“Forgotten Hollywood”- Wanna Buy the Playboy Mansion…

January 13th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The Playboy Mansion, the legendary Holmby Hills estate where Hugh Hefner has worked and made his home for four decades, is on the market for the nine-figure sum, making it among the priciest residential properties for sale in the United States. As part of any sale, the 89-year-old Hefner will be allowed remain in residence for the remainder of his life.

   Among the major works of architect Arthur R. Kelly, the stone-clad Gothic Tudor-style mansion was built for department store scion Arthur Letts Jr. in 1927. Playboy acquired the estate of more than five acres in 1971 for around $1.1 million. Hef will let it go for $20 million.


   Within nearly 20,000 square feet of interiors are 29 rooms including chef’s and catering kitchens, a game room, a wine cellar, and a screening room with a built-in pipe organ. The master suite occupies parts of two floors. Other amenities include a gymnasium, a tennis court, an orchard, and the infamous swimming pool and swim-in grotto. There’s also a four-bedroom guesthouse.

   And, the mansion is also among a select number of Los Angeles properties to have a zoo license. Grounds feature a menagerie of aviaries and arboretums holding a collection of exotic birds and monkeys. Albino peacocks and other animals roam freely through rolling lawns and various gardens.

   Bunnies will not be part of the sale…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- BAM! Batman at 50…

January 12th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Batman lasted just three years and yielded 120 episodes. However, it created a whole new generation of fans for the crime solving comic book hero, first devised in 1939 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, long before he became a much darker figure in big screen blockbusters (who indeed will return March 25th in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice). The colorful tongue-in-cheek superhero romp, aired twice a week — on Wednesday (with a cliffhanger) and Thursday nights — beginning in 1966, and became a quick sensation, with its campy tone and its catchy theme song.


BURT WARD                                           ADAM WEST

   The television version of Batman debuted January 12th with few expectations. Originally scheduled to join ABC’s lineup for the 1966-1967 season, it was rushed on air because of a hole in the network’s schedule. And, this was even after the show received, at the time, the worst audience test score for an ABC pilot in history. Little did executives realize they were on the cusp of a cultural phenomenon. The show became as big as The Beatles in music, and James Bond in films. The series created an enormous influence on pop culture. There were Batman fan clubs, lunch boxes, a dance craze, bubble gum cards, a motion picture, among other things. When ABC canceled the series in 1968, the Batcave set was demolished. Two weeks later, NBC decided to pick up the series, only to change its mind once executives realized they’d have to foot the bill for another set. By the way, Robin used 352 holy phrases during the course of the series. Holy multiple hosanna!

Batman_villains_The_Penguin_The_Riddler_The_Joker_1967   Series regulars, Neil Hamilton (Commissioner Gordon) and Alan Napier (Alfred), had long careers in cinema before Batman. George Sanders, Cliff Robertson, Eli Wallach, Eartha Kitt, John Astin, Tallulah Bankhead, Otto Preminger, Roddy McDowall, David Wayne, Shelley Winters, Liberace, Bruce Lee, Ethel Merman, and Vincent Price, among others, all guest starred on the show. Plus, Julie Newmar, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, and Frank Gorshin made a number of appearances as Catwoman, Joker, Penguin and Riddler, respectively. In fact, Frank Sinatra, Natalie Wood, and Cary Grant were fans of Batman and wanted to appear on the show. But producers, unfathomably, could not find any roles that fit them. Eventually, Michael Keaton, George Clooney, Val Kilmer, and Christian Bale all took turns as the big black bat, with Ben Affleck in the upcoming production. BURGESS MEREDITH/CESAR ROMERO/FRANK GORSHIN –>

   Batman and Robin, as portrayed by Adam West and Burt Ward, are still strong draws at comic book conventions on the nostalgia circuit. The Dynamic Duo are scheduled to voice the characters in a new, animated 90-minute feature, set to be released sometime in 2016, to mark the series’ 50th anniversary. And, Julie Newmar has even donated her Catwoman costume to the Smithsonian Institute.


   I promise you another blog as early as tomorrow. Same Bat time… Same Bat Channel…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- David Bowie the Actor…

January 11th, 2016

Manny P. here… David Bowie

   A lot will be written over the next week about the legacy of David Bowie. He was unique in the glam rock-era of popular music. And, he was a cultural icon for his approach as a musician and song-stylist. Let me remind you about Bowie’s formidable cinematic legacy. His career has been punctuated by various roles in movie and theater productions, earning acclaim as an actor.                                 DAVID BOWIE —>

   The beginnings of David Bowie’s film career predate his commercial breakthrough as a musician. Studying avant-garde theatre and mime under Lindsay Kemp, he played Cloud in the 1967 theatrical production Pierrot in Turquoise (later made into the 1970 television film The Looking Glass Murders). In the black-and-white two-reeler The Image, he was a ghost who emerges from a troubled artist’s painting to haunt him. The same year, The Virgin Soldiers saw Bowie make a brief appearance as an extra.

   In 1976, he earned acclaim for his first major starring role, portraying Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a dying planet, in The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg. For his performance in the 1976 science fiction flick, he won a Saturn Award.

   Bowie starred in Just a Gigolo, an Anglo-German co-production  as a Prussian officer who, returning from World War I, is discovered by a baroness (Marlene Dietrich) and put into her stable of studs. He starred in The Hunger, a revisionist vampire film, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. Bowie had a cameo in Yellowbeard, a 1983 pirate comedy created by Monty Python; and he had a small part as a hitman in Into the Night. Bowie appeared in Jim Henson’s dark fantasy Labyrinth. He played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s 1988 epic, The Last Temptation of Christ. He portrayed physicist Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige in 2006. The rock star also appeared as himself in Zoolander. He did decline to play the villain in the James Bond film, A View to a Kill.

Elephant man<—David Bowie took the lead in the Broadway production, The Elephant Man, which he performed wearing no stage make-up, and who earned high praise for his expressive performance. He played the part 157 times between 1980 and 1981.

   In 1999, Bowie was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He declined the royal honour of Commander of the British Empire in 2000, and turned down a knighthood in 2003. One year, I went to a terrific concert of his, that one at Dodger Stadium. A favorite television moment of mine: When he joined Bing Crosby on his last Christmas Special in 1977 (and just five weeks before Bing’s passing from a heart attack after a round of golf) singing the medley, Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy. The tune has become a seasonal classic.

bowie crosby

   The innovative performer had just turned 69 on Friday, the day he released his 25th album. But, he continued to influence some of today’s top filmmakers with his groundbreaking approach, including Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, and director Tim Burton. British astronaut Tim Peake tweeted his profound sadness aboard the International Space Station about David Bowie’s sudden death from cancer.

   To paraphrase: Ground control to Major Tim…

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Passing of a Disney Imagineer…

January 10th, 2016

Manny P. here…

armitage   Frank Armitage (right) was the Australian-born illustrator, muralist, and longtime Disney imagineer who also contributed to the eye-popping visuals on Fox Studio’s Fantastic Voyage. The visual effects made good use of Armitage’s expertise in anatomical drawings, and went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction (Color) and Best Special Effects. He first worked as an animator on Lady and the Tramp, but soon put his training as a muralist to good use, creating background paintings for such films as Sleeping Beauty, Peter PanMary Poppins, and The Jungle Book.

   Born in Melbourne, Australia, Armitage served in the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II, after which he attended art school. He soon dropped out and after winning an international art competition, moved to Mexico city where he trained as a muralist under David Alfaro Siqueiros. Moving to Los Angeles in 1952 with less than $100 to his name, he quickly found work at Walt Disney Studios, going on to contribute to a string of animated classics over the next decades.

   Armitage returned to Disney in 1977 when he was hired as an imagineer. In that capacity, he worked on the Wonders of Life Pavilion in Epcot Center, he painted 5,500 square feet of murals for Walt Disney World’s Safari Fare Restaurant, and several of Tokyo DisneySea’s murals, including nine of President Theodore Roosevelt, among many other contributions. Armitage had previously worked on Disney theme parks in the early 1950s, contributing to art at Storybook Land as well as other points around the park.

   Armitage retired from Disney in 1989, after which he studied medicine, and later, acupuncture in China. He continued to paint anatomy and other medical artwork and in 2006, he donated a portion of that work to the Biomedical Visualization Graduate Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

   Frank Armitage was 91.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Jaws Finds a New Shark Tank…

January 9th, 2016

Manny P. here…

   The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Museum has announced that it has accepted into its collection a major gift of the sole surviving full-scale model of the 1975 Jaws shark. Created for display at the Universal Studios Hollywood at the time of the film’s release, the prop remained a popular backdrop for photos until 1990, when it was moved to the yard of Aadlen Brothers Auto Wrecking of Sun Valley, California, that regularly bought or hauled used vehicles from Universal Studios. With the business slated to close in January 2016, owner Nathan Adlen has made a generous gift of the historic prop to the Academy Museum.

jaws on location   The shark model will join the Museum’s unmatched holdings— including an underwater apparatus and fin used in Jaws and Jaws II— as the largest object to enter the Academy’s collection to date. The monumental fiberglass model is a  final version made from the original mold. It yielded three latex and rubber casts that were used in production. Following the film’s release, the rubber casts deteriorated and were discarded. But, the fourth cast survived.

   The creation of the film’s mechanical shark—which Steven Spielberg named Bruce after his lawyer, Bruce Ramer—was undertaken by art director Joe Alves, who designed a prop with a 25-foot long body, 400-pound head and jaws nearly five feet wide. In 2010, the prop was authenticated by Roy Arbogast, a member of the film’s special effects crew.

   When the Academy Museum opens next year, I wouldn’t get too close to Bruce… especially if he’s hungry!

————————————————— Douglas_Dick_in_Rope_trailer

   Douglas Dick was an actor who appeared in fine films, including Rope, The Accused, The Red Badge of Courage, Flaming Star, CasbahHome of the Brave, and North to Alaska. He made many appearances on television. He guest-starred on Perry Mason a total of seven times. Dick also had roles in 77 Sunset StripSea Hunt, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Mannix. He eventually retired to become a psychiatrist.

   Douglas Dick (right) was 95.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Loss of a Television Staple…

January 7th, 2016

Manny P. here… One_day_at_a_time_schneider_1976

   Pat Harrington Jr. was an actor and comedian who in the 1950s received attention as a member of Steve Allen’s fabled television comic troupe, but secured lasting fame decades later as Dwayne Schneider, the handyman on the long-running One Day at a Time. The series from prolific producer Norman Lear was a hit, airing on CBS from 1975 to 1984. The role brought him an Emmy  in its final year of production. He also had a recurring part on the Danny Thomas sitcom, Make Room for Daddy.          PAT HARRINGTON JR.  —->

   Harrington Jr. was the son of a song-and-dance man who made his name in vaudeville and on Broadway. Following in his father’s footsteps, he pursued a career in entertainment. Steve Allen added his talent to the likes of Louis Nye, Don Knotts, and Tom Poston. Once Allen was replaced by Jack Paar on The Tonight Show, Harrington Jr. was included in memorable sketches.

   During the 1960s, Pat guest-starred on The Bing Crosby Show, Mr. NovakF TroopThe Man From U.N.C.L.E., McHale’s Navy, Love American Style, and The Love Boat. After his success on One Day at a Time, he was invited to appear on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Murder She WroteThe King of Queens, and Hot in Cleveland. He also had small roles in films, including Easy Come Easy Go starring Elvis Presley, and The Candidate with Robert Redford. Harrington Jr. was additionally a voice actor for various cartoons.

   Pat Harrington Jr. was 85.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Australian Wunderkind is Dead…

January 5th, 2016

Manny P. here…

robert_stigwood1   Robert Stigwood was a highly successful impresario and entertainment entrepreneur. In the 1960s and 1970s, he became one of the most successful figures in the entertainment world through his management of Cream and The Bee Gees; theatrical productions, such as Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar; and movies, including the hugely successful Saturday Night Fever. Stigwood followed this production with another hugely successful film adaptation of one of his stage productions, the rock’n’roll musical Grease. The tandem secured John Travolta from television staple to major motion picture star.  ROBERT STIGWOOD ->

330px-Saturday_night_fever_pg_version_movie_poster   Early in his career, he managed Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, and Blind Faith. Later, he successfully managed Yvonne Elliman and Player on his RSO Records label. Other successful Broadway productions included Evita (winner of the 1980 Tony Award for Best Musical) Pippin, Oh! Calcutta!, and Sweeney Todd. He collaborated on cinematic versions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita; sequels, Staying Alive and Grease 2; as soundtrack producer of Fame and The Empire Strikes Back; and Tommy, Bugsy MaloneSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Gallipoli. He was also executive producer of the Music for UNICEF Concert. His musical savvy also served him well for the flick, Time Square, as he promoted some of the hottest New Wave artists at the time, such as Patti Smith, The Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Roxy Music.

   Stigwood’s legacy as the father of the modern Rock Opera remains in tact. His influence is entrenched in the productions of The Rocky Horror Show and the musical version of Little Shop of Horrors. Along the way, he revived the careers of The Bee Gees and Olivia Newton John, as they became pop culture superstars.

   Robert Stigwood was 81.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Mark Twain Writings Resurfaces…

January 3rd, 2016

Manny P. here…

   Scholars at UC Berkeley have found pieces written by Mark Twain that are 150 years old. Not unfinished, but published stories. Members of the Mark Twain Project of Berkeley found them in the archives of the San Francisco Chronicle that were so old, the newspaper was called the San Francisco Dramatic Chronicle when they were published.


   When Twain was 29, his job included writing a 2,000-word dispatch every day, and then, sending it off by stagecoach for publication in the Territorial Enterprise newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. He wrote six stories a week to communicate the stories of San Francisco to Virginia City, which were both major mining towns at the time.

   Often times, the discovery of unpublished stories from an author occur after they’ve died. An example of a posthumous novel: The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway that was unfinished, but later published by his estate. On the other hand, the new Mark Twain find were completed published works.

   The Mark Twain Project has discovered 110 of these columns, and a collection of these newly uncovered writings is expected to come out around 2017.

————————————————————- 800px-Vilmos_Zsigmond_KVIFF

   Another one of the great cinematographers has died. Hungarian-born Vilmos Zsigmond (right) helped define cinema’s American New Wave in the 1970s through iconic collaborations and a preference for natural light. He first gained renown for his collaboration with Robert Altman on classics McCabe & Mrs. Miller and The Long Goodbye.

   In addition to his work on Michael Cimino’s classic The Deer Hunter, for which he earned an Oscar nomination, Zsigmond also worked with Brian De Palma on a number of films, including Blow Out. Zsigmond’s sole Oscar win was for Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Other films of note: Deliverance, Sugarland Express, Heaven’s Gate, Obsession, The Bonfire of the Vanities, and The Witches of Eastwick.

   In 2003, a survey conducted by the International Cinematographers Guild placed Zsigmond among the ten most influential cinematographers in history. In 2012, along with Yuri Neyman, he co-founded Global Cinematography Institute in Los Angeles with the mission to educate cinematographers, and to preserve and extend the role of cinematographer as the major expert and contributor in the image building process in all current and future variations of the complex mix of artistry and technology.

   Vilmos Zsigmond was 85.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Remembering Natalie Cole…

January 2nd, 2016

Manny P. here…

nat natalie   Natalie Cole was true music royalty. She was the daughter of crooner Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington Orchestra singer Maria Hawkins Ellington (no relation to the bandleader). She carried on her late father’s musical legacy and, through technology, shared a duet with him on Unforgettable. Over the years, she won 9 Grammy Awards. Natalie is also famous for waging a personal war on drugs, and later, a fight against hepatitis.

   Her father was already a recording star in the 1950s and mid-1960s. In 1956, Nat Cole became the first black entertainer to host a national television variety show, though poor ratings and lack of sponsors caused the program to be canceled. He also appeared in a few movies, and spoke out in favor of civil rights. Natalie Cole was inspired by her dad at an early age, and auditioned to sing with him at 11 years of age. She was 15 when he died of lung cancer, in 1965.                                         NAT KING COLE      NATALIE COLE

   Her career took off in the 1970s, with hits including This Will Be, Our Love, and Inseparable. Two decades later, she re-emerged as a torch singer, singing Standards that would have made her dad proud. When she decided to pay tribute to her famous father, the public and her peers gushed at her new vocal maturity. In between, she battled heroin, crack cocaine, and alcohol addiction, and spent six months in rehab in 1983.

   Natalie also dabbled with movies and television. She performed at the 65th Academy Awards performing a medley of two Oscar-nominated songs: Run To You and I Have Nothing, both originally performed by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard. One memorable appearance was as a performer in the Cole Porter biopic, De-Lovely. On television, she guest starred in I’ll Fly Away, Touched By an AngelLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit, Grey’s Anatomy, and most recently, on American Idol and Real Housewives of New York City. In 2001, she starred as herself in Livin’ for Love: the Natalie Cole Story, for which she received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television, Mini-Series of Dramatic Special. Her autobiography was released in conjunction with the small screen presentation. It was called Angel on My Shoulder.

   Natalie Cole was 65.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The First Major Event of 2016…

January 1st, 2016

Manny P. here…

   2016 will officially start with a last trip to the 1920s. Downton Abbey is beginning its final journey on Sunday as a mini-series. Part of Masterpiece on PBS, Julian Fellowes has not ruled out a future motion picture, or an update to the program in the future. The exploits of the Crawley family and their servants  have captured the imagination of home viewers around the world. Quality television is something to be cherished.

downton promo

   Needless to say, I have been a loyal fan since Season One, and have enjoyed every episode a number of times. I also love the backstory additions that have been produced over the years, which share intimate tidbits about Highclere Castle (the very real home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and the set for many of the interior and exterior scenes), the manners, the fashion, and the gossip that is Downton Abbey.


   All of England is already having withdrawals from losing its popular program, since it has already aired across the pond to completion during the Fall of 2015. I plan on soaking in the entire season beginning this Sunday. When it crashes to its impending conclusion, I will mourn its loss.

—————————————————————————————- Wayne_Rogers_Trapper_John_MASH_1972

   Wayne Rogers was Trapper John McIntyre alongside Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce who brought mischief, martinis, and meatball surgery every week on M.A.S.H. in the 1970s. He was a regular in the first three seasons during its 11-year run.              WAYNE ROGERS ——–>

    Rogers appeared on television in various roles, such as Death Valley Days, Gunsmoke, The Fugitive, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.The F.B.I., The Invaders, and Murder She Wrote. He had a small supporting role in the 1967 movie, Cool Hand Luke. He finally was a regular panel member on the Fox News Channel stock program Cashin’ In, as a result of having built a lucrative career as an investor, investment strategist and adviser, and money manager. He was also head of Wayne Rogers & Co., a stock trading investment corporation.

   Wayne Rogers was 82.

Until next time>                               “never forget”