Archive for December, 2013

New Year’s Eve with Jack Benny

Posted in Comedy, Jack Benny, Radio (Old Time Radio), Sit Coms, Television with tags , , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

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We’re ringing out the old year with a slew of old timey New Year’s episodes…and this is the last of ’em!

Here is a New Year’s Eve episodes from the Jack Benny Program. From the radio show from 1938:

For more on the immortal Benny see my full article here. 

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

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And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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Magic

Posted in Hollywood (History), Horror (Mostly Gothic), Movies, Ventriloquism & Puppetry with tags , , , , , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Sir Anthony Hopkins (b. 1937). I can’t believe I didn’t get it together to do a post on him today for my Hall of Hams — but it’s on the calendar to do so for next year. Meantime, I thought of an excellent thing to celebrate. While he’d been in a ton of tv movies and historical costume dramas by this stage, it wasn’t until 1978’s Magic that Hopkins began to come into his own as a Hollywood movie star. Always creepy, and  a bit Asperger-y, Hopkins was perfectly cast as the demented ventriloquist in this horror thriller, directed by Richard Attenborough. Now the “Psychotic Ventriloquist” plot was already a well established genre even by 1978 — viz, those Twilight Zone episodesMagic turned things up a notch by merging it with slasher type horror, which was just beginning to come into its own. Hopkin’s character “Corky” is driven to do very bad things by his ventriloquist dummy “Fats”. And look — he even comes between Corky and his love interest Ann-Margaret (literally!)

Magic

Magic had one of the best trailers of all time. Indeed, it was one of the very first poems I ever learned by heart. That says something about me, or our culture, or both.

New Year’s Eve with the Great Gildersleeve

Posted in Comedy, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, New Year's Eve, Radio (Old Time Radio) with tags , , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

great-gildersleeve

We’re ringing out the old year with a slew of old timey New Year’s episodes:

Radio comedian Harold “Hal” Peary (1908-1985) created his popular radio character Throckmorton Gildersleeve on the Fibber McGee and Molly Show in 1939. The big blowhard was so popular he got his own spin-off radio show from 1941 to 1957 and starred as Gildersleeve in several movies. You know Peary’s work whether you know his name or not — after the various incarnations of Gildersleeve went off the air he was a constant presence as a character actor on tv sit coms and a voice over actor for cartoons for decades.

Now in honor of the day, the Great Gildersleeve New Year’s Eve episode (1952/53):

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

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And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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Guy Lombardo’s Last New Year’s Eve

Posted in Ballroom/ Big Band/ Swing, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, New Year's Eve, Television with tags , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

Photo of Guy Lombardo

We’re ringing out the old year with a slew of old timey New Year’s episodes:

You never know what you’ve got til it’s gone!

Big band leader Guy Lombardo began doing his annual New Year’s Eve broadcasts with his Royal Canadians in 1929 (the first couple of decades were on radio of course). My life intersected with this tradition by about a dozen years, but of course I was only staying up past midnight during the last couple, I imagine…’75, ’76, ’77…And of course in those years, the only choice for a kid my age would have been Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve. It’s what we did, with our snacks and soda, while the parents went out and rang in the New Year by getting dangerously blitzed. If we accidentally turned the dial to Guy Lombardo, no doubt the bunch of us would have made throw-up noises. But if I’d known ’76 into ’77 was going to be his last year, I might have been more respectful. At any rate, I’m glad I can watch it now!

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

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And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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New Year’s Eve with Fred Waring & His Pennsylvanians

Posted in Ballroom/ Big Band/ Swing, HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, Music, New Year's Eve, Radio (Old Time Radio) with tags , , , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

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We’re ringing out the old year with a slew of old timey New Year’s episodes:

Here to ring in the New Year 1947, Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians (for Johnson’s Wax — subbing for Fibber McGee and Molly)! For more info on Waring, see my earlier article here. 

To find out more about the variety arts past and present (including radio variety)consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

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And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

Tim Considine: Lightning Bolt

Posted in Hollywood (History), Movies, Television, Vaudeville etc. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd

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Today is the birthday of Tim Considine (b. 1940).

Why is HE here today? My friends, people like him are the very reason this blog exists! I discovered a serendipitous synchronicity when I stumbled across his biography, a cross-generational connection that ties the now and the us to the then and the them.

When I was a kid I knew Considine from 20 year old episodes of the Mickey Mouse Club they used to run on local television. (The ’70s being majorly overshadowed by ’50s nostalgia). Considine starred in two regular series they ran on the program, The Hardy Boys (one of countless filmed versions of the popular book series), and Spin and Marty, about a couple of teenagers’ adventures on a dude ranch. Both of these shows within a show had an interesting format; the episodes were only 15 minutes long, a good model perhaps for web tv. I really loved both of these shows; I recall re-enacting episodes on the playground.

Considine had also starred in the 1959 Disney movie The Shaggy Dog — although like everyone my age, I only knew the 1976 sequel The Shaggy D.A. I’m sure I didn’t discover The Shaggy Dog until well after that. Apparently, he was also the oldest son in My Three Sons during its first five years, although in my area they only re-ran the later ones, when the equation had gone from Mike-Robby-Chip to Robby-Chip-Ernie, the oldest son mysteriously vanishing off the face of the earth never to be heard from again.

So that’s Tim Considine. He was like the All-American boy. Look at that crew cut and striped shirt! Like most young actors, Considine hit a brick wall in his career as an adult. One of his last roles was The Soldier Who Gets Slapped by George C. Scott in Patton. 

So what’s the Lightning Bolt! Well, it’s a doozy for show biz buffs. In No Applause and in this blogpost and this one I wrote about the epic battle for supremacy by Pacific Northwest vaudeville managers Alexander Pantages and John Considine of the Sullivan and Considine Circuit. The hilarious outcome of that long-running feud was that Pantages’ daughter married Considine’s son. Tim Considine is one of the products of that marriage. This is exactly what it would look like if you rewrote Rome and Juliet with a happy ending. Anyway, I thought that was pretty amazing — this particular history isn’t so ancient, and I love stories that bring that home.

Here’s a clip from that show I loved so much as a kid, Spin and Marty:

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

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And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

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New Year’s Eve with Wild Bill Hickok

Posted in HOLIDAYS/ FESTIVALS/ MEMORIALS/ PARADES, New Year's Eve, Radio (Old Time Radio) with tags , , , , on December 31, 2013 by travsd
Guy Madison and Andy Devine in the tv version

Guy Madison and Andy Devine in the tv version

We’re ringing out the old year with a slew of old timey New Year’s episodes:

Unusual in broadcasting annals, Wild Bill Hickok launched simultaneously on radio and television in 1951 (most shows that embraced both media naturally started on radio and later transferred to TV.) Guy Madison played the title character; Andy Divine was his sidekick “Jingles” Jones. The radio version ran until 1956; the tv version lasted two years longer. This episode entitled “Happy New Year” ran in 1954. For more on the real Wild Bill Hickok, go here:

To find out more about the variety arts past and presentconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famousavailable at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. 

safe_image

And don’t  miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc

chain%20of%20fools%20cvr%20front%20only-500x500

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