Monday, September 29, 2008

RIP-Peter Kastner

Certainly not as well known as Paul Newman but I've just learned of the September 18th death of Canadian actor Peter Kastner who, for one brief moment in the late sixties, seemed to be the next big thing that never was.
Sort of a low-rent Robert Morse, Kastner starred in Francis Ford Coppola's early film, YOU'RE A BIG BOY NOW and a short-lived but memorable TV series entitled THE UGLIEST GIRL IN TOWN in 1967. The film seen here (from the original pressbook here in the library's collection) is B.S. I LOVE YOU, a virtually unwatchable picture that would probably have been forgotten completely by now if not for the debut of a topless Joanna Cameron ("Oh Mighty Isis" indeed!).
Kastner had a small role in the early seventies PBS play, STEAMBATH with Bill Bixby and a briefly naked Valerie Perrine (a first for American TV?) and I'm not sure I've seen him since except in the ocassional airings of his films. I discovered him at an important point in my childhood, though, when I was discovering EVERYTHING and forming my tastes in movies and TV. Because of that, I've never forgotten him...even though I never really knew him. Rest in peace, peter.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Savage Streets Revisited

SAVAGE STREETS has never been my favorite Linda Blair movie. In fact, I had never even heard of it until its initial VHS release when the store I worked at got a keychain flashlight with the film's distinctive logo to publicize it. I carried taht for years. Saw the film on cable a few months later and I don;t know. I mean, I love a good exploitation film as good as the next guy. Tough chicks, crossbow violence John Vernon (voice of IRON MAN in the sixties cartoon!)and Linda Blair naked. What's not to love, y'know? Still...never sat well with me for whatever reason.

Yesterday, I saw online where SAVAGE STREETS, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom,had been given the deluxe, 2 disc DVD treatment! With cool grindhouse looking covers yet! WTF?? Then, later in the day, my wife and I found ourselves at Best Buy with rewards program coupons to spend and what do I spy? You guessed it. And at $14.99 only a buck more than it was on Amazon.Three seperate commentaries (but none by Linda. Couldn't convince her to sit through it again?). Also amongst the extras, though, is an eighteen minute interview with Ms. Blair (wearing a WorldHeart Foundation t-shirt). Okay, I know a sign when it hits me over the head. Time to give SAVAGE STREETS a second try. I bought it. Haven't watched it yet (except for Linda's fun and informative interview naturally)and with a busy week ahead, it may be awhile but when I do, I'll let you know if it's any better nearly two and a half decades on.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Morganna on To Tell the Truth

Some time ago, I wrote about my encounter with baseball's legendary kissing bandit, Morganna. Well, not a day goes by that I don't get someone coming to my blog looking for more on that delightful, funny woman. That's all I had, though. One meeting, one interaction. One autographed poster (Hmmm... Now with my new digital camera, I guess I could scan THAT). One slightly sad bit. Today, however, I came across this clip from 1978's TO TELL THE TRUTH. Here's Morganna at her peak (both of them). (Don't get me started on contestant # 3, however. If you can't say anything nice...)

RIP-Paul Newman

Paul Newman died yesterday. Yesterday I was thinking of Paul's health as I ate his spaghetti sauce on a lasgna I'd fixed. A major star for my entire life, he was one I really wish I could've met. If I had, I certainly wouldn't have asked his autograph. According to legend, Paul quit signing autographs decades ago when a guy approached him for one at a urinal!
Amazingly charismatic onscreen, the blue-eyed Newman enlivened any number of lesser vehicles but was given the chance to shine proudly in more than his share of classic films, also. I first saw him in 1958's RALLY ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS, a perennial TV favorite in the mid-sixties. On the big screen, I first noticed him in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (and only because it was double-featured with--strangely enough--BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES). THE STING, in 1973, turned out to be one of my all-time favorite films and one I can view countless times without ever getting tired of it! THE TOWERING INFERNO is an all-star disaster flick but watch for the actors duel between Newman and Steve McQueen. Both insisted on top billing. The argument was settled by having one's name on the left of the screen (ie: first) but the other's higher (ie: top).
From there, I went backwards to discover HUD, COOL HAND LUKE, HARPER and THE LEFT HANDED GUN. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN was a scenery-chewing favorite.
FORT APACHE THE BRONX, THE VERDICT and NOBODY'S FOOL were later favorites and Newman ended his career with a surprisingly nuanced vocal performance as the wizened old car in Pixar's CARS (and its attendant short subject). An appropriate role for the old racer.
Along the way, Paul Newman had a long and by all accounts wonderful marriage with Joanne Woodward, drove race cars and created a line of grocery store sauces, salsas and popcorns from which the profits funded various charities! Along with his longtime collaborator, A. E. Hotchner, Newman even has a current book out about their food enterprise!
Blue-eyed, iconic, deep and yet with a grin for the ages, Paul Newman was certainly one of the greatest film actors of his generation. My favorite Paul Newman memory, however, is of David Letterman's first appearance on CBS, lo these many years ago. After switching from NBC, CBS gave Dave the redone Ed Sullivan Theatre for his series. Surveying the audience that first night, Dave heard a heckler who yelled, "Where the hell are the singing cats?" It was Paul (who rarely did TV).
Cue the Scott Joplin music.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Charlton Heroes?

Hey, where were some of THESE guys when Alan Moore rolled the sixties Charlton characters around in the dirt and turned 'em into WATCHMEN? That green guy looks like the Dragonfly from the recent (and painful to watch for the most part) SUPERHERO MOVIE! I love the look on the face of the guy with the naked legs, too. I mean, he looks a tad soused. Guy on the right does sorta resemble Captain Metropolis.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lois Lane's Hairstyles

Don't get me started on LOIS LANE. Even though I was a loyal reader of her DC comic back in the day (when she HAD a DC comic), I never quite GOT her. She was supposed to be a strong female character and yet was always falling out of windows, getting kidnapped and otherwise needing to be rescued by you-know-who. This, of course, kept the big guy a little too busy to deal with all of the alien invasions, escaped super-criminals, natural disasters and answering Jimmy Olsen's signal watch (what he was thinking when he gave the kid that thing I'll never know!). Bottom line, you can make the case that Supes had some severe psychosexual issues back in the Weisinger days. Her book, although essentially just another SUPERMAN title, was often a dressed-up romance comic only with somebody's really warped view of romance! One thing readers apparently cared about, however, was Lois' hairstyles. Here's a mid-sixties 80 PAGE GIANT page in which we can appreciate the great diversity of same.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christa Helm Update

This just in from CBS NEWS:

On Saturday, October 4th, CBS TV's 48 HOURS MYSTERY (which previously aired a 1 hour episode on murdered starlet Christa Helm in April, will offer an update on the case. While I don't know a lot of details, my wife and I have recently been in touch with one of the cold case detectives for the LAPD who have been working on this case for some time now and are anxious to see and hear any and all new developments. Check your local listings for times and channels and keep watching this blog for more information as it becomes available.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Two-Gun Kid Coloring Page

Here's a 1965 ad for a then-current issue of Marvel's western mainstay, THE TWO-GUN KID, that doubles as a coloring page! Every once in awhile in those early days of the Marvel Age of Comics, the company would run full color, full page ads for other comics only the artwork itself in those ads would be black and white. It was odd but I didn't spend a lot of time wondering what happened. Now with this one, however, where they're drawing attention to that very fact, I find myself wondering if these ads sometimes had to be done up well before the comic itself was colored and thus original uncolored art was used for the ads! Feel free to print and color this Dick Ayers page but I'm afraid I don't have the issue in question of ol' Two-Gun's book for comparison.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Linda Blair-Born Innocent

After THE EXORCIST, Linda Blair's first theatrical film was AIRPORT 1975 in which she was lost in an all-star cast while waiting for a kidney transplant and having Helen Reddy serenade her (as a nun). Perhaps not a good career choice. Our favorite lady fared a bit better on television not long afterwards when she starred in BORN INNOCENT, a tough and controversial TV-movie that presented what was arguably (at age 15 I believe) her strongest performance ever. Sadly a bit of a punchline now due to the often excised scene of the teenage delinquent Linda being violated by a broom handle by other inmates in her reform school, that scene was nightmarishly handled and in its own way scarier than anything in THE EXORCIST. Linda followed it up with SARAH T-PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE ALCOHOLIC, another strong TV film co-starring Mark Hamill (pre-STAR WARS). Eventually, she was replaced as the TV teenage "issues" girl by (of all people) Eve Plumb (in DAWN-PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE RUNAWAY) and Linda returned to the big screen in vehicles of ever-lessening quality such as ROLLERBOOGIE, WILDHORSE HANK and EXORCIST 2 (which must have seemed like a good idea at the time but...) Still, for those who question whether Linda legitimately deserved the Oscar nomination for THE EXORCIST, look no further than her performance in BORN INNOCENT. No Mercedes MacCambridge there. This girl could ACT!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 39

The previous piece on BATMAN # 13 seems to have inspired some to recall Dr. Werham's scandalous claims about the Dynamic Duo. I will nOT repeat them here. I think it's safe to say that there is absolutely NOTHING untoward about their relationship and (courtesy of Ms. Lisa) here's a panel that would seem to put to rest once and for all the rumors that Bruce is anything other than a supportive "mentor" to Dick...or is that Jason? Tim? Hmmm...How many young boys have there been now?

Batman # 13 Ad

Here's a nifty Bat-ad from 1942. Recently we wrote a little about Jerry Robinson, the original Bob Kane "ghost." The cover in this ad is a fine example of Robinson's work on the strip. In fact, Dick Grayson looks to me to be Robinson's work, also, but GCD says that "Batman Plays a Lone Hand" was (gasp!) really drawn by Bob Kane! Inks are credited to Robinson, though.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Follow That Camel!

Recently, there was a meme going about in which one is supposed to list the ten (or was it twelve?) movies he or she has always wanted to see but could never find. I tried. I really did. The problem was that after I consulted my list of such films (made back in the early eighties), I'd already seen most of them and nearly all of the remaining ones were but a few clicks away on the 'Net. I ordered a couple from Amazon and found a few more online. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be writing about all of them.
First up is FOLLOW THAT CAMEL, part of England's low-brow CARRY ON series. Made in 1967, this was one of two films that had to forgo the series title due to a switch in distributors. That said, it is most definitely a CARRY ON film albeit with one major difference. Phil Silvers. Yep. Bilko himself...pretty much playing the same character he always played. Apparently series regular Sid James was ill and Silvers' stage background made the actor (whom I believe had most recently guested as "Shifty" Schaeffer on TV's THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES) a surprisingly good replacement.
The "plot" follows Jim Dale (award-winning HARRY POTTER reader in recent years) as a young English gentleman who takes his manservant along to join the Foreign Legion. Silvers is the less-than-ethical Sgt Nocker. Series reliables Kenneth Williams and Charles Hawtrey command the fort while Bernard Bresslaw, often wasted in these pictures, chews the scenery with gusto as the villainous Arab Sheikh.

There are lots of burlesque level gags, the expected double entendres and a few inspired comedic bits such as Hawtrey staging a sandcastle contest in the desert to build morale. Silvers is not only a perfect replacement for the ailing James (a beloved figure in British comedy) but at times even evokes that old rascal with his delivery!

I discovered the CARRY ON films in the early 1980's and have wanted to see this one almost ever since. It's not great by anybody's definition but it was well-done for what it was and it was worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jimmy Olsen's Bad Habit

Here, from SUPERMAN'S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN # 101, is Jimmy Olsen casually smoking a pipe and blowing smoke rings as if he does it all the time (off-panel, of course). Worse yet, here he's time-traveled to Krypton where he's actually introducing the concept of smoking to the natives! Great Rao! He could KILL these people...oh. Never mind. Smoke 'em if ya got 'em, I guess.

The New Fall Season

Not THIS one of course. We live in the past a lot of the time around here so here's a local TV mag cover celebrating the new breakout hits of 1973!

Stu Gilliam and Hilly Hicks starred in ROLL OUT, a World War II variation on M*A*S*H that attempted to comment on contemporary America in the same manner. Amiable performances couldn't really help the heavy handed and just plain unfunny scripts but I watched regularly and kept hoping for the best.

Dom Deluise is a force of nature that has never been successfully tamed in movies or TV in my opinion but LOTSA LUCK was at least enjoyable. Based on the British ON THE BUSES (in keeping with the trend of the day to Americanize Britcoms), a great supporting cast included Katleen Freeman and Beverly Sanders. This one at least can be found at Amazon.

BOB AND CAROL AND TED AND ALICE was a toned-down version of the naughty big-screen swinger sitcom of a couple years earlier. On TV, it's notable only as being the first in a long line of regular series for the late Robert Urich who at one time held the record for the number of series in which he starred or was featured weekly.

TOMA was an above average cop show bouyed by the performance of intense stage and film actor Tony Musante. Musante was apparently a perfectionist however and the series fell apart because of his demands. In spite of the fact that it had been based on a real police officer, it later resurfaced as BARETTA for a healthy run with the less problematic(!!??) Robert Blake in the lead.
THE GIRL WITH SOMETHING EXTRA was a cute but badly-timed attempt at recreating BEWITCHED-style comedy by having former Gidget Sally Field as a young wife (to pretty boy singer John Davidson and his hair)with ESP.
Finally, there was THE NEW PERRY MASON which asked us to accept genial Monte Markham as repacement for Raymond Burr (who was himself still appearing as IRONSIDE on network TV). Sure several actors had played Perry on film before the classic TV series but if ever an actor ruined a role for anyone else, it was Burr. This series quickly disappeared (and kind of took markham's career with it apparently) but when Burr returned a few years later in the Mason TV-movies, the ratings were nearly as huge as he himself had become!
For the record, few if any of these expected hits lasted until the midway point of the season.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tropical Depression in Cincinnati Area!

'Ja miss me, kids? In case you haven't heard, there was what technically amounted to a tropical depression in the greater Cincinnati area on Sunday. Blew off roofs, knocked down trees and power lines and knocked out power to 90 freakin' percent of this area! A TROPICAL storm! Oh, this is all very biblical! I know it was alot worse for folks in Texas and elsewhere but you just never suspect you're gonna get 80 mile an hour winds through this area from a hurricane! Tornadoes sometimes but not TROPICAL STORMS!! And then when I reconnect with the online world, I find that Pink Floyd's Rick Wright has died, Gerry Rafferty (Baker Street) is still missing after disappearing from a hospital a month ago, Sarah Palin was NOT just a bad dream and my phone actually does still take messages even when it's out!

It's all been very surreal and a considerable amount of the area has not been as lucky as we have personally. Our power came back sooner than estimated. That first night, we sat up with Nintendo DS games listening to FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY on the battery-operated tape recorder while the full moon was the ONLY light outside. I had to drive to work at 5 AM but my wife's was cancelled and my boy still hasn't returned to school. The local grocery just reopened today and all of their frozen and refrigerated aisles were deserted. My boss's power is still out last I heard.

Losing my power on a dark and windy day reminded me of this image of THOR losing his power on a dark and windy day back in the sixties. Note how his hair doesn't blow at all. though. Must have been SOME hairspray!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Whatever Happened to the Japanese Spider-Man?

To be exact, this ad appeared in the back of MARVEL PREVIEW # 19 stating some sort of all-new Japanese treatment of SPIDER-MAN would be appearing in the foillowing issue. When, in fact, the following issue came out, it was filled with reprints from earlier Marvel mags. I no longer have issue # 20 but I don't recall any explanation as to what happened to the Spidey piece. Since the funky Japanese TV version (of which we have a number of episodes here in the Library) with the transforming Spider-Machine and the giant monster of the week was airing at that time, I'm going to venture a guess that the intent was to do some sort of photo comic from it and the result proved to be unpublishable. Tony? Anybody else?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Easy Way to a Tuff Surfboard

For those who haven't seen it, here's the classic Frank Frazetta anti-smoking "ad" that appeared off and on for years in Jim Warren's magazines from the late sixties through the early seventies. This MAY well have been the great "Fritz's" last work in a comic-strip style. Strangely enough, I'm betting that most comics artists probably smoked fairly heavily in those days!

It Takes Fred Astaire

One of my very favorite male (for a change) performers is Fred Astaire. It hasn't always been that way, however. In fact, I remember the very first time I ever even heard of Fred Astaire. Even as a budding film buff, I somehow managed to avoid hearing of or at least paying any attention to his name until I was ten years old! Then it was announced that Fred Astaire would be appearing in the TV series, IT TAKES A THIEF starring Robert Wagner (whose no doubt fascinating autobiography is due soon). Now, here's the thing. You may find this impossible to believe but even as a TV kid of the sixties, I never saw one single episode of that series! Somehow, all the publicity stuck with me, however, and I remembered the name. As time went on, MGM released THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT and it was! Suddenly I became quite enamored of this easygoing, amazingly graceful man. Over the next few years, Fred began to appear fairly regularly in films and on TV again, turning in pleasant but well-acted performances in everything from THE TOWERING INFERNO and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA to GHOST STORY and THE MAN IN THE SANTA CLAUS SUIT. What he did not do, though, was dance.

At the same time , I was discovering the younger, dancing Fred in big screen reissues of all of the RKO classics with Ginger Rogers. According to legend, the comment after his first movie audition was "Can't sing, can't act. Can dance a little." Ahem. FRED ASTAIRE WAS AMAZING! His dances with Ginger were incredible (they always said she could do anything he could do only she had to do it backwards and in high heels!) but his solo setpieces in the later MGM films were masterpieces of invention and style.
In real-life, I hear he was vain about his hair loss (he usually wore a toupee or a hat like Crosby), loved horse racing and porn films (I read he used to wear disguises to go to adult theaters in those pre-'Net days but everyone always knew it was him), he married a much younger female jockey in later years and could really hold a grudge. Who cares? This was Fred Astaire!
Last week, after all these years, I finally got a chance to see some of Astaire's appearances on IT TAKES A THIEF and they are quite fun! His amiable style translates well to the role of international thief Alistair Mundy and his not so smooth relationship with son Alexander (Wagner, of course) was well-played. Sometimes I wish that I lived my life in a linear fashion like most people but at times like this, I'm glad that I was able to spend a little time back in the sixties with RJ and Fred...finally.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 38

Jack Kirby's MACHINE MAN here feeling a bit angsty over the apparently impending lack of dessert .

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hayley Today

Longtime readers know that I have always fancied Ms. Hayley Mills nearly as much as I do Linda Blair. As other popular bloggers had already staked out an obsession with the star of THE PARENT TRAP and (my favorite) THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELS, I've kind of kept my own undying appreciation for Hayley on the back burner but today on they had THIS recent shot of her and I thought some of you folks might like to see it!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Michael Palin For President!

Mark Evanier posted this today but I couldn't resist presenting it here, also as I strongly support Mr. Palin (just as in past years I have supported Snoopy, Pogo and Howard the Duck for president!)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Jerry and Neal and Jerry and Joe

Undoubtedly from the late seventies when Neal Adams (then the most popular artist in comics) and Jerry Robinson (the original BATMAN ghost) were shaming Warner Communications into giving Siegel and Shuster at least SOME of what they were owed, here's a great photo I'd never seen before. This appeared recently in USA TODAY's huge article about Jerry Siegel which plugged Marc Tyler Nobleman's BOYS OF STEEL and Brad Meltzer's new (and strangely-related) bestseller, THE BOOK OF LIES! In case you didn't know, l to r you've got Joe Shuster, Neal Adams, Jerry Siegel and Jerry Robinson. See Gerard Jones' MEN OF TOMORROW for details of the campaign which not only got S & S some long overdue money but returned their credit to SUPERMAN.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Second Spirit Trailer

I report, you decide. I still think it looks quite cool in its own right...but is it THE SPIRIT??

More Bananlicious Memories

In yesterday's post, friend and ace researcher Derek Tague mentioned his buddy Dan Hollis. Here's Dan today with more guest reminiscences on THE BANANA SPLITS at their 40th anniversary. Check out the links to Dan's terrific site also (which I would've plugged before but JUST now discovered!). Here's Dan Hollis:

I was born in 1968, the same year the Banana Splits Show premiered --so that is pretty awesome in its own right. That would mean I started watching the re-runs. pretty early on, of our beloved furry pals. Matter of fact, the Banana Splits (along with Speed Racer, The Wonderful World of Disney, The Abbott and Costello Cartoon, Bozo the Clown and Sesame Street) are the very first kids shows that I can actually recall ever viewing at around age 3 and half. I even remember going to a well-known (at that time) ice cream parlor in Michigan (where I once lived) called Farrells Ice Cream...and seeing many "pictures" of Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper and Snorky on the wall as you walked in. Apparently, they had visited Farrells at some point. That was just amazing to me! Dare I say it...I'm sure everyone in attendance that day had 'Banana Splits' (yuck...yuck...yuck)...The Banana Splits became quick favorites of mine. I would instantly light up when the show would come on. The accompanying cartoons (Squiddly Diddly, Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole, Winsome Witch, the Hillbilly Bears, Atom Ant, Precious Pup, the Microventures, the Adventures of Gulliver, the Arabian Knights, the Three Musketeers) were all truly awesome as was Danger Island and the New Adventures of Huck Finn. However, it was when our heroes, the Splits themselves, would grace the tv screen -- that it was like witnessing something magical in the universe. When the opening theme to the show would come on, I would get goose bumps. (Heck, my goose bumps got goose bumps). Thinking about the Banana Splits today at my current Jack Benny age of 39 is to instantly transport myself back to those wonderful, magical childhood years of innocence and of no major responsibilities. Some of my favorite memories of all, involve my families' magical (okay, so I love that word a lot ) trips to Boston to see my grandparents. The journey there from New Jersey, my grandparents, my relatives--just perfect times. And then there was getting up early on Saturday morning to tune in to re-runs of Underdog, Superman and of course, the Banana Splits on the wonderful channels 38 and 56 out of Boston (long before cable). Not only was I watching my favorite show, but it was at my favorite place to be! As I got older and VCRs became prevalent, I eventually taped all of the Splits episodes. I would make tapes chock full of kids show openings way back then as well...all of the stuff I loved and grew up on...and bring my 'tapes' to parties to share with everyone and reminisce. Boy were they a hit. And the biggest cheer was always when the Banana Splits theme came on. As I'm typing here in my office, I can see to my right (and above here also), a wonderful picture of the Splits that my wife Charlene drew for me quite a while back for my birthday. And to my left, there's my Banana Splits vinyl lunch box. So yes, I will always be a true kid at heart.

As you may have just read, my friend Derek has pointed out the amazing discovery of Fleegle's certain 'choice of words' in a particular clip. You can use the below link to a page on my website to see it: (scroll down some, it's on the left side of the page).

Also, I had the real pleasure of interviewing Paul Winchell (Mr.Fleegle himself) on the radio back in March of 2004 with my friend and colleague, Doc South...and Paul was marvelous! If you'd like to hear it, follow this link:

(It's on the left, half way down, listed as -- Paul Winchell Interview)

Thanks Steve for including my two cents on what will always be my favorite show as a kid, the Banana Splits. (Note: I always joke with my buddies Derek, Jeff and Chuck that I had 100's of 'favorite shows' growing up, but seriously folks...the Banana Splits is THE ONE that transports me back in time - the most!!) --Dan Hollis 9.6.08

Friday, September 05, 2008

Banana Splits %#!?!

This weekend marks the fortieth anniversary of the debut of THE BANANA SPLITS, 4 guys in hot looking animal costumes doing low-brow comedy with voices dubbed in by guys known for much better things. Hmmm...that doesn't exactly explain the appeal this show had or why even son BookDave gravitated toward them at age 6 (about 6 years back now) to the point that to this day we have the magnet seen here on our refrigerator (one of only two! The other is THE FLINTSTONES). Anyway, in honor (?) of that now-legendary first appearance, here's an exclusive guest blog report from ace researcher Derek Tague:

This coming Sunday marks the fortieth anniersary of the premiere of "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" over NBC. A few years ago, I accessed a 60-minute episode of such at The Museum of Television and Radio (MT&R) in New York City. Approximately 20-25 minutes into the precedings, Fleegle was doing some schtick with one of the puppets, a cuckoo clock's resident bird who sported a rainbow-colored head plumage (evocative of the guy wearing a rainbow afro wig while carrying the "John 3:16" sign at football games). The brief routine resulted in sawdust being emitted from the clock, causing Fleegle (voiced by the indomitable Paul Winchell) to laugh culminating in Winchell saying under his breath, "Oh, shit."

I rewound this several times to verify "did he say what I thought he said?" At a later date, my pal Brendan Spillane took a sojourn to the MT&R, and he, likewise, rewound it and corroborated my findings...going so far to say that this had to have been the premiere episode of the "Splits" since there were introductory elements in the "Arabian Knights" cartoon that preceded the cuckoo clock scene.

The Museum of Television and Radio has since been re-christened "The Paley Center for Media." A couple of weeks ago, my pal Dan Hollis and I accessed the same "Splits" episode and I showed him the scene, and Danny has also verified that long before Mark Harmon uttered "Shit happens" on an episode of "Chicago Hope," that the suspect word got through NBC's "Standards and Practices" and aired nationally on Saturday, September 7th, 1968.

It turns out Dan, a video collector and archivist in his own right, has a copy of this "Banana Splits" episode. He played it at home for his wife Charlene and .... until the video surfaces on YouTube, it is overwhelmingly safe to assert that one of my all-time heroes, a certain ventriloquist/voice-over artist/cardiologist, said one of George Carlin's "seven dirty words" on a nationally aired kiddie show back in 1968, forty years ago this Sunday.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Sand Shades and You

Here is a link to a website-in-progress for the movie SAND SHADES. This completely independent film, made by Manoshi Chitra Neogy, shows just how far this visionary filmmaker has come since her days as the villain in Christa Helm's virtually unreleased LET'S GO FOR BROKE in 1974 (seen here in her death scene in that film). Chitra is asking for investors to finish this very personal film--she's not looking for thousands of dollars each, mind you, just one dollar each and telling your friends about the opportunity to help complete and distribute this amazing looking visual poem. Even the website has great, dreamy music and poetry so crank it up when you check it out. If you've always wanted to help produce a movie, here's your chance to get in on the ground floor! Take a look at SAND SHADES--

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Creepy Ad

I didn't discover CREEPY, Warren Publishing's latter-day answer to EC, until the early seventies, after my hormones and I had discovered the somewhat more explicit VAMPIRELLA. As with all the Warren mags, its early years were better, presenting lots of good Archie Goodwin stories and art by some of the best in the biz. This "beastselling" paperback looks to have included a goodly amount of that good stuff, boasting as it does Steve Ditko, Angelo Torres, Frank Frazetta and more! If you couldn't find it in your local store (and I never did), you could always order it from Warren's ubiquitous in-house "Captain Company!"

Spirit Scenes

While we all anxiously await (dread?) Frank Miller's upcoming version of THE SPIRIT, here are a few scenes from the 1987 TV pilot starring Sam Jones. I taped it the only night it aired but hadn't watched it in years until today. It's not bad. Somewhat camp but Jones is a bit better here than in his better known FLASH GORDON role in my opinion. DEEP SPACE NINE's Nana Visitor is a treat as Ellen Dolan and the two play off each other well in both the comedy and romantic scenes. Anybody know what Will Eisner thought of this?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

R.I.P. Jerry Reed

Not again. Another favorite of mine has long been actor/singer Jerry Reed who also died yesterday. Jerry first popped up on my radar in 1970 with his song AMOS MOSES. I was really into the humor songs of Ray Stevens at the time and Jerry kind of reminded me of Ray with this and his next big hit, WHEN YOU'RE HOT, YOU'RE HOT. As an actor, one of his first appearances (seen here) was on THE NEW SCOOBY DOO MOVIES. Perhaps best known for his easygoing roles in the SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT films of the mid-seventies, Jerry could also play a mean villain. Still, he went on to play trucker and CB roles in other films and on TV, too. Thanks for everything, good buddy! Keep the bugs off your glass and the trouble off your ass, Jerry! Signing off.

R.I.P. Don LaFontaine

As many of you know, my dream has always to be a voiceover artist. I've actually been able to do it on several ocassions and enjoyed it thoroughly! Over the years, I've attended a workshop and exchanged letters with various cartoon actors. An honest list of my favorite actors and actresses would contain at least a few whose faces are rarely seen. The reigning king of them all, however, and the one man whose voice and attitude I have envied and admired for many years now, was Don LaFontaine. Don LaFontaine's amazing voice was lost to us yesterday. I think a moment of silence would be appropriate.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Y'know, even as a child, I wondered why DC never credited its letterers the way Marvel did--especially as I never found anything all that special about the lettering of Marvel's Sam Rosen and Artie Simek. In fact, around the time I was really getting into comics, DC's lettering in their books and in their house ads got rather spectacular. Even though they still rarely gave credit, the name I started hearing in the occasional letters columns and fanzine pieces was that of one Gaspar Saladino.
Over the years, I've come to find out that Saladino was responsible for most of the DC house ads of my youth that are SO nostalgic to me now. He created the logos and lettering for many of my favorite late-sixties DC series and his style was one of very few lettering styles that I came to be able to recognize most of the time on sight! In fact, in my day to day job I find occasional use for block lettering and I never do anything normal--I do Saladino-lettering! Words with jagged edges or fire inside them or shading from the bottom or letters covering themselves. I learned! Gaspar (as he reportedly called himself after awhile) must have been in calligraphy heaven when DC turned him loose on Grant Morrison's now-classic ARKHAM ASYLUM graphic novel. His unique lettering offsets Dave McKean's ultra-modern illustrations by giving every single character individualized styles that are at once reminiscent of his classic work and yet cutting edge! I actually found that to be my favorite part of the graphic novel!
Find out everything you never realized you needed to know about the unsung Gaspar Saladino in today's 24 hour celebration at Dial B For Blog (