Posts Tagged ‘Celebrity’

The Legendary Comedy And Longevity Of Don Rickles

October 11, 2015

Mister_Hockey_PuckDon Rickles is regarded as a living legend of comedy. An icon of a time when the “Rat Pack” (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford) ruled Las Vegas.

The only reason he is considered with such reverence is because he has lived so long. It’s amazing that he is 89-years-old and still performs on stage. He has future gigs scheduled as far ahead as May 2016 if he is lucky enough to be alive to attend.

I mean no disrespect. I adore the man. I just don’t think he would be so exalted had he passed away, say, in the 1980s. He was the Howard Stern of his day. He insulted everybody. He was politically incorrect before the term “politically incorrect” came into existence.

His acting skills were marginal at best. He had his own sit-com in 1972 which lasted only thirteen episodes. He later starred in C.P.O. Sharkey that ran two seasons. He made guest appearances on many classic TV shows such as The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Dream Of Jeannie but none which would be considered notable.

His best television appearances, in my opinion, occurred on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. One in particular was when Rickles was on while Bob Newhart was filling in for Johnny as guest host. Rickles accidentally broke a cigarette case on the desk and, the next night, Johnny noticed the damaged container. He was told by band leader Doc Severinsen that Rickles did it the night before so Johnny took off to the adjacent studio, where Rickles was taping an episode of C.P.O. Sharkey, and confronted the surprised Rickles about it.

He appeared in movies (Kelly’s Heroes, Beach Blanket Bingo, Casino) but without Academy Award recognition. His own grandchildren know him more for being the voice of Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head than for anything else in his career.

It’s remarkable that here he is nowadays with his own web site featuring his own mobile app, his own twitter feed and selling DVDs of his Sharkey program as well as listings of upcoming performance locations.

To see an interview of a subdued Don Rickles, without all of the yelling and insulting of his known “shtick” act, catch him on his 2007 book-tour guest appearance on The Charlie Rose show. He speaks openly and honestly about his mother, about Johnny Carson, about Frank Sinatra and his friendship with colleague Bob Newhart.

The 2007 HBO special, “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” helps to celebrate his notable life and celebrity by showing what it’s like behind the scenes of his performances.

His 2014 “One Night Only” tribute on Spike TV at the Apollo in Harlem was a delightful broadcast in his honor.

He has outlasted so many comedians who came after him: Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Robin Williams.

Rickles married late in life, at age 39, in 1965. He and his wife Barbara had two children. His son, Larry, died in 2011 from pneumonia.

He loves baseball and especially the Los Angeles Dodgers. He used to poke fun mercilessly at former Dodger Don Zimmer who once said that his most sweetest revenge was, as he and Rickles got older, they began to resemble one another.

Happy Trails: Roy Rogers Had Some Rough Ones

September 19, 2015

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Roy Rogers was born as Leonard Franklin Slye in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 5, 1911. He lived to be 86-years-old.

Besides being a singing cowboy and famous western movie and television star, he had quite a rough life. I never realized how rough he had it until recently.

When Roy was nearly 35-years-old, he was left with two small girls and a newborn son, all under 6 years of age, when his second wife Arline died from child birth complications. He and Dale Evans met and got married and had nine total children between them. Four were adopted.

In 1950, Robin Elizabeth was born with Down’s Syndrome. She died just before turning 2-years-old. Their Korean-American daughter Debbie died at age 12 in a church bus accident on its return from a goodwill mission at an orphanage in Mexico. Their grown adopted son Sandy died in the military while based in Germany.

Roy and Dale Evans were devout Christians and I have a feeling that their strong belief in that faith helped get them through the hard times.

Roy Rogers has several stars along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has been inducted in the Western Performers Hall of Fame in Oklahoma. His own museum was prominent first in California then it moved to Missouri before closing down in 2009.

His name and wholesome character were licensed to a chain of fast-food restaurants in 1968. He made a lot of money during his lifetime but being rich and famous couldn’t shield him from suffering some heavy tragedies during his long and illustrious career.

 

A Little Nostalgia For “The Incredible Shrinking Man”

September 14, 2015

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This 1957 black and white science fiction movie starred Grant Williams and Randy Stuart as Mr. and Mrs. Scott Carey. Scott gets exposed to some mysterious mist while onboard his brother-in-law’s boat and finds himself beginning to slowly get smaller.

Suddenly his shirts are too big for him and he’s losing weight. The family doctor is played by William Schallert, famous for being the voice of Pop Tarts’ Milton the Toaster. He also played the father on the Patty Duke Show.

He recommends Scott to see a specialist played by Raymond Bailey, recognized as Mr. Drysdale from the Beverly Hillbillies. Eventually, Scott Carey is seen as a freak when he winds up smaller than little people from a nearby traveling circus.

He becomes tiny enough to live inside a dollhouse where the family’s pet cat is viewed as a survival threat. The special effects for the time period are pretty good.

Scott ends up using a straight pin to battle a spider found in the basement. Smaller and smaller into a world with an expanding universe. Not much room left for any kind of happy ending.

How Hollywood Got To Be Named Hollywood

September 14, 2015

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A real estate developer from Toronto named Hobart Johnstone Whitley is claimed to be the original namer of Hollywood. He and his second wife, Gigi Ross, supposedly came up with the name while on their honeymoon in California.

Another story claims that a man named Harvey Wilcox from Kansas purchased property in California for the development of homes. His wife Daeida met a woman on a train who mentioned that she had named her Ohio summer home as Hollywood. Daeida liked the name so much that she applied it to these new subdivisions.

The famous hillside sign spelling out “HOLLYWOODLAND” on Mount Lee in Griffith Park was built in 1923 for the purpose of advertising the housing development with that name. It was covered with 4000 lightbulbs and was never intended to last for more than one or two years.

Over time, the sign sustained much damage and deteriorated badly. In 1949, the City of Los Angeles Parks Department took over the responsibility of repairing and rebuilding the sign. “LAND” was removed from the sign, as were the light bulbs.

In 1978, the entire sign was replaced with letters made of steel. Nine donors each gave over $27,000 to fund the $250,000 restoration project to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Hollywood.

Frank Gifford Went Down For The Eternal Count Today

August 9, 2015

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Frank Gifford passed away today at age 84. One week shy of his 85th birthday.

The former football player spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the New York Giants before turning to broadcasting on television.

His widow Kathie Lee Gifford announced in a statement that “We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being.”

Chuck Bednarik, his tackler in the 1960 championship game, died last March. Maybe they’ll simply play two-hand touch up in heaven.

Charlie McCarthy’s Sister Is No Dummy

July 31, 2009

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Such sibling rivalry must have existed between her and Charlie, the foil to Edgar Bergen’s ventriloquism.

I always knew Candice Bergen as being a beautiful and talented actress, but she was simply stunning in her youth.  Hands down.

The King, the Beauty and the Second Banana

June 25, 2009

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Hollywood took a huge hit, losing Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon all in the same week. The King of Pop, the essential American Beauty and the all-time Second Banana: their memories will live on in the entertainment field.