Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Library of Congress Mystery Pics

Over the past few years, I've bene helping Cary O'Dell from the Library of Congress in his massive effort to identify scores of unidentified photos they have on hand. I was able to track down a number of them myself, gave him some leads that led to others being found, and shared his efforts in various places that led to other people identifying some.

But there are still quite a few that remain mysterious. Here's a sampling of some ones they still don't know.

They aren't simple. You can't just look at one and say, "Oh, that's obviously..." because odds are, it isn't who you think it is. Cary has tracked down many people's good guesses and assumptions and they have denied it's them.

But take a look. Perhaps a fresh perspective will lead to some answers finally. Post any suggestions in the comments and I will pass them along to Cary.

They have reason to believe that all of these are show-biz related--movies, TV, or music. Behind the scenes, maybe?


Monday, April 27, 2020

Petticoat Junction

Been watching a lot of episodes of PETTICOAT JUNCTION lately and looked up the show's pre-history. Originally envisioned by producer Paul Henning as a BEVERLY HILLBILLIES spin-off to be called OZARK WIDOW, veteran sidekick actress Bea Benaderet would have starred as Jed's man-crazy"Cousin Pearl," a role she played in the first season of that series. As the show developed, though, all that changed, and while it was later retconned that its main character Kate Bradley (originally Kate Buckley) was a "lookalike" cousin to Pearl, in the beginning there were NO ties to BEVERLY HILLBILLIES.

Apparently, though, it was hard to kill those early rumors as some newspapers reported as late as August that Bea would play "a man-crazy widow in the hills." There were no hills. Hooterville was a valley! Worst of all, though, had to be this ad which appeared in numerous papers around the country the very week the series premiered.  Pretty sure that's actual Al Hirschfeld art and not just imitation Hirschfeld but it clearly depicts Bea AS Cousin Pearl! If you recall the series, Kate Bradley couldn't have been any further from Pearl. Kate was matronly, quiet, easygoing, and the go-to person for everyone in the valley for every kind of problem they might have had.

All I can figure is that CBS had paid a lot for that Hirschfeld art and they weren't going to let it go to waste no matter what!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Millie and Chili Meet Kirby-1961

The story is signed by Stan Lee but clearly drawn by Stan G (as in Goldberg) so it's a bit odd that it's built around Jack Kirby. This came out not long after the earliest issues of FANTASTIC FOUR and yet consistently references Jack as a monster artist. 

Thanks to FB pal Jim Davidson for giving me a heads up about this one.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Superman's Identity Still Secret

Seen above is a photo we already knew about. It shows 15 year old William Arronis and 11 year old Maureen Reynolds, winners of the July 3rd, 1940 athletic contests at the New York World's Fair which named them as "Super-Boy" and "Super-Girl." Far right is actor/singer Ray Middleton, one of the judges of the contest and the star of one of the Fair's big productions, AMERICAN JUBILEE.

Some folks say he was the first costumed Superman. I say they are incorrect. To me, the few photos and brief home movies of the man in the Superman costume look nothing like Mr. Middleton. 

When DC Comics published the images in the mid-70s, they said the Superman actor's name was lost to history. Not long after that, and with no explanation, they published them again, this time saying it was actor Ray Middleton. No on seems to know where that info originated. 

At no point in Middleton's long career did he ever talk about being Superman in any interviews that I've found. He died right around the time DC said it WAS him. 

Bud Collyer, himself the original radio Superman, said in this print interview from 1946 that the World's Fair Superman was portrayed by a "brawny, muscle-bound ex-pugilist." Hardly fits the description of the obviously tall and sophisticated, hawk-nosed Ray Middleton (with his hair also parted on the opposite side). 

To me the chin, the eyes, the hair, the ears, the height--all look different than Ray's. The only reason that people say this is Ray Middleton is because they have read it and every single source for that info seems to trace back to DC's sudden identification.

Below are some new photos I've run across of Maureen Reynolds and William Arronis on that long ago Superman day at the World's Fair. Note that the one with Ray Middleton includes the info on the back which simply identifies him as one of the judges of the contest presenting the trophies...which he unquestionably was.

My friend from old-time-radio fandom Jerry Williams and Ray Middleton were neighbors and I recalled Jerry mentioning that Ray told him he had played Superman at the 1940 World's Fair. Last night I emailed Jerry and asked for confirmation and he replied: "Yes he was the man in the Superman costume, He was not in a play at the time as I recall and his manager arranged that which was before he came to Hollywood to make a couple of pictures with John Wayne. I have a lot of his publicity photos from his movies and Broadway shows but as of yet not seen any pictures except for the video of the worlds fair. He died in my arms from a heart attack April/10/1984 36 years ago."  

Friday, April 17, 2020

Monkees Live-The Mike and Micky Show

One of the very first LPs I ever bought was The Monkees Greatest Hits in 1970. I had been a Monkees fan since their TV show began but I had never before purchased any of their records.

Today, I purchased the MP3 edition of the new live Monkees album. Micky and Mike both still in fine voice after 54 years (!) and with an absolutely kick-ass band behind them they cover 23 Monkees classics and the two best songs from their new album of a just few years back! 

Best live music I've heard in ages! Your mileage may vary if you aren't a fan.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Lost Heroes-Humor from 1965

Terrible illustrations but an amusing satirical piece from a 1965 issue of GENT.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Poke in Your Private Eye-1976

INTERNATIONAL INSANITY was a blatant rip-off of NATIONAL LAMPOON. For a brief period, the two magazines existed concurrently in the mid-1970s. Like its inspiration, II often erroneously mistook outrageousness to be humor. 

Also like its inspiration, though, there were some beautifully drawn comics, some in color and some in black and white. This one, parodying TV detectives of the period, is drawn by Terry Austin, best known as inker on John Byrne's X-MEN. Inks hare are credited to Neal Adams, Russ Heath, Carl Potts, Al MIlgrom, and Jack Abel.

Other comics artists whose work appeared in the otherwise brief run of INTERNATIONAL INSANITY include Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino,  Justin Green, Frank Cirocco, and most prominently, Bob McLeod.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

1954 AFTRA Directory Entries

Was flipping through a copy of the 1954 AFTRA directory when I came across some interesting entries. Olan Soule, above, went on to voice the cartoon Batman of the 1960s.

Comic Benny Rubin supported Jack benny for years and appeared in Orson Welles's recently resurrected THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WIND.

The voice of Fred Flintstone.

The original Great Gildersleeve

GREEN ACRES' Mr. Ziffel, Arnold the pig's pop

Voice of Mr. Fantastic in the 1960s FANTASTIC FOUR cartoon

Scooby, Dooby, Doo!

I worked with Tyler several times at OTR cons!

The voice of Filmation's Archie

Sidekick to Stan Freberg and later Bob Hope and Johnny Carson

BATMAN villain Evol Eckdol

Bozoo, the World's Most Famous Clown

Instantly recognizable voice from dozens of radio shows and later TV commercials.

The Man!

Freberg's sidekick and later the voice of Yogi and Huck!

The voice of everybody else!

Later Ernie Keebler. I worked with him many times!

The first lady of cartoon voices. I took a seminar with her once.

The second Gladys Kravitz on BEWITCHED and long-running Miss Duffy on DUFFY'S TAVERN. 

 Another delightful actress I was pleased to work with. 

The second Great Gildersleeve. I had dinner with him and his wife once.