was more of a spy series (next week they’re supposed to discuss crime dramas, with non-crime dramas I Spy and Mission: Impossible on tap) but I really enjoyed hearing how much respect and regard Bob Conrad had for co-star Ross Martin…as a kid, I always got to be Artemus Gordon because I…was an ac-TOR!  I also learned that West was cancelled from CBS’ lineup not due to low ratings but because Senator John O. Pastore (D-RI) pressured the network to give it the boot, citing the show’s “violence.”

Gunsmoke – Pastore might have had it in for Wild Wild West but another Democratic senator (from my home state of West-By-God-Virginia), Robert C. Byrd, actively lobbied the network to keep the dean of TV westerns on the air, something of which I was not previously aware.  (My estimation for the late, great statesman continues to grow by leaps and bounds.)  One of the enduring legends about Gunsmoke is that motion picture western icon John Wayne was asked to play the role of Matt Dillon but Duke refused, not wanting to commit himself to a weekly series at a time when television was still a dirty word.  According to the man who ultimately played Dodge City’s keeper of the peace, star James Arness, Wayne suggested Big Jim as a replacement.  Other sources claim that this as a myth—the program’s first director-producer, Charles Marquis Warren, went on record as saying he hired Arness based on a film he had seen him in and never even thought to offer it to Wayne.  Well, in this doc Mike “Mannix” Connors claims to have been present when Duke took a phone call from the Gunsmoke people asking if he was interested…so I guess John Ford was right.  (Connors and Wayne worked together on 1953’s Island in the Sky but that seems a little too early for that phone call.)

Though it’s apparent that I had my share of criticisms about “Westerns,” to which this Pioneers of Television segment should be referred, overall I did enjoy watching it—and the opportunity to see individuals who are unfortunately no longer with us (Parker, Robert Culp, Peter Graves and Dennis Weaver) made me get something in my eye again.  I’m looking forward to seeing next week’s chapter (on crime dramas) and will probably have a few things to say about that when I do watch.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Great American Tragedy, the return of Sun Drop and the whirling satellite

So I’m on Facebook—aka “The Greatest Time Suck Known to Man”—the other day and my old high school chum and yearbook boss Jenni is talking about what I believe may be the ultimate comfort food recipe: bacon-wrapped meatloaf.  (I know; the first thing I thought of when I read this was a mental picture of my late feuding partner, Sam Johnson, out in the Great Beyond yelling: “Day-amm, Gina!  Hook a brother up with a slice of that!”)  I asked her if she could score me a copy of this recipe because I had planned to give it to my mom as a joke.

I probably need to explain this a bit further.  My mother, bless her heart (buh-less her little heart!), is an amazing cook—but there’s one culinary preparation that’s always been just beyond her reach…and that’s meatloaf.  She just can’t manage to prepare a meatloaf that will escape definition by the EPA as hazardous waste.  Positively true story: my sister Kat once fed some of Mom’s loaf to the family cat and the puddy tat lay down and didn’t move a muscle for a half-hour…I know this to be so, because I timed it, much to my mother’s non-amusement.  For many years she was so defensive about her meatloaf that when Kat, sister Debbie or I would act up she would threaten to whip one into shape…and don’t think this didn’t make us toe the line.

My dad, bless his heart (buh-less his little heart!), even thought Mom’s loaf was toxic—and this from a man who would regale me for years (well, it seemed like years) about how times were tough during the Depression and they ate everything on their collective plates without complaint because that’s all they had.  (I swear I’m not exaggerating; he ate asparagus for nearly twenty years with nary a peep before finally admitting he didn’t care that much for it.  “And I used to give him the best parts!” Mom wailed after this confession.)  Finally, after decades of being teased about what we generally referred to as “the Great American Tragedy” Mom finally admitted that it looked as if she might never master the art of preparing meatloaf.

Now…I should further point out that just because I’ve been scarred by my Mom’s tortured rendition of meatloaf this does not mean I don’t like the dish; in fact, when I’m at Publix and the Boston Market frozen dinners are on sale I like to buy the meatloaf meals because…well, the Market does a mighty scrumptious loaf, let’s be honest.  I offer as Exhibit A this transcribed conversation between my BFF the Duchess and myself:

DUCHESS: I thought you didn’t like meatloaf.
ME: I do…I just don’t like my Mom’s meatloaf.

Jen later explained to me that this bacon-wrapped meatloaf is a bit labor-intensive (but tasty as all get out) so I don’t expect to see it on a dinner table near me anytime soon.  Still, Mom did say she was in the mood to work her meatloaf spell on Kat for some sort of familial slight (the details escape me at the present) so maybe we’ll see the debut of this repast in the near future as part as TDOY’s “Half-Assed Gourmand” series.  (By the way—I may have to change the name of that because the Duchess has informed me that I am not a gourmand but a “foodie.”  Gourmands, she contends, do things like post photos of their meals on Facebook…and I’m here to tell you that I don’t foresee doing that sort of thing anytime soon.)

While I’m thinking about Publix, I should also pass along the news that Sun Drop—the tasty Tennessee-based soda that I mentioned in this 2009 post and heartily endorsed by my Facebook compadre Stony—has made a triumphant return to our local grocery environs.  I was at Publix a week or two ago and while sauntering down the aisle where they keep the soda pop I noticed a 12-pack of the golden nectar parked near the other Cadbury-based beverages (Orange Crush, Canada Dry ginger ale, A&W, etc.).  Needless to say, I was stunned by this because it had been nearly two years ago that I had a revealing conversation with a Publix employee as to why they no longer carried Sun Drop, as witnessed in this transcript (which I will submit as Exhibit B):

ME: Hey, how come you guys stopped carrying Sun Drop?
EMPLOYEE: I dunno.

Okay, I would be doing the Publix people a great disservice if I didn’t fully disclose that the employee was a little bit more loquacious on the subject of the disappearance of the Drop—he explained to me that he himself had no control over this but that it was solely up to the carefree whims of the soda distributors.  Well, whatever the tiff between Distributor and Sun Drop was, they apparently sought counseling because Wednesday I was in the store and saw a huge—huge, I tell ya—display of Sun Drop in 2-liter bottles and—get this—they had both high-test and diet.

Here’s where things get tricky.  In a plastic place holder attached to the display, there was a coupon that allowed its bearer to receive one free 2-liter of Sun Drop with each 2-liter purchased.  I recognized it right off as one of those coupons from the Athens Banner-Herald—which is our local newspaper and which I would not buy a copy even if a gun were placed at my temple because it is published by the same scumbags that used to crank out the Savannah News-Press, a loathsome right-wing rag I wouldn’t deign to wrap fish in or line a birdcage.  (And Phil Schweier used to work for those wankers, so he can back me up on this…unless they’ve threatened his family or something.)  But I really wanted to get in on this BOGO deal…and suddenly it dawned on me.  Why couldn’t I just take the coupon in the display?

I thought to myself at the time “This is something the Duchess would do”—indeed, her family crest depicts a hand holding a pair of scissors slicing through red tape—but dammit, I was not going to let anyone get between me and my Sun Drop.  So I grabbed 2 2-liters of the diet Drop and placed them gingerly in my cart and then—taking a quick look around to make sure no one was watching and that there were no security cameras present—deftly removed the coupon from its place holder and nonchalantly dropped it into my pocket.  (“If I dood it—I dets a whippin’…I dood it!”)

Later that day I sampled my ill-gotten soda treasure and to my delight—the diet Sun Drop is every bit as flavorful as the regular.  A rarity among soda pops, to be sure: the Sprite Zero is as good (if not better) than regular Sprite, diet root beer (whatever brand) is practically indistinguishable from the real stuff (my sister-in-law disputes this, by the way; one of these days I’m going to have to do one of those taste tests like they did in that All in the Family episode) and so on.  (Stony says he likes the Diet Dr. Pepper as much as the non-diet but I can’t personally verify this because I won’t drink either beverage.  Ever.  Even if the Banner-Herald people came around with their newspaper pistols again.  I must, therefore, take him at his word.)

Ed Copeland e-mailed me the other night to remind me of a piece that’s due Monday for his blog—a blog, I might also point out, that is one of Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert’s favorite reads according to this WSJ Online article.  Mr. C has earned the right to be proud of this to the point where I wouldn’t mind if he came around with pictures of the blog (“Let me show some snaps I took of Roger and the baby”) and it’s kind of interesting to think that the esteemed Mr. E might be glancing at something I wrote one Sunday over breakfast (“This man’s insights into Mister Ed are positively astounding!”).  (Well, I can dream, can’t I?)

In other “I-am-so-awesome” news my BBFF© Stacia at She Blogged by Night writes about just how tremendous I can be but I don’t want you to read her post because of that—stone me, I think her insights into the British comedy phenom known as Tony Hancock are worth a gander (she also talks about the first X-Files movie, a film I paid good money to see when I walked amongst nerds and because I gave up on the show after the first two episodes—it all seemed like a rehash of The Invaders to me; perhaps I shall return to it one day—didn’t understand…and as such, enjoy).  Her coining of “BBFF” made me laugh because it coaxed me into the WABAC machine and allowed me to visit my childhood days about the BBF fast food chain (Burger Boy Food-O-Rama, later known as Borden Burger).  “Let’s all go to the BBF/At the whirling satellite…”  And that is the famous BBF satellite to your left, courtesy of this webpage entitled Parkersburg Nostalgic Gazette and snapped by the late Harry Barnett (“Last night I dreamt I went to Parkersburg again…” and stopped by Jimmie Colombo’s for a sausage pizza *sigh*).

Before I skedaddle, I have a couple of TV-on-DVD tidbits to report—but before that, I wanted to backtrack on those Our Gang-Little Rascals DVDs I chatted about in this previous post.  I said that I didn’t really have a dog in that fight because I had already invested in the previous (misnomer alert) Genius release—but according to Facebook pal Richard W. Bann these standalone releases will contain re-done video masters courtesy of some 35mm fine grains he gave RHI Entertainment (the current rights holder of the Roach Our Gang shorts).  So even though it kind of sucks that I have to re-purchase these titles I’m willing to bite a financial bullet if it means getting better prints…I guess I’ll just have to put in an application at that people-licking company that employs Stacia fulltime.  Also—a second volume of ten shorts will be made available on April 12th; has a pre-order listing for that set (priced at $7.93—“a mere bag of shells”). reports that Timeless Media Group will be releasing the first season of the classic TV oater Laramie on March 15th; the company has already brought the third and fourth seasons (the ones in color) to disc and since many were wondering if the other years would ever see DVD action this is pretty good news to fans.  It’s good news to me, too, since now I don’t have to buy that NBC Western TV Legends set which I had planned to purchase in order to get Laramie’s inaugural episode.  (I’m a little bit behind in collecting this series, though; I only have Season 3 in the dusty TDOY archives so far.)

And Outlaw, the short-lived (very short-lived—it was on for, like, twelve minutes and then NBC gave it the axe) legal drama starring L.A. Law/NYPD Blue’s Jimmy Smits that I wrote rather glowingly about on this hyar blog is also getting a DVD release—in fact, it’s already appeared at with very little fanfare as of January 24th.  The bad news is that it’s one of CreateSpace MOD releases…and at $19.98 for a show that only lasted eight episodes, that’s a little above my pay grade.  (Wish I had thought to record those episodes On Demand when I had the chance.)

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

He looks like his heart will break

Because the Grim Reaper is a model employee who rarely takes a sick day or vacation, famous people continue to shuffle off this mortal coil…and this was definitely driven home to me yesterday when I learned via my CharredHer webpage that country music legend and Hall of Famer Charlie Louvin has left this world for a better one at the age of 83.  In the 1950s, Charlie and brother Ira were collectively known as the Louvin Brothers—and their tight sibling harmonies could be heard on such Top Ten country hits as When I Stop Dreaming, I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby (a #1 hit for the duo in 1956), You're Running Wild, Hoping That You're Hoping, Cash on the Barrel Head and My Baby's Gone.  (“Louvin,” incidentally, was just a stage name—their real last name was “Loudermilk” and both were kin to songwriter John D. Loudermilk, who penned such classics as Ebony Eyes, Indian Reservation and Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.)  One of my favorite Louvin Brothers songs is If I Could Only Win Your Love, a tune that was later recorded by my pretend girlfriend Emmylou Harris and became her first Top Ten country charter in 1975.

The Louvin Brothers broke up in 1963; ostensibly because Ira was a rather troubled individual prone to violent outbursts and imbibing alcohol quite heavily (his third wife was forced to shoot him three times in the back after he tried to strangle her).  Both men pursued solo careers after the breakup but Ira’s musical destiny was cut short due to his death in 1965 when his automobile was struck by a drunk driver (Ira himself was wanted on a DUI charge at the time, proving that irony can be ironic at every turn); Charlie went on to score a pair of top ten hits, notably the Bill Anderson-penned I Don’t Love You Anymore in 1964 (his highest-charting hit, peaking at #4).  But the song I always associate with Charlie was his second smash, See the Big Man Cry—a tune written by a young singer-songwriter named Ed Bruce…who would later go on to write the Waylon & Willie anthem Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys and do quite a bit of acting in such productions as TV’s Bret Maverick (he played Tom Guthrie, Bret’s reluctant partner in the Red Ox Saloon) and films like Public Enemies and the recently released Country Strong.  (Bruce also had a country music career of his own beginning in 1967 though his peak was during the early 1980s with such hits as the classic You’re the Best Break This Old Heart Ever Had.)

Another notable in the country music field who may not have had the same stature as Charlie Louvin but who made a name working for another well-known Charlie is guitarist Tommy Crain…who joined the Charlie Daniels Band in 1975 and co-wrote several of Daniels’ hits including The Devil Went Down to Georgia (his guitar riffs comprise the “band of demons”) and In America.  I had the opportunity to see Crain in action in Savannah in 1985 when CDB opened for country music supergroup Alabama (and to be honest, I think it should have been the other way around); Daniels’ redneck politics aside, it was one of the best concerts I ever attended—a superlative group of musicians who put on one hell of a show.  Crain died on January 13 at the age of 59.

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne completed his last chin-up on January 23 at the age of 96.  LaLanne, a popular television personality from my halcyon TV-watching youth (“It’s time for Jack/Jack LaLanne/And The New Jack LaLanne Show”) represented the antithesis of my hedonistic, sedentary lifestyle by preaching the gospel of exercise and nutrition.  Admittedly, I’ve been having a little fun at his now-deceased expense by joking that even after committing himself to his austere way of life he wound up dead.  Unfortunately, my joshing about LaLanne’s passing sort of escaped the notice of some humor-impaired people on Facebook (I made this observation to an old school chum who was wondering out loud why she bothered to exercise and eat right and several of her friends took me to task by scolding me about “quality of life”) and I just want to state for the record before the knives come out in the comments section that, yes, diet and exercise are a good thing and the key to a long and happy life and that you should be fully aware that by ignoring this sage advice and choosing the path to which I skip along merrily you will probably end up succumbing to a massive stroke.  But here’s the deal, folks—we don’t live forever.  Seriously.  I checked on this.  (If you happen to locate that Fountain of Youth during your vocational sojourn in Florida, then, okay…maybe we’ll sit down and have a nice chinwag about the subject.  And when I do die from a coronary you can all cluck your tongues and say “Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later” but until that time save that schadenfreude for when I’m tooling around in the Great Beyond, okay?)  I’ll say this for LaLanne, though—he certainly made a game try at doing so.

Going back to the world of music, a few notables from that area of show bidness have also said their final goodbyes—Don Kirshner (aka “The Man With the Golden Ear”), the rock ‘n’ roll music mogul who was familiar to TV audiences as the stiff-as-a-board host of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert.  (Those of you not acquainted with the program may have a passing acquaintance with Late Show with David Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer’s impersonation of Kirshner via reruns of Saturday Night Live.)  Kirshner, whose music publishing company employed the likes of such talented tunesmiths as Neils Diamond and Sedaka, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Cynthia Weil & Barry Mann and Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart, achieved boob tube immortality as the architect of the Monkees, a rock ‘n’ roll group created to capture the success of the Beatles (the Beatles were known as the Fab Four, inspiring journalists to dub the Monks “the pre-Fab Four”) and who were featured on a popular NBC sitcom from 1966-68.  When tensions between Kirshner and Monkees’ member Michael Nesmith came to a boil (Nesmith resented the fact that their musical integrity was compromised by the fact that their music was a result of studio musician magic) Don kissed his association with them goodbye and created a group that couldn’t give him static (probably because they were animated, and cartoon musical groups tend to be less confrontational): the Archies.  Kirshner died of heart failure on January 17 at the age of 76.

Impresario Bobby Poe has also left this world for a better one—the name might not come trippingly off the tongue but he wore many hats as a singer-songwriter, manager, publisher and promoter throughout his career.  He formed Bobby Poe and the Poe Kats in 1959, a musical aggregation that featured future country music performer Big Al Downing (who died in 2005) and who served as the backing band for rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson (they can be heard on her classic Let’s Have a Party) in the early 1960s before she, too, directed her musical energies toward country.  Poe later became Big Al’s manager about the time Downing was a member of the Chartbusters, a group who became one-hit wonders with She’s the One in 1964.  (The ‘busters, according to actor Tom Hanks, were the inspiration for the group featured in his directorial debut, 1996’s That Thing You Do!)  Poe died at the age of 77 on January 22.

Back in November of last year I did a birthday shout-out to actress-model-singer Georgia Carroll, the woman many probably know better as Mrs. Kay Kyser—she was the featured vocalist for the Ol’ Perfessor’s band in the 1940s and appeared in such films as the Kyser vehicles Around the World and Carolina Fever before tying the knot with Mr. K in 1944.  I casually noticed that this post was getting a large number of hits and in researching why learned to my dismay that “Gorgeous Georgia” passed away January 14 at the age of 91.  A sad thing to hear indeed.

Another talent who has left us is actress Susannah York, who succumbed to bone marrow cancer on January 15 at the age of 72York received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her first-rate performance in one of my favorite movies, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?—and also appeared in such films as Tunes of Glory, Freud, Tom Jones, A Man for All Seasons, Kaleidoscope, The Killing of Sister George, Happy Birthday, Wanda June, Images, The Silent Partner and three of the four Superman films (though she only provides her voice in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace).  (This obituary in the Telegraph mentions the famous anecdote where she punched director John Huston after Huston made a crack about star Montgomery Clift’s failing eyesight on the set of Freud.)

Two actors best known for their association with the classic TV series The Untouchables have taken their final bows at the curtain; Paul Picerni, who played the part of Lee Hobson on the show from 1960 to 1963 also had a lengthy film resume that included vehicles such as Operation Pacific, I Was a Communist for the FBI, Fort Worth, Force of Arms, The Desert Song, Drive a Crooked Road, Hell’s Island, To Hell and Back, The Brothers Rico, Marjorie Morningstar, The Young Philadelphians, Airport and Kotch.  Outside of Untouchables, the movie I seem to remember Picerni for the most is House of Wax—he plays Phyllis Kirk’s love interest—and I think that may be because my mom has seen the movie a gazillion times.  Picerni died on January 12 at the age of 88.

Character actor Bruce Gordon was also a major Untouchables presence although he didn’t have a weekly role like Picerni’s; nevertheless he made a name for himself playing legendary mobster Frank “The Enforcer” Nitti on the show in a total of 27 episodes according to the always reliable IMDb.  Gordon possessed a sinister countenance that naturally seemed to lend itself to playing heavies and villains even though he was talented enough to mix it up a bit by playing—as my friend Hal from The Horn Section pointed out—mob boss “Mr. D” (the “D” stood for “Devere”) on the 1966 sitcom Run Buddy Run.  Gordon’s other regular TV gigs include Behind Closed Doors and Peyton Place, and he could be glimpsed in such films as Love Happy, The Buccaneer, Curse of the Undead, Key Witness, Tower of London, Hello Down There and TDOY fave Piranha.  We lost a true acting great on January 20 (the L.A. Times dubbed him “a veritable Humphrey Bogart of crime dramas”) when Gordon died at the age of 94, just two weeks shy of his 95th.

And here’s a quick wrap-up of some other noteworthy celebrity passings:

Helene Palmer (January 12, 82) – British motion picture and television actress best known for her role as machinist Ida Clough on the UK’s long-running TV soap Coronation Street

Barry Lee Hobart (January 14, 69) – WKEF-TV (Dayton, OH) horror movie host known to legions of fans in the 1970s as “Dr. Creep” (on that station’s Shock Theater and Clubhouse 22)

Patti Gilbert (January 15, 79) – Motion picture and television actress and voiceover artist whose best known gigs are as “Queen Shirley,” confederate of King Tut (Victor Buono) in the Batman episode “The Unkindest Tut of All” and the voice of Princess of Sweet Rhyme in the 1969 animated feature The Phantom Tollbooth (sorry I couldn’t link to this obit but it’s one of those Variety notices and I’m sure none of us have Pam’s money to afford a subscription)

Bob Young (January 19, 87) – ABC News journalist and correspondent who anchored the evening news for a brief five-month stint in 1968

Nicholas (Tony) Geiss (January 21, 86) – Emmy Award-winning writer-composer who worked on Sesame Street and who will probably do a lengthy stint in Purgatory for coming up with that annoying “Elmo’s World” theme

Jay Garner (January 21, 82) – Motion picture, stage and television actor best known as Admiral Asimov on TV’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and for appearances in such films as Pennies From Heaven and Hanky Panky

Bernd Eichinger (January 24, 61) – German motion picture director-producer whose cinematic contributions include The Neverending Story, The Name of the Rose, The House of the Spirits and several of the Resident Evil films

To all these talented folks we say requiescat in pace.

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