“Forgotten Hollywood”- Another Golden Oldie…

December 5th, 2016

Manny P. here… kirk-douglas

   Kirk Douglas is turning 100 on December 9th. He will be celebrating his milestone birthday this week alongside 200 of his closest friends and family at a party hosted by his son Michael and daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta Jones. And, right by his side, his 97-year-old wife Anne.

   After serving in the Navy in World War II, Kirk got his first audition in 1946, for The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers. Douglas (right) has starred in over 90 films, such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Bad and the Beautiful, and Spartacus. He worked with Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Lana Turner, among others. Douglas also appeared in television and theater over his eight-decade career.

   He also purchased the rights to the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest early in his career, turning it into a 1963 Broadway play. Kirk starred in the production, which ran for just five months and received mixed reviews from critics. After the play closed he tried to find a producer who was interested in making a film version of the novel, but gave up after 10 years and handed over the movie rights to his son Michael. Kirk believed he was too old for the lead role at that point, which instead, went to Jack Nicholson. The film opened in 1975 to universal praise, and it cleaned up at the Academy Awards, taking home five statuettes, including Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture. Kirk, a three-time Oscar nominee, received the Academy’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996.

   Gifts will not be necessary, Kirk revealing that he views his birthday as a chance to give back to others, rather than accept presents. For his birthday last year, the couple donated $15 million to Harry’s Haven, an Alzheimer’s treatment facility located just outside Los Angeles, and takes care of patients who previously worked in the motion picture or television industry. Thanks to that donation, the organization was able to expand, adding a two-story building that they named the Kirk Douglas Care Pavilion. He and Anne have stated that almost all of their fortune, reported to be around $80 million, will be given to charities and other organizations upon their deaths.

   The birthday festivities will feature a surprise element, and Kirk admits that he has no idea what to expect.

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   Van Williams was the actor best known for his television role as Britt Reid, and his earlier leading part in the Warner Brothers  detective series Bourbon Street Beat, and sequel, Surfside 6. Williams teamed for one season with the late Bruce Lee (right) in The Green Hornet, on ABC during the 1966–1967 season.

   Williams was discovered in 1957 by producer Mike Todd, right before he died tragically in a plane crash. Van had a busy small screen career, guest starring in The Beverly Hillbillies, The Big ValleyNanny and the ProfessorThe Dick Van Dyke Show, The Streets of San Francisco, and The Rockford Files. He also made three memorable appearances with Lee on Batman, as The Green Hornet and Kato.

   Van retired from acting in 1982, and he became a longtime reserve deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County. He worked at the Malibu substation.

   Van Williams was 82.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Death Takes No Holiday…

December 4th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Several names in the news are part of the passing parade:

   Al Brodax was a television cartoon producer who developed animated versions of The Beatles, culminating in the classic feature Yellow Submarine. He had been an executive producer at King Features Syndicate in the early 1960s, churning out low-budget animated fare like Snuffy Smith, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Popeye, and Barney Google

   Brodax pitched Beatles manager Brian Epstein with the idea of creating a Saturday-morning cartoon series about the Fab Four’s adventures. Although popular with Baby Boomer kids, ABC’s The Beatles was hated by the band members, who loathed the exaggerated Liverpool accents.

beatles

   After A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, the group owed United Artists one more production. The band readily agreed to a proposition: A feature-length animated feature film. The Hungarian-born producer spearheaded the project that became Yellow Submarine, based loosely on the 1966 Beatles hit, and sung by drummer Ringo Starr. Directed by George Dunning and animated by Heinz Edelmann, the psychedelic movie was an instant classic, with its animated Edwardian-styled depictions of John, Paul, George, and Ringo – along with the Blue Meanies – quickly becoming iconic of the era.

   Even The Beatles were won over.

   Al Brodax was 90.

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4946183-thumb-300xauto-4345575   Billy Chapin (right) was the child actor, best known as the heroic protagonist in The Night of the Hunter. He was personally selected by director Charles Laughton for his ability to provide a hypnotic stare for dramatic purposes. Despite the fact that the film was a critical and commercial failure, the Library of Congress selected the production in 1992 for preservation in the National Film Registry. His sister was Lauren Chapin, the former child actress who co-starred in the classic sitcom Father Knows Best.

   Chapin appeared on Broadway in 1951 in Three Wishes for Jamie, which earned him the New York Drama Critics Award as the most promising young actor of the year. The next year, he shined in a television adaptation of Paul Osborn’s play On Borrowed Time. He also starred in The Kid from Left Field and No Business Like Show Business. His many small screen credits included Leave it to Beaver and Dragnet.

   Billy Chapin, whose career effectively ended in 1959, was 72.

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jerry_tucker_1936<— Jerry Tucker was a former child actor who appeared in several Our Gang comedies, often as a spoiled rich kid, and co-starred opposite screen luminaries as Shirley Temple, Ginger Rogers, and Laurel and Hardy. Originally signed by Paramount Pictures, he was on loan to MGM when appearing in the Buster Keaton comedy Sidewalks of New York. Tucker was also cast in some of the biggest movies of the 1930s, including Babes in Toyland, San Francisco, Captain January, and Boys Town.

   Never enchanted with Hollywood, and in 1942, Tucker joined the Navy as part of the demolition team aboard the destroyer USS Sigsbee. He was awarded the Purple Heart after suffering a permanent leg injury when a piece of shrapnel was caught in his leg during an attack on his ship during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

   Tucker, whose real name was Jerry Schatz, was 91.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- That Sinking Feeling…

December 2nd, 2016

Manny P. here…

titanic-new_york_herald_front_page   A shipbuilder in China has started work on a full-scale replica of the RMS Titanic, the doomed ocean liner that hit an iceberg and sunk on its maiden voyage in 1912. Construction on the project began on Wednesday.

   Plans call for highlights of some of the Titanic’s interior features, such as a ballroom, theater, pool, and first-class cabins. Hollywood production designer and producer Curtis Schnell is working on the project, and accepted the challenge to concentrate on providing its historical accuracy. When finished, the tourist attraction will offer simulations of the infamous disaster, which killed more than 1,500 people. But, there’s no danger of hitting real icebergs. The Chinese Titanic will be permanently docked at a reservoir in Daying County, in the landlocked Sichuan province. Visitors will be able to eat on the ship, and stay overnight.

images   The project is going to cost more than the original budget of $145 million, and is expected to be finished by the end of next year. The replica will be 269 meters (over 882 feet) by 28 meters (92 feet), just like the original steamship.

   The 1997 movie — James Cameron’s Titanicwas a massive hit in China. To film the motion picture, Cameron built and sank a replica of the ship; but it was 90% of the size of the original. My personal favorite related cinematic piece is the 1958 British production – A Night to Remember.

editors-pick-a-night-to-remember

   It’s apparent this disaster still captures the imagination of a global audience.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Holiday Shopping the Easy Way…

December 1st, 2016

Manny P. here…

   For my 5th time, I’ll be at this wonderful annual event. It’s a great opportunity to get some holiday shopping done with a personalized gift, and not getting knocked around at the malls. This special day takes place on Saturday, December 3rd between 12p – 4p.

afternoon-with-the-authors

   Beat the holiday rush and pick up autographed copies of the Forgotten Hollywood Book Series, and other fantastic Hollywood-related literary works. The perfect gifts for co-workers, family, and friends. And, meet some very friendly and talented authors. Just across the street from the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood Heritage Museum is conveniently located at 2100 N. Highland Ave.

   See you at The Barn!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Goodbye to Successful Producer…

November 30th, 2016

Manny P. here…tinkergrant

    Grant Tinker brought an abundance of style to television with beloved shows such as The Cosby Show and Hill Street Blues to the audience as both a producer and a network boss. He was best-known as the nurturing hand at MTM Enterprises, the production company he founded in 1970, and ran for a decade. He scored with some of the most respected and best-loved programs, including Lou Grant, Rhoda, PhyllisThe Bob Newhart Show, and of course, the series that starred his business partner and then-wife, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.                     GRANT TINKER —>

   Tinker, who had come to NBC as a management trainee in 1949 with legendary founder David Sarnoff still in charge, left the company for the last time at the end of an era, as NBC, along with its parent RCA, was about to be swallowed by General Electric. He worked for this parent company on three separate occasions.

   After initially leaving NBC, he moved into advertising. At a time when ad agencies were heavily responsible for crafting programs its clients would sponsor, Tinker was a vice president at the Benton & Bowles agency, when he helped develop The Dick Van Dyke Show for Procter & Gamble. There he met, and fell for, the young actress the whole country was about to fall in love with: Mary Tyler Moore. Soon after the new CBS sitcom had begun its five-season run in fall 1961, Tinker returned to NBC, this time as Vice President of West Coast Programming.

330px-mtm_logo_2   Tinker founded MTM and began developing its first series: a comedy to revive the flagging career of his wife. The sitcom, which premiered on CBS in 970, was a critical and popular smash for seven seasons and became the flagship series of a studio whose mewing kitten (parodying the MGM lion) came to signify some of television’s best. Along the way, MTM became an incubator for some of the small screen’s best writers and producers, many of whom — like Steven Bochco and James L. Brooks — continue to excel. Programs like WKRP in Cincinnati, The White Shadow, Remmington Steele, and St. Elsewhere became wildly popular.

   By 1981, Tinker’s stewardship of MTM had ended (as had his marriage to Moore) when he returned to NBC. Under Tinker’s regime, the network enjoyed a remarkable recovery. The Cosby Show was an overnight hit, but slow starters such as Hill Street Blues (which was from MTM), Family Ties, and Cheers were allowed to find their audience and became hits, too. Other hits included Night Court and The Golden Girls.

   In 1994, Grant wrote a book entitled Tinker in Television. That same year, he won a personal Peabody Award. Tinker was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1997.

   Grant Tinker was 90.

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   This just in from TCM: A tornado touched down in Atlanta, forcing most of the staff to take shelter in the studio canteen in the basement. The good news… Everyone was safe.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Passing Parade Claims Two…

November 28th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   This weekend, two character actors of note have died.

   Fritz Weaver was an accomplished performer, who won a Tony for his role in Child’s Play in 1970. He also received an Emmy nod, and appeared in dozens of television programs and important cinema. In 2010, Weaver was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame.

frizt-weaver   Turning to acting in the mid-1950s, he excelled on television, with guest starring roles in The Twilight Zone, Combat, Dr. Kildare, Rawhide, The Fugitive, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., MannixThe Big Valley, Gunsmoke, Kung FuMission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Matlock, Hawaii Five-0, Wonder Woman, Magnum P.I., Murder She Wrote, Law & Order, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The X-Files, and Frasier. Beginning in 1995,  Weaver worked primarily as a voice actor, providing narration for programs on the History Channel.      FRITZ WEAVER —>

   On the big screen, he co-starred in Fail Safe, The Day of the Dolphin, Marathon Man, Black Sunday, Creepshow, and the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair. Broadway credits include The Chalk Garden, Baker Street, Love Letters, and The Crucible.

   Fritz Weaver was 90.

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rg_barneymiller_02_70<— RON GLASS was a familiar face on television, best known for his Emmy-nominated role on Barney Miller. He was also memorable in the science fiction series, Firefly.

   Glass made his stage debut at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis  before moving to Hollywood. He made his home on television, guest-starring in Sanford and Son, All in the Family, Maude, Good Times, Hawaii Five-0, The Bob Newhart Show, Hart to Hart, AmenThe Streets of San Francisco, Murder She Wrote, Star Trek: Voyager, and Friends. Along with Barney Miller, he co-starred in Mr. Rhodes and The New Odd Couple.

   Ron Glass was 71.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Dino-Mite!

November 27th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Dinosaurs in museums tend to be of the fossilized variety, but a new exhibit in Philadelphia is bringing the creatures and their world to life. Jurassic World: The Exhibition opens at the Franklin Institute on Friday. Based on the blockbuster dinosaur movie franchise, the experience mixes the vibe of a theme park with the backstory of science, but the big attraction is the animatronic dinosaurs; some measuring over 24 feet tall.

jurassic_park_logo   In his book Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton based the character Alan Grant on Jack Horner. Steven Spielberg brought Horner on as a technical adviser on all of the Jurassic Park movies — and Horner did it without a college degree and with dyslexia. Exhibit organizers worked closely with the dinosaur researcher, one of the best-known paleontologists in the world, to help get the science right. He discovered the world’s first dinosaur embryos, found they had nests, and cared for their young.

   The museum hopes to appeal to fans of science as well as fans of the movie. An educator guide offers ways to look at the exhibit through scientific eyes on topics, including ethics in science; climate change; DNA and genetics; and extinction.

jurassic_park_tyrannosaurus   1024px-bautzen_-_hoyerswerdaer_strase_-_trafostation_03_ies

   The traveling show made its world premiere in Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year, but Philadelphia’s United States debut offers some new features. The life-size dinosaurs were designed by Creature Technology Co., which created the enormous creatures for the Walking with Dinosaurs arena shows. They offer interactive exhibits. Guests can meet a towering Brachiosaurus, come face-to-face with a Velociraptor, and get up close and personal with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. A family-friendly Gentle Giants Petting Zoo provides interactions with a baby Pachyrhinosaurus and its 29-foot-long mother. Brave visitors can even stick an arm into a pile of dinosaur dung to feel its squishy, warm interior as a way to learn about identifying animals by studying their leavings.

     The exhibit is nearly double the size of the Australian version, and runs through April 23rd.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Death of a Dictator…

November 26th, 2016

Manny P. here… fidelcastro1978

   Fidel Castro was a controversial and divisive world figure. He was a politician and revolutionary who governed from 1959 to 2008. A litany of critics viewed him as a totalitarian dictator whose administration oversaw multiple human-rights abuses, an exodus of more than one million of his citizenry, and the impoverishment of the Republic of Cuba’s economy. Through his actions and his writings, he influenced the politics of leaders, individuals, and groups across the globe for many generations. Politically, a Marxist-Leninist and a Cuban nationalist, FIDEL CASTRO —-> made the island-nation a one-party state.

   Fidel formed a revolutionary group in 1953, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Cuban President Fugencio Batista. After Batista’s overthrow, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba’s Prime Minister. The United States was among the first to formally recognize his government, cautiously trusting Castro’s early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy, not install socialism.

images   Our country became alarmed by Castro’s friendly relations with the Soviet Union, and attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. After these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Soviets, and allowed them to place nuclear weapons on the island, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis — a defining incident of the Cold War —in 1962.

   Castro’s increasing role on the world stage strained his relationship with the USSR, especially as Leonid Brezhnev became its General Secretary. Asserting Cuba’s independence, Castro refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, declaring it a Soviet-U.S. attempt to dominate the Third World. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist groups, backing Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, Ethio-Somali War, and Angolan Civil War.

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75b2d0c5-d1ff-4484-9007-18c644ed8cd4   01

     An adversary of every United States presidential administration since Dwight D. Eisenhower, Castro was also a constant thorn to the overt reactions of his leadership by the American Central Intelligence Agency, and Castro was an early economic foe to businesses supported by Mafia crime families in Cuba. He outlasted a crippling trade embargo policy. In 2006, he decided to transfer his responsibilities to Vice-President Raúl Castro, who formally assumed the presidency. In 2011, Fidel finally resigned from the Communist Party Central Committee. He, instead, took on the role of an elder statesmen.

   Later in life, El Jefe softened his views. During the North Korea crises of 2013, he urged the North Korean and United States governments to show restraint. Calling the situation incredible and absurd, he maintained that war would not benefit either side, and that it represented one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Fidel survived long enough to see his brother negotiate an opening with President Barack Obama on December 17th, 2014, when Washington and Havana announced they would move to restore diplomatic ties for the first time since they were severed in 1961. Next year, his brother plans on stepping down as leader of the island-nation.

fidel_castro_2007_thumb   In the final analysis, Fidel’s leadership style warranted comparisons with other despots like Mao Zedong, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini. A more accurate comparison might be the longtime reigns of Francisco Franco in Spain, and Joseph Stalin in Russia; ruthless autocrats that turned on their own loyal citizenry to maintain respective regimes, which included the use of forced labor and executions, mostly against political and ideological rivals.

   In the Cuban capital, flags flew at half-staff at public buildings and some foreign embassies across the city on Saturday. Cuba’s government announced that Castro’s ashes would be interred on December 4th in the eastern city of Santiago that was the birthplace of his revolution. That will follow a week of honors, including a nationwide caravan retracing, in reverse, his tour from Santiago to Havana, replicating the triumph of his 1959 revolution.

   Fidel Castro was one of the most influential world figures in the post World War II era (for better or worse), and a survivor. He was 90.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Story of a Mom Named Brady…

November 25th, 2016

Manny P. here…carol_brady

   Florence Henderson went from Broadway star to becoming one of America’s most beloved television moms in The Brady Bunch. Her most widely recognized part was as Carol Brady. The sitcom aired on ABC from 1969 until 1974. Henderson’s best friend, Shirley Jones, had turned down the role to spend more time with her family. Primarily owing to her performance on The Brady Bunch, Henderson was ranked by TVLand and Entertainment Weekly as #54 on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Icons.

   Initially, Henderson represented an idyllic mother to a tumultuous nation that was protesting an unpopular war, and a presidential abuse of power. After ending its initial run, the show kept resonating with audiences, and it returned to the small screen in various forms, including The Brady Bunch Hour in 1977, The Brady Brides in 1981, and The Bradys in 1990. It remains a popular rerun.            FLORENCE HENDERSON

   Prior to the iconic program, Henderson began her career as a 19-year-old drama student in New York when she landed a one-line role in the play Wish You Were Here. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II were so impressed, they made her the female lead in a 1952 road tour of Oklahoma! When the show returned to Broadway for a revival in 1954, she continued in the role and won rave reviews. She went on to play Maria in a road production of The Sound of Music; was Nellie Forbush in a revival of South Pacific; and was back on Broadway with Jose Ferrer in The Girl Who Came to Supper in 1963. Her career nearly ended in 1965, when she suddenly lost her hearing while appearing in The King and I in Los Angeles. Corrective surgery resolved the issue.

   As her television career blossomed, Henderson made frequent guest appearances, including Password, I SpyThe Dean Martin Show, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, L.A. Law, Alice, Fantasy IslandMurder She Wrote, Roseanne, Ally McBealThe King of Queens, and 30 Rock. She was the first woman to host The Tonight Show for the vacationing Johnny Carson. For eight years, Florence also commuted to Nashville to conduct a cooking and talk series, Country Kitchen, on The Nashville Network. She was the host of her own television series, The Florence Henderson Show on Retirement Living TV. In February 2013, she began hosting her own cooking show, Who’s Cooking with Florence Henderson, on RLTV. She was the spokesperson for Wesson Cooking Oil from 1976 to 1996.

   She made her movie debut in 1970 in Song of Norway. Henderson also had a cameo as Carol Brady’s mom in The Brady Bunch Movie. Three days before her passing, Florence appeared on Dancing With The Stars, giving moral support to Maureen McCormick, who played the popular Marcia Brady.

   She was partly old-school small-screen mom, as perfectly groomed and poised as Harriet Nelson in The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet or Barbara Billingsley’s June Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver. But Henderson’s own sass, warmth and strength made Carol Brady the right surrogate mom for the changing 1970s. For viewers who came of age during The Brady Bunch years, it was Florence Henderson who more than earned the honor.

A couple of years back, I met Ms. Henderson, and found her to be quite warm and engaging. She was unassuming and down-to-earth.

   Florence Henderson was 82.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Statue for Maureen O’Hara…

November 24th, 2016

Manny P. here… 7a44e6ee81551682666764d59c98ce61

   Plans for a life-size bronze statue in honor of silver screen legend and fiery red head, Maureen O’Hara, are underway in Glengarriff, Ireland. The project is in the planning stages, and the volunteers have persuaded Jeanne Rynhart, who designed the famous Molly Malone statue in Dublin, to come out of retirement to take on the task of immortalizing Maureen. The statute will be in bronze, life-size, and depict Maureen in one of the scenes from her famous movie, The Quiet Man. The exact design has not been chosen yet, but it will be a fitting tribute to O’Hara and her family.                        MAUREEN O’HARA —>

   A resident of Glengarriff from 1968 until she moved back to the United States with her grandson Conor in 2014, Maureen was considered a local by all who lived and worked in the town. Her film career, which spanned 62 years, included a partnership with John Wayne in some of Hollywood’s most memorable movies. She also sponsored the longest-running golf tournament in Ireland. The Maureen O’Hara Classic has now been held for over 50 years in Glengarriff.

maureen-ohara-by-peggy47687   As well as a statue in Glengarriff, an auction of O’Hara’s movie memorabilia, as well as some of her dresses, ball gowns, and a collection of never-before-seen love letters from film director John Ford will go under the hammer in Bonhams Auction House in New York at the end of the month, on Conor’s instructions.

   Following Maureen’s death in Boise, Idaho, at the age of 95 in 2015, her daughter Bronwyn passed away at her home in Glengarriff in May of this year.

======================= paul-sylbert-dies-oscarwinning-production-designer-set-decorator-was-88_1

   Paul Sylbert (right) was a prolific production designer who won an Oscar for his work on Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait. He and his late twin brother Richard Sylbert became some of the most sought-after production designers in the business following arts school, working together on Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll and A Face in the Crowd.

   A Korean War veteran, Paul would span over four decades, during which he worked on films like The Wrong Man, The Drowning PoolOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Wolfen, Gorky Park, Kramer vs Kramer, Blow Out, Biloxi Blues, and The Prince of Tides, for which he scored another Oscar nod. Paul also designed for the New York City Opera Company, and penned a book about his experiences in Hollywood called Final Cut.

   In 2009, Sylbert received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Director’s Guild. Recently, he was on the faculty of the Film & Media Arts Department of his alma mater Temple University in Philadelphia.

   Paul Sylbert was 88.

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    A public service announcement:

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   Gobble… Gobble…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- One Last Shot…

November 23rd, 2016

Manny P. here… ralph_branca_1953

   Ralph Branca’s career was defined by that one high-and-inside fastball. The Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher gave up Bobby Thomson’s famed Shot Heard ‘Round the World still echoes more than six decades later as one of the most famous home runs in baseball history.        RALPH BRANCA —->

   Branca was a three-time All-Star, and spent 12 seasons in the majors. Brought in from the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth inning during the deciding Game 3 of the National League pennant playoff in 1951, he gave up a three-run homer to Thomson that gave the rival New York Giants a stunning 5-4 victory.

   The one-out line drive into the left field lower deck at the Polo Grounds prompted the frenetic call from announcer Russ Hodges, The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The team and its fans celebrated wildly as Thomson breezed around the bases, while Branca, wearing his unlucky #13 jersey, trudged off the mound. Thomson, who also homered off Branca in Game 1, capped a sensational comeback for the Giants, who trailed the Dodgers by more than a dozen games heading toward mid-August.

   For the next 50 years, Branca and Thomson often appeared together at card shows, corporate events, and baseball functions, re-telling the story of the home run that grew into a sports legend. They always were friendly at the affairs, sometimes even teaming up to sing about the big moment. But, it wasn’t until many years later, it was revealed the Giants had a little extra help, too. That’s when it came to light they employed a telescope-and-buzzer system that season to steal signs from opposing catchers. With that advantage, hitters got a boost in their swings. Thomson firmly asserted he didn’t get a sign in advance. A three-time All-Star himself, he stuck to that claim until he died in 2010 at age 86. Branca, however, wasn’t so sure.

   One of the last remaining Boys of Summer, Ralph Branca was 88-68 with a 3.79 ERA in his big league career. He spent the first 11 years with the Dodgers, then played for Detroit and the Yankees before returning to Brooklyn for a final game in 1956. Branca made his debut as a teen in 1944, and went 21-12 with 15 complete games during Jackie Robinson’s first season in 1947. Branca added another win at Yankee Stadium in the World Series.

   He co-founded the Baseball Assistance Team, which aids members of the baseball family in need of financial, medical, or psychological assistance, and served as its president for 17 years. He was a pallbearer at Robinson’s funeral in 1972. His son-in-law was former big league manager Bobby Valentine

   The steadfast Ralph Branca was 90.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Zapruder Footage Journey Since 1963

November 22nd, 2016

Manny P. here…

   On November 22nd, 1963, Abraham Zapruder shot what has become the most famous home movie of all time: A chilling 26-second snippet of film depicting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Russian-born Zapruder was a clothing manufacturer whose office sat across the street from the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas. On the day of the assassination, he and some of his employees went to Dealey Plaza to get a glimpse of the presidential motorcade. As Kennedy’s limousine passed, Zapruder began filming with his 8mm Bell & Howell camera and inadvertently captured the most complete record of the president’s murder.

jfk-assassination-conspiracy-theory-in-smoking-gun-documentary-defended-by-makers   zapruder-film-mystery

   Knowing his footage might prove valuable in a future investigation, he developed the 486-frame film, and screened it for the Secret Service the following day. He also met with a representative from Life Magazine and agreed to sell all rights to the footage for the sum of $150,000. Plagued by nightmares of the film’s gruesome content, Zapruder only allowed the magazine to publish photos of the assassination footage on the condition that it remove frame 313 — the moment in which Kennedy is shot in the head. The infamous frame would remain excised from all public versions of the film until 1975, when it was shown for the first time on reporter Geraldo Rivera’s television program, Good Night America.

zapruder1   Zapruder’s film has since served as a major piece of evidence for amateur detectives, government investigators, and conspiracy theorists. In 1964, the Warren Commission spent weeks examining the footage and conducting tests on the camera during its official investigation of the assassination. Abraham Zapruder (right) died in 1970, but Life Magazine later sold the film back to his family in 1975 for the token sum of $1.

jfk-poster   They went on to license the footage to several other sources, including to Oliver Stone, who used it in his 1991 film JFK. Stone’s film helped lead to the creation of the Assassination Records Review Board, which would later decide that the United States government should own all footage related to the Kennedy assassination. As a result, the Justice Department awarded the Zapruder family $16 million for the original print in 1999. That same year, the family donated all copyrights on the film to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

   It remains there to this day; a few blocks from where it all was first recorded.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- 2016 Medal of Freedom Recipients…

November 20th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   President Barack Obama has named 21 star-studded recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to:  Individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

   This years awardees include:  Robert De Niro, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Lorne Michaels, Diana Ross, Cicely Tyson, and Bruce Springsteen from the entertainment industry; Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and Vin Scully from the sports community; and Bill and Melinda Gates, and Frank Gehry from business and industry.

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            TOM HANKS            ELLEN DEGENERES           KENNEDY   JOHNSON   TRUMAN

   On July 6, 1945, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9586, establishing the Medal of Freedom to recognize notable service by civilians during World War II. With Executive Order 11085 (signed February 22, 1963), President John F. Kennedy re-established the award as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and expanded its scope to include cultural achievements. The first recipients, selected by Kennedy, received their medals from his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on December 6, 1963, at the White House. Kennedy, who had been assassinated the previous month, was added to the list, posthumously.

medal-of-freedom   The medal is suspended on a blue ribbon, and it incorporates the color scheme found on the presidential seal. Its most visible design element is a white star, upon which is centered a collection of 13 smaller gold stars arranged on a field of blue. A red pentagon is set behind the white star, and gold eagles bridge the distance between the points of the star. The recipient’s name is engraved on the reverse side of the medal.

   The awards will be presented at the White House on November 22nd.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Priscilla Presley has Found Her Way…

November 19th, 2016

Manny P. here… cover_3

   Priscilla Presley has opened up about her life with Elvis Presley, saying she truly lived in a bubble with the superstar. She told the British talk show Loose Women on the ITV network that she didn’t spend her teenage years as a normal girl, losing herself in Elvis’ career. Only when she began attending a dance class, did she realize how unusual their relationship truly was.           PRISCILLA PRESLEY —->

   Priscilla began dating Elvis when she was 14, and he was 24. The pair got married when she was 21 in 1967; and divorced in 1973. During the interview, the 71-year-old expressed that Elvis was the love of her life. He died in 1977 at 42 years of age.

   Hal B. Wallis, the Hollywood producer who had financed many of Elvis’ earlier films, had shown an interest in signing Priscilla to a contract. Elvis, however, had no intention of allowing his wife to appear in cinema. She would go on to have a successful acting career, appearing in The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and all three Naked Gun flicks; and on television, in Dallas, The Fall Guy, Melrose Place, Touched by an Angel, and Spin City. Priscilla had originally been offered a role on Charlie’s Angels. But, she turned down the role because of her reported distaste of the show.

priscilla-presley

   Priscilla has also been the ambassador of the Dream Foundation for the past 11 years, helping to fulfill the wishes of adults battling terminal illnesses. She became involved in this vital organization after helping to grant a recipient’s wish to visit Graceland. The Dream Foundation is the only national organization of it’s kind, working with the adults, as well as helping to create lasting memories for their family and friends left behind.

   Currently, Priscilla is promoting a United Kingdom exclusive: ELVIS. With the singer on-screen, in concert, while backed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra live on stage. It’s part of a UK Arena tour that began on Thursday. Priscilla will make a special guest live appearance during each event.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- An Offer You Can’t Refuse…

November 18th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Francis Ford Coppola signed on to direct The Godfather when he was just 29 years old. The film centers on a fictional Sicilian crime family in New York City and Coppola knew nothing about the Mafia, but he did understand Italian-American culture and tradition — and he was determined to avoid stereotypes.

   Released in 1972, The Godfather went on to become an iconic American film. It won three Academy Awards — including for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay — and its sequel, The Godfather: Part II, won six. Coppola was nominated for another Oscar in 1991 for his work on The Godfather: Part III.

godfather-notebook   The director had little idea at the time how successful the movie would be. Instead, as a young director, he was focused on getting the studio to let him do it his way, including casting choices deemed unpopular by his producers:  Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

   As he was preparing to make the flick, Coppola put together a notebook with ideas for each scene and pitfalls to avoid. It also included pages from the eponymous Mario Puzo novel the motion picture was based on, with Coppola’s notes in the margin. He has now published those materials into a new paperback called The Godfather Notebook.

   With the holidays fast approaching, this literary coffee table item might fit the bill for a fan of classic cinema.

Until next time>                               “never forget”