The U.S. Army Third Infantry “Old Guard” Fife and Drum Corps. is the only remaining unit of its kind in the entire Armed Forces and dates back to an 18th century tradition
FREDERICK AUSTERLITZ ( Fred Astaire )
Born: May 10, 1899 —– Omaha, Nebraska
Died: June 22,1987 —– Los Angeles, California
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer, and actor. His stage and film career totaled 76 years during which time he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. He was mostly associated with his sister Adele, and with Ginger Rogers with whom he made 10 films.
Gene Kelly said that ” the history of dance on films begins with Astaire “. Many other dancers and choregraphers ie; Rudolf Nureyev, Sammy Davis Jr., Michael Jackson, Gregory Hines, Mikhail Baryshnikov, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins also acknowledged his importance and influence.
Fred had no formal dancing lesson, but would mimic his older sister’s steps. It was after their father lost his job that the family moved to New York . It was here that Fred and sister Adele developed their act with singing and speaking lessons.
Their first act was called….. ‘ Juvenile Artists Presenting on Electric Musical Toe Dancing Novelty ’ ( That is way too much for my brain ) Fred appeared in top hat and tails for part of the act and in a lobster suit for the remainder Fred and Adele played the Orpheum Circuit and across the United States until Adele grew 3 inches taller than Fred and things just didn’t look right. The Act was restarted about 2 years later during which time they added tap dancing to their skills. They broke into Broadway with the 1917 revue “ Over The Top “
- Adele & Fred Astaire
1917 thru 1933 they pursued their stage careers from Broadway to London. In the 1920′s they appeared in shows such as…..1924 “ Lady Be Good ” ….. 1927′s ‘Funny Face’ and 1931″s ‘ The Band Wagon ‘. By that time, Fred Astaire’s dancing was beginning to shine brighter than his sister, but she still set the tone of their act with her sparkle and humor
After the close of ” Funny Face” they went to Hollywood for a screen test, but alas, they were not considered suitable.
In 1932. Adele and Fred split when she married……. Fred went out on his own and was able to garner huge success on Broadway. With a new partner he was able to take a more romantic approach. and was able to create a beautiful dance routine for the 1934 movie ” The Gay Divorcee “.
ADELE ASTAIRE ( Lady Charles Cavendish )
Born: September 10, 1896 ….. Omaha, Nebraska
Died: January 25, 1981 ….. Tucson, Arizona
Adele was born into a Austrian Roman Catholic of Jewish descent family. In 1905 she and Fred had a successful vaudeville act that they were able to develop into a celebrated adult career. Adele was the bigger star and was a special favorite of Great Britain’s royalty. In May of 1932, after finishing working on Broadway in The Bandwagon , she retired from the stage to marry Lord Charles Arthur Francis Cavendish, the second son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire, and moved to Ireland. They lived at Lismore Castle where she had 3 children, a daughter in 1933 and twin sons in 1935 who each dies soon after birth.
Lord and Lady Cavendish
Lord Cavendish passed away in 1944, after 12 years of marriage. In early 1947, Adele married her 2nd husband Col. Kingman Douglass, an American investment banker and Air Force Officer who was an assistant director of the CIA. He died in 1971.
She tried her hand again at dancing, but felt intimidated by her brother’s reputation
Unlike Fred, Adele was extremely gregarious and took delight in shocking friends and strangers alike. Adele died of a stroke in Arizona at the age of 84. At the suggestion of Roddy McDowall, Adele had donated her papers to the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.
Now we will return to Fred Astaire …..
Fred did not do very well to start with in Hollywood. His screen test at RKO left much to be desired; he couldn’t act, was going bald, but he could dance. David O. Selznick, who had signed Astaire and commissioned the test stated, ” I am uncertain about the man, but I feel, in spite of his enormous ears and bad chin line, that his charm is so tremendous , that it comes through even in this wretched test.” First RKO lent him to MGM in 1933 for his Hollywood debut dancing with Joan Crawford in the musical ‘ Dancing Lady’. Upon his return, RKO got him 5th billing along side Ginger Rogers in the 1933 Dolores del Rio movie, ” Flying Down to Rio “. Variety magazine stated that the reason the movie was such a smashing success was Astaire’s presence. He is very likable on the screen, the mike is kind to his voice, and as a dancer he is in a class by himself.
Fred and Ginger Rogers were such a terrific pair that initially Fred did not want to be a part of another dance team. He was persuaded by public appeal to make a pairing with Ginger Rogers. Their dancing helped to make dancing an important part of the Hollywood film musical. Astaire and Rogers made 10 films together…….. ( 1934 : The Gay Divorcee ) …….. ( 1935 : Roberta….. Top Hat ) …….. ( 1936 : Follow The Fleet ….. Swing Time ) …….. ( 1937 : Shall We Dance ) …….. ( 1938 : Carefree ) Six of their movies became the biggest moneymakers for RKO. Their partnership made them both stars, and as Katherine Hepburn said “ He gives her class, and she gives him sex appeal “.
Astaire is credited with two important innovations in early film musicals ….. 1) He insisted that the camera ( being almost stationary ) film a dance routine in a single shot and 2) all song and dance routines flow into the plotlines of the film.
Ginger Rogers was considered by some to be Astaire’s greatest dance partner, not because she was superior to others, but because, as a intuitive actress, she was cagey enough to realize that acting did not stop when the dancing began ….. the reason that many women fantasized about dancing with Astaire was that Rogers gave the impression that dancing with him was the most thrilling experience imaginable.
GINGER ROGERS ( Virginia Katherine McMath )
Born : July 16, 1911 ….. Independence, Missouri
Died : April 25, 1995 ….. Rancho Mirage, California
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in films, on stage and on radio and television throughout much of the 20th century. During her long career she made 73 films and is noted most for her role as Fred Astaire’s romantic interest and dancing partner in 10 Hollywood musicals. She also had other successes which we will talk about later.
When Ginger was a young girl her parents divorced and she stayed with her grandparents. As a teenager Ginger thought about becoming a school teacher, but with her mother’s interest in Hollywood and the theatre, Ginger’s interest increased. As she would wait for her mother in the wings of the Majestic Theatre, she began to sing and dance with the performers on stage,
At the age of 17 she married Jack Culpepper, a singer, dancer, comedian and they formed a short lived vaudeville act known as ” Ginger and Pepper “. The marriage only lasted a few months and so she went back to touring with her mother. When the tour arrived in New York, Ginger stayed and was able to get singing jobs on the radio. Her Broadway debut was a musical named ” Top Speed ” which opened on Christmas Day 1929. Shortly after opening, Rogers was chosen to star on Broadway in ” Girl Crazy ” by George and Ira Gershwin. The musical was wildly considered to have made stars out of both Ginger and Ethel Merman. ( Fred Astaire had been hired to help the dancers with their choreography ) ” Girl Crazy “ made Ginger an overnight star at the age of 19. In 1930, she was signed to a 7 year contract by Paramount.
Rogers was most famous for her partnership with Fred Astaire. From 1933 to 1939 they made 9 musicals together at RKO. They were : ( 1933 ) ” Flying Down To Rio ” ….. ( 1934 ) “The Gay Divorcee ” ….. ( 1935 ) ” Roberta ” ….. ( 1935 ) ” Top Hat ” ….. ( 1936 ) ” Follow The Fleet ” ….. ( 1936 ) ” Swing Time ” ….. ( 1937 ) ” Shall We Dance ” ….. ( 1938 ) ” Carefree ” ….. (1939 ) ” The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle ” ….. and much later in ( 1949 ) ” The Barkleys of Broadway ” which was produced at MGM.
Many people consider Ginger Rogers to have been Astaire’s finest dance partner, mostly because of her ability to combine dancing skills, beauty, and exception abilities as a dramatic actress and comedian.
More of Ginger at a future time…..
NOW back to Fred ………
In 1939 Astaire left RKO to work on his own and look for new film opportunities. His first post Ginger partner was Eleanor Powell where in ‘ Broadway Melody ‘ they performed an extended dance routine to Cole Porter’s ” Begin The Beguine “. He played along side of Bing Crosby in ’ Holiday Inn ‘ in 1942 and ‘ Blue Skies ‘ in 1946.
He made 2 pictures with Rita Hayworth, the first , ” You’ll Never Get Rich ” in 1941 which sent Hayworth to stardom. She was the daughter of vaudeville dancers the Cansinos, Rita , with her background in Latin-American dance, gave Astaire the chance to integrate Latin dance into his own style. His 2nd movie with Rita was 1942 ” You Were Never Lovelier “ which featured a duet to Kern’s ” I’m Old Fashioned “. He followed with many other dancers including Gene Kelly.
In 1946 he announced his retirement and concentrated on his horse racing interests and the Fred Astaire Dance Studios. ( he sold this in 1966 )
It wasn’t long before Fred returned to the big screen to replace Gene Kelly in ” Easter Parade ” opposite Judy Garland. He went on to make more musicals throughout the 1950′s. His legacy at this point was 30 musicals in 25 years. He announced again he would retire from dancing to concentrate on dramatic acting. Astaire did not totally stop dancing as he made a series of 4 highly rated Emmy Award winning musical specials for TV in 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1968 . These featured Barrie Chase with whom he enjoyed an ‘ Indian Summer ‘ of creativity.
Fred played Julian Osborne in the 1959 movie ‘ On The Beach ‘ and was nominated for a Golden Globe Best Supporting actor award. Astaire’s last major musical film was the 1968 film “Finian’s Rainbow” where he plays an Irish rogue who believes if he buries a crock of gold in the shadow of Fort Knox it will multiply.
Astaire continued to act into the 1970′s….. he appeared on television as the father of Robert Wagner’s character, Alexander Mundy in ‘ It Takes a Thief ‘ and in films such as ‘ The Towering Inferno ‘ for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Thru out the 1970′s , he provided voice for animations ….. danced in films with Gene Kelly ….. and worked with Helen Hayes on a TV movie. His final film role was ‘Ghost Story’ where he worked with Melvyn Douglas and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Influence on filmed dance and popular music ……….
Astaire was a virtuoso dancer, able to convey light-heartedness or deep emotion when it was needed. His technical control and sense of rhythm was astonishing. Astaire’s dance routines were prized for their elegance, grace, originality and precision. Dance sequences were built around 2 or 3 main ideas, his own steps or the music itself suggesting mood or action. Many were built around a gimmick such as dancing on the walls as in ” Royal Wedding ” or dancing with his shadow in ” Swing Time “. His perfectionism was legendary, but his relentless insistence on rehearsals and retakes could be a burden.
Astaire viewed himself, first and foremost, as an entertainer. His dancing was the admiration of many 20th Century dance legends such as; Gene Kelly, George Balanchine,( he said that Astaire was the most interesting, most inventive, most elegant dancer of our time ) the Nicholas Brothers, Mikhail Baryshnikov, ( he said that Astaire was a genius, a classical dancer like I never saw in my life ) Margot Fonteyn, Bob Fosse, Gregory Hines, Rudolf Nureyev, Michael Jackson, and Bill Robinson.
Astaire was very modest concerning his singing, but he introduced some of the most celebrated songs from the Great American Songbook. To name just a few……….( 1932 ) ” Night and Day ” from ‘ Gay Divorcee ‘ ………. (1935) ” Top Hat, White Tie and Tails ” from ‘ Top Hat ‘………. ( 1936 ) ” The Way You Look Tonight ” from ‘ Swing Time ‘ ………. ( 1937 ) ” A Foggy Day ” from ‘ A Damsel in Distress ‘ ………. ( 1943 ) ” One For My Baby ” from ‘ The Sky’s The Limit ‘ ………. and ( 1955 ) ” Something’s Gotta Give ” from ‘ Daddy Longlegs ‘.
Astaire also co-introduced a number of song classics via duets with his dancing partners, such as………. ( 1924 ) ” Fascinating Rhythm ” from ‘ Lady Be Good ‘………. ( 1936 ) ” A Fine Romance ” from ‘ Swing Time ‘ ………. and ( 1953 ) ” That’s Entertainment ” from ‘ The Band Wagon ‘.
Fred Astaire possessed a light voice, but he was admired for his lyricism, diction and phrasing………. the grace and elegance in his dancing seemed to be reflected in his singing. Some people described him as ” The World’s greatest musical performer “.Irving Berlin considered Astaire the equal of any male singer of his songs Jerome Kern considered him the supreme male singer of his songs.
Politically, Astaire was a conservative and was in the habit of not making his views known. He was a church goer, a supporter of American military action, and was dismissive of the more open sexiness of movies in the 1970′s
He and Cary Grant were called 2 of ” The best dressed actors in American movies “. Astaire remained a male fashion icon even into his later years, using his trade mark top hat, white tie and tails ( which he never really liked ) He actually preferred a breezy casual style of tailored sports jackets, colored shirts, cravats and slacks. He was even known to use an old tie to hold up his slacks.
Astaire married for the first time in 1933 to Phyllis Potter a 25 year old Boston-born New York socialite and former wife of Eliphalet Nott Potter III . After 21 years of a blissful marriage, Phyllis died of lung cancer and Fred was totally devastated. Fred and Phyllis had 2 children of their own, Fred Jr. and Ava plus Peter her son by her first marriage.
Astaire was a life long golf and Thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast. In 1946 his horse, Triplicate won the prestigious Hollywood Gold Cup and San Juan Capistrano Handicap. He remained active into his 80′s. ( at age 78 he broke his left wrist while riding his grandson’s skateboard ).
Fred remarried in 1980 to Robyn Smith who was a jockey for Alfred G. Vanderbilt II.
Astaire died from pneumonia in 1987 and was buried in the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery in Chatsworth, California. His last request was to thank his fans for all their years of support.
JOHN LAWRENCE RUSSELL
Born: January 3, 1921…… Los Angeles, California
Died: January 19, 1991 ….. Los Angeles, California
John Russell was an American actor, most noted for playing Marshal Dan Troop in the western TV series, ‘ Lawman ‘. (1958 – 1962 ) and for playing the lead role in the TV drama, ‘ Soldiers of Fortune ‘.
John was born in California and even as a young man fit the Hollywood image of ‘ tall, dark, and handsome. He attended the University of California and was a student athlete. Following the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Marines where his division was sent to Guadalcanal. He served as a second lieutenant, assistant intelligence officer. While there he contracted malaria and returned home with a medical discharge.
Russell’s first film was the 1939 ‘ Mr. Smith Goes to Washington ‘. Other films include 1948 ‘ Yellow Sky ‘ and 1952 ‘ Oklahoma Annie ‘.
In 1955 he starred in the television drama ‘ Soldiers of Fortune ‘. The 30 minute adventure show placed he and his sidekick Chick Chandler ( Toubo Smith ) in dangerous jungle settings. The show was popular with young boys and girls, but did not draw enough adult viewers and was canceled in 1957.
In 1958 he starred in ‘ Lawman ‘ with Peter Brown . The show ran for 4 years.
Russell appeared in other movies, such as the villain in ‘Yellowstone Kelly ‘, and ‘ Rio Bravo ‘ with John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan.
In 1969 he appeared in ‘ It Takes a Thief ‘ ( 5 episodes in 1969 ) . In the 1980′s he was in more than 20 films including 3 directed by his friend Clint Eastwood…… one of which was as Marshal Stockburn, the chief villain in the 1985 film ‘ Pale Rider ‘.
John Russell died from emphysema in 1991 and was interred in the Los Angeles National Cemetery, a former U.S. Vetrans Administration cemetery.
Born: January 21, 1921 —– Brockton, Massachusetts
Died: August 16, 1994 —– Banning, California
John Doucette was a film character actor with a rich deep voice, equally adept at Western bad guys and Shakespeare. He was a husky, balding man remembered for playing mob muscle and western bad guys. According to IMDB, he appeared in over 260 movies and television programs between 1943 and 1987.
Doucette’s dramatic roles included 1949 ; ‘ The Fountainhead ‘ ….. 1970 ; ‘ Patton ‘ . He also had parts in ‘High Noon’ ….. ‘The Robe’ ….. ‘Sierra’ ….. and ‘Cleopatra’. Baby Boomers remember him most in the movies, ‘True Grit’ ….. ‘The Sons of Katie Elder’ …. ‘The Big Heat’ …..and ‘Big Jake”.
Boomers probably saw him first on television as a bad guy in several episodes of ‘The Lone Ranger’. Bad guy was a natural role considering his rough looks, commanding presence and skill with a gun. He was considered by many to be one of the fastest draws in Hollywood. He appeared on a variety of television shows including; ‘ The Roy Rogers Show ‘ ….. ‘ The Adventures of Kit Carson ‘ ….. ‘ The Cisco Kid ‘ ….. ‘ Sky King ‘ ….. ‘ Broken Arrow ‘ ….. ‘ The People’s Choice ‘ ….. ‘ Bonanza ‘ ….. ‘ The Wild Wild West ‘ ….. ‘ Have Gun — Will Travel ‘ ….. ‘ The Rat Patrol ‘ ….. ‘ Walt Disney Presents ‘ ….. and ‘ Adventures of Superman ‘ . ( those are just a few ! )
Even now as we watch movies and television shows from the past, we seem to see John Douchette everywhere.
John Doucette died in 1994 and is buried in a mausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California. He blessed the world with five (5) daughters and three (3) sons.
YOU WILL BE MISSED BY MANY ……….
JOAN RIVERS….. aka; Joan Alexandra Molinsky / Rosenberg
Born: June 8, 1933 ….. Brooklyn, New York
Died: September 4, 2014 ….. Manhattan, New York
CAN WE TALK ?????
Yes we can and yes she did !!! Her satirical humor would sometimes get her into trouble as she talked about everything. She poked fun at celebrities and at herself. She was self-deprecating, talked about every day life, sex, current events, fashion, and just about anything her mind would, could, and did go to. There were people who loved her and those who didn’t, but there was only one, Joan Rivers.
Joan first became really known in 1965 as a guest on the ” Tonight Show ” hosted by Johnny Carson. The show established her comic style of poking fun at celebrities and at herself.
Joan was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York ….. the youngest daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. She attended the Adelphi Academy until the time her parents moved to Larchmont, New York. She went to Connecticut College 1950 – 1952 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and anthropology. Before entering show business she worked as a tour guide at Rockefeller Center, a writer/proofreader for an advertising agency and a fashion consultant.
During the late 1950′s - 1960′s she appeared at numerous comedy clubs in the New York City area. In the 1970′s – 1980′s she was appearing on various television and variety shows and opening for numerous singers on the Las Vegas Strip. In 1983 she was the first female comedian to ever perform at Carnegie Hall. During the 1980′s she also tried her hand at hosting talk shows, both daytime and night time. ( The Joan Rivers Show, which ran for five (5) years won her a Daytime Emmy in 1990 for Outstanding Talk Show Host )
In 1994, Joan and her daughter Melissa first hosted the E! Entertainment Television pre-awards show for the Golden Globe Awards and in 1995 they hosted the annual E! Entertainment Television pre-award show for the Academy Awards.
In the early 2000′s, Joan was seen everywhere. She was regularly on the Shopping Channel and QVC promoting her own line of jewelry. She performed in the Royal Variety Show 2007 at the Liverpool Empire Theatre, England, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip present. In 2009 she was roasted in a Comedy Central special, and started a new reality series ” How’d You Get So Rich “. Starting in September 2010, she co-hosted ” E! Fashion Police ” which started out in a 30 minute slot but by March 2012 was expanded to a hour show.
On August 26, 2014 Joan co-hosted a taping of ” Fashion Police ” with George Kotsiopoulos, Giuliana Rancic, and Kelly Osbourne about the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards and the 2014 MTV Movie Awards. ( This was to be her last television appearance )
During her 55 year career as a comedian, her tough talking style of satirical humor was both praised and criticized as being truthful, yet too personal, too gossipy, and very often abrasive. Nonetheless, with her ability to ” tell it like it is “ she became a pioneer of contemporary comedy and accepted the criticism as part of her using social satire as a form of humor. Joan loved to talk about things that affected our generation that nobody else talked about.
In her personal life Joan was a member of Temple Emanu-El in New York and would state publicly that she loved Israel. She even criticized celebrities who supported Hamas in the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.
Her first marriage was to James Sanger in 1955 which only lasted six (6) mionths. Her second marriage in 1965 was to Edgar Rosenberg who died in 1987. Their only child is Melissa Warburg Rosenberg ( now Melissa Rivers ) and her son Cooper Endicott is Joan’s only grandchild.
Joan Rivers was a philanthropist and HIV / AIDS activist. She donated to Jewish charities, animal welfare, and suicide prevention causes. She was a supporter of ‘ God’s Love We Deliver ‘ a non- profit which delivers meals to HIV / AIDS patients in New York City and Guide Dogs fo the Blind.
On August 28,2014 Rivers experienced serious complications and stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal cords. On September 4, 2014 it was announced that she had died.
In her personal life, Joan showed very few of those character traits that viewers saw on screen. Ralph Schoenstein, a good friend, stated ….. ” She has no airs. She doesn’t stand on ceremony. The woman has absolutely no pretense. She will tell you everything immediately. Joan isn’t cool ….. she’s completely open. It’s all grist. It’s her old thing — ‘ CAN WE TALK ? ‘ “
FORWARD WE WILL GO …..
Where are the scouts, Flint and Cooper ?
ROBERT HORTON … ( Meade Howard Horton, Jr. )
Born: July 29, 1924 ….. Los Angeles, California
Resides: Encino, California
Robert Horton was / is an American television actor who was best known as the frontier scout Flint McCullough in the western TV series, Wagon Train. He was in the role from 1957 to 1962 when he left to pursue a career in musical theatre.
The rugged and handsome Horton made dozens of appearances in movies and television shows between 1951 and 1989.
Over the years, Horton appeared on numerous shows; ‘ Alfred Hitchcock Presents ‘ ….. ‘ The DuPont Show with June Allyson ‘ ….. ‘ Here’s Hollywood ‘ ….. ‘ The Barbara Stanwyck Show ‘ ….. and ‘ The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show ‘ .
He is also remembered for his off-beat role as a cowboy amnesiac in the TV series; ‘ A Man called Shenandoah ‘. He starred in ‘ The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones ‘ which was the first western specifically made for television and simultaneous distribution to cinemas in Europe.
He went on to perform for many years in theatres and nightclubs all over America and Australia as a singer.
Horton is an accomplished pilot and aircarft owner. He is usually accompanied by his co-pilot ” Jamie “ his French Poodle.
He has received several lifetime awards including the prestigious Golden Boot and recently the Cowboy Spirit Award at the National Festival of the West.
According to his publicist, he will no longer be making any personal appearances as he has grown tired of the traveling
Horton and his wife reside in Encino, California.
ROBERT FULLER ( Buddy Lee )
Born: July 29, 1933 —– Troy, New York
Lives; Near Gainesville, Texas
Fuller is an American television actor and current horse rancher who during his five (5) decades of television is best known in his starring roles as Jess Harper and Cooper Smith in the western TV series ‘ Laramie ‘ and ‘ Wagon Train ‘. He is also known for his lead role as Dr. Kelly Brackett in the 1970′s medical drama ‘ Emergency ‘.
He was born Buddy Lee, but when his mother married a naval academy officer and moved to Florida, he changed his name to Robert Simpson Jr.
In his earlier life he spent time acting and dancing as his parents owned a dancing school. In 1952 when his family traveled to California he found his first job as a stunt man. When he established his acting career, he chamged his name to Robert Fuller. His first small role was in the 1952 film ’ Above and Beyond ‘ and he had a minor part in ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ starring Marilyn Monroe. His career came to a sudden stop when he was drafted into the army. He returned to the states in 1955 and considered giving up acting, but his best friend suggested he go to acting classes.
He was able to land a small role in the 1956 film ‘Friendly Persuasion ’ where he worked with his furure ‘Laramie’ co-star, John Smith and another close friend Doug McClure.
Fuller became an immensely popular character actor, guest-starring in numerous television series including; ‘ The Big Valley ‘ ….. ‘ The Californians ‘ ….. ‘ M Squad ‘ ….. ‘ The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin ‘ ….. and ‘ Lux Playhouse ‘. He was also seen in; ‘ Highway Patrol ‘ ….. ‘ The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp ‘ …..’ Mike Hammer ‘ ….. and ‘ Maverick ‘. Then there came ‘ Laramie ‘ which ran from 1959 – 1963.
When ‘ Laramie ‘ ended he went to another western series, ‘ Wagon Train ‘ starring John McIntire. According to an August 17, 2009 interview, he was not brought onto Wagon Train to replace Robert Horton ( Horton had left the series a season earlier ). Fuller stayed with the series until it ended it’s run.
When producer, Jack Webb saw Fuller’s work, he insisted that he should star in his new medical drama, ‘Emergency’ . Julie London and husband Bobby Troup had already signed. They all became life-long friends.
In the 1980′s and 1990′s Fuller played supporting roles in more than twenty (20) television shows, some of which were: ‘ The Love Boat ‘ ….. ‘ The Fall Guy ” ….. ‘ Murder She Wrote ‘ ….. ‘ JAG ‘….. & ‘ Diagnosis Murder ‘. By the 1990′s, Fuller had mostly retired from films and in 2001 he married actress Jennifer Savidge.
In March of 2010, Fuller presented James Drury the ” Cowboy Spirit Award ” at the ” Festival of the West “. In 2004, Fuller and his wife moved from Los Angeles to north Texas to raise horses. In 2013 Fuller celebrated his 80th birthday while vacationing on a ranch in Libby, Montana.
Over the years Robert Fuller received numerous awards including:
1. ( 1961 )….. Best Actor Award in Japan and the Japanese Golden Order of Merit which was presented by the Empress of Japan. Fuller was the first American ever to win this award.
2. ( 1970 ) ….. He won five (5) Otto’s, ( German equivalent of the Emmy ) and the Buffalo Bill Award for Outstanding Western Entertainment.
3. ( 1989 ) ….. Golden Boot Award
4. ( 2007 ) ….. In April he was inducted into the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In October of the same year he was one of the winners of the Silver Spur Award.
5. Robert Fuller was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
They all worked together to make it safe …..
TERRY W. WILSON
Born: September 3, 1923 —– Huntington Park, California
Died: March 30, 1999 —– Canoga Park, California
Terry Wilson was an American actor and stunt-man who was best known as Bill Hawks, assistant trailmaster on the television show ” Wagon Train “ , viewed from 1957 to 1965. He was with the show for the entire 8 seasons. He also appeared in more than thirty-five (35) films plus “The Lone Ranger “ and ” Cheyenne ” on television. After “Wagon Train” ended he appeared in numerous other westerns such as : ” Custer and Hondo ” (1967 )….. ” The Shakiest Gun in the West ” (1968) ….. ” The Virginian ” (1970 & 1971) ….. ” Gunsmoke ” (1972) ….. and “Hec Ramsey” (1973 & 1974). In 1975 he appeared in the Disney film ” Escape To Witch Mountain ” and in 1981, his last acting role, he was in ” The Dukes of Hazzard “.
Terry was a part of the John Ford stock troup and often appeared with his friend and fellow stunt performer, Frank McGrath. In 1957, Ward Bond specifically requested that Wilson and McGrath would be regulars on Wagon Train. When Ward Bond died, it was Wilson who broke the news to Bond’s best friend, John Wayne. It was said that they both cried together on the phone.
Wilson is interred at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in the West Lake area of Los Angeles.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN ” FRANK “ MCGRATH
Born: February 2, 1903 —– Mound City, Missouri
Died: May 13, 1967 —– Beverly Hills, California
Frank McGrath was an American stunt performer and television actor who played the comical and optimistic cook, Charlie Wooster, on the television western, Wagon Train for the entire eight (8) seasons.
McGrath’s first role was in the 1932 film ‘ The Rainbow Trail ‘. Even at th age of 53 he did 3 seperate horse fall and drag scenes for the 1956 John Wayne picture, ‘ The Searchers ‘.
He also was on both ‘ Cheyenne ‘ and ‘ Tales of Wells Fargo ‘ on television, and in the 1958 film ” The Tin Star “ with Henry Fonda. After ‘ Wagon Train ” ended, he kept busy with both television and film roles such as; ‘ The Virginian ‘ (1966) ….. ‘ The Big Valley ‘ (1967) ….. ‘ War Wagon ‘ ….. ‘ The Last Challenge ‘ ….. ‘ The Shakiest Gun in the West ‘ (1968 )and many others.
Frank died of a heart attack in Beverly Hills, California.
WARD BOND (aka: Wardell Edwin Bond )
Born: April 9, 1903 —– Benkelman, Nebraska
Died: November 5, 1960 —– Dallas, Texas
Bond was an American actor whose rugged appearance and easy going charm were featured in over 200 movies and television programs. In movies he was best known for his role as Bert in the 1946 ” It’s A Wonderful Life ” and Captain Clayton in the 1956 ” The Searchers “. On the television we knew him as Major Seth Adams, the wagon master on the program ” Wagon Train “.
Bond was born in Nebraska and grew up in Denver, Colorado where he graduated from East High School. He then attended the University of Southern California and played football with the future USC coach, Jess Hill. At 6’2 “….. 195 pounds, he was a starting lineman on USC’s first national championship team in 1928. John Wayne had been a tackle for USC in 1926 before an injury ended his career. Bond and Wayne who became life-long friends, along with the rest of the 1929 Cal. team were hired to appear in the 1929 film ‘ Salute ‘ a football film starring George O’Brien and directed by John Ford. During the filming, both Bond and Wayne became friends with Ford and appeared in numerous later films. The fact remains the three (3) men became the best of friends, drinking, hunting, sailing, fishing, smoking, card-playing, prank-pulling lifelong soulmates. Bond’s home away from home was with Ford, Wayne, and other friends at the Hollywood Athletic Club. By the late ’30′s , the group did more fishing and boating and became ‘ the yacht club for people who don’t like yacht clubs’.
‘ The Searchers’ was another strong performance by Bond as Reverend Captain Samuel Clayton, parson and leader of the Texas rangers.
In 1946 Bond was great as the villain in ‘Canyon Passage’ and ended his time at Fox with the classic western, ‘ My Darling Clementine ‘.
As Bert the cop, in ‘ It’s a Wonderful Life ‘
Bond made a ton of great movies but this actor was also a star athlete, well educated, extremely patriotic, and a political activist whose close friendships with John Ford and John Wayne was a mainstay for his life and career. With his booming voice and huge presence, he naturally and subtly conveyed emotion and meaning and brought to life even the smallest part. When on screen, he was often John Wayne’s sidekick; but in real life he played a leading role as an outspoken Hollywood conservative, a culture warrior, and a fearless/ determined/ persistent anti-Communist activist.
Bond worked hard through the ’30′s, appearing in more than 130 films. 1939 was to be his biggest year as he made almost 20 movies, including ‘ Submarine Patrol ‘, ‘ Dodge City ‘ and ‘ Gone With The Wind ‘. His best and most prominent roles were in two (2) John Ford films starring Henry Fonda; ‘Young Mr. Lincoln’ and ‘ Drums along the Mohawk ‘. In 1941 he did two (2) more films with John Ford ( The Long Voyage Home and Tobacco Road ). Bond was exempt from military service because of his epilepsy, but served as an air raid warden and kept busy acting. He was great in ‘ The Grapes of Wrath ‘, ‘The Maltese Falcon’, and ‘ Gentleman Jim ‘.
Bond had a starring role in ‘ Hitler — Dead or Alive ‘ which was a big influence on Tarantino’s ‘ Inglorious Basterds ‘
In February 1944 he was a part of the meeting which formed the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. Bond was an early and key member and over the years committed a great deal of money and star power to the MPA’s activities which were typical of a watchdog group.
In the summer of 1944, Bond was struck by a hit and run driver, suffering a shattered leg. He was briefly in a coma, but despite the danger, he refused to allow an amputation. When he was in Ford’s film, ‘ They were Expendable ‘, he used crutches to help walk and for many months he wore a brace and had several surgeries.
In 1957 Bond had a new job, Major Adams on the TV series ‘ Wagon Train ‘. Finally he was a star in his own right.
He became very involved in the stories, casting and rewriting scripts he felt were negative, unpatriotic,or immoral, this took a toll on his health. In the first couple of years, he had an ulcer, was hospitalized for pneumonia and bronchitis, and had emergency surgery for an appendectomy. During a hiatus from the show he would still do films, one time breaking his hip. He also gained weight, then would slim down with pills and crash diets which would cause problems with his epilepsy and high blood pressure. He still worked as hard as ever and certainly didn’t cut back on his activism.
On November 5th he arrived in Dallas to attend the Cotton Bowl football game and appear during the half-time show. After spending some time with friends in Dallas he returned to his motel room where he suffered a fatal heart attack.
John Ford joined John Wayne in making the funeral arrangements. According to reports at the time, Ford was too devastated to appear in public until a few days later when he gave a statement to the press….. ” Ward will always be with us, where ever actors gather to talk or stunt men get together for a card game. They’ll remember. He was a great character and a great guy. “ Pall bearers included Navy Commander and Captain Ken Curtis, ( The Son’s of the Pioneers and Gunsmoke’s Festus ) and Harry Carey Jr. ‘………. John Wayne gave an emotional eulogy. His ashes were scattered off Catalina Island per his instructions.
Ward Bond loved his fans and used his fame and money for charity, usually to raise money for veterans. He was a man of faith and a man of his word; a man who respected a promise and a contract, and as a loyal friend, a man who would get his longtime stunt buddies regular gigs on Wagon Train.
In 2001, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. There is also a Ward Bond Memorial Park in his birthplace of Benkelman, Nebraska.
Bond was unselfish, generous, gentle, kind and funny. Bond made no secret of his patriotism; John Wayne said in his eulogy ” there was no one who loved his country more’ ….. ” He was beautiful where it counted – inside. “
Born: June 27, 1907 —– Spokane, Washington
Died: January 30, 1991 —– Pasadena, Callifornia
The craggy-faced actor , born in Washington state, was raised in Montana. He grew up around ranchers and cowboys, an experience he would use in films and television the rest of his life. He graduated from USC and began his acting on the radio. He even met his future wife while on the radio. He went on to films and television as a character actor. His big screen debut came in 1942, and went to appear in sixty five (65) films usually playing police, judges, eccentric loners, or other western characters.
Some of his films include; ‘ The Asphalt Jungle ‘ (1950), ‘ Psycho ‘ (1960), and ‘ Elmer Gantry ‘ ( 1960). His more memorable roles were in westerns such as; ‘ Winchester ’73 (1950), ‘ The Far Country ‘ (1955), and ‘ The Tin Star ‘ (1957). He received top billing for his best role in ‘ The Phoenix City Story ‘ (1955) even though he played a supporting part.
He played the judge in ‘ Rooster Cogburn ‘ (1975). His final role was in ‘ Turner and Hooch ‘ (1989). In the mid- 1950′s John moved into television and in 1961 replaced the late Ward Bond in ‘Wagon Train’ playing trailmaster Chris Hale.
John played numerous characters in TV shows, such as ‘ Naked City ‘, ‘ The Americans ‘, ’ Overland Trail ‘, ‘ The Virginian ‘, and ‘ Twilight Zone ‘.
In 1935, McIntire married actress Jeanette Nolan and they had 2 children; Tim and Holly.
McIntire and Nolan worked together as voice actors in numerous animated films such as: Disney’s ‘ The Rescuers ‘ and ‘ The Fox and the Hound ‘.
John McIntire died from emphysema and lung cancer in 1991.
May we always remember this wagon master !
” Wagon Train ” was very popular with both boys and girls and even some of their parents. The TV program was inspired by the 1950 film ‘Wagon Master’ which was inspired by the 1930 film ’The Big Trail’ starring John Wayne. The program was about the adventures of a wagon train making its way from Missouri to California. There were 284 episodes and ran from September 18, 1957 thru May 2, 1965.
Their was the regular cast of six (6) and numerous guest stars which included: Claude Akins, Ernest Borgnine, Lon Chaney Jr., Lou Costello, Laraine Day, Angie Dickenson, Nina Foch, Dwayne Hickman, Carolyn Jones, Peter Lorre, and Suzanne Pleshette.
The series initially starred Ward Bond as the wagon master, but was replaced by John McIntire. Robert Horton, the scout was replaced by Robert Fuller. The buckskin outfit Horton wore for the first season resembles John Wayne’s in the earlier film.
Born: April 9, 1903 —– Benkelman, Nebraska
Died: November 5, 1960 —– Dallas, Texas
Born; June 27, 1907 —- Spokane, Washington
Died: January 30, 1991 —– Pasadena, California
Born: July 29, 1924 —– Los Angeles, California
Born: July 29, 1933 —– Troy, New York
The series aired for most of the time in black and white, except for a few color episodes. Neither Bond nor McIntire, both veterans of dozens of supporting roles, routinely played the lead. The program used the cut down, shortened wagons as opposed to the full-length Conestoga wagons, drawn by oxen, that were actually used in the move west.
Most Western television shows of the 1950′s thru the 1960′s were set a few years after the American Civil War. Major Seth Adams had been in command of a militia group out of Philadelphia that all enlisted in the Union Army in 1861. Bill Hawks was Sargeant to Major Adams and Wooster, not really good at anything else became the cook. Flint McCullough had been a stage coach driver.
The show followed the progress of the wagon train during the season until its final arrival in California after a three (3) month journey.
For more information about the cast go to Reel People
We, of a certain age, were raised by ” The Old West “….. not the area of land ; but the time which we gave to it. We watched ‘cowboys’ on TV, went to the movies to watch our favorites triumph over the bad guys, dressed like cowboys/cowgirls, played cowboys, slept with our gear, our ‘guns’ at our sides just incase their was a badguy under the bed or hiding in our closets. We knew the guys with the white hats were good and the ones with the black hats were bad. Life, for the most part was good and we had lots of fun doing what we did best; playing.
Today we are going to look at just two of these ‘cowboys’. Some wore white hats, others not, but they all were there for us.
JOHN BENJAMIN IRELAND
Born: January 30, 1914 —– Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died: March 21, 1992 —– Santa Barbara, California
John was a Canadian actor and film director who lived in New York City starting at the age of 18. John was tall, lean , with dark hair and had been a professional swimmer who had at one time appeared in a water carnival. In New York he started out on the Broadway stage in minor roles and toured in Shakespeare in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He moved on to films in the mid-1940s with his debut in the 1945 war film ” A Walk in the Sun “. This was followed by other films including ( 1946 ) My Darling Clementine and ( 1948 ) Red River.
The scene between Ireland and Clift where they compare guns and each other by ” walking ” a can across the ground with gun shots, is a film classic.
In 1949 Ireland received an Academy Award nomination for playing Jack Burden in “ All The King’s Men “ working with Broderick Crawford.
Ireland was a very prolific performer in films and early television and made the transition to supporting roles playing cynical villains like; Vengeance Valley ( 1951 ), Gunfight at The OK Corral (1957 ), 55 Days at Peking ( 1963 ), The Fast and the Furious (1955 ), and Spartacus ( 1960 ).
Ireland was also seen in numerous television programs such as: Rawhide, Bonanza, and Little House on the Prairie.
Throughout his career he would regularly return to the stage. He co-directed the western drama Hannah Lee and the carjacking The Fast and the Furious .
In his later years, he owned a restaurant, Ireland’s, in Santa Barbara, California.
John died of leukemia at age 78. He was laid to rest in the Mausoleum of the Pines in the Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara, California.
John Ireland, in life, was known as one of the genuine ‘ nice guys ‘ of Hollywood, always eager to meet with his fans, sign autographs, and pose for pictures.
JOHN DEHNER ( John Forkum )
Born: November 23, 1915 —– Staten Island, New York
Died: February 4, 1992 —– Santa Barbara, California
John Dehner was an American actor in radio, television, and films who played numerous roles often as a villain. Between 1941 and 1988 he appeared in over 260 films and television programs. He had a large career as a radio actor, either as the lead or in a supporting role. He starred as Paladin in the radio version of ‘ Have Gun — Will Travel ‘ and ‘ Frontier Gentleman ‘ and did supporting roles in ‘ Philip Marlowe ‘ & ‘ Gunsmoke ‘
Over the years John has been the guest star on numerous programs encluding; The Adventures of Kit Carson, Maverick, Texas Rangers, Sheriff of Cochise, Perry Mason, The Rebel, The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, plus the following…..
John Dehner was one of those actors who we knew by face but didn’t know by name.
John Dehner died from emphysema and diabetes in Santa Barbara, California and was buried at Carpinteria Cemetery in Carpinteria, California.
HEY, ARE YOU INTO PHILLUMENISM ???
What is that you wonder ? Is this some kind of a joke?
NO ….. This is the hobby of collecting different match-related items; matchboxes, matchbox labels, matchbooks, matchcovers, matchsafes, etc
The word comes from the Greek, phil ( meaning loving ) and the Latin, lumen ( meaning light ) and was introduced by British collector Marjorie Evans in 1943.
In some collections it is possible to find labels from chemical matches produced in 1810 – 1815.
A matchbook is a small paperboard folder enclosing a quantity of matches and having a coarse striking surface on the exterior. The folder is opened to get to the matches, which are attached in a comb-like arrangement and must be torn away before they are used. The exterior of the matchbook cover is usually imprinted with a logo, often with artistic decorations and serves as an advertising medium.
Manufacturing of matchbooks peaked during the 1940s and 1950s then declined due to the availability of disposable lighters and anti-smoking campaigns. The Diamond Match Co. became the first mass-producer of paper matchbooks.
Among the first companies to use advertising on matchbooks were Pabst beer, American Tobacco Company and Wrigley’s Chewing Gum.
In 2005, there were over 1800 active collectors in over 20 countries.
MUSIC WAS OUR THING !!!
Born: January 10, 1927 —– Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada
Died: September 5, 2003 —– Burbank, California
Gisele was a Canadian-American singer known best for her singing on ‘Your Hit Parade ‘ and for playing the violin with or against Jack Benny. No matter what she was doing, she always made you feel that she was enjoying herself. Thus, as her audience, we could feel good too.
She was born Gisele Marie-Louise Marguerite LaFleche and studied violin and voice at The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Ontario Canada. She moved to Los Angeles, California in 1951, becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1955.
MacKenzie possessed a crystal clear, resonant singing voice and perfect pitch. She recorded on numerous record labels with her biggest selling song ” Hard To Get “ in 1955.
She was an accomplished violinist and performed many comedic musical duets with mentor, Jack Benny. In 1952 and 1953 she toured with Benny and it was he who recommended her for ‘Your Hit Parade ‘.
She sang on his show numerous times and was also a comedic foil.
Besides the Benny show, she was also featured on, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Ford Show, Starring Tennesee Ernie Ford, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and The Ed Sullivan Show. She also appeared in Las Vegas and numerous North American concerts.
Gisele spent many years on Your Hit Parade and after leaving in 1957 she had her own variety show. In 1963 she could be seen on The Sid Caesar Show and was a guest panelist on many quiz shows.
In later years she performed widely in musical theater in shows like, Mame, Gypsy, The Sound of Music, and Hello Dolly . In the 1990′s, Gisele turned to acting on television, making guest appearances on Murder She Wrote and MacGyver.
Gisele was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Gisele Mackenzie died from colon cancer at age 76, leaving her daughter, contemporary jazz artist Gigi MacKenzie and son Mac Shuttleworth.
ROGER DEAN MILLER
Born: January 2, 1936 —– Fort Worth, Texas
Died: October 25, 1992 —– Los Angeles, California
Roger Dean Miller was an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor who is known best for his honky tonk influenced novelty songs.
Roger was born the third son of Jean and Laudene Miller. His father died from spinal meningitis when Roger was only a year old. Laudene could not support the family and sent each of the boys to live with a different one of Jean’s brothers.. Thus Roger grew up on a farm near Erick, Oklahoma. As a boy Roger did farm work, plowed, and picked cotton. He received his primary education at a one (1) room school house. In high school, he was a member of FFA and spent a great deal of time listening to the Grand Ole Opry . His cousin’s husband, Sheb Wooley, taught Roger his first guitar chords and bought him a fiddle. Wooley, Hank Williams, and Bob Wills were the influences that led Miller to become a singer-songwriter.
Near the end of Miller’s military career he played fiddle with a military musical group the ” Circle A Wranglers “. After discharge he traveled to Nashville to begin his musical career where he started out as a bellhop, singing as he worked. He was eventually hired by Minnie Pearl to play fiddle in her band and was able to meet George Jones who introduced him to executives from Starday Records with whom he was given an audition. Jones and Miller worked together writing ” Tall, Tall Trees “ and ” Happy Child “.
After marriage and having a child, Miller decided to put his Nashville career on hold and moved to Texas to become a fireman. During the day he was a fireman and at night it was his music. After a while his ‘day’ job suggested he find something else and he met Ray Price, who hired him as a member of his Cherokee Cowboys. He then moved back to Nashville where he started writing music for other singers; ie: Rex Allen, Ray Price, Ernest Tubbs, Faron Young, Jim Reeves, and others.
In 1958, Miller signed with Decca Records and was paired with Johnny Paycheck. His second single with Decca, ” Jason Fleming “ foreshadowed his future style. He also signed a recording deal with RCA Records where he recorded other writer’s songs such as ” You Don’t Want My Love ” in 1960 and ” When Two Worlds Collide ” in 1961. Again, Miller grew tired of the singer-songwriter image and began a party lifestyle which earned him the name ‘ wild child ‘ and was then dropped from his record label.
After numerous appearances on late night comedy shows, he decided to go to Hollywood to become an actor. Not getting many acting gigs and short of money he signed with a new label, Smash Records making them a deal for a little up-front money. In 1964 he recorded ” Dang Me ” and “Chug-a-lug “ both rising on both the country charts and the Billboard Hot 100. These songs transformed Miller’s career. Later is recorded “Do-Wacka-Do ” and the biggest hit of his career ” King of the Road “. The song was certified gold in May 1965 and won him numerous other awards.
Miller even had his own TV show on NBC from September 1966 to January 1967. Again he recorded both his own songs and those by other writers such as; ‘ Walkin in the Sunshine ‘, ‘ Little Green Apples ‘, and ‘ Me and Bobbie McGee ‘.
He worked for Walt Disney doing 3 songs for the animated feature ‘ Robin Hood ‘ as the rooster/minstrel, Alan-a-Dale. He was also the equine narrator, Speiltoe, in the holiday special, ” Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey ” in 1978.
In 1979, Miller hosted an episode of The Muppet Show, but was absent from entertainment following the release of ” Old Friends ” in 1981 in which he worked with Willie Nelson. He did return after receiving an offer to write a Broadway score for a new musical based on Mark Twain’s, ‘ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn ‘. The work, ” Big River “ opened in New York on April 25, 1985 receiving glowing reviews and earning seven (7) Tony Awards including ” Best Score ” for Miller.
Miller moved to Santa Fe to live with his family following the success of Big River. He worked with Dwight Yoakam’s hit, ‘ It Only Hurts When I Cry ‘. Miller began a solo guitar tour in 1990 which ended the following year after being diagnosed with lung cancer. His last performance on television was during a special tribute to Minnie Pearl which aired on October 26, 1992, the day after Miller’s death.
In addition to Miller’s Tony Award for ‘ Big River ‘, he received eleven ( 11 ) Grammy Awards. He was voted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1973 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1995.
MUSIC MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND !!!!!
JULIUS LA ROSA
Born: January 2, 1930 —– Brooklyn, New York
Currently lives in Westchester County, New York
Julius La Rosa is an American traditional popular music singer who has worked in both radio and television since the 1950′s. He began singing while in the Navy where he was a radioman. His Navy buddies managed to promote him to Arthur Godfrey. Godfrey was a personality in the early years, heard La Rosa and offered him a job.
Discharged from the Navy on a Friday, LaRosa went to Godfrey on the following Monday. A week later he appeared on Godfrey’s Variety show. He was a regular on both the morning ” Arthur Godfrey Time “ and the Wednesday night ” Arthur Godgrey and his Friends “. La Rosa’s tenure on the Godfrey Show lasted from November 19, 1951 to October 19, 1953.
In 1952, when Godfrey’s bandleader formed Cadence Records, La Rosa was the first performer signed. His first single was ‘ Anywhere I Wander ‘ . ( It reached the top 30 ) the next was ‘ My Lady Loves To Dance ‘ followed by his first GOLD, and his third recording in 1953, ….. ( Eh Cumpari ). La Rosa received the award for the best new male vocalist in 1953. Godfrey discouraged him from hiring his own booking agent and manager, but La Rosa went ahead and hired Tommy Rockwell to represent him.
With his hit recordings and appearances on the Godfrey show, La Rosa’s popularity grew. At one time his fan mail, 7,000 letters a week, eclipsed Godfrey’s. On October 19, 1953, after a segment of the Godfrey show that was only broadcast on radio, Godfrey did the unthinkable and actually fired La Rosa while on the air. ( he announced that the song Julie had just sung was his swan song with the show )
The firing did not hurt La Rosa’s career….. ” Eh, Cumpari “ became a major hit, followed by ” Domani “ and Ed Sullivan was at his door. He would appear on ‘Toast of the Town ‘ twelve (12) more times that year ! La Rosa also had his own show in 1955.
La Rosa tired of rehashing the Godfrey affair and was known to reply publicly that yes it was Godfrey that was the person who made his career, but he always added that Godfrey was not a very nice man.
Julius LaRosa went on to appear on many television shows and live performances such as; The Honeymooners, What’s My Line, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, The Polly Bergen Show, ( in the 1950′s ) to The Merv Griffin Show, LaVerne and Shirley, ( in the 1980′s ).
La Rosa also had a re-occuring role in the soap opera ‘ Another World ‘ in which he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Daytime Emmy. He has been a frequent supporter for the Jerry Lewis, ‘ Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon ‘. He eventually moved to a long time disk jockey position with WNEW New York.
La Rosa, profiled by jazz critic and composer Gene Lees , a number of years ago , said that he continued to release records and compact discs. New York Times music critic, Stephen Holden said, ” His singing is very direct and unpretentious — he can wrap his voice tenaciously around a melody line and bring out the best in it. “
La Rosa said in 2008 “ Music is a very egotistical thing ….. It makes me feel good ….. and fortunately, I have the capacity to make people feel good who hear me feel good. “
Born: January 29, 1942 —– Paris, France
Presently lives in Aspen, Colorado
Claudine is a french singer and recording artist who was popular during the 1960′s and 1970′s. She is also an actress and dancer. She was married to pop singer Andy Williams from 1961 to 1975 and has maintained a private profile since 1977.
Longet and Williams met in Las Vegas in 1960 when she was 18 and he 32. She at the time was the lead dancer of the ” Folies Bergere “ . They married December 1961 and had three (3) children.
They legally separated in 1970 and divorced in 1975. They had remained good friends until Williams death.
She resumed her career in late 1962; Her first appearance on TV came in 1963 as an actress in the comedy series McHale’s Navy . Other roles on TV included, Twelve O’Clock High, Combat !, The Name of the Game, The Rat Patrol, Hogans Heroes, and It Takes a Thief. She appeared many times on The Andy Williams Show and on other variety and music programs.
Williams called Longet ….. a beautiful, athletic,slender, petite sleek brunette with large doe eyes ‘ my favorite French singer ‘. She initially recorded with A & M Records. and in 1971 joined Barnaby Records.
In 1975, she appeared as ” The Flower “ (non-singing) with Richard Burton, Jonathan Winters and others on a children’s album ” The Little Prince “ which won a Grammy in 1976 for the best Children’s Album.
She also had much success and was very popular on the Billboard charts with both her albums and singles. She remains popular in Japan, where all of her original albums were reissued on compact disc.
Claudine and Andy were very close friends of Robert ( Bobby ) and Ethel Kennedy…. visiting each other’s homes and vacationing together. On the evening of June 4, 1968, following Kennedy’s speech at the Democatic Party primary in California ,the two (2) couples had dinner/disco plans. Shortly after midnight when Williams was making his way to the Ambassador Hotel’s ballroom he heard loud noises and learned that Kennedy had been shot. Both he and Claudine stayed with the Kennedy family and friends, and attended the funeral Mass in New York City. ( Longet and Williams named their son Bobby ( born August 1969 ) in remembrance of Robert Kennedy )
In March of 1976, the year after her divorce from Williams, Longet was arrested and charged with fatally shooting her boyfriend, Olympic skier Vladimir ( Spider ) Sabich at his home in Aspen, Colorado. Williams pubicly supported Longet throughout the trial. Eventually she was convicted of a lesser charge, ( misdemeanor criminal negligence ). She later married her lawyer, Ron Austin and they still live in Aspen, Colorado.
Longet never performed again, although interest in her music has resurged in recent years following several CD releases and inclusion of her songs on television and film soundtracks, plus expressions of admiration by several young performers.
We won’t forget him …… and neither will Jerry, Knucklehead, or Tigger …..
We grew up with them, and as children thought they were real. As adults, we look back on them and smile while we remember how we loved them. We also loved the people who made them seem so real to us. This time we will take a look at just two (2) of those wonderful people.
PAUL WILCHINSKY ( WINCHELL )
Born: December 21, 1922 —– New York City, New York
Died: June 24, 2005 —– Los Angeles, California
Paul Winchell was an American ventriloquist, voice actor, comedian, and inventor whose career was in the 1950′s and 1960′s. His father was a tailor and his grandparents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Austria-Hungary. Winchell, who initially wanted to be a doctor found his dream wiped out by the Depression, went on to become the first person to build and patent a mechanical heart, implantable in the chest.
At age 13, Paul contracted polio and while recovering became interested in ventriloquism. After returning to school he asked his art teacher if he would receive credit for creating a ventriloquist’s dummy.. Jerry named his creation Jerry Mahoney, as a way of thanks. ( his art teacher was Jerry Magon )
Winchell eventually put together a comedy routine and took it to the Major Bowes Amateur Hour where he won first prize. He began playing various theatres with the Major Bowes Review ; while on tour, he was visited by band leader Ted Weems who made him an offer of employment. Winchell accepted and became a professional at age 14.
Winchell’s first show as a ventriloquist was on radio with Jerry Mahoney in 1943. His most successful TV show was ‘ Winchell – Mahoney Time ‘ ( 1965 – 1968 ) which was a children’s show written by his then wife Nina Russel. His last regular TV appearance was working with his puppets on ‘ The Storybook Squares ‘ which was during the 1969 season and ‘ Runaround ‘ during the 1972 season. Both were geared for children and were seen on Saturday morning.
Winchell with Jerry Mahoney was a frequent guest panelist on ‘ What’s My Line ‘. They also appeared on numerous series such as ‘The Polly Bergen Show’, ‘ The Beverly Hillbillies’, ‘The Virginian’, ‘The Lucy Show’, ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’, and ‘ The Brady Bunch’. There were also numerous movies in which they had guest spots.
Paul also did a great deal of voice acting for cartoons….. mostly for Disney and Hanna – Barbera. His best remembered role would be the voice of Tigger in ” The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh “. although there were many other characters he would give life to. From 1981 – 1986 he was the voice of Gargamel on The Smurfs.
Paul Winchell was also very interested in medicine and studied pre-med at Columbia University. He graduated from The Acupuncture College of Los Angeles in 1974 and also worked as a hypnotist at the Gibbs Institute in Hollywood. He developed over 30 patents in his lifetime and held the first patent for an artificial heart with the help of Dr. Henry Heimlich. He established more medical patents while working on projects for the Leukemia Society and the American Red Cross. Some things he invented were: disposable razor, blood plasma defroster, flameless cigarette lighter, an ” invisable ” garter belt, a fountain pen with a retractable tip, and Battery – heated gloves.
Paul Winchell died in 2005 of natural causes. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered over his home property in Los Angeles, California. Jerry Mahoney and Knucklehead Smiff are in the Smithsonian.
Paul Winchell has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Just remember………. PAUL WINCHELL AND TIGGER TOO !!!!!
More on Paul Winchell ; see ‘ The Final Curtain ‘ …..
SONIA PHYLLIS HURWITZ ( Shari Lewis )
Born: January 17, 1933 —– New York City, New York
Died; August 2, 1998 —– Los Angeles, California
Shari Lewis was an American ventriloquist, puppeteer, and children’s television host during the 1960′s thru 1990′s. She is best known as the original puppeteer of Lamb Chop.
Lewis was the daughter of Abraham Hurwitz, a education professor at Yeshiva University, and Ann Ritz. As a child her parents encouraged her to perform by receiving instruction in acrobatics, juggling, ice skating, baton twirling, piano, violin, and magic. She was taught ventriloquism by John W. Cooper. She continued her music studies at New York’s High School of Music and Art…… dance, at the American School of Ballet ….. and acting with Sanford Meiser of the Neighborhood Playhouse. She attended Barnard College for one (1) year, then left to go into show business.
In 1952, Shari and her puppetry won first prize on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. In March 1956, she made a guest appearance on Captain Kangaroo where she first used Lamb Chop. Over the late 1950′s she hosted many children’s programs with her puppets, Lamb Chop …..Hush Puppy ….. Charlie Horse ….. and Wing Ding.
Lamb Chop was Shari’s sassy alter-ego. Hush Puppy had a shy and reserved personality. Charlie Horse was slow-witted and goofy.
In 1992, her Emmy – winning show ; ‘ Lamb Chop’s Play – Along ‘ began a five (5) year run on PBS. She also had another PBS series ‘ The Charlie Horse Music Pizza ” which was one of her last projects before her death.
The video, ‘ Lamb Chop’s Special Chanukah ‘, released in 1996 received the Parent’s Choice award of the year.
Shari, over the years, also made guest appearances on the Muppets and appeared live on the Disneyland stage.
Shari Lewis was diagnosed with uterine cancer in June 1998. While undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center she developed viral pnuemonia and died. Her remains were cremated. Shari was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Among other Awards and Honors are: Parents’ Choice Awards (7); ….. Emmy Awards (12); ….. Peabody Award ( 1960 ) ; ….. John F. Kennedy Center Award for Excellence and Creativity ( 1983 ) ; ….. Silver Circle Award of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (1996).
3 men with the letter “L” beginning their last names………. from 3 generations. Join me in looking backward with all three (3) ….. and in the present with one. Enjoy ….. Have Fun ….. Add some interesting information to your lives …..
Fritz Reuter Leiber, Sr.
Born: January 31, 1882 —– Chicago, Illinois
Died: October 14, 1949 —– Pacific Palisades, California
Fritz Leiber was an American who was a highly respected Shakespearean stage actor and had a successful career in film. Born in Chicago, he was based there for most of his pre-Hollywood life.
He was married to Virginia Bronson ( also a Shakespearean actress ) and the father of noted science fiction / fantasy writer Fritz Leiber Jr.
Leiber made his film debut in 1916, playing Mercutio in the Francis X. Bushman version of ‘ Romeo and Juliet ‘. With his piercing eyes and white hair, he seemed every inch the priests, professors, musical professors, and religious fanatics he would frequently play in films. His many silent-era characters included Caesar in Theda Bara’s 1917 ‘ Cleopatra ‘ and Solomon in the 1921 Betty Blythe film, ‘ The Queen of Sheba ‘.
Leiber thrived as a character actor in talkies, usually in historical roles. In the film ‘ Champagne Waltz ‘ he portrayed an orchestra maestro in a role that required him to play classical music on a violin and jazz on a clarinet. His most notable musical role was as Franz Liszt in the Claude Rains 1943 remake of ‘Phantom of the Opera’.
Late in his career he performed briefly opposite Charlie Chaplin as the priest who visits ‘ Monsieur Verdoux ‘ in his death cell.
For most of his long acting career, Leiber had an (?) interesting hobby. Each time he performed a new role he had his likeness made in costume and make-up. In his collection, he varied the format and media: one was a full length oil painting, another a charcoal sketch, one a clay bas refief, and yet another a sculpted bust, and so on. When he died all of the surviving portraits were passed to his son.
Leiber Jr., not sure of what to do with over 200 copies of his father’s face, later used the experience as the basis of his 1963 story ” 237 Talking Statues “.
Guess sometimes only one father likeness is enough !!!!
Charles Gerstle Levison
Born: January 26, 1905 —– San Francisco, California
Died: July 9, 2007 —– Santa Monica, California
Charles Lane was an American character actor seen in many movies and television shows and at the time of his death may have been the oldest living professional American actor. He appeared in more than 250 films and hundreds of television shows. Somedays he played more than one role, getting into costume and filming his 2 or 3 lines, then hurrying off to another set for a different costume and different role.
Lane spent a short time as an insurance salesman before the stage at the Pasadena Playhouse called him. It was actor/director Irving Pichel that first suggested Lane go into acting in 1929 and four (4) years later he was a founding member of the Screen Actors Guild. He became a favorite of Lucille Ball and director Frank Capra.
Charles Lane was seen in numerous Capra films such as; 1938 ” You Can’t Take it with You ” —– 1939 ” Mr. Smith Goes to Washington ” —–1944 ” Arsenic and Old Lace ” —– and 1946 ” It’s a Wonderful Life “ where he played a seemimgly hard-nosed rent collector for the miserly Henry Potter.
As mentioned, Charles was a favored supporting actor of Lucille Ball, who often used him as a no-nonsense authority figure and comedic foe of her scatterbrained TV character on ‘ I Love Lucy ‘ —– ‘ The Lucy – Desi Comedy Hour ‘ and ‘ The Lucy Show ‘.
Among his many character roles was Mr. Fosdick in the Peter Lawford sitcom ‘ Dear Phoebe ‘….. the boss of the title character in the June Havoc sitcom ‘ Willy ‘ ….. the short-fused bank teller in the sitcom ‘Mama’s Little Babies’ ….. ‘ How to Marry a Millionaire ‘ and the mean-spirited railroad executive, J. Homer Bedloe in ‘ Petticoat Junction ‘.
As a good friend of Lucille Ball he played numerous scowling, beady- eyed, short tempered, no nonsense professionals in many of the Lucy shows. He also appeared as the shop keeper, Mr. Finch on ‘ Dennis the Menace ‘.
In 1963 he appeared in the comedy “ It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World “ playing the airport manager. His final acting role was at the age of 101 in the 2006 ‘ The Night Before Christmas ‘. His last TV role was at the age of 90, when he appeared in the 1995 Disney comedy ‘ The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes ‘
In 2005, the TV Land Awards celebrated his 100th birthday by presenting his award and singing Happy Birthday .
Prior to his death, he was one of the last remaining survivors of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
Despite his stern, hard-hearted demeanor in films and TV, friends describe Lane as warm, funny and kind.. He continued to live in his Brentwood home until his death.
Robert Loggia ( aka; Salvatore Loggia )
Born: January 3, 1930 —– Staten Island, New York
Died: Robert is still with us …..
Robert is an Italian American film and television actor/director who specialized in character parts. He is the son of Elena and Benjamin Loggia who were both born in Sicily. He studied at Wagner College and journalism at the University of Missouri,and served in the U.S. Army before beginning a long career as a supporting actor in movies, on stage and television.
Loggia was a radio and TV anchor in Southern Command Network in the Panama Canal Zone. He first came to prominence playing real-life American Elfego Baca in the series of Walt Disney television shows.
He also starred as the cat-burglar -turned-good in the series ” T.H.E. Cat “. Some of his other television credits include appearances on Frasier … Overland Trail … Breaking Point … Combat … Columbo … Ellery Queen …Starsky and Hutch … Charlies Angels … The Rockford Files … Magnum P.I. …Quincy Me … The Sopranos … and Monk.
Film roles include parts in An Officer and a Gentleman … The Rescue of Flight 771 … Scarface … Prizzi’s Honor … Independence Day … Armed and Dangerous … and Big … His most unusual role might be that of a mob boss who becomes a vampire in Innocent Blood …..
In 1985 he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the thriller ‘ Jagged Edge ‘ and in 1989 for an Emmy in the TV series ‘ Maneuso, F.B.I. ‘.
He also had parts in ‘ Oliver and Company ‘ ….. ‘ Last Highway ‘….. and ‘ Independence Day ‘.
Robert Loggia continues to be active in the film and television community.
BORN : January 28, 1892 —– Berlin, Germany
DIED : November 30, 1947 —– Hollywood, California
Ernst Lubitsch was a German born film director whose urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood’s most elegant and sophisticated director. As his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having the ” Lubitsch touch “.
In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his distinguished contributions to the art of the motion picture. He had been nominated three (3) times for Best Director.
Lubitsch was the son of a Jewish tailor, Simcha, and his wife Anna, both Russian immigrants. He did not want to enter the tailoring business, but instead turned to the theatre. By 1911, he was a member of Max Reinhardt’s Theatre, making his debut the following year as an actor, but he decided to concentrate on directing.
In 1918, Lubitsch made his mark as a serious director with ‘ Die Augen der Mumie Ma ‘ ( The Eyes of the Mummy ) starring Pola Negri. His films would alternate between escapist comedy and large scale historical dramas. He was to enjoy great international success with both. His reputation as a grand master of world cinema reached a new high after the release of ” Madame Du Barry “ ( 1919 ) and “ Anna Boleyn “ (1920 ). With glowing reviews and American money flowing his way he formed his own production company and began work on his high-budget spectacular, “ The Loves of Pharaoh ” (1921).
In 1921 Lubitsch sailed to the United States for the first time for a publicity and fact finding tour. However, with World War I still fresh he was not gladly received.
He finally left Germany for Hollywood in 1922, and contracted as a director with Mary Pickford for the film ‘ Roseita ‘ which was a critical and commercial success. However, due to a clash of personalities, it was the only film they ever made together.
As a free agent, Lubitsch was signed to a three (3) year, six (6) picture contract by Warner Brothers which gave him his choice of both cast and crew, and full editing control over the final cut.
Lubitsch established his reputation for sophisticated comedy with such films as; “ The Marriage Circle ” ( 1924 ) ….. “ Lady Windermere’s Fan ” ( 1925 ) ….. and ” So This is Paris “ ( 1926 ). His contract was eventually dissolved by mutual consent with MGM-Paramount buying out the remainder.
Ernst was excited about the advent of talkies and started directing musicals. His first was ” The Love Parade “ ( 1929 ) starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. He hit his stride as a maker of worldly musical comedies with ” Monte Carlo “….. ( 1930 ) and ” The Smiling Lieutenant ” ….. ( 1931 ). They, along with The Love Parade were hailed by critics as masterpieces of the newly emerging musical genre.
His next film was a romantic comedy, ” Trouble in Paradise ” ….. ( 1932 ) It was later described ( approvingly ) as ‘ truly amoral ‘ by critic David Thomson. The cynical comedy was popular both with critics and audiences.
Writing about Lubitsch’s work, critic Michael Wilmington observed: ” At once elegant and ribald, sophisticated and earthy, urbane and bemused, frivolous yet profound. They were directed by a man who was amused by sex rather than frightened of it — and who taught a whole culture to be amused by it as well.
In 1935, he was appointed Paramount’s production manager, thus becoming the only major Hollywood director to run a large studio. He was fired after a year on the job because he had trouble delegating authority. ( at one time he was overseeing sixty (60) different films ) He then returned to full-time moviemaking.
On July 27, 1935 he married British actress, Vivian Gaye. They had one ( 1 ) daughter, Nicola, on October 27, 1938.
In 1936, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
In 1939, he moved to MGM, and directed Greta Garbo in ” Ninotchka “. They had hoped to work together again, but this would be their only project.
In 1940, he directed “ The Shop Around the Corner “, an artful comedy of cross purposes which some considered among the greatest of films.
Lubitsch’s movies take place in neither Europe nor America….. but in Lubitschland; a place of metaphor, benign grace, rueful wisdom. They were comedies of manners and the society in which it happened ….. a world of delicate sangfroid, where a breach of sexual or social propriety and the correct response are ritualized, but in unexpected ways. His approach to film, to comedy, and to life was not so much ahead of its time as it was totally out of any time.
In 1941, Lubitsch went independent to direct ” That Certain Feeling “ and in 1942 the dark anti-Nazi farce, ” To Be or Not To Be “ which was Jack Benny’s only major screen success and Carole Lombard’s last picture.
Lubitsch spent the balance of his career at 20th Century Fox, but a heart condition curtailed his activity and he spent much of his time in a supervisory capacity. It is claimed that the last picture he made, with his distinctive touch was 1943 ” Heaven Can Wait “.
In March of 1947, Lubitsch was awarded a Special Academy Award for his ‘ 25-year contribution to motion pictures. Mervyn LeRoy called him ” a master of innuendo ” He had an adult mind and a severe dislike of saying things in an obvious way.
He died later that same year in Hollywood of a heart attack, his sixth. His last film, ” That Lady in Ermine “ with Betty Grable, was completed by Otto Preminger and released in 1948. Leaving Lubitsch’s funeral, Billy Wilder ruefully said, ” No more Lubitsch ” to which William Wyler responded, ” Worse than that. No more Lubitsch pictures.”
Lubitsch has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
May he rest in peace and we in stitches !!!!!
Anita Louise Fremault
Born: January 9, 1915 —– New York City, New York
Died: April 25, 1970 —–West Los Angeles, California
Anita Louise was an American film actress who made her acting debut on Broadway at the age of six (6) and within a year was appearing in Hollywood films. By her late teens she was doing both supporting and leading characters and was highly regarded for her delicate features and blonde hair.
Anita Louise was named a WAMPAS Baby Star and was described as one of film’s most fashionable and stylish women.
Her reputation was enhanced by her role as a Hollywood society hostess, with her parties attended by the elite and widely - regularly reported in the news media.
She acted in a number of high profile movies such as:
Anita was also a major actress in:
1934 ….. Madame Du Barry
1935 ….. The Story of Louis Pasteur
1936 ….. Anthony Adverse
1939 ….. The Little Princess
Unfortunately, by the 1940′s she was only doing minor roles and worked infrequently. By the 1950′s, with Television coming for many Americans she was provided with further opportunities
In the mid-1950′s she played one of her most widely seen roles ( especially for the baby boomer set ) She played Nell McLaughlin in the television series ‘ My Friend Flicka ‘ .
Anita Louise retired after My Friend Flicka, living with her husband, film producer Buddy Adler until his death in 1960. She passed away from a stroke in Los Angeles, California in 1970 and was buried next to Adler at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Anita Louise was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Joan Agnes Theresa Sadie Brodel
Born: January 26, 1925 —– Detroit, Michigan
Died: We are so happy as Joan Leslie is still with us …..
Joan is a retired American film and television actress who started performing as a singer at the age of nine (9) with her two (2) sisters in a vaudeville act. She started her Hollywood acting career while still a child, performing under her real name.
She made her film debut in the MGM movie of 1936 Camille.
The talented, young actress signed a contract with Warner Bros. and in 1941 she had her first major role in the thriller ‘ High Sierra ‘ with Humphrey Bogart.
She also starred in ‘ Sargeant York ‘ and ‘The Wagons Roll at Night ‘ the same year.
In 1942 she appeared as James Cagney’s wife in ‘ Yankee Doodle Dandy ‘ and at the age of (18) she starred in the ‘ Sky’s the Limit ‘ with Fred Astaire.
Joan starred in many other movies until 1950 , when she married Dr. William Caldwell. Her final movie was the 1956 ‘ The Revolt of Mamie Stover ‘. She eventually retired from movies to raise their children.
Joan has also appeared in television commercials and made guest appearances on numerous TV shows.
In 2006 she was one of the receipitents of the Golden Boot Award.
And a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame…..
May you and yours have a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR …..
A LIFE WELL LIVED …and SUNG….
Pierino Ronald Como ( Perry )
Born: May 18, 1912 —– Canonsburg, Pennsylvania
Died: May 12, 2001 —– Jupiter Inlet Colony, Florida
Perry Como was an American singer and television performer whose career spanned more than 50 years. His appeal spanned generations and he was widely respected for both his professional standards and the conduct of his personal life.
Perry was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the seventh (7th) of thirteen (13) children of Pietro Como and Lucia Travaglini who themselves had immigrated to the United States in 1910 from the Abruzzese town of Palena, Italy. Perry was the first child born in the United States and did not speak English until he started school.
Perry’s father had all the children attend music lessons, even when he could hardly afford them. Perry learned to play many instruments, but never had a voice lesson. He was a member of the Canonsburg Italian Band along with band leader, Stan Vinton, father of Bobby Vinton.
Perry started working at age ten (10) in a barber shop for $.50 a week; and by age 13 he had his own chair in the shop….. of course he had to stand on a box to tend to his customers; by age fourteen (14) he had his own shop. Despite his musical abilities, Como’s ambition was to become the best barber in the town. ( more about those musical abilities coming up )
In 1929, Perry met Roselle Belline at a picnic. Although he attended the cook-out with another girl, when it came time for him to do some singing, he chose “ More Than You Know ” and sang directly to Roselle.
The teenage sweethearts were married in 1933 and raised three (3) children; Ronnie, David, and Terri with traditional, non show business values. Perry believed his personal life and professional life should be kept separate and granted no personal interviews with Edward J. Murrow’s ” Person to Person “.
Perry’s smooth baritone voice and likeable personality made him an American pop music icon. In a career lasting more than six (6) decades his name was synonymous with easy listening, family oriented music. Over his long career he had (27) gold records and sold more than 100 million records.
His break as a singer came in 1937 when he joined the big band led by trombonist Ted Weems and was featured on the band’s “Beat The Band” program. Over the next (14 ) years Como recorded 42 top ten hits, a mark surpassed only by Bing Crosby. His real success came on the small screen when he made his debut in 1948 on NBC’s the ” Chesterfield Supper Club “. Two (2) years later he switched to CBS for the ” Perry Como Show “. In 1955 he was back on NBC with the show which featured his Theme Song.
The Perry Como Show is still regarded as one of the best of it’s kind in television history and won Emmy Awards in 1956 and 1957 and Peabody and Golden Mike awards. One of the many factors in his success was his insistance on his principles of good taste. He also had fun with a great many of his songs; …..for instance…………
and then there was my personal favorite…………………….
Perrry gave credit to Bing Crosby for influencing his voice and style. Bing once described Como as ‘ the man who invented casual ‘. His love of casual clothing did not stop him from being named one of the Best Dressed Men, beginning in 1946 and continuing long after he stopped appearing on weekly television. He had his own line of sports/casual men’s clothing made by Bucknell in the early 1950′s. He loved golf and always found time getting in a game. Como’s guests on the October 3, 1962 were Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player. They even played 18 holes for the cameras at Sands Point, New York where the Como’s made their home during the television years. Perry could also be found fishing and could be almost every day after their move to Florida. Perry also had a vacation home in North Carolina where he would go to get away from his celebrity life.
In the career of Perry Como he received five (5) Emmys, a Christopher Award, and shared a Peabody Award with his good friend, Jackie Gleason in 1956. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 1990. In 1983 he was a Kennedy Center Honeree.
He also received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002; inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2007. Como also has the honor of having three ( 3 ) stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in Radio, Television, and Recording.
The stars are found;
RADIO: 1700 block of Vine Street ….. east side
MUSIC: 6600 block of Hollywood Boulevard ….. north side
TELEVISION: 6300 block of Hollywood Boulevard ….. south side
With Perry Como, what you saw on television, his naturalness, was the same person you would encounter at the supermarket or fixing breakfast. This didn’t mean he did not have a temper, as he would lose it for the same reasons wel all would. If some one cut him off while driving….well ….. he was only human.
Perry and Roselle were married for 65 years and when she died suddenly on August 12, 1998 ; he was devastated by her loss.
Perry Como died in his sleep on May 12,2001, at his home in Jupiter Colony, Florida. He was reported to have suffered from symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. His funeral mass took place at St. Edward’s Catholic Church in Palm Beach, Florida. He and Roselle are buried at Riverside Memorial Park, Tequesta, Florida.
May we always remember Perry and the beautiful music that we loved …..
How many eyes see a photograph? What do they actually see? What do they really remember?
Here are four (4) photographers who saw and have made us remember !!
Born: May 18, 1933 —– Washington D.C.
Died: January 22, 2008 —– Basye, Virginia
Bernie was a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist and was often called the ” Flower Power ” photographer.
Born: January 2, 1914 —– Shreveport, Louisiana
Died: March 15, 2009 —– San Rafael, California
Pirkle Jones was a documentary photographer best remembered for his photographs of the ” Black Panthers “.
Born: October 9, 1911 —– Washington D.C.
Died: August 20, 2006 —– Novato, California
Joe Rosenthal was a Pulitzer Prize winning war photographer who has been remembered best for his photograph of ” The Raising of the Flag on Iwo Jima “.
Born: November 17, 1916 —– New Zealand
Died: October 23, 2004 —– Norwalk, Connecticut
George Silk served as a photojournalist for ‘Life Magazine’ for thirty (30) years. He was named magazine photographer of the year four (4) times by National Press Photographers Association.
So it goes….. what did you remember ? What do you think now ? Time passes; photographs help us remember………….
Thank you to these men and others like them !
Important bodies with classy hats ……
NOW, Where did we leave off with the fashion parade of hats ?
I do believe we can start this time with the swingn’ 60′s …..
DESIGNS OF CAROLINE REBOUX
1837 – 1927
Caroline Reboux was a well known Parisian milliner and fashion designer who was known as the ” Queen of the Milliners ” in the late part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century.
She is closely associated with the beginning of haute couture and her hat designs ranked at the same level as custom fashion. She opened her shop in Paris in 1865 and retained this shop as her home base throughout her life. She was known for over 50 years as the queen of creative fashion hats. In the 1920′s, Reboux was the first person in fashion design to add a veil to woman’s hats and started the vogue of colored veils.
Reboux is the creator of the cloche hat, first popularized in the 1920s and worked with most of the major fashion designers of Europe to provide hats for their design collections. She was appointed to represent Parisian commerce at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900. Famous American milliner, Lilly Dache trained under Reboux.
Reboux’s business closed its doors in 1956. It had been well known for the head-fitting felt cloche hats with profile brims, forward-tilt tricorns, open crown lame turbans, and flower bandeaus. More than 300 of her creations are preserved at the ‘ Musee de la du Textile ‘ in Paris.
Marlene Dietrich was a faithful customer of Reboux and Wallis Warfield Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, wore a blue Mainbocher outfit and a halo hat by Reboux for her wedding to the former King of England, Edward VIII on June 3, 1937.
1898 – 1989
Lilly was a French milliner and fashion designer who started her fashion career at the age of 15 as an apprentice to Caroline Reboux and Suzanne Talbot. It is said she emigrated to the United States in 1924, settling in New York City where in 1931 she married French-born Jean Despres who was an executive at the cosmetic and fragrance company, Coty, Inc.
At some point in her career she is reported to have said; ” Glamour is what makes a man ask you for your phone number, but it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker “. Dache was the most famous milliner in the United States during her time. Her major designs included draped turbans, brimmed hats, half hats, visored caps for war workers, colored snoods, and romantic massed-flower shapes. She eventually designed dresses to go with her hats as well as lingerie, loungewear, gloves, hosiery, and a wired strapless bra.
Dache designed for Hollywood films and counted Marlene Dietrich, Carol Lombard, and Loretta Young among her movie star clients. Both designer Halston and hair stylist Kenneth worked for her before going into business for themselves.
Her designs and hats are greatly valued by collectors.
Next we travel to those stimulating ’70′s….
and the enigmatic 1980′s
JOHN BATTERSON STETSON
1830 – 1906
Stetson was a United States hatter, hat manufacturer, and in the 1860′s the inventor of the cowboy hat. The oridinal name of the company was the John B. Stetson Co.; … it is now commonly referred to as Stetson.
As a youth, Stetson was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was given only a short time to live. With this prognosis, he left the hat-making business with his father to explore the American West. There he met drovers, bullwhackers, and cowboys. The former hat maker looked at the flea infested coonskin caps worn by many gold seekers and wondered whether fur felt would work for a lightweight, all weather hat suitable for the West.
Stetson moved to Philadelphia and re-entered the hat making craft . There he began making hats suited for the needs of Westerners. Stetson made a western hat for each dealer in the ‘Boss of the Plains’ style he had invented during a trek to Pike’s Peak. These lightweight hats were of natural color with four (4) inch crowns and brims with a plain strap for the band.
The Stetson was durable and well made from waterproof felt. One observed that ” It kept the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. It was an umbrella. It gave you a bucket (the crown) to water your horse and a cup (the brim) to water yourself. It made a hell of a fan, which you need sometimes for a fire but more often to shunt cows this direction or that”.
The Stetson Cowboy hat was the symbol of the highest quality and was worn by Western icons such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers, Annie Oakley, Pawnee Bill, Tom Mix, and the Lone Ranger.The company also made hats for law enforcement, the National Park Service, Cavalry soldiers, and many U.S. Presidents.
Today’s cowboy hat has remained basically unchanged in construction and design since the first one created in 1865. In addition to the cowboy hats, Stetson also made fedoras and woman’s hats.
Stetson profitted greatly from his business, but also gave back to his employees and his community by donating almost all of his money to charitable organizations…. grammar schools, high schools, and colleges, the YMCA in Philadelphia, DeLand University ( Stetson University ) and the Stetson University Law School.
Stetson also owned a mansion in DeLand, Florida. The over 8000sq. foot called John B. Stetson House is a mixture of Gothic, Tudor, and Moorish styles.
Stetson is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylavania.
More of our Historical / Hysterical hats
HATS BY MR. JOHN
John P. John born in 1902 as John Pico Harberger in Germany. He studied medicine at the University of Lucerne and art at the Sorbonne. He immigrated to the United States in 1919 where he apprenticed to his mother, Madame Laurel, as a dress maker. He formed a partnership with milliner John Frederic in 1929 and started his own company in New York in 1948.
Mr. John’s most famous work was his millinery for Vivien Leigh in ” Gone With The Wind “. Having a long association with Hollywood and Broadway, his hats were always in much demand.
SIMONE MIRMAN (Parmentier)
1912 - 2008
Simone Parmentier was born in Paris to middle-class Catholic parents. She apprenticed to one of the main Paris milliners, Rose Valois. She had a talent for designing headwear to suit the wearer’s face. She then worked with Elsa Schiaparelli who was known for her bold designs and concepts. Simone headed the hat department of Schiaparelli’s London branch until it closed in 1939.
She met her husband, Serge Mirman, whom her parents found unacceptable, so they eloped to London in 1937, but did not marry until 1939. During the Second World War, Mirman worked out of her attic apartment which was turned into a millinery salon during the daytime. As clothing coupons were not required for hats, there was always a steady demand for Simone’s hats which she created out of scraps and oddments.
After the war, 1947 she was able to move to a better place near Hyde Park, and in 1952 she moved to Chesham Place, Belgravia, where her salon and workroom remained for the remainder of her professional career. In the early 1950′s she supplied hats to Hartnell, Amies, and Dior.
In 1952, Mirman was invited to show her hats at Buckingham Palace. Princess Margaret, and Elizabeth II plus Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother all became regular customers. She was later granted the Royal warrant of Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother in recognition of her services.
Mirman’s designs took into consideration individual preferences; she created light and airy hats for the Queen Mother trimmed with flowers and feathers….. Princess Margaret loved the most fashionable designs, and Queen Elizabeth insisted on hats that would please photographers ( off the face and clear colors to co-ordinate with her outfits).
Mirman had many famous clients including Vivien Leigh and Valerie Hobson plus many members of English aristocracy and society. Throughout the 1960′s and 1970′s Mirman continued to design, even creating hats encrusted with plastic gems, ultra-modern leather, and plastic helmets with tinted PVC visors.
Simone Mirman retired in 1990 and returned to France. She took up oil painting as a hobby and painted until her eyesight and health failed.
David Shilling is an English milliner, sculpturer, fashion and interior designer synonymous with designing extravagant hats and clothing. He began to design hats and outfits at the age of twelve (12). He opened his first store in 1976; two (2) days after its opening his store received an order from a rock star’s wife for 24 hats.
His first collection was purchased in America by Bloomingdale’s and others also started selling his creations. In the late 1970′s Bergdorf’s charged up to $3000.00 for hats by David Shilling.
Stars linked to David’s creations include; Racquel Welch, Kylie Minogue, Shirley Bassey, Cybill Shepherd, Joanna Lumley, Lauren Hutton, and Chrissie Hinde. His hats have been photographed by the best in the world; Beaton, Litchfield, Snowdon, Parkinson, and Testino. David’s special talent is a combination of design flair, meticulous eye for detail, and a touch of the theatrical.
David is now a respected Fine Artist. His work can be seen in Nice, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Paris, and London.
Stephen Jones is a leading British milliner based in London and is considered one of the world’s most radical and important milliners of the late 20th century and early 21st century. He is one of the most prolific, creating hats for the fashions shows of many leading coutures and fashion designers. His work is known for inventiveness and high level of technical expertise.
From an early age he was instilled with the appreciation of art. He studied art at the High Wycombe College of Art and in 1975 he went to London to see the exhibit of ‘Fashion from 1900 – 1939′ at the Victoria and Albert Museum. That inspired him to pursue a career in fashion. He studied at the Saint Martin’s School of Art under Bobby Hillson and later worked with Peter Lewis Crown, designer-owner of London couture house Lachasse. He would soon request a transfer to the millinery department under Shirley Hex.
Jones left Saint Martin’s in 1979 ….. that same year he became a regular at London’s ‘Blitz‘ nightclub in Covent Garden. There he hung out with Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, Isabella Blow, and Jean Paul Gaultier. He even shared a house with Boy George and Grayson Perry, competing with them to wear the most outrageous outfits to the Blitz.
In 1980, Blitz’s owner Steve Strange provided financial backing for Jone’s first millinery salon. In 1982 was Jone’s first Paris fashion show and eventually he was able to count Diana, Princess of Wales as a regular customer.
In 1990, Jones started Miss Jones line of hats and in 1993 Jonesgirl was started as an exclusive to Japan. He is very strong in Japan selling T-shirts, cosmetic bags, and handkerchiefs under his name …..this was followed by Stephen Jones Kimonos in 1991; sunglasses in 1992 ; and handbags in 2002.
In March 2009, Stephen Jones was the only British milliner to have control of a Paris haute couture millinery studio, making hats for Galliano’s high profile shows at Dior. In 2010 Jones was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire ( OBE ) at the New Year Honours.
In addition to his hat collections for designers, he has undertaken individual commissions for pop groups, films, actors, and a number of companies to create designs for advertisements.
Jones was also the co-curator of the 2009 exhibition … Hats; An Anthology for the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibit eventually moved to New York City and was shown at the Bard Graduate Center of Decorative Arts, Design History and Material Culture, Bard College until Spring 2012.
Born: 1967 —– Ireland
Philip was born in Ahascragh, in the west of Ireland into a large family with seven (7) brothers and one (1) sister. He moved to Dublin in 1985 to study fashion at the National College of Art and Design, where he made hats as a hobby to go with the clothes he designed. In 1988 he won a place at the Royal College of Art in London, and in 1989 he took one of his hats to Michael Roberts, fashion editor of Tatler magazine and his style editor, Isabella Blow.
He has designed hats for Alexander McQueen, Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Ralph Lauren, and Donna Karan. He has also designed hats worn by Lady Gaga and Sarah Jessica Parker.
Other hats have been worn by Kate Middleton before her wedding and by Princess Beatrice at Kate and Prince William’s wedding.
Well, you must admit these have been some very interesting creations…
Once again it’s time to tip our hats to those who design the hats and for those who are brave enough to wear them ………
HATS MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND….. or so it seems for some people. For others it’s shoes or purses or…. well what ever they desire. Today we are going to look at some head coverings of the past.
Sensible ….. well yes, but not quite what I had in mind !!
Well, at least this has a few ruffles, but …….. not what I was looking for.
Ah, now this is more like it ! Now if I could just keep my dress from falling off my shoulder.
Trimmed with frills, feathers, flowers, and ribbons, hats were a ‘must-have’ fashion accessory for women. Whether in big cities or the rural countryside, hats were made by people who were trained professionally. Many of the basic hat shapes stayed popular for a decade or more. Ladies would change the trimmings nearly every season by adding new linings, ribbons, flowers, etc. The wide brim hats protected a ladies face from the sun, and in the days before make-up, pink linings were sometimes used to add a reflective glow to the wearers complexion.
Well, at least one of these ladies seems happy with her choice…..
In the mid 17th and 18th century, ‘house bonnets’ were worn by women and girls. They were generally brimless and secured by tying under the chin and covered no part of the forehead. They were worn indoors to keep the hair tidy and outdoors to keep the dust and dirt from the hair. When hairstyles became more elaborate after 1770 the ‘calash’ bonnet was worn outdoors to protect the hair from the wind and rain. This was a hood of silk or black taffeta stiffened with whalebone or arched cane battens which were fitted with ribbons to allow them to be held secure.
CHOICE HATS OF THE 1860′s
CHOICE HATS OF THE 1870′s
Most middle-class women in the 19th century had at least two (2) bonnets, one for summer wear ( usually of straw ) and one for winter wear ( normally very heavy fabric ). Wealthy women would have many bonnets suitable for different occasions.
CHOICE HATS OF THE 1880′s
CHOICE HATS OF THE 1890′s
CHOICE HATS OF 1900
Hatmaking is the manufacture of hats and headwear….. millinery is the designing and manufacturing of hats…. a milliner designs,makes, trims, or sells hats. Many styles of hats have been popular throughout history and were worn for different occasions. They could be a part of a uniform or to indicate social status.
EARLY 1900′s HATS OF CHOICE FOR THE LADY
Men’s hats were of much importance also….. a gentleman was not groomed properly unless he worn a hat; the more expensive the more socially accepted was the person.
John Cavanagh was an American gentleman’s hatter based in New York. He was a leader in both styling and manufacturing of hats for fifty (50) years. John started in the business at age 17 working as a sizer, trimmer, finisher, cutter, curler, and plant superintendent.
In 1928 he created the company of Cavanagh – Dobbs Inc. He gave his name to a method of finishing hats known as the Cavanagh Edge.
James Lock & Co. is one of the oldest hatters in England and was founded in 1676. The main shop has been in its current location since 1765. Lock is a royal warrent holder as hatter to Prince Philip and Prince Charles and supplied many of the hats during the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. They produce all sorts of hats from formal wear to leisure.
MORE WONDERFUL LADIES HATS FROM THE MID 1900′s
I’m starting to remember these hats….. what about you ?
Back many many years ago there was a lady who actually lost her head over the new styles of fashions and hats. Her name was ” Marie Antoinette “. Her millner, confidante, and friend was Rose Bertin.
Marie – Jeanne Rose Bertin was born in France to a family with small means. Both Rose and her brother received a modest education, but a superior sense of ambition. Rose moved to Paris and apprenticed with a milliner. She was able to open her own shop in 1770 and quickly found customers among the noble ladies at Versailles.
When Marie Antoinette arrived in France from Austria, she embraced France’s new styles and fashions as one of the ways to show her appreciation of her new country. She was introduced to Bertin in 1772….. the Queen adored the wardrobe and hats, became passionate about every detail, and in turn Bertin, as her milliner, became her confident and friend.
Marie – Antoinette also asked Bertin to dress dolls in the latest fashions as gifts for her sisters and her mother, the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The dolls, called pandoras were made of wax, wood, or porcelain. There were little ones up to as big, or half as big as a real person. The dolls were in vogue until the appearance of fashion magazines.
Called ” Minister of Fashion ” by her detractors, Bertin was the brains for almost every new dress ordered by the Queen. Dress ensembles and hair became Marie – Antoinette’s personal vehicle of expression, and Bertin clothed the Queen from 1770 until she was dethroned in 1792. The large gowns ensured the wearer of occuping some times as much as three (3) times as much space as her male companion, thus making the female figure an imposing presence. Bertin’s creations also established France as the center of the fashion industry. Under the Queen’s generous patronage, Bertin’s name became synonymous with the sartorial elegance and excess of Versailles.
During the French Revolution, when many of her clients were being executed or were fleeing the country, Bertin moved her business to London. There, for a while, she was able to serve some of her old customers and her fashion dolls continued to be seen in the capitals of Europe. She eventually was able to return to France in 1795, but found that the excesses of the era had ended after the revolution.
Marie – Jeanne Rose Bertin milliner and fashion maker to Queen Marie – Antoinette was the first celebrated French fashion designer and is credited with having brought “Haute couture” to the front of popular culture.
More to come in ” MY HAT”S OFF TO YOU “…..
WE ARE FORTUNATE TO HAVE GOOD GUYS LIKE THESE …..
OLD TIME COWBOYS FOR EACH DAY OF THE WEEK …..
The Monday Cowboy
Arthemus Ward Acord
Born: April 17, 1890 —– Glenwood, Utah
Died: January 4, 1931 —– Chihuahua, Mexico
Art Acord was an American silent film actor and rodeo champion born in Utah who as a young man worked as a cowboy and ranch hand. He became a celebrated rodeo star and was one of the few cowboys to have ridden the bucking horse ‘Steamboat’, who later inspired the bucking horse logo on the Wyoming license plate.
His rodeo skills had been sharpened when he worked for the Miller Brothers’ traveling 101 Ranch Wild West Show. During that time he made friends with Tom Mix, Bee Ho Gray, ” Bronco Billy ” Anderson, and Hoot Gibson. In his movie prime Acord stood more than 6′ tall and weighed 186 pounds.
Art is the cowboy in the white shirt …..
Art not only acted but wrote scripts and performed as a stunt man.
Art enlisted in the United States Army in World War I and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery. At the end of the war he returned to Hollywood, but because of a problem with alcohol and an inability to adapt to talkies his film career faded. In the final years of his life he was forced to file bankruptcy and ended up performing in road shows and mining in Mexico.
In 1931 Art Acord died in a Mexican hospital ….. some say he took poison due to depression ….. some say he was shot ….. but according to the local coroner the cause was acute alcoholism.
Art was given a military funeral with full honors and was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
He was honored for his contribution to motion pictures with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
THE TUESDAY COWBOY
Charles Frederick Gebhart
Born: December 12, 1891 —– Vincennes, Indiana
Died: November 30, 1942 —– Boston, Massachusetts
Charles “Buck” Jones was an American motion picture star of the 1920′s thru 1940′s. He was best known for starring in many popular western films and for his daring feats, on screen and off.
In 1907 Jones joined the United States Army and was assigned to the 6th Cavalry Regiment which was deployed to the Philippine Islands. There he saw combat and was wounded during the Moro Rebellion.
Jones loved race cars and the racing industry and became close friends with early racecar driver Harry Stillman. Due to his association with Stillman, he began working as a test driver for the Marmon Motor Car Company.
Following another stint in the military he started working as a cowboy on the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma……later he worked for a wild west show and Ringling Brothers Circus
While in Los Angeles performing he decided to leave the cowboy life and get a job in the film industry. He found himself hired by Universal Pictures as a bit player and stunt man. Eventually he doubled for stars William S. Hart, Tom Mix, and William Farnum which led to his first starring role in late 1929.
Jones had more than 160 film credits by the 1920′s and joined Hoot Gibson,Tom Mix, and Ken Maynard as the top cowboy actors of the day. By 1928 he started his own company, but his independently produced film failed ….. he then organized a touring Wild West show, but this also failed due to the economy of late 1929.
With the advent of the new ‘talking’ pictures replacing silent films, outdoor Westerns fell briefly out of favor. He signed with the then humble Columbia Pictures starring in their westerns. His voice, a rugged baritone recorded well and those films were very successful thus re-establishing him as a major movie name. During the 1930′s he starred in Western features and serials for Columbia and Universal. For about 20 years he averaged 8 pictures a year with his co-star Silver .
His star slipped in the late 1930′s when the singing cowboys came into favor. In the fall of 1940 he starred in the serial “White Eagle” which became a hit and again re-established him. His final series of westerns featured ‘The Rough Riders’ …the trio of Buck Jones, Tim McCoy, and Raymond Hatton.
Buck lent his name and image to various endorsements, including Post Grape-Nut Flakes and Daisy Outdoor Products which issued a Daisy “Buck Jones” model pump action air rifle which had a compass and a sundial on the stock.
Buck Jones was one of the 492 victims of the 1942 Cocoanut Grove fire in Boston, Massachusetts dying two (2) days after the blaze.
In 1997, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars at 235 S. Palm Canyon Drive was dedicated to him.
THE WEDNESDAY COWBOY
Thomas Hezikiah Mix
Born: January 6, 1880 —– Mix Run, Pennsylvania
Died: October 12, 1949 —– Florence, Arizona
Tom Mix was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. Between 1909 and 1935 he appeared in 291 films, mostly silent, with his equine companion of over 20 years, Tony.
Tom was born in Mix Run, Pennsylvania and grew up in Dubois, Pennsylvania where his father, a stable master worked. It was his father who taught him how to ride and the love of horses. From an early age, Tom had dreams of being in the circus.
In 1905, Mix rode in Theodore Roosevelt’s Inaugural Parade with a group of 50 horsemen, which included several former Rough Riders.
After working a number of jobs in Oklahoma Territory, Mix found employment at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch. He stood out as a skilled horseman and expert shot, winning national riding and roping contests.
Tom Mix began his film career as a supporting cast member with Selig Polyscope Company; his first appearance coming in1909. Mix performed in more than 100 films for Selig, many of which were filmed in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He worked for other film companies and went on to make 160 cowboy films throughout the 1920′s. His Intelligent and handsome horse, Tony also became a celebrity. Mix, most always did his own stunts and was frequently injured. His performances weren’t noted for realism, but for the screen-friendly action stunts, horseback riding, attention-grabbing cowboy costumes, and showmanship. During 1929, Mix’s last year in silent pictures, he worked for Film Booking Office of America, a small studio run by Joseph P. Kennedy which soon merged into Kennedy’s RKO Radio Pictures.
In 1929,30, 31, Mix appeared with the Sells-Floto Circus. He also appeared with the Sam B. Dill Circus, which he was reported to have bought in 1935. Mix’s last screen appearance was a 15 episode, Mascot Picture serial, “The Miracle Rider”. Also, in 1935, Texas governor James Allred named Mix an honorary Texas Ranger. Mix then returned to circus performing accompanied by his eldest daughter. In 1938, while on a promotional tour in Europe, he left his daughter behind to manage the circus, which soon failed.
On the afternoon of October 12, 1940, Mix had been visiting Pima County Sheriff, Ed Nichols in Tucson, Arizona and was heading toward Phoenix driving his 1937 Cord Phaeton when he came up to some construction barriers at a bridge that had been washed out by a flash flood. He was unable to stop in time….. the car swerved then rolled into a gully pinning him underneath. He was killed almost instantly.
A small stone memorial marks the site on route 79 and the nearby gully is named ” Tom Mix Wash “.
Following the funeral at the Little Church of the Flowers, Tom Mix was buried in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Tom Mix made 291 movies during his career. He was ” King of the Cowboys” when Ronald Reagan and John Wayne were youngsters.
His cowboy boot prints, palm prints and the hoof prints of his horse Tony are at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California.
Tom was posthumously ( 1958 ) inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 1959, a Monument To The Stars was erected in Beverly Hills, California with numerous early stars of which Tom Mix was included. There is also a Tom Mix museum in Dewey, Oklahoma and Mix Run, Pennsylvania.
Tom was awarded for his contribution to the motion picture industry with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
THE THURSDAY COWBOY
Edmund Richard Gibson
Born: August 6, 1892 —–Tekamah, Nebraska
Died: August 23, 1962 —– Woodland Hills, California
Edmund “Hoot” Gibson was an American rodeo champion and a pioneer cowboy film actor, director, and producer. Born in Nebraska, he learned to ride a horse while a young boy. His family moved to California when he was seven (7) years old. As a teenager he worked with horses on a ranch, which led to competition at area rodeos.
In 1910, film director Francis Boggs was looking for experienced cowboys to appear in his silent movie ” Pride of the Range “. He hired two (2) future western stars, Hoot Gibson and Tom Mix. Although Gibson continued acting he said that it was a minor sideline and continued competing in rodeos to make a living.
Gibson’s career was interrupted with service in the United States Army during World War I; but when the war ended he returned to the rodeo where he met and became friends with Art Acord. The two (2) would participate in the summer rodeos then would return to Hollywood in the winter to do stunt work. By 1921, the demand for cowboy pictures was so great that Hoot began receiving offers for leading roles. It was during this time that he met an up-and-coming film director named John Ford. He and Ford developed a lasting friendship and working relationship over the years.
Gibson graced the screen not only as just an actor, but one who was able to perform his own stunts. He became one of Hollywood’s first stuntmen performing such things as riding a motorcycle off a 23 foot high drawbridge. From the 1920′s through the 1940′s, Hoot Gibson was a major film attraction. He successfully made the transition to talkies and became a highly paid performer. He even had his own comic books!
In 1933, Gibson injured himself when he crashed his plane while racing cowboy star Ken Maynard. Gibson’s years of big earnings did not see him through his retirement as he used much of it on high living and poor investments. To pay his bills he earned money working at carnivals and what ever jobs he could find.
Hoot Gibson died of cancer in Woodland Hills, California and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California
In 1979, Hoot was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Hoot Gibson also was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
THE FRIDAY COWBOY
Born: July 21, 1895 —– Vevay,Indiana
Died: March 23, 1973 —– Woodland Hills, California
Ken Maynard was an American motion picture stuntman and actor who began at a young age working at carnivals and circuses where he became an accomplished horseman. He performed in rodeos and was a trick rider and roper with “ Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show “.
Maynard claimed that he served in the United States Army during World War I and that after the war and returned to show business as a circus rider with Ringling Brothers. While performing in Los Angeles, California, actor / cowboy Buck Jones encouraged Maynard to try working in the movies.
His first appearance for Fox Studios was in silent films in 1923 and included performing stunts. The horsemanship and good looks made him a cowboy star. Not only that, but the guy could sing. He moved to Universal Studios where he made his first films with a musical soundtrack. ( he sang two songs in ‘ Sons of the Saddle ‘, 1930 )
Ken Maynard appeared in more than ninety (90) films in twenty (20) years with his white stallion, Tarzan, white cowboy hat, fancy shirt and a pair of six-shooters. In 1931 – 1932 he worked for Tiffany Productions and Sono Art – World Wide Pictures before returning to Universal in 1933. As Maynard also played several musical instruments he was featured in the 1933 film ‘ The Fiddlin’ Buckaroo ‘ on the violin and on the banjo in ‘ The Trail Drive ‘.
Due to alcoholism affecting his life, his acting career ended in 1944. He made appearances at state fairs and rodeos and for a time owned a small circus featuring rodeo riders which eventually merged with Clyde Beatty.
It was written that Maynard lost his wealth to failed circus investments.
Alone since the death of his wife, Bertha in 1969, Maynard lived in a rundown trailer. During those years it was supposed that he was able to keep it all together with the help of an unknown benefactor, long thought to be Gene Autry. More than twenty-five (25) years after his last starring role, Maynard returned to the screen in two (2) small roles in 1970 and 1972, one movie was ” The Marshal of Windy Hollow “.
Maynard died of stomach cancer at the Motion Picture Home in Woodland Hills, California and was buried at Forest Lawn Cypress Cemetery, Orange County, California. Maynard was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
THE SATURDAY COWBOY
JACK HOXIE aka: John Hartford Hoxie
Born: January 11, 1885 —– Kingfisher Creek, Indian Territory
Died: March 28, 1965 —– Elkhart, Kansas
Jack Hoxie was an American rodeo performer and silent motion picture actor. He is remembered for his roles in Westerns from which he never strayed.
Hoxie was the son of a veterinarian father, who was killed just weeks before his birth, and a half – Nez Perce or Cherokee mother. Although Jack was raised in Indian Territory ( Oklahoma ) he and his mother moved to Idaho where at an early age he learned riding and roping. He eventually became a very popular and successful rodeo star. In 1909 he met performer Dick Stanley and joined his Wild West Show. Hoxie toured with circuit rodeos until 1913 when he was asked to be in the western drama short ‘The Tragedy of Big Eagle Mine‘. He would continue to work in western shorts and by 1919 he had about 35 films under his belt. Sometime that same year he was cast in the starring role of the ‘Lightning Bryce‘ serials as the main character Sky Bryce.
Through the early 1920′s Jack became a very popular western film star and worked for Pathe Exchange, Arrow, National Film Corp., and Sunset Studios. In 1923 Universal Pictures put him under contract and his career was on par of the other western stars of the time. Hoxie was often seen atop his horses Fender and Dynamite and would star in westerns with some of the most prominent actresses of the silent era. In 1926 Universal chose him to star as Buffalo Bill Cody, co-starring William Boyd, in ‘ The Last Frontier ‘
***** Only one ( 1 ) film is available at this time……please enjoy
In 1927 Hoxie became dissatisfied with his contract at Universal and refused to renegotiate. He continued for the rest of the 1920′s making films of lesser quality with lower – rank studios. He made his last silent film, ‘ Forbidden Trail ‘ in 1929. After that he worked in circuit rodeos, carnivals and the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. In the 1930′s Jack tried a movie comeback with Majestic Pictures but they did little to revive his acting career. His last film appearance was in the 1933 ‘Trouble Busters ‘ with Lane Chandler.
Jack, and his third wife, Dixie briefly operated a dude ranch in Hereford, Arizona called the Broken Arrow Ranch. After the ranch burned Jack again appeared in wild west shows throughout the 1940′s and into the 1950′s. His last public appearance as a performer was in 1959 for the Bill Tatum Circus.
After he divorced Dixie and married his 4th wife Bonnie, they retired to a small ranch in Arkansas and later moved to his mother’s old homestead in Oklahoma. In later years Jack developed leukemia. He was buried in Oklahoma with the inscription ” A Star in Life - A Star in Heaven “.
THE SUNDAY COWBOY
TIMOTHY JOHN FITZGERALD MCCOY
Born: April 10, 1891 —– Saginaw, Michigan
Died: January 29, 1978 —– Ft. Huachuca, Sierra Vista, Arizona
Tim McCoy was an American actor, military officer, and expert on American Indian life and customs. Tim attended college in Chicago and after seeing a wild west show he left school and found work on a ranch in Wyoming. He became an expert horseman and roper and developed knowledge of the ways and languages of the American Indian Tribes in the area. He enlisted in the United States Army when America entered World War I.
McCoy was a decorated soldier during World War I and again in World War II, rising to the rank of colonel. He also served the state of Wyoming as its adjutant general between the wars with the brevet rank of brigadier general. At age 28 he was the youngest brigadier general in the history of the U.S. Army. Tim was an expert in Indian sign language and was named ” High Eagle ” by the Arapaho tribe of the Wind River Reservation.
In 1922 Tim was asked by Jesse L. Lasky of Famous Players Lasky to provide American Indian extras for the western “ The Covered Wagon ” ( 1923 ). He in turn brought hundreds of Indians to the Utah location and served as technical advisor on the film. After the filming was complete, McCoy was asked to bring a small group of Indians to Hollywood for a stage presentation preceding each show. The show proved to be very popular, running 8 months in Hollywood and several more months in London and Paris. Afterward McCoy returned to his ranch in Wyoming until Irving Thalberg signed him to a contract in a series of outdoor adventures. As they say, ‘ and the rest was history ‘.
Tim’s first MGM feature was ‘War Paint’ ( 1926 ) featuring epic scenes of the Wind River Indians on horseback. For all McCoy films, Indians were always portrayed sympathetically and never as blood thirsty savages. With the coming of talking pictures there was a temporary inability to record sound outdoors which resulted in MGM terminating the Tim McCoy series. In 1929 McCoy returned to Hollywood and Universal Pictures to star in their first talking western, ‘The Indians Are Coming ‘. The series was very successful and McCoy worked in Hollywood until 1936 when he left, first to tour with Ringling Brothers Circus and then with his own wild west show.
The show was not successful and McCoy lost quite a bit of money in the process. By 1938 Tim was available for more films and was hired by low-budget producers for eight (8) westerns a year. In 1941, Buck Jones recruited McCoy to co-star in ‘ The Rough Riders’ series which was very popular, and might have continued, but McCoy did not want to renew his contract.
McCoy was one of the last real life cowboys to play that role on film. He was so popular with children that he appeared on the cover of Wheaties cereal boxes. He even had a children’s show in Los Angeles ( 1952 ) in which he provided authentic history lessons on the Old West and showed his old western movies. Iron Eyes Cody was his co-host.
In 1942, McCoy ran for the nomination for the open Republican U.S. Senate Seat from Wyoming. As it turned out he lost in the primary and within 48 hours he volunteered for active duty . He spent World War II performing liaison work with the U.S. Army Air Forces in Europe. He retired from films after the war, except for a few cameos much later.
In 1973, McCoy was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum ….. and in 1974, into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. On January 16, 2010 he was inducted into the Hot Springs County Hall of Fame. ( Wyoming ) Although Tim died in 1978, his last film appearance was in the Kevin Brownlow – David Gill television history of silent films ” Hollywood “. Tim McCoy was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Tim McCoy died at the Post Hospital on Ft. Huachuca, Sierra Vista, Arizona. He was cremated with his ashes returned to his Nogales home. Nine years later, his remains along with his wife Inga were sent to his birthplace at Saginaw, Michigan. They were buried there in the Mount Olivet Cemetery next to his family’s plot.
Check in again soon for another installment of ‘Cowboys’ ….
There have been many articles written about movie cowboys, but not much about their time with the circus. This information comes from a combination of ” Cowboys and Their Horses “ by James Searles and from other articles that have been saved over the years.
Near the end of the 1920′s, the Big Top shows began to hire movie western stars as feature attractions. A number of them had even worked with the circus prior to a film career and some started their own circus or wild west show.
TOM MIX (Thomas Hezikiah Mix)
1880 —– 1940
Tom Mix was born in Pennsylvania where his father was a stable master who taught him to ride and the love of horses. At an early age he corraled dreams of being in the circus. As he became older he worked a variety of odd jobs in Oklahoma Territory and eventually found work at the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch. He stood out as a skilled horseman and expert shot, winning national riding and roping contests.
By 1909 Tom was with W.S. Dickey’s Circle G Ranch Wild West Show. He also worked during the summers ( when he wasn’t making films ) with the Kit Carson Buffalo Ranch Wild West Show and the Young Buffalo Wild West Show. In 1929 he started work with the Sells-Floto Circus where he remained for three (3) years. In 1934 he joined the Sam B. Dill motorized circus and bought it the following year.
Tom operated the Tom Mix Circus from 1935 through 1938. At its height the show was the largest and most successful circus on the road.
JACK HOXIE ( John Hartford Hoxie )
1885 —– 1965
Born: Oklahoma ( Indian Territory )
Jack Hoxie was the son of veterinarian, Bart “Doc” Hoxie, who was killed in a horse accident just weeks before Jack’s birth. ( his mother was half Indian ) After his father’s death he and his mother moved to northern Idaho. At a young age Jack was a working cowboy and ranch hand. When he was older they relocated to Boise where Jack continued to work on his skill as a horseback rider while competing in rodeos.
In 1909 he met performer Dick Stanley and joined his Wild West show. In 1913 he started in films and as time went on he became a very important actor and could be found atop his horses Fender or Dynamite.
Hoxie made his last film in 1929; then worked in circuit rodeos, carnivals, and the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show. It has been written that he spent more time with the circus than any other western star. Jack Hoxie was often billed as the “Famous Western Screen Star” and would make appearances throughout the 1940′s and into the 1950′s before making his last public appearance for the Bill Tatum Circus in 1959.
ART ACORD ( Accord )
1890 – 1931
Born in Utah, as a young man he worked as a cowboy and ranch hand. Entering rodeo competitions, his riding skills increased and was picked up by the Dick Stanley- Bud Atkinson Wild West Show ( 1909 ) to perform the daring riding stunts for which he had become famous.
He worked with the Dick Stanley Wild West Show in 1919 and with William F. Cody in 1911. For a while he worked for the Miller Brothers’ traveling 101 Ranch Wild West Show where he met and made friends with Tom Mix, Bee Ho Gray, “Broncho Billy” Anderson, and Hoot Gibson.
1895 – 1973
Maynard began working for carnivals and circuses at age sixteen (16). During this time he became an accomplished horseman. As a young man he performed in rodeos and was a trick rider with the Kit Carson Buffalo Ranch Wild West Show in 1913 and with Ringling Brothers in 1914.
In 1936 Maynard bought wagons and rail cars from George Christy and started the Ken Maynard Diamond Wild West Circus and Indian Congress. The show opened in Van Nuys, California and lasted only a couple weekends. The following year he joined the Cole Brothers, Beatty Circus and remained with them until 1938. Then rejoined the Cole Brothers in 1940 and in 1950 he appeared with the Biller Brothers Circus.
BILL CODY ( William Joseph Cody, Jr. )
1891 – 1948
Bill Cody started out as an actor; then in 1922 he began working as a stuntman. In 1927 he starred in the movie “Born to Battle”, which gave him the opportunity to exhibit his horse riding skills and to use a bull whip on screen. He would continue to make films off and on for the next few years, but in 1933 he joined a traveling wild west show as the star attraction. Cody also worked for the Downie Bros. Circus replacing Jack Hoxie.
TIM MCCOY ( Timothy John Fitzgerald McCoy )
1891 – 1978
Tim McCoy was the son of an Irish Civil War Soldier who later became police chief in Saginaw, Michigan. He attended College in Chicago where he happened to attend a wild west show. Captivated he left school and found work on a ranch in Wyoming where he became an expert horseman and roper and competed in numerous rodeos.
In 1922 he was asked by Jess Lasky to help with the filming of ” The Covered Wagon “ in which he served as the technical director. McCoy worked fulltime in movies until 1936 when he left Hollywood, first to tour with Ringling Brothers Circus and then with his own wild west show in 1938. The show was terrific and beautiful. New rail cars…new wagons….. it was one of the finest new outfits to be introduced in the 20th century. In competition with Cole Brothers and Hagenbeck – Wallace, it opened at the International Amphitheater in Chicago on April 14th. They then played in Colombus, Ohio and Washington D.C. where it was sold at auction.
McCoy then returned to Hollywood….. In 1957 he joined the Al G. Kelly & Miller Brothers Circus and the following season the Carson & Barnes Circus where he stayed through 1961. The first two (2) months of the 1962 season he appeared with the Hoxie – Bardex Circus and later partnered with Tommy Scott’s medicine show where he stayed for thirteen ( 13 ) years.
BUCK JONES ( Charles Frederick Gebhart )
1891 – 1942
After serving in the military, Buck began working as a cowboy on the 101 Ranch in Oklahoma where he became a part, in 1913, of the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show and in 1914 with the Gollmar Brothers Circus. In 1929 he organized the Buck Jones Wild West and Round Up Days. It opened on May 16 and lasted until July when his business partner departed suddenly with the money. Jones then joined the Robbins Brothers Circus to finish the season.
HOOT GIBSON ( Edmund Richard Gibson )
1892 – 1962
Hoot Gibson learned to ride a horse as a very young boy. As a teenager he worked with horses on a ranch which led to competition on bucking broncos at area rodeos. By age 16 he was an accomplished rodeo performer.
In 1910, film director Francis Boggs was looking for experienced cowboys to appear in films. Hoot and Tom Mix were hired. For Gibson acting was a minor sideline and he continued competing in rodeos.
Hoot Gibson was with Dick Stanley’s Congress of Rough Riders and Bud Atkinson’s Circus & Wild West Show In Australia. In early 1937 he was featured with the Wallace Brothers Circus and joined the Hagenbeck – Wallace show for the later part of the season. In 1938 he was with the Robbins Brothers and in 1940 he started the Hoot Gibson Rodeo and Thrill Circus.
More to come on Reel People about some of our stars…..
A bit of history in words and pictures from our chosen circuses will tell us more of the goings on from the past.
SELLS BROTHERS CIRCUS
The Sells Brothers Circus was started by Lewis and Peter Sells. It operated from 1862 to 1863 and again from 1871 to 1895. The circus merged with both the Forepaugh Circus and the Floto Dog and Pony Show.
SELLS FLOTO CIRCUS
The Sells Floto Circus toured with sideshow acts in the United States in the early 1900′s. Frederick Bonfils and Harry Tammen along with the Denver Post owned it first; the name Floto coming from the Post’s one time sportswriter, Otto Floto,
During the 1914 – 1915 season the circus featured Buffalo Bill Cody.
By 1929 the circus had become a part of the American Circus Corporation which consisted of Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus, John Robinson Circus, Sparks Circus, and Al G. Barnes Circus. John N. Ringling then bought American Circus Corporation creating a monopoly of the traveling circus in America.
FOREPAUGH SELLS CIRCUS
Adam Forepaugh was an American entrepreneur, businessman, and circus owner. He owned and operated a circus from 1865 – 1890 under various names such as: Forepaugh’s Circus, The Great Forepaugh Show, The Adam Forepaugh Circus, and Forepaugh & The Wild West.
In 1864, Forepaugh sold horses to John O’Brien for $9,000.00 so he could start the Tom King Excelsior Circus. When O’Brien could not repay the loan, Forepaugh became part owner of the circus. The following year they purchased the Jerry Mabie Menagerie and created two (2) circuses: The Great National Circus and the Dan Rice Circus. Eventually he sold the Great National Circus and took control of the Dan Rice Circus.
Forepaugh was very different than most circus owners as he was a businessman not a showman like P.T. Barnum and the Ringling Brothers and was involved in all aspects of the circus business.
From the 1870′s into the 1880′s Foerpaugh and P.T. Barnum had the two (2) largest circuses in the nation. Forepaugh had more animals than Barnum and paid higher salaries to the favored European talent. The two (2) men fought over rights to the most -favored venues and at least twice they pooled their resources and performed together.
In 1889, Adam Forepaugh sold his circus acts to James Bailey and James Cooper; his railroad cars to the Ringling Brothers, thus , he indirectly contributed to the demise of his arch rival. ( The Ringlings used the equipment to transform their circus from a small animal- powered production to a huge rail-powered behemoth, they eventually purchased the Barnum & Bailey Circus. )
Forepaugh was responsible for many innovations which in turn influenced circuses for many years. *** First to have a ” Wild West Show ” as a part of a circus….. ***First to use two (2) separate ‘ big top ‘ tents at the same time….. *** Hired an African-American elephant trainer, Eph Thompson, in a time when they rarely had positions of such stature.
Adam Forepaugh died January 20, 1890 in Philadelphia during the 1889-1890 flu pandemic and is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery. Many local charities and churches in the Philadelphia area benefited from his estate.
HERE COMES THE CIRCUS
For most of us, ( of a certain age ) the circus was the people and the animals, but did you know the word ‘circus ‘ actually means “circle’ or “ring”. So appearently, if there is no ring, it shouldn’t be called a circus. So be that information !
When we go to the circus we might see clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists, and many other stunt artists..
The circus has followed various formats over the years of it’s 150 modern-day history. Philip Astley has been credited as being the “father ” of the modern circus when he opened the first one in 1768 in England.
In the beginning the circus was generally acts linked to horsemanship. Over the next 50 years large scale military battle reenactments became a significant feature. The traditional format with a ringmaster introducing varied acts with traditional music started in the latter part of the 19th century and continued to be the main style circus through the 1970′s. The earliest modern circuses were performed in open air structures with limited covered seating. From the late 18th to the late 19th century there were circus buildings built with various types of seating, a center ring, and sometimes a stage. The ‘traditional’ large tents known as “BIG TOPS” were introduced in the mid 19th century as touring circuses. These tents eventually became the most common venue and remain so into the present day. Many circus performances are still held in a ring usually 42 feet in diameter. ( this measurement was adopted by Philip Astley in the late 18th century as the minimum diameter that an acrobatic horse rider would need to stand upright on a cantering horse to perform their tricks.
Some people believe that the lineage of the circus goes back to Roman times and comes up through medieval / renaissance times . But that would be the circus of old and we are talking about the ‘modern’ circus.
Although the modern circus was attributed to Philip Astley, he did not originate trick horse riding, nor was he the first to introduce acts such as acrobats and clowns, but he was the first to create space where all these acts were brought together to perform a show.
Astley was followed by Andrew Ducrow, whose feats of horsemanship had much to do with establishing the tradition of the circus
Englishman, John Bill Ricketts brought the first modern circus to the United States. His first circus building in the United States opened on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia where he gave America their first complete circus performance.
In the America’s of the early 19th century the Circus of Pepin & Breschard toured from Canada to Havana building circus theatres in many of the cities that were visited. From their arrival to the present time, the ‘traditional’ circus has had a presence in North America.
Pepin was the first American to own and operate a circus in his native country, thus the Pepin & Breschard Circus can be considered the first American circus. Later the establishments of Purdy, Welch & Company plus van Amburgh gave wider popularity to the circus in the United States.
In 1825 Joshuah Purdy Brown was the first circus owner to use a large canvas tent for the circus performance.
Circus pioneer, Dan Rice was probably the most famous re; pre-Civil War.
The American Circus was revolutionized by P.T. Barnum and William Coup who started the P.T. Barnum Museum, Menagerie and Circus; a traveling combination of animals and human oddities. Coup was the first circus entrepreneur to use circus trains to transport the circus from place to place….. a practice that continues today and also introduced the first multiple ring circus.
Following Barnum’s death, his circus merged with that of James Bailey and traveled Europe from 1897 to 1902 as The Barnum and Bailey Greatest Show On Earth. It impressed other circus owners with its large scale, touring techniques ( tent and circus train ), and its combination of circus acts, zoological exhibition, and freak show.
After World War II, the popularity of the circus declined as new forms of entertainment arrived. From the 1960′s onward many circuses went out of business or merged with other companies, but a good number of traveling circuses are still active, ranging from small family enterprises to three-ring extravaganzas.
RETURN SOON ….. WE WILL EXPLORE THE CONTEMPORARY CIRCUS
STILL HORSING AROUND …..
Yes, boys and girls, there is still even more excitement ahead….. Keep reading and keep remembering !!!!!
Champion, the Wonder Horse, was the onscreen companion of the singing cowboy, Gene Autry. He originally belonged to cowboy, Tom Mix, but Autry liked him so well that after working with him in ” The Phantom Empire “ series he made Champion his. As it turns out, there was more than one horse that bore that name.
Champion performed numerous tricks including jumping through paper-covered hoops and galloping toward and coming to a stop atop a piano. Champion and his cowboy left their hoof and foot prints in the cement outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1949.
One of the most well known of the Wonder Horses was Roy Roger’s palomino, Trigger. He appeared in all 81 of Roger’s films as well as 101 television shows. Trigger was billed as ” The Smartest Horse in the Movies ” and was described as being ‘ almost human ’. He knew as many as 60 different tricks, most of which were performed by voice cue. One of his most exceptional “tricks” was that he was house broken allowing Rogers to make public appearances with him. During a trip to New York City, it was reported that Trigger delighted audiences by dancing, rearing, pawing, and playing dead on the ballroom floor of the Hotel Astor. It was also noted, that more than once Rogers escorted Trigger up 3-4 flights of stairs at hospitals to visit with sick children.
There was more than one ( 1 ) horse to bear the name Trigger; Little Trigger and Trigger Jr. were also used for public appearances, film, and television to lessen the strain on the original Trigger. Trigger retired from show business in 1957, dying in 1965 at the age of 33.
Trigger and his cowboy placed their hooves and hands in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1949.
Sometimes a horse and a cowboy need a special friend…..
Buttermilk was a light buckskin Quarter Horse with dark points who appeared in numerous western films with his cowgirl, Dale Evans.
Even Rex had a friend too………………
O.K. boys and girls …..that’s all for this time ….. Keep safe !!!
JUST HORSING AROUND
Many (many) years ago when most of us were little squirts; or even our parents were a great deal younger, we had our role models. You could usually tell the good ones from the bad, ( but not always ) by the color of their hat. The good wore white and the bad wore black. They all, of course rode horses and that’s what we are getting into today. Of course, I can’t name them all, but some of these beautiful animals should be able to jog even the oldest memories. Let’s see how many you can remember and check out the cowboys who were seen with them.
***** Heroic Wonder Horses *****
***** Special Loved Horses *****
Rex was known as; ” The Wonder Horse ” and ” King of the Wild Horses “. He was a black Morgan Stallion with attitude. During his almost 15 years in the film industry he was labeled ‘ mean, vicious, ornery, undependable, warped, and dangerous ‘. Although he starred in over a dozen films, few actors were willing to work with him so a horse-double was brought in for the close ups.
Rex was the first horse to star in his own films !
FRITZ and his cowboy….. William S. Hart
Fritz was the first horse to be named in the film credits as a costar to his rider, William S. Hart, appearing in at least eight ( 8 ) silent films. He even received his own fan mail, which often included a special sugary treat. Fritz was much loved by his cowboy, but he belonged to film producer Thomas Ince. During a raise negotation, Hart was able to acquire Fritz. Together Hart and Fritz did unique and risky stunts such as jumping into a moving river, jumping thru windows and over fire, and allowed himself to be thrown to the ground after a sudden stop.
After his retirement from films, Fritz lived the rest of his life at Hart’s California ranch. His grave is marked by a cobblestone monument that reads: ” Bill Hart’s Pinto Pony Fritz — 31 years — A Loyal Comrade “.
TONY with Tom Mix
Tony was the first horse to have the title, ‘The Wonder Horse’. He starred with his cowboy, Tom Mix in over two (2) dozen silent and sound films during his career and was the first horse to receive equal billing with his costar. When Tom Mix placed his hand /foot prints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1927, Tony’s hoof prints were there too.
Tony was best known for his intelligence and ability to perform remarkable stunts, many of which might not be allowed today. It is reported that Mix did not need to train Tony, but only show him what to do: ie; untying Mix’s hands, opening gates, loosening the reins, rescuing Mix from fire, jumping from one cliff to another, and chasing after trains.
Tony retired from films at the age of twenty-two (22) after being slightly injured on the set of ” The Fourth Horseman ” in 1932. He outlived his cowboy, dying in 1942, two (2) years to the day that Mix was killed in a car accident.
TARZAN with his cowboy Ken Maynard
Tarzan, The Wonder Horse was the onscreen companion of silent / sound film star Ken Maynard. They starred in over five (5) dozen films and serials from 1925 until Tarzan’s death in 1940.
Previous Wonder Horses had all performed amazing stunts, but Tarzan’s cowboy was the first to take advantage of the merits of a talented horse. While Tarzan could perform stunts like jumping off a cliff, he was better known for his tricks like ….. dancing, bowing, nodding his head to answer questions, playing dead, untying ropes, dragging his cowboy to safety, or nuzzling him into the arms of the leading lady. Tarzan was able to do these things in response to verbal commands.
Check out part two (2) for more special horses…………
We talked about the famous Polish operatic bass, Edouard de Reszke in our last venture into the opera world of the past. This little foray is about his siblings….Jean and Josephine.
JEAN de RESZKE ( aka; Jan Mieczyslaw Reszke )
Born: January 14, 1850 —– Warsaw, Poland
Died: April 3, 1925 —– Nice, France
Jean de Reszke was a Polish born operatic tenor known internationally for the high quality of his singing and the elegance of his bearing who became the biggest male opera star of the late 19th century. He was known for his rounded timbre and matchless ability to combine a virile singing style with an exceptional degree of gracefulness and vocal refinement. He is generally regarded as being one of the very greatest tenors of all time.
Jean was born into comfort as his father was a state official and his mother a amateur singer. As a boy he sang in the Warsaw cathedral and later studied law at the city’s university. After a few years he stopped his legal training and went to Milan, Italy to study voice with Antonio Cotogni an eminent baritone. In January 1874 he made his debut as a baritone under the name Jan de Reschi in Donizetti’s production of ‘La Favorite’. The following April, he sang for the first time at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London and soon in Paris, both times as a baritone.
de Reszke had many limitations as a baritone and withdrew from the stage to study with Giovanni Sbriglia in Paris. Under his direction Jean’s voice gained remarkably in the upper register. When he then made his first operatic appearance in 1879 in Madrid it was as a tenor in the title role of Meyerbeer’s ‘Robert le diable’. The then 29-year old de Reszke’s immense fame as a tenor dates from this moment.
de Reszke sang regularly at the Paris Opera during the years of his vocal prime and in 1887 sang again at London’s Drury Lane. The following year he was heard again in London at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Those performances proved popular with audiences and were mainly responsible for the revival of the operatic art form as fashionable amusement. de Reszke’s singing was admired by Queen Victoria, and between 1889 and 1900 he was invited to take part in a number of royal galas at Covent Garden or command performances held privately at Windsor Castle
In 1891, he sang in the United States for the first time and from 1893 thru 1899 he starred in every season at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. He was closely associated with French and Wagnerian operas while at Covent Garden and the Met., especially the title role in Massenet’s ‘Le Cid’ which was written especially for him.
de Reszke was equally successful singing in German; whether as Lohengrin, Stolzing, Siegfried, or Tristan he was lauded by music critics, who praised him for demonstrating how the extremely demanding and often declamatory music that Wagner wrote for his heldentenors could be sung with beauty of tone and, wherever practicable, a smooth legato line.
Jean de Reszke married a countess in 1896. He reduced his performance load during the opening years of the 20th century….and in 1904, he decided to retire while his voice was still in good shape. He subsequently busied himself breeding race horses in Poland and teaching singing in Paris and Nice.
de Reszke died at his villa in Nice in 1925, having contracted influenza.
********** There were a number of recordings made; unfortunately of poor quality. They are on Mapleson Cylinders and can be found on u-tube if you are interested.
JOSEPHINE de RESZKE ( Jozefina )
Born: June 4, 1855 —– Warsaw, Poland
Died: February 22, 1891 —– Warsaw, Poland
Josephine was a Polish born operatic soprano and the sister of Edouard (bass ) and Jean ( tenor ). She began her studies with her mother and Mme.Nissen Salomon and made her debut in Paris on June 21, 1875 as Ophelia in ‘ Hamlet ‘.
She remained at the Paris Opera for several years during which time she became known for her performances in Italian and French operas.. She created the role of Sita in Massenet’s ‘ Le roi de Lahore ’. Although she was invited to sing in the United States, she turned down the offer and remained in Europe for the duration of her career.
Josephine appeared with her brother Jean at his debut, and with both brothers at the Paris premiere of ‘ Herodiade ‘ in 1884. At the peak of her career she married Baron Leopold Kronenberg and retired from the stage except for some charity performances. For this she was awarded with a diamond from the city of Poznan.
Josephine de Reszke died at her home in Warsaw, Poland.
*********** Josephine never made any recordings…..
More of our opera stars from the past
Born: March 28, 1867 —– Paris, France
Died: February 24, 1928 —– Nice, France
Edmond Clement was a French born lyric tenor whose international reputation was due to the polished artistry of his singing.
Clement studied at the Conservatorie de Paris and made his stage debut at the Opera-Comique in 1889 in ‘ Mireille ‘. He remained first tenor at the theatre until 1909. Clement was also a part of the first performance of ‘ Le juif polonais ‘ by Camille Erlander and ‘ Helene ‘ by Camille Saint-Saens and sang in the Parisian premieres of ’ Falstaff ‘ and ‘ Madama Butterfly ‘. His career was not limited to Paris as he also sang in Brussels, Monte Carlo,Madrid, and London; but never appeared at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
Clement was beckoned to the United States and joined the stellar roster of singers at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for the 1909 – 1910 season. He could not compete with the voice of Enrico Caruso and was not re-engaged by the Met’s management.
From 1911 to 1913 he sang for the audiences at the Boston Opera House who admired him for his stylish vocalism, exemplary diction and elegant stage presence. Although his voice was not large, he was considered to be one of the leading Romeos and Don Joses of his era because of his musicianship.
Edmond Clement returned to his homeland when the First World War began in 1914 and was wounded while serving with the French army. He returned to America in the 1920′s for concert and recital appearances. His last years were spent in semi-retirement in France, giving his last recital at the age of 60 in 1927. He died the following year in Nice.
His recordings open a window to a vanished world of refined French vocal style.
Born: August 13, 1865 —– Shanghai, China
Died: June 13, 1952 —– Bath, Maine
Emma was an American soprano known for the beauty of her voice. She sang major lyric and lyric-dramatic roles in New York City, London, and Paris during the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th.
Emma was the daughter of an international lawyer, born in China and raised in Portland and Bath, Maine. Her mother recognized a promising quality in Emma’s voice and she started singing lessons as a small girl. She studied in Boston and then in Paris.
Eames made her professional operatic debut in Gounod’s ‘Romeo et Juliette’ at the Paris Opera’s headquarters, the Palais Garnier, in 1889. As early as November 1889, The Times newspaper called her “the favourite cantatrice of the Opera”. Near the end of 1891 she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and quickly became a favorite of the audiences. She would perform regularly at the Met in a variety of operas until 1909.
She made a number of successful appearances at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from 1891 thru 1901 where she established herself as a rival to the reigning diva, Nellie Melba, ( whom she disliked )
Press notices from a few of her performances at Covent Garden include;
GOUNOD’S ‘FAUST’ — April 7, 1891 : ” debut … immediate, great success … middle notes have a peculiarly beautiful quality, approaching mezzo-soprano … the voice, though exceedingly sweet, is not very powerful … the singer’s method leaves nothing to desire … her execution of brilliant passages is neat and accurate … charming and sincerely artistic “.
WAGNER’S ‘ LOHENGRIN ‘ — April 11,1891 … ( as Elsa ) … ” very great charm of her voice … supreme personality is the one who can monopolize a part without any change ever being called for or desired “.
MASSENET’S ‘ WERTHER ‘ — 1894 … ” Emma Eames sings and acts most charmingly as Charlotte … beautiful quality of the singer’s lower notes “.
During her prime, Emma possessed an opulently beautiful, aristocratic, and expertly trained soprano voice. It began a purely lyric voice but increased over time enabling her to sing parts as heavy as Aida, Sieglinde, Santuzza, and Tosca. Music critics occasionally took her to task, however, for the coldness of her interpretations and aloof stage manner. ( Critics of today are still not a very happy lot, are they ? )
Eames was a proud, handsome woman who grew stout with age. She was married twice; …first to a society painter, Julian Story — then to the famous concert baritone Emilio de Gogorza. Both marriages ended with divorce and bitterness, producing no children.
Paris was Eames’ main residence during the 1920′s and early 1930′s. She moved to New York City in 1936 where she gave vocal training, and while there became fond of the Broadway Theatre. She loved the shows as they afforded her much needed relaxation.
Emma died in 1952 after a protracted illness. She is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Bath, Maine.
Born: November 17, 1855 —– Venice, Italy
Died: May 31,1927 —– Milan, Italy
Campanari was an Italian born operatic baritone and cellist later became an American citizen. He was hailed as a cello virtuoso at age nine (9) and at the age of seventeen (17) he became first solo cellist at La Scala in Milan, Italy. When he emigrated to the United States he played first solo cello for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and eventually was appointed professor of cello at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. During his career as a cellist he frequently appeared with leading artistes such as Joachim, Wieniawski, and Saint-Saens. In 1888 he became one of the original members of the Adamowski String Quartet which was led by Timothee Adamowski. During this same time he studied voice on the side.
He resigned both of his positions in Boston to devote himself to singing. His first attempt at opera came in ‘Un ballo in maschera ’ at Teatro Dal Verme in Milan in 1880. He eventually became a major opera star with the Metropolitan Opera.
He first sang Valentine in ‘Faust ’ with the Emma Juch Opera Company when the baritone , Alonzo Stoddard fell ill. Campanari made his official operatic debut in ’ I Pagliacci ’ with the Hinrich’s Opera Company in New York City on June 15, 1893, being the first singer to perform the role in the United States.
Giuseppe made his Metropolitan Opera debut on November 30, 1894 singing the role of Count di Luna in ‘Il trovatore ’ with the great heroic tenor Tamagno as Manrico. In 1895 he sang in the first American production of ”Falstaff.’ He also sang the Met’s first Marcello in the 1900 production of “ La Boheme “ and their first Papageno in the 1902 – 1903 season of ” Die Zauberflote “. Campanari remained with the Met. until 1912. He gave more than 200 performances during his career there.
After his retirement from serious music, he briefly dabbled in vaudeville but found the two-show-a-day schedule too gruelling at his age. He taught voice in both New York City and Milan, Italy. He died in Milan in 1927.
Born: November 28, 1872 —– Cambridge, Massachusetts
Died: February 5, 1953 —– London, England
Suzanne Adams was an American born lyric coloratura soprano known for her agile and pure voice. Adams first became well known in France before establishing herself as one of the Metropolitan Opera’s leading sopranos at the beginning of the 20th century.
Adams studied first in New York with Jacques Bouhy and then Paris with Mathilde Marchesi. Her opera debut came in 1884-1895 at the Paris Opera as Juliette in Gounod’s ” Faust “ with Gounod himself. He admired her greatly for her fine technique, brillant tone, and vocal flexibility. She remained at the Paris Opera for three (3) years and then went to Nice.
In the summer of 1898 she sang at Covent Garden, London in the world premiere of Stanford’s ‘ Much Ado About Nothing ‘. She went on to join the Metropolitan Opera in New York City where she sang numerous roles during the seasons from 1898 thru 1903.
In 1898 she married Leo Stern, an English cellist who died in 1904. Soon after his death she retired from the stage and settled in London. She did appear though at Covent Garden at some performances of Carmen in November 1906, these may have been among her last appearances in opera.
It is reported she taught voice for many years, but details are lacking. She appeared in a few concerts in England in 1905 – 1906 and visited the United States in late 1907 to appear in vaudeville in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere.
In 1915 she married John Lumsden Mackay, a man of ‘independent means’. They lived for many years north of Hyde Park in London. After he died in November 1934 it is thought she may have continued teaching until her death.
EDOUARD de RESZKE ( was Edward )
Born: December 22, 1853 —– Warsaw, Poland
Died: May 25, 1917 —– Garnek, near Czestochowa, Poland
more of de Reszke below………………..
Edouard was a Polish born operatic bass. He was born with an impressive natural voice, equipped with compelling histrionic skills, and became one of the most illustrious opera singers active in Europe and America during the late Victorian era.
Reszke was born into a well-to-do and cultured family where he first learned to sing. He was able to continue his voice studies in Italy, and while he did not want to become an operatic performer, but because of his sister, Josephine, he accepted an engagement with the Paris Opera. He was chosen by the composer Giuseppe Verdi to make his debut in the first Paris performance of ‘Aida’ on April 22,1876, appearing under the composer’s baton as the King of Egypt.
Between 1880 and the 1900′s, de Reszke appeared more than 300 times at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden performing a wide range of roles in French, German, and Italian. He was a huge favorite too, with the audiences at the Metropolitan Opera during the same era. He also sang in Chicago in 1891, and in La Scala, Milan from 1879 – 1881.
Edouard would sing often with his older brother, Jean who was a renowned lyric-dramatic tenor. Together they sang in Paris, London, and New York for over 2 decades. They performed together in the 500th performance of Gounod’s ‘Faust’ at the Paris opera.
In 1903, he retired from the stage after his once superlative voice developed technical difficulties and went into a swift decline. He taught singing in London before returning to his estate in Poland, where he was adversely affected by the outbreak of World War 1 in Europe ( 1914 ). Cut off from his brother by the fighting, he died in poverty at his house in Garnek, Poland. His grave is to be found at Borowno, Poland, But his fame lives on as one of the greatest basses in operatic history.
Edouard de Reszke was a tall genial man possessing a big, smooth, flexible, and ripe-toned voice that matched his imposing physique and extroverted personality. He sang masterfully at all dynamic levels and was additionally blessed with a magnetic stage presence. During his prime, he could equally interpret both dramatic and comedic roles. When he retired in 1903 his voice was deteriorated due to wear and tear caused by years of hard use and the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle filled with food, drink, and conviviality.
There have been many wrestlers in the past worth mentioning, but I cannot name them all….. so will showcase a few of them over the next months.
George Wagner aka: Gorgeous George
Born: March 24, 1915 —– Butte, Nebraska
Died: December 26, 1963 —– California
Debut : 1932 Retired : 1962
George Raymond Wagner was an American professional wrestler known in the United States during the First Golden Age of Professional Wrestling ( the 1940′s and 1950′s). He gained mainstream popularity and became one of the biggest stars due to the media attention for his outrageous character ( Flamboyant / Charismatic ).
George was a middle America boy raised in Nebraska and Iowa. At age seven (7) his family moved to a tough neighborhood in Houston, Texas. As a child he trained at the local YMCA where he would stage matches against his friends. At age 14 he dropped out of school to work odd jobs to help his family. He would also compete at carnivals, where he could get 35 cents for a win. By age 17, he was getting booked by promoter Morris Siegel. In 1938, at the age of 23 he won his first title… ( Northwest Middleweight crown ) and on May 19, 1939 he captured the Pacific Coast Light Heavyweight Championship. At 5’9″ … 215 pounds he was not really physically imposing, nor was he an exceptionally gifted athlete….. but he soon developed a reputation as a solid in-ring worker.
In the 1930′s Vanity Magazine published an article about a pro wrestler named Lord Patrick Lansdowne who entered the ring wearing a velvet robe and doublet accompanied by two (2) valets.
George was impressed , but believed he could take this even further.
George debuted his new ” glamour boy “ image at a 1941 card in Eugene, Oregon. He antagonized his fans with exaggerated effeminate behavior when he was introduced. This type of showmanship was unheard of at this time. Gorgeous George created even more for his persona by growing his hair long, dyeing it platinum blonde, and using gold plated bobby pins ( he would give them to the audiience calling them ‘ Georgie Pins ‘). He also transformed his ring entrance into a spectacle by using music, a purple spotlight, and a valet. He wore an elegant robe covered in sequins and would be escorted down his personal red carpet by his ring valet “Jeffries” who would carry a silver mirror and spread rose petals at his feet.
While George removed his robe, “Jeffries” would spray the ring with disinfectant ( Chanel # 5 ) before he would start wrestling. He also would spray the referee’s hands before the official was allowed to check him (George) for illegal objects. This flamboyant image and his showmans ability were so successful in the early days of television that he became the most famous wrestler of his time. Of course, because of television, George’s character exploded into to the biggest drawing card ever seen. It was Gorgeous George that brought wrestling into the nation’s livingrooms, and his behaviour made him a larger than life figure in pop-culture. No longer was pro wrestling just in ring action, but there was a new sense of theatrics and character performance. Wrestling was now a viable entertainment medium that could reach millions of homes across the country.
In addition to his theatrics, Gorgeous George was an accomplished wrestler. He was actually a very competent freestyle wrestler and could handle himself quite well if it came to a legitimate contest. In March,1947 he defeated Enrique Torres to capture the Los Angeles Heavyweight Championship and on February 22,1949 he was the feature attraction at New York’s Madison Square Garden which was pro wrestling’s first return to the building in ( 12 ) years. By the 1950′s George’s starpower was so huge that he was able to command 50% of the gate for his performances, which allowed him to earn over $ 100,000.00 a year. Perhaps, Gorgeous George’s most famous match was against his long time rival ‘Whipper Billy Watson’ on March 12, 1959 in which the beaten George had his treasured golden locks shaved bald.
George would lose his golden locks again when he was defeated by the Destroyer in a hair vs mask match at the Olympic Auditorium on November 7, 1962. This would turn out to be his last match, as advanced age and alcohol abuse had taken a toll on his body
As his career wound down, Wagner invested $ 250,000.00 in a 195 acre turkey ranch in Beaumont, California. and owned a cocktail lounge in Van Nuys, California which he named ” Gorgeous George’s Ringside Restaurant “.
In 1962 he was diagnosed with a serious liver condition. He suffered a heart attack on December 24, 1963 and died two (2) days later.
The plaque at his gravesite reads, ” Love to our Daddy Gorgeous George “.
In 2002, George was inducted into the inaugural class of the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and on March 27, 2010 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His 97 year old former wife, Betty Wagner accepted the honour on his behalf, answering questions and telling the story of how he became Gorgeous George.
***** In 1951 Warner Brothers ‘Merrie Melodies’ cartoon ” Bunny Hugged “ featured a one shot character, ‘ Ravishing Ronald ‘ modeled after Gorgeous George.
William John Potts
Whipper Billy Watson
Born: June 25, 1915 —– East York, Ontario, Canada
Died: February 4, 1990 —– Orlando, Florida
Debut: 1940 Retired: 1971
William John Potts was a Canadian professional wrestler best known by his ring name; Whipper Billy Watson. He was a two-time world heavyweight wrestling champion. His father was English born and his mother Canadian. He began wrestling in Toronto under his real name in the 1930′s as a member of the Scarborough Athletic Club on what was billed as amateur wrestling shows. The style of wrestling often involved hard-nosed shooting and at one time he was sidelined for six (6) months with a fractured shoulder and broken ribs. During a four (4) year tour of England and abroad he became Billy Watson and was booked by former Olympic Gold Medalist George de Relwyskow. Billy became one of the best wrestlers in the world.
After his time abroad he returned to Canada and began wrestling at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto with his opening match on October 3, 1940. He finally appeared in a main event in February 1941; but his big chance came two (2) months later when he entered an open tournament to determine the number one (1) contender for the world title on May 1, 1941. ( He won four (4) matches in one night to win the tournament )
From that time on, Watson was a legitimate main event performer and soon became a crowd favorite. In a few years he was a mainstream celebrity and one of Toronto’s most popular citizens. It had been estimated that Whipper Watson drew more than five (5) million people in main event shows in Toronto. As one of the most popular wrestlers in the city’s history, he spent (31) years ( October 3, 1940 – November 28, 1971 ) entertaining his fans and earned the reputation as someone who was willing to lose clean in the ring.
Watson was hit by an out of control car while placing a fireplace screen in the trunk of his car. After a three (3) hour surgery he eventually recovered, but would never wrestle again. Although he nearly lost a leg, he continued his fund raising activities raising millions for campaigns such as Easter Seals and was responsible for having 150,000 children join a safety club.
His legacy is well remembered in York Region where he lived. The W.J.Watson Public School in Keswick, Ontario is named in his honour.
Whipper Watson left us on February 4, 1990 in Orlando, Florida.
Lou Thesz… aka: Aloysius Martin Thesz ( born: Lajos Tiza )
Born: April 24, 1916 —– Banat, Michigan
Died: April 28, 2002 —– Orlando, Florida
Debut: 1932 Retired: 1979 (official)
Last Match ….. December 26, 1990
Lou Thesz was an American wrestler and six (6) time world champion, holding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship three (3) times. Among his accomplishments is his being credited with inventing a number of professional wrestling techniques such as the Belly to Back Waistlock Suplex, the Lou Thesz Press, STF, and the original Powerbomb. Lou is generally considered to be among the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.
Lou was born in Michigan and moved to Missouri as a young boy. His working class parents came from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. Starting at a young age, Lou’s father gave him a tough education in Greco-Roman wrestling which provided him the fundamentals for his later success.
Lou made his professional debut at the age of sixteen (16) and soon caught the eye of the biggest wrestling star of the 1920s ( Ed ” Strangler ” Lewis ) who taught him the art of ‘hooking’ ( stretching your opponent with painful holds). They made a lasting friendship. At the age of 21, Thesz became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history. From 1949 to 1956 Thesz set out to unify all the existing World Titles into the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. In 1957 Lou became the first wrestler to defend the NWA title in Japan, wrestling Rikidozan in a series of 60 minute draws
In 1963, Thesz came out of semi-retirement to win his sixth (6th) World Heavyweight Championship from Buddy Rogers at the age of 46….. he would hold the title until 1966, when at age 49 he was dethroned by Gene Kiniski.
Lou wrestled part time over the next 13 years, winning his last major Title in 1978 in Mexico, becoming the first Universal Wrestling Alliance Champion at the age of 62. Thesz officially retired in 1979 and remained retired, for the most part, before wrestling his last match on December 26, 1990 in Hamamatsu, Japan, against his protege, Masahiro Chono. This made him the only male wrestler to wrestle in seven (7) different decades.
After retiring, Thesz became a promoter, manager, color commentator, trainer, and upon occasion, a refere for important matches.
Thesz became the president of the Cauliflower Alley Club in 1992, an organization for retired pro-wrestlers; a position he held until 2000. In 1999, his name was given to the Lou Thesz / George Tragos Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame for pro-wrestling stars with a successful amateur background at the International Wrestling Institute & Museum in Waterloo, Iowa.
Thesz underwent a triple bypass surgery for an aortic valve replacement on April 9, 2002, but died due to complications on April 28, 2002 in Orlando, Florida.
BUDDY ROGERS aka; Herman Gustav Rohde Jr.
” Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers
Born: February 20, 1921 —– Camden, New Jersey
Died: June 26, 1992 —–
Debut: 1939 —– Retired: 1963
Buddy Rogers was an American professional wrestler and one of the biggest wrestling stars in the beginning of the television era. His performances inspired generations of wrestlers who used Roger’s nickname, as well as his look, attitude, and finishing hold. ( the figure-four leglock ). He was a two-time world heavyweight champion, becoming the first professional wrestler to hold both the WWF Championship and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
The son of German immigrants, Rogers was an outstanding athlete taking up wrestling at the age of nine (9) at the local YMCA….. he also excelled in football, boxing,and track, but by - in – large his best sport was swimming. At age 17 he joined the Dale Brothers Circus as a wrestler, He also worked at a shipyard and became a police officer until he met wrestling promoters Ray and Frank Hanley who set up his first match on July 4, 1939 which he won. He soon became a top wrestler using his given name where he scored his first major win over Ed “Strangler” Lewis.
He continued his career in Texas where he used the name ‘Buddy Rogers’. After leaving Texas he went to Ohio where the final pieces of his character were added. He bleached his hair and was called “Natural Guy” and later “Nature Boy”. With the advent of television, Roger’s flashy look, great physique, and bombastic personality instantly caught the ire of audiences.
Rogers was also co-holder of the U.S. Tag Team Championship, with frequent tag partner ‘Handsome Johnny Barend’. In 1963 it was announced that Rogers was retiring , although he did wrestle an occasional show for The Sheik’s promotion and appeared on a TV show called Wrestling Show Classics out of Ohio.
In 1978 Rogers returned to wrestling as a babyface although he was in his late 50′s. He also was a heel manager, managing other wrestlers. His best moment in the Carolina’s was his feud with the new “Nature Boy”, Ric Flair, but Rogers beat the younger ‘Nature Boy’ on July 9, 1978.
He was set to wrestle yet another Nature Boy in early 1992, but the promotion went out of business and the match never happened. Later that same year he was weakened by a broken arm and suffered three (3) strokes, two (2) on the same day. He was placed on life support and died a short time later on June 26, 1992.
Buddy Rogers was considered the first total package wrestler as he had it all; the looks, physique, personality, and ability. He is often attributed with developing the psychology that several heels went on to use with great success and inventing the “Figure-Four Grapevine” ( Figure Four Leglock ).
Lou Thesz wrote this about Roger’s early impact….. ” Rogers is remembered by fans and performers as one of the top all time stars in the business, but it is probably not common knowledge just how influential he was. He broke into this business around 1941 as a hero type personality, with little more going for him than a good body and natural charisma in the ring…which is actually a good beginning. He had that something that fans responded to and was sharp enough to build upon what he had by paying attention to what got a reaction from the crowd. What evolved over the years was ‘Nature Boy’, the prototype of the cocky, strutting, sneering, arrogant , peroxide blond villian.”
Buddy was also one of the first to rely a lot on the ‘flying’ moves in the ring;….. body slams, dropkicks, piledrivers, and ricochets off the ropes into his opponents which are commonplace today. He was the first to use these moves in quanity and stayed off the mat.
Another Rogers contribution was his bombastic interviewing style. ( bragging, boasting about his greatness, and how pathetic his opponents were). Rogers was not very well liked during his prime years because he had a habit of taking advantage of his opponents in the ring. He actually was an excellent wrestler and a superb showman, but was manipulative behind the scenes.
As he got older, Rogers mellowed and became a very respected veteran and spokesman for wrestling. He had one of the longest consistent top drawing periods of any main-eventer; 15 years.
Trivia ***** In 1994, he was posthumously inducted into the World Wrestling Federation Hall fo Fame…..
THE 4th of July
Think,….. Where might we be if our forefathers had never won our Freedom…..
Think,….. About all who paid the price for our Freedom
Think,….. About all the things we should be thankful for
Think,….. Who and what should “I” be thankful for
THINK….. BE THANKFUL FOR ALL YOU HAVE !!!!!
PRAY….. for those who have little or nothing…..
Pray for our future and for the future of our children and grandchildren…..
LOVE, ….. Those who are special to you and Show them what love is
Learn,…..to show compassion and love for those who YOU see as different
Remember,….. Why, so many years ago our ancestors came to this land
LOVE AMERICA ….. and if you can’t,… then find some place else to live
YOU WILL NEVER FIND A BETTER COUNTRY THAN
THE UNITED STATES of AMERICA
MORE MUSIC FROM THE PAST
aka: James Harrell McGriff
Born: April 3, 1936 —– Germantown, Pennsylvania
Died: May 24, 2008 —– Voorhees Township, New Jersey
Jimmy was an American hard bop and soul jazz organist and organ trio bandleader who developed a special style of playing the Hammond B-3 organ. He started playing the piano at the age of five (5) and by his teens had also learned to play the vibes, alto sax, drums, and bass. His first gig was as a bassist in a piano trio.
The first Hammond B-3 organ came into his life in 1956 and he spent six (6) months learning the instrument; he then studied at New York’s Julliard School. He was greatly influenced by the energy and dynamics of organist Milt Buckner and the aplomb of Count Basie, and other local pianists.
In 1961, McGriff’s trio was offered the chance to record a version of Ray Charles’ hit ” I’ve Got A Woman ” by Joe Lederman’s Jell Records. When it received substantial airplay, Juggy Murray’s Sue label picked it up and recorded a full album of the McGriff Trio. (1962) This turned out another big hit, “All About My Girl ” , which established McGriff’s credentials as a fiery blues-based organist, well-versed in gospel, soul, and ‘fatback groove’.
In the late 1960′s Jimmy settled in Newark, New Jersey, and opened his supper club ‘ the Golden Slipper ‘ – where he recorded Black Pearl and a live album, ‘Love Ain’t Nothin’ But A Business Goin’ On”. (1971)
McGriff “retired” from the music industry in 1972 to start a horse farm in Connecticut…; but Sonny Lester’s new company, Groove Merchant, kept issuing McGriff’s records at about 3-4 a year. By 1973, Jimmy was recording and touring again. Disco was gaining a hold in jazz music and Jimmy’s flexibility was infallible. During this time he produced some of his best music; Stump Juice (1975) —– Red Beans (1976) —– Outside Looking In (1978). These albums still stand out today as excellent testaments to McGriff’s organ playing.
In the mid-1990′s, McGriff had renewed popularity with the soul-jazz sound. He formed the Dream Team group which featured David “Fathead” Newman (saxophone) and Bernard Purdie (drums); together they recorded….. Straight Up (1998) ….. McGriff’s House Party (2000) ….. and McGriff Avenue (2002).
Jimmy McGriff died in Voorhees Township, New Jersey at the age of 72 due to complications of multiple sclerosis.
Please see The Final Curtain for more information about Jimmy…
Born: March 4, 1934 ….. Chicago, Illinois
Died: February 4, 2007 ….. Sherman Oaks, California
Barbara was an African – American singer of Jazz, Pop, and Contemporary music , plus a fine actress of Broadway, Film, and TV. She was born in Chicago, Illinois and was raised in Racine, Wisconsin. She studied music at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago; her big break coming with a win on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. This led to bookings at The Purple Onion and the Cocoanut Grove.
Barbara became one of the country’s most popular headliners guesting on shows such as The Steve Allen Show, Hullabaloo, The Bell Telephone Hour, and Hollywood Palace.
McNair’s acting career began on television; she was a guest on series such as Dr. Kildare, The Eleventh Hour, I Spy, Mission Impossible, Hogan’s Heroes, and McMillan and Wife. She caught the attention of the movie going public with her much-publicized nude scene in the 1968 gritty crime drama If He Hollers Let Him Go. She worked with Mary Tyler Moore in the 1969 Change of Habit and portrayed Sidney Poitier’s wife inThey Call Me MISTER Tibbs in 1970. Her Broadway credits include; (1958) The Body Beautiful — (1962) No Strings — (1973) The Pajama Game.
McNair had her own TV variety show in 1969, but it only lasted one season even though she had numerous high profile guests such as Sonny and Cher and Tony Bennett.
In December 1976, her husband, Rick Manzi, was murdered; was it a Mafia hit? Whatever, the publicity did little to help her career.
Into her early 70′s, Barbara resided in the Los Angeles area with her husband Charles Blecka. She played tennis and skied to keep in shape and would tour on occasion. Barbara McNair passed away on February 4, 2007 of throat cancer.
See more about Barbara on THE FINAL CURTAIN…..
and his band……….
Born: August 4, 1897 —–
Died: October 23, 1957 —– Beverly Hills, California
Abe Lyman aka; Abraham Simon Lymon
Abe was a popular bandleader from the 1920′s into the 1940′s. He made recordings, appeared in films, and provided the music for numerous radio shows including Your Hit Parade.
Abe and his brother Mike changed the spelling of their last name because they thought it sounded better.
Abe learned to play the drums when he was young and at the age of 14 he had a job in a Chicago cafe.
In Los Angeles Mike opened the Sunset , a night club popular with numerous film stars;….. but had to close it when the celebrities were required to sign contracts that they would not be seen at clubs.
At an engagement at the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel on April 1,1919 , a violinist and saxophonist were added. On opening night there was 1500 guests in the Coconut Grove, with another 500 outside.
The Lyman Orchestra toured Europe in 1929; appearing at the Kit Cat Club and Palladium in London and the Moulin Rouge and Perroquet in Paris.
Abe and his orchestra were also featured in a number of early talkies;… 1930 – Hold Everything ….Paramount on Parade ….. Good News ….. and Madam Satan….. In 1931, Abe and the orchestra recorded a number of soundtracks for Merrie Melodies cartoons.
Lyman and his orchestra sat in for Phil Harris on the Jack Benny program in 1943 when Harris served in the Merchant Marines.
When Lyman was 50 years old, he left the music industry and went into restaurant management. He died in Beverly Hills, California.
ALASKA – YUKON – PACIFIC
EMBLEMS from the 1909 Exposition …..
On June 1, 1907 the groundbreaking ceremonies were held at the south end of the University of Washington campus. It was to display the resources, products and advantages of the state of Washington and the region. The promoters had really wanted the Expo. to be held in 1907 in honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush, but found that Jamestown, Virginia already had plans established for its own summer long exhibition. Therefore it was rescheduled for 1909, which give the promoters two (2) extra years to raise funds, gather more participants, prepare exhibits, and lay out the fair grounds.
The fair opened on June 1, 1909 and ran for 138 days. There were more than 3 million visitors, all contribuing to Seattle’s economic development.
The fair consumed 250 acres, which is now the University of Washington.
King County Exhibit included a scale model of the coal mine in nearby Newcastle and dioramas of several Seattle scenes;….. the originals were only a trolley ride away.
The Government Building was at the center of the ‘Grand Court’ with the casacades coming down in front of it. At night there were lights of white and colors.
The ‘Paystreak’ was the midway with games of chance and amusements for everyone.
California Building housed items from and about California, including a GIANT lemon, made from normal size lemons and a life size ELEPHANT made from walnuts.
The formal gardens were so relaxing for an afternoon or evening walk.
What a beautiful area to view and enjoy…the buildings, the water, the plantings, and of course we can view Mount Rainier in the distance.
Yukon Avenue held the Agriculture, Manufacturing, Fisheries, and Mines Buildings.
The New York Building was primarily used for the purpose of hosting V.I.P.’s. The building itself is a replica of former Secretary of State, William Seward’s home in Auburn, New York.
Located in the Court of Honor is the beautiful Alaskan Monument.
We hope you have enjoyed this little trip back in time…..
aka: Odetta Holmes, Odetta Gordon, Odetta Felious
Born: December 31, 1930 ….. Birmingham, Alabama
Died: December 2, 2008 ….. New York City, New York
Odetta was an American singer, actress, guitarist, songwriter and human rights activist. She was often referred to as ” The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”.
Her music consisted mostly of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals. She was an important figure in the folk music revival of the 1950′s and 1960′s where she influenced many of the key figures of the time including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin.
Odetta was born in Alabama, but grew up in California, attending Belmont High School and studying music at Los Angeles City College. She received operatic training from age 13, but she doubted that a large black girl would ever perform at the Metropolitan Opera.
Her first professional experience was in musical theatre in 1944 as a member of the Hollywood Turnabout Puppet Theatre. She later joined the national touring company of the musical ‘ Finians Rainbow ‘. While touring she heard and joined a group of young balladeers in San Francisco and after 1950 concentrated on folksinging.
She made a name by playing around the United States in such places as the Blue Angel in New York City and the hungry i and the Tin Angel in San Francisco.
In 1959 she appeared on ‘Tonight With Belafonte ‘ a TV special. In 1961 Martin Luther King Jr. anointed her “THE QUEEN OF AMERICAN FOLK MUSIC”.
Many Americans remember her performance at the 1963 civil rights movement’s march to Washington where she sang “O FREEDOM”. She considered her involvement in the Civil Rights movement as being ‘ one of the privates in a very big army ‘.
In the 1960′s Odetta started to broaden her musicality using band arrangements on several albums instead of playing alone. She also acted in several films including ( 1955 ) Cinerama Holiday —– (1961) Sanctuary —– and ( 1974 ) The Diary of Miss Jane Pittman. Her two (2) marriages both ended in divorce.
In May of 1975 she appeared on public television’s ” Say Brother “, talking about her spirituality, the music tradition from which she drew, her involvement in civil rights,and performed ” Give Me Your Hand “. In 1976, Odetta performed in the U.S. Bicentennial opera, ‘Be Glad Then America’.
Beginning in 1998 Odetta began recording and touring. She also released some new music, included were: ” Blues Everywhere I Go “ a 2000 Grammy Nominated blues/jazz band tribute to great lady blues singers of the 1920′s and 1930′s —– ” Looking for a Home ” a 2002 W.C. Handy Award nominated band tribute to Lead Belly and the 2007 Grammy Nominated “Gonna Let It Shine “. On September 29, 1999 President Bill Clinton presented her with the National Endowment for the Arts’, Medal of Arts. In 2004 she was honored at the Kennedy Center with the “Visionary Award” and in 2005, the Library of Congress honored her with it’s ” Living Legend Award “.
In 2006, the Winnipeg Folk Festival honored Odetta with their ” Lifetime Achievement Award ” and in February 2007, The International Folk Alliance awarded her as ” Traditional Folk Artist of the Year “. On March 24, 2007 a tribute concert to Odetta was presented at the Rachel Schlesinger Theatre by the World Folk Music Association with live performances and video tributes from and including: Pete Seeger, Harry Belafonte, Janis Jan, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Tom Rush, Wavy Gravy, Robert Sims, and Side by Side.
In 2007, her album , “ Gonna Let it Shine “ was nominated for a Grammy. On January 21, 2008, Odetta was the keynote speaker at the San Diego Martin Luther King,Jr. Commemoration, followed by performances in San Diego, Santa Monica, and Mill Valley.
She was also honored on May 8, 2008 at a historic tribute night held at Banjo Jims in the East Village. Odetta, at the age of 77 launched a North American tour where she sang from her wheelchair. Her last big concert before thousands of people was in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on October 4, 2008 and she last performed in Toronto on October 25, 2008.
In November 2008, Odetta’s health began to decline and she began receiving treatment at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. On December 2, 2008 she died from heart disease. Her memorial service was in February 2009 at Riverside Church in New York City.
Who did Odetta influence and how did she do it. Lets take a look at what a few people had to say….. Harry Belafonte ‘ cited her as a key influence ‘ on his musical career. —– Bob Dylan said ‘The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta. —– Joan Baez said: ‘Odetta was a goddess. Her passion moved me. I learned everything she sang’. —– Janis Joplin spent much of her adolescence listening to Odetta , who was also the first person Janis imitated when she starting singing. —– Poet Maya Angelou once said: ‘ If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta’s would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time ‘. and Carly Simon talked about “going weak in the knees” when she had the opportunity to meet her.
Please go to “The Final Curtain” for more photos and information…..
WES MONTGOMERY …..
aka: John Leslie Montgomery …..
Born : March 6, 1923 —– Indianapolis, Indiana
Died : June 15, 1968 —– Indianapolis, Indiana
Wes was an American jazz guitarist who is widely considered one of the major jazz guitarists emerging after such people as Django Reinhardt, and Charlie Christian and influencing many others.
Montgomery came from a musical family; his brothers, Monk played the string bass and electric bass….. and Buddy played vibraphone and piano were also jazz performers. They did record a number of albums together as the Montgomery Brothers.
Wes was not good at reading music, but he could learn complex melodies and riffs ( short repeated phrase, frequently played over changing chords or used as a background to a solo improvisation ) by ear. He did not know anything about the guitar until the age of 19; and he learned by listening to the recordings of his idol Charlie Christian. Wes was known for his ability to play Christian’s solos, note for note and was hired by Lionel Hampton for this ability.
Many other jazz guitarists consider Montgomery the greatest influence among modern jazz guitarists.
Pat Metheny has praised Wes greatly, saying ” I learned to play the guitar listening to Wes Montgomery’s ‘Smokin’ at the Half Note’ “
Joe Pass said, ” To me, there have been only three (3) real innovators on the guitar — Wes Montgomery, Charlie Christian, and Django Reinhardt. “
To many, Montgomery’s playing defines jazz guitar and the sound that learners try to imulate. Montgomery was certainly one of the most influential and most musical guitarist to ever pick up the instrument….. he took the use of octaves and chord melodies to a greater level than any guitarist before or since….. Wes is undoubtedly one of the most important voices in jazz guitar that has ever lived – or most likely ever will. A discussion of jazz guitar is simply not thorough if it does not touch upon Wes Montgomery. ( Jazz Improv Magazine )
Wes toured with Lionel Hampton early in his career, however the stress of touring and being away from his family brought him back home to Indianapolis. To help support his family he worked in a factory from 7am to 3pm, and performed in local clubs from 9pm to 2 am. As the story goes, Cannonball Adderley heard Wes on one of those nights, called Orrin Keepnews who signed him to a recording contract with Riverside Records. Wes recorded with his brothers and others including the ‘Wynton Kelly Trio ‘ which had backed up Miles Davis.
Jazz purists relish Montgomery’s recordings up thru 1965, but some complained that he left hard-bop for pop jazz near the end of his career. He did gain a wider audience later in a period where he would turn out original material alongside jazzy orchestral arrangements of pop songs. This late period gave him great wealth and created a new audience to hear his earlier recordings.
Wes didn’t live long enough to enjoy his success. On June 15, 1968, when he was home, he woke up in the morning and told his wife that he didn’t feel very well. Minutes later he collapsed, dying of a heart attack. His home town named a park in his honor.
According to jazz guitarist Wolf Marshall, Montgomery would do solos in a three (3) – tiered manner. He would begin in a repeating single note line, then he would play octaves for a few more, and finally finish up with block cords. He knew little of scales or modes, or even musical theory but used mostly superimposed triads and arpeggios as the main source for his solos. Instead of using a guitar pick he used the fleshy part of his thumb: downstrokes for single notes and a combination of upstrokes and downstrokes for cords and octaves.
Listening to Wes Montgomery’s solos is like teetering at the edge… ” his playing at it’s peak becomes unbearably exciting, to the point where one feels unable to have the endurance to outlast it. “
Wes received many awards and accolades: he was nominated for two (2) Grammy Awards for ‘ Bumpin ‘ (1965 ) —–Received a Grammy Award for ‘Goin’ Out of My Head ‘ ( 1966 ) —– nominated for Grammy Awards for ‘ Eleanor Rigby ‘ and ‘Down Here On The Ground ‘ ( 1968 ) —– nominated for a Grammy Award for ‘ Willow, Weep for Me ‘ (1969) —– plus other awards from Down Beat Magazine.
There was no other……. WES MONTGOMERY
Born: October 15, 1912 —– Lake Charles, Louisiana
Died: June 8, 2007 —– Los Angeles, California
Nellie was an African-American R&B and Jazz singer/pianist of the late 1940′s and early 1950′s who was most recognized for her diction and exaggerated pronunciation when singing.
Nellie was the eldest daughter of the 15 children of Isaac and Suzie Lutcher. Her father was a bass player and her mother a church organist. Nellie received piano lessons and her father formed a family band with Nellie on the piano. At age 14 , Nellie joined Clarence Hart’s Imperial Jazz Band and in 1933 , she joined the Southern Rhythm Boys, writing their arrangements and touring.
In 1935, Nellie moved to Los Angeles, married Leonel Lewis, and had a son. She began to sing and play swing piano in small combos throughout the area and started to develope her own style, influenced by Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and her friend Nat “King” Cole. She was not widely known until 1947 when she performed at a March of Dimes talent show which was broadcast on radio. She was signed by Capitol and made several recordings. In 1948 she had a string of more R & B hits. Her songs were on the pop, jazz, and R&B charts; she toured widely and became well known.
In 1950, Nellie duetted with Nat “King” Cole on ‘For You My Love’ and ‘Can I Come In for a Second‘. In 1951, with an orchestra for the first time, she recorded; ‘ The Birth of the Blues ‘ and ‘I Want to be Near You ‘.
By 1957 she had joined the board of the Los Angeles Musicians Union and continued to perform occasionally until the 1990′s with many successful engagements including the Cookery and Michael’s Pub in New York , the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Cinegrill in Los Angeles and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
She also starred in her own TV special on PBS and recorded a one-hour concert with Marian McPartland for the NPR series Piano Jazz.
Nellie invested very successfully in property and managed her own apartment building in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles.
Nellie died from complications of old age.
****** Please see ” The Final Curtain “ for more information…..
ROSCOE KARNS as Rocky King
Rocky King, Inside Dectective was an American TV series on the DuMont Television Network. It aired on Sunday evenings from January 15, 1950 to December 26, 1954. The series was one of their most popular programs, and was a live crime series set in New York City.
The DuMont offices and corridors were used as the sets. At the end of each program King would exchange telephone small talk with his unseen wife, Mable. When he hung up he would say….. ” Great girl, that Mable “.
Who were these men who backed up ‘Clark Gable’ on the screen ??? Let’s takes a look……….
WILLIAM COLLIER SR.
aka: William Morenus
Born: November 12, 1864 —– New York, City
Died: January 13, 1944 —– Beverly Hills, California
William Collier Sr. was an American writer, director , and a stage and screen actor. He ran away from home at age eleven (11), touring with Eddie Foy. He worked with George M. Cohan on “HELLO BROADWAY” and “COTTON TIME”.
Collier went to Hollywood with Mack Sennett / Thomas Ince and the Triangle Film organization; then returned to Broadway, and back again to Hollywood when the talkies came into being.
Collier was married twice…..first to Louise Allen who died in 1909; then to Paula Marr. Collier adopted her son Charles who was then renamed William Collier Jr.
Collier died in Los Angeles of pneumonia….
Born: September 7, 1891 —– San Bernardino, California
Died: February 6, 1970 —– Los Angeles, California
Roscoe was an American actor who began his career at age 15 on the stage. His ability to parlay his voice in a machine -gun delivery and street wise demeanor was the type of character roles from the 1920′s to the 1960′s.
Roscoe’s peak period was in the 1930′s when he would often play a wisecracking cab driver or a brash reporter. His part was usually that of a friend of the hero who helps find the bad guys and rescue the pretty girl.
He appeared in nearly 150 films from 1915 to 1964.
On the TV, he played the title role in the DuMont series; ” ROCKY KING, Inside Dectective ” from 1950 -1954.
***** See Rocky King, Inside Dectective…..
He died in Los Angeles, leaving his wife Mary ( 50 years ) and 2 children.
aka: David Allen Curtis Jenkins
Born: April 9, 1900 —– Staten Island, New York
Died: July 20, 1974 —– Santa Monica, California
Allen Jenkins was an American actor of stage, screen, and television. Jenkins’ parents were both musical comedy performers. Jenkins studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and in his first stage appearance he danced next to James Cagney in the off Broadway Musical “ Pitter Patter “.
Allen appeared one thousand times in Broadway plays between 1923 and 1962, including ” The Front Page ” (1928). His break came when he replaced Spencer Tracy for three (3) weeks in the Broadway play “The Last Mile”
He went to Hollywood with Darryl F. Zanuck and was signed first to Paramount, but shortly thereafter he found his place at Warner Bros. There he perfected his slow witted but good natured character.
Jenkins first role in films came in 1931, when he appeared as an ex-convict in ” Straight and Narrow “. With the advent of talking pictures, he made a career out of playing comic henchmen, stooges, policemen, taxi drivers and other types of ‘tough guys ‘.
Allen Jenkins was labeled the ‘greatest scene-stealer’ of the 1930′s.
As for television, he made his mark there too….
Jenkins voiced the character of ‘ Officer Dibble ‘ on the Hanna – Barbera cartoon, “Top Cat” ( 1961-1962 ). ; was a regular on ” Hey Jeannie “ ( 1956 – 1957 ); and often portrayed Muggsy on the “Red Skelton Show” (1950′s - 1970′s). He was also a frequent guest star on other television programs such as: ” The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” — ” I Love Lucy” — ” Your Show of Shows”.
Eleven (11) days before his death, he made his final appearance, at the end of Billy Wilder’s the 1974 “The Front Page”.
Jenkins died of lung cancer on July 20, 1974……….
He went public with his alcoholism, and was the first actor to speak to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate about it. He helped start the first Alcoholics Anonymous in the California prisons for women.
Jenkins, James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, and Frank McHugh were the original members of the ” Irish Mafia ” and Jenkins was the seventh (7th) member of the Screen Actors Guild.
aka: David Carlyle
Born: Decmber 2, 1911 —– Indianapolis Indiana
Died: December 21, 1987 —– California
Born John Arthur Page in Indianapolis, Indiana. He began his screen career in 1934. His handsome features and wonderful speaking voice earned him many prominent roles in the motion picture industry. In 1938 he signed with Columbia, then moved to Paramount, and then found his home at Universal. He became one of their most reliable stars, playing romantic leads.
He worked in many comedies and musicals, including those of Abbott and Costello,Olsen and Johnson, Gloria Jean, and Hugh Herbert. In 1943 Universal gave him important roles in it’s biggest productions. During his life time he made 65 films and was the only actor ever allowed to sing on film with Deanna Durbin. ( 1944′s Can’t Help Singing ). Paige left Universal after a corporate shakeup in 1946.
Robert Paige was an independent film producer and host of ‘ The Colgate Comedy Hour’. In 1955 he won an Emmy for “Best Male Personality” and in the 1960′s he became a Los Angeles newscaster.
From 1966 – 1970 he was a newscaster/political correspondent for ABC news in Los Angeles. He left the news desk to become Deputy Supervisor of Los Angeles under Baxter Ward, then moved into public relations. He retired in the late 1970′s.
Paige died from an aortic aneurysm in 1987.
Sorry we have not published for a few weeks. Our main contributer has been seriously ill since mid-March. We are in hopes of resuming our exciting topics within the next couple of weeks. Thank you for your support….ADMIN…
Born: May 17, 1896 —– Trenton, New Jersey
Died: November 17, 1982 —– New York City, New York
Ruth was an American stage and film actress who was a feisty, ebullient comedienne that enlivened Hollywood films with her droll and quick responses. She made her stage debut in 1913 and four (4) years later was on Broadway. Her Hollywood career actually began in 1931 and lasted until 1956 when she made the movie ” Autumn Leaves “ with Joan Crawford.
For most of the films she was in, Ruth played acid-tongued secretaries,
wisecracking friends or shrewish wives
She played Mary Brian’s domineering mother in ” Hard to Handle ” (1933)
was excellent as Edward G. Robinson’s wife in ” A Slight Case of Murder ” (1938)
yet she was versatile enough for the dramatic roles, playing a worldly nun in ” The Bells of St. Mary’s ” (1945)
Except for a number of TV guest appearances, Ruth retired, living with her husband Basil de Guichard until his death. She lived for the remainder of her life at the Wellington Hotel in Manhattan.
Check out some of the movies and see what it was that made Ruth popular.
Born: October 14, 1907 —– Great Falls, Montana
Died: October 30, 1968 —– Ridgewood, New Jersey
Pert, the Broadway actress, the vaudevillian, radio, movies, TV. Between 1925 and 1968 she was all over the place.
Pert was a young comedienne in A-list movies during the 1930′s.
She often played the leading lady’s wisecracking and equally attractive best friend. In 1933 she was a dance hall singer in ” The Bowery “….
as the witty young prostitute in the 1933 “ Bed of Roses “
Then of course there was ” Women of Glamour “…..
In 1939, Pert made her last movie for a number of years due to blacklisting.
For ’baby boomers’, of a certain age they will remember Pert as the original ‘Alice’ in the Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason. Her abrupt departure was due to blacklisting, but was explained as a heart ailment .
She was the only person in the history of the Honeymooners to play both Alice (1949) and her mother (1966).
Another interesting TV appearance was the 1963 ” Twilight Zone “, playing the overbearing mother of Robert Duvall in the episode ‘Miniature’.
On Broadway, she was nominated twice for a Tony; (1960) Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for “Greenwillow” and (1967-68) Best Supporting Actress for Drama in “Spofford”. Her most memorable Broadway appearance was as Mrs. Paroo in the 1957 show “The Music Man” which she reprised in the film in 1962.
Pert was also part owner of the Warner Kelton Hotel, built in the late 1920′s in Los Angeles which catered to actors and musicians such as Cary Grant, Orry Kelly, and Rogers and Hart. It had a small outdoor theatre and a wishing well and for those in the want, a lovely speakeasy in the basement. The sign above the Hotel entrance read ” JOYOUSLY ENTER HERE “
Our famous lady died of heart disease in 1968… and was cremated , with the ashes given to the next of kin.
Please to remember our ladies with joy and happiness………….
Starring: Marion Davies —– Mabel O’Dare
Starring: Clark Gable —– Larry Cain
with a wonderful cast of notable actors and actresses:
Allen Jenkins – as – Dodo
Roscoe Karns – as – Aloysius K. Reilly
Walter Catlett – as – Jake Sherman
Robert Paige – as – Ronny Cauldwell
Hobart Cavanaugh – as – Milo, the stage manager
Ruth Donnelly – as – Aunt Mimi
Pert Kelton – as – Toddy Williams
William Collier, Sr. – as – Pat ‘Pop’ Walters
Cain and Mable was a 1936 romantic comedy designed as a career booster for Marion Davies who had been a long time love of both audiences and of William Randolph Hearst, whose end of career was quickly approaching…… Hearst convinced Warner Brothers to hire Clark Gable from MGM to co-star with her. It is the story of a talented boxer and a gifted dancer who hope to increase their waning popularity by inventing a fictitious love affair for the benefit of the tabloids.
Lest we forget….. this was a musical production….. the following is one of the favorite songs.
The story had been filmed before by the William Randolph Hearst production company in 1924 then called ‘ The Great White Way ‘.
Cain and Mable was no masterpiece, but the film still had great charm. The musical numbers were lavish and Davies’s flair for comedy is very apparent.
The film was released September 26, 1936 and ran a full 90 minutes. It was directed by Lloyd Bacon and the cinematographer was George Barnes
***** For more Information go to BEHIND the LENS
***** For more on our actors and actresses check out Reel People
Director of Cain and Mable
Born: December 4, 1889 —– San Jose, California
Died: November 15, 1955 —– Burbank, California
There was more to Loyd Bacon than ‘Cain and Mable’.
Lloyd Bacon was an American screen, stage, and vaudeville actor and film director. As a director he made films in all genres —– westerns, musicals, comedies, gangster films, crime dramas ….. and was one of the workhorses at Warner Bros. in the 1930′s who helped give the studio its reputation for gritty, fast-paced, action films. Very few of us remember his name; but I’m sure there are some of his movies we will not forget.
Although Lloyd never became known for a particular style, other than well placed close ups, his ability to bring in an entertaining film on time, and with in budget earned him enormous respect. During his years at Warner Brothers he gained a reputation as a clothes horse. The dapper director would arrive on the set dressed to kill wearing expensive hats that he would hurl about the room when expressing dissatisfaction. He continued to turn out profitable films for Warner’s until 1944 when he moved to 20th Century Fox. He stayed with Fox for 5 years, then moved around from one studio to another. He worked until his death in 1955 of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.
In his honor Lloyd Bacon received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
(cinematographer for Cain and Mable)
Born: October16, 1892 —– Pasadena, California
Died: May 30, 1953 —– Los Angeles, California
George S. Barnes was an American cinematographer from the era of silent films to the 1950′s. Over the course of his career he was nominated for an Academy Award eight ( 8 ) times; but only winning once. He had a well earned reputation for reliability and a knack for combining artistry with economic efficiency. As a result he was never out of work. He was able to spend time at about every major studio in Hollywood.
So much more than we thought…. George Barnes did his best work in the 1940′s, which is when he won his Academy Award for “ REBECCA “. and in the 1950′s he won a Golden Globe for ” THE GREATEST SHOW on EARTH “.
Barnes was very popular with directors, producers, and the cast members; especially with the ladies. ( seven (7) marriages ).
Barnes died at the age of sixty (60) in Los Angeles after having worked on at least 142 films.
OH MY GOSH, DID I REALLY JUST WRITE THAT ???
Frank Keenan —– Ed Wynn —– Keenan Wynn —–
Born: April 8, 1858 —– Dubuque, Iowa
Died: February 24, 1929 —– Hollywood, California
Frank Keenan was a stage and screen actor, and a stage director and manager during the silent film era. He was among the first of the stage actors to star in Hollywood and pursued work in films for a number of years. In New York City he was a Broadway star and matinee idol, a celebrated Shakespearean actor ( King Lear ), and operated his own theatre, ( Berkeley Lyceum ) which brought him even more recognition as an actor and director.
Frank made his screen debut in the 1915 film ‘The Coward ‘.
His career lasted into his late sixties ( 60′s), during which time he was a leader in the Actors Equity Association. His last stage appearance, at 68, was in ‘ Black Velvet ‘.
He was married many years to Katherine Long with whom he had 2 daughters; Frances and Hilda. His Wife died in 1924….. he remarried again the same year to a young music teacher from Los Angeles, who he then divorced three (3) years later. At age 70 he remarried for a third time to actress Leah May. Keenan died of pneumonia in his Hollywood home, and is buried next to his wife at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
Frank’s daughter married an actor named Ed Wynn ….. they in-turn had a son, Keenan Wynn.
aka: Isaiah Edwin Leopold
Born: November 9, 1886 —– Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: June 19, 1966 —– Beverly Hills, California
Ed Wynn was a popular American comedian / actor remembered mostly for his ” Perfect Fool “ comedy character, his radio show of the 1930′s, and his later career as a dramatic actor. He began his career in vaudeville in 1903 and was a star of the Ziegfeld Follies beginning in 1914. Wynn wrote, directed, and produced many Broadway shows in the following years and was known for his silly costumes, props, as well for the giggly voice he developed for the 1921 musical review, The Perfect Fool.
Ed Wynn was a Jewish – American comedian born of a father from Bohemia-Czechoslovakia and a mother of Romanian / Turkish ancestry. He ran away from home in his teens, working as a hat salesman or utility boy to get by. He eventually used his middle name ( Edwin ) and changed it to Ed Wynn to save his family embarrassment. For most of the 1930′s Ed hosted a popular radio show; The Fire Chief . Wynn, being a stage-trained performer insisted on playing for a live audience, doing each radio show as an actual stage show. He would wear colorful costumes with a red fireman’s hat and usually bounce his gags off his announcer / straight man, Graham McNamee. Although many gag writers provided material for the radio, T.V. , and films….Wynn was proud to boast that he had written every line he spoke during the early days of his career. Near the height of his career ( 1933 ) he founded his own short-lived radio network which nearly destroyed him. According to radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, the failed venture left him deep in debt, divorced, and suffering a nervous breakdown.
In the 1949-50 T.V. season, Ed Wynn hosted one of the first comedy-variety shows on CBS and won an Emmy Award. It was the first CBS variety show to originate in Los Angeles. During the same time Wynn was also a rotating host of NBC’s ‘Four Star Revue’.
After the end of Wynn’s third television series, his son, actor Keenan Wynn suggested he make a career change…… Ed began as a dramatic actor in television and films with the first being the 1956 Playhouse 90 broadcast of ‘ Requiem for a Heavyweight ‘. Ed was terrified of dramatic acting and kept goofing his lines in rehearsal; … but come the live broadcast night his performance was perfect!
In the same year , Ed and Keenan also worked together in the film ‘The Great Man’ ,establishing Ed as a serious dramatic actor.
In 1959 Ed Wynn received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in ” The Diary of Anne Frank “.
For the rest of Ed’s life he moved easily between comic and dramatic roles. He appeared in feature films and on television, endearing himself to a new generation of fans.
His performance in ‘ The Great Man ‘ earned him a nomination for ” Best Supporting Actor ” ( Golden Globe Award ) and a ” Best Foreign Actor ” (BAFTA). Six years later he would appear in the epic motion picture “ The Greatest Story Ever Told “.
Ed Wynn also lent his special talents to a number of Disney Productions encluding ‘ Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘ Babes in Toyland ‘.
His possibly best remembered film appearance was as Uncle Albert in the 1964 film ‘ Mary Poppins ‘. He floats —– He laughs —– He sings —–
Ed Wynn was also popular at another Disney venue……….’ The Golden Horseshoe Review ‘…..
We lost a special man in 1966 to throat cancer….. His gravestone reads ” Dear God, Thanks … Ed Wynn ” —– Red skelton, who was discovered by Wynn, stated ‘ His death is the first time he ever made anyone sad.’
Ed Wynn was honored with three (3) stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
aka: Francis Xavier Aloysius James Jeremiah Keenan Wynn
Born: July 27, 1916 —– New York City, New York
Died: October 14, 1986 —– Los Angeles, California
Keenan Wynn was an American character actor; the son of vaudeville comedian Ed Wynn and his wife, Hilda Keenan, daughter of actor Frank Keenan. Keenan, took the stage name after his mother’s father, one of the first Broadway actors to star in Hollywood. Ed Wynn had encouraged his son to become an actor and they appeared in a number of productions together.
Wynn appeared in hundreds of films and television shows between 1934 – 1986. ie; 1950 ( Annie Get Your Gun ) —–1953 ( Kiss Me Kate ) —– 1956 ( The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit ) —– 1961 ( The Absent-Minded Professor ) —– and 1964 ( Dr. Strangelove ).
In the 1959 – 1960 television season, he co-starred with Bob Mathias in NBC’s ‘The Troubleshooters ‘ an adventure program about strange events surrounding an international construction company. He also appeared on several television shows on ABC.
In the 1965 comedy, ‘ The Great Race ‘, he played the bald Hezakiah.
Then there was some other Disney films; 1974 ( Herbie Rides Again ) —– and 1976 ( The Shaggy D.A. ). There were musicals, comedies, and dramas ….. guest appearances on television. In 1979 to 1981 Wynn joined the cast of …..
D A L L A S
Who of us wouldn’t love to watch a family who ‘loved’ each other and money too.
Keenan Wynn was married three (3) times. He has a son, Ned Wynn who is an actor / writer —– another son, Tracy Wynn who is a screenwriter —– and his daughter, Hilda.
In his later years he supported several charity groups and undertook a number of philanthropic endeavors. We lost Keenan to pancreatic cancer in 1986….. he rests now in Glendale’s Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Keenan Wynn was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I think we finally did ” Wynn ” …..
Music Live Theatre Film
Even before most of us were born, the beginning of families of actors and actresses were present. In our different sections we will talk about some of these people who were related and worked in and for both the stage and the movies.
EDWARD LOOMIS DAVENPORT
Born: 1816 —– Boston, Massachusettes
Died: September 1, 1877 —– Canton, Pennsylvania
Edward was an American actor who made his first stage appearance in Providence, Rhode Island after which he made his way to England and worked his trade in the company owned by Anna Mowatt. While in England he met and married an actress from the Mowatt company by the name of Fanny Vining.
They returned together to the United States in 1854 and appeared in Shakespearian plays and Dickens dramatizations. They were blessed with 2 children, Fanny in 1850 and Harry in 1866. Both children became actors.
Edward Davenport died in 1877…..
FANNY LILY GIPSY DAVENPORT
Born: April 10, 1850 —– London, England
Died: September 26, 1898 —– Duxbury, Massachusetts
Fanny Davenport was an Anglo-American stage actress born in England; educated in Boston, Massachusetts. When she was seven (7) years old she appeared at the Howard Athenaeum in Boston, but her real debut was February, 1862 in New York at age twelve (12) as the King of Spain in “ Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady “. In 1883 she acted, with great success in Sardou’s “Fedora “ and other similar plays.
She took over Sardou roles that had originated in Europe by Sarah Bernhardt.
Her last appearance was at the Chicago Grand Opera House on March 25, 1898 a few months before her death. She died at her home in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
HAROLD GEORGE BRYANT DAVENPORT
Born: January 19, 1866 —– Canton, Pennsylvania
Died: August 9, 1949 —– Los Angeles, California
Harry Davenport was an American stage and film actor who was descended from a long line of stage actors. He debuted on the stage at age five (5) and on film in 1914 at age 48. He appeared in over 100 films; with his twinkly eyes and grandfatherly types he represented a commanding, comforting wisdom whether playing drama or comedy. His specialty was grandfathers, judges, doctors, and ministers. He is probably best know for playing Dr. Meade in “ Gone With The Wind “ in 1939.
He appeared in numerous Oscar-caliber films, ie; (1937) “The Life of Emile Zola” ….. (1938) ” You Can’t Take It With You ” ……( 1939 ) ” Gone With The Wind “….. (1939) ” The Hunchback of Notre Dame “
Harry continued his film career up until his death in 1949.
In 1913, he co-founded, with actor Eddie Foy, the Actor’s Equity Association as a means to confront the exploitation of actors by theatre owners. It was originally called The White Rats. Their actions caused the closure of all the theatres on Broadway except the theatres owned by the George M. Cohan Company.
Harry was married twice: the first was to Alice Shepard Davenport, with whom he had his actress daughter Dorothy Davenport. Soon after his divorce from Alice he married musical-comedy star Phyllis Rankin with whom he had three (3) more children; Kate …..Edward …..and Fanny who all, also, went into the film business. After his wife Phyllis died, he moved to California to live with his grown children. He died of a heart attack and was buried in the Vallhalla cemetery in New York.
Born: March 13, 1895 —– Boston, Massachusetts
Died: October 12, 1977 —– Los Angeles, California
Dorothy Davenport was an American actress, screenwriter, film director, and producer. She comes from a well known theatre family; her grandfather being Edward Loomis Davenport, her aunt Fanny Davenport was considered one of the great actresses of her time, and her father was a Broadway star and excellent film character actor.
With her stage background, she started in films in her early teen years. By the time she was seventeen (17) she was a star at Universal. During her time at Universal she met a young actor/assistant director/gopher/scene writer by the name of Wallace Reid whom she married October 13,1913.
They continued to work together, he directing and she starring in two (2) films per week for the next year. Dorothy was a very good horsewoman and did many of her own stunts. When Wallace Reid left Universal, Dorothy also left.
After her husband, Wallace Reid died, she co-produced ” Human Wreckage “, a film about narcotic addiction.
Dorothy and Wallace had two (2) children ….. She never remarried ….. Her remaining years were spent writing, directing, and producing. She died at the Motion Picture Country House in Woodland Hills and is buried with her husband at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
WILLIAM WALLACE HALLECK
Born: April 15, 1891 —– St. Louis, Missouri
Died: January 18, 1923 —– Los Angeles, California
William Wallace Halleck aka; Wallace Reid was an American actor of silent films referred to as ” the screen’s most perfect lover”. Wallace was born into a show business family, his mother was actress Bertha Westbrook and his father was James Halleck ( Hal Reid ) who worked in a variety of theatrical jobs.
As a boy, Reid was performimg on stage, but acting was put on hold until he had finished his formal education. As a gifted athlete he played in a number of sports while also having a great interest in music, ( learning to play the piano,banjo,drums, and violin ). In his teen years he spent time in Wyoming where he also became an avid outdoorsman.
Reid was became interested in the new film industry by his father who acted, wrote and directed. In 1910, Wallace appeared in his first film “ The Phoenix ” filmed at Selig Polyscope Studios in Chicago. He then took a script his father had written to Vitagraph Studios hoping to be given the chance to direct. Instead, studio executives , capitalizing on his sex appeal cast him in a major role, plus had him direct. Reid’s good looks and powerful body made him the perfect matinee idol.
Reid was happy acting but equally satisfied with roles behind the scenes and often worked as a writer, cameraman, or director. In 1913, while working at Universal Studio he met and married Dorothy Davenport.
He was featured in the 1915 Birth of a Nation and the 1916 Intolerance. He was paired with many of the leading ladies of the time ie; Gloria Swanson, Lillian Gish, and Geraldine Farrar as he made his way to becoming one of Hollywood’s major hearthrobs.
Already having been in more than 100 motion picture shorts, Reid would star in another 60 + films for Lasky’s Famous Players film company. His action hero roles brought both the young girls and their mothers to see his daredevil thrillers. One of his auto racing films, ‘ Across the Continent ‘ (1922) was selected as the opening night film for San Francisco’s Castro Theatre which opened June 22, 1922.
While on location in Oregon filming ‘ The Valley of the Giants ‘, Reid was injured in a train wreck, and in order to be able to continue filming he was prescribed morphine for his pain. He soon became addicted, but continued to work in films that were becoming more physically demanding and longer in duration. When he stopped working, he entered a sanitarium and attempted to recover….it did not happen…..at the age of 31 he died.
Wallace Reid was buried in the Holly Terrace portion of the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Park Cemetery in Glendale California.
Come join us again for more ‘relative’ information…..
LADIES OF THE FILM / STAGE …..1892 to 1984
Born: July 14, 1906 —– Richmond, Virginia
Died: October 1, 1941 —– Los Angeles, California
Olive was an American actress in silents and early talkies who was nicknamed ; ” The Joy Girl “. She was known for her jet black hair and total beauty. She started her career as one of the Sennett Bathing Beauties in 1922.
Soon she was appearing as a vamp in the Hal Roach comdey shorts and in 1925 became a WAMPAS Baby Star.
Borden quickly became one of the most popular and highest paid stars. When Fox cut her salary in 1927 she walked out on her contract. Even though she was a major star, she found the transition to ’talkies’ difficult. She worked hard to get rid of her accent, but could not get rid of the reputation of being difficult.
Olive cut her hair into a short bob and turned herself into a ‘flapper’. She made movies into the 1930s, but her career stalled. Her last screen credit was in the 1934 film ” Chloe, Love is Calling You “. She moved to New York City where she had a brief stage career and then made a living on the vaudeville circuit.
By the late 1930′s, Olive had filed bankruptcy and worked at Macy’s department store.
Olive had two (2) failed marriages….. had been involved with actor George O’Brien from 1926 to 1930 and had other affairs. For most of her life, she lived with her mother, Sibbie.
In 1942, Olive joined the WAC where she received an army citation for bravery in turning over an enemy ammunition truck. She was hospitalized at the Walter Reed Medical Center with a severe foot injury which ended her time in the Army. After her honorable discharge she attempted an unsuccessful comeback in film, but she was already struggling with alcoholism and many health problems. She spent her final years in the skid row area of Los Angeles scrubbing floors at the Sunshine Mission, a home for destitute women. She died from a stomach ailment and pneumonia at age 41; her only possession being a signed photo of herself.
She is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale , California —– her mother’s grave is next to hers. Olive Borden received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one of the first eight (8) stars chosen in 1958.
aka; Grace Glionna
Born: November 20, 1893 —– Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Died: October 8, 1963 —– Los Angeles, California
Grace was a Canadian-born American actress from the early 20th century who was active on screen between 1914 – 1927. She starred in the first Technicolor film, ‘ The Gulf Between ‘ ( 1917 ) which was only in limited release and was a critical and commercial failure due to the early technicolor process which suffered from ” fringing” and ” haloing” of colors.
Grace Darmond was pretty, slender and starred in many films, but never was able to break through as a leading lady in the big budget films. Most of the time her starring roles were in the small budget / lesser known films or she played a supporting part for a big name star in the big budget ones.
Grace, according to research was married twice….. to her first husband for 9 months in 1926 and then to the second in 1928. It is unknown how long that marriage lasted. Although she was in a goodly number of films for over 13 years, she was best known in Hollywood’s inner circle as the lesbian lover of actress Jean Acker , who had been Rudolph Valentino’s first wife.
It is not known for sure whether Grace was lesbian or bisexual as she had also been friends of powerful actress Alla Nazimova. who was an ex-lover of Acker. Darmond and Acker were reported to have been lovers for most of the 1920s. Grace’s last notable film was the 1927 “ Wide Open “, but with the start of the talkies, Darmond was not able to make the transition successfully and like so many others of the silent screen era, ended her acting career.
It is not known for sure, but for the most part Grace disappeared from the public eye until her death in Los Angeles in 1963.
MARGUERITE DE LA MOTTE
Born: June 22, 1902 —– Duluth, Minnesota
Died: March 10, 1950 —– San Francisco, California
Marguerite De La Motte was an American film actress from the silent screen who began her entertainment career studying ballet. In 1919 she became the dance star of Sid Grauman at his theatre. The year before, at age sixteen (16), she made her screen debut in the Douglas Fairbank’s Sr. directed film ‘ Arizona ‘. The same year both of her parents died in an automobile accident. Film producer, J.L. Frothingham became the guardian of both Marguerite and her younger sister.
De La Motte spent the 1920′s appearing in numerous films, often cast by Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. to play opposite him in his swashbuckling adventure films ie; ‘ The Mark of Zorro ‘ and ‘The Three Musketeers ‘. During this time she developed a close friendship with both Douglas Fairbanks and his wife Mary Pickford.
Marguerite’s acting career slowed at the end of the silent era and although she did continue acting into the talkies, most were bit parts. She made her final film appearance in the 1942 film ‘ Overland Mail ‘ opposite Noah Beery, Sr. — Noah Beery, Jr. — and Lon Chaney, Jr.
Marguerite was married twice….. first to silent film, matinee idol of the silver screen, JOHN BOWERS in 1924.
JOHN BOWERS aka: John E. Bowersox
Born: December 25, 1885 —– Garrett, Indiana
Died: November 17, 1936 —– Santa Monica, California
John Bowers began his film career in 1914 and within 5 years became one of the most popular leading men. Like many of the silent film stars, Bowers ‘s career collapsed with the advent of talkies.
In 1936, Bowers heard that an old friend was directing a movie off Santa Catalina so he rented a sloop and sailed out to the island, hoping to secure a part. He learned the part had already been cast and unfortunately he never returned the sloop to shore. A few days later, his body was found on the beach in Santa Monica
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, John received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
John’s life and death was part of the inspiration for the character Norman Maine in the 1937 movie ‘A Star is Born ‘. Errol Flynn and Norman Kerry were also part of the character’s make up.
After De La Motte’s film career ended she worked as an inspector at a California war plant during World War II. Later she worked in San Francisco at the Red Cross office.
Marguerite died of cerebral thrombosis just three (3) months before her 48th birthday. For her contribution as an actress she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born: March 18, 1892 —– New York City, New York
Died: October 9, 1967 —– Northport, New York
Edith Storey was an American born actress of the silent film era who was an unusual combination of an intelligent actress and an outdoor athlete. She started when she was a teenager and retired at the ripe old age of 29. She began acting as a child….. her film career began in 1908 with the movie; ‘The Two Brothers ‘.
Edith had a total of seventy five ( 75 ) films under her belt by 1913, many of which were Westerns, as she reportedly was an excellent horseback rider and performed her own stunts.
Edith worked for Vitagraph Studio for most of her career, but also spent a year under contract to Star Film Company in Texas. In total she appeared in nearly 150 films between 1908 to 1921.
Edith was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Born: January 13, 1905 —– Grand Rapids, Michigan
Died: April 12, 1984 —– Palm Springs, California
Ruth was an American actress of the silent films and early talkies. She enjoyed amateur dramatics as a youth and as a teenager talked her mother into taking her to Hollywood. In 1920 she played opposite Babe Ruth in his biopic “ Heading Home “.
Ruth was chosen, out of 200 girls by Mack Sennett in 1925 when he was looking for a blonde to play in a Harry Langdon comedy. She was also selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars in 1928.
In 1927, Ruth was cast as Lorelei Lee in the silent movie ” Gentlemen Prefer Blondes “. The movie co-starred Alice White and Sterling Ford.
Her final screen roles were in the 1929 movies ‘ A Hint to Brides ‘ ….. ‘ The College Coquette ‘….. and ‘ This Thing Called Love ‘ ….. plus the 1930 ‘ Scrappily Married’.
Ruth died in Palm Springs, California at age 79.
Join us again for another trip down Memory Lane…………..
What have they said in the past ? LOVE makes the world go ’round…..
Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world and is the 2nd most celebrated world holiday only New Year’s Day ranks first.
Bishop Demetri of the Orthodox Research Institute stated that ” Saint Valentine was a priest near Rome in about 270 A.D., a time when the church was under great persecution. His ministry was to assist the Christians in escaping this persecution and to provide them with the sacraments”.
The real truth behind ” Valentines” is a bit on the murky side, but all stories / legends emphasize his appeal as sympathetic, heroic, and most importantly romantic.
During the middle ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that the birds began mating on February 14th; so why not have that day be the day of romance for all.
Valentine’s greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, but the written ones didn’t start to appear until after 1400.
By the 15th century, Valentine’s Day had become an occasion in which lovers expressed their feelings for each other by the giving of flowers, offering confectionery, and or sending cards.
Americans probably began exchanging hand-made Valentines in the early 1700′s, but the first mass produced cards came in the 1840′s.
Valentines day symbols now are hearts, Doves, and the figure of the winged cupid…..
Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to the ‘mass- produced greeting cards’. The fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbon with paper lace introduced in the mid- 19th century. Around the world, billions of dollars are spent yearly on cards , flowers, chocolates , and other gifts. All in the name of LOVE…..
These cards are not as old as the ones in the beginning, but they do have a personal story. In 1935 the couple in question above were married….. their “song” was ‘ Let Me Call You Sweetheart’…..little did they know that 1980 would be their last Valentine’s Day together. Three (3) days later, on their 45 th Wedding Anniversary, the husband passed away. The lady in question was never the same….. he was her life and she was his. May we all be blessed with this kind of love everyday , not just on Valentine’s Day.
Chester Morris (aka) John Chester Brooks Morris
Born: February 16, 1901 —– New York City, New York
Died: September 11, 1970 —– New Hope, Pennsylvania
Chester Morris was the son of Broadway stage actor William Morris and performer Etta Hawkins who made his Broadway debut at age 17 in Lionel Barrymore’s ” The Copperhead “. At that point he billed himself as; ‘ the youngest leading man in the country ‘. His film career began with the 1917 ‘An Amateur Orphan’.
Morris was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1929 film ” Alibi “, plus starred in the 1930 ‘ The Bat Whispers ‘ and 1931 ‘Corsair’. He also starred in the early prison film, 1930′s ‘ The Big House ‘ with Wallace Beery.
Morris’s career gradually declined in the late 1930′s; but was revived from 1941 – 1949 with the character of Boston Blackie.
Chester Morris was also a well known stage magician and often performed magic during his personal appearance tours. During World War II he performed hundreds of free magic shows for the U.S.O. at Army and Navy camps. In 1944, a B-17 “ Flying Fortress ” was christened ‘ The Chester and Lili Morris ‘ in honor of him and his wife for their contributions to the United States war effort. Morris was also known to use magic tricks in his film performances ie; ‘ Boston Blackie and the Law ‘ (1946).
In the 1950′s and 1960′s, Morris worked mainly in TV as detective Lieutenant Max Ritter in the CBS series ” Diagnosis: Unknown “. After his final Boston Blackie film, he was only in three (3) more films, including his final role in the 1970 ” The Great White Hope”, which was released after his death.
Chester Morris was dying of cancer when he committed suicide by taking an overdose of barbiturates at the former Holiday Inn in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
THE ” RUNT “
George E. Stone (aka) Gerschon Lichtenstein
Born: May 18, 1903 —– Lodz, Congress Poland
Died: May 26, 1967 —– Los Angeles, California
George Stone was a Polish-born American character actor of radio, TV, and movies. His slight build, expressive face and pleasant slightly nasal tenor voice made his transition to talking pictures very successful. He was typecast in streetwise roles, often playing a Runyonesque mobster or gangland assistant. He was a delight to many movie goers for decades with that dapper pencil thin moustache. His characters often possessed a ‘ yellow ‘ streak and many times he ended up in the morgue before the end of the film.
In 1939, producer Hal Roach hired Stone for the film “ The Housekeeper’s Daughter ” . It was a difficult role as he was to play a mentally retarded murderer in a sweet, sympathetic manner.
Stone’s most familiar role was ” The Runt ” in the “Boston Blackie ” adventure, action comedies. These performances were well received and he played scenes for laughs ( doing dialects, being disguised in women’s clothes, posing as a child, or reacting in wide-eyed amazement or frustration as the story’s plot did twists and turns ).
Stone did many guest appearances in the 1950′s on comedies ( Burns and Allen ) and adventures ( Adventures of Superman ). When it came to playing tough guys, Stone could be just as convincing as the biggest, brawniest men In the 1954 film ” The Man With the Golden Arm “, Stone plays the vindictive mobster who attacks the dealer, Frank Sinatra in a brutal fist fight.
Stone’s vision was deteriorating in the late 1950′s and was limiting him to walk-on roles or undemanding parts. In the 1959 comedy “ Some Like it Hot ” he plays the nervous stool pigeon, ‘ Toothpick Charlie ‘.
One of Stone’s closest friends was reporter-humorist Damon Runyon who used Stone in movie adaptations of his work; His last film the 1961 ” Pocketful of Miracles “, Stone was cast as a blind beggar.
For his contribution to motion pictures, Stone received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
” AN ENEMY TO THOSE WHO MAKE HIM AN ENEMY, FRIEND TO THOSE WHO HAVE NO FRIEND…..
Boston Blackie is / was a fictional character created by author Jack Boyle. Originally on the wrong side of the law as a jewel thief and safecracker, he became a detective for films, radio, and television.
The earliest films were silent, from 1918 – 1927. Columbia Pictures restarted them in 1941 with “ Meet Boston Blackie “. It was a 58 minute ‘B’ feature starring Chester Morris.
The film was successful, and was followed by a series. Morris gave the ‘Blackie’ character his own personal charm: he could be light and flippant or stern and dangerous. His sidekick, ‘The Runt’ was always on hand to be of help. For most of the series George E. Stone played ‘Runt’.
As was mentioned earlier, Blackie is a reformed jewel thief who is always suspected when there is a robbery. In order to clear himself, he investigates the crime and personally brings the bad guy to justice. There is an undercurrent of comedy that runs throughout the series.
What follows is one of the films with both Morris and Stone…..Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941 )…..
Blackie, of course had what was termed, friendly adversaries….Inspector Farraday and his assistant Sgt. Matthews…….also a group of friends; cheerful but flustered millionaire Arthur Manleder…..streetwise pawnbroker Jumbo Madigan…..and of course the ever present gal Friday characters.
On the radio, Boston Blackie ran from 1944 – 1950 with both Chester Morris and / or Richard Kollmar playing Blackie. Over 200 episodes of this series was produced.
On TV, Kent Taylor starred in the 30 minute series ‘ The Adventures of Boston Blackie’ which ran for 58 episodes.
There was another ‘great’ actor who brought Boston Blackie to life…..
This actor did the gig with Warner Brothers Pictures in 1957
‘ Quackie ‘ is an American agent spending time in Paris with his girlfriend Mary.
His boss follows him to Paris with an assignment…… a briefcase that must be delivered to the American consulate…..
The case, of course is stolen….with help from his friends ‘Quackie’ eventually gets the briefcase to the consulate
What was in the briefcase was a huge suprise….. The bottle in the case says; add water, shake, and pour. When the consulate follows the directions out pops a beautiful woman in an evening dress….. ( the consulate needed a date for the embassy ball; the label on the bottle read ” Acme House Instant Girl ” ).
More information on our two (2) main actors can be found under Reel People…
Long ago and far away, in a time that we of today have nearly forgotten, there were many men who were actors / directors in the land of make-believe ….. either on the stage, or in early films. We will look at these men; maybe some of them were the “ Brad Pitt “ or the ” George Clooney “ of their era. They worked with others named: Pickford, Fairbanks, Barrymore, and Chaney. Each have their own story to tell….
Born: January 1, 1868 —– Budapest, Hungary
Died: May 1, 1937 —– Los Angeles, California
Born Edward Neumann, of Jewish heritage in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now known as Budapest, Edwards emigrated to the United States where he became a successful Broadway stage actor of the early twentieth century. Edwards easily transitioned into a notable character actor in the early years of silent films and on into the 1930′s. He has an expressive and homely face and was considered by many directorsto be well-suited to light, comedy roles and played the comic foil opposite the starring actors. His features made Edwards a household name during the 1920′s. At his peak in the late 1910′s and early 1920′s , he appeared with many famous actors. In 1925 he appeared as Florine Papillon in the box-office hit, ” The Phantom of the Opera “, opposite Lon Chaney, Sr. and co-starred with Douglas Fairbanks in “The Thief of Bagdad “.
Snitz married actress Eleanor Taylor and had three (3) daughters. He was very popular in Hollywood where he and his wife hosted numerous ‘ lively ‘ parties and were often guests of Marion Davies at San Simeon Castle.
Snitz was personally chosen by actor / director Buster Keaton to act in three (3) of his films: 1925′s —– Seven Chances ; 1926′s —– Battling Butler ; 1927′s —– College .
In the early 1930′s and the beginning of ‘ talkies ‘, Edwards was in his sixties (60′s) and suffering from crippling arthritis. He remained active through his final role in the 1931 crime drama The Public Enemy , opposite Jean Harlow, James Cagney, and Joan Blondell.
Snitz Edwards died of natural causes in 1937….. Eleanor died in 1968
Born: January 23, 1872 —– San Francisco, California
Died: June 24, 1928 —– Croton-on-Hudson, New York
Holbrook Blinn was born the son of a Civil War Veteran and began appearing on the legitimate stage as a child. As he grew older he appeared in numerous silent films. He was also the director of many popular one (1) act plays at the Princess Theater in New York, City.
A number of his silent film accomplishments include: 1916 —– McTeague, 1923 —– The Bad Man, 1924 —– Yolanda, and Janice Meredith, both of which starred Marion Davies.
Blinn died at an early age due to complications from a fall off his horse near ‘ Journey’s End ‘, his Croton-on-Hudson home and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
Born: June 7, 1876 —– Corning, New York
Died: August 25, 1930 —– Glendale, California
Ben Wilson was a prolific American film actor, director, producer, and screenwriter of the silent screen era. He got his start, as most actors of the era , as a member of an East Coast theatrical stock company. His first movie was Thomas Edison’s 1911 film ” Silver Threads Among the Gold ” which is among the first silent films about a song in which the theater would hire live musicians to accompany the film.
Ben appeared in 168 films, 88 of which he also directed —– directed a total of 123 movies —– produced 69 films —– and wrote 11 screenplays. By 1916, he was popular enough to be featured on trading cards from Piedmont cigarettes and in 1917 received the same honor by Egyptian Oasis . He served on the board of directors of the ‘ Motion Picture Directors’ Association of America an organization created in 1915 to promote the interests of movie directors. He wrote, produced, and directed silent films into 1930 for Morris R. Schlank Productions.
Ben made the transition to sound movies as an actor only: his last acting was in the ” Buck Jones ” 1930 film, ‘ Shadow Ranch ‘ for Columbia Pictures. It was his only sound pictures as his career was cut short by ill health.
Ben F. Wilson died from complications of heart disease in 1930 ….. He was 54….
Born: February 28, 1880 —– Sacramento, California
Died: April 25, 1927 —– Hollywood, California
Earle Williams was a silent film star who was regarded as a film pioneer and one of the world’s most handsome stars. He began acting on the stage in San Francisco at age twenty (20) and started films in 1908, at the age of (28). He was Vitagraph studio’s leading man of the 1910′s and 1920′s.
His most popular film was Vitagraph’s action melodrama .’The Juggernaut ‘ in which a real train was wrecked.
His most frequent leading lady was Anita Stewart who was also teamed with Earle in the popular serial The Goddess. Earle continued his popularity streak into the 1920′s playing stalwart military heroes.
Earle Williams died of bronchial pneumonia just weeks after completing his final film. Among honorary pallbearers were Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer.
Born: February 19, 1888 —– New York City, New York
Died: May 11, 1933 —– British Columbia, Canada
John was an American silent film actor, director, and screenwriter who, during his short career was involved in over 100 productions. He began as an actor in the 1907 ‘The Spy: A Romantic Story of the Civil War ‘. After about thirty films, he concentrated on directing, especially George Arliss in several films, including ” The Millionaire “ 1931.
Unfortunately his life and career was cut short due to a brain hemmorrhage while in British Columbia, Canada hunting bears.
Born: January 15, 1893 —– Cardiff, Wales
Died: March 6, 1951 —– London, England
David Ivor Davies, born into a musical family whose father was a rent collector and mother an internationally-known singing teacher and choral conductor.
Born: April 7, 1861 —–
Died: February 7, 1943 —–
As a child, Clara’s father , a leader of a church choir, taught her to play the harmonium. In 1883 she founded the Welsh Ladies Choir which won prizes at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893) and the Paris exposition (1899). She was in her 70′s and still conducting when her New York-based Novello Davies Artist Choir was invited to the 1937 Paris Exposition.
Ivor Novello was a Welsh born singer, actor, composer and one of the most popular British entertainers during the first half of the 20th century. As a boy he was a successful singer and prolonged youthful exposure to sacred choral music had turned his taste, in reaction, to lush romantic music.
His first big hit was the enormously popular World War I song: “Keep The Home Fires Burning”.
After the war he wrote several musical comedies and eventually scores for complete shows. In the 1920′s he tried acting in films and then the stage with success in both areas. In 1913, he moved to London and took a flat above the Strand Theatre, which became his London home for the rest of his life.
In 1914, he reported to the Royal Naval Air Force. After twice crashing an aeroplane, he was moved to the Air Ministry in London performing clerical duties. In 1917, he was introduced to actor Bobbie Andrews who became his life partner. In turn, he was then introduced to a young ( 6 years his junior ) Noel Coward who was envious of Novello’s effortless glamor.
Coward wrote; ” I just felt suddenly conscious of the long way I had to go before I could break into the magic atmosphere in which he moved and breathed with such nonchalance”.
After the war Novello continued to write sucessfully for musical comedy and revue. He also was making a career as an actor, with his classic profile gaining him matinee idol status.
Novello made his stage debut in 1921 and about the same time had a short lived affair with writer Siegfried Sassoon. In the words of Sassoon’s biographer, Novello ‘ was a consummate flirt who collected lovers as he gathered lilacs’.
In 1923 Ivor made his American debut in D.W. Griffith’s ‘ The White Rose ‘ . He went on to star in other films ie:
and the 1926 Alfred Hitchcock thriller ” The Lodger ”
The British film company Gainsborough Pictures offered him a well-paid contract, which enabled him to buy a country home in Littlewick Green, near Maidenhead which he named Redroofs. Ivor intertained there famously in excess, and coined the phrase ” the Ivor / Noel naughty set ”
In 1929, Novello returned to composing for the lyric stage. In 1935 there was ‘Glamorous Night’ which was the first in a series of popular musicals.
followed by Careless Rapture…..
Novello’s music dominated the British musical theatre from the mid 1930′s to the early 1950′s. His shows were influenced by the operettas he had grown up with. Blending musicals with opera, operetta and both modern and classical dance they were considered something of an anachronism in their time, but that was part of the appeal.
Novello’s last full-scale production was the 1949 ‘ King’s Rhapsody ‘ which was a ” selfconscious romantic counter-blast to the modern musical; crown princes, ballrooms, royal yachts, beautiful princesses, and a full-scale coronation “.
Ivor Novello died suddenly from a coronary thrombosis a few hours after completing a performance of ‘ King’s Rhapsody ‘. He was cremated and his ashes were buried beneath a lilac bush . Only a few weeks before Novello’s death, Noel Coward wrote: ” Theatre— good, bad, and indifferent — is the love of his life. For him, other human endeavors are mere shadows ………. The reward of his work lies in the indisputable fact that whenever and wherever he appears the vast majority of the British public flock to see him.”
Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians writes; ” until the advent of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the 20th-century’s most consistently successful composer of British musicals was Ivor Novello”.
The Ivor Novello Award for songwriting, established in 1955, is awarded each year by ( BASCA ) to British songwriters and composers as well as to an outstanding international music writer.
In 2005, the Strand Theatre, above which Novello lived for many years, was renamed the Novello Theatre.
TRIVIA: Novello was portrayed in the Robert Altman 2001 film, ‘ Gosford Park ‘, by Jeremy Northam. Several of his songs were used for the film’s soundtrack.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure from our past…………………….