Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Here's a treat for me! OTR friend Dan Hughes posted on YouTube this abridgement of a 1996 re-creation of a LONE RANGER episode at that year's CINCINNATI OLD-TIME RADIO AND NOSTALGIA CONVENTION. This was one of the happiest of all the re-creations with which I've been involved as it was the first time I played opposite Jack Benny uber-fan, Karen Hughes. Karen, age 11 here I believe, has become an unofficial good luck charm for the Cincy Con over the years since. A very good actress, I have had the great pleasure to appear opposite her dozens of times. I have been her father, her son, her husband, a robot who replaced her husband and, even though we had no scenes together, we appeared together this past weekend yet again in RICHARD DIAMOND, PRIVATE DETECTIVE.
Karen's dad Dan appears at the beginning of this clip as another outlaw opposite me. (I'm the guy with the beard and a lot more hair than I have now in case you didn't know). Toward the end, you also see and hear Joel Senter who, along with his lovely wife Carolyn, got my wife and I involved in these OTR cons in the first place two decades ago. The sound effects here are done live by the late Barney Beck, a wonderful, larger than life character and one of the best sound men from the late days of OTR. At one time or another he had done the sound effects for BOB AND RAY and SUPERMAN amongst many others!
The title role of THE LONE RANGER is here played by its long-time announcer Fred Foy who had played the role in the original broadcast of this script when star Brace Beemer took ill suddenly. My wife and I were priviliged to have dinner with Mr. Foy that weekend and he spoke of all the folks he had met while also announcing the late sixties DICK CAVETT SHOW.
A couple years back, this same script was re-done at Cincinnati with both Karen and I cast in our "original roles" a decade later. Unfortunately, show business being what it is, I ended up getting bumped for Bob Hastings that time. As Bob is always a treat and I learned everything I know about radio acting from him (not that its ever likely to come up away from the annual gathering), I got past it quickly.
I had not seen any clips of this performance. I'm not bad! Thanks, Dan, for posting it and a big public thank you for bringing your family--now our extended family-- back to the convention every year since!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Here's my argument that Harvey Kurtzman was the most influential figure in 20th Century pop culture
In the 1950's, Harvey Kurtzman created a series of historically accurate war comics that took an unprecedented anti-war stance. these comics were marketed to impressionable children. These children a decade later would be draft age during the Vietnam War and presumably anti-war. Thus Kurtzman influenced the growth of the sixties anti-war movement.
Also in the 1950's, Kurtzman created MAD. MAD promoted many of the so-called "sick" comics of the day and later influenced the sense of humor of several generations. It also influenced the growth of the anti-establishment movement of the sixties.
In the early 1960's, Kurtzman created HELP. HELP sought out new talent and became the first mainstream publication to print Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Jay Lynch, Joel Beck and many others of the early Underground Comix movement of the late sixties.
Kurtzman's assistant editor on HELP was Gloria Steinem. After learning how to run a magazine, she would go on to become the most prominent public figure of the women's movement in the early 1970's and the founder and editor of MS. Magazine.
Ms. Steinem's replacement as Kurtzman's assistant at HELP was a young cartoonist named Terry Gilliam. At one point, a young actor visiting New York from the UK, John Cleese, was hired for a photo feature in the mag and he and Gilliam would remain in touch, eventually co-founding Monty Python. Cleese would go on to become an elder statesman of comedy while Gilliam would become known as a controversial epic film director.
In the mid-sixties, Kurtzman and Will Elder began Little Annie Fanny at PLAYBOY, offering sexy political and social satire and, in effect, influencing every young lad who ever snuck a look at his father's dirty magazines and, in theory, making adult material more acceptable for subsequent generations.
Harvey Kurtzman also taught art and comics history, more directly influencing his students over the years.
Thus Kurtzman can arguably be given at least part of the thanks/blame for the anti-war movement and the eventual downfall of President Johnson it precipitated, the mainstreaming of the women's movement and the fight for the ERA, the anarchistic and artistic aspects of the counterculture, the changing sense of humor in America and the world and its influence on movies and television over the past few decades as well as society's gradual acceptance of adult entertainment!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Okay, it isn't MUCH of a part. One line. Two words. Hey! Charlie Chaplin didn;t have ANY lines for years and HE became a legend. This COULD be the start of something big. If you will indulge a proud father, here now, from this afternoon, is David's stage debut!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Away from the convention proper, we hung out with Jack Benny Superfan Karen Hughes and her family. Karen was particularly enthused about this year as the guest of honor is Benny impersonator, Eddie Carroll and she herself has been cast as Mary Livingstone in tomnorrow's re-creation! You go girl!
Eddie Carroll (also the voice of Jiminy Cricket) is as nice as his reputation (and Mark Evanier) has said. When he's wearing the glasses, his every mannerism and movement bring to mind Jack but without, I barely recognized him when I first saw him. The ever-young Bob Hastings returned, also, along with Esther Geddes McVey and too young to be so prolific author Martin Grams.
Seen here in no particular order are re-creationists Dan Hughes and Steve Jansen, Bob Hastings, Karen Hughes with lookalike Brittany Rose and Jack B....err...I mean Eddie Carroll! We hit the road for home after a long day but ran into stopped traffic that I had to maneuver around to get us to Waffle House for the first meal I'd had all day. Now it's nearly eleven and after two and a half hours of sleep last night, I need a little more before we head off at 9 AM tomorrow.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Here's the trailer for SKI PARTY from 1965. This was probably the first of the "Beach Party" films I had seen and thus will always hold a special nostalgia for me. We didn't have beaches where I lived but we certainly had snow so I could relate. Although not a great film, SKI PARTY (a teenage variation on the basic premise of SOME LIKE IT HOT) has a lot going for it. The combination of Frankie Avalon and the ever-droll Dwayne Hickman works well, Deborah Walley and future Batgirl Yvonne Craig are both cute and sexy, Annette appears in a fun cameo and there's even some real music. Lesley Gore literally stops the show long enough to do her then-current "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows." Then, in one of the oddest cameos of all time in my opinion, James Brown (with his then back-up group, the Famous Flames) shows up. Seems all these whiter than white kids are lolling about the ski lodge with all of this white, white, white snow outside when there's a knock at the door. "Hey everybody, it's James Brown and the Famous Flames!" Uh-huh. Brown does his signature, "I Feel Good." All in all, not exactly a winner but a pleasant diversion with some wonderful snow scenes!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Here we have one of several animated openings/commercials for the early sixties series, THE FORD SHOW. The series was so named because it starred entertainer Tennessee Ernie Ford as well as being sponsered by Ford autos. This animation pre-dates A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS by several years.
I don't know if BURGER CHEF even exists anymore. It hasn't been around these parts in thirty years. For a period in the mid-seventies, however, it was my favorite fast food joint. Of course, that might be because they opened one literally one block away from where I lived! Note the voice of Paul Winchell as Burger Chef. Contrary to the YouTube site, June Foray does NOT voice Jeff.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The heck with Ed Wood! At least he tried. Al Adamson is a far better candidate for worst filmmaker of all time. His patchwork messterpiece is DRACULA VS FRANKENSTEIN, an early seventies loser that got a surprising amount of coverage (including a cover!) in FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND. If legendary horror film lover Forry Ackerman thought it was worth it, we ALL wanted to see it! For most of us, it was a moot point untill many years later as this grade Z minus drive-in horror was barely released in theaters. What could the Ackermonster have been thinking to promote this drek so heavily? Oh...wait...I get it! That's FJA himself giving a terrible performance in one of his long list of Z movie cameos along with echo-voiced Drac ("Zandor Vorkov" Yeah. Right.)and John Bloom as Frankie! If you absolutely have to torture yourself with this mess which also proved to be the final film for veterans Lon Chaney, Jr and J. Carroll Naish, it's on YouTube in multiple parts!
Here's "I Remember the Feeling," one of the better songs from the short-lived mid-seventies teaming of the two former superstar Monkees with the two singer/songwriters who (other than Mike Nesmith) arguably wrote most of their best songs. They did an album of catchy, kitschy tunes and comedy, a tour, a TV special, a live album and then went their separate ways again.
It's easy to forget today just how popular and influential the MUTT AND JEFF newspaper panel was at one time! Their long-running DC comic book actually outlasted most of teh superheroes of the Golden Age! Here's one of many silent cartoons with the pair, this one from 1924.
Reminder: This Friday and Saturday sees the Cincinnati Old Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention with this year's featured guest, Jack Benny impersonator Eddie Carroll! Here's the real Jack and his classic crew performing on the air live at a military base in 1942.
The first time I remember hearing of Bill Hicks was when he died from cancer at the age of only 32 in the early 1990's. If I had ever actually seen him or heard him on anything it simply didn't register. Thus I find it particularly odd that he has become a favorite of mine. I also find it more than a bit weird that the later, bearded Hicks with glasses looks alarmingly like I did around that same period! Here he is making some observations about rock groups and Satan.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The new book BOODY-THE BIZARRE COMICS OF BOODY ROGERS talks only a little about the late cartoonist, preferring rightly to let his work speak for itself. The rest of the volume consists of brightly photocopied reprints of Boody's work from SPARKY WATTS and BABE and a few one-off tales to boot! It was just last year when I finally looked twice at a Boody Rogers story and that was only because a number of pd SPARKY WATTS stories were reprinted on various blogs all around the same time. My surprised pleasure with these caused me to immediately seek out and download even more SPARKY WATTS comics!
Boody Rogers is funny as hell! He is also a good storyteller and an A list cartoonist. His sense of the surreal is played up on the cover here but that's only a small portion of his...okay, I'll use the word...genius.
SPARKY WATTS is a comic about a super hero who doesn't wear a costume. He was just selling magazine subscriptions door to door one day when a seemingly mad scientist drafted him for a cosmic ray experiment that made him faster and stronger than anyone else alive! A previous, less successful experiment had given another gentleman really, really large feet. A number of Sparky's adventures appear here in this volume.
Interspersed is BABE about a backwoods beauty with amazing athletic skills! Done very much in the tradition of L'IL ABNER, BABE is a fun character, too. My favorite story, though, is the hep-talk fueled DUDLEY-THE PRINCE OF PRANCE with its MAD-style gags and wordplay.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Apparently these few amusing seconds were from a pilot pitch for an animated BATMAN parody entitled NIGHTOWL (no relation to either WATCHMEN version). Since Frank's been dead a few years now and this was posted on YouTube in 2007, I'd say this isn't recent.
One of my favorite comedy bits from one of my favorite comedians of the past twenty years or so. This is from one of the SECRET POLICEMAN'S BALL films, all of which were released as a set a couple months back. Highly recommended! I got the set for my birthday.
I first saw Jack Wrangler in the XXX rated THE DEVIL IN MISS JONES PART TWO, the surprisngly comedic sequel to the notorious, morose original of the early seventies. A young lady I knew had a Beta copy but she and her boyfriend only had a VHS machine. They knew I had Beta so one saturday night we hooked up the two machines and dubbed her a copy. They left the original Beta copy with me. Wrangler played the Devil in the film. He's handsome, charismatic, charming and downright funny. He wasn't a great actor but compared with other porn actors of the period his performance was Oscar quality! He was gay and had been a star in gay films but then he added straight films and was discovered by a whole new audience. I next saw him, however, on an episode of DONAHUE (I believe) where he appeared as part of an unlikely pairing with 1940's singer (and former TV star) Margaret Whiting. He was gay (not bi he insisted), he was an adult film performer and she was a reknowned singer some 22 years his senior. Was there ever a more unlikely pair? It worked though as the two married and over the years since Jack moved into behind the scenes creative work in theater, often with Ms. Whiting. His autobiography came out in 1984 and was quite a good read as I recall although I apparently no longer have a copy. Jack Wrangler died of a lung ailment on Tuesday. Seen here is the trailer from a 2006 documentary about his life and career. To paraphrase a line he says in the trailer--no matter what I do in the theater or ballet, if a newspaper writes about it they always refer to me as Jack Wrangler, porn star. Jack Wrangler was survived by his wife of more than two decades, Margaret Whiting. Rest in peace, sir.
Here we have Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley and others in tribute to the wonderful Peter Cushing. Although obviously ailing, the geat actor seems to take absolute delight in everything. So heroic as Van Helsing, so evil as Frankenstein and STAR WARS' Grand Moff Tarkin, Cushing is said to have been one of the nicest men in show business in real life and he and longtime co-star and friend Lee supposedly enjoyed watching Looney Tunes together.
Here's a brief but funny clip from the climax of Sir Harry Secombe's appearance on the UK version of THIS IS YOUR LIFE in 1958. As a big fan of BBC's GOON SHOW since discovering it on American public radio in the early seventies, it's always a treat to see any of those guys together and this bit has Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Ray Ellington all showing up for a last minute gag.
This one's for Fred Hembeck--the very public and very unlikely meeting of John Wayne and ex-Beatle Paul when the former awarded the Beatles the award for Best Original Score at the 1971 Grammy Awards (for the previous year's LET IT BE). With the Fab 4 deep in their "sue me, sue you" period, Paul --with Linda-- accepted on behalf of all and shares a brief handshake with the Duke before making an even briefer acceptance speech.
Told ya it would be hard to stop me so here's some more YouTube sweetness today. Up first is a 1978 TV reunion of ARISTOCATS voice stars Phil Harris and Scatman Crothers! Phil lived a long and by all accounts happy life and unlike many celebs is remembered for many things as opposed to just one. He was a bandleader, a singer with popular records, foil to Jack Benny, a character actor of some reknown, married to one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood--Alice Faye--with whom he shared a long-running radio series, an avid sportsman and the voice of several memorable Disney characters including O'Malley the Alley Cat. Scatman was a longtime musician with a million dollar smile who became a wonderful character actor, The first time I ever heard of him was in THE ARISTOCATS.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
The problem with me and YouTube is that I constantly find such amazingly rare stuff that I want to share with you guys! One clip leads to another and another and if I'm not careful, I end up with an all-video blog! Here, however, is another clip I couldn't resist sharing. Here we see one of my favorite seventies cartoonists, Vaughn Bode. Today...this clip...is, in fact, the very FIRST time I have ever seen and heard the notoriously eccentric Bode talking! AND HE IS SURPRISINGLY SANE!!! This is the first of several YouTube clips of Da Bode from the Toronto ComiCon of 1974, roughly a year before his bizarre and pointless death by sexual misadventure!
Portions of this screen test turned up in the docudrama (docucomedy?) BACK TO THE BATCAVE but I ran across the whole thing on YouTube today. Out of all of the actors who auditioned for BATMAN in what would become the biggest TV series of 1966 (reportedly including square-jawed future Tarzan Mike Henry), Lyle Waggoner was supposedly the favorite. He looks good here, especially in the early version of the costume. Better than his Robin, one Peter Deyell. The handsome Waggoner would coast for a few more years as he became the announcer and resident hunk on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. He eventually got his own chance at the camp super hero genre as WONDER WOMAN's "Steve Trevor" in the late seventies. Peter Deyell became a behind the scenes utility guy working in make-up, producing and all other aspects of the film industry on projects ranging from THE PLANET OF THE APES to cult favorite MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH. Thus it was instead Adam West and Burt Ward whose careers were skyrocketed and eventually shot down by the bizarre success of the TV Caped Crusader.
Don't know if this ever came out on DVD but here's a wonderful VHS tape from about 20 years ago that features Broadway performances that had been re-created live on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW! Since Ed was based in New York City, it was apparently quite a simple task to get the performers on regularly. This collection features Ethel Merman from 1968, the cast of OKLAHOMA from 1955, Pat Suzuki from FLOWER DRUM SONG, Carol Channing doing "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" from '59, Julie Andrews from MY FAIR LADY as well as CAMELOT (with Richard Burton as King Arthur!), Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence (whom I would later see in SUGARBABIES) from WEST SIDE STORY (1958), Anthony Newley doing his wonderful "Who Can I Turn To?," Gwen Verdon from SWEET CHARITY, Richard Kiley from MAN OF LA MANCHA and Pearl Bailey from her 1967 interpretation of HELLO, DOLLY!. Whew! If that's not a true "best of" I don't know what is! If you're a musical fan and want to catch some of these little seen performaces from now-legendary shows, see if you can find Disney's THE BEST OF BROADWAY MUSICALS!