Monday, September 29, 2014

JERRY LEWIS AT 88

“It’s a nice feeling to know so many people still want to come and see this old Jew on stage.” Jerry Lewis says.

We didn’t really think the King of Comedy would go gently into the night, did we? That the Nutty Professor would just fade away after 83 years of making us laugh?

Forget it. This is Jerry Lewis we’re talking about. He started working at 5 and hasn’t stopped since. There’s no quit in this guy.

Next month, the 88-year-old comedian will be coming to L.A. to appear at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills (the old Wilshire Theatre) for a 2½-hour show that may last all night. It all depends on the audience, Lewis says. When they run out of questions for him, he’ll go home.

“I’m sitting here preparing for the show like it’s a 15-week engagement,” he quips last week from his office in his 10,000-square-foot home just off the Las Vegas strip — a six minute drive to the nearest black jack and craps table.

“I love to gamble,” says the man whose whole life has been one big gamble.

The word is Lewis is a tough interview. He doesn’t suffer fools lightly. His record for the shortest sit-down with a reporter is under one minute. An out-of-town entertainment writer asked him what he was doing in Vegas?

Lewis shot back, “I’ve lived here for 36 years, schmuck.” End of interview. Next time do your homework, pal.


People are going to be paying good money to sit in that theater, and I’m going to be perfect,” he says, opening a red, loose-leaf binder of old film clips from his days with Dean Martin, along with jokes, songs, and skits he’ll be performing.

“I’m too old for pratfalls anymore but I promise the audience will be absolutely enthralled at how quietly I sit,” he jokes.

His voice is strong, his patented funny faces still get a laugh, and his jokes are timeless. The only concession to age is a pair of earphones he wears during the interview to amplify sound.
“I did a concert three weeks ago, and a woman gets up and says ‘what do you say to the fact that I want to just hug you and rub you all over me?’

“I said ‘I’m in room 713.’ ” Bada-boom. 


He still feels deep regrets about never finishing the job he had for 61 years hosting the MDA telethon and raising more than $2.6 billion to find a cure for muscular dystrophy. He wants to do a 21-hour telethon for the Wounded Warriors program, and Lewis claims he has big name stars like George Clooney and Billy Crystal ready to help. Also, Lewis is currently writing a one-man show that he hopes to take to Broadway.

As always, he’ll be nervous standing in the wings before the show at the Saban on Oct. 10, but the minute he walks on stage and hears that applause the nerves are gone.

“My dad used to say if you don’t get nervous, you don’t care,” Lewis says. “When I hear that first applause, my heart spreads across my chest, and I’m as happy as a pig in s..t!

We didn’t really think the King of Comedy would go gently into the night, did we?



SOURCE

Friday, September 26, 2014

GIGOT: A 1962 REVIEW

One of the great forgotten gems of the cinema was 1962's Gigot. The film starred Jackie Gleason, and it was not successful during it's theatre release. However, in recent years the film has gotten a cult following. Here is the original review by Bosley Crowther. It appeared in the NY Times on September 28, 1962...

THERE'S a vast lot of Jackie Gleason to pour out the pathos, when he does — and he does, to a point of saturation, in "Gigot" (pronounced "Gee-go"), which came to the Music Hall yesterday. Playing a huge, shabby Parisian who lives alone in a basement in Montmartre and communicates with his taunting neighbors in clumsy pantomime because he is mute, Mr. Gleason fairly opens the faucets that are connected to the mammoth reservoir of his own simple sentimentality and lets the syrup gush. Grubby, dirty and unshaven, he wallows around in this film, a well set-up prey for practical jokers, who treat him like the village idiot. His small eyes blink in solemn sadness, his pudgy hands fumble helplessly and his great, baggy frame droops resignedly when the cruel people make fun of him. His only true companion is a voracious cat that visits his hovel every morning and gets a dish of milk from him.

Then one night he finds, out in a rainstorm, a fallen woman and a soggy little girl. He takes them home to his dismal basement and generously takes care of them. Well, you can imagine what this leads to. The woman scorns and badgers him, but the little girl comes to love him, after he has won her with a lot of show-off stunts. And this leads to his wanting to keep them so intensely and desperately that he steals money to buy them fine dresses and to wine and dine them at the local bistro.

 
Is this beginning to sound a little like an old Charlie Chaplin film? If it is, we strongly imagine that's exactly what Mr. Gleason would have it do. For it is evident that his characterization of a lonely, unspeaking vagabond, who hungers for social acceptance and the warmth of somebody's love, is modeled after Chaplin, and the script that John Patrick has prepared (from a story provided by Mr. Gleason) is cut precisely to the pattern of a Chaplin film. But, unfortunately, Mr. Gleason, for all his recognized comic skill when it comes to cutting broad and grotesque capers, as he does now and then, does not have the power of expression or the subtleties of physical attitude to convey the poignant implications of such a difficult, delicate role.

His man is a ponderous, steamy figure whose maunderings are soggy and gross—and made only more so in the close-ups that Gene Kelly, who directed, has generously employed. (Remember, Chaplin was slight and graceful and always had a dauntless, dapper air.) His pantomimic exhibitions have little variety. His ways of looking pathetic are blunt and monotonous. What's more, there is too much of him. Mr. Gleason is virtually the whole show. Katherine Kath as the woman he shelters and Diane Gardner as her little girl are apt but confined in their performing. Their roles are stereotypes. (It is remarkable how much the youngster looks like Jackie Coogan in Chaplin's "The Kid.") Jacques Marin as a practical joker and Gabrielle Dorziat as the tenant of the house in which Mr. Gleason has his hovel are most expressive as real Parisians. True, there is a fast burst of morbid humor and sweet sentiment at the end, but it is awfully late in coming. A lot of moisture has by now gone down the drain...
 
SOURCE

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY MERCER

 You may or may not recognize Johnny Mercer’s name, but you almost certainly recognize his songs.

Mercer was the lyricist for more than 1,500 popular songs. His music spans five decades, from the 1920s through the 1960s. He wrote the lyrics to such classics as “Blues in the Night,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Satin Doll,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Autumn Leaves,” “I Wanna Be Around,” “One More for My Baby,” “Skylark,” “Moon River” and “Emily” — to name only a few.

He composed lyrics to melodies written by Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen and Henry Mancini. Along the way, he co-founded Capitol Records, won four Academy Awards, was Bing Crosby’s drinking buddy and had a love affair with Judy Garland.

“Spotlight on Johnny Mercer!” is Camelot Theatre Company’s tribute to America’s greatest lyricist and his incredible life. The production previews Thursday, Sept. 25, opens Friday, Sept. 26, and runs through Oct. 5, at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets cost $20 for the preview and $24 for all other performances, with reserved seating available for an additional $2 per ticket. They can be purchased at the box office, online at www.camelottheatre.org or by calling 541-535-5250.

“Spotlight on Johnny Mercer!” stars Laura Derocher, David King-Gabriel and Jade Chavis Watt. Backing them on stage is Steve Fain (bass), Randy Margulies (tenor sax, clarinet and flute), Brent Olstad (keyboard), Randy Scherer (trumpet), Steve Sutfin (percussion) and Michael Vannice (alto sax, alto flute and bass clarinet).

Presila Quinby directs. Charles Cherry wrote the script, music direction is by Olstad, with arrangements by Vannice.

The production features 22 of Mercer’s songs, covering his entire career, with narration connecting them to important events in Mercer’s life. There are well known songs — “the songs that have to be included,” says Quinby — but also some less familiar ones that mark milestones.

“For example, Mercer wrote ‘I Remember You’ for Judy Garland,” Quinby says. “They had an off-and-on romance for years. She was the secret love of his life.”

Quinby says she knew the performers she wanted when “Spotlight on Johnny Mercer!” was chosen for Camelot's 2014 season.

“The singers and musicians were already familiar with Mercer’s music,” Quinby says. “They knew the American Songbook — the musical standards of the '30s, '40s and '50s — and they also knew how to tell a story with a song.”


Over his career, Mercer was nominated for 19 Academy Awards and won four. His first win was for “On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe” in 1946, written for “The Harvey Girls” starring Judy Garland. His next was in 1951, for “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” written with Hoagy Carmichael. Mercer then won two more Oscars collaborating with Henry Mancini, in 1961 for “Moon River” followed by “Days of Wine and Roses” in 1962.

Mercer was born and raised in Savannah, Ga. He grew up familiar with a wide range of music, from classical to popular to African-American gospels and jazz. He started writing for Tin Pan Alley in the '20s, then for Broadway musicals, and moved to Hollywood in 1935. In the '40s, Mercer had a dozen hit records, singing his own songs. Cherry describes his style as similar to Bing Crosby but with more swing.

“He was sort of a combination of Crosby and Louis Armstrong.”

Cherry says he has wanted to do a show about Mercer for a long time because he feels we don’t honor lyricists the way we do composers or poets. He thinks that when poetry and music are combined, they become an art form that touches us more deeply.

“When Mercer writes about love, he is writing more than a love song,” Cherry says. “He is often writing about that place where love might be waiting for all of us.”

Roberta Kent is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at rbkent@mind.net...

 
 

Monday, September 22, 2014

FORGOTTEN ONES: FRANK FONTAINE

I first noticed a goofball type of clown on one of Jackie Gleason's old variety shows. He talked and looked crazy. He was hilarious, and then one day I was at the flea market and I found an LP featuring this clown singing beautifully and I could not believe it. The clown as well as the wonderful singer was the forgotten Frank Fontaine. Born on April 19, 1920 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he is best known for his appearances on television shows of the 1950s and 1960s, including The Jackie Gleason Show, The Jack Benny Show, and The Tonight Show.
 One of his earliest appearances was on the radio show, The Jack Benny Program. During an episode which aired on April 9, 1950, Fontaine played a bum (named "John L. C. Silvoney") who asked Benny for a dime for a cup of coffee. The smallest coin Benny had to offer was a fifty-cent piece, so he gave it to him. The story Benny told about this event became a running gag during later shows. Fontaine's goofy laugh and other voice mannerisms made a hit with the audience, and Benny brought him back for several more radio shows between 1950 and 1952. He also later appeared in several of Benny's television shows. On The Jackie Gleason Show, he played the character Crazy Guggenheim during Gleason's "Joe The Bartender" skits. His trademark was a bug-eyed grin and the same silly laugh he had done on Jack Benny's radio show. At the end of his Guggenheim sketch, he would usually sing a song, demonstrating a surprisingly good singing voice In 1963, he released the album Songs I Sing on the Jackie Gleason Show, which collected some of these songs and reached number one on Billboard magazine's Top LP's chart in 1963. Despite the comparisons with Gleason and Red Skelton, Fontaine never accomplished what they did and made a career of hosting a variety show doing a multitude of characters of his own creation. People only wanted one—the one with the wheezy laugh he developed as a teenager during the Depression. Being boxed in must have grated on him after awhile. He expanded a bit on the Gleason show by interrupting his Crazy schtick for a song in a straight baritone, popular (if not schmaltzy) with some, but oddly jarring to others. Frank seems to have worked steadily but ran into money troubles. In 1971, he filed for bankruptcy and his 12-room house was put up for auction to pay an almost half-million-dollar tax bill. He was $850,000 in debt. Frank Sinatra and others came to his rescue with a benefit show. His health wasn’t good. He had been hospitalised in 1970 after collapsing following a lengthy performance on the Jerry Lewis telethon. In 1977, he lay unconscious in hospital after what may have been a heart attack. And then the following August, he had just finished his fourth encore before a crowd of 3,000 in Spokane and had accepted a $25,000 cheque to be donated to heart research when he dropped to the boards backstage. He died there of a heart attack on August 4, 1978...


Saturday, September 20, 2014

RIP: POLLY BERGEN

Polly Bergen, an actress, singer and businesswoman who won an Emmy in 1957 for her portrayal of the alcoholic torch singer Helen Morgan and was nominated for another 50 years later for her role on the television show “Desperate Housewives,” died on Saturday at her home in Southbury, Conn. She was 84.

Her publicist, Judy Katz, confirmed her death, but did not specify a cause.

Ms. Bergen’s career highlights included a chilling turn as the menaced wife of a lawyer (Gregory Peck) stalked by a psychopathic convict (Robert Mitchum) in the 1962 film “Cape Fear,” five years as a panelist on the CBS game show “To Tell the Truth” and a Tony-nominated performance as a gritty former showgirl in the 2001 revival of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Follies.”

The song Ms. Bergen performed in that show, “I’m Still Here,” could well have served as her own defiant anthem.

As a teenager, she began her career singing hillbilly songs on the radio and quickly found roles in movies. Her early credits include the 1949 western “Across the Rio Grande,” in which she played a saloon singer, and three films in which she appeared with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

She made her Broadway debut in the 1953 revue “John Murray Anderson’s Almanac” in a cast that also featured Hermione Gingold, Billy De Wolfe and Harry Belafonte. Determined to make an impression as a vocalist, Ms. Bergen overexerted herself, injured her throat and had to leave the show and undergo surgery.

She was less than thrilled with the quality of the movies she was offered as a contract player in Hollywood, although there were a few exceptions, including “Cape Fear” and “The Caretakers” (1963), in which she convincingly played an inmate in a mental institution ruled by a dictatorial nurse played by Joan Crawford. She also had roles in several light comedies, including “Move Over, Darling” (1963), with Doris Day and James Garner, and “Kisses for My President” (1964), in which she starred as the nation’s first female president.


Ms. Bergen made a number of popular recordings, beginning with “Little Girl Blue” in 1955, and was a familiar presence on television. She was on “To Tell the Truth” from 1956 to 1961, and she hosted her own variety series on NBC in the late 1950s.

In the mid-1960s, she began selling a line of Polly Bergen Cosmetics, which she eventually sold to Fabergé, and followed that with Polly Bergen Jewelry and Polly Bergen Shoes. She soon became a successful entrepreneur as well as the author of three advice books: “Fashion and Charm” (1960), “Polly’s Principles” (1974) and “I’d Love to, But What Will I Wear?” (1977). She was also an advocate for women, especially on the subject of reproductive rights.

Ms. Bergen was plagued by physical problems that kept her from singing for more than 30 years. In 2000, she began a cautious return. When she appeared in New York at Feinstein’s at the Regency, Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote that her performance “was, in a word, great.” She returned to Broadway the following year in “Follies.” In an interview with The Times before the show opened, she expressed her delight at once again being able to do “that which gives me so much joy.”

After “Follies,” Ms. Bergen appeared in an Off Broadway revival of “Cabaret” in 2002; in the short-lived two-character drama “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks” on Broadway in 2003, with Mark Hamill as her co-star; and in a number of television shows, including ABC’s “Commander in Chief” and “Desperate Housewives.” Her work on the latter earned her a nomination as outstanding guest actress in a comedy series. She also appeared in an episode of “The Sopranos” as the mistress of Tony Soprano’s late father.

Ms. Bergen is survived by two daughters, Kathy Lander and Pamela Fields; a son, Peter Fields; and three grandchildren...


Friday, September 19, 2014

BIG BAND BEAT: JACK JACKSON

I had a great friend from Devon, England - Frank Gill (1920-2006) who introduced me to the British Dance Bands. He opened a whole new world to me full of great music and different sounds. In some ways, the British Dance Bands were ahead of their counterparts. I learned a lot about the bands of Ambrose, Ray Noble, and Roy Fox, but one of the last bands I was introduced to was the band of Jack Jackson. Jackson is not as famous as Ambrose is, but he had a wonderful sound. He also was a very interesting personality.  Jack Jackson was born on February 20, 1906 in Belvedere, Kent, the son of a brass band player and conductor, and began playing cornet at the age of 11 before playing violin and cello in dance bands. He learnt to play trumpet and worked in swing bands in circuses, revues, ballrooms and ocean liners before joining Jack Hylton's band in 1927. He left Hylton in 1929 and freelanced for a while. Jackson joined Jack Payne and the BBC Dance Orchestra in 1931. On August 1st 1933, Jack Jackson opened at the Dorchester Hotel with his own band. With him were some old friends from the Hylton days, Poggy Pogson and Chappie D'Amato, along with a host of other top flight musicians including multi-instrumentalist and ace arranger Stanley Andrews. He became immensely popular with the smart set at the Dorchester and the band always set a good dancing tempo as may be heard on his recordings. His signature tune was Make Those People Sway, and his regular closing theme tune was Dancing in the Dark. By 1939 he had a regular radio show on Radio Luxembourg. In December 1939 his moved to Rector's Club, then to the May Fair Hotel in March 1940.
During the war he spent some years at the Ministry of Information drawing cartoons and he also worked as a band booker at Foster's Agency. He wasn't cut out to work behind a desk, it seems, and he made a comeback with a new band at Churchill's in February 1947, opposite Edmundo Ross. He followed this with some theatre work and a spell at the Potomac in October 1947, after which he gave up bandleading to compere a BBC big-band series called "Band Parade". The following year he was given his own late-night record show called "Record Round Up". This was in June 1948 and it ran for over 20 years making him a household name all over again with a new generation and an audience of 12 million.He also broadcast regularly for Decca on Radio Luxembourg and made many TV appearances, and hosted his own chat-show on ITV in September 1955. In between times he compered band shows at theatres and even appeared as a solo variety act. He emigrated to Teneriffe in 1962, building himself an elaborate recording studio where he recorded his radio shows, flying them to London by jet-plane every week. His methods of presentation included punctuating records with surreal comedy clips, and using quick cutting of pre-recorded tapes to humorous effect. This was a major influence on later British DJs such as Kenny Everett and Noel Edmonds. In 1973, aged 67, he became seriously ill with a bronchial complaint associated with playing the trumpet, which was aggravated by the climate in the Canary Islands. He returned to Rickmansworth, where his 2 sons ran their own recording studio in an historic mansion which used to belong to Jack. He had apparently aged tremendously, all his energy sapped by the emphysema. He made a remarkable recovery, however, and presented a new radio program in 1975, "The Jack Jackson Show", although he had to rely a lot on the use of an electrical air-compressor for his breathing. For two years he was back on top, but then his health deteriorated. He was affectionately known as the 'daddy of all disc jockeys' during his brief spell (9 months) on Radio 1. His humour survived, however. When Melody Maker journalist Chris Hayes wrote to him in 1977 asking for an interview, he replied "Sorry, I'm unable to give you an interview as my respiratory organs are not blowing too well of late. It's alright as long as I don't breathe; in fact, I'm thinking of giving it up altogether, but the appalling funeral expenses put me off". Jack died in 1978 at Rickmansworth, just short of his 72nd birthday...











Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MARY PICKFORD: THE LATER YEARS

If you are talking about the pioneers of the film industry, many people would have to talk about Charlie Chaplin or D.W. Griffith. In that early era of American film, as was the norm in society as a whole, women were not allowed to be the leaders. However, one of the first woman pioneers in film was silent screen star Mary Pickford. Known as "America's Sweetheart", Pickford was so powerful in Hollywood that she could dictate her roles, her movies, and everything about her career. It was very rare for a woman to have that power in the early days of Hollywood. Mary Pickford, however, disappeared from film, and left the business at the height of her fame to become an elusive legendary figure.

When she retired from acting in 1933, Pickford continued to produce films for United Artists, and she and Chaplin remained partners in the company for decades. Chaplin left the company in 1955, and Pickford followed suit in 1956, selling her remaining shares for three million dollars. On June 24, 1937, Pickford married her third and last husband, actor and band leader Charles 'Buddy' Rogers. They adopted two children: Roxanne (born 1944, adopted 1944) and Ronald Charles (born 1937, adopted 1943, a.k.a. Ron Pickford Rogers). As a PBS American Experience documentary noted, Pickford's relationship with her children was tense. She criticized their physical imperfections, including Ronnie's small stature and Roxanne's crooked teeth. Both children later said that their mother was too self-absorbed to provide real maternal love. In 2003, Ronnie recalled that "Things didn't work out that much, you know. But I'll never forget her. I think that she was a good woman."

 After the love of her life, Douglas Fairbanks Sr, died in 1939 Mary withdrew and gradually became a recluse, remaining almost entirely at Pickfair and allowing visits only from Lillian Gish, her stepson Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and a few select others. The Political Graveyard reports that Mary Pickford Rogers was a candidate for presidential elector on the Republican ticket of Dewey-Bricker in 1944. She did appear in court in 1959, in a matter pertaining to her co-ownership of North Carolina TV station WSJS-TV. In the mid-1960s, Pickford often received visitors only by telephone, speaking to them from her bedroom. Buddy Rogers often gave guests tours of Pickfair, including views of a genuine western bar Pickford had bought for Douglas Fairbanks, and a portrait of Pickford in the drawing room. A print of this image now hangs in the Library of Congress. In addition to her Oscar as best actress for Coquette (1929), Mary Pickford received an Academy Honorary Award for a lifetime of achievements in 1976. The Academy sent a TV crew to her house to record her short statement of thanks - offering the public a very rare glimpse into the fabled Pickfair Manor. On May 29, 1979 Pickford passed away at the age of 87. She was a forgotten icon of a legendary era in Hollywood history...

Friday, September 12, 2014

PHOTOS OF THE DAY: CANDID CARY GRANT

Readers of my blog know that I am always talking about one of my favorite entertainers Bing Crosby. However, I think one of the greatest actors of all-time was Cary Grant. He is on the top ten list of most classic movie fans. Anyways, I figured it would be fun to take a look at some candid Cary Grant pictures. I tried to find photos that were different...











Wednesday, September 10, 2014

OH NO - THEY ARE REMAKING LAURA!

Please - no more classic movie remakes!

James Ellroy, the two-fisted author behind such crime novels as L.A. Confidential and Black Dahlia, is making a rare foray into film.

Fox 2000 has signed the author to write a remake of Laura, the classic 1944 film noir that was directed by Otto Preminger. Stewart Till is exec producing.

Laura was made during the Darryl F. Zanuck era of 20th Century Fox’s history. The Golden Age production had a troubled road to the screen as Zanuck took Preminger off directing duties, replaced him with Rouben Mamoulian, only to later put Preminger back on when the dailies were disastrous.
In the end, the film, which starred Gene Tierney, Dana Andwers, Clifton Webb and Vincent Price, received five Oscar nominations (including best director, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actor) and won one for cinematography.

Without giving too much away of the twists and turns, the adaptation of the book by Vera Caspary told of a detective who slowly falls in love and becomes obsessed with a well-heeled advertising exec over the course of investigating her murder.

Ellroy is one of Hollywood’s favorite authors, with several adaptations of several of his noir-draped books. L.A. Confidential was translated into the much-loved Oscar-winning Russell Crowe-Guy Pearce thriller. Dahlia was turned into a Brian De Palma-directed film that starred Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart and Scarlett Johansson. And his White Jazz novel has been patiently in development with Joe Carnahan for many years. (The three novels are part of his hailed LA Quartet.)

Ellroy has in recent years turned to screenwriting and wrote Street Kings, which was directed by David Ayer (End of Watch), and Rampart, Oren Moverman’s 2011 police thriller that starred Woody Harrelson.

The author, who is repped by Intellectual Property Group and Sobel Weber Associates, is launching a new LA Quartet with his novel, Perfidia, out Sept. 16 in the U.S...



SOURCE

Sunday, September 7, 2014

THE CHILDREN OF CHARLIE CHAPLIN


Doing research on comedians, I discovered that a lot of them adopted their children like Jack Benny, George Burns, and Bob Hope. However, I was always amazed at how many children Charlie Chaplin had. He had 11 children between 1919 and 1962. It was an amazing record, and knowing how much of a genius Chaplin was at everything else, it only goes to show he was a genius at having children as well. Here is a run down of his children:

Norman Spencer Chaplin was born July 7th, 1919. Sadly the baby died three days later. The mother was his first wife Mildred Harris. Harris and Chaplin divorced in 1921.

Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr. was born May 5, 1925. Charlie's Jr. was in Limelight (1952) as one of the clowns with his father. As young children, he and his brother were used as pawns in their mother's bitter divorce from Charlie Chaplin, during which a lot of the couple's "dirty linen" was aired in sensational—and very public—divorce hearings. Following the divorce, the young brothers were raised by their mother and maternal grandmother until the mid-1930s, when they began to make frequent visits to their father. He is burried next to his maternal grandmother Lillian Grey (1889-1985).

Sydney Earle Chaplin was born March 30th, 1926. Sydney played with his father in Limelight in the role as Neville. In 1957 he won Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Bells Are Ringing, opposite Judy Holliday, and received a Tony nomination for his performance as Nicky Arnstein, the gambling first husband of Fanny Brice, opposite Barbra Streisand, in the Broadway musical Funny Girl in 1964.Until he died, he still attended Chaplin events held for his father and can be seen in many film interviews about Charlie. Sydney died March 3, 2009.

Geraldine Leigh Chaplin was born August 1, 1944. Geraldine was an actress known for many roles, but first recognized for her work in Dr. Zhivago. She also played her own grandmother in the 1992 Richard Attenborough film of Chaplin. Her first film appearance was in Limelight with brother Michael and sister Josephine at the beginning of the film.

Michael John Chaplin was born March 7, 1946 He appeared in Limelight with his sisters in the beginning and played the boy 'Rupert Macabee' in King of New York.



Josephine Hannah Chaplin was born March 28, 1949. She has been in a number of films, including her father's Limelight and A Countess from Hong Kong, and Pasolini´s Canterbury Tales. She had a son Julien Ronet (born 1980) by Maurice Ronet, with whom she lived until his death.

Victoria Chaplin was born May 19, 1951. Chaplin was born in the United States but grew up in Switzerland. As a teenager, she appeared as an extra in her father's last film, A Countess from Hong Kong (1967). Her father also wanted her to star in the main role of a winged girl found from the Amazonian rainforest in his next planned film, The Freak, in 1969. However, the project was never filmed because of his declining health and because Chaplin eloped with the French actor Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée.

Eugene Anthony Chaplin was born August 23, 1953. He is a Swiss recording engineer and documentary filmmaker. He is the president of the International Comedy Film Festival of Vevey, Switzerland. He directed the documentary film Charlie Chaplin: A Family Tribute produced by Jarl Ale de Basseville and created the musical "Smile", which is a narration of Charlie Chaplin's life through his music. As a recording engineer, he worked with The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and Queen.



Jane Cecil Chaplin was born May 23, 1957 and married film producer Ilya Salkind. She has two children.

Annette Emily Chaplin was born December 3, 1959 and is the most private of all of the Chaplin children.

Christopher James Chaplin was born July 6 1962 in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. Christopher is a composer and actor. He is the youngest son of film comedian Charlie Chaplin and his fourth wife, Oona O'Neill.

What also is so remarkable is that the Chaplin children did not seem to fall into the pitfalls that the children of other legends have. They all are talented and seemingly well adjusted children. His children may be Charlie Chaplin's most remarkable body of work...


Thursday, September 4, 2014

HISTORY OF A SONG: SWANEE


Despite all his later accomplishments, this career-making hit for Gershwin would remain the biggest hit of his entire life. Written on a train ride with Caesar one New York afternoon as a parody of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home", it was introduced in the Broadway revue Demi-Tasse. The song had little impact in its first show, but not long afterwards Gershwin played it at a party where Al Jolson heard it. Jolson then put it into his show Sinbad, already a success at the Winter Garden Theatre, and recorded it for Columbia Records in January 1920. "After that," said Gershwin, "Swanee penetrated the four corners of the earth.".

The song was charted in 1920 for 18 weeks holding No. 1 position for nine. It sold a million sheet music copies, and an estimated two million records. It became Gershwin's first hit and the biggest-selling song of his career; the money he earned from it allowed him to concentrate on theatre work and films rather than writing further single pop hits. Arthur Schwartz said: "It's ironic that he never again wrote a number equaling the sales of Swanee, which for all its infectiousness, doesn't match the individuality and subtlety of his later works."
Jolson recorded the song several times in his career, and performed it in the movies The Jolson Story (1946), Rhapsody in Blue (1946), and Jolson Sings Again (1949). For the song's performance in The Jolson Story, Jolson, rather than actor Larry Parks, appeared as himself, filmed in long shot. Although usually associated with Jolson,

Swanee" has been recorded by many other singers...
Recorded By: Al Jolson (numerous times)
Judy Garland (numerous times)
Bing Crosby (numerous times)
Buddy Clark (on radio)
Jaye P. Morgan
Rufus Wainwright
The Temptations


Monday, September 1, 2014

BORN ON THIS DAY: RICHARD ARLEN

One of my favorite articles to write for my blog is the “Born On This Day” stories.  I not only get to celebrate some of the great stars of classic Hollywood, but I also get the opportunity to revisit some of the stars that I have forgotten. One such star was Richard Arlen, who was born on this day on September 1, 1899.  Born Sylvanus Richard Van Mattimore in St. Paul, Minnesota, he attended the University of Pennsylvania. He served in Canada as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. His first job after the war was with St. Paul's Athletic Club. Then he went to the oilfields of Texas and Oklahoma and found work as a tool boy. He was thereafter a messenger and sporting editor of a newspaper before going to Los Angeles to star in films, but no producer wanted him. He was a delivery boy for a film laboratory when the motorcycle which he was riding landed him a broken leg outside the Paramount Pictures lot.

Impressed by his good looks, executives also gave him a contract after he had recovered. Starting as an extra in 1925, Arlen soon rose to credited roles, but the quality of his work left much to be desired. However, this was the silent era, which was more about looks than substance, and he continued on. His big break came when William A. Wellman cast him as a pilot in the silent film Wings (1927) with Charles 'Buddy' Rogers and Clara Bow. The story of fighter aces would win the Oscar for Best Picture and Arlen would continue to play the tough, cynical hero throughout his career. Arlen appeared in three more pictures directed by Wellman, Beggars of Life (1928), Ladies of the Mob (1928) and The Man I Love (1929). In Wings he had a scene with a young actor named Gary Cooper. In 1929, he again worked with Cooper in the western The Virginian (1929), only this time Cooper was the star and Arlen was the supporting actor. While Arlen moved easily into sound, his career just bumped along.

At the age of 34, he was cast as a college student in the Bing Crosby musical College Humor (1933). The film did nothing to further Arlen’s career, but it was Bing’s second movie, and it made him a star. By 1935 he was working in such "B" pictures as Three Live Ghosts (1936). It was in 1935 that he became a freelance actor and his freelance career soon waned. In 1939, he signed with Universal and began working in its action films. In 1941 he moved to the Pine-Thomas unit at Paramount, where he appeared in adventure films. With the war on, most of his earlier films included war scenarios. By the end of the 1940s Arlen was becoming deaf and this seemed to signal the end of his career. However, he had an operation in 1949 that restored his hearing and he went on making a handful of adventures and westerns through the 1950s and working more in the 1960s. He made 15 westerns for producer A.C. Lyles, who worked with the old western stars.

Besides movies, Arlen also appeared on television and in commercials. After leaving the business in the late 1960s, he was coaxed back to the screen for three small roles in films that were released the same year that he died. Married three times, Arlen only had a son who also appeared in movies. Richard Arlen died on March 28, 1976 of emphysema in Hollywood…