Posts Tagged ‘Television’

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.

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Jayne Mansfield Almost Was Ginger On Gilligan’s Island

September 30, 2015

Gilligans_Island

With her acting career on the decline, blonde bombshell movie actress Jayne Mansfield was offered the part of Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island but turned it down at the advice of her third husband.

She continued taking bit parts in small B-rated films with an occasional appearance in a respectable production. She also worked in nightclubs.

A couple of years later, Mansfield would be tragically killed along with two other adults in an automobile accident in Louisiana while headed for a television interview. Her three young children with her in the rear of the car survived the crash, one of which was future actress Mariska Hargitay.

Jayne Mansfield was dead at 34 years of age. Had she been a castaway member of an iconic situation comedy filmed in California, she might have lived.

What If Eleanor Roosevelt Could Fly?

September 30, 2015

flying_eleanor
I am fairly certain that that counterfactual did not mean by way of the airplane.

During a late 1970’s Saturday Night Live skit moderated by Jane Curtin, this question was raised amongst a panel of distinguished guests commenting on the ridiculousness of the former First Lady sprouting wings and leading an air raid attack of military bombers against Japan and Germany during World War II.

Gotta love comedy writers. Must have been one heckuva brainstorming session on that one.

Happy Trails: Roy Rogers Had Some Rough Ones

September 19, 2015

Dale_Trigger_Roy

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.

 

Famous Hollywood Horses: The Trusty Steeds Of Tinseltown

September 14, 2015

stampede

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

horsey

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

23_notches

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

The Three Stooges Should Have Their Own Cable Network

August 16, 2015

bonanza

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.

Family Feud Is A Racist Game Show

August 15, 2015

fam_feud

One fan of the popular game show complains: “I’ve never seen a black family versus a black family, a white family versus a white family, or any other races. It’s always black versus white. Do they do that on purpose?”

Yes, it is done purposely and, according to one anonymous contributor who actually worked on the set, it’s all due in part to the show’s demographics:

“Actually I worked very briefly with the show. You have to remember the main viewers of the show are not white. Its 70% black as its viewer base. Also, and more importantly, they do not select out of the entire U.S. as the entire U.S. does not attempt to go on the show. They select from families that apply and its quite a bit over 50% black people who apply to go on it. Hope this clears things up. By the way, they have had white on white many times. Also several asian families.”

Another unnamed viewer takes note of the program’s location: “The show is filmed in Atlanta, Georgia where the population is roughly 54% African-American, 42% White, and 4% Asian.”

Family Feud’s successful television formula is racism sells.