for is right here:
2009 Christmas Blog Entries
I'M HARDROCK, I'M COCO, I'M JOE
Friday, December 25, 2009 4:15pm
Which reminds me of this appearance Edgar Bergen did on Jack Paar Tonight, the series that ran briefly on ABC in the 1970s. I believe this was on one of the last Paar programs, from 1973. Remember what a great job he did as Grandpa Walton in The Homecoming, the TV movie that spawned The Waltons? Wonder why he didn't get the series gig? It sure was good for Will Geer's career.
Thursday, December 24, 2009 1:30pm
Born in NYC in 1918 (although some sources say that he was born in Chelsea, Ma.) he auditioned for the NBC network radio version of "The Horn & Hardadt Children's Hour" doing a dramatic reading of the Edgar Allen Poe poem "The Raven". His reading came out more comedic than serious so he became a comedy performer.
His appearances on "The H&H Children's Hour" led to other roles on numerous radio shows like "Let's Pretend", "The Archie Andrews Show" and "The Milton Berle Show".
He also appeared in many movies - "My Sister Eileen" (the original 1940's version with Roz Russell, Allyn Joslyn, George Tobias, Gordon Jones and The Three Stooges), "The Man With The Golden Arm"(his only onscreen dramatic performance with Frank Sinatra), "Dondi", "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World!"and "Dennis The Menace".
He was also the on camera spokesman for Chunky Candy Bars back in the late-1950s, Mr. Stang was the one who made famous the catch phrase "What A Chunk Of Chocolate!".
He also appeared on many TV shows, among them "Texaco Star Theater", "The Milton Berle Show", "Chico & The Man", and "The Cosby Show" (his last TV appearance where he played the english teacher who encourages Sammy Davis, Jr. to learn to read).
But Arnold Stang will be best remembered for his work as a cartoon voice over performer. He did the voice of Herman Mouse for "The Herman & Katnip" movie cartoons.
He was also the voice of Hadji Baba The reformed cannibal in "Alakazam The Great", "Nerdle The Twerdle", the alien space agent in "Pinocchio In Outer Space" and as the NYC based feline con man (Top Cat) in "Top Cat", "Yogi's Treasure Hunt" and the animated TV movie "Top Cat & The Beverly Hills Cats".
During his later years Mr. Stang left TV acting to perform in summer stock and dinner theaters and to do voice overs for radio commercials.
His last project was being interviewed for a documentary about the creation of "The Top Cat" cartoons for the DVD collection.
I was lucky enough to meet and interview Mr. Stang in NYC years ago and he was kind enough to give me, a young writer, info about his work as a character actor and cartoon VO artist.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 10:00am
MY FINAL CHRISTMAS SONG PICK
Or what Clay Aiken tried to do with the David Bowie / Bing Crosby Christmas medley - sacrilege! Like I would rather hear Clay Aiken's voice than Bowie's! These remakes are meant to replace the originals - like New Coke. When Perez Hilton comes out with a Christmas album, then I'll really be pissed!
Anyway, here's my final Christmas tune recorded since 1964 that I enjoy hearing each year (I can only think of five) - 'Same Old Lang Syne' by Dan Fogelberg. Released in 1981, this song is both sweet and sour, reflecting the same mixed feelings I have around the Holidays. Dan Fogelberg died almost exactly two years ago on December 16, 2007.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 7:21am
HOLY COW - AMAZING!
Monday, December 21, 2009 2:06pm
Sunday, December 20, 2009 1:06pm
Ms. Hines had made guest appearances on many TV shows like "Perry Mason" but she will always be remembered for playing Alan Young's (Wilbur Post's) wife who never believed that her husband had a trouble making, talking horse named Mr. Ed.
In recent years Ms. Hines had retired from acting, her only public appearances had been at nostalgia conventions with Mr. Young and appearing on TV and radio talk shows like "Entertainment Tonight", "Hour Magazine" with Gary Collins and "Stu's Show".
Sunday, December 20, 2009 1:00pm
Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:49am
THE LAST GREAT CHRISTMAS ALBUM
I picked 1964 rather arbitrarily. For one it's 45 years ago, but it's also after what I think was the last great Christmas album - A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector (originally released as A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records and later as Phil Spector's Christmas Album in 1971). I'm excepting A Charlie Brown Christmas which didn't get a wide album release when the special aired and is a soundtrack anyway.
A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector works for me while the Motown Christmas albums most certainly don't - it's got more soul for one thing and the arrangements are joyful while the Motown tunes seem too forced. I never got the feeling that Diana Ross and the Supremes or The Jackson Five had ever even heard those songs much less had an overwhelming desire to sing them.
But Ronnie Spector and Darlene Love tear into those holiday hits on A Christmas Gift like their lives depended on it. Come to think of it, maybe they did if Phil Spector was locked and loaded that night in the studio.
The LP didn't do so well on its original release date - the day Kennedy was assassinated - but A Christmas Gift was massively popular when it was re-released in 1971. Spector's Wall of Sound was perfect for the genre. 'Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)' by Darlene Love has become a bona fide holiday classic but Love's 'White Christmas' and The Ronettes 'Frosty The Snowman' and 'Sleigh Ride' are equally as pleasing. There is no better soundtrack for a Christmas party.
Just listen to the orgasmic orchestration on 'Sleigh Ride' and try to sit still.
And the sublime sounds of Darlene Love singing 'Winter Wonderland' followed by more from the album including 'Baby Please Come Home'.
Sunday, December 20, 2009 7:30am
Highway Patrol, Whirlybirds, Ripcord, Robin Hood, and Sea Hunt come to mind as examples. Not that these shows were anything extra special, standard 1950's TV fare, but they were often the only thing on other than fishing shows and bowling.
In that spirit here's the Christmas episode of Highway Patrol starring Broderick Crawford. If you're wondering why Broderick Crawford was chosen to be a host for Saturday Night Live so early in the series' run it's because of the indelible mark he made on our generation because of endless reruns of Highway Patrol.
Now Sea Hunt, the third episode in the first season of the Lloyd Bridges classic.
Next up an episode of Ripcord starring Larry Pernell & Ken Curtis.
Finally, the theme song from Robin Hood as it was released as a single for kids.
Saturday, December 19, 2009 11:45am
LIVE TV CHRISTMAS PARTIES
I brought up a few anniversaries recently - Kevin Butler, the king of the local TV anniversary salutes, points out that this Christmas Day holds a special place in NYC TV history: This coming Friday, December 25, 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the very first broadcast of WPIX 11's annual Christmas Party TV specials.
On that very first Christmas Party the station had their resident kid's TV hosts/performers "Officer Joe" Bolton, "Bozo The Clown" (Bill Britten) and "Captains" Allen Swift and Jack McCarthy engage the viewers in games, craft making songs, holiday stories, magic tricks, comedy and puppet skits along with informational segments.
All of this was wrapped around reruns of old movie cartoons and syndicated TV shows like "The Adventures Of Superman", "Jeff's Collie"("Lassie"), "Sgt. Preston", "Casey Jones", and "The Abbott & Costello Show."
The 6 hour live program was set against the backdrop of the living room of a private house and was sponsored by The Ward Baking Company (the bakers of Bond Bread, "Tip Top Lucky" snack cakes And "Bit O'Honey" and "Chunk Candies").
The show was a hit and Channel 11 decided to air another Christmas Party on Sunday December 25, 1960.
"Officer Joe", "Captain Jack" and "Bozo" returned as the show's hosts ("Captain Allen" Swift had left Channel 11 and "The Popeye Show" months earlier) along with Chuck McCann who was beginning his stint as the MC of "Laurel & Hardy & Chuck" and "Let's Have Fun."
The show was again a hit and TV 11 aired another show on Monday, December 25, 1961 with "Fireman Todd" Russell (formerly "Big Todd" on NBC and ABC's "Rootie Kazootie Clubs") who was then hosting "The Three Stooges Firehouse" added to the list of personalities on the program.
Bolton (who was hosting "The Dick Tracy Cartoon Show") appeared in the show as "Police Chief" Joe Bolton.
Channel 11 aired the fourth Christmas Party on Tuesday, December 25, 1962 only "Police Chief" Joe Bolton, "Captain Jack" McCarthy and "Fireman Todd" Russell appeared on the show as the hosts.
WPIX aired the fifth and final Christmas Party on Wednesday, December 25, 1963. This time "Officer Joe", "Captain Jack", "Fireman Todd", "Bozo", and Chuck McCann were joined by "The Merry Mailman" (Ray Heatherton), "The Old Philosopher" (Eddie Lawrence) and by John Zacherley ("The Cool Ghoul").
Unfortunately, the show's hosts/performers never appeared on camera. Since many TV stations were giving their airtime to covering the investigations into the murder of President John F. Kennedy, Channel 11 didn't tape any on air segments, they simply had the hosts pre-tape voice-overs for the purpose of introducing the films.
Those young viewers lucky enough to participate in those holiday TV specials were able to retain happy memories of spending Christmastime with their favorite television friends while mother cooked the holiday meals.
Saturday, December 19, 2009 8:56am
WAY BACK WHEN
Thirty years ago we were saying, "Tonight, let it be Lowenbrau."
It was Christmastime 25 years ago that Band Aid's single 'Do They Know It's Christmas' hijacked the airwaves.
Who can forget (remember?) The Solid Gold Christmas Special where Rick Dees, Crystal Gayle and the Solid Gold Dancers counted down the Christmas hits. It happened 25 years ago in 1984 and it's not that bad. Considering.
Friday, December 18, 2009 9:32am
LET IT SNOW?
Last year one of the TV stations had every available reporter and intern out in the streets, fanning out over a six city area. They were on the air from 5:30 until 9:00am and not one flake of snow fell. Literally, not a flake and the entire broadcast was made up of hopeless speculation and cutaways to the hapless reporters who had to say something but had nothing to talk about. It was like Waiting For Godot remade as a morning show. If that's not a microcosm of all that's wrong with TV news I don't know what is.
I figure the station managers strongly encourage the weather folks to call for snow if there's even a remote possibility so their the advertising reps can ring up the grocery stores, tell them the station's calling for snow on Friday, then sell them an enhanced ad package. Then again, people think I'm cynical.
Don't get me wrong - I love snow especially around Christmas and the last days of Chanukah. It's just that they're wrong 70% of the time they call for a winter event. But I'll be looking forward to seeing the white stuff fall, if and when - it's so rare these days, not like when I was young and we got 3 or 4 good snows (and a few light ones) a year on average.
Here's something to keep you warm this weekend no matter where you are - the Yule Log!
Friday, December 18, 2009 7:50am
THIS 'N' THAT
Here's an article from The Collectors Weekly - a new interview with Smithsonian pop culture curator Dwight Blocker Bowers.
And now back to the holiday tunes - 'I Believe in Father Christmas' by Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer makes my list of post-modern Christmas tunes. Released in 1975, this song takes a more cynical view of the holiday but there's something about the overly bombastic orchestration that gets me - along with the line "The Christmas we get we deserve." Here's a lovely live version from 1994.
Thursday, December 17, 2009 6:20am
Here's some holidays funny from Jim Gaffigan.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 7:35am
As promised, here's another of my very few favorite Christmas tunes recorded since 1964. Other than the entire soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas I can only think of a handful of holiday tunes recorded in the last 45 years that tripped my trigger.
This one's 'Christmas Wrapping' by The Waitresses released in 1981. The Waitresses were a subversive little New Wave band from Ohio that became massively popular in Southern California with 'I know What Boys Like,' a very minor 1982 hit nationwide but a huge smash in So Cal. The Waitresses were a cut above the other local New Wave groups around LA, mostly due to the superior songwriting skills of Chris Butler, but they broke up before fully taking flight. I think I must have latched on to this song because it came out around the time I was looking for my own meaning in Christmas and I was listening to KROQ a lot. Great times!
Monday, December 14, 2009 6:44am
Saturday, December 12, 2009 6:50am
ANOTHER TV LOSS
Born Eugene Klass in NYC in 1919 Mr. Barry had been a film actor appearing in such movies as George Pal's screen adaptation of War Of The Worlds and Soldier Of Fortune with Clark Gable.
He would leave movies for a career in TV in 1958 as Mr. Barry appeared during the last season of Our Miss Brooks with Eve Arden and later that year as Bat Masterson. The NBC TV depiction of the infamous gambler, ladies' man and gun fighter was a highly fictionalized vision of Masterson but viewers didn't care. They fell in love with Barry's version of the character, Lord knows I did. The show became a popular series on NBC and remained on the air until 1961.
Mr. Barry would go on to play well-to-do police official Amos Burke on Burke's Law on ABC where he would solve crimes and appear with many well know actors such as Zasu Pitts and Buster Keaton.
He also appeared on The Name Of The Game and The Adventurer. After The Adventurer went off the air Mr. Barry made the move to the stage where he appeared in such musicals as Kismet, Destry, and La Cage Aux Folles playing the gay nightclub owner Georges.
These stage performances gave him the opportunity to utilize his talents for acting and singing.
Barry would also make guest appearances on many TV shows during the 1980s; he acted and sang on an episode of Charlie's Angels with Cheryl Ladd, he played the unfaithful husband of politician wife Jean Simmons on a Perry Mason TV Movie and he played Bat Masterson one more time as an aging sports promoter on a CBS TV western.
His last TV appearance was on a forgettable CBS TV remake of Burke's Law where he solved crimes with his estranged son and his Asian driver and crime fighting aide de camp. The series was not a hit and it left the air after a few shows.
Mr. Barry is survived by his three children, his wife Betty died in 2003.
Bob Mills writes: Bursting the buttons on my L.L. Bean corduroy jacket, pride engulfs me as I announce that today THE LAUGH MAKERS was chosen one of Leonard Maltin's "Top 20 Entertainment Books of 2009." I really appreciate your support and encouragement while I was writing and promoting the book -- having folks cheering you on really makes a big difference and for that I thank you all. And while I'm at it, Shelley and I wish you a Joyous Holiday Season and a Happy & Prosperous 2010!
Saturday, December 12, 2009 6:30am
THEN THERE'S THIS
I mentioned in an earlier post a long night at the Rockingham County Detention Center - we shot most of what they needed downstairs in the administrative offices but around 3:00am we went upstairs to film my scenes in the holding cell just outside of gen pop (I watched Oz!). We were really afraid that the inmates would catch on that we were filming a movie and get rowdy and try to ruin all of our takes. I mean, why not, what else do they have to do? But by that hour things were very pretty quiet and we were just outside of eyesight. They run a tight ship down there. We just had to be quiet and get the job done.
This first bit was myself with Seth behind the camera fooling around - don't I look natural behind those iron bars? I should, it's my second time in a jail cell - the first time was in a movie from the same director in 2001 if you must know!
This next bit is an outtake. Thank goodness the dolly messed up and ruined the take because it's way too overwrought. But everyone seems to think this is funny so I'll share it with you.
Lake of Fire is a Southern Gothic tale of murder, intrigue, drunkeness and debauchery that will hopefully smack you upside the head in 2010. This same crew goes to work on a film that starts in January called Elephant Sighs starring Ed Asner and other familiar faces. It's an AMAZING script, something to look forward to next year, you heard it here first.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 11:11am
ANGELS & DEVILS
OM writes: You might want to add this YouTube clip featuring the clipped-off part of the ending of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Triggered the memory of the night it premiered in 1965, and proved that I wasn’t wrong in remembering that the song ended in a higher pitch crescendo than most versions of the song tend to end with: Always surprised me why they just didn’t redub the audio from the original masters after Coca-Cola ceased being the sole sponsor in 1967.
Then there's this:
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 6:10am
MORE ON EDGAR BERGEN
His only regular TV stint was as the first host/performer of "Do You Trust Your Wife?" (later in the show's run the program's title was changed to "Who Do you Trust?") on NBC TV. Bergen and his puppets would have a husband and wife try to see if they really knew about each other by asking them questions. The show's other hosts were Johnny Carson and Woody Woodbury. In the 1980s the concept was revived by ventriloquist Jay Johnson as a short lived syndicated series.
Bergen and his puppets also appeared on Walt Disney's first TV special "One Hour In Wonderland" a Christmas special that featured a preview of Disney's feature length animated version of Lewis Carroll's children's classic "Alice In Wonderland" and some scenes from his many animated films. There was also guest appearances on that Christmas show by Kathryn Beaumont, the voices of "Alice" and "Wendy"; Bob Driscoll, the Voice Of "Peter Pan"; Hans Conried as "The Magic Talking Mirror"; and Mr. Disney's two daughters Sharon and Diane. "One Hour In Wonderland" aired in 1950.
Susan Walker adds: Ever noticed that Jeff Dunham's "Bubba J" bears a distinct resemblance to Mortimer Snerd?
Monday, December 7, 2009 8:30am
Now that would make a unique Christmas gift!
Monday, December 7, 2009 7:39am
QUESTIONS ABOUT CHRISTMAS SPECIALS
Cecilia Tamayo: I have been looking high and low for this film/movie. It would be showing during Christmas time when I was a little girl. I believe it was out in the 1950's or 1960's, it may even be from England. Although I saw it late 60's early 70's or so.
The story goes that there is a little girl sick in bed, very ill. Her father comes home and gives her a music box of "Twas the Night Before Christmas. It veered away from that moment and started an animated story of the poem...it was done so well. The station...2 - 4 or 7 (we only had about 5 stations back then) stopped it one year and started playing the ridiculous 'Twas the Night before Christmas a mouse tail instead. It was surely a gloomy time, my mother was horrified. Every time I see it come on, I long for the other. It was so beautifully done. They always seem to take the good stuff away and put on crap instead.
Monday, December 7, 2009 7:35am
From The Onion News Network - why do I think there's more than a little truth to this? Does every point I have to make have to be framed as a question? Is it exhaustion from long shooting days?
Monday, December 7, 2009 7:25am
Sadly, the actress that played Cousin Pearl (and Betty Rubble) Bea Benaderet died of lung cancer a few years years later.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 11:43am
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Speaking of quaint, check out these Holiday messages that ran in theaters in the 1950s.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 7:42am
2009 Christmas Blog Entries /
TV Blog / Television Blog / Christmas Blog / 2009 TV Shows / Classic TV / I Love Lucy / Television Shows / TV on DVD / TV Shows on DVD / Prime Time TV / Television Blog/ TV Show Reviews / TV Shows on DVD Reviews / TV DVD Reviews
Hit Shows of the Seventies: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s / Star Trek Animated / Fall Previews of the 70s / Lance Link, Secret Chimp / Star Wars Holiday Special / Alias Smith and Jones / 1977 Year in Review / Top Ten 1970-76 / The Rockford Files / All in the Family / Sam Hall (Dark Shadows) Interview / Death of Archie / Battlestar Galactica / Wonder Woman / Network Jingles / Class of '74 / Happy Days / Good Times / Mr. Bill / Dinah! / Maude / Doris Day Show / Pamelyn Ferdin Interview / The Bicentennial Minute / Jingles & Catch Phrases of the 1970s / Early Cable TV 1970s / TV commercials for Women / TV Moms / Bette Midler in the 1970s / Biff Burger
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph: Behind the Scenes
More Rudolph Mysteries Solved
Your Questions Answered
Rudolph and Santa Restored
TVparty! presents a comprehensive list of the best Holiday TV specials currently available on DVD - the ones you grew up with! They're hard to find!
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You're saving money - big time!
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