Friday, September 15, 2017

MUSIC BREAK: THE ANDREWS SISTERS - HEARTBREAKER

Thursday, September 14, 2017

HISTORY OF A SONG: YOU DON'T OWN ME

My daughter is currently four and addicted to super heroes. She has grown up movie tastes and one of her favorite movies is 2016's Suicide Squad. One of the character's in the film is Harley Quinn (played by actress Margot Robbie), the Joker's girlfriend. When they introduce her on the screen the song "You Don't Own Me" plays, and my daughter loves singing it and does a great job. It's scary! I wanted to look into some of the history of this song.

You Don't Own Me" was a popular song written by Philadelphia songwriters John Madara and David White and recorded by Lesley Gore in 1963, when Gore was 17 years old. The song was Gore's second most successful recording and her last top-ten single. On November 27, 2016, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced its induction, along with that of another 24 songs.

The song expresses a threatened emancipation, as the singer tells a lover that he does not own her, that he is not to tell her what to do or what to say, and that he is not to put her on display. The song's lyrics became an inspiration for younger women and are sometimes cited as a factor in the second wave feminist movement. Gore said, "My take on the song was: I'm 17, what a wonderful thing, to stand up on a stage and shake your finger at people and sing you don't own me." In Gore's obituary, The New York Times referred to "You Don't Own Me" as "indelibly defiant". The song was Gore's last top-ten single.



The song was covered by Australian singer and songwriter Grace and was released as her debut single. It features American rapper G-Eazy. Grace's version was produced by Quincy Jones, who also produced the original recording by Lesley Gore, and Parker Ighile. It was released on 17 March 2015 one month after Lesley Gore died, and peaked at number one on the ARIA Charts, later being certified 3× Platinum by the ARIA. The song was also a success in New Zealand, peaking at number five for two consecutive weeks, and in the United Kingdom, peaking at number four.

In an interview with House of Fraser, Grace said "[Quincy Jones] told me how the song came out during the feminist movement and how it was such a strong statement. I loved the song, started researching Lesley Gore and fell in love with her as an artist. [You Don't Own Me] really inspired me."

The song was featured in the third trailer for the 2016 film Suicide Squad and appeared on the film's soundtrack album as I wrote earlier. The song was a favorite song of my dad's and he had Leslie Gore's 45rpm of the song. However, it now brings tears to my eyes as I see my daughter sing it. To me the song represents the future of women like my daughter and a better life they will hopefully have... 



Monday, September 4, 2017

THE FATE OF THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED

The death of US comedy legend Jerry Lewis has prompted renewed interest in his notorious "lost film", The Day the Clown Cried.

The unreleased movie follows a clown who is sent to a concentration camp and told to lead children to their deaths.

Lewis, who has died at the age of 91, gave his copy of the film to the US Library of Congress. In 2015, the library confirmed it would be shown to scholars and members of the public - but not before June 2024. Some, however, are not prepared to wait that long.

"RIP jerry lewis, release 'the day the clown cried' immediately," wrote one Twitter user.

"Is it horrible that my first thought upon hearing about Jerry Lewis's death is 'now they can release The Day The Clown Cried'?" asked Paul DeBruler.

Lewis directed the 1972 film and played the leading role - a clown who is arrested in Nazi Germany for drunkenly defaming Hitler. Lewis, who died on August 20, 2017, rarely discussed the film in interviews.


The character is then thrown into a concentration camp, where he is beaten and forced to lead children into gas chambers.

Lewis kept what is believed to be the only copy locked in a private vault before donating it to the Library of Congress.

US comedian Harry Shearer, one of only a handful of people known to have seen the film, said he was "stunned" by how bad it was.

In 1992, he said: "This movie is so drastically wrong, its pathos and its comedy are so wildly misplaced, that you could not, in your fantasy of what it might be like, improve on what it really is."


The film's release was initially blocked by co-writer Joan O'Brien, according to the Lewis biography King of Comedy by Shawn Levy.

Later, Lewis himself didn't want the film to be shown, at least not in his lifetime, and rarely spoke about it.

On one of the few occasions he broke his silence, he said it was "bad, bad, bad" and would "never be seen".

"I was ashamed of the work and I was grateful I had the power to contain it all and never let anyone see it," he said in 2013.


Last year, images from the film featured in a BBC documentary titled The Story of The Day the Clown Cried, and clips have emerged on YouTube.

Various purported versions of the script have been circulated online, inspiring both live readings and video re-enactments.

Lewis was famous around the world for his partnership with Dean Martin, his fund-raising for muscular dystrophy and his numerous hit comedies.

For all his attempts to keep it under wraps, though, his infamous Holocaust drama remains a source of continued fascination and debate...



Monday, August 21, 2017

RIP: BEA WAIN

One of the singing icons of the big band era has died. Songbird Bea Wain died on August 20th at the age of 100. Bea Wain wasborn Beatrice Weinsier on April 30, 1917 in the Bronx, New York City. She had a number of hits with Larry Clinton and his Orchestra. After her marriage she and her husband became involved in radio.

On a 1937 recording with Artie Shaw, she was credited as Beatrice Wayne, which led some to assume that was her real name. On record labels, her name was shortened (without her permission) to "Bea" by the record company, ostensibly for space considerations. As she explained, "They cut it to 'Bea' Wain. They cut the 'Beatrice' out to 'Bea.' I was just a little old girl singer, but that's the truth. So that's how my name became 'Bea Wain'."

Wain made her debut on radio at age six as a "featured performer" on the NBC Children's Hour. Wain had four No. 1 hits: "Cry, Baby, Cry", "Deep Purple", "Heart and Soul", and her signature song, "My Reverie".

On May 1, 1938, Wain married radio announcer André Baruch. Their honeymoon in Bermuda was cut short when Fred Allen called Baruch asking him to return to New York to substitute for his ailing announcer, Harry von Zell. They were married for 53 years. Baruch died in 1991. The couple had two children, Bonnie and Wayne.


Following her musical career, the couple worked as a husband-and-wife disc jockey team in New York on WMCA, where they were billed as "Mr. and Mrs. Music". In 1973, the couple moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where for nine years they had a top-rated daily four-hour talk show from 2 pm - 6 pm on WPBR before relocating to Beverly Hills. During the early 1980s, the pair hosted a syndicated version of Your Hit Parade, reconstructing the list of hits of selected weeks in the 1940s and playing the original recordings.

In a 2004 interview with Christopher Popa, Wain reflected: "Actually, I've had a wonderful life, a wonderful career. And I'm still singing, and I'm still singing pretty good. This past December, I did a series of shows in Palm Springs, California, and the review said, "Bea Wain is still a giant." It's something called Musical Chairs. I did six shows in six different venues, and I was a smash. And I really got a kick out of it."...



Sunday, August 20, 2017

RIP: JERRY LEWIS

Jerry Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on Sunday morning at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91.

His death was confirmed by his publicist, Candi Cazau.

Mr. Lewis knew success in movies, on television, in nightclubs, on the Broadway stage and in the university lecture hall. His career had its ups and downs, but when it was at its zenith there were few stars any bigger. And he got there remarkably quickly.

Barely out of his teens, he shot to fame shortly after World War II with a nightclub act in which the rakish, imperturbable Dean Martin crooned and the skinny, hyperactive Mr. Lewis capered around the stage, a dangerously volatile id to Mr. Martin’s supremely relaxed ego.

Jerry Lewis was born on March 16, 1926, in Newark. Most sources, including his 1982 autobiography, “Jerry Lewis: In Person,” give his birth name as Joseph Levitch. But Shawn Levy, author of the exhaustive 1996 biography “King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis,” unearthed a birth record that gave his first name as Jerome.


His parents, Danny and Rae Levitch, were entertainers — his father a song-and-dance man, his mother a pianist — who used the name Lewis when they appeared in small-time vaudeville and at Catskills resort hotels. The Levitches were frequently on the road and often left Joey, as he was called, in the care of Rae’s mother and her sisters. The experience of being passed from home to home left Mr. Lewis with an enduring sense of insecurity and, as he observed, a desperate need for attention and affection.

An often bored student at Union Avenue School in Irvington, N.J., he began organizing amateur shows with and for his classmates, while yearning to join his parents on tour. During the winter of 1938-39, his father landed an extended engagement at the Hotel Arthur in Lakewood, N.J., and Joey was allowed to go along. Working with the daughter of the hotel’s owners, he created a comedy act in which they lip-synced to popular recordings.

By his 16th birthday, Joey had dropped out of Irvington High and was aggressively looking for work, having adopted the professional name Jerry Lewis to avoid confusion with the nightclub comic Joe E. Lewis. He performed his “record act” solo between features at movie theaters in northern New Jersey, and soon moved on to burlesque and vaudeville.


In 1944 — a 4F classification kept him out of the war — he was performing at the Downtown Theater in Detroit when he met Patti Palmer, a 23-year-old singer. Three months later they were married, and on July 31, 1945, while Patti was living with Jerry’s parents in Newark and he was performing at a Baltimore nightclub, she gave birth to the first of the couple’s six sons, Gary, who in the 1960s had a series of hit records with his band Gary Lewis and the Playboys. The couple divorced in 1980.

Between his first date with Ms. Palmer and the birth of his first son, Mr. Lewis had met Dean Martin, a promising young crooner from Steubenville, Ohio. Appearing on the same bill at the Glass Hat nightclub in Manhattan, the skinny kid from New Jersey was dazzled by the sleepy-eyed singer, who seemed to be everything he was not: handsome, self-assured and deeply, unshakably cool.

When they found themselves on the same bill again at another Manhattan nightclub, the Havana-Madrid, in March 1946, they started fooling around in impromptu sessions after the evening’s last show. Their antics earned the notice of Billboard magazine, whose reviewer wrote, “Martin and Lewis do an afterpiece that has all the makings of a sock act,” using showbiz slang for a successful show.

Mr. Lewis must have remembered those words when he was booked that summer at the 500 Club in Atlantic City. When the singer on the program dropped out, he pushed the club’s owner to hire Mr. Martin to fill the spot. Mr. Lewis and Mr. Martin cobbled together a routine based on their after-hours high jinks at the Havana-Madrid, with Mr. Lewis as a bumbling busboy who kept breaking in on Mr. Martin — dropping trays, hurling food, cavorting like a monkey — without ever ruffling the singer’s sang-froid.

The act was a success. Before the week’s end, they were drawing crowds and winning mentions from Broadway columnists. That September, they returned to the Havana-Madrid in triumph.

Bookings at bigger and better clubs in New York and Chicago followed, and by the summer of 1948 they had reached the pinnacle, headlining at the Copacabana on the Upper East Side of Manhattan while playing one show a night at the 6,000-seat Roxy Theater in Times Square.

The phenomenal rise of Martin and Lewis was like nothing show business had seen before. Partly this was because of the rise of mass media after the war, when newspapers, radio and the emerging medium of television came together to create a new kind of instant celebrity. And partly it was because four years of war and its difficult aftermath were finally lifting, allowing America to indulge a long-suppressed taste for silliness. But primarily it was the unusual chemical reaction that occurred when Martin and Lewis were side by side.


Mr. Lewis’s shorthand definition for their relationship was “sex and slapstick.” But much more was going on: a dialectic between adult and infant, assurance and anxiety, bitter experience and wide-eyed innocence that generated a powerful image of postwar America, a gangly young country suddenly dominant on the world stage.

Among the audience members at the Copacabana was the producer Hal Wallis, who had a distribution deal through Paramount Pictures. Other studios were interested — more so after Martin and Lewis began appearing on live television — but it was Mr. Wallis who signed them to a five-year contract.

“That’s My Boy” (1951), “The Stooge” (1953) and “The Caddy” (1953) approached psychological drama with their forbidding father figures and suggestions of sibling rivalry; Mr. Lewis had a hand in the writing of each. “Artists and Models” (1955) and “Hollywood or Bust” (1956) were broadly satirical looks at American popular culture under the authorial hand of the director Frank Tashlin, who brought a bold graphic style and a flair for wild sight gags to his work. For Mr. Tashlin, Mr. Lewis became a live-action extension of the anarchic characters, like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, he had worked with as a director of Warner Bros. cartoons.

Mr. Tashlin also functioned as a mentor to Mr. Lewis, who was fascinated with the technical side of filmmaking. Mr. Lewis made 16-millimeter sound home movies and by 1949 was enlisting celebrity friends for short comedies with titles like “How to Smuggle a Hernia Across the Border.” These were amateur efforts, but Mr. Lewis was soon confident enough to advise veteran directors like George Marshall (“Money From Home”) and Norman Taurog (“Living It Up”) on questions of staging. With Mr. Tashlin, he found a director both sympathetic to his style of comedy and technically adept.

But as his artistic aspirations grew and his control over the films in which he appeared increased, Mr. Lewis’s relationship with Mr. Martin became strained. As wildly popular as the team remained, Mr. Martin had come to resent Mr. Lewis’s dominant role in shaping their work and spoke of reviving his solo career as a singer. Mr. Lewis felt betrayed by the man he still worshiped as a role model, and by the time filming began on “Hollywood or Bust” they were barely speaking.

After a farewell performance at the Copacabana on July 25, 1956, 10 years to the day after they had first appeared together in Atlantic City, Mr. Martin and Mr. Lewis went their separate ways.


For Mr. Lewis, an unexpected success mitigated the trauma of the breakup. His recording of “Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody,” belted in a style that suggested Al Jolson, became a Top 10 hit, and the album on which it appeared, “Jerry Lewis Just Sings,” climbed to No. 3 on the Billboard chart, outselling anything his former partner had released.

Reassured that his public still loved him, Mr. Lewis returned to filmmaking with the low-budget, semidramatic “The Delicate Delinquent” and then shifted into overdrive for a series of personal appearances, beginning at the Sands in Las Vegas and culminating with a four-week engagement at the Palace in New York. He signed a contract with NBC for a series of specials and renewed his relationship with the Muscular Dystrophy Association — a charity that he and Mr. Martin had long supported — by hosting a 19-hour telethon.

Mr. Lewis made three uninspired films to complete his obligation to Hal Wallis. He saved his creative energies for the films he produced himself. The first three of those films — “Rock-a-Bye Baby” (1958), “The Geisha Boy” (1958) and “Cinderfella” (1960) — were directed by Mr. Tashlin. After that, finally ready to assume complete control, Mr. Lewis persuaded Paramount to take a chance on “The Bellboy” (1960), a virtually plotless hommage to silent-film comedy that he wrote, directed and starred in, playing a hapless employee of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

It was the beginning of Mr. Lewis’s most creative period. During the next five years, he directed five more films of remarkable stylistic assurance, including “The Ladies Man” (1961), with its huge multistory set of a women’s boardinghouse, and, most notably, “The Nutty Professor” (1963), a variation on “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” in which Mr. Lewis appeared as a painfully shy chemistry professor and his dark alter ego, a swaggering nightclub singer.


He seemed more himself in the multi-role chase comedy “The Big Mouth” (1967) and the World War II farce “Which Way to the Front?” (1970). But his blend of physical comedy and pathos was quickly going out of style in a Hollywood defined by the countercultural irony of “The Graduate” and “MASH.” After “The Day the Clown Cried,” his audacious attempt to direct a comedy-drama set in a Nazi concentration amp, collapsed in litigation in 1972, Mr. Lewis was absent from films for eight years. In that dark period, he struggled with an addiction to the pain killer Percodan.

“Hardly Working,” an independent production that Mr. Lewis directed in Florida, was released in Europe in 1980 and in the United States in 1981. It referred to Mr. Lewis’s marginalized position by casting him as an unemployed circus clown who finds fulfillment in a mundane job with the post office. For Roger Ebert, writing in The Chicago Sun-Times, “Hardly Working” was “one of the worst movies ever to achieve commercial release in this country,” but the film found moderate success in the United States and Europe and has since earned passionate defenders.

A follow-up in 1983, “Smorgasbord” (also known as “Cracking Up”), proved a misfire, and Mr. Lewis never directed another feature film. He did, however, enjoy a revival as an actor, thanks largely to his powerful performance in a dramatic role in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” (1982) as a talk-show host kidnapped by an aspiring comedian (Robert De Niro) desperate to become a celebrity. He appeared in the television series “Wiseguy” in 1988 and 1989 as a garment manufacturer threatened by the mob, and was memorable in character roles in Emir Kusturica’s “Arizona Dream” (1993) and Peter Chelsom’s “Funny Bones” (1995). Mr. Lewis played Mr. Applegate (a.k.a. the Devil) in a Broadway revival of the musical “Damn Yankees” in 1995 and later took the show on an international tour.

Although he retained a preternaturally youthful appearance for many years, Mr. Lewis had a series of serious illnesses in his later life, including prostate cancer, pulmonary fibrosis and two heart attacks. Drug treatments caused his weight to balloon alarmingly, though he recovered enough to continue performing well into the new millennium. He was appearing in one-man shows as recently as 2016...



Monday, August 14, 2017

THE LAST DAYS OF MARLENE DIETRICH

The great Marlene Dietrich was a cinema icon for decades. She also tried to create an illusion of being young even as she entered her 70s. Her final years were marked with sadness but also is showed how mentally active she stayed until the end. Dietrich's show business career largely ended on September 29, 1975, when she fell off the stage and broke her thigh during a performance in Sydney, Australia.[ The following year, her husband, Rudolf Sieber, died of cancer on June 24, 1976 Dietrich's final on-camera film appearance was a cameo role in Just a Gigolo (1979), starring David Bowie and directed by David Hemmings, in which she sang the title song.

An alcoholic dependent on painkillers, Dietrich withdrew to her apartment at 12 Avenue Montaigne in Paris. She spent the final 11 years of her life mostly bedridden, allowing only a select few—including family and employees—to enter the apartment. During this time, she was a prolific letter-writer and phone-caller. Her autobiography, Nehmt nur mein Leben (Take Just My Life), was published in 1979.

In 1982, Dietrich agreed to participate in a documentary film about her life, Marlene (1984), but refused to be filmed. The film's director, Maximilian Schell, was allowed only to record her voice. He used his interviews with her as the basis for the film, set to a collage of film clips from her career. The final film won several European film prizes and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary in 1984. Newsweek named it "a unique film, perhaps the most fascinating and affecting documentary ever made about a great movie star".


In 1988, Dietrich recorded spoken introductions to songs for a nostalgia album by Udo Lindenberg. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in November 2005, Dietrich's daughter and grandson claim that Dietrich was politically active during these years. She kept in contact with world leaders by telephone, including Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, running up a monthly bill of over US$3,000. In 1989, her appeal to save the Babelsberg studios from closure was broadcast on BBC Radio, and she spoke on television via telephone on the occasion of the fall of the Berlin Wall later that year.

On 6 May 1992, Dietrich died of renal failure at her flat in Paris at age 90. Her funeral ceremony was conducted at La Madeleine in Paris, a Roman Catholic church on 14 May 1992. Dietrich's funeral service was attended by approximately 1,500 mourners in the church itself—including several ambassadors from Germany, Russia, the US, the UK and other countries—with thousands more outside. Her closed coffin rested beneath the altar draped in the French flag and adorned with a simple bouquet of white wildflowers and roses from the French President, François Mitterrand. Three medals, including France's Legion of Honour and the US Medal of Freedom, were displayed at the foot of the coffin, military style, for a ceremony symbolising the sense of duty Dietrich embodied in her career as an actress, and in her personal fight against Nazism. The officiating priest remarked: "Everyone knew her life as an artist of film and song, and everyone knew her tough stands... She lived like a soldier and would like to be buried like a soldier". By a coincidence of fate her picture was used in the Cannes Film Festival poster that year which was currently pasted up all over Paris.


After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dietrich instructed in her will that she was to be buried in her birthplace, Berlin, near her family; on 16 May her body was flown there to fulfill her wish. Dietrich was interred at the Städtischer Friedhof III, Berlin-Schöneberg, next to the grave of her mother, Josefine von Losch, and near the house where she was born.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

COOKING WITH THE STARS: JUDY GARLAND

I am not sure how much Judy Garland cooked in the kitchen. I have heard from some accounts that she liked to cook, but with all of her constant need to perform, I picture Judy not having the ambition to relax in the kitchen. Nevertheless, here's a recipe I found for her pancakes...


Judy Garland's Savory Pancakes

Four ounces plain flour
1 egg
12 tablespoons milk
pinch salt
1 finely chopped onion
mixed herbs
parsley
pepper

Sift flour and salt into a large, cool basin; make a well in the center and break in the egg; gently stir the flour into the egg, then gradually the milk, and when half the milk has been added ail the flour should be moistened; it should then be beaten thoroughly to remove any lumps; add the rest of the milk, mixing in evenly; strain and stand for one hour; then add onion, parsley, herbs and pepper; melt a little butter in a small frying pan; pour in enough batter to cover the bottom of the pan thinly; fry until a golden brown on both sides; toss or turn with a knife; roll up and serve very hot, garnished with parsley.




Tuesday, July 25, 2017

RIP: BARBARA SINATRA

Barbara Sinatra, the wife of late-singer Frank Sinatra, died Tuesday morning at her Rancho Mirage, California, home, a family spokesman told Fox News. She was 90.

The Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center director John Thoresen told Fox News Sinatra died of natural causes, and she was "comfortably surrounded by family and friends" at the time of her death.

Born Barbara Blakeley, the Bosworth, Missouri, native began her modeling career at 18 after her family moved to Long Beach, California.

Shortly after her move, she married Robert Oliver, but they divorced, and she then married Zeppo Marx in 1959. After she and Marx divorced, she went on to marry Frank Sinatra who was previously married three times.


Barbara and Frank Sinatra wed in 1976 in a private ceremony at the Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage. She and the "Come Fly With Me" singer remained married until Frank Sinatra's death in 1998.

Barbara Sinatra became famous in her own right for her work battling child abuse. She founded the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center to help children who were victims of abuse.

She is survived by her son from a previous marriage Robert Oliver Marx, his wife Hillary Roberts and her granddaughter Carina Blakeley Marx...


Monday, July 17, 2017

MARTIN LANDAU AS BELA LUGOSI

With the death of Martin Landau this past week, I was reminded of my favorite role he did - that of Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994). To remember this remarkable actor, I dug up a review of his performance. Scott Schuldt wrote this piece and it appeared around October 7, 1994 in newspapers and magazines...

NEW YORK - The first time the audience sees Martin Landau in "Ed Wood," he's lying in a store's display coffin, complaining about its lack of elbow room.

What's interesting is that if you didn't know in advance it was Landau playing Bela Lugosi, you might not recognize him at all.Rick Baker's makeup transforms his features. With his real voice hidden by a Hungarian accent, Martin Landau the actor disappears and Lugosi, the long dead actor who played "Dracula" in 1931 comes vividly back to life.

The Lugosi of "Ed Wood" is not a happy one. He's in his 70s, debilitated not just by his age but by 20 years of morphine addiction. He's also out of work, an "ex-bogeyman" as he refers to himself, who finds work again, even if it is in the monumentally awful films of Edward D. Wood Jr. Landau was made available to the press for interviews during a recent promotional trip for the movie "Ed Wood," paid for by Touchstone Pictures.

While Landau's choice to play Lugosi was an inspired one that should hopefully land him his third Oscar nomination since 1988, the actor was surprised director Tim Burton chose him.


"I'm amazed that Tim thought of me. Well, in the sense that I'd never met Tim," Landau said.

"I liked his work a lot ... He was one of those guys I said, 'Gee, I would like to work with that guy. ' I got a call and he said, 'You are my first and only choice for this. ' " What Burton saw in Landau is clear from the performance he gives as Lugosi, whose relationship with Wood, played by Johnny Depp, is at the heart of the film.

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"I met Johnny and loved him immediately. ... We became friends.

Generation gaps - nonsense. I mean, Lugosi and Ed Wood, there was a lot of years between them. Johnny became - and is - my pal," Landau said.

It's the rapport that develops between the two actors that deepens the movie.

"There is a sweetness in (the relationship between Wood and Lugosi), yet it's got layers ... It's an interesting relationship.

You don't see that a lot in film. These are two guys who needed each other and they're two really weird, strange guys. " Landau credits his co-star for the screen relationship's success.

"I love an actor who comes in, ready to work. It's like a good tennis player. They hit the ball where you don't expect it and it's great," Landau said.


"Ed Wood" marks the latest in a series of notable roles that have marked a resurgence in Landau's career. Following "Tuc-ker: The Man and His Dream" in 1988 and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" in 1989, both of which earned him Oscar nominations, Landau finds himself more in demand than ever.

"The more complicated the character, the better I am. It's the one-dimensional crap that I had to do for years that drove me crazy," he said.

"If you are in a meaningless, mindless movie playing a one-dimensional character, don't get too clever, because you're only going to dig a hole for yourself ... It's good writing and complicated stuff. When I got 'Tucker,' and there had been a dearth of that stuff coming my way, I said, 'My God, this is a part. ' " He certainly welcomes the praise and Oscar buzz he's receiving for his work as Lugosi, saying it's much better than hearing nothing.

"I'd rather hear this talk than the alternative. I've walked off the stage and people have said, 'That was really great. You look really nice in that suit. ' It's looks and feelings that you get.

People never say, 'Jeez, you were awful. " In many interviews, Landau has referred to his work in "Ed Wood" as a love letter to Lugosi, with whom the 60-year-old Landau had a formative film experience.

"I saw (Lugosi) when I was a kid and he scared the life out of me. I literally didn't sleep for days," Landau said. The 63-year-old film's power hasn't diminished in Landau's mind.

"It was a revival of 'Dracula. ' I was maybe 8 or 9 years old and there was this incredible creature on the screen. Look at it again...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

DIED ON THIS DAY: LON CHANEY JR

Lon Chaney Jr. died on this day - July 12th some 45 years ago. Chaney was only 67. He was one of the most emblematic horror film stars of the 1940s. Though given the name "Creighton Chaney" by his parents, he took the name "Lon Chaney, Jr." at the behest of a producer who wished to capitalize on the reputation of his father, who had starred in such silent classics as "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" and "Phantom of the Opera." 

After playing a number of small, forgettable roles through the 1930s, the younger Chaney's first role of note was 'Lenny Small' in the 1939 film adaptation of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." This role made great use of Chaney's size and empathetic manner, and would remain his favorite. He followed this with an even greater success, playing the title character in 1941's "The Wolf Man." His performance, which echoed his own life as a prodigal son figure returning home only to find tragedy, came as his father's studio, Universal Pictures, was struggling to reestablish itself as the premier studio for horror films. Universal would cast Chaney in a string of sequels to both "The Wolf Man" and it's classic films of the 1930s. 


All in all, Chaney would end up playing the Wolf Man five times, the barely mobile mummy Kharis three times, the Frankenstein Monster once (and again, briefly, in perhaps the best of Universal's long run of sequels, 1948's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" when Glenn Strange was incapacitated), and Dracula once. He would also star in Universal's "Inner Sanctum" series and a number of lesser thrillers through the 1940s. Though the films were always entertaining, and Chaney almost always made a great effort to imbue his performances with quality, the formulaic nature of these productions concealed his ability, and he became typecast as a "monster."

 Chaney's last roles of note were as a supporting player in both 1952's "High Noon" (starring Gary Cooper) and 1958's "The Defiant Ones" with Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier. More often, he would play in a number of low-budget films, mostly westerns and horror films, often reprising his roles from the glory days at Universal. Always a heavy drinker, he would die from various alcohol-related ailments after playing his last role, fittingly enough a non-speaking part in the 1971 farce "Dracula vs. Frankenstein.". His body was dedicated to medical science...


Monday, July 3, 2017

OLIVIA DEHAVILLAND AND A NEW LAWSUIT


Olivia de Havilland, who won two Oscars during Hollywood’s golden age, filed a lawsuit on Friday against FX Networks and Ryan Murphy Productions over her gossipy portrayal in the television show “Feud: Bette and Joan.”

“FX defendants misappropriated Olivia de Havilland’s name, likeness and identity without her permission and used them falsely in order to exploit their own commercial interests,” the lawsuit says. Ms. de Havilland, 101, is seeking damages for “emotional harm” and “harm to her reputation,” and is also pushing for an injunction against the use of her name and likeness.

“Feud: Bette and Joan” portrays the decades-long rivalry between Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, and is part of Mr. Murphy’s larger FX anthology series depicting feuds throughout history. Ms. de Havilland and Davis were close friends and starred in four films together, including “Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” In the series, Ms. de Havilland, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones, is an important character, appearing in six episodes as a confidante to Davis and an active participant in the Davis-Crawford drama.

The lawsuit rejects both the quotes attributed to Ms. de Havilland and the overall tone of the portrayal. “Olivia de Havilland has made efforts, spent time and money, protecting her well-defined public image as one who does not engage in gossip and other unkind, ill-mannered behavior,” the lawsuit reads.

Mr. Murphy, the creator of “Feud,” told the The Hollywood Reporter in April that he did not contact de Havilland about her portrayal in the series.

“I didn’t write Olivia because I didn’t want to be disrespectful and ask her, ‘Did this happen? Did that happen? What was your take on that?’” he said.



SOURCE

Friday, June 30, 2017

RIP: MIRIAM MARX


Just got word from the grapevine that Groucho’s daughter Miriam Marx Allen passed away on June 29th, 2017 at the age 90. She was one of the last links to the Marx Brothers’ glory days. When Miriam was born in 1927 The Coconuts was on Broadway, and the family was still based in New York. When the team retired from films (the first time) after The Big Store she was only 14.

Like her mom Ruth Johnson, who’d also performed with the family act, Miriam sadly developed an alcohol problem, and had a troubled relationship with her famous father. Her book  "Love Groucho: Letters from Groucho Marx to His Daughter Miriam", was first published in 1992.

Miriam’s older brother Arthur, author and playwright, passed away in 2011. She is survived by her half-sister Melinda, 20 years her junior, another link with the storied Marxian past...


Thursday, June 29, 2017

RECENTLY VIEWED: FEUD


One of the best things I have seen on television in a long time has been the new show Feud. Feud is an American anthology television series for FX created by Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen, and Michael Zam, presented as the dramatization of the actual events that took place in history. It premiered on March 5, 2017.The first season, which consists of eight episodes, is subtitled Bette and Joan and chronicles the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during and after the production of their 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

The whole cast is amazing. Susan Sarandon is perfectly cast as Bette Davis. Sarandon, with those bedroom eyes like Bette makes you forget that she is Sarandon and not Bette Davis. Jessica Lange is great as Joan Crawford and captures her personality, but nothing against Lange, but she is not nearly as beautiful or physically the same as Crawford. The supporting cast is strong as well including a great Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell.


The series was in development - with Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon on board - for seven years before finally being given the green light. Creator Ryan Murphy interviewed Bette Davis months before her death in 1989. The agreed-upon 20-minute interview lasted four hours, and inspired his characterization of Davis. When he asked her about Joan Crawford, she would talk about how much she hated her, before saying "She was a professional. And I admired that."

Olivia de Havilland, played in the series by Catherine Zeta-Jones was 100 years old when the program aired. Asked for her opinion, de Havilland responded "Having not seen the show, I cannot make a valid comment about it...However, in principle, I am opposed to any representation of personages who are no longer alive to judge the accuracy of any incident depicted as involving themselves." Catherine Zeta-Jones claimed that while she did not contact 100 year old Olivia de Havilland to advise on her portrayal, she did consult her (also 100 year old) father-in-law Kirk Douglas for advice. She claimed that Douglas described de Havilland as "Aaah Olivia," Bette Davis: "Aww, she was a broad. She told it as it was," and Joan Crawford: "She was out of her f***ing mind!"


Not to give too much away of the excellent series, the last episode is especially sad and touching. Both women, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were discarded from Hollywood when they became too old. Crawford had to resort to B-horror movies and Davis made a number of television appearances that were beneath her. While Bette Davis was alone at the end due to pushing away her daughter, grandchildren, and other Hollywood friends - Crawford is far more tragic of a figure. She squandered her money and was living along and modestly in an apartment. 

Whether both women were drunks or child abusers are beyond the fact that they deserved better by Hollywood. The series really does a great job going into all of this. To this day, Hollywood is a business for the youth and aging female stars are still forgotten by the business. Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange prove that older actresses can still turn out great roles, and Bette Davis and Joan Crawford are great old actresses that should be better remembered for their great roles that they created on film...

MY RATING: 10 OUT OF 10


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

RIP: HARRY PRIME

Harry Charles Prime (Preine) died suddenly in his home in Chalfont Thursday, June 15, 2017. He was 97 years young.

Harry was born March 5, 1920 in the East Falls Section of Philadelphia. He was a graduate of St. Bridget's Elementary and Roman Catholic High School.

In the fall of 1944, he entered and won a singing contest at the 400 Club in Washington, D.C. and was offered a week engagement at the Club. From there Prime proceeded to perform with big bands such as Randy Brooks, Tommy Dorsey, Jack Fina and Ralph Flanagan throughout the 1940's and 50's. Prime's recording of the song "Until" with Tommy Dorsey sold a million records.

In 1945, the Nations Disc Jockeys voted the Ralph Flanagan Band as the #1 band in the country and Prime was voted 20th best singer ahead of Dennis Day, Eddie Fisher and Dean Martin.

In the years following his tenure with the big bands, Prime never strayed far from the music business and worked as a disc jockey and radio host in various cities including WCAU in Philadelphia and WNPV in Lansdale.

Most recently, he relished singing at the Roasted Pepper in Chalfont and the Epicure Café in Philadelphia in front of his close friends and fans. Prime's passions were sports including baseball, golf and boxing and of course, music.

Yet with all his musical accomplishments, Prime's greatest joy has been his family. With his late wife Marie, he raised four children, Kevin Prime; Greg Prime (Romy); Ric Prime (Vince Versace); Kim Kantner (Larry), and his grandchildren, Brayden, Caelan, Austin, Mackenzie, Alexis, Taylor and Riley. Harry's children from a previous marriage are John, Harry and Bethenia.

Another icon of the big band era gone...



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EDDIE CANTOR REMEMBERS AL JOLSON

This great rememberance of Al Jolson was written by his long time friend Eddie Cantor. It was published shortly after Jolson's death on this day - October 23rd in 1950...

I was in Mobile, Alabama, when I first got the shocking news from an NBC official in New York that Al Jolson was dead of a heart attack. The telephone operator who put the call through to me was sobbing hysterically. The elevator operator who took me downstairs couldn’t control his tears. The taxi driver who drove me to the NBC studios to do a special memorial broadcast kept mumbling to himself, “Why did he have to go?”

The attendants and technicians at the studio were all red-eyed from weeping. None of these people had ever met Al Jolson personally. Yet, because Jolie was a man of the people, because he seemed to know and love everyone who had ever heard the sound of his voice, the grief over his passing was universal.

Jolie had human frailties, just as any other man. I say this in all sincerity and with my heart full of love for the man we all knew as “The King.” Jolie’s great heart, his wonderful, almost child-like spirit, and his overflowing love of humanity overshadowed everything else.

He never forgot his nearness to the people and his nearness to his God. Those of us who kidded him the most loved him the most. Whenever the gang – Jack Benny, George Jessel, George Burns and Jolie – used to gather at my house, there was never a night when we didn’t get together to sing “Mammy.” But there was never anybody who could sing “Mammy” like Jolson could.

We all looked upon him with envy because we could never hope to reach his stature, but he was also an inspiration to all his contemporaries. He was six acts of top billing rolled into one and for anyone to compete with him was like watching a midget in a sideshow trying to touch the giant’s head. To call him the biggest hunk of entertainer in show business was an understatement. He was the only entertainer who was his own lighting and his own scenery.


Jolie always loved to play jokes and get ‘em to laugh. I remember one time when I was playing opposite him in Chicago. We both lived in the Belmont Hotel in Chicago’s North Side and we used to meet after our shows and kid each other and lie to one another about the take at the box-office that night. We spent hours with each other every night for five months and I never had so much fun in all my life. The newspapers kept trying to cook up a phony feud between us but neither one of us took it seriously.

Then one day, I came down with pleurisy and my doctor advised me to close my show and take a rest.

“I can’t, Doc,” I told him. “Then all the newspapers will say, ‘Jolson drives Cantor out of town!’ ”

Sick as I was, I kept on going night after night. But then finally, I got so weak I couldn’t even walk out on the stage and so I closed the show and left for New York. Imagine my amazement when I got off the train, picked up the New York Times and read this headline on the theatrical page: “Jolson closes his show immediately after Cantor closes his show!” It turned out that Jolie had been sicker than I was, but he’d kept going only because he didn’t want the newspapers to say: “Cantor drives Jolson out of town!”

Jolie brought joy to more people than any other man alive. He was more than an actor or a singer or an entertainer – he was an experience. We kidded him about his age but he was ageless. I still cannot believe and refuse to accept the fact that he is gone. He has left his footprints on the sands of time and he will be alive to all of us just as long as we can turn on a record and hear his God-given voice that never fails to bring a strangely comforting catch in the throat, and a feeling of goodness to the heart.

from “The Real Story of Al Jolson” 1950, Spectrolux Corp.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

COOKING WITH THE STARS: CLAUDETTE COLBERT

I am always interested in the cooking styles of classic Hollywood. One of the most beautiful Hollywood leading ladies was Claudette Colbert (1903-1996). Here is an interesting recipe from the beautiful actress...



CLAUDETTE COLBERT’S CHEESE AND OLIVE PUFFS

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 (10-ounce) jars of pimento-stuffed green olives, drained and blotted dry

Add cheese and butter to bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Add flour, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to form dough. Wrap each olive in a small amount of dough, completely covering the olive and forming a ball. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and freeze. Transfer to a plastic bag and store in freezer until ready to use. To cook, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400˚ F for 12 minutes, or until crust is golden. Serve hot....





Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ETHEL MERMAN AND HELLO DOLLY

I have always wanted to learn more about Ethel Merman's appearance in Hello, Dolly on Broadway, and I found an interesting website which gives a complete history. You can see the full article HERE...

The Ethel Merman Dolly dynasty reigned from March 28, 1970 – December 27, 1970. On November 30th, The New York Times announced that she was closing on December 26–then, the Sunday matinee was added!

Merman had signed for three months and after two months, Mr. Merrick said, “Look: if you play it into the middle of December 1970-at that time-we will have established being the longest running show on Broadway.” She later said, “What can I say? He was a nice man!”

The role of Dolly Levi in the musical was originally written for Ethel Merman, but Merman turned it down; as did Mary Martin (although both eventually played it). Merrick then decided to audition Nancy Walker. Eventually, he hired Carol Channing, who ultimately created Dolly her signature role. Director Gower Champion was not the producer’s first choice, as Hal Prince and others (among them Jerome Robbins and Joe Layton) all turned down the job of directing the musical.

Merman retired from Broadway in 1970, when she appeared as the last Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! In Brian Kellow’s biography of Ethel Merman, A Life, he states that Herman made a study of all of Merman’s recordings, concluding that the role of Dolly was perfectly tailored to her talents. Herman was in Merrick’s office the day the producer made the call pitching the show to Ethel. Jerry saw Merrick go completely ashen.


When Merrick hung up, he told Jerry that Merman said she would never do another Broadway show because she had spent her life in dressing rooms.

She was tired of doing Broadway and wanted to focus on film and television. If Merrick thought he could persuade her, he was wrong. Ethel never regretted her decision.

In late 1968 and 1969, Ethel concentrated on television appearances, with guest shots on The Hollywood Palace, The Carol Burnett Show, and several of the then popular talk shows.

Try as she might to persuade the press and the public that she had “had it” with Broadway, Ethel’s level of activity in the late 1960s was not sufficient to keep her fully engaged; she had too much vitality, too much drive, and she needed a more demanding outlet than the occasional guest spot on television.

In Howard Kissel’s biography of David Merrick, David Merrick – The Abominable Showman: The Unauthorized Biography(Applause Books), he states that Ethel’s original concerns about not wanting to be compared with Ruth Gordon, creator of the role of Dolly in Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker, now seemed a moot point. When Carol Channing left the show in August 1965, a long line of actresses had come in as replacements: Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Betty Grable, Pearl Bailey, and Phyllis Diller. All had something individual to bring to the part, and Merrick reveled in the publicity value that came from announcing the next star to assume the role.

Josh Ellis, a theatrical press agent for thirty years during which he represented over 100 shows and numerous individuals, was at Ethel Merman’s opening night on March 30th, 1969. That night, local New York television critic Stewart Klein offered: “Ethel Merman in HELLO, DOLLY! is a marvel and should be seen by everybody.” The role of Dolly Levi was originally written for Ethel Merman. Josh said that night was the most enthusiastic audience that ever, ever, ever was! The cart rolled in, the newspaper was up, and the audience was screaming because they knew who was behind the newspaper. When she put the newspaper down, the audience was on its feet cheering and would not let her talk for two minutes. She finally got out the first part of “Doll…” and they cheered even more. She got a standing ovation after World, Take Me Back. She got another standing ovation after Before the Parade Passes By. It was breathless. Everything worked that night. 


For the title number, the curtain at the top of the stairs revealed Ethel Merman and the entire audience stands up. The number continues but the audience does not sit down. When she sang her solos, she sang solo. When the chorus came back in, the entire audience sang along with them. When the “waiters” put their hands behind them and swayed with her, so did the entire audience. When Ethel sang, the audience shut up and listened; they knew when to join in. By the time the show was over, the audience was drenched. On top of the two additional songs that were put back in for Ethel, because of the audience’s enthusiasm, the show went an additional seven minutes. There was no question in Josh’s mind that everyone in that audience had already seen Hello, Dolly! at least once prior to that night; probably many times before, and everyone loved it. The fact that everyone was hearing two songs they had never heard before sung by Ethel superseded any other quibbles that anyone may have had. It didn’t matter. It was such an overwhelming experience that nothing else really mattered except that it was a night to remember that would last your whole life; and that’s exactly what it did. Josh’s account is verified in Brian Kellow’s biography of Ethel Merman, A Life.

Merman ended the original run of Dolly on December 27th, 1970. It had played 2,844 performances.

Merman’s last night on a stage anywhere was at the Peabody Auditorium in Daytona Beach, Florida. Merman’s last scheduled song became Before The Parade Passes By. She had two encores of There’s No Business Like Show Business and What I Did For Love. Hello Dolly marked the end of the Merman era on broadway...