“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Trip to Warner Bros. Studio…

July 24th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`On Tuesday, my family celebrated a great afternoon at Warner Brothers as we enjoyed a sweltering day on the fascinating tour. What a great way to recognize my mom’s eighty-second birthday.

“`One of the storied movie lots is Warner Brothers. Along with Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Universal Studios, the film studio remains a busy and active repository for cinematic and television productions.

    

“`Jack Warner and his brothers created gritty productions. The studio was well known for Depression-era gangster dramas that made stars of James Cagney,  Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, and Bette Davis; and swashbuckle adventures with Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Olivia de Havilland and Basil Rathbone. Along the way, the studio pioneered talkies when they distributed The Jazz Singer in 1927.

 

“`On a personal note, I was able to capture remarkable photos that referenced some of my favorite movies:  Casblanca, The Maltese Falcon, The Music Man, and My Fair Lady.  Plus, a highlight was Batman’s official room, a display of iconic memorabilia.

“`Best of all, my parents and sister were treated to images from their youth. Happy birthday mom!!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Day the Earth Stood Still…

July 18th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`On Saturday, July 20th, we will be commemorating the Apollo 11 moon-landing event. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took those small steps for man and giant leaps for mankind, while Michael Collins flew above, waiting for his shipmates to return. For four days, earthlings were glued to their television sets as they watched the entire mission unfold.

   

“`The drama of the excursion lay in the potential pitfalls that could have left both astronauts stranded on the moon, or all three astronauts disintegrated as they returned to earth. Walter Cronkite was one of the revered storytellers who chronicled the journey on television.

“`The entire journey would begin in 1961 as President John F Kennedy made a promise to our nation that we would achieve this goal by the end of the decade, and with the selection of the Mercury 7 astronauts; pilots with the right stuff.  We had tragedy along the way, including the assassination of Kennedy, and a blaze inside the Apollo 1 launch module during a test run that claimed three astronauts: Gus Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White.

“`The notion of a trip to the moon has always captured the imagination of cinema. In 1902, a pioneering French adventure movie called Le Voyage dans la Lune and directed by Georges Méliès, visualized the inspired writings of Jules Verne.

   

“`Other space exploration films of the 1950s and 1960s (including 2001: A Space Odyssey) were considered enjoyable fiction. By the time The Right Stuff went into production in 1983, audiences were actually experiencing a nostalgic look at recent history. In honor of the fiftieth anniversary, Apollo 11 was released; a tawdry look at the life of Neil Armstrong. I prefer the superior documentaries that have been shown over the last few days on PBS and other cable stations leading up to this celebratory moment in time.

“`On Saturday, I will reflect on June 20th, 1969. I was eleven and proud to be alive during this remembrance in our collective history of when fifty years ago… the Eagle landed.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Wonderful Christmas Time…

July 17th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Over the course of his career, Sir Paul McCartney has written films, poetry collections, children’s books, and over one hundred hit singles. The composer is now working on an adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life. Paul was four when the film debuted in 1946.

“`The stage production is set to debut in late 2020, according to producer Bill Kenwright, whose previous credits include the touring version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lee Hall, who wrote the recent Elton John biopic  Rocketman, is penning the script and collaborating with Sir Paul on the lyrics.

“`Starring James Stewart and Donna Reed, It’s A Wonderful Life struggled at the box office upon its release. However, this went on to become a beloved Christmas staple, and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the hundred best Hollywood films ever made.

“`Sir Paul’s music has frequently been used on stage, notably in Cirque Du Soleil’s ambitious Beatles show, Love. He previously wrote a cinematic musical,  Give My Regards to Broad Street, which was savaged by critics upon its release in 1984.

“`Let us hope that McCartney’s Silly Love Songs will compliment this timeless holiday story.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Don’t Forget Your Jammies…

July 16th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`A theater-chain in Switzerland, Cinémas Pathé, has opened a new locale in Spreitenbach, Aargau that includes one theater filled with beds. Pillows and blankets are included.

“`There are double beds with cushioned headboards and bedside tables.  The price tag for the screening is forty-nine dollars per person. The ticket includes unlimited soft drinks and snacks (popcorn, ice cream, nachos and M&Ms).  Guests also get to arrive thirty minutes early to the screening to maximize their snack time. The staff changes the sheets after every screening.

“`If this bed thing sounds a bit too creepy, there is also a VIP Lounge ticket. It costs the same and offers single-size sofas and loveseats with room to stretch out. VIP IMAX tickets are about forty-nine dollars. There is an overall cost, though; extra for 3D glasses, for example.

“`By the way, there are a few movie theaters with unconventional seating. The New Parkway Theater in Oakland, California has vintage furniture and beanbags.

“`Groovy!!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Goodbye to the People’s Car…

July 15th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`After eight decades of production in Germany, Belgium, Venezuela, South Africa, and several other countries, the last Volkswagen Bug rolled off the factory line in Puebla, Mexico last week. The auto’s journey to the Puebla Automotive Museum marks the final pit-stop for a car that has been a symbol of fun, and counter-culture cool since it first rolled into the United States in 1949, despite its Nazi Germany roots.

“`The car’s original design — a rounded silhouette with seating for four, a vertical windshield, and the air-cooled engine in the rear — can be traced to Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche who was hired to fulfill Adolf Hitler’s project for a people’s car in 1933. The vehicle was cheap and reliable. During World War II, production was halted.

“`It was only after the war ended that the British military took ownership of the factory and re-started production of the Beetle to help stimulate the shattered German economy. British automakers ultimately declared it would not be a hit with post-war car owners and returned the factory to Volkswagen’s ownership in 1949. This proved to be a major economic mistake for the Brits.

“`Volkswagen began production almost immediately, and by 1951, they were producing close to 100,000 Beetles a year. By 1965, that figure grew to over a million. In 1960s California, this Bug was popular with the counter-cultural and beach communities. In all, over twenty-one million original Beetles were produced from 1938 to 2003.

“`Hollywood also played a key part. Record sales in 1968 coincided with the release of The Love Bug, featuring Herbie, the plucky race car with a mind of its own.  In the film Rat Race, the model was referenced to its notorious ties to Nazi Germany.  Actor Paul Newman added a faster Porsche engine to his own Beetle.

“`The design discovered a third life in 1998. A modern version of the Bug rolled off factory lots with an engine now in the front. The styling went on to sell 1.7 million models, worldwide. The VW plant in Puebla, Mexico, the last to build Beetles, made the decision to manufacture SUVs.

“`Goodbye to the Bug.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- That Tears It…

July 10th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Rip Torn was a distinguished actor in theater, television and movies. He won an Emmy for his comedy turn on television’s The Larry Sanders Show. Torn’s career on stage and screen spanned seven decades, ranging from an early career of dark, threatening roles to iconic comedic performances later in life.

“`Nicknamed Rip in his youth, he refused to change his name when suggested by drama students. Torn made his film debut in 1956 in Tennessee Williams Baby Doll. Within a few years, he became a respected movie and television actor working on occasions with his second wife, Geraldine Page. At the Actors Studio, Rip gained the attention of Elia Kazan, who hired him as understudy to play Brick Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Near the end of the show’s Broadway run, Torn took over the role.

“`Torn’s other cinematic roles include A Face in the Crowd, Pork Chop Hill, King of Kings, Sweet Bird of Youth, Critic’s Choice, The Cincinnati Kid, and more recently, Airplane II and Men in Black. He lost a chance to star in Easy Rider after a conflict with Dennis Hopper, and was replaced by Jack Nicholson. On television, torn guest-starred in Combat!, Rawhide, BonanzaAlfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare, Mannix, Columbo, Will & Grace, and 30 Rock.

“`Rip Torn was regarded, along with Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and James Dean, as actors of a postwar generation who brought tense realism to their craft. He was also a noted political activist who joined James Baldwin, Harry Belafonte and other cultural and Civil Rights leaders for a frank and emotional  1963 meeting with then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy about the country’s treatment of blacks. His success eventually inspired a younger cousin to take up acting, too — Oscar-winner Sissy Spacek.

“`Rip Torn (above) was eighty-eight.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- What Me Worry…

July 4th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`MAD Magazine, the long-running periodical that influenced everybody from Weird Al Yankovic to the creators of The Simpsons, will be leaving newsstands after their August issue. This illustrated satirical magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be accessible in comic book shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue, it will just reprint previously published material.

“`The magazine set itself apart as a cultural beacon for decades with its unabashed tendency to make fun of anything and push conventional boundaries. One of MAD’s best known comic series, Spy vs. Spy, featured two spies with beak-like faces and big eyes. They also parodied Playboy, with its fold-In feature that appeared in nearly every issue. But instead of featuring scantily-clad models, the fold-In printed — what else? — another joke.

“`MAD was a venue for cartoonists to grow artistically and shape national conversation. Well-known names such as Al Jaffee, Harvey Kurtzman, and Mort Drucker were associated with the magazine for decades.

“`DC Comics, a division of Warner Brothers that publishes the magazine, said MAD will pull from nostalgic cartoon strips and parodies published over their entire sixty-seven-year run. DC will keep publishing MAD special collections and books.

“`As Alfred E. Neuman would say… What, me worry?

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Very Interesting…

July 3rd, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Arte Johnson garnered Emmys for his performances on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. He is best known for playing a German soldier and a dirty old man wooing an elderly woman on a park bench, played by Ruth Buzzi. His catch-phrase was Verrry Interesting.

  

          ARTIE JOHNSON

“`Johnson began his career performing in several New York nightclubs. He landed his initial important job when he was cast in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes on Broadway. His work on stage, and later, on live television prepared him for the manic sketch comedy presented on Laugh-In.

“`Johnson guest-starred on television on  Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show, Bewitched, The Jack Benny Program, The Partridge Family, Lost in Space, Night GalleryMurder She WroteNight Court, and The Donna Reed Show. He was a popular panelist on The Gong Show, Wheel of Fortune, and The Match Game. Artie also voiced several cartoon shows including The Simpsons and Duck Tales.

“`Arte Johnson was ninety.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Man with Drive…

July 2nd, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Lee A. Iacocca was the visionary automaker who ran the Ford Motor Company and then the Chrysler Corporation and came to personify Detroit as the dream factory of America’s postwar love affair with the auto. For a time, Iacocca also became a visible spokesperson on television, creating enthusiasm for auto sales. He was so widely admired, there was serious talk of his running for president of the United States in 1988.

                                                     LEE IACOCCA

“`In an industry that has produced legends, from giants like Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler to the birth of the assembly line and freedoms of the road that led to suburbia and a middle class, Iacocca, a son of an immigrant hot-dog vendor, made history as the only executive in modern days to preside over the operations of two of the Big Three car makers. He oversaw the floundering Chrysler Corporation and made it solvent in what critics called one of the brilliant turnarounds in business history.

“`Over a thirty two-year career, he launched some of Detroit’s best-selling vehicles, such as the minivan, Chrysler K-cars and Ford Escort. He also spoke out against what he considered unfair trade practices by Japanese automakers.

“`Television commercials made him one of the nation’s best-known faces. A heroic figure to many Americans, he became chairman of a project to restore the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and was in demand for public appearances. Iacocca conferred with President Ronald Reagan, members of Congress, state governors, business leaders, and often interviewed by the press. Denials of political ambition only fueled public interest in a possible candidacy.

“`In 2008, months before Chrysler and General Motors declared bankruptcy after years of mounting losses, Iacocca visited Auburn Hills, and was greeted with thunderous applause by thousands of Chrysler employees. After retiring, Lee moved to Bel Air, where he invested in electric bicycles, olive oil, and other ventures, and promoted diabetes research.

“`Lee A. Iacocca was 94.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Of Grave Concern…

June 27th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Georges Méliès is one of the pioneering figures in cinema, often credited as the person who created special effects on film. Sadly, his amazing talent is relatively unknown today. Though Martin Scorsese attempted to tell his story to the screen with his movie Hugo. His family has started the restoration project of his cemetery plot completely on their own, without the help of any international cinema foundation, or government institutions like the French Ministry of Culture.

“`The French icon authored some of the most recognizable classics of the early silent era, at the dawn of the twentieth century. His most notable works are A Trip to the Moon, made in 1902, and The Impossible Voyage, an adaptation of Jules Verne’s play Journey Through the Impossible. His productions are often examined by historians and filmmakers, although their timeless charm definitely deserves attention.

“`Méliès tomb in the famous Parisian Père Lachaise Cemetery has become a place of pilgrimage for cinema lovers. His family has searched for options to restore it to its exact look from 1954 when his bust was added to the tomb, which was originally erected after his demise in 1938. Parts of the grave are visibly damaged, the stone itself has become porous.

“`Georges’ great-great-granddaughter, Pauline Duclaud-Lacoste, oversaw a crowdfunding campaign. They raised enough cash to renovate and maintain the grave for twelve years.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Mr. AMC…

June 25th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Bob Dorian was an actor, magician, and movie buff, who presented over ten thousand classic films, B-movie serials, and pre-Code Hollywood gems as the first prime-time host of American Movie Classics. He performed on the stage, radio, television, and occasionally, on film.

“`AMC launched in 1984 as a premium-cable showcase for old films, presenting movies without cuts or commercials a decade before the creation of Turner Classic Movies, the channel’s main competitor. Although he was later joined by daytime hosts, Gene Klavan and Nick Clooney, Dorian was the heart and soul of AMC. TCM’s Robert Osborne was an urbane film historian, Dorian insisted that he was simply a fan of cinema.

“`Prior to his dream job, Dorian was an usher at a movie theater; appeared in early television anthologies Suspense and Studio One; dabbled in stand-up comedy and trapeze-catching at the circus; played the bass in a Manhattan jazz group; and performed mind-reading tricks and other illusions as the Amazing Dorian. He appeared in a 1976 television special with magicians David Copperfield and Carl Ballantine.

“`During his tenure at AMC, Dorian introduced flicks with two-minute segments filmed in a living-room set, where he roamed between bookshelves, a black Maltese Falcon statue, and portraits of stars Jean Harlow and Hedy Lamarr. Dorian likened his work at AMC as that of a historian or archivist, keeping old films alive for younger generations.

“`Bob Dorian was eighty-five.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Hepburn on Stage…

June 24th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Tea at Five  is a gentle look at Katharine Hepburn, at home in her Fenwick estate in old Saybrook, Connecticut. This play takes place in 1983 after the actress was hurt in an auto crash. The accident allows the legendary star an opportunity to reflect on a turbulent childhood, triumphs and failures of her career, and her heart-breaking romance with Spencer Tracy. Their relationship lasted over twenty-five years.

“`Performances began Saturday, June 22nd at Huntington Avenue Theatre in Boston, and opens officially on Friday, June 28th. Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway (right) portrays Kate. The Matthew Lombardo play is directed by Tony Award nominee John Tillinger and runs until Sunday, July 14th.

“`Later this year, Tea at Five will run on Broadway.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Twelve Oaks…

June 23rd, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`The home of Ashley and the Wilkes family is up for auction.  Ashley Wilkes was a fictional character from Gone with the Wind. Portrayed by Leslie Howard, Ashley was the object of Scarlett O’Hara’s affection.

“`The place, called  Twelve Oaks, was built in 1836, and is located in Covington, Georgia. Named as one of the Top 10 Antebellum Sites in the state, Twelve Oaks is in the National Register. Experience the South like Scarlett or Rhett Butler as you sit on the veranda and enjoy your lemonade. Covington is called the Hollywood of the South; over 125 films and television shows that have been filmed there.

 

“`The mansion has twelve bedrooms, twelve bathrooms, ten thousand square feet and three acres surrounding the property. It also has a pool, gazebo, and a four-auto carriage house. A two million dollar renovation was completed in 2017. This property is also income producing. There are three special operating permits already in place: As a bed and breakfast, an event center, and as a historic site available for tours.  This property averages one to two movie or television program contracts per year, and also provides accommodations for the cast.

“`The auction runs from July 4th to July 25th. Property are available by appointment. One can close their eyes and imagine Scarlett running across the grounds to embrace Ashley.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Rebuttal…

June 19th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`The college censorship debate has reached Hollywood. Over fifty prominent artists, writers, and film scholars are supporting the restoration of the names of the Gish sisters, Dorothy and Lillian, to a film theater at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

“`The letter accuses the university of making a scapegoat of the siblings. Among those signing their names are James Earl Jones, Helen Mirren, Martin Scorsese, George Stevens Jr., Malcolm McDowell, Lauren Hutton, Joe Dante, and Taylor Hackford. The letter is a response to Bowling Green’s May 3rd decision to change the name of the Gish Theater because of her role in D. W. Griffith’s incendiary 1915 silent film The Birth of a Nation.

DOROTHY GISH      LILLIAN GISH

“`Dorothy Gish was a memorable actress on stage and on the screen. Her name was removed from the theater, despite not appearing in D. W. Griffith’s production. In this discussion, she is considered collateral damage.

“`Officials at Bowling Green has responded to the letter saying it will not reverse its decision or restore the Gish name to the theater.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- The Naked City…

June 18th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`A statue of Marilyn Monroe that is part of a Hollywood tower celebrating women in film has gone missing. The statue, which illustrates the legendary actress in her iconic pose from The Seven Year Itch, was perched atop the Ladies of Hollywood Gazebo on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

“`The artwork features large statues of Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Anna May Wong and Dolores Del Rio — women from different cultures who profoundly influenced Hollywood. The structure is a reminder that cinema represents the ethnic and gender struggle that many in the industry think still exists. The gazebo was erected in 1994.

“`The Los Angeles Police Department received a call late Sunday night from a citizen who reported seeing someone on top of the gazebo. A person climbed the Eiffel Tower-shaped structure and used a saw to remove Marilyn. Investigators have found fingerprints on the gazebo, and they are following several leads that may help track down the thief.

“`It is being called the great Marilyn caper of 2019. Bulletins as they break…

Until next time>                               “never forget”