“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Anti-Hero of 1960s Television…

October 30th, 2016

Manny P. here…

330px-elmer_gantry-frontal   When actors at movie studios revolted in an effort to get better roles, and to form their own production companies, the rise of the anti-hero became popular in Hollywood culture. We have Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis to thank for this. Humphrey Bogart and Burt Lancaster embarked on creating independent cinematic businesses, and the movie formula of a hero in the white hat was doomed. Bogie as Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutinty; Robert Mitchum as Reverend Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter; and later, Lancaster in the title role of Elmer Gantry; and Robert Preston as Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man were emblematic of the characters we actually rooted for on the big screen. And, it was destined to spill onto television.

   Let me offer unique characters on the small screen that made a lasting impression during television’s Golden Age. Not heroes in a traditional sense; but rather, because they were so watchable. Their programs became part of the social fabric that led to very real revolt and change in a decade of counter-culture and tumult. Three anti-heroes of the 1960s defining the era:

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~ JONATHAN FRID (BARNABAS COLLINS / DARK SHADOWS) – Originally cast in a temporary role, Frid and the daytime soap opera collaboration coincided with the the British Invasion of popular music that brought us The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Animals, and The Herman’s Hermits. Dark Shadows, with its gothic look, complete with harpsichords and New England fog, were not like any other daytime drama on television. And, Barnabas was a tragic vampire looking for a cure to his eternal life, and also yearned for a replacement of his beloved Josette DuPres. Like Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolfman, he wanted a less tragic fate. Frid became a heartthrob to a teen community, just for showing his fangs and using them on an array of young willing victims.

darkshadows   330px-jonathan_frid_barnabas_collins_dark_shadows_1968

   The show boasted a regal cast, including Joan Bennett as the matron of Collinswood, Grayson Hall as Dr. Julia Hoffman, and the Dwight Frye-like John Karlen as Willie Loomis. The Dan Curtis production lasted five years and produced an output of 1,225 episodes. The daytime horror spawned two motion pictures and a loyal viewing audience that remains unparalleled by today’s standards. Children from schools all over the country rushed home to enjoy an afternoon offering of vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and gore. Cue the groovy intro...

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~ JONATHAN HARRIS (DR. ZACHARY SMITH / LOST IN SPACE) – A re-boot of the Swiss Family Robinson set in outer space, the science fiction drama boasted planetary exploration and the unknown that coincided with President John Kennedy’s promise to land on the moon by the end of the decade. The show’s popularity influenced the creation of the more popular Star Trek; and later, the Star Wars phenomenon of the next decade. The program starred Guy Williams and June Lockhart. Land of the Giants was a cheap imitation of the premise.

lost_in_space   lost_in_space_jonathan_harris__robot_1967

   An unexpected boost to the storyline was the cowardice of Dr. Smith, memorably performed by Harris. His relationship with son Will Robinson, played by television veteran Billy Mumy (so wonderful in several episodes of The Twilight Zone); and a robot that resembled Robby from Forbidden Planet, was pure camp. His villainy was based on his singular desire to return to earth, the rest of the cast be damned. The truth of the matter, Dr. Smith was a precursor to the notion of capitalist greed that became abundant during the 1980s. Television audiences couldn’t wait for the clamor of Harris, and he is best remembered for quotable lines, such as: Never fear, Smith is here; and Oh! The pain, the pain… 

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~ PAUL LYNDE (CENTER SQUARE / HOLLYWOOD SQUARES) – If the word, snarky, had been in our linguistic lexicon, Lynde would have pioneered its premise. His brand of humor was first highlighted in Bye Bye Birdie, and he was also a playful warlock on Bewitched. However, his snark on Hollywood Squares for a decade that began in 1968 earned him the prestigious center of attention, and made the daytime game show a staple on television. It surpassed Match Game and Password in popularity, and genial host Peter Marshall was the perfect counterpoint to Paul Lynde’s zany zingers.

hollywood_squares_tv_series_titlecard   the_paul_lynde_show_paul_lynde_1972_no_2

   Other notables dispensing their silly antics included Charley Weaver, Wally Cox, and Rose Marie. But, the black soul of the program was delivered through the pithy asides made by Lynde. His untimely passing in 1982 ended arguably the most successful run of any television personality on daytime television. X” gets the square...

~ ~ ~ riddler_dc_animated_universe

   One might include as honorable mentions:  Frank Gorshin’s manic Riddler on Batman, which earned his performance the only acting Emmy nod the show ever received; and Pat Buttram’s hilarious turn as con-man Mr. Haney on Green Acres. But, why quibble? They only add to the rich tapestry of the anti-hero persona that helped cement episodic television of the 1960s; a golden cascade for us to enjoy.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of The Cool Ghoul…

October 29th, 2016

Manny P. here… zach

   John Zacherle was a television and radio personality, and voice actor. He was best known for his long career as a horror host, often broadcasting movies in Philadelphia and New York City in the 1950s and 1960s. He also did voice work for the movies, and also recorded the Top 10 novelty song Dinner With Drac in 1958.

youllfindout   In 1954, he gained his first television role at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia. Three years later, he was hired as the host of Shock Theater, which debuted on October 7th, 1957. The show ran for 92 broadcasts through 1958. The purchase of WCAU by CBS prompted Zacherle to leave Philadelphia for WABC-TV in New York. In 1963, he hosted Chiller Theatre on WPIX-TV. Some of his programs were later syndicated to KHJ-TV, the RKO station in Los Angeles. Many of the B-Movie screenings featured luminaries of the chill-fest genre, such as Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, John Carradine, and Otto Kruger.

   Zacherle was a close colleague of Philadelphia broadcaster Dick Clark, and sometimes filled in for Clark on road touring shows of American Bandstand in the 1960s. Clark reportedly gave Zacherle his nickname of The Cool Ghoul. Partly with the assistance and backing of Clark, Zacherle cut Dinner with Drac for Cameo Records.

zacherley   Zacherle edited two science fiction short story collections for Ballantine Books in 1960. He returned to Chiller Theatre on the WPIX airwaves on October 25th, 2008 for a special showing of the 1955 Universal Pictures classic, Tarantula! The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted John into their Hall of Fame in 2010.

   A Hallow’s Eve salute to John Zacherle; a man who devoted much of his life to monster culture. His lasting influence was helping to pioneer the entire genre of television hosts presenting the cheapest film packages in a creative way in an attempt to find viewers for cheesy cinema.    JOHN ZACHERLE –>

   John Zacherle was 98.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Indiscretion…

October 27th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   A rags-to-riches story of an individual who made a career in business, and decides to enter politics. He offers a populist message that resonates with selective constituents, and the businessman is on track to win his election. His campaign is derailed when an indiscreet affair is revealed, and he doesn’t care. Despite the revelation, the candidate feels he is sure to win. He doesn’t. And, I’m not talking about the election of 2016…

330px-citizenkane   The above cautionary tale was a scene in a screenplay written in 1939 for a production that was released in 1941. Citizen Kane was written by Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz, and the pair earned an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for their efforts.

   The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character resembling the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, and aspects of Welles’s own life. Mankiewicz based the original outline on the life of Hearst, whom he knew socially, and came to hate after he was exiled from Hearst’s circle.

   Kane’s career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Kane’s marriage disintegrates as he begins an affair with amateur singer Susan Alexander while he is running for Governor of New York. Both his wife and his political opponent discover the affair, and the public scandal ends his political career.  The character of his opponent, political boss Jim W. Gettys, is based on Charles F. Murphy, a leader in New York City’s infamous Tammany Hall political machine. The character of Susan Alexander was based on actress Marion Davies (and mistress of the newspaper publisher) was a major reason Hearst tried to destroy the production. Hearing about Citizen Kane enraged Hearst so much, he banned any advertising, reviewing, or mentioning of it in his newspaper chain, and he had his journalists actually libel Welles. In 2012, the Hearst estate agreed to screen the Citizen Kane at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, finally breaking with Hearst’s ban of the movie.

citizen-kane-welles-podium   citizen-kane-welles-collins

                                 ORSON WELLES       RAY COLLINS (as JIM W. GETTYS)

   An interesting aside… The News on the March newsreel scene presents Kane keeping company with Adolf Hitler and other dictators, while he smugly assures the public there will be no war. This reflects the political chatter between intervention and isolationism that was being waged in the United States; the motion picture was released six months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, while President Franklin D. Roosevelt was laboring to win public opinion for support of the Allies prior to World War II. In the rhetoric of Citizen Kane, the destiny of isolationism is realized in metaphor: Kane’s own fate, eventually dying wealthy, lonely, and surrounded by his collection of artifacts.

330px-wendell_willkie_presidential_campaign_poster_1940   As an epilogue… Anyone who claims: 2016 is the strangest year in politics, only has to return to 1941 when Citizen Kane was released; the year that Roosevelt earned a third term as our president, defeating in a landslide a maverick businessman Wendell Willkie, the Republican dark horse candidate, who crusaded against FDR’s perceived failure to end The Great Depression, and his supposed eagerness for entry into war. Roosevelt carried 38 states; Wilkie won only 10 states.

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                                     MANNY PACHECO

   May I remind you to vote responsibly this November…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Piece of Disney History For Sale…

October 26th, 2016

Manny P. here… Disney Memorabilia Auction

   An animatronic doll from Disneyland’s It’s a Small World ride and an original stretching portrait from the park’s Haunted Mansion attraction are hitting the auction block. Van Eaton Galleries announced that the items will be among a myriad of pieces of Disney memorabilia available at the Souvenirs of Disneyland auction next month. Other lots include an animatronic sparrow from the Enchanted Tiki Room, and original concept art for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

   A green 1970s-era animatronic Tiki Room bird was the top seller at a Van Eaton Galleries auction of Disney memorabilia in March 2015, fetching $153,400. That auction attracted $1.7 million in bids for nearly 1,000 Disney collectibles.

   Van Eaton Galleries brings together pieces from private collectors over the past 60 years. Items from the Souvenirs of Disneyland sale are on display at Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks. The live and online auction will be held November 19th.

   Now, you can own pieces of Disneyland history.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Fall Classic For the Ages…

October 25th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   At long, long last, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the World Series. The two teams with the longest current dry spells in baseball will finally meet, and for the first time in post season.

wrigley_field_sign_cubs_win_2003-10-03   48492132016   oldclevelandindianslogo

   The Indians haven’t won it all since 1948, two seasons before Vin Scully debuted in his first game of a 67-year Major Leagues announcing career; and a year after Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier, both with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Tribe did play against the Florida Marlins in 1997, only to lose in seven games.

pucktoon16  The Cubbies haven’t even been to a Fall Classic since 1945, two months after the end of World War II. And of course, Wrigley Field hasn’t seen their home team emerge as a champion since 1908 when a Roosevelt was president… Teddy Roosevelt! Hall-of-Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, and Ryne Sandberg never played in a single MLB World Series game for their entire combined careers.

   For perspective…

   In 1908:  The Academy Awards would not exist for 19 more years. D.W. Griffith became a director; and Bette Davis, James Stewart, Rex Harrison, Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, Ethel Merman, Milton Berle, Buddy Ebsen, Don Ameche, Burgess Meredith, and Van Heflin were born. ALL are deceased.

   In March, 1945:  The Academy Awards were held, and Going My Way was the Best Picture of the year. Bing Crosby won Best Actor; and the Best Actress statuette was awarded to Ingrid Bergman for Gaslight. Other notable movies include Laura, Double Indemnity, A Guy Named Joe, Mr. Skeffington, Meet Me in St. Louis, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, and Lifeboat.

goingmywaybing   gentlemans_agreement_1947_movie_poster

   In March, 1948:  The Best Picture was Gentleman’s Agreement. Ronald Colman took home the Best Actor Oscar for A Double Life; and Loretta Young pulled the biggest upset in Academy Awards history, and was named Best Actress for her role in The Farmer’s Daughter. Other important nominees include Forever AmberMourning Becomes Electra, Miracle on 34th StreetThe Ghost and Mrs. MuirThe Egg and I, The Bishop’s Wife, and Song of the South.

   One thing’s for sure… one team will emerge as champion; the other will continue it’s curse. Somewhere above, Ernie Banks is exclaiming:  Let’s play seven!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Around the World with Mickey Mouse

October 24th, 2016

Manny P. here…

happy-birthday-mickey   To celebrate his upcoming birthday, Mickey Mouse is embarking on a trip around the world, where he will make surprise appearances in real-world locations to the delight of his fans and friends. These magical moments chronicling Mickey’s global adventures will be shared on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Facebook page. Following on the popularity of his Facebook page, which has more than 13 million followers, Mickey’s Instagram page will showcase videos and images, including Mickey’s global travels, as well as his appearances in Disney films, television shows, and theme parks.

   On Mickey’s birthday, select locations at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts, as well as Disney Stores in the United States, will be distributing commemorative Happy Birthday, Mickey buttons. Disneyland will host a special pre-parade birthday celebration. Also on November 18th, the Disney Channel will air the Emmy-winning new Mickey Mouse shorts throughout the day, and premiere two new cartoon series featuring Mickey. 

steamboat_willie   Mickey’s birthday is celebrated in honor of the release of his first theatrical film, Steamboat Willie, on November 18th, 1928 at the Colony Theatre in New York City. The title of the film is a parody of the Buster Keaton vehicle, Steamboat Bill Jr. It was the third of Mickey’s films to be produced, but the first to be distributed. Walt Disney, having seen The Jazz Singer, had committed to producing the first fully synchronized sound cartoon. The great success of Steamboat Willie not only led to international fame for Walt, but for Mickey as well. Since then, he has starred in more than 100 cartoons, and can currently be seen on the Disney Channel in his very own animated series.

   Wear your ears proud in November…

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   Famed 1960s anti-war activist Tom Hayden is forever linked with the celebrated Chicago 7 trial, Vietnam War protests, and his ex-wife actress Jane Fonda. A single event galvanized him — the 1968 assassination of his friend, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Once denounced as a traitor by his detractors, he overcame his past, and won election to the California Assembly and Senate, where he served for almost two decades as a progressive force on such issues as the environment and education. But, in American culture, Hayden remains an enduring symbol of a time when young people took history into their own hands.

fondahayden   In 1971, Tom met Jane Fonda, a relative latecomer to the protest movement. She was a glamorous movie star, and an heiress to a Hollywood dynasty. Both Hayden and Fonda were demonized by the political right after she visited Vietnam and was photographed on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. It took many decades to minimize her Hanoi Jane moniker. With heavy financial support from Fonda, Hayden plunged into California politics in the late 1970s. He formed the Campaign for Economic Democracy and was elected to the Assembly in 1982. They were married for 17 years.

   Hayden won election to the state Senate advocating for environmental and educational issues. However, his radical past disturbed conservatives and interfered with his legislative initiatives. He was defeated in a run for the state governorship, and he lost a bid to become mayor of Los Angeles. After leaving public office, Tom wrote and traveled extensively, lecturing, teaching, and speaking out against Iraq and Afghanistan. Hayden acknowledged at the end of his memoir that his time as a counterculture rebel had been the most exciting and fulfilling of his life.

   Tom Hayden was 76.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Bill Murray Gets His Stripes…

October 23rd, 2016

Manny P. here… billmurraysept10tiff

   Bill Murray was honored with the nation’s top prize for humor. The actor was at the Kennedy Center, receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Sigourney Weaver, and Steve Martin were on  hand to fondly celebrate his career.      BILL MURRAY —>

   Murray got his break on Saturday Night Live, and starred in some of the most successful comedies of the 1980s and 1990s before transitioning into more dramatic roles. He was nominated for an Oscar for his soulful turn in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

   He’s a regular at Chicago Cubs games and celebrity golf tournaments. But, he doesn’t have an agent or a publicist and rarely does in-depth interviews. He declined to speak to reporters ahead of Sunday’s event, save for a brief conversation with the Washington Post that occurred only after the newspaper published a lengthy profile of him.

   Murray joins several other Saturday Night Live alumni who’ve received the prize, including Tina Fey, Will Ferrell and last year’s winner, Eddie Murphy. The prize was first awarded in 1998 and goes to those who influence society in the tradition of Samuel Clemens, the writer, satirist, and social commentator better known as Mark Twain.

   The show was taped for broadcast to air on Friday on PBS.

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 doty  Kathryn Adams (left) was an actress who appeared in such notable films as Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur and the Charles Laughton-starring vehicle The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She retired from Hollywood upon her marriage to Leave it to Beaver‘s Hugh Beaumont.

   She competed in 1939 in the national finals of the Jesse L. Lasky radio contest, Gateway to Hollywood, and then remained in California to begin a film career. Other screen credits include 1939s Fifth Avenue Girl, 1940s The Invisible Woman, and 1946s Blonde for a Day. Later in life, she became a successful author.

   Kathryn Adams was 96

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- An Estate in Philly…

October 21st, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The Philadelphia home where Oscar-winning actress Grace Kelly grew up and accepted a marriage proposal from Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1955 is now in the hands of the royal family. Her son, Prince Albert of Monaco, has confirmed to People Magazine that he was the recent purchaser of the six-bedroom, 2.5-story Colonial home in the East Falls section of the city.

grace-kelly-in-front-of-her-parents-home-in-1953

                           GRACE KELLY

   The estate sits on a 0.69-acre parcel that features gardens and a private backyard. Inside, the home boasts a formal paneled dining room, finished basement, and a barroom. The home was built in 1935 by Kelly’s father, John B. Kelly. He was a three-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower in the 1920s, and later, a prominent businessman active in Philadelphia politics. Grace Kelly left Philadelphia at age 20 for Hollywood, but remained adored by Philadelphians through the years. A sign posted outside designates the structure as a Pennsylvania historical landmark.

   Prince Albert said he has early memories of visits to the home, such as staring out an upstairs window, or rolling around on the living room carpet. The prince told the magazine he planned to visit Philadelphia on Tuesday as he considers plans for the home. One idea is to partially use the property for Kelly-related museum artifacts; another is to create office space for the family charitable foundation.

   Real estate agent John O’Connell of Elfant Wissahickon Realtors said the home sold for $754,000.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Slippers Need a Touch-Up…

October 18th, 2016

Manny P. here…

375px-ruby_slippers   The ruby slippers that whisked Dorothy back to Kansas at the end of The Wizard of Oz, which for more than 30 years have been one of the most beloved items at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, were crafted almost 80 years ago by the MGM prop department. Like most movie props, they weren’t built to last. Now, the frayed shoes aren’t even ruby-colored anymore — they’re a dull auburn.

   The shoes are the most recognizable prop for the beloved 1939 musical, their deep red hue dazzling audiences when the movie made its dramatic transition from black-and-white to Technicolor. They have been on display since anonymously donated to the museum in 1979.

   The Smithsonian have asked the public to help save the slippers, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $300,000. In addition to keeping the shoes’ color from deteriorating, the money will go toward a technologically advanced display case that will preserve them for future generations.

   Their age is showing, and preserving them is more complicated than it might appear. The slippers contain a dozen different materials. The sequins are made of gelatin with a primitive plastic coating, and many are no longer red because the coating has flaked off, in part because of decades of exposure to light and moisture. The undersides of the sequins, or portions that did not have direct exposure to light, have retained more of their color. The shoes also include glass beads and red felt on the soles that was used to muffle their sound when Judy Garland wore them during dance sequences. The museum will research the ideal conditions for the various materials that make up the shoes. The new case is likely to contain a gas other than oxygen, with controls on temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure

   The Smithsonian’s museums are federally funded, but the institution frequently solicits private and corporate contributions for major projects that its budget doesn’t cover. This is the Smithsonian’s second Kickstarter campaign. In 2015, the National Air and Space Museum raised $700,000 through the crowd-funding site to preserve the spacesuit that Neil Armstrong wore when he walked on the moon.

   As of Tuesday afternoon, donors had pledged nearly $80,000 on Kickstarter. If the museum does not reach its $300,000 goal in 30 days, no one will be charged. Donations start at $1 and, depending how much they give, contributors can receive rewards including t-shirts and tote bags created by William Ivey Long, a Tony Award-winning costume designer.

   If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the slippers will be the second-most-researched item in the museum’s collection, behind the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star-Spangled Banner.

   Best wishes over the efforts of the Smithsonian.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Return of Santa’s Village…

October 17th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The long-closed but fondly remembered Santa’s Village may open early next month — but only on a limited scale. Developers of the 153-acre Skypark at Santa’s Village, in the Lake Arrowhead community of Skyforest, have asked San Bernardino County to issue a temporary use permit to operate on the footprint of the former amusement park, which opened in 1955 — the same year as Disneyland — but closed in 1998.

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alan-ladd  The 220-acre park was one of Southern California’s biggest tourist attractions. It boasted rides, including a bobsled, monorail, and ferris wheel; a petting zoo; live reindeer; and shops that included a bakery, candy kitchen, and toy shop. It was a place where Santa Claus was equally at ease hanging out with the Easter Bunny, or a Hollywood celebrity like Alan Ladd (right). At one time, David Nelson, son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, who had a popular television show in the 1950s, produced Santa’s Village commercials.

   A management staff has been hired, and crews are preparing Santa’s Village with fiber optics and cash registers. There is also work being done to bring some of the original 18 1950s-era structures into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As the work at the park is getting done, some nearby Santa’s are also preparing for what could be in store. Leaders at Rim of the World High School are looking forward to working with park officials.

skypark-map

   The environmental document for the entire project could not be completed and approved in time for the Christmas season, so the focus shifted to opening just the Santa’s Village portion. The mountain biking, fly fishing, campgrounds, and other additions that will make Skypark a year-around destination will be pursued as part of the environmental review process and become operational next year.

sv4   San Bernardino County has no estimate on when an environmental report might be completed to allow for the entire Skypark project to move forward. A phased approach to opening Skypark is partially the result of requests from both the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board. Both want more specific information about development remedies in the county’s preparation of an environmental document.

   In the meantime, the Holidays will have a new Southern California outlet, which is great news, indeed!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Visit to Del Mar…

October 13th, 2016

Manny P. here…

 Rotary-Wheel-3d-150x150  Today, I spent a relaxing day in Del Mar, California. The seaside town shares a rich relationship with Hollywood’s Golden Age. And, the afternoon did not disappoint.

   I made the trip to offer my Forgotten Hollywood Oral Presentation to the Del Mar Rotary. Del Mar’s legacy as a Hollywood playground ensured that I was going to enjoy a special day. It began as I drove down Jimmy Durante Blvd.

   Rotarian Brett Mattei met me at St. Peter’s Church. He proceeded to offer a walking tour that included an incredible scenic view of the Pacific Ocean and the legendary train station. We strolled through the historic downtown village to beautiful landmarks, historic buildings, the hotel, and homes. I saw vintage photos of Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Robert Taylor, Barbara Stanwyck, Esther Williams, and Mickey Rooney. In 1963, Jimmy Durante famously paid tribute to his adopted home town, referencing San Diego in an early scene in It’s a Mad Mad Mad World.

bing-crosby-pat-obrien   When the Del Mar Fairgrounds opened in 1936, it became the home of the San Diego County Fair, attracting thousands to Del Mar. The final touch was the mile-long oval racetrack, made Del Mar an exciting destination. Under the leadership of Bing Crosby, Del Mar Turf Club ushered in a new era of horse racing. Pat O’Brien became the Vice President. Crosby greeted the first  fan through the gate as Del Mar opened in 1937. Bing’s song Where the Turf Meets the Surf opened every day of racing in the early days. On August 14th, 1945, O’Brien announced to the assembled racetrack patrons that Japan had surrendered.   BING CROSBY / PAT O’BRIEN  –>

   For decades, racing season brought in crowds and Hollywood celebrities to Del Mar Racetrack, including Durante, Lucy and Desi Arnaz, Burt Bacharach and Angie Dickenson, and the Dick Van Patten family, all who built homes in Del Mar. Since Seabiscuit won his famous race in 1938, Del Mar Racetrack has hosted exciting thoroughbred racing.

330px-jimmy_durante_1964   desi-lucy

   JIMMY DURANTE   LUCILLE BALL  DESI ARNAZ

   After my daylong trip and an afternoon of fellowship with the Del Mar Rotary, I headed home feeling I had just taken a vacation.

   And so it goes…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- OK to Use “Who’s On First” Routine…

October 11th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   An appeals court says producers of a Broadway play can use Abbott and Costello’s famous Who’s on First routine over objections by the comedy duo’s heirs. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan ruled in favor of the production. The heirs had sued Hand to God producers.

   A lower-court judge ruled last December that the play’s use of the routine was so transformative that it constituted fair use of a copyrighted work. The 2nd Circuit disagreed with that reasoning. But, it said the heirs could not win their claim because they could not prove they owned a valid copyright.

   Who’s on First is descended from turn-of-the-century burlesque sketches that used plays on words and names. Abbott’s wife recalled him performing the routine with another comedian before teaming with Costello.

ac_banner   After they formally teamed up in burlesque in 1936, he and Costello continued to hone the sketch. It was a big hit in 1937, when they performed the routine in a touring vaudeville revue called Hollywood Bandwagon. In February 1938, Abbott and Costello (right) joined the cast of The Kate Smith Hour radio program, and the sketch was first performed for a national audience that March. They did the routine for President Franklin D. Roosevelt several times. The duo reprised the bit in their 1945 film The Naughty Nineties, and it’s considered their finest recorded rendition.

   In 1956, a gold record of Who’s on First was placed in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. A video (taken from The Naughty Nineties) plays continuously on screens at the Hall.

    On a personal note, I performed the routine in high school in 1974, playing the Bud Abbott part. The performance still resonated with the youngsters in the audience

   In the recent play, an actor uses a sock puppet to perform part of the famous routine, almost verbatim. The parties didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Indie Author Day in Duarte…

October 8th, 2016

Manny P. here… indie-author-day-design15

   I’ll be spending Indie Author Day in the city of Duarte, California. As part of my book tour through the County of Los Angeles Public Library system, I’ll spend treasured time at the local branch. Here are the details:

 DUARTE LIBRARY

1301 Buena Vista St., Duarte, CA

October 8th

Saturday 1p – 3p

LA COUNTY LOGO  Duarte Library Logo

   Come by and enjoy my oral presentation, and pick up autographed copies of my Forgotten Hollywood Book Series. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Forgotten Hollywood cover   FINALfrontcover-sonofforgottenhol

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Handprints are Visible Again…

October 7th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   A major victory for preservers and defenders of classic Hollywood occurred, as the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly, known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) acquiesced to a public outcry over souvenir peddlers setting up shop in front of the venue. The vendors, who have long camped on the front sidewalk area of the theatre, were set up directly over many of the famous handprints that take up real estate all around the theatre. A photo posted last week showed the state of things, with racks filled with tacky hats and tourist-trap t-shirts sitting on top of handprints belonging to Hollywood legends like Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.

   After the photo went semi-viral, a petition was set up and garnered more than 2,600 signatures in only a few days. The petition not only pleaded with TCL, but asked for the help of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation and Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

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graumans_chinese_theater_panorama

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   While it is unknowable what part of the uproar specifically spurred action by TCL, something worked, as it only took a few days for them to be removed, and the handprints to be visible to the public once again. Maybe someone realized that the vendors will only have business as long as people are flocking there to check out the handprints. Neon and glittery souvenirs are just as Hollywood as those handprints. It remains unclear where the vendor carts will go, though a source indicated they may be relocated to the nearby Hollywood & Highland mall.

   Over the past 85 years, some 200 film stars have left their hand and footprints there. As of yesterday, there were already people milling about and enjoying the handprints again, proving that the draw remains long after many of these stars have passed on and people become less familiar with their films.

   Bravo!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Film Noir at Union Station…

October 6th, 2016

Manny P. here… los_angeles_union_station_04

   Metro Art and the Film Noir Foundation are joining forces to present three classic cinema screenings at Union Station in Los Angeles. And, at least a portion of each production was shot inside the building. Because of Union Station’s beautiful and classic art deco design, it has served as the backdrop for many more movies since.

   Here is the schedule:

~ Union Station (1950) – October 7th at 8p. Starring William Holden and Nancy Olson, it was directed by Rudolph Maté. Writer, historian, cinematic programmer, and film noir expert Alan K. Rode will to introduce the flick.

~ Criss Cross (1949) – November 4th at 8p. The iconic motion picture stars Burt Lancaster, Richard Long, Yvonne De Carlo. It was directed by Robert Siodmak.

~ Too Late For Tears (1949)December 2nd at 8p. It stars the alluring Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea. It had nearly disappeared, as many of the original 35mm prints have been lost. The Foundation did find one, however, and was been able to repair it.

lultima_preda_film_1950   criss_cross_1949_trailer_2   publicity_still_for_-too_late_for_tears-_1949

    UNION STATION            CRISS CROSS       TOO LATE FOR TEARS

   The Film Noir at Union Station’s screenings take place in the ticketing hall and are FREE to the public, with seating first-come, first-serve. What a family-friendly treat!

Until next time>                               “never forget”