“Forgotten Hollywood”- Two-Bit Thimble Rigger…

July 17th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`A con man visits a town and warns residents of the TROUBLE permeating the community due to modernization that could corrupt the youngsters of any hamlet. Along the way, this two-bit thimble rigger bamboozles the mayor and his wife, the school board, the librarian, among others. I am not referring to current politicos promoting a collection of hotels from Mar-a-Lago to Scotland… Actually, this is the underlying story of The Music Man.

“`In the early 1960s,  a number of anti-heroes were the subject of important cinema that spoke to the gullibility of small town and big-city America. What emerged from Hollywood were films such as A Face in the Crowd, Elmer Gantry and of course, The Music Man. These tales border on satire, with characters working themselves into a fervent frenzy.

“`The Music Man was written by Meredith Wilson and his purposeful theme was to lampoon the modest values of any collective. For the record, Professor Harold Hill is oft described as a bang beat, bell-ringin’, big haul, great go neck-or-nothin’, rip-roarin’, ever’time-a-bull’s-eye, salesmanas a fast-talking, self-centered, woman-chasing traveling man; and road agent, highwayman, and a pickpocket. In one instance, the Iowa townspeople are labeled as neck-bowed Hawk-eyes. When apprised of their gullible foolishness, the town fathers suggest tar-and-feathers as an appropriate punishment for this so-called spellbinder.

“`The real crime is that Robert Preston (Professor Hill) was snubbed by the film academy for his larger-than-life performance. Others in the perfectly cast musical include Buddy Hackett, Shirley Jones, Ron Howard, Paul Ford, Hermione Gingold, Pert Kelton and superb barbershop quartet, The Buffalo Bills.

“`Just after the turn of the twentieth century, our modern industrialized society was shaken to the core by the arrival of Halley’s Comet. The Book of Revelations spoke of fire and brimstone that might befall our planet. And in the late 1930s, the entire Eastern seaboard were terrified by a martian invasion, which was descriptively penned by H. G. Wells in War of the Worlds. The radio broadcast presented by  Mercury Theatre on the Air employed techniques similar to those in The March of Time newsreel. The result was frightening in its presentation, and in its aftermath.

“`The difference of oft-told parables and the current political climate is the redemptive happy endings designed to keep audiences satisfied. Let us hope that we as a culture will be just as lucky during these turbulent times.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Footloose and Fancy Free…

July 16th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`Fort Smith city directors recently repealed a 1953 ordinance that essentially outlawed public dancing on Sundays. Local residents who knew about the law called it the Footloose ordinance, nicknamed for the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon about a fictional hamlet that banned dancing and rock music.

“`City Director Andre Good introduced the repeal after being informed about the antiquated law by a local resident. The directive barred the operation of public dance halls or any place with dancing on Sundays. The ordinance was enacted amid a series of blue laws established throughout Arkansas, according to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. Other laws also banned Sunday activities that included hunting and baseball.

“`The dancing ban’s emergency clause signed by former Mayor H. R. Hestand. No one in Fort Smith has been arrested or ticketed in twenty years for cutting loose on Sundays because of the morality code, according to a local spokesperson. The decision could lead to the repeal of other laws that impede progress and conflict in Fort Smith and other towns in Arkansas.

“`Now that I think about it, someone should invite Kenny Loggins to hold a Sunday concert for the residents of the community.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of the First Mrs. Sinatra…

July 14th, 2018

Manny P. here… 

“`Frank Sinatra had a number of wives, but he initially married his childhood sweetheart. Nancy Sinatra Sr. was the wife of a crooning sensation and the mom of two pop stars. She is credited in helping shape her daughter’s career.   FRANK AND NANCY SINATRA –>

“`They dated as teens, and wed at  Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Jersey City on February 4th, 1939, just as Frank’s singing career hit the stratosphere. Three years prior to marrying the former Nancy Barbato, Sinatra landed a radio program on WAAT. At times,  Nancy was employed as a secretary, while Frank worked nights as a singing waiter.

“`After Sinatra became a pop-music sensation in the 1940s, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where the singer would also become a movie star, raconteur, man about town and a notorious womanizer. That latter accomplishment led Nancy to leave him after an affair with actress Ava Gardner became public knowledge. Weeks after the couple’s divorce became final in 1951, her ex-husband married Gardner.

“`During the 1960s. she became known as Nancy Sr., especially as daughter Nancy became a 1960s singing sensation with These Boots Are Made For Walking, and other hit tunes. She also remained friendly with her ex-husband. Over the years, Frank often requested pasta and other Italian food dishes she was known to be an expert at preparing.

“`She never remarried and outlived her husband and son. The elder Nancy Sinatra was 101.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Downton On the Big Screen…

July 13th, 2018

Manny P. here… 

“`Three years after going off the air,  Downton Abbey will be back as a full length feature. The long-rumored adaptation is likely to be released sometime next year. The primary cast members are all set to return.

“`Focus Features  has announced that it shall begin its production this summer on a Downton film that reunites the Crawley family on the big screen. And series creator Julian Fellowes wrote the screenplay and will produce.

“`Over six seasons,  Downton Abbey became a global hit, airing in at least 150 countries and setting a record for cable programming with 69 Emmy nominations.

“`Brian Percival, who was at the helm for the series’ pilot, will direct the movie.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Cha-Ching and Tigger Too…

July 10th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`The original hand-drawn map of Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods has sold at auction for 430,000 pounds, a record price for any literary illustration. E. H. Shepard’s drawing sold at Sotheby’s in London for almost three-times its pre-sale estimate. It was last sold in 1970 for 1,700 pounds.

“`Shepard’s 1926 sketch features beloved characters, including Pooh and Christopher Robin, and landmarks such as Bee Tree and Eeyore’s Gloomy Place. Shepard’s illustration cemented the popularity of A. A. Milne’s bear and his woodland buddys. In 2014, an ink drawing of the characters playing the game poohsticks sold for a then-record 314,500 pounds.

“`The map and four other Shepard Winnie-the-Pooh illustrations sold for a total of 917,500 pounds at Tuesday’s auction.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- What Lola Wanted…

July 9th, 2018

Manny P. here… 

“`Tab Hunter was the actor and singer who became a heartthrob for millions of teenagers in the 1950s with such films as Battle Cry and Damn Yankees!. And, decades later, Tab received newfound attention when revealing he was gay. The actor’s savvy timing of his announcement provided positive movement towards acceptance of the lifestyle by society.

“`Born Arthur Andrew Kelm, his on-screen moniker was fabricated by Henry Willson, a talent agent who imaged the personas of Rock Hudson and Rory Calhoun.  While visiting New York,  he saw Broadway plays and became interested in acting.  With no dramatic training, Hunter was hired for a small part in the drama, The Lawless. Soon, his handsome face and muscular build appeared on magazine covers. Warner Brothers, quite savvy to the increasingly important youth market, signed him to a contract.

“`He started appearing with top stars, including Van Heflin, Rita Hayworth, Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, Natalie Wood, Clint Eastwood, and Debbie Reynolds, Tab’s big break was a lead in the 1958 musical, Damn Yankees!, an adaptation of the hit Broadway musical with Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston in their Tony-winning roles, and the original director, George Abbott, sharing direction with Stanley Donen.

“`His career involved stints on television, European flicks, and youth-oriented fare.  Ride the Wild Surf capitalized on the beach-party series of films. He garnered small parts in The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and Grease 2. In the 1980s, he won new fans by appearing in cult movies with Divine, a 300-pound transvestite, most notably in John Waters’ Polyester and Paul Bartel’s Lust in the Dust, which was co-produced by Hunter.

“`The enigmatic Tab Hunter was 86.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- News From the Web…

July 7th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`Legendary comic book creator Steve Ditko co-created Spider-Man and Doctor Strange with Stan Lee. Plus, Ditko penned such enduring foes as Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and Vulture, all of whom have appeared in numerous Spider-Man movies, which have earned lifetime totals of $5 billion, worldwide.

“`Ditko studied under Batman artist Jerry Robinson at Cartoonist and Illustrators School in New York City. Steve began his professional career in 1953, working in the studio of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

“`After Lee and Ditko teamed on Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spider-Man’s initial appearance), the newly-launched Marvel Comics spun off the character into his own comic book, The Amazing Spider-Man, which has published over 800 issues since its first printing in 1963. Ditko worked on Amazing Spider-Man until issue #38,  a tenure that saw the creation of related characters, such as J. Jonah Jameson.

“`Lee and Ditko famously split up for reasons never entirely identified. In 2017, Lee recounted how the pair clashed over Lee’s decision to reveal the identity of Spider-Man’s arch enemy, the Green Goblin, as the dad of Peter Parker’s  (Spider-Man’s alter ego) best pal. For a time, Ditko worked at DC Comics.

“`Ditko maintained a writing studio in Manhattan until his passing. He had no known surviving family members, and he was incredibly private, turning down nearly all offers to do interviews, meet fans, or appear at movie premieres. He was inducted into the  Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.

“`The reclusive Steve Ditko was 90.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Restrictive Immigration Policy…

July 6th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`A European family attempt to immigrate to the United States (and also later to Cuba), but their efforts were thwarted by America’s restrictive immigration policies and the outbreak of World War II. Efforts to get the family out of the Netherlands likely started as early as 1938, the turbulent year, which Germany had annexed Austria and part of Czechoslovakia into the Third Reich. On November 9th, Nazis terrorized Jews throughout the country in their violent Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of Broken Glass.

“`On May 14th, 1940, with this family still on the waiting list for possible visas,  the American consulate was devastated in a German bombardment,  and necessary papers were destroyed. Even without the loss of their visa application, it would have been difficult to immigrate to the United States. With hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge in the United States each year by the time war broke out in 1939, Washington issued fewer than 30,000 annual visas.

“`The processing of a visa application also lasted several years, and included a huge amount of paper work, such as affidavits from relatives or friends in the United States. Even with the demands fulfilled, applicants could still be turned down. And the war further complicated any immigration efforts. The renewed attempt in 1941 to get the family across the Atlantic failed because American consulates in Germany-occupied Europe,  including the Netherlands, were closed by the Nazis.

“`Eventually,  Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in Amsterdam on July 6th, 1942; exactly 76 years ago to the day. The family hid for over two years during the war, and it was then that Anne wrote her famous diary. On August 4th, 1944,  the Frank’s were discovered and deported to Auschwitz. Only her father, Otto, survived the war.  Tragically, Anne and her sister died in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.                        FRANK FAMILY –>

“`Now, the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum feel a timely reminder is necessary in light of a climate of political provincialism sweeping a number of nations across the globe… Restrictive immigration policies are a morally bankrupt ideal.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Monument to Archie…

July 4th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`Archie comic strips are part of American folklore.  A life-size bronze statue of the red-haired, freckled Archie will soon greet visitors at a New Hampshire town in honor of the local man who drew the comic book character and his group of wholesome teenage friends.

“`The Greater Meredith Program, a community development nonprofit, raised $57,000 for the project in six months, mostly from residents. Architect Chris Williams originally suggested the idea to honor the former Meredith resident with a bronze statue. The figure will sit on a bench and look toward Bob Montana’s workshop, now vacant,  where he spent his afternoons quietly drawing comic strips. The Belarusian artist commissioned to do the sculpture, Valery Mahuchy wants to bring people together and offer unity with the statue.

“`Bob Montana illustrated Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead from 1942 until his demise in 1975 at age 54. He lived in Meredith, New Hampshire, for 35 years until he died from a heart attack while cross-country skiing. Montana brought the Archie Andrews character to life when he drew the first Archie comic strip while renting a cottage on Lake Waukewan. He was joined by other illustrators over the years, including Tom Moore, who also chronicled the character’s  escapades from 1953 until he retired in the 1980s.

“`Montana’s impact in Meredith was immense. The comic strip was distributed in newspapers nationwide, a few years later. Its popularity led the company that published the comic books, MLJ Comics, to change their name to Archie Comic Publications in 1946. Over the years, the cartoon sold billions of copies worldwide, and inspired several television shows, including Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Riverdale. Montana also had a vision of turning Meredith into an art colony. He introduced several artists to the small town and created a local theater group.

“`The one-of-a-kind statue will be commemorated August 9th in Meredith’s Community Park to coincide with the town’s 250th anniversary.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Oy Vey…

July 3rd, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`An updated off-Broadway production of  Fiddler on the Roofdirected by Oscar and Tony winner Joel Grey, will be performed in Yiddish for the first time in the United States. A preview starts this evening for the show, and using the language its characters would have spoken.

“`Based on short stories by Sholom Aleichem originally penned in Yiddish, Fiddler is set in 1905 in a Jewish village in czarist Russia. A Yiddish version of the production translated by actor and writer Shraga Friedman as  Fidler afn Dakh was performed in Israel in 1966, but was never staged in the United States until now.

“`Yiddish, which is based on German and dialects used in Hebrew and other languages and is written with the Hebrew alphabet, was once spoken by millions of Eastern European Jews but fell victim both to the Holocaust and a desire for assimilation. The new production exemplifies how decades of work to preserve Yiddish by organizations, including the FolksbieneYiddish for World Stage — have paid off.

“`Immigrants to the United States built a thriving Yiddish theater scene and it launched the career of famed acting teacher Stella Adler, and thespians such as Edward G. Robinson. The Folksbiene was founded in 1915 and was once one of a dozen Yiddish theater companies on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. They presents examples from the Yiddish theater canon, new productions, and adaptations of Yiddish literary works such as Yentl.

“`Joel Grey’s papa was Mickey Katz, a musician and actor who performed Yiddish comedy and songs. Grey actually doesn’t speak much Yiddish, but has been learning while rehearsing. The 86-year-old is best remembered for his award-winning role as the host in Cabaret, a musical that improbably turned the rise of Hitler into popular entertainment.

“`Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway in 1964, and it starred Zero Mostel as Tevye and ran for eight years. It has been a favorite of schools and community theater groups ever since and has been revived on Broadway four times. Its songs, including If I Were a Rich Man and Sunrise Sunset, are familiar even to people who have never seen the show.

“`This updated culturally accurate version should have critics shouting…  L’Chaim!

Until next time.                                “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Cat’s Meow…

July 2nd, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`Choreographer Gillian Lynne for years collaborated with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on a number of his most iconic plays. Her credits include the phenomenally successful Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. She won a Tony Award for each production.

“`Lynne began her career as a lead solo dancer with Sadler’s Wells Ballet in 1944, and moved into directing and choreography. She was a choreographer for Northern Ballet and the Bolshoi. Lynne directed many productions in London’s West End and on Broadway. She also worked on television specials, collaborating with performers from a variety of music genres, including Ray Charles, Perry Como, and Petula Clark.

“`Just last month, Lloyd Webber re-named his New London Theatre as The Gillian Lynne Theatre, making it the first in London’s theater district named for a woman. Though she had a prolific career as a choreographer on stage, her work also involved film. Gillian appeared in The Master of Ballantrae with Errol Flynn, and became the dance supervisor for Man of La Mancha and Yentl.

“`She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1997 Birthday Honours, and as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire  (DBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours:  for service to musical theatre and dance. Lights around London’s theater district will dim for a minute over the next few days before each show as a fitting tribute to Lynne.

“`Gillian Lynne (right) transformed and updated modern musical theatre through dance. She was 92.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Kitty Car…

July 1st, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`A Hello Kitty-themed shinkansen bullet train has debuted in Japan. Adorned with the icon inside and out, it’s a dream ride for fans of the internationally popular character.

“`The stylish, eight-car train is painted pink and white, showcasing images and trademark ribbons from flooring to seat covers and windows. In one car, the life-size Hello Kitty doll donning a train crew uniform and a hat — decorated with a pink bow, of course — greeted passengers and offered a chance for selfies.

“`The special shinkansen had its inaugural round trip this weekend, between Osaka and Fukuoka, connecting Japan’s west and south. Hours later in Osaka, the train’s final stop, hundreds of fans waited for the arrival of the first Hello Kitty shinkansen, cheering and snapping photos during the sixteen-minute stopover before it traveled back to Fukuoka, according to Japanese media reports.

“`Hello Kitty, created in 1974 by the Japanese Sanrio Co., is a global icon with fans of all ages. With over forty years in the market, the round-faced feline with no mouth is still seen everywhere, on stationery and towels to jewelry and even furniture.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Toyland…

June 30th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`A new eleven-acre land inspired by the animated movie Toy Story opens to the public this weekend at Disney’s Hollywood Studios just outside Orlando. Tim Allen, the voice of Buzz Lightyear, made a surprise guest appearance at an event celebrating Saturday’s opening.

“`For children of the mid-1990s, Disney’s new Toy Story Land offers an opportunity to visit the imaginary world they grew up in. For their parents, it brings back memories of a magical time of toys and make-believe. The new theme park land offers a whimsical experience from the moment a 20-foot statue of Sheriff Woody welcomes guests as if they are toys in Andy’s backyard.

“`You will find favorite characters — Sheriff Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, Slinky Dog, Mr. Potato Head and the Green Army Patrol — in the brightly colored land, along with two new attractions: Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. The park provides larger-than-life versions of classic toys and games like Rubik’s Cube, colorful Cootie bugs, Scrabble letters, building blocks, and Tinkertoys.  There are also benches built from Lincoln Logs. Also, dine at Woody’s Lunchbox.

“`The anticipated opening of Toy Story Land is one of the most anticipated events at theme parks this year. And, this continues Disney’s tradition of bringing movies to life.  Last year, Pandora-World of Avatar opened at the Florida theme park. Next year, lands based on Star Wars open at Disney parks in Florida and in California.

“`Toy Story Land is the result of a collaboration between the Disney Imagineers and their storytelling partners at Pixar Animation Studios. To infinity… and beyond !!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- An Untimely Finale…

June 29th, 2018

Manny P. here…

“`Much has been documented about the celebrated final movies of James Dean (Giant), Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe (The Misfits), and Peter Finch (Network). Each unexpected death left the public stunned. Here are five supporting players that may be unfamiliar, however, they offer fitting memorable finales in iconic motion pictures:

~ Robert Newton – As the intrepid Inspector Fix in Around the World in Eighty Days, it was the culmination of a fine career that began in England. Other memorable movie roles include Oliver Twist, Treasure Island, Les Miserables, and The High and The Mighty. Yet, as Fix, he embodied the Scotland Yard ethos of bulldog tenacity. Before the opening of Jules Verne’s classic, Newton was dead from a heart attack related to chronic alcoholism. He was just fifty. Eighteen months later, producer Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash. Elizabeth Taylor became his widow.

~ James Millican – He was 44 when he died, however, this actor appeared in over 200 films. He co-starred in many Westerns. His notable parts includes My Favorite Blonde, The Lost Weekend, High Noon and Winchester ’73. He was an honest sheriff in his final performance in The Man From Laramie. Millican was gone three months later.

~ Zazu PittsIt’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World featured a number of comedians in cameos. To date, the only two still with us: Carl Reiner and Barrie Chase. The first performer to succumb was Zazu Pitts. Her career dates back to 1917, and was cast in fine films, such as Ruggles of Red Gap, Life with Father, The Thrill of it All and Francis (a talking mule) series of movies. Her role as a police switchboard operator was priceless in her last screen appearance. The epic comedy was released six months after she passed.

~ Norma Crane – At 42, Crane was given the role of a lifetime as Golde in Fiddler on the Roof. This would be her last. Throughout the production, she suffered from breast cancer. Feeling she would beat the affliction, Norma searched for other work. However, she died two years later in 1973.

~ Conrad Veidt – The celebrated German actor has a chapter in my upcoming literary work, Road to Forgotten Hollywood Forgotten History. Best known for playing vile Nazi characters, Veidt was most iconic as Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca. As the highest paid actor in the cast, all his earnings were earmarked for the Allied fight against the Axis.  He would not live long enough to see the defeat of Hitler after suffering a fatal heart attack on a golf course a mere five months after the celebrated release of Casablanca. Veidt was fifty.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of Harlan Ellison…

June 28th, 2018

Manny P. here… 

“`Harlan Ellison was a prolific writer and his principal genre was speculative fiction. His published works include over 1,700 short stories, essays, novellas, screenplays, teleplays, scripts adapted from comic books, and critical analysis that reviewed literature, film, television, and print media.           HARLAN ELLISON –>

“`Ellison moved to California in 1962, and subsequently, began to sell his work to Hollywood. He wrote the screenplay for The Oscar and this led to lots of assignments for television. His credits include  Route 66The Loretta Young Show, Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Flying Nun, The Outer LimitsBurke’s Law, Star Trek, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. A couple of his literary works were adapted for the screen, A Boy and His Dog and I Robot. Ellison served as creative consultant to the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone and Babylon 5.

“`Over the course of his long career, Ellison was showered with accolades, including several  Hugo Awards. Stephen King has freely admitted that he was influenced by the writings of this influential scribe.

“`The volatile Harlan Ellison was 84.

Until next time>                               “never forget”