Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Our Credit!

Running late today. My work schedule's all wacky because we lost an employee (can't find her anywhere!) last week. I did want to spend just a moment to thank John O'Dowd for his continued dedication and support on our Christa Helm Project. I have today attempted for the umpteenth time to get IMDB to accept LET'S GO FOR BROKE. Since I was armed with tons more info this time from yesterday's viewing, maybe they'll actually listen to me. Here's a cell phone still of our 48 HOURS MYSTERY credit from last Saturday's episode along with another great screenshot of Christa from the picture. That might lend a bit of credibility, too.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

If It Ain't Broke...

This morning, just two days shy of the day two years ago when I scanned the fading ad for LET'S GO FOR BROKE, I received a copy of the film made from the only known surviving print that I found a few months back. While it is an interesting story, I won't go into the details. I just would like to publicly thank Director Ron Walsh, CBS Producer Anthony Vendiiti and particularly the film's producer, Stuart Duncan for arranging for me to get my copy. Unfortunately for you all, I am precluded by the arrangement from sharing it with you. I will say that our original anonymous correspondent way back when was astonishingly correct in his memories of the details of the picture! If I didn't know better, I'd think he was sitting there with a copy himself! Other observations from my first viewing (and I must admit a thrill knowing that only the tiniest handful of people have seen this picture in over thirty years!):
I don't think that we previously knew that Lennie Barrin--Christa's sometime fashion designer business partner (and 48 HOURS MYSTERY's suspect for the person who had Tony Sirico "clean up" her apartment after her death.-- did the costumes.
Nice touch that characters had the names of Christa's friends like "Lennie" and "Nikki"
As the head villainess, Chittra Neogy (pictured above) acted rings around everyone else without even trying! She's the only one who seemed to stay in character between her lines.Everyone else seemed to be waiting for their cues.
Frank Raiter seemed to be attempting to channel Paul Lynde (who wasn't even dead yet )as the camp villainous brother!
The musical score was quite good but since an instrumental version of the 5th Dimension's "Beautiful Balloon" closed the story, I wonder how much of it may have been pre-packaged.
Christa's Jackie Broke wears about a dozen outfits, all of which fit her perfectly even after she's been kidnapped and takes no extra clothes with her. She also starts out with curly hair, soon has wavy hair, then straight hair...of varying lengths.
Christa's acting only seemed to come to life when she had a funny line. Along with her STARSKY AND HUTCH bit it makes me wonder if her future might have been in comedy character parts.
The picture seemed at least twenty minutes too long but when you consider it was pieced together from what was essentially two (serious and camp) versions they shot it was edited pretty well.
Overall, I think it would've made for a passable evening at the drive-ins back in '75. One can't help speculating that if it had, Christa probably would not have ended up where she was that night in '77. Sigh. At some point soon, I will undoubtedly do a more detailed critique. Maybe I can even convince IMDB to list it now. Just last month they finally corrected her name and within the past 24 hours, they've also fixed her birth name and date of death! Now about that alleged porn feature...?

The Ultimate (sic) Marvel Collection!

I’ve always considered myself to be a collector but now I find myself questioning if perhaps I’m just a pack rat. The reason for this rethinking is that this "collectors item" set leaves me not only cold but feeling like somebody’s (in this case the US Postal Service!) is trying to rip me off! Okay, it’s silver. I get it. Wouldn’t mind having that much silver but do I really need it with Wolverine’s picture on it? At a fixed low price of $69.50…each! And it comes with postage stamps, too! The Green Goblin medallion is said to feature "an official Marvel image of the Green Goblin by artist Steve Ditko." The problem is that it doesn’t. For $69.50 (each!) you’d think you could expect truth in advertising! I don’t recognize the style but it’s definitely something more recent and NOT Ditko! Never minding the fact that Doctor Doom had to face enemies like the X-MEN (yeah. That happened a lot didn’t it?) or that he was created by "Marvel artists" Stan Lee and Jack Kirby! Even the picture of Stan included with his "special message" is about two decades old. I’m sorry but give me a long run of TALES OF SUSPENSE in fair condition and I’d be happy. Give me a bunch of postage stamps on silver ingots put together by folks who seem to know little of the product they’re pushing and which will sit and gather dust in a box somewhere in the back of my closet for the next twenty years and I’d feel ripped off! Guess I’m not really a collector after all.

Monday, April 28, 2008

48 Hours Mystery Recap

So...anybody catch anything interesting on TV this weekend? Seriously, I think Anthony Venditti and crew did a pretty good job with Saturday evening's Christa Helm investigation on 48 HOURS MYSTERY. Christa was a complex, complicated and conflicted woman but she was also a strong, smart, charismatic woman. It's easy to call her names for her lifestyle and her excesses but the seventies WERE the "Me Decade" after all and she was hardly alone in those ways. It's just that she's the only one we're holding under a microscope here. No matter what, she certainly didn't deserve the violent ending fate dealt her.

One of the pluses to the show has been the immediate resurgence of interest in the case. I'm told that on Sunday at one point, the Top Ten Google searches including 9 on the football draft and Christa! One of the minuses would be the rampant promoting of mistaken "facts" as if they're real as well as the surprising amount of judgemental posts about her. One poster described her as a celebrity "groupie." Nope. Can't give you that one. A traditional groupie is submissive to the celeb of her choice. Christa Helm was drawn to powerful men and knew how to utilize her charms to get what she wanted from them--publicity, money, gifts, houses, career boosts.

There's also been a lot of self-righteous taking her to task for abandoning her daughter. I'll grant you it certainly seems a terrible thing to do but I've spoken with her daughter and I'm happy to say she has turned out just fine thanks to the way she WAS raised. Had she been more involved in Christa's quest for fame and show business success, the odds would have been quite different.

Finally, I would never presume to know more than a retired LAPD detective but I have to say that the Sal Mineo connection that he so strongly espoused on the show seems very unlikely to me. In our own investigation, we came across the contemporary speculation about a connection. There was also talk of Christa's murder being connected to that of actress Barbara Colby. In actuality, none of the three cases are all that similar and Mineo's, in spite of the coincidence of the date being exactly one year earlier, appears completely unrelated to me.

Visits to the Libray here have increased by about 3000 yesterday so I'd like to welcome one and all! Hope you like what you see and come back. We're moving to the fast track with our own Christa Helm biography now so if anyone reading this knew Christa Helm or has any information at all on her life and/or career, please contact me at or co-author John O'Dowd at
Oh, and if you happened to miss the episode on Saturday you can catch the whole thing online (at least for awhile) at :

Saturday, April 26, 2008

48 Hours/Christa Helm Press Release

Here's the official Press Release from CBS for tonight's broadcast. I expect all of you reading this to tune in andcome back and post your reactions afterwards. I'm still questioning a couple of the "facts" that don't quite jibe with John's and my research but it certainly looks like they have found new information...including an unexpected SOPRANOS connection!!

April 25, 2008




In 1977, aspiring actress Christa Helm, who appeared in television shows such as “Wonder Woman” and “Starsky and Hutch”, was found stabbed and bludgeoned to death in front of her agent’s house. Now, 31 years after the case went cold, Helm’s daughter and investigators sort through a twisted web of sex, celebrity and possible blackmail in the hopes of finally finding her killer.

Helm was the classic small-town girl with big Hollywood dreams. Armed with her model-looks, the seductive blond left Milwaukee, Wis., and her daughter, eventually making her way to Hollywood. A fixture in the L.A. party scene, Helm was rubbing elbows with the rich and famous. Never at a loss for male attention, she kept company with a who’s who of A-list actors and musicians including Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Mick Jagger and even the Shah of Iran.

In what many suspect was groundwork for blackmail, Helm kept a diary and even tape recordings of her star-studded sexcapades, both of which mysteriously disappeared after her murder. But Helm’s sex life was not limited to celebrities. A special cold case squad recently uncovered a long string of boyfriends and girlfriends that Helm had left in her wake, sometimes having multiple affairs at the same time and possibly breeding jealousy among those involved.

With many of Helm’s friends now dead or missing, and other insiders refusing to talk, the case has hit numerous dead ends. Among those declining to speak with police is Tony Sirico, better known for his role as Paulie Walnuts on “The Sopranos”, who investigators believe may have some useful information.

Despite these obstacles, Helm’s daughter and authorities remain undeterred in their quest for answers. Was Helm in over her head, murdered to shut her up? Was she the victim of a jealous lover? Or, was this simply a case of robbery?

Maureen Maher reports on 48 HOURS MYSTERY: "The Last Take," on Saturday, April 26 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. This broadcast is produced by Chuck Stevenson and Paul Ryan, and Anthony Venditti is the field producer. Judy Tygard is the senior producer and Al Briganti is the executive editor. Susan Zirinsky is the executive producer.

Editors' Note: Click here to watch a preview of the broadcast. Click here to watch an excerpt of Christa Helm's movie debut, "Let's Go For Broke."

CBS News 48 HOURS MYSTERY broadcasts are now available on

Press Contact Louise Bashi 212-975-2856 /

Friday, April 25, 2008

More on Christa Helm/48 Hours Mystery

Okay, a LOT of people are dropping by the Library today searching for Christa Helm info! We've got it! Use the search engine at the top of this page and just type in "Christa" and hit "Search this blog." Also, before you go, be sure to look to the right for the Christa Helm site set up by John O'Dowd and featuring much of our early research on her life and death. When you absolutely have to leave, here's a link to CBS's glamour shots of Christa:48 Hours - Mystery, Video, Tapes and Transcripts - CBS Be sure to tune in Saturday night on CBS! Check your local listings for times.

Politically Incorrect Superman Ad

While anxiously awaiting this weekend's 48 HOURS MYSTERY-THE LAST TAKE (and wishing I had the time and energy to doublecheck some of their facts that don't sound quite right), I seem to have come down with my first bad cold of the year. Added to all of my other bad luck lately, I don't know why that surprises me. Still, I wanted to offer this unusual DC house ad from the mid-1940's. Not only is it rather obviously politically incorrect but can someone please tell me why DC was running ads at the bottom for comics that, as far as I know, weren't even connected with them!??

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let's Go For Broke

A few months ago, in the course of my researching the Christa Helm Project that John O'Dowd and I have been doing now for nearly two years, I actually discovered what may well have been the only remaining print of her lost film, LET'S GO FOR BROKE (which regular readers will recall is what got me involved with the whole story in the first place!). As big a story as that is, I'm going to continue to save it for another time. The reason I bring it up at all is that today, the CBS website actually posted a scene from this ultimate "fell through the cracks" movie! Watch! It's not as bad as I had expected! CBS News Video - Top Stories and Video News Clips at

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 29

Okay, now we all know Clark Kent so I don't know how much stock to put in the words of this innocent young thing who accuses him of...well...let's not even go there! Perhaps she's just trying to cash in on his later fame as a reporter or an anchorman. You know how the media blows everything out of proportion. Had to be just some kind of misunderstanding...didn't it? I mean...Clark really ISN'T like the other boys, y'know?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Direct Currents

Any of you old geezers out there remember these? This was the way we got our DC comics news in those pre-Internet days of thirty years ago. Beginning in March of 1978 and lasting slightly over a year, these little foldouts popped up in our mailboxes with news, gossip, art and articles about life in the DC offices, the upcoming SUPERMAN movie and the DC Explosion (as well as the nigh-immediate Implosion!).
Back in the go-go check days of a dozen years earlier, DC began a little half page yellow box of comic previews in every issue of every title. It was entitled Direct Currents. I remember reading these promos in GREEN LANTERN and suddenly NEEDING to go out and plop down my 12 cents for next week’s AQUAMAN! Advertising works!
The Direct Currents concept expanded and, in the early seventies became a multiple page addition to each issue of DC’s proprietary prozine, THE AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS. After its perhaps inevitable demise, this newsletter cropped up with its poster-sized cover reproductions and insider articles. Believe it or not, this version of DC was followed up with the DC HOTLINE, a free weekly telephone recording narrated by the writers and staff at DC (Paul Kupperburg was the best reader as I recall). At some point, I’ll type up the list of who narrated which calls on which date and what they talked about!

Monday, April 21, 2008

More Iron Man Art

Not mine this time though...except for the coloring. This marvelous (pun intended) art is from the April 22, 1977 issue of TBG (The Buyer's Guide For Comic Fandom. Now CBG). The artist is Marc Hempel who, a few years later, would offer a more personal style on First Comics MARS series. Apparently, I sat down at the kitchen table about five months later on September 15th and colored IRON MAN with markers.

The Spirit Trailer

Sunday, April 20, 2008

48 Hours-The Last Take

and see the teaser for next Saturday's Christa Helm investigation on CBS' 48 Hours Mystery.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Barbara Payton Movie?

I hear from my Christa co-author John O'Dowd that there is more than a little interest in making a movie about Barbara Payton, the tragic actress whose career he so compassionately chronicled in his BearManor Media book, KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE. Rumor has it that 24 star Elisha Cuthbert would play Barbara. This is, of course, nowhere near a done deal but for what it's worth...I can see it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Christa/48 Hours Date Change

For those of you keeping track of this, CBS informs me that the official airdate for the Christa Helm edition of 48 HOURS MYSTERY has now been changed BACK to Saturday, April 26th from its most recent "firm" date of April 22nd. I'm reminded by ace researcher DEREK Tague that since some local affiliates tend to interrupt network feeds with political returns a Saturday date is probably preferable to a Tuesday date. Me? Since as of this writing, neither 48 Hours - Mystery, Video, Tapes and Transcripts - CBS or 48 Hours Mystery TV Show Overview of 48 Hours Mystery TV listings guide, T lists content for either date, I strongly suggest we all watch BOTH days...just to be certain.

My Iron Man Art-1967

When I was a kid, one of my absolute favorite comic books was TALES OF SUSPENSE featuring IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA. Although nearing the end of its run by the time I started collecting, I was able to pick up a considerable number of back issues for either a nickel or a dime each (depending on whether I got them at Horn's junk shop or Keith's CarryOut) so I was well-versed in the history of the characters. Here, drawn on the back of a second or third grade arithmetic test, are 4 images of IRON MAN and friends from TALES OF SUSPENSE back issues. I assume they're fighting although to my more mature eye, they now appear to be dancing. We have the original, golden avenger version of Shellhead (albeit skinnier looking than he actually was) tangoing with what appears to be a mini-me version of the Crimson Dynamo. Then there's the pointy-helmeted version waltzing with the Black Widow, a slightly later version spinning with Hawkeye (note the color scheme for Hawkeye's costume as done in one early SUSPENSE) and finally the then-current version slamdancing the Mandarin. This summer's IRON MAN film may be the only movie we actually get to his year. Can't wait!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on Legacy of Satan

Okay, when I said yesterday that this film was "surprisingly watchable," I did NOT by any definition mean to say that it was any good! The sets and costumes are generally colorful. The photography, although inconsistent and sometimes badly lit indoors, is quite lovely in the outdoor scenes. Even though nearly everyone in the entire cast seems to have made only this one picture, the acting is on a par with that of some Lifetime TV movies and above that of most non-professional no budget films. In fact, being directed by porn film legend Gerard Damiano, it's possible many of these folks were low level porn actors. There are a couple of scenes (none of Christa's) that suggest that this picture may even have originally had hardcore sex scenes in it. If you've seen DEEP THROAT (and I know you have. Don't lie!), forget about the content of it for a second--Damiano's direction is terrible! Long aimless shots of cars driving, no pacing , disjointed scenes, scenes that go on too long or go nowhere at all. Okay, okay, you say. It was just porn. You see, that's just it! In those days there were adult film directors (Radley Metzger anyone?) who were obviously talented and legitimately attempting to make artistic adult films. Former hairdresser Damiano just didn't seem to be one of them. Thus the surprise here that the film is so well above the expected Ed Wood style. Christa's acting, I'm sorry to say, is as bland as it gets. She looks pale and wan and while that's keeping with her "character" in the picture I doubt that they went to that much trouble. One can make a logical argument that this was made just before her fortunes turned around with GODSPELL but supposdly her name change from Sandy to Christa occurred after that so... All I know is that she sure looked a lot better in her STARSKY AND HUTCH appearance from just a few years later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Murphy Was Right

Donations anyone?

For the second time in a week, my car died. Last week, when it died on the Interstate, we had to borrow enough money from a relative for a new fuel pump. Tonight, it died in the middle of downtown Cincinnati on the way to a political event my wife had spent three months coordinating. We had to sit for two hours waiting on AAA (thanks to a sympathetic Izzy's Deli for the free latkes!) so we missed the event entirely (and we had the banners!). After 90 minutes, I called another tow truck. Before I could cancel them, AAA showed up and we had to pay for both!! Even then, they could only take one of us home so we sent the friend who was with us so she could drive back and pick us up. Not used to driving downtown, she got lost and had to have me talk her back to us on a cell phone that was rapidly running out of its charge! Sigh. At least it was lovely weather and it HAD been a long time since we'd been downtown. Of course, early tomorrow I'll have to try to convince the garage that I shouldn't have to pay because this seems to be the same thing they said they fixed LAST week!

Since I had my cheap digital camera to take pictures of the event we never arrived at, I snapped some shots of beautiful downtown Cincy at sunset.

Christa Helm and Legacy of Satan

Just in time for next Tuesday night's 48 HOURS MYSTERY on Christa Helm, I have finally gotten a watchable (and it IS surprisingly watchable) copy of LEGACY OF SATAN, Christa's first movie. Although our research has yet to really determine how she came to be in this film, here's what we DO know:
1-LEGACY OF SATAN was directed by Gerard Damiano who also directed DEEP THROAT right around the same time.
2-Although released in 1974 it was probably made as early as 1972.
3-Her tiny role as "girl" (listed as "the blond blood farm" in IMDB) is miscredited to "Christ" Helm which led to her misbilling on IMDB under that name until just recently.

4-In the film, Christa's character is stabbed to death in an eerie prediction of her own future demise.

5-The relentless and terrible synthesizer score is the worst thing about the picture!
Here are a few screen shots.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Random Panels of Comic Book Weirdness # 28

Okay, so last time we did Aquaman in space. I felt it appropriate then to feature another fish out of water this time. Yep, that's Bill Everett's SUB-MARINER in that suit. Namor the First! The Avenging Son! IMPERIUS REX even! Only here, during his mid-fifties revival, he's wanting to join an Aquacade. Do they still have Aquacades? They consisted of lots of folks in pretty, shiny swimwear doing fancy diving, water-skiing and swimming tricks. Maybe that's what he was trying to forget that ended up with him getting amnesia for seven or eight years soon after this.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Radio Adventures of Sam Spade

When you consider the amount of money I spent on the Radio Con this past weekend it's sobering to realize that I still only ended up with one book. Most of the money went toward gas, food, admission, soft drinks, snacks and amusements for young bookdave. Still, the book was one I'd been waiting for ever since I first heard of it from the author a couple years back. Martin Grams, Jr is the astonishingly prolific (and astonishingly young!) author of THE RADIO ADVENTURES OF SAM SPADE.

If you only know Spade as the hero/anti-hero of Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON, then you've actually missed his most popular incarnation! From 1946 through 1951, radio offered weekly whodunits with the sarcastic private eye and his ever-faithful secretary, Effie. Epitomized for most of its run by actor Howard Duff (who I first noticed as ludicrous BATMAN villain Lord Phogg opposite his then-wife Ida Lupino's Lady Peasoup!), the series was clever, witty and even a tad romantic! Martin's book is, as one might expect, largely an episodic rundown but Martin has amassed a surprising amount of trivia regarding many of the episodes, too. The book also offers both a literary and cinematic history of the character as well as sections on the Communist witch hunt issues of Hammett and, by association, Duff (which perhaps led to the "Charlie Wild, Detective" series introduced by sponser Wildroot). THE RADIO ADVENTURES OF SAM SPADE is a welcome addition to the annals of radio series research and an overdue tribute to a show and a man who were amazingly popular until the moment was cut short by the Communist witch hunts!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The 2008 Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Con

How was it? Well, frankly, the Dealers' Room was disappointing...unless you wanted gray market DVD's mind you! Every table had hundreds of rare movies, shows, serials (and even comics!) on disc!
On the other hand my fifteen minutes of fame have gone into overtime apparently. Every year I think that this is the year I just won't get cast at the auditions for the re-creations. This was NOT that year. I was given not one but 4 scene-stealing parts in three plays! I was the Chinese Houseboy and an egotistical gunfighter in HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, a Southern police inspector in YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR and--in a role originally played by Jack Benny--a Martian in an atypical episode of SUSPENSE! In fact, I had above the title billing in the SUSPENSE! (My lovely bride played both my mother AND my love interest in that episode! She asked if they would pay for my therapy!) By the end of the weekend, I was signing autographs with the celebrity guests and I couldn't walk from the stage to the back of the room without people stopping me to congratulate me, thank me, pat me on the back, etc. One lady even said she looked forward to seeing me every year just to see what new voices I'll come up with! Thanks to all of YOU who said nice things about my acting! Considering how depressed everything else has been making me lately, I REALLY needed that!

Booksteve's Library--the Shirt!!!

Sorry I haven't posted for a couple days but this year the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention kept me busier than usual. After returning last night, I collapsed quickly as I had to go to work at 5 AM this morning. Now I'm home and desperately needing a nap to catch up! Full report on the Con will follow but I wanted to show the debut of the Official Booksteve's Library shirt! Originally planned for our aborted trip to last Fall's Mid-Ohio Con, the shirt premieredat the radio Con on Friday to widespread indifference. But hey, I like it!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Pictures From 1989 Radio Con

This will be the 20th year I've attended the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention. Seen here is an OTR "fanzine" from 1989 that featured some shots of random performers in the re-creations from my second year including special guest Willard Waterman (THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE!). Note the pic in the lower right hand corner and you'll see a much skinnier me along with the young lady who would three years later become my lovely bride. In this shot, I'm holding my nose in order to achieve the nasal inflections of Fred Allen while the future Mrs. booksteve, herself Jewish, affects the stereotypical delivery of Allen's Alley resident, Pansy Nussbaum!
Note also the late Dave Warren. A couple years back, my wife and I won the Dave Warren Award for our contributions to keeping OTR alive. Prof. Gary Yoggy--here voicing a fairy tale giant by speaking loudly into a bucket--is the author of several wonderful books on old-tme Westerns.
I'll be debuting the Official BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY
t-shirt at the Con later today so if you attend, please say hi!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Secrets Behind the Comics Ad

Here we have, from the pages of late-forties Timely Comics, a mail-order ad for one of the first books on comics! SECRETS BEHIND THE COMICS was written by the one and only Stan (the Man) Lee! I've seen a few copies but have never been priviliged to have a copy here at the Library. Seems like it may have been reprinted at one point but I'm too lazy to check right now.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Foul Play

Hoo Hah! Just returned from a trip to my local Borders Superstore and thought I'd give my readers a heads up that I found Grant Geissman's marvelous book on EC Comics artists, FOUL PLAY, on their Bargain table for only $4.99! This 2nd EC coffee table history from Geissman, originally published a couple years back at 29.99, offers individual biographies and career retrospectives of Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Johnny Craig, Al Williamson, Jack Davis and all the rest of the legendary horror, sci-fi and MAD artists. Each artist also gets a full reprint, photographed in the fading colors (probably by Marie Severin) of the original comics! $4.99 people! Stop reading this and go buy it now!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Superman Model Ad

Now here's a rarely seen but extremely cool 1962 comic strip ad for the classic SUPERMAN punching through a wall model kit that lasted throughout the sixties. The Curt Swan (with George Klein?) art makes it particularly special don't you think?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Lone Ranger Secret Code Pen Set

Reminding us that the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention takes place this coming Friday and Saturday, here's a vintage ad for a Lone Ranger (and Tonto!) Secret Code Pen Set. My blood pressure is up, I've got work issues, friend issues, my wife was off sick today, my face is swollen, the fridge is virtually empty, and now my frickin' car broke down today for the second time in the last six months!!!!!!!! Still, wouldn't miss the OTR Con for the world. If you're gonna be anywhere nearby, email me for details.
Any PayPal tips for this blog would, as always, (but especially now!) be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston

It’s hard for me to write about Charlton Heston who died yesterday. You see, at one time, I considered him my favorite actor. Oh, he was pretentious, posturing and somewhat larger-than-life (to use a line from several obits) but he was a powerful and enjoyable performer when cast in roles that fit his particular abilities and eccentricities. One of my all-time favorite actor biographies was Heston’s collection of journal entries entitled THE ACTOR’S LIFE from the late seventies. My problem with him came when he was cast in the role of the head of the National Rifle Association. Now this is NOT a political blog so I am NOT going to get into any gun debates with readers but, in my opinion, the political lobbying forces behind the once valuable NRA organization cast Heston just as DeMille or any Hollywood producer, director or casting director had ever done. He played his role well, but the character he played eventually turned my stomach.
I first saw Charlton Heston in the second PLANET OF THE APES movie where his Taylor character turns up only in brief bits in the beginning and at the apocalyptic ending. By the time I saw the first movie a year or so later, I had become a fan of him through television runs of THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH and THE TEN COMMANDMENTS. I saw SOYLENT GREEN on Good Friday of 1973 at the International 70 theater in downtown Cincinnati. School got out at noon that day and I walked a block to a bus stop and headed straight across the river to the theater. I enjoyed it so much that I sat through it twice that day (you could DO that then.)! Never cared for BEN-HUR but his sly portrayal of Cardinal Richelieu in Richard Lester’s Musketeers films is another favorite. Going backwards, Heston was great as the Mexican cop in Welles’ TOUCH OF EVIL (Okay, so his accent wavered and he didn’t really look Mexican in any way but it’s all about the illusion isn’t it?). WILL PENNY, EL CID, AIRPORT 1975 (with Linda Blair!)
I sold my copy of THE ACTOR’S LIFE at one point but remembering how good it was, I was pleased when cousin Rick (from Mail It To Team-Up) got me a signed copy of Heston’s later autobiography. It wasn’t the same, though. He wasn’t the same. With my permission (and for the deliberate irony), I later let my wife auction off the signed volume on E-bay specifically to get enough money to send one more Mom to the Million Mom March for Safer Gun Laws in 2000. When C-Span covered the March live, you could see Rosie O’Donnell giving my wife a high five after she had just told that story to her.
Various websites have gone with the obvious joke about Heston’s passing so I will just offer condolences to his family and add thanks for the enjoyable performances over the years.

Friday, April 04, 2008

48 Hours With Christa Helm

Keep your Saturday nights open. No definite date just yet but CBS TV's 48 HOURS MYSTERY will soon be covering the Christa Helm story that we've been following and researching here at the Library for the past two years. Keep watching this space for more info! In the meantime, here are a couple of new snapshots from Christa's WONDER WOMAN episode.

The Essential Pussycat

I would be remiss if I did not note the recent passing of comic book artist Jim Mooney. Although best known for his work on ROBIN, TOMMY TOMORROW and SUPERGIRL from the late forties through the late sixties and then a very successful switch to inking SPIDER-MAN at Marvel through the seventies, I will always associate Mooney with PUSSYCAT. Longtime readers may recall that my very first published article was an AMAZING HEROES piece on this obscure semi-Marvel character. We wrote about it (as well as reprinted the original article) here:BOOKSTEVE'S LIBRARY. The first page of the original AH article was illustrated with a gorgeous Jim Mooney rendition of our heroine. The piece here at the Library also prints the rest of that Mooney story which was NOT one in the legendary PUSSYCAT magazine collection. Above is yet another Jim Mooney splash from a thus-far uncollected PUSSYCAT story. Hey, Marvel! Are ya listening? have you not noticed that large-breasted women tend to sell comics these days? You are sitting on a potential gold mine. All you have to do is gather up the rest of the 5 page PUSSYCAT strips and reprint them along with the rare magazine. THE ESSENTIAL PUSSYCAT! Heck, they're alraedy in black and white! I can see it now under that fantastic Bill Everett cover! See what you can do, okay?