Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Donald Rumsfeld and the Great Society Comic Book


THE GREAT SOCIETY COMIC BOOK was one of the very first comics I collected and believe me it wasn't easy convincing my mother to pay a DOLLAR for a comic book at a time when they were all twelve cents. Interesting to note the last story here, an early appearance of Donald Rumsfeld, himself later to be widely targeted by cartoonists. 


Friday, July 16, 2021

Booksteve's Origins

Hitting local comic shops next week should be both of these issues from TwoMorrows. COMIC BOOK CREATOR contains the first of my regular column,  "Once Upon a Long Ago," (see above) while this BACK ISSUE features my history of Rocky and Bullwinkle comic books, "I Read the Moose Today" or "What's a Nice Squirrel Like You Doing in Comics Like These?" 


Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Heaven Can Wait (Here Comes Mr. Jordan)--1960

IMDB has incorrect info on this DUPONT SHOW OF THE MONTH from 1960. IMDB describes the plot of the 1943 movie with Don Ameche and Laird Cregar, HEAVEN CAN WAIT, when, in fact, this show was a TV adaptation of the earlier, 1941 movie, HERE COMES MR. JORDAN, which was based on the 1938 stage play, HEAVEN CAN WAIT. Got it?

Robert Montgomery fronted the original as Joe Pendleton, a boxer who dies before his time and is given the chance by the angelic Mr. Jordan and his assistant (Claude Rains and Edward Everett Horton) to go back, but in the body of a millionaire who happened to be the target of his own wife and her lover. He confides in his old boxing manager, played by the great James Gleason. 

A 1940s radio adaptation gave Cary Grant a chance at the lead.

In the 1950s, there were numerous revivals of the stage play under its original title. One, in 1957, actually starred future bestselling author Robert Ludlum as Joe.

In 1978, Warren Beatty switched the boozing background to a football field but produced a lovely, hilarious, and faithful remake which he also co-wrote (with Elaine May) and co-directed (with Buck henry) as well as starred in. James Mason admirably took on the role of Mr. Jordan with Jack Warden as the loyal football coach.

Chris Rock even did a version later on!

In between, though, and completely forgotten today, was the 1960 DUPONT SHOW OF THE MONTH adaptation of HEAVEN CAN WAIT. 

Tony Franciosa--not yet known as a problem actor--was Joe and the great British character actor Robert Morley was the new Mr. Jordan. TV's MISTER PEEPERS--Wally Cox--was his bumbling assistant and Joey Bishop the fight manager. Elizabeth Ashley made her TV debut in the show. 

As you'll see, reviews were mixed. Does the show still exist? Possibly, but not online as near as I can tell.



Sunday, July 04, 2021

Pilot Season-1965

The recent YouTube ad Facebook post of the previously ultra-rare Shirley Jones pilot from 1965, DREAM WIFE, about a wife and mother with ESP, got me curious about what other pilots MIGHT have become series that year.


One was THE WILLIES, with comic actor George Gobel as a man who buys a hotel that turns out to be haunted by two ghosts dating back to the Revolutionary War, played by Hans Conried and Kathy Browne. 


THE GOOD OLD DAYS was essentially, “What if THE MANY LOVES OF DOBIE GILLIS was set in caveman days?” As if that needed to be driven home, Dwayne (Dobie) Hickman’s older brother Daryl starred in the pilot. 


THOMPSON’S GHOST would have offered Bert Lahr playing his usual screen character, only here as a befuddled spirit. 


Ex-Tarzan and Italian peplum star Gordon Scott was cast as HERCULES in what sounds like it may have been a bit pre-BATMAN campy.


WHO GOES THERE? Was another supernatural comedy with a portrait of General Custer and his supposed Native American servant coming to life.


HEAVEN HELP US with TV’s original James Bond—Barry Nelson—sounds like it might have been about angels. 


The odd couple of Ed Wynn and Ethel Waters would have starred in YOU’RE ONLY YOUNG TWICE. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s about a fountain of youth type something. 


Two apparently serious ghost shows would have been THE HAUNTED and THE GHOSTBREAKER, the latter with former movie Sinbad, Kerwin Matthews. 


Polly Bergen was SELENA MEAD, a D.C. widow now working for the Secret Service.


Finally, THE MAYOR, a political drama, would have starred Chad Everett and Robert Colbert,  the future stars of MEDICAL CENTER and TIME TUNNEL. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Paging John Wayne

Here's a page from an early 1950s romance comic book, of all things, in which the Duke himself--John Wayne--supposedly answers questions written in to...where? Well, he had his own comic book from the same publisher, with that same logo, so this was likely meant to appear there. The art above looks like it MIGHT be by Frank Frazetta. 

The thing is, while you KNOW Wayne never actually wrote any of this, it sounds like things he would say, even if not the way he might say them. A press agent, perhaps? But then again, just because they'd licensed his name and image didn't mean they had any contact with him or his people. Ah, well. Fun reading anyway.


Monday, June 21, 2021

Sad Sack Meets Miss Lace-1947

Milton Caniff was just starting out n his new STEVE CANYON strip when he spoke in Chicago in 1947 and made this drawing of wartime favorites--His own Miss Lace from MALE CALL and George Baker's not yet known much outside the military, SAD SACK.

He's seen here posing with Chicago legend Marshall Field III, founder of THE CHICAGO SUN, in a photo that made the cover of the magazine THE QUILL. 


Saturday, June 19, 2021

New Peanuts Documentary


Producers Ron Howard and Bryan Grazer have a brilliant new PEANUTS documentary/animated special called WHO ARE YOU, CHARLIE BROWN? premiering next week on Apple TV. Check out my advance review here: