Posts Tagged ‘Movies’

Two Sam Cooke Film Projects Battle For Best Big Screen Biography

October 24, 2015


Singer Sam Cooke was the Michael Jackson of his heyday. He was a handsome rhythm and blues crooner of color who made women swoon over his sound.

His noteworthy tunes include “You Send Me”, “Only Sixteen” and “Twistin’ The Night Away.”

Tragically, in December 1964, his life was cut short at age 33 when he took a known asian prostitute to a seedy Los Angeles motel. The motel manager, Bertha Franklin, shot and killed Cooke after he apparently went into a drunken rage and became aggressive once the hooker left his room while the singer used the bathroom.

The oriental woman claimed to police that Cooke had kidnapped her and had intended to rape her. Perhaps she lured him there to rob him while he wasn’t looking. Others theorize that Cooke was killed by music industry powers-to-be because he was in control of his own record label which was unheard of back in those days.

Over half a century since his demise, two separate feature films are being developed telling Cooke’s story from humble gospel beginnings in Mississippi to musical stardom to his despicable demise under mysterious circumstances.

One film claiming to be the authorized version is being made by ABKCO Films, part of Cooke’s former manager Allen Klein’s music empire. Klein died in 2009 but his daughter Robin is Vice President of ABKCO Music and Records Inc. while also serving as Director of Film for their motion picture division. ABKCO holds the music/movie/life story rights of Sam Cooke, purchased from his widow in 1988 for approximately $100,000.

The other unauthorized film version is being produced by musician and filmmaker Romeo Antonio who also has a background in law enforcement. He spent several years researching the murder investigation and coroner reports and is calling his project “Sam Cooke: The Truth.”

Family members of Sam Cooke are somewhat divided among both camps. Widow Barbara Cooke Womack and brother L.C. Cooke endorse the ABKCO venture while brother David, former sister-in-law Phyllis and nephew Eugene Jamison sides with Antonio.

The official stand of the Cooke family is that the ABKCO feature is supposedly the only official film version about the soul singer.

Lou Rawls Jr., the son of singer Lou Rawls and god-child of Sam Cooke, is named an associate producer in Romeo Antonio’s production. Their story is based on the B. G. Rhule biography “The Redemption of Sam Cooke.”

ABKCO Films has named Carl Franklin as director of their film project.

Romeo Antonio has hired actor Christopher Warren to portray Blues musician Hank Ballard in his production.

No word yet on who is starring as Sam Cooke in either version.

How Romeo Antonio can even make a movie about singer Sam Cooke without holding rights to his persona or music remains to be seen.

He was hoping to cast Mad Men’s Jon Hamm to portray ABKCO’s founder Allen Klein who could possibly be implicated in Cooke’s murder over musical ownership and generated royalties.

The battle of this epic biopic has begun.


Happy Trails: Roy Rogers Had Some Rough Ones

September 19, 2015


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


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.

Famous Hollywood Horses: The Trusty Steeds Of Tinseltown

September 14, 2015


Tom Mix rode Tony The Wonder horse

The Lone Ranger had Silver; Tonto rode Scout

Pixar’s Woody from Toy Story rode Bullseye

Roy Rogers rode Trigger; Dale Evans rode Buttermilk

Ken Maynard rode Tarzan

Gene Autry rode Champion

The Cisco Kid rode Diablo

Alan Young’s Wilbur Post character had Mr. Ed

Buck Jones also rode a horse named Silver

Rex Allen rode Koko

Pancho rode Loco

The Durango Kid rode Raider

Lash LaRue rode Black Diamond but renamed him Rush

Smiley Burnette road Ring Eye

Tex Ritter rode White Flash

Wild Bill Elliott rode Thunder

Sunset Carson rode Cactus

Bob Steele’s horse was Brownie

Hopalong Cassidy rode atop Topper

Whip Wilson’s horse was Silver Bullet, later shortened to Bullet

Gabby Hayes had three horses: Calico, Eddie and Blossom

Andy Devine’s horse was Joker

Chuck Connors as the Rifleman rode Razor

Tim Holt had a team of horses: Duke, Shiek, Lightning, Steel and Sundance

A painted horse named Dice pulled the ice wagon for the Three Stooges

How Hollywood Got To Be Named Hollywood

September 14, 2015

hollywood sign

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.

Was There More Than One Tony-The-Wonder Horse?

September 13, 2015


Cowboy actor Tom Mix did all of his own tricks and rode Tony The Wonder Horse while making over 180 westerns together.

Mix was sadly killed in an automobile accident in 1940. His horse lived an additional two years and was put down in 1942.

Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe Besser of the Three Stooges made two episodes of comedy about having a sister named Birdie who was reincarnated as a horse. Both featured Tony The Wonder Horse.

These episodes were filmed, however, in the late 1950’s.

There must have been another Tony The Wonder Horse, I wonder.

Just 3 Three Stooges? Guess Again. Try 23!

September 12, 2015


1) Moe Howard

2) Shemp Howard

3) Kenneth Lackey – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1925 “Earl Carroll Vanities”

4) Dave Chasen – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1925 “Earl Carroll Vanities”

5) Larry Fine

6) Curly Howard

7) Fred Sanborn – 1930 “Soup To Nuts”

8) Eddie Moran – Healy Replacement Stooge

9) Sammy (Glasser) Wolfe – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1931 “Crazy Quilt”

10) Paul “Mousie” Garner – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1931 “Crazy Quilt”

11) Dick Hakins – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1931 “Crazy Quilt”

12) Jack Wolf – Healy Replacement Stooge

13) Sam “Moody” Braun – Healy Replacement Stooge

14) Lou Warren – Healy Replacement Stooge

15) Bobby Pinkus – Healy Replacement Stooge

16) Jimmy Brewster – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1936 “San Francisco”

17) John “Red” Pearson – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1936 “San Francisco”

18) Frank Mitchell – performed live with Curly Joe and Mousie Garner

19) Joe Palma – fake Shemp double after his death

20) Mantan Moreland – Black comedian considered to replace Shemp

21) Joe Besser

22) Curly Joe DeRita

23) Emil Sitka – Considered to replace Larry after he suffered a stroke

Thelma Todd’s Sidewalk Cafe on the Pacific Coast Highway

September 12, 2015


Back in the 1930’s, this spanish-styled building on the Pacific Coast Highway near Malibu was home to actress Thelma Todd. She lived in a top floor apartment overlooking the ocean and her restaurant, which she co-owned with director Roland West and his wife Jewel Carmen, was located below.

In mid-December 1935, Miss Todd, who bears a striking resemblence to present-day actress Drew Barrymore, was mysteriously found dead inside her garaged automobile just up the hill from the popular inn. She died from carbon monoxide poisoning but theories surrounding her tragic death vary from accidental to murder to suicide.

The property, allegedly still haunted by her ghostly spirit, is worth around $8 million dollars today.

The Man Who Made The Three Stooges

September 12, 2015


He was a comedian from Texas born in 1896. He didn’t seem very funny. He appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway and in movies. He is best known for creating the Three Stooges. He was an alcoholic. He was a mean drunk. He earned a hefty weekly salary yet underpaid his zany sidekicks. He saved no money. His favorite reading material were racing programs. After his son was born in 1937, he was beaten up outside a nightclub in Hollywood. He died from his injuries. He is quoted as saying “Never treat an audience as customers – always treat them as partners.” He was Ted Healy.


The Three Stooges Should Have Their Own Cable Network

August 16, 2015


Why isn’t there a Three Stooges cable channel?

Is it because that Comedy III Productions, Inc. is the registered owner of all rights to the former comedy act and cost of licensing is too expensive?

The 190 two-reel episodes that the trio (actually it was six comics in total) created in twenty-five years at Columbia Pictures should be showing somewhere besides YouTube, Hulu or on DVD.

Hey, Curly. Wouldn’t you like your own cable channel of 24/7 All Stooges All The Time programming? “Why, Soitenly! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” would be his response.