“Forgotten Hollywood”- Shirley Temple at 47 Cents a Pop…

May 2nd, 2016

Manny P. here…

   One of the most beloved child stars in film history, Shirley Temple Black went from Hollywood starlet to a distinguished diplomat in a life filled with adventure, fame, and service to her country. As a pint-sized actress, she cheered Americans during the last years of the Depression. A talented performer, she was the #1 box office draw for four years in a row, and was awarded the first-ever juvenile Oscar. As a teenager, she appeared in memorable movies opposite Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, and John Wayne. For a time, she was married to actor, John Agar.

   After leaving Hollywood, Black became involved in public service and politics. During the 1960s, she co-founded the International Federation of Multiple Sclerosis Societies. Black was appointed a delegate to the United Nations in 1969, and later served as the American Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia. The diplomat also went public in her fight against breast cancer.

Stamp   Shirley Temple Black continued to be honored for her achievements in film and diplomacy; most recently at the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she was presented with their Life Achievement Award. When she died in 2014 at the age of 85, she left behind three children, a grandchild, and three great-granddaughters. Perhaps, the finest way of measuring one’s success is how well your fame lasts after you are no longer in the spotlight. When you consider that Temple retired from cinema 64 years ago, and yet, is still a household name, her fame has stood the test of time.

   Since April 18th, you can purchase a Forever Stamp at any post office in the country, immortalizing the most famous Curly Top in cinematic history. Her photo on a piece of mail will surely keep a smile on any recipient’s face. Shirley Temple Black reminds us why we have survived our nation’s darkest days; and why classic Hollywood remains so relevant.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Golden Age of East Los Angeles…

May 1st, 2016

Manny P. here…

   As I prepare for an appearance at the Chicano Resource Center at East Los Angeles Library on June 23rd, I recently discovered historical moving images of the community from the 1930s through the 1970s. The entire California Light and Sound collection is part of the County of Los Angeles Public Library’s, California Audio-Visual Preservation Project.

LA COUNTY LOGO   CALightSoundLogoColor

   Among the photos I found were nostalgic shots from the historic Strand Theatre of Boris Karloff, and Our Gang stars Darla Hood and Carl Alfalfa Switzer (an actor featured in Son of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History):

boris karloff   our gang

        BORIS KARLOFF                                                     DARLA HOOD   CARL SWITZER

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   Surprisingly, I found a beautiful photo of my mom, Margaret Zozaya Pacheco, which was her Garfield High School class photo; and my dad, Manuel Pacheco, as a toddler with my grandmother Sotera Parra and my uncle Robert Pacheco. There are additional pictures of my grandma, as well as my aunts Virginia, Natalie, and Dolores. (various photos below)

 my mom - garfield high school   Pop -2

mama sotera   mama sotera vacation   Parra sisters

   These photographs were provided by my cousin Richard Armendariz for inclusion in the Foto East L.A. collection. How wonderful that my extended family are an integral part of a historic visual retrospective to be enjoyed by all who love the preservation of local history. I am proud of this amazing legacy. For a complete look at these and many more photographs, click (or copy-and-paste) the following link:

https://archive.org/details/californialightandsound&tab=collection

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Hitchcock the Masher…

April 30th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Actress Tippi Hedren recently shared with a crowd that she endured bizarre harassment (sexual and otherwise) at the hands of director Alfred Hitchcock during and after the productions of The Birds and Marnie. Then a 32-year-old model, Hedren had no acting experience when Hitchcock spotted her one morning in 1962 appearing in a diet drink commercial on the Today Show, she told interviewer Ben Mankiewicz during a Citi Card-sponsored conversation at the TCM Classic Film Festival. After an elaborate, $25,000 screen test that he personally directed, Hitchcock signed Tippi to a five-year personal contract that turned out to be a nightmare.

alfred_hitchcock_by_alexruizart-da0nt1c   Though, The Birds is considered to be Hitch’s last unqualified masterpiece, playing the main character caught in an avian holocaust was a harrowing experience for Hedren. She was originally told mechanical birds would be used in a scene where her character is attacked by crows and seagulls in a house. So, when real birds — not all of them declawed — were thrown at her for a week while the cameras rolled. Her doctor told Hitchcock she was so traumatized, she needed a week off. When the director said that wasn’t possible, Tippi quoted the physician: What are you trying to do… kill her?  She ended up spending a week at home in bed, recovering.

   Rod Taylor, playing her romantic interest in The Birds, was given instruction to not touch the girl — meaning Tippi. And, the possessive Hitchcock gave the same order to Sean Connery, her co-star in Hedren’s second and last movie with Hitchcock… Marnie.

hitch hedren   hedren hitch

   ALFRED HITCHCOCK    TIPPI HEDREN        on the set of  MARNIE

Marnie1   A studio executive at Paramount Pictures suggested actress Lee Remick to Hitchcock for the title role. Eva Marie Saint, the star of North By Northwest, unsuccessfully pursued the role. Hitch also considered two other actresses who, like Tippi Hedren, were under his personal contract; Vera Miles and Claire Griswold, wife of director and actor Sydney Pollack. Instead, Hitch opted to use Hedren

   It was during the making of Marnie that Hitchcock’s demands for Hedren to have lunch with him in the studio commissary escalated to meals in his office, and finally, to intimate champagne toasts after each day’s shooting was completed. She became uncomfortable with his suggestive behavior. Explaining her discomfort to the director, Hitchcock would never used her in another film, and refused all requests to loan her out for other movies while she was under contract, derailing her then-promising career.

   She finally returned to the big screen in 1967 with a supporting role in Charlie Chaplin’s last movie, A Countess From Hong Kong, starring Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren. The movie was made at the same studio where Hitchcock had his headquarters. By then, he refused to acknowledge her existence.

   And, that was that!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- John Wayne Takes a Beating…

April 29th, 2016

Manny P. here… John-Wayne-Caricature--93188

   What a California lawmaker intended as an innocent  resolution honoring a movie icon of the past turned into an emotional debate over decades-old defamatory comments. The State Assembly defeated the official resolution to The Duke after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities, plus his unabashed support for the House Un-American Activities Committee and the John Birch Society.         JOHN WAYNE —>

   Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Watsonville cited a 1971 interview with Playboy Magazine in which Wayne talked disparagingly about people of color. According to the interview, he said:

I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.

   Assemblyman Mike Gipson of Carson, an African American, found John Wayne’s interview personally offensive. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego also cited his comments defending European encroachment on American Indians, who Wayne once candidly surmised: Were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

   The resolution fell on a 35-20 vote. ACR137 was created in response to a Texas resolution commemorating Wayne’s birthday a year ago. One reaction to the defeat of the bill:

Opposing the John Wayne Day resolution is like opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, a Free Enterprise system, and the Fourth of July!

2-john-wayne.04.17.78_sml   Wayne was a major cinematic star, with iconic roles in Red RiverShe Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Rio BravoThe Alamo, The Green Beret, The Shootist, and True Grit, for which he won an Academy Award, while portraying rugged cowboys and brave soldiers who were his stock in trade. Assemblyman Matthew Harper of Huntington Beach sought to declare May 26th, 2016, as John Wayne Day to mark the day the actor was born. He represents the legislative district that includes John Wayne Airport in Orange County. The airport was renamed after the actor’s passing in 1979. Several lawmakers supported the resolution, recalling Wayne as an American hero, and whose family created a namesake cancer foundation after his death.

   Wayne is the latest deceased white icon to recently come under attack. President Andrew Jackson, a slave owner, Indian fighter, and the politician who led the opposition against the creation of paper money, is being removed from the face of the $20 bill. And, Princeton University recently announced that former President Woodrow Wilson’s name will remain on its public policy school despite calls to remove it because he was an avowed segregationist.

   Sometimes, Hollywood finds itself in the cross-hairs of Americana.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Official TCM Fan Club…

April 28th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Turner Classic Movies announced the launch of its first ever-official fan club, TCM Backlot, which will serve as the ultimate destination for enthusiasts. TCM Backlot will give fans unprecedented access to all things TCM, including exclusive content, never-before-seen talent interviews, archival videos from the TCM vault, an exclusive TCM podcast, as well as opportunities to win visits to the TCM set, attend meet and greets with TCM hosts, and the opportunity to influence programming through online votes.

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   TCM Backlot can be accessed at tcmbacklot.com for an $87 annual fee, and is now available for all fans to join in conjunction with the kick-off to the 7th annual TCM Classic Film Festivalwhich begins today. The fan club was created in partnership with FullCube, an integrating and automating subscription-based business platform.

TCM film fest2

   TCM Backlot will provide members with robust access to TCM content, talent, programming, and events. Membership highlights include:

Programming Influence – An advance look at TCM programming, and the opportunity to influence the schedule of movies through contests and voting

Guest Programmer – Enter to win a chance to co-host a night of movies with a TCM host

On-set Tours – Win the opportunity to tour the TCM set, and watch a TCM production being shot, as well as interact with TCM hosts and crew

VIP Event Access & Members-Only Events – Exclusive access to special events during the annual TCM Classic Film Festival and TCM Cruise, as well as exclusive events at historical Hollywood sites, and members-only TCM Bus Tour events

Giveaways and Discounts – Discounts to TCM related events, tours, and merchandise, as well as contest givaways of TCM merchandise

   For more information on TCM Backlot, please click here or visit tcmbacklot.com.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Cinematic Merger…

April 27th, 2016

Manny P. here…

TCM Film Fest   On the heels of this week’s TCM Film Festival, film buffs will soon have a new viewing option for contemporary and classic movies with the start of a streaming service called FilmStruck. Developed by Turner Classic Movies in partnership with Criterion Collection, the subscription-based service will feature thousands of films from independent and major Hollywood studios. They include Seven Samurai, A Hard Day’s Night, A Room With A View, Breaker Morant, and Mad Max.

filmstruck-logo (1)

   FilmStruck also will be the exclusive streaming destination for Criterion Collection, which specializes in licensing classic and contemporary films. Criterion will operate a channel on the service to spotlight more than 1,000 films, and provide other content such as commentary on films and filmmakers. The service will be advertising free. Specific pricing details are still being determined. Since 1984, the Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films, has been dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements.

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   FilmStruck is a terrific example of the strategy to meet consumer demand for great content across all screens, according to a Turner press release. It’s tailor-made for the die-hard movie enthusiast that crave a deep, intimate experience with independent, foreign, and art house films. And it takes advantage of TCM’s powerful curation capabilities, as well as its proven track record of building a long-term relationship with passionate film fans. FilmStruck is the latest endeavor in Turner’s overall strategy to innovate beyond the traditional television ecosystem by providing rich viewing experiences that drive engagement across all platforms.

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   Available in the Fall, check out the sizzle reel promoting FilmStruck:

http://filmstruck.com/

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering Madeleine Sherwood…

April 26th, 2016

Manny P. here… 330px-Cat_on_a_Hot_Tin_Roof11

   Madeleine Sherwood was a Canadian actress of stage, cinema, and television. She was known for her portrayals of Sister Woman and Miss Lucy in the Broadway and film  versions of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on the Hot Tin Roof  and Sweet Bird of Youth. She’s best remembered as Reverend Mother Placido in The Flying Nun from 1967–1970.     MADELEINE SHERWOOD / JACK CARSON —>

   She started her professional career in Montreal when cast in CBC dramas and soap operas. In 1953, she originated the role of Abigail in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. She became a member of the Actors Studio in 1957 working with Lee Strasberg, and was a life member. Sherwood succeeded Bette Davis on stage in The Night of the Iguana. During the 1980s, she received a grant from AFI as one of the first women to direct short films (along with Cicely Tyson, Joanne Woodward). Sherwood (below) wrote, directed, and acted in Good Night Sweet Prince, which received excellent notices.

25-madeleine-sherwood.w529.h529   In motion pictures, she had small parts in Hurry Sundown and The Changeling. On the small screen, she had recurring roles in the daytime dramas, Guiding Light and The Secret Storm. Other soap operas she appeared in include All My Children, Another World, and Capitol. In prime time, she guest-starred in Naked City, The Fugitive, Bonanza, Ben Casey, Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Jackie Gleason Show, The Name of the Game, Love American Style, Columbo, Hotel, Cagney & Lacey, and Dynasty.

   Sherwood was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era. During the Civil Rights Movement, she met and worked with Martin Luther King Jr., in the late 1950s; and went to join the Congress on Racial Equality. She was arrested during a Freedom Walk, jailed and sentenced to six months hard labor for endangering the customs and mores of the people of Alabama. Her lawyer, Fred Grey, was the first African-American lawyer to represent a white woman, south of the Mason-Dixon Line. In the 1970s, she met with Gloria Steinem, Betty Dodson, and other activists at the First Women’s Sexual Conference at Barnard College in New York. She started consciousness raising groups and counseling workshops for Women and Incest.

   Madeleine Sherwood was 93.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Walter Brennan Weekend…

April 25th, 2016

Manny P. here…

jcac_logo-x300trans   The Josephy Center for Arts and Culture will honor long-time Wallowa County rancher and Hollywood actor Walter Brennan with a three-day celebration April 28th-30th. From his arrival in Wallowa County in the 1940s until his passing in 1974, Brennan was an important citizen. He made movies and television shows well into his 70s, but also took the time to help run the Lightning Creek Ranch, build a motel and theater in his adopted hometown of Joseph.

Walter_Brennan-210   Walter Brennan Days kicks off with a showing of The Westerner, for which Brennan’s portrayal of Hanging Judge Roy Bean won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The movie will screen at 7p on April 28th. Next, biographer Carl Rollyson will talk about his recently published biography, Real American Character: The Life of Walter Brennan, and will be available for sale and book signing, according to the Josephy Center’s press release. The discussion will begin 7p on April 29th. Finally, at 2p and 7p on April 30th, La Grande actor Kevin Cahill will portray Brennan in a one-man play written by Rollyson from his personal interviews. The Old Character: Walter Brennan in His Own Words is the only ticketed event of the celebration. Tickets cost $5 at the door, or in advance at the Josephy Center.

Forgotten Hollywood cover   Brennan passed away in 1974, but his son, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren continue to live in Wallowa County. Relatives will be here for the events, and some of their memorabilia of the actor, Elks member, area supporter, rancher, and business owner, will be on display.

   The Josephy Center and Brennan family invite the community to dig out their favorite old hats and wear them in his honor. There will be a vote on movie night and author night to decide who has the best hat. The winner will receive a free copy of Rollyson’s book. On a personal note, Walter Brennan has a featured chapter in Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History; and my writing is an acknowledged source of Rollyson’s inspiration in writing his extended novel.

   Sounds like a great way to spend a weekend.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The 2016 Literacy Tour…

April 24th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   I’m proud to announce I’m kicking off the Forgotten Hollywood Literacy Tour beginning in June. This is an opportunity to present Americana and Hollywood history to readers all over Southern California, and is possible with support of the County of Los Angeles Public Library system. This extensive tour continues through the end of the year. Planned branch visits include:

LA COUNTY LOGO      crc-name-graphic

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~ Lloyd Taber-Marina Del Rey Library:  June 4th, Saturday 1p – 3p

~ Clifton Brakensiek Library / Bellflower:  June 21st, Tuesday 6p – 7:30p

~ East L.A. Library / Chicano Resource Center:  June 23rd, Thursday 6p – 8p

~ Huntington Park Library:  June 25th, Saturday 10a – 12p

~ West Covina Library:  July 11th, Monday 5:30p – 7:30p

~ Temple City Library:  July 13th, Wednesday 6p – 7:30p

~ San Gabriel Library:  July 20th, Wednesday 4p – 5:30p

~ El Camino Real Real Library:  July 30th, Saturday 1p – 3p

~ Montebello Library:  September 20th, Tuesday 6p – 7:30p

~ Louis J. Heine-Lynwood Library:  October 4th, Tuesday 6p – 7:30p

~ Duarte Library:  October 8th, Saturday 1p – 3p

~ Pico Rivera Library:  October 11th, Tuesday 6p – 7:30p

~ Westlake Village Library: November 1st, Tuesday 6p – 7:30p

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Forgotten Hollywood cover   FINALfrontcover-sonofforgottenhol

   Each visit includes an oral presentation and a screening of the Forgotten Hollywood Documentary trailer, featuring Oscar-winning actresses: Debbie Reynolds and Margaret O’Brien; and narrated by Emmy-winner Jeff Bordner. Also, pick up autographed copies of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History and Son of Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History.

   Stop by, if you live close to one of these cherished repositories.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotte Hollywood”- 400 Years of Cervantes / Shakespeare

April 23rd, 2016

Manny P. here… cervantes

   Spain commemorated the 400th anniversary of the death of its best-known writer, Miguel de Cervantes on Saturday. Events took place throughout the country celebrating the author of Don Quixote, one of the most influential books in world literature, and a work generally regarded as the precursor of the modern novel. Some artists and academics have been critical of Spain’s central government for not allocating funds to organize events on a scale similar to those celebrating William Shakespeare’s life in Britain.

   In Alcala de Henares, Cervantes’ birthplace, King Felipe VI honored Mexican author Fernando del Paso with the Cervantes Prize and Culture Minister Inigo Mendez highlighted his contribution to the development of the novel, combining tradition and modernity, as Cervantes did. The Cervantes Award is handed out each year on April 23rd. It coincides with UNESCO’s World Book Day, which promotes literature and commemorates Cervantes (and Shakespeare, who died on that date in 1616).

   The long-dead Bard is one of Britain’s leading cultural ambassadors, and the anniversary of his death on April 23rd is being marked across Britain with parades, church services and — of course — stage performances. In the playwright’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company is mounting a stage extravaganza with performances by stars including Judi Dench, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ian McKellen — and even Prince Charles, who is slated to make a brief appearance as a performer in the televised show. President Barack Obama took a break from political talks in London to tour Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Saturday, listening to Hamlet’s soliloquy and admiring the open-air venue — a recreation of the theater, built in 1599, where many of the Bard’s plays were first performed.

   And, if you decide to Google looking for events, you will be reminded of Shakespeare’s continued influence.

shakespeare

   After all, the play’s the thing… Even for the celebrated Bard and The Man of La Mancha.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of a James Bond Director

April 22nd, 2016

Manny P. here… goldf_article

   Movie director Guy Hamilton (with Sean Connery and Shirley Eaton, right) guided four popular James Bond films, and raised the profile of the genre in his collaborative work with Sean Connery and Roger Moore. The Brit would direct Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, and The Man with The Golden Gun. Hamilton turned down an opportunity to direct Dr. No, but accepted the Goldfinger assignment. His genius was making his villains more believable.

   Hamilton was born in Paris to British parents. His first exposure to the film industry came in 1938 when he was a clapperboard boy at the Victorine Studios in Nice. He worked for the Paramount News newsreel company in England during World War II before serving in the Navy. He got his big break in 1948 when legendary British director Carol Reed hired him as first assistant director for The Fallen Idol. Hamilton worked with Reed on The Third Man starring Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton; and with John Huston on The African Queen featuring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. Hamilton went on to direct several movies in the 1950s.

    Other films he created during (and after) his success with James Bond – Battle of Britain, Force 10 from Navarone, Evil Under the Sun, and Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Personal issues forced him to decline work on Superman: The Movie and the 1989 version of Batman.

   Guy Hamilton was 93.

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   Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History has reached it’s latest milestone in sales. Over 3400 copies of paperbacks and eBooks have been purchased. Thank you to the local Cypress and La Mirada Rotary chapters, and Cypress Kiwanis for this week’s contribution. Also, the actual reason for this latest accomplishment: A person who decided to buy my book on Amazon; and then, they bought an additional book as part of the Amazon Matchbook eBook program that allows you to obtain the extra item at a discounted rate.

Forgotten Hollywood cover        3400

   My initial work is about to go into it’s 3rd Print, since I continue to sell my book at an astounding rate. This action will make the first two printings (you own), collector’s editions.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Symbol in Life and Death…

April 21st, 2016

Manny P. here.. prince_caricature_by_phillustrator_uk-d8k4syn

   A true Urban legend, Prince combined R&B, jazz fusion, funk, disco, pop, and rock to create a sound that was truly unique. He influenced or mentored many singer / songwriters, including Michael Jackson, Sheila E., Vanity, Sinead O’Connor, Tom Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Morris Day, Chaka Khan, Madonna, and The Bangles. Prince sold over 100 million records, worldwide, making him one of the biggest-selling acts in the annals of pop music. He garnered seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award. In 2004, Prince was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.         PRINCE –>

   He was a pupil of Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Todd Rundgren, Earth Wind & Fire, and Miles Davis. Rock critics noted his similarities with Little Richard’s androgynous look and vocals. Eric Clapton once called him the best guitarist alive.

    Prince’s 1984 album Purple Rain sold more than 13 million copies in the United States, and spent 24 consecutive weeks at #1 on Billboard Magazine’s 200 Chart. He won an Oscar for Best Original Score for the film, Purple Rain, and had the #1 album, single, and film; the first time a singer had achieved this feat. Other movies include Under the Cherry Moon, Sign o’ the Times, and Graffiti Bridge. Returning to their original format, MTV suspended their regular programming, and ran his many music videos all day after the announcement of his passing.

 255px-Prince_logo.svg  The songwriter had many memorable tunes, such as Little Red Corvette, ControversyI Wanna Be Your LoverWhen Doves Cry, Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me with U, 1999I Would Die 4 U, Raspberry Beret, A Love Bizarre, KissCream, and The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. The magic happened at a recording studio in Minneapolis known as Paisley Park. Protesting his record contract, he transformed into The artist formerly known as Prince, or simply:   THE SYMBOL

prince-points-corbis-news-door   After Tipper Gore heard her 12-year-old daughter listening to Prince’s xxx song, Darling Nikki, she founded the Parents Music Resource Center. It advocates the mandatory use of a warning label (Parentel Advisory: Explicit Lyrics) on the covers of record albums containing language or lyrical content unsuitable for minors. The recording industry later voluntarily complied with this request.

   The singer defied convention, and recently became a Jehovah’s Witness; and he was a vegetarian. And, throughout his career, he was not afraid to engage in lawsuits, mostly with his music labels, or over a copyright infringement.

   I suspect in death, Prince’s estate will continue to earn gobs of royalties. The ubiquitous, prolific, trailblazing, cultural icon known as Prince was 57.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Forgotten Victims in Flight…

April 20th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Over the years, a common reason famous people have died in airline crashes is because of monetary access to travel like a bird. That said, early aviators such as Amelia Earhart may have been doomed by unrealistic goals. The Kennedy curse did not begin with the lone guns of Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan; Joe Kennedy Jr. and Kathleen Kennedy spent their last moments of life on a winged craft way back in the 1940s. War was an obvious reason why Carole Lombard and Big Band leader Glenn Miller died tragically, when their air crafts disappeared or crashed. Bad weather contributed to the demise of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper in the 1950s; and Otis Redding and The Barkays in the 1960s. More recently, we have lost Jim Croce, John Denver, and composer James Horner.

   Here are six cinematic legends who perished on planes, rarely referenced today:

~ Will Rogers – A folksy poet, who set the modern standard for rural comedy, in truth, was a savvy entertainer that became a nationwide cross-culture phenomenon during the the Silent Era of cinema. Inheriting the mantle from Mark Twain, this common man was a cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, newspaper columnist, social commentator, and stage and motion picture actor (making over 21 films in the Sound Era).

Will_Rogers_Field_Dedication_WPA_Poster   Rogers was an advocate for the aviation industry after noticing advancements in Europe, and befriending Charles Lindbergh, the most famous aviator of the era. In 1935, the famed pilot Wiley Post, became interested in surveying a mail-and-passenger air route from the West Coast to Russia. Rogers visited Wiley often at an airport in Southern California, and he asked Post to fly him through Alaska in search of new material for his newspaper column. On August 15th, they left Fairbanks, Alaska. They were a few miles from Point Barrow in bad weather, and landed in a lagoon to ask directions. On takeoff, the engine failed at low altitude, and the aircraft plunged into the lagoon, shearing off the right wing, and the plane ended up inverted in the shallow water. Both men died instantly.

~ Knute Rockne – The legendary football coach at Notre Dame, Rockne was a bona fide star in his field of endeavor. His story was immortalized in a production that starred Pat O’Brien as the iconic coach. The Warner Brothers film, Knute Rockne All American, co-starred Ronald Reagan in one of finest moments on screen, Gale Page, and Donald Crisp.

Knuterocknememorial   Rockne died in the crash of an airplane — TWA Flight 599 — in Kansas on March 31st, 1931, while en route to participate in the production of the film The Spirit of Notre Dame. The unexpected, dramatic death of Rockne startled the nation and triggered a national outpouring of grief, and comparable to the passing of presidents. The funeral itself was broadcast live on network radio across the United States and in Europe, as well as to parts of South America and Asia.

800px-Of_Human_Bondage_Poster~ Leslie Howard – A major movie star, who facilitated the careers of Humphrey Bogart and Wendy Hiller, he was cast as Ashley Wilkes in Gone with the Wind. He also starred in Pygmalion  (written by George Bernard Shaw), Of Human Bondage, and The Petrified Forest.

   Howard’s World War II activities included acting and filmmaking. He was active in anti-German propaganda, and was reputedly involved with British or Allied Intelligence. This may have led to his death on June 1st, 1943, when an airliner on which he was a passenger was shot down over the Bay of Biscay, sparking conspiracy theories regarding his death. One hypothesis… his plane was targeted because Adolf Hitler believed that British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a passenger.

 263px-Mike_Todd_Elizabeth_Taylor_TWA_Playbill_ad_February_10_1958  ~ Mike Todd – The famed producer of Around the World in Eighty Days, Mike Todd was one the many husbands of Elizabeth Taylor. Their friends included husband-and-wife Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

   On March 22nd, 1958, Todd’s private plane Lucky Liz crashed near Grants, New Mexico. The plane suffered engine failure while being flown overloaded, in icing conditions at an altitude that was too high for only one engine working under the heavy load. The craft went out of control and crashed, killing all four on board. Five days before, Todd flew on the plane to Albuquerque to promote a showing of his film. Taylor had been too ill to accompany him on the trip.

330px-Sonja_Henie_on_Time_Magazine_1939~ Sonja Henie – Like Knute Rockne, Sonja Henie was a Norwegian sports superstar. She was a three-time Olympic champion in figure skating. Henie’s connections with Adolf Hitler and other high-ranking German officials made her the subject of controversy during the advent of World War II. Controversy appeared first when Henie greeted Hitler with a Nazi salute at an exhibition in Berlin, right before the 1936 Winter Olympics; and she was strongly denounced by the Norwegian press. After the occupation of Norway, German troops saw Hitler’s autographed photo prominently displayed on the piano in the Henie family home.

   Hollywood studio chief Darryl Zanuck signed her to a long term contract at 20th Century Fox, which made her one of the highest-paid actresses of the time. She appeared with Glenn Miller (a victim of an airline mishap over the English Channel) in the insanely popular musical, Sun Valley Serenade. Henie was diagnosed with leukemia in the mid-1960s. She died of the disease in 1969 during a flight from Paris to Oslo.

375px-Audie_Murphy~ Audie Murphy – The eventual actor was the most decorated soldier of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. After the war, Murphy enjoyed a 21-year acting career. He played himself in the 1955 autobiographical To Hell and Back, based on his 1949 memoirs, but most of his films were Westerns, including The Red Badge of Courage.

   Suffering from what would today be termed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), he slept with a loaded handgun under his pillow and looked for solace in addictive sleeping pills. In the last few years of his life, he was plagued by money problems, but he refused offers to appear in alcohol and cigarette commercials, because he did not want to set a bad example. Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971 shortly before his 46th birthday, and was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

   An honorable mention is Paul Mantz, a stunt pilot who perished as he performed a stunt crash during the filming of The Flight of the Phoenix in 1965. The actual footage was used in the final print of the film, and the entire production was dedicated to the pilot.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Everybody Loved Doris Roberts…

April 19th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Doris Roberts, who played the sly, tart-tongued, meddling mother on Everybody Loves Raymond. She won four Emmy Awards for her portrayal of Marie Barone, and received a total of seven nods as Best Supporting Actress for the show. The sitcom, which aired from 1996 to 2005, also starred Ray Romano, Brad Garrett, and Patricia Heaton. Peter Boyle, who played husband Frank, died in 2006.

doris roberts

          DORIS ROBERTS

   She was born in 1925, and grew up in New York. Roberts’ acting career began in 1952 with a role on the television anthology Studio One. She appeared in episodes of The Naked City, Ben Casey, and The Defenders. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Rue McClanahan confirmed that in 1972, she was approached by Norman Lear to be a late replacement for Roberts, who was originally intended for the role of Vivian in Maude. Doris was also memorable for her recurring role in the detective series Remington Steele. She additionally guest-starred in All in the FamilyBarney Miller, Full House, Soap, Alice, and Mary Hartman Mary Hartman. Her initial Emmy was for a stint on St. Elsewhere.

   On stage, she had roles in Desk Set with Shirley Booth, and Neil Simon’s Last of the Red Hot Lovers. In cinema, she was cast in No Way to Treat a Lady, The Rose, and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three. More recently, Roberts appeared in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

doris   An avid cook, the actress co-wrote Are You Hungry Dear… Life Laughs and Lasagna, published by St. Martin’s Press. Roberts worked to positively impact the lives of children by supporting education organizations, and those that assist children with AIDS. An animal rights advocate, she supported Puppies Behind Bars that works with inmates, guide dogs for the physically disabled and elderly, as well as dogs for the ATF and law enforcement agencies to detect explosives. In 2005, Doris received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University of South Carolina. She was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2011.

   Battling ageism, Doris testified before Congress. Last month, she appeared at a SAG-AFTRA event that focused on the scarcity of female directors in entertainment. The outspoken critic of age discrimination asked the panel why there were so few roles for elder actors.

   The spunky Doris Roberts was 90.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- An Honor For Bob Mackie…

April 18th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The Chicago History Museum’s Costume Council plans to honor fashion designer Bob Mackie. He is famous for his sparkling, imaginative costume designs, and will receive the council’s Designer of Excellence Award on Tuesday. He’s often called the sultan of sequins, the rajah of rhinestones, won numerous Emmy Awards for his designs, and received an Academy Awards nomination.

bioset4_large   bioSet2_large

   The 77-year-old designer has dressed many stars in Hollywood, including Rita Hayworth, Liberace, Betty Grable, Lena Horne, Judy Garland, Shirley Jones, Janet Leigh, Julie Andrews, Ann-Margaret, Bette Midler, Mae West, Gale Storm, Robert Goulet, Ann Miller, Jane Powell, Ella Fitzgerald, Barbara Stanwyck, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman, Jack Palance, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine, Martha Raye, Angie Dickenson, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Eden, Anne Baxter, Jayne Mansfield, and Mitzi Gaynor. He was the costume designer for the The Carol Burnett Show during its entire 11-year run. It was his genius providing the memorable curtain gown in the very funny Gone with the Wind sketch on the variety show. Bob also designed the clothes for its spinoff, Mama’s Family; and for the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy.

   Mackie and future life partner Ray Aghayan, worked with legendary costumer Edith Head in 1961 while working as a novice designer at Paramount Studios. They received an Oscar nod for their work with Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues. Bob also designed the exotic ensemble worn by Cher at the March 1986 Academy Awards: black stretch pants, knee high boots, a black chain-link top, a bejeweled loincloth, and a huge feathered Mohawk headdress that was one and a half times taller than her head. One of Mackie’s favorite projects was to design the dresses for collector’s edition of Barbie Dolls.

   The Chicago group says its award goes to visionary designers who have indelibly left their mark on the fashion world. The council owns a costume collection and operates a conservation lab. Among its holdings are items from Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, and Michael Jordan’s basketball uniform.

Until next time>                               “never forget”