A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: 2021

Friday, December 31, 2021

THE PASSING SCENE OF 2021

 Another year is finished and another listing of the people we have lost in the past year. Even though each death brings us sadness, let us remember the great memories and talent of these stars that will live forever...

Stephen Sondheim

Composer STEPHEN SONDHEIM, died at the age of 91 on November 26th. Sondheim was praised for having "reinvented the American musical" with shows that tackled "unexpected themes that range far beyond the [genre's] traditional subjects" with "music and lyrics of unprecedented complexity and sophistication". Sondheim started his theatre career by writing the lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959) before becoming a composer and lyricist. Sondheim's best-known works include A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1979), Merrily We Roll Along (1981), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Into the Woods (1987). He wrote five songs for 1990's Dick Tracy, including "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)", sung in the film by Madonna, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Film adaptations of Sondheim's work include West Side Story (1961), Gypsy (1962), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Into the Woods (2014), and West Side Story (2021). Sondheim remained active up to the day he died.

Actor CHARLIE ROBINSON, died on July 11th at the age of 75.He is best known for his role on the NBC sitcom Night Court as Macintosh "Mac" Robinson (Seasons 2–9), the clerk of the court and a Vietnam War veteran. Although his most frequent on-screen billing was Charlie Robinson, Night Court had credited him as Charles Robinson throughout his 1984–1992 stint as Mac. His final role was on the television series Love In The Time Of Corona in 2020.

Actress CICELY TYSON, died on January 28th at the age of  96. Having appeared in minor film and television roles early in her career, Tyson garnered widespread attention and critical acclaim for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder (1972); she was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama for her work in the film. Tyson's portrayal of the title role in the 1974 television film The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, based on the book by Ernest J. Gaines, won her further praise; among other accolades, the role won her two Emmy Awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Actor GALVIN MCLEOD, died on May 29th at the age of 90. MacLeod's career began in films in 1957. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Tuesday Weld in 1960's High Time. MacLeod's career began in films in 1957. In 1965, he starred in The Sword of Ali Baba. He went on to appear in A Man Called Gannon (1968), in The Thousand Plane Raid (1969), and in Kelly's Heroes (1970). MacLeod also achieved continuing television success co-starring alongside Ernest Borgnine on McHale's Navy (1962–1964) as Joseph "Happy" Haines,  on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970–1977) as Murray Slaughter, and most famously as the Captain on The Love Boat (1977-1986). Galvin retired from acting in 2009.

Actor, GEORGE SEGAL, died at the age of 87 on March 23rd during heart surgery. He became popular in the 1960s and 1970s for playing both dramatic and comedic roles. Some of his most acclaimed roles are in films such as Ship of Fools (1965), King Rat (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), Where's Poppa? (1970), The Hot Rock (1972), Blume in Love (1973), A Touch of Class (1973), California Split (1974), For the Boys (1991), and Flirting with Disaster (1996). On television, he is best known for his roles as Jack Gallo on Just Shoot Me! (1997–2003) and as Albert "Pops" Solomon on The Goldbergs (2013–2021).

Norm MacDonald

Comedian NORM MACDONALD, died of cancer on September 14th. He was 61. Norm was a Canadian stand-up comedian, writer, and actor known for his deadpan style.Early in his career, he wrote for the sitcom Roseanne and made guest appearances on shows such as The Drew Carey Show and News Radio. Macdonald was then a cast member on Saturday Night Live (SNL) for five years from 1993 to 1998, including anchoring the Weekend Update segment for three seasons. He also he performed impressions of Larry King, Burt Reynolds, David Letterman, Quentin Tarantino, Charles Kuralt, and Bob Dole to name a few. After leaving SNL, he starred in the 1998 film Dirty Work and in his own sitcom, The Norm Show, from 1999 to 2001. In 2013, Macdonald started a video podcast, Norm Macdonald Live, on which he interviewed comedians and other celebrities. In 2018, he released Norm Macdonald Has a Show, a Netflix talk show with a similar premise to his podcast. He last appeared on five episodes of a talk show called Quarantined in 2020.

Singer, JIMMIE RODGERS, died on January 18th at the age of 87. He was an American singer. Rodgers had a run of hits and mainstream popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. His string of crossover singles ranked highly on the Billboard Pop Singles, Hot Country and Western Sides, and Hot Rhythm and Blues Sides charts; in the 1960s, Rodgers had more modest successes with adult contemporary music. Rodgers big hit was "Honeycomb" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" in 1957. He continued to perform until about early 2020. He performed often in Branson, Missouri, where I got to see him perform in 2000.

Actor HAL HOLBROOK, died at the age of 95 on January 23rd. He first received critical acclaim in 1954 for a one-man stage show he developed, Mark Twain Tonight! while studying at Denison University, performing as Mark Twain. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1966 for his portrayal of Twain. He would continue to perform his signature role for over 60 years, only retiring the show in 2017 due to his failing health. He later gained international fame for his performance as Deep Throat in the 1976 film All the President's Men. He played Abraham Lincoln in the 1976 miniseries Lincoln and 1985 miniseries North and South. He also appeared in such films as Julia (1977), The Fog (1980), Creepshow (1982), Wall Street (1987), The Firm (1993), Hercules (1997), and Men of Honor (2000).

Former child star JANE WITHERS died at the age of 95. She became one of the most popular child stars in Hollywood in the 1930s and early 1940s, with her films ranking in the top ten list for box-office gross in 1937 and 1938. In 1932, she and her mother moved to Hollywood, where she appeared as an extra in many films until landing her breakthrough role as the spoiled, obnoxious Joy Smythe opposite Shirley Temple's angelic orphan Shirley Blake in the 1934 film Bright Eyes. She made 38 films before retiring at age 21 in 1947. She returned to film and television as a character actor in the 1950s. From 1963 to 1974, she portrayed the character Josephine the Plumber in a series of television commercials for Comet cleanser. In the 1990s and early 2000s, she did voice work for Disney animated films. 

Cloris Leachman

Actress CLORIS LEACHMAN, died at the age of 94 on January 27th. She won many accolades, including eight Primetime Emmy Awards from 22 nominations, making her the most nominated. In film, she appeared in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show (1971) as the jaded wife of a closeted schoolteacher in the 1950s; she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance, and the film is widely considered to be one of the greatest of all time. Additionally, she was part of Mel Brooks's ensemble cast, appearing in roles such as Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein (1974) and Madame Defarge in History of the World, Part I (1981). Leachman won additional Emmys for her role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She continued to work until 2021, until she died after suffering a stroke. She has two movies that will be released after her death.

Big band leader ELLIOT LAWRENCE, died on July 2nd at the age of 96. Elliot led an impressive big band in the 1940s and ‘50s, won a Tony Award in 1962 for his conducting of the Broadway show “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” and from 1967 to 2013 was Music Director and Conductor for the Tony Awards telecast itself (as was stated in The New York Times, that’s “an astounding 46-year run in a fickle business”). He was one of the last remaining big band leaders.

Comedian JACKIE MASON, died at the age of 93 on July 24th. His 1986 one-man show The World According to Me! won a Special Tony Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Ace Award, an Emmy Award, and earned a Grammy nomination. Later, his 1988 special Jackie Mason on Broadway won another Emmy Award (for outstanding writing) and another Ace Award, and his 1991 voice-over of Rabbi Hyman Krustofski in The Simpsons episode "Like Father, Like Clown" won Mason a third Emmy Award. He wrote and performed six one-man shows on Broadway. Known for his delivery and voice, as well as his use of innuendo and pun, Mason's often culturally grounded humor was described as irreverent and sometimes politically incorrect. 

Actress OLYMPIA DUKAKIS, died on May 1st at the age of 89. Best known as a screen actress, she started her career in theater. Not long after her arrival in New York City, she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1963 for her off-Broadway performance in Bertolt Brecht's Man Equals Man. She later moved to film acting and won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, among other accolades, for her performance in Moonstruck (1987). She received another Golden Globe nomination for Sinatra (1992) and Emmy Award nominations for Lucky Day (1991), More Tales of the City (1998) and Joan of Arc (1999). She worked until the end of her life.

Singer JILL COREY, died on April 3rd at the age of 85. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she was a popular singer in the 1950s with hits such as Love Me To Pieces in 1957. She dated Frank Sinatra briefly as well as starred in a forgotten movie Senior Prom in 1958. She retired to marry a Pittsburgh Pirates player, but later resumed her career after her husband passed away.

Christopher Plummer

Actor CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, died on February 5th at the age of 91. Born in Toronto, Plummer became a leading actor on Broadway and in Hollywood. Plummer remains widely known for his portrayal of Captain Von Trapp due to the box office success and continued popularity of the Robert Wise directed musical epic The Sound of Music (1965). He won the Oscar for Best Supporting actor in 2012 for Beginners (2011), becoming the old actor nominated in that category. In recent years he was cast in the popular movie Knives Out (2019). n 2021, Plummer was set to play the lead for a film adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear, to be filmed in the summer, in Newfoundland, under director Des McAnuff. He died before filming commenced.

Actress MARKIE POST, died of cancer on August 7th at the age of 70.She was known for her roles as bail bondswoman Terri Michaels in The Fall Guy on ABC from 1982 to 1985, as public defender Christine Sullivan on the NBC sitcom Night Court from 1984 to 1992, and as Georgie Anne Lahti Hartman on the CBS sitcom Hearts Afire from 1992 to 1995. She made her last appearance on film and television in 2019.

Former child actor TOMMY KIRK, died on September 28th at the age of 79. Kirk was best known for his performances in films made by Walt Disney Studios such as Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, Swiss Family Robinson, The Absent-Minded Professor, and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, as well as the beach-party films of the mid-1960s. 

Actor NORMAN LLOYD, died at the age of 106 on May 11th. He worked in every major facet of the industry including theatre, radio, television, and film, with a career that started in 1923. His last film, Trainwreck, was released in 2015, after Lloyd had attained 100 years of age. As an actor, he appeared in over 60 films and television shows, with his roles including Bodalink in Charlie Chaplin's Limelight (1952), Mr. Nolan in Dead Poets Society (1989), and Mr. Letterblair in The Age of Innocence (1993). In the 1980s, Lloyd gained a new generation of fans for playing Dr. Daniel Auschlander, one of the starring roles on the medical drama St. Elsewhere on television from 1982 to 1986.

Actress ARLENE DAHL, died at the age of 96 on November 29th. Dahl was one of the last stars of classic Hollywood. Never a huge film star but known for her beauty, she starred in several MGM movies of  the 1940s and 1950s such as Three Little Words (1950) with Fred Astaire and Red Skelton. She made her last movie in 1991, but remained a socialite and beauty mogul.

Jane Powell

Actress JANE POWELL, died at the age of 92 on September 16th. As a teenager, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she signed a film contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Powell's vocal, dancing, and acting talents were utilized for lead roles in a variety of musicals for the studio. She made her feature debut as a performer in Song of the Open Road (1944), followed by a lead in Arthur Lubin's Delightfully Dangerous (1945). Powell gained further widespread recognition for her lead roles in the musicals A Date with Judy (1948), Royal Wedding (1951), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Hit the Deck (1955). In later years Jane appeared on many television shows, often in dramatic roles. In 2009, Jane retired from acting , and after her fifth husband, former child star Dickie Moore, died in 2015, Jane became mostly a recluse.

Singer MARY WILSON, died at the age of 76 on February 8th. She gained worldwide recognition as a founding member of The Supremes, the most successful Motown act of the 1960s and the best-charting female group in U.S. chart history, as well as one of the best-selling girl groups of all-time. The trio reached number one on Billboard's Hot 100 with 12 of their singles, ten of which feature Wilson on backing vocals.

Musician MICHAEL NESMITH, died on December 10th at the age of 78. He was best known as a member of the pop rock band the Monkees and co-star of the TV series The Monkees (1966–1968). Nesmith's songwriting credits include "Different Drum" (sung by Linda Ronstadt with the Stone Poneys). After the break-up of the Monkees, Nesmith continued his successful songwriting and performing career, first with the seminal country rock group the First National Band, with whom he had a top-40 hit, "Joanne", and then as a solo artist.

Actor ED ASNER, died on August 29th at the age of 91. He is known for playing Lou Grant during the 1970s and early 1980s, on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off series Lou Grant, making him one of the few television actors to portray the same character in both a comedy and a drama. He is the most honored male performer in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, having won seven times. He played John Wayne's adversary Bart Jason in the 1966 Western El Dorado. Asner played Santa Claus in several films, including in 2003's Elf.  In 2009, he voiced Carl Fredricksen in Pixar's animated film Up. He continued to be active and work until his death.

Actress BETTY WHITE, died at the age of 99 on December 31st. She was 17 days away from celebrating her 100th birthday. Betty was an icon on television for decades, and she got her biggest acclaim on the television shows "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" from 1973 to 1978, "Golden Girls" from 1985 to 1992, and "Hot In Cleveland" from 2010 to 2015. She worked tirelessly for animal rights, and she remained active until right before the covid pandemic.

These stars and icons are gone, but they are truly never forgotten...

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

SPIDER-MAN ACTOR TO PLAY FRED ASTAIRE

“Spider-Man” star Tom Holland is swapping his web-shooters for dancing shoes. The 25-year-old officially confirmed on Sunday that he’ll portray legendary actor, dancer and singer Fred Astaire in an upcoming biopic for Sony.

In a recent profile for GQ, Oscar-nominated producer Amy Pascal teased that she wanted Holland for the part of Astaire in the forthcoming movie, as well as another trilogy of “Spider-Man films.” But during an interview with AP, at an event promoting the upcoming “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Holland confirmed that he’ll step into the entertainer’s dance shoes for the project, which is still in its early stages.

“The script came in a week ago,” Holland told reporters. “I haven’t read it yet; they haven’t given it to me.”

Pascal has received the script though, Holland noted. “She FaceTimed me earlier. I was in the bath,” he said with a laugh. “And we had a lovely FaceTime, but I will be playing Fred Astaire.”

News that Holland will take on the persona of the iconic song and dance man comes as little surprise, given his own background as a performer. Holland began his acting career on the London stage, playing the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical on the West End from 2008 to 2010.


Then there’s the now-viral clip of Holland performing on “Lip Sync Battle” in 2017, where he sang and danced to a mashup of “Singin’ in the Rain” and Rihanna’s “Umbrella.” Sure, that number was Gene Kelly’s showcase in the 1952 musical, but it certainly got the point across that Holland’s dance skills were undeniable.

Touted as the one of the greatest popular music dancers of all time, Astaire starred in more than 30 film musicals, in addition to his stage career on Broadway and the West End over the course of a seven-decade career. Astaire is usually remembered for his pairings with Ginger Rogers, who starred in several films with him, including the classics “Swing Time,” “The Gay Divorcee” and “Top Hat.”

The Holland-starring movie is not the only Fred Astaire project in the works at the moment. Jamie Bell (who coincidentally originated the role of Billy Elliot in the Oscar-nominated 2000 movie) will play Astaire opposite Margaret Qualley’s Ginger Rogers in an upcoming movie from Amazon Studios and Automatik. Bell and Qualley will also produce the biopic, which traces the dance duo’s partnership, starting with “Flying Down to Rio” in 1933 and ending with “The Barkleys of Broadway” in 1949.

Until it’s time to suit up as Astaire, Holland is focused on his latest outing as Peter Parker in Sony and Marvel’s “No Way Home,” his seventh appearance as the web-slinging superhero...


Monday, December 27, 2021

RECENTLY VIEWED: SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME

WARNING! There are spoilers so if you have not seen the movie, you might want to avoid this article.

I went to see this excellent film with my children on Christmas Eve morning. Spider-Man: No Way Home is the 3rd movie which starred Tom Holland as Spiderman. This third MCU Spider-Man film was planned during the production of Homecoming in 2017. By August 2019, negotiations between Sony and Marvel Studios to alter their deal—in which they produce the Spider-Man films together—ended with Marvel Studios leaving the project; however, a negative fan reaction led to a new deal between the companies a month later. Watts, McKenna, Sommers, and Holland were set to return at that time. Filming began in October 2020 in New York City before moving to Atlanta that month and wrapping in March 2021. No Way Home explores the concept of the multiverse and ties the MCU to past Spider-Man film series, with numerous actors reprising their roles from the Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi and Marc Webb. The return of previous Spider-Man actors Maguire and Garfield was the subject of speculation, and Sony, Marvel, and the cast attempted to conceal their involvement despite numerous leaks.

After Quentin Beck posthumously frames Peter Parker for murder and reveals his identity as Spider-Man, Parker, his girlfriend MJ, best friend Ned Leeds, and aunt May are interrogated by the Department of Damage Control. Lawyer Matt Murdock gets Parker's charges dropped, but the group grapples with negative publicity. After Parker, MJ, and Ned's MIT applications are rejected, Parker goes to the Sanctum Sanctorum to ask Stephen Strange for help. Strange suggests a spell that would make people forget Parker is Spider-Man. Parker repeatedly requests alterations to let his loved ones retain their memories, which corrupts the spell, but Strange contains it and makes Parker leave.

Parker goes to convince an MIT administrator to reconsider MJ and Ned's applications, but is suddenly attacked by Otto Octavius. Octavius rips Parker's nanotechnology from his Iron Spider suit, which bonds with his mechanical tentacles and allows Parker to disable them. As Norman Osborn arrives and attacks, Strange teleports Parker back to the Sanctorum and locks Octavius in a cell next to Curt Connors. Strange explains that the corrupted spell summoned people from other universes who know Spider-Man's identity, and orders Parker, MJ, and Ned to find and capture them.


As Parker captures Max Dillon and Flint Marko, Osborn reclaims control of himself from his split Green Goblin personality. He goes to a F.E.A.S.T. building, where May comforts him before Parker retrieves him. While discussing their battles with Spider-Man, Osborn, Octavius, and Dillon realize that they were pulled from their universes just before their deaths. Strange prepares a spell that will send the villains back to their respective universes, but Parker argues that they should first cure the villains' powers and insanity to prevent their deaths upon their return. Parker steals the boxed spell, traps Strange in the Mirror Dimension, and, with May, takes the villains to Happy Hogan's apartment. He successfully cures Octavius, but Osborn's Goblin persona takes control and convinces the uncured villains to betray Parker. As Dillon, Marko, and Connors escape, Osborn injures May, who tells Parker that "with great power, there must also come great responsibility" before dying.

Ned discovers he can create portals using Strange's sling ring, which he and MJ use to try to locate Parker. They instead find two other versions of Parker who were also summoned by Strange's spell, nicknamed "Peter-Two" (from Osborn, Octavius, and Marko's universe) and "Peter-Three" (from Connors and Dillon's universe). Ned and MJ find Parker and comfort him while the other Parkers share stories of losing loved ones; they encourage Parker to fight in May's honor.


The three Parkers develop cures for the remaining villains and lure Dillon, Marko, and Connors to the Statue of Liberty, where Peter-Two and Parker cure Marko and Connors, respectively, while Octavius arrives to help and cures Dillon, after which Peter-Three reconciles with Dillon. Ned frees Strange from the Mirror Dimension, but Osborn arrives and destroys the boxed spell, disintegrating the barriers separating universes. While Strange works to maintain the barriers, an enraged Parker attempts to kill Osborn, but Peter-Two stops him. Peter-Three and Parker inject Osborn with his cure, restoring his sanity. Parker realizes that the only way to protect the multiverse is to erase himself from everyone's memory and requests that Strange do so, while promising MJ and Ned that he will find them again. The spell is cast, and everyone returns to their respective universe—including Eddie Brock, who leaves behind a piece of the Venom symbiote. Two weeks later, Parker visits MJ and Ned to reintroduce himself, but decides against it. While mourning at May's grave, he has a conversation with Hogan and is inspired to carry on, making a new suit and resuming his heroism.

Any review does not do justice to how great this movie is. There are some tear-jerking moments, and my son kept on elbowing through the movie to see if I was crying, but I held it in. Just seeing all of the Spiderman actors together really not only was nostalgic and sentimental, but it tied the movies neatly together. I highly recommend this movie, and even though the movie was long - the time flew by like it was a commercial. I am so glad I had to the chance to watch this movie with my kids. It was a great way to spend the holiday time off...

MY RATING: 10 out of 10



Saturday, December 18, 2021

THE REAL MARIA VON TRAPP

The real Maria Von Trapp (1905-1987) who was portayed in 1964's Sound Of Music was nothing like Julie Andrews who played her in the film. While The Sound of Music was generally based on the first section of Maria's book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (published in 1949), there were many alterations and omissions:

*Maria came to the von Trapp family in 1926 as a tutor for one of the children, Maria, who was recovering from scarlet fever, not as governess to all the children.

*Maria and Georg married in 1927, 11 years before the family left Austria, not right before the Nazi takeover of Austria.

*Maria did not marry Georg von Trapp because she was in love with him. As she said in her autobiography Maria, she fell in love with the children at first sight, not their father. When he asked her to marry him, she was not sure if she should abandon her religious calling but was advised by the nuns to do God's will and marry Georg. "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children. . . . [B]y and by I learned to love him more than I have ever loved before or after."

*There were 10, not 7 von Trapp children.


*The names, ages, and sexes of the children were changed.

*The family was musically inclined before Maria arrived, but she did teach them to sing madrigals.

*Georg, far from being the detached, cold-blooded patriarch of the family who disapproved of music, as portrayed in the first half of The Sound of Music, was actually a gentle, warmhearted parent who enjoyed musical activities with his family. While this change in his character might have made for a better story in emphasizing Maria's healing effect on the von Trapps, it distressed his family greatly.

*The family did not secretly escape over the Alps to freedom in Switzerland, carrying their suitcases and musical instruments. As daughter Maria said in a 2003 interview printed in Opera News, "We did tell people that we were going to America to sing. And we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing."

Maria with Mary Martin, who portrayed her on Broadway
*The von Trapps traveled to Italy, not Switzerland. Georg was born in Zadar (now in Croatia), which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Zadar became part of Italy in 1920, and Georg was thus an Italian citizen, and his wife and children as well. The family had a contract with an American booking agent when they left Austria. They contacted the agent from Italy and requested fare to America.

*Instead of the fictional Max Detweiler, pushy music promoter, the von Trapps' priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner, acted as their musical director for over 20 years.

*Though she was a caring and loving person, Maria wasn't always as sweet as the fictional Maria. She tended to erupt in angry outbursts consisting of yelling, throwing things, and slamming doors. Her feelings would immediately be relieved and good humor restored, while other family members, particularly her husband, found it less easy to recover. In her 2003 interview, the younger Maria confirmed that her stepmother "had a terrible temper. . . . And from one moment to the next, you didn't know what hit her. We were not used to this. But we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass, because the next minute she could be very nice."



Sunday, December 12, 2021

A TRIBUTE TO ANN REINKING: ONE YEAR LATER

Ann Reinking was one of the best choreographers of modern broadway. She died too young, and even a year later she is greatly missed...


Friday, December 10, 2021

RIP: MICHAEL NESMITH



The Monkees singer and guitarist Michael Nesmith, whose band exploded in popularity in the 1960s, has died, his manager said Friday.

"It is with deep sadness that I mark the passing of Michael Nesmith. We shared many travels and projects together over the course of 30 years, which culminated in a Monkees farewell tour that wrapped up only a few weeks ago," Andrew Sandoval said on Twitter.

The Monkees grew in popularity after the four-person group was in a TV show "The Monkees" about a rock 'n' roll band.

The band's hits included "Daydream Believer," "Last Train to Clarksville," "I'm a Believer," "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and "Valerie."


The group split in 1971. Although other members of the group had participated in reunion tours, Nesmith had not up until 2012.

Nesmith said back then of the reunion: "I never really left. It is a part of my youth that is always active in my thought and part of my overall work as an artist. It stays in a special place. But like things in the past it fades in and out in relevance to activities that are current. Getting together with old friends and acquaintances can be very stimulating and fun and even inspiring to me. We did some good work together and I am always interested in the right time and the right place to reconnect and play."

Sandoval also said Friday of Nesmith's passing, “I am positive the brilliance he captured will resonate and offer the love and light towards which he always moved. Nez expressed the highest part of his being through his voice. And you could get no closer to him then through knowing his work. May all those who loved him feel his comfort at this time — just listen and he will be there for you.”

Sandoval then quoted the talented musician’s own lyrics from “I'll Remember You.”

“Thank you for the times you gave me, thank you for the tears you saved me, please take this song as my thanks to you.”

With Nesmith's death Micky Dolenz is now the only surviving member of the pop band. Davy Jones died in 2012 of a heart attack. Peter Tork died of cancer in 2019

He said in a statement Friday: "I’m heartbroken. I’ve lost a dear friend and partner. I’m so grateful that we could spend the last couple of months together doing what we loved best — singing, laughing, and doing shtick. I’ll miss it all so much. Especially the shtick. Rest in peace, Nez."

Dolenz ended the statement, "All my love, Mick."



Thursday, December 9, 2021

STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO: VERA-ELLEN

Here is a picture of talented dancer Vera-Ellen on her wedding day on November 19, 1954. She was marrying Victor Rothschild, who was an oil man and millionaire. Unfortunately, their marriage would not last. A daughter Victoria, was born on March 3, 1963, but the baby would die tragically on June 20, 1963. The couple were divorced in September of 1966.

This photo did not show the heart ache that would follow after their wedding day...



Tuesday, December 7, 2021

MUSIC REVIEW: LOUIS PRIMA & LILY ANN CAROL - OH MARIE!

I had the pleasure of getting a copy of this new CD from Jasmine, and it is one of the best CD issues in years. I am familiar with Louis Prima and his time with Keely Smith in the 1950s, but this whole era with Lily Ann Carol is new to me. Lovingly put together by Alan Eichler, this new CD is a must for anyone who is a Louis Prima, and a fan of good music in general!


Here are notes from the CD:

Before Keely Smith, there was Lily Ann Carol. When Louis Prima abandoned Dixieland and formed his first big band, the beautiful New York native was signed to be his star vocalist, and for more than six years - from 1940-1946 they were one of the most popular attractions in clubs and theatres across the country.

Here gathered together for the first time are nearly all of their recordings and this is the very first collection to throw a spotlight on Lily Ann, who up until now has been something of a mystery figure.

Among their wartime hits are 'Bell Bottom Trousers', 'I'll Walk Alone', 'A Fellow on a Furlough', 'Hitsum-Kitsum-Bumpity-Itsum' 'The Lip' and of course 'Oh Marie'

All tracks have been restored here in sparkling sound on a jam-packed Jasmine CD, with Lily Ann not only singing beautifully, but keeping up with Louis in the humour department as well.
Track Listing

1. DANCE WITH A DOLLY
2. DAYDREAMS COME TRUE AT NIGHT
3. PLEASE HAVE MERCY
4. TICA-TEE, TICA-TA
5. I'LL WALK ALONE
6. THERE'S A LOT OF MOONLIGHT BEING WASTED
7. A FELLOW ON A FURLOUGH
8. OH MARIE
9. BELOVED
10. THIS HEART OF MINE
11. LET'S TAKE THE LONG WAY HOME
12. HITSUM-KITSUM-BUMPITY-ITSUM
13. RUM AND COCA COLA
14. I WANNA GET MARRIED
15. BELL BOTTOM TROUSERS
16. I WAS HERE WHEN YOU LEFT ME
17. SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
18. THERE! I'VE SAID IT AGAIN
19. I DON'T WANT TO BE LOVED (By Anyone Else But You)
20. THERE'S A BROKEN HEART FOR EVERY LIGHT ON BROADWAY
21. ON THE ATCHISON, TOPEKA AND THE SANTA FE
22. HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN
23. JUST A LITTLE FOND AFFECTION
24. EVERYBODY KNEW BUT ME
25. THE LIP
26. I'LL BE WITH YOU IN APPLE BLOSSOM TIME
27. PORGY

You can purchase this CD on Amazon or any supplier of great music or you can contact Jasmine Records HERE




Saturday, December 4, 2021

GUEST REVIEW: MERRILY WE LIVE

The late film guru Bruce Kogan is back his review of a 1938 film that I have never seen. His review makes me want to check it out though...

This was a film I never thought I would see. Not out on DVD it apparently wasn't shown for years. That's a pity because any film with 5 Oscar nods including Best Supporting Actress for Billie Burke should not be lost.

If it looks familiar that's because producer Hal Roach took a lot of themes from My Man Godfrey. The Kilbournes here look a lot like the Bullocks there. Irascible father Clarence Kolb who likes a toot every now and then, scatterbrained mother Billie Burke and three spoiled children. Constance Bennett, Tom Brown, and Bonita Granville.

Brian Aherne is driving along one day and stops to get some water for an overheating engine and the brake slips and his vehicle plunges down a canyon. He walks and looks somewhat disheveled when he arrives at the Kilbourne country home looking for help.

Billie Burke who takes care of tramps as a hobby sizes up Aherne as one and hires him as a chauffeur. If you saw My Man Godfrey I think you have a fair idea where this is going.


Hal Roach impeccably cast this film and some additional ones here are Ann Dvorak as a predatory society girl, Alan Mowbray as a stuffy butler and Patsy Kelly as a down to earth maid. I'm in complete agreement with another reviewer when he says he was impressed by Clarence Kolb's gift for physical comedy.

Sadly the reason that this film was not shown on TV for years was Willie Best at his shufflebutt worst. It was really offensive...

BRUCE'S RATING: 7 OUT OF 10


Friday, November 26, 2021

HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY: LINDA DARNELL

One of the most stunningly beautiful women in Hollywood was Linda Darnell. I feel her beauty was literally breathtaking. Sadly, Linda died tragically in a fire in 1965, but her beauty lives in, and here are a few examples of it...















Monday, November 22, 2021

MY FIVE FAVORITE FEMALE SINGERS

 Nothing relaxes me more than one of the great songbirds from the golden age of singing. Whenever I am feeling stressed out, I love going to my music room and just listen to golden voices in the dark and get lost in the audio aspirins. I made a list of my five favorite female singers in 2013 and 2019 so I figured I was due to update my list. There are so any great female singers out there...


5. BILLIE HOLIDAY (1915-1959)
People either love or hate Billie's voice, and I love her singing. From her early recordings in the mid 1930s with Benny Goodman to her said and weakened voice in the 1950s, Billie had a way to sell a song. Billie's best recording was "God Bless The Child". "God Bless the Child" became Holiday's most popular and most covered record. It reached number 25 on the charts in 1941 and was third in Billboard's songs of the year, selling over a million records. Billie died tragically too young but her voice lives on in so many vocal masterpieces. (rank in 2013: 9, rank in 2019: 6)


4. JUDY GARLAND (1922-1969)
Like Billie, Judy Garland conveyed so much in her voice. Judy became an icon for the gay movement, but she also was a great recording star. Her records I feel were even better than her movies. At a young age she was signed to Decca and recorded some great numbers there like "Figaro", "Over The Rainbow", "No Love No Nothin", and "This Heart Of Mine". She only recorded soundtracks afterwards at MGM Records, but once she signed with Capitol in the 1950s, she made some terrific albums. Again, like Billie, Judy died way too young. (rank in 2013: 10, rank in 2019: 8)


3. CONNEE BOSWELL (1907-1976)
If you need an audio aspirin, then please listen to Connee Boswell. Connee herself is widely considered one of the greatest jazz female vocalists and was a major influence on Ella Fitzgerald. After breaking up with her sisters in 1936, she made some great solo records for Decca for the next 20 years. Some of my favorite of these records are: "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart", "Sand In My Shoes", and "Why Don't You Fall In Love With Me" to just name a few. She made an excellent album for Decca in 1956 simply titled "Connee" with Sy Oliver and his Orchestra. Connee's last chart hit was "If I Give Myself To You" in 1954, and in my opinion I don't think she recorded enough. (rank in 2013: 2, rank in 2019: 3)

2. DINAH SHORE (1917-1994)
There is nothing finer than Dinah! After failing singing auditions for the bands of Benny Goodman, and both Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Shore struck out on her own. She became the first singer of her era to achieve huge solo success. She had a string of 80 charted popular hits, spanning 1940–1957. Eddie Cantor helped to discover her, and she got a contract to Bluebird in 1939 where she recorded such recordings as "Sleepy Lagoon" and "Yes, My Darling Daughter". She then went to Columbia and scored some mega hits like "Lavender Blue" and "Button And Bows". In the 1950s she also sang for Capitol Records for a time. Dinah became more widely known for her television shows by the 1960s, and her voice was not what it was, but she is still one of my favorite songbirds out there.(rank in 2013: 3, rank in 2019: 2)


1. JO STAFFORD (1917-2008)
Like Bing Crosby on my favorite male singer list, Jo Stafford has also been number one on my list for decades. In addition to her recordings with the Pied Pipers, Stafford featured in solo performances for Dorsey. After leaving the group in 1944, she recorded a series of pop standards for Capitol Records and Columbia Records. Many of her recordings were backed by the orchestra of Paul Weston. In the 1950s, Stafford had a string of popular hits with Frankie Laine, six of which charted. Their duet of the Hank Williams song "Hey Good Lookin'" made the top 10 in 1951. She had her best-known hits—"Jambalaya", "Shrimp Boats", "Make Love to Me", and "You Belong to Me"—around this time."You Belong to Me" was Stafford's biggest hit, topping the charts in the United States. Jo retired in 1970, and although she retired so young, she left us with such a great recording songbook. There was no one like Jo! (rank in 2013:1 rank in 2019: 1)

There are many other singers that I love too so here is my list of runners up to round out the top ten: Margaret Whiting (1924-2011), Peggy Lee (1920-2002), June Christy (1925-1990, Jeri Southern (1926-1991), and Kate Smith (1907-1986).

Friday, November 19, 2021

MOMMIE DEAREST AND WHAT WENT WRONG

Based on Joan Crawford's adopted daughter's autobiography,Mommie Dearest is an oddity in the annals of cinema, a film which harbours such terrible family secrets and dark, almost taboo, depictions of child abuse that has earned a reputation as a campy, cult classic. This supposedly authentic recreation of Christina Crawford's upbringing should be a cautionary tale, an intense insight into the terror that comes along with the emotional and physical abuse of a child but instead the film has come to be perceived as an unintentional comedy, spurred forward by Faye Dunaway's now infamous performance as Crawford and a multitude of instantly quotable one liners that sound like they would be more at home in a Jon Waters film (my favourite being Gregg Savitt's comment on Crawford's drinking - "When you were a kid that made you look sexy. Now it just makes you look drunk.")

I sat down to watch Mommie Dearest knowing full well of its reputation (this in fact being the reason I was so interested in it) but was puzzled to find myself quite emotionally effected by the scenes of abuse rather than being able to find any sort of humour in them. This isn't to say the film as a whole is particularly good; it is, in fact, fairly atrocious in terms of its shoddy set design, tonal inconsistencies and warped sense of pacing but I wasn't able to fully immerse myself in what I had heard was a fun filled, campy misadventure due to the fact that the abuse scenes seemed so inexorably authentic. I'm not quite sure that watching a woman beat her child with a wire coat hanger is ever comedic, despite the melodrama or laughable dialogue that may have come before it.


The most derided and infamous aspect of the film's legacy lies in Dunaway's extravagant performance as Joan Crawford. The outright insanity and evil that Dunaway purveys throughout the film means she becomes the center of attention for the audience and, because of this, any insight or subtext is lost upon the viewer. Like a tornado she manages to draw everything in the scene into her sphere whilst simultaneously tearing everything in it apart, both physically and cinematically. Strangely though, I would be hesitant to deride the performance as bad. It certainly has a negative effect on the film as a whole but Dunaway herself is hypnotic and compelling, channeling a raw dynamism into what could have been merely an impression. Pauline Kael herself has said "“Faye Dunaway gives a startling, ferocious performance in Mommie Dearest. It's deeper than an impersonation...she turns herself into Joan Crawford, all right, but she's more Faye Duanway than ever".

So, is this a case of a director letting his star overpower the feature? Dunaway herself has expressed regret over the film, stating that she wished that director Frank Perry had "had enough experience to see when actors needed to rein in their performances." Whilst she may be correct in her analysis here, it ignores the fact that everything else in the film is so mundane. Aside from a few catwalk-esque shots of Dunaway framed by curtains in a beautiful dress, there isn't any attempt at artistic expression here to even deride. Ebert praised the film's look in his review but I disagree with him; it looks like a made for TV-movie and concludes like a made-for TV movie, dull and predictable. I'd argue that the only thing keeping this film alive is Dunaway and for that she should be applauded.

What was everybody else's experience of this film? Did you find fun and games in it or was it difficult to sit through? I'm still perplexed by it...

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

THE REAL GYPSY ROSE LEE

Here is a great article in Life Magazine by Ben Cosgrove. It is much better than I could ever write...

Ask any American today under the age of, say, 40, “Who was Gypsy Rose Lee?” and chances are pretty good that the reaction will be utter bewilderment. “Gypsy Rose who?”

On the other hand, ask anyone who came of age in the 1940s or ’50s the same question, and the reaction will likely be something along the lines of, “Gypsy Rose Lee? I haven’t thought about her in decades! But let me tell you, back in the day. . . .”

Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick in Seattle in 1911) was and remains a force in American popular culture not because she acted in films (although she did act in films) or because she wrote successful mystery novels (although she did write successful mystery novels). The reason Lee’s influence endures can be attributed to two central elements of her remarkable, all-American life story: first, her 1957 memoir, Gypsy, which formed the basis for what more than a few critics laud as the greatest of all American musicals, the 1959 Styne-Sondheim-Laurents masterpiece, Gypsy; and second, her career in burlesque, when she became the most famous and perhaps the most singularly likable stripper in the world. (Modern “neo-burlesque” performers, like Dita Von Teese, Angie Pontani and others, cite Gypsy in near-reverent terms as a pioneer and inspiration.)


Here, LIFE.com celebrates Gypsy Rose Lee’s life and her career with a selection of pictures by George Skadding, a LIFE staffer far better known for photographing presidents (he was long an officer of the White House News Photographers Association) than burlesque stars. But, as the images in this gallery attest, Gypsy was hardly just another stripper; instead, as a performer, a wife and a mother of a young son, she had something about her an approachable, self-deprecating demeanor aligned with a quiet self-certainty that any politician would envy.

“I’m probably the highest paid outdoor entertainer since Cleopatra,” she’s quoted as saying in the June 6, 1949 issue of LIFE, in which many of these pictures first appeared. “And I don’t have to stand for some of the stuff she had to.”

“Confidently taking her place among history’s great ladies, Gypsy has for the first time in her life gone outdoors professionally,” LIFE wrote at the beginning of Gypsy’s six-month tour with what was called “the world’s largest carnival,” The Royal American Shows. The prospect of having to do her old strip-tease act 8 to 15 times a day “all across the country to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,” meanwhile, although hardly thrilling to the 38-year-old mom, was also something Gypsy could, characteristically, put in perspective:

“For $10,000 a week,” she told LIFE, “I can afford to climb the slave block once in a while.”


She also, as LIFE put it, “had it soft, as carny performers’ lives go. She lives in her own trailer with her third husband, the noted Spanish painter, Julio de Diego. With them is her 4-year-old son, Erik [film director Otto Preminger’s child, as it turned out] and his nurse. Gypsy, who loves to fish, carries an elaborate angler’s kit, and whenever the show plays near a river, goes out and hooks fish as ably as she does customers.”

But it’s in the notes of writer Arthur Shay, who spent a week with the star in Memphis, Tennessee, in May 1949, that we meet the woman who emerges when the lights go down and the crowds depart and it’s clearly this Gypsy who truly connected to audiences wherever she went:

“Funny thing about show people or just plain fans,” she told Shay at one point, offering insights into the appeal of her nomadic life. “They think if you’re not in Hollywood or on Broadway making a couple of thousand a week taking guff from everybody and his cousin in the west, and sweating out poor crowds on Broadway you’re not doing well. [But] I’ve been touring the country playing nightclubs and making twice as much as I made in the movies, and having more fun! I get a lot more fishing done, for one thing, and I can live in my trailer and see the country.”

Gypsy Rose Lee died in April, 1970, of lung cancer. She was 59 years old...


Friday, November 12, 2021

DANA PLATO: ANOTHER TORTURED CHILD STAR

I was raised in the 1980s, and watching television was the main form of relaxing. This was before cell phones and computers! I remember my first crush I ever had was Dana Plato, who played ther daughter on the hit series "Different Strokes" from 1978 to 1986. Sadly, as with so many younger stars, her life ended sadly.

Dana was also remembered for her troubled life after "Different Strokes" when her career spiraled downward after becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. She was born in Maywood, California on November 7, 1964  to an 16-year-old unmarried teenager who gave her up for adoption. When she was three years old, her adoptive parents divorced and her mother started auditioning her at an early age. At the age of seven, she began doing television commercials for companies as diverse as Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dole, and Atlantic Richfield. In 1977 she made her film debut in Return to Boggy Creek. She was also an accomplished figure skater, and at one point she was training for a possible Olympic team spot. 

During this time she was spotted by a producer during a brief appearance on the daytime television's "The Gong Show," and won her role on "Diff'rent Strokes" and the show was an immediate hit. In 1984 she became pregnant by her boyfriend, rock guitarist Lanny Lambert, and the show's producers of felt that a pregnancy would fit the show's wholesome image, so she was let go but returned for several appearances during its final season. The two married in April 1984 but separated in January 1988, a week after her adoptive mother's death. 


After "Diff'rent Strokes" was cancelled, she attempted to establish herself as a serious actress, but found it difficult to step out of the long shadows cast by her sitcom career and ended up taking roles in B-movies such as "Bikini Beach Race" and "Lethal Cowboy." During this time, she also posed for Playboy magazine. In 1991 she ended up in Las Vegas, Nevada unemployed and took a job at a dry-cleaning store. On February 28, she entered a video store, produced a gun, and demanded the money in the register. Approximately 15 minutes after the robbery, she returned to the scene and was immediately arrested. The gun was only a pellet gun and the robbery netted her $164. Las Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton posted her bail and she was given five years' probation. 

She made headlines and became part of the national debate over troubled child stars, particularly given the difficulties of her "Diff'rent Strokes" co-stars, Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges. In January 1992 she was arrested again, this time for forging a prescription for Diazepam. She served 30 days in jail for violation of the terms of her probation and immediately entered a drug program. The same year, she was one of the first celebrities to star in a video game. The game, "Night Trap," was not a great success, but is considered a pioneering title as it was the first game to use live actors, specifically a well known personality, and was one of the first video game titles to have mature content and attracted controversy due to its depiction of violence. 


Toward the end of her career, she chose roles that could be considered erotic or even soft-core pornography, appearing partially nude in Prime Suspect (1988) and Compelling Evidence (1995), but her most infamous film was the 1997 pornographic movie Different Strokes: The Story of Jack and Jill...and Jill. On May 7, 1999 she traveled to New York City, New York with her finance Robert Menchaca, where she appeared on "The Howard Stern Show" to talk frankly about her life, including her run-ins with the law, financial problems, and drug and alcohol addictions. She admitted to being a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, but claimed that she had been sober for more than ten years by that point, and was not using any drugs, with the exception of prescribed painkillers due to discomfort and pain from the recent extraction of her wisdom teeth. 

The following day, she and Menchaca were returning to California and stopped by his mother's home in Moore, Oklahoma, for a Mother's Day visit. She went to lie down inside her recreational vehicle parked outside the house and subsequently died of an overdose of the muscle-relaxant Vanadom (Soma) and painkiller Lortab at the age of 34. Her death was ruled a suicide. Tragically, almost 11 years to the day of her death, her son Tyler Lambert committed suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. It is sad that Dana Plato never escaped the horror of being a child star. Dana and her son deserved better...


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

FORGOTTEN ONES: GARY CROSBY

I have taken a look at three of the sons Bing Crosby had with his first wife, Dixie Lee. However, I hesitated to profile Bing's oldest son Gary Crosby. As a lifelong fan of Der Bingle, I have been bitter against Gary for the scathing book he wrote about his father in 1983. However, now nearly 40 years later, it is what it is. Bing had a very difficult relationship with his four sons especially Gary. Despite that book, Gary's life was a life worth living, and I feel his life should not be forgotten.

Gary Crosby was born on June 27, 1933 in Los Angeles and graduated from Stanford University. He entered the entertainment business and performed in a harmony singing group, The Crosby Boys, with his three brothers, Philip, Lindsay, and Dennis, during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. As a teenager, he sang with his father on numerous records songs, and two of them "Sam's Song" and "Play a Simple Melody",  became the first double-sided gold record in history.  He also recorded duets with Louis Armstrong and at least one 45-single with Sammy Davis Jr.. He also performed on several variety programs, including ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford. In the mid-1950s, Gary also had his own radio program, the Gary Crosby Show on CBS. The musical variety program debuted June 6, 1954, as a summer replacement for Bing Crosby's show.


As an actor, Crosby appeared in many television programs. On March 20, 1955, he appeared on the Jack Benny Program Season 5, Episode 13. Later, he was briefly under contract to 20th Century-Fox in the late 1950s. He appeared in a number of supporting roles for the studio, normally comedies in which Crosby played a soldier: Mardi Gras (1958) with Pat Boone; Holiday for Lovers (1959), as Carol Lynley's love interest; A Private's Affair (1959), with Sal Mineo; The Right Approach (1961) with Frankie Vaughan. Gary spent a small stint in the military where he was stationed with Elvis Presley whom he would make Girl Crazy with in 1965.

He is perhaps best-remembered for his recurring roles as Eddie the scheming bellhop on The Bill Dana Show and Officer Edward "Ed" Wells on NBC's Adam-12 from 1968–75, as well as appearances on several other shows produced by Jack Webb's Mark VII Limited (including an episode of Dragnet 1969 and five episodes of Emergency!). In addition to the aforementioned, he also appeared in three episodes of The Rockford Files.


In the 1970s, he appeared occasionally on game shows such as Match Game and Tattletales as a guest panelist. He married and divorced three times; he had one stepchild as a result. A lifelong alcoholic, Gary jumped at the change to write about his famous father. The children of other famous stars such as Christina Crawford (daughter of Joan Crawfrod) had made millions off of the tell-all tales of growing up famous.

In 1983, six years after his father's death, Crosby published an autobiography, Going My Own Way, which revealed the effects of his alcoholism and his difficult childhood as a result of his mother's alcoholism and his father's emotional and physical abuse. Some, especially his brother Phillip, said the abuse was not as severe as Crosby described. Gary himself reportedly admitted the book was a big exaggeration to make money.

In the late 1980s, Gary gained peace in his life and became sober. At the time of his death, he was planning a duets album with his father like Natalie Cole had done with her father Nat King Cole. Gary Crosby died of lung cancer in Burbank, California on August 24,1995, and is interred at Forest Lawn-Hollywood Hills Cemetery. Just like Gary Crosby made peace with his father, I feel I need to make peace with Gary's book. Who know how anyone would have turned out if they had Gary's life. The important thing is that he finally had peace at the end...

RIP: DEAN STOCKWELL

Dean Stockwell, an American actor with a career that spanned more than 70 years, died on Sunday. He was 85.

Sources representing the actor say that he died peacefully, in his sleep at home.

Among his best credits were a leading role in the sci-fi series “Quantum Leap,” “Air Force One” and David Lynch films “Dune” and “Blue Velvet.”

Born as Robert Dean Stockwell in March 1936, Stockwell began his career as a child actor under contract to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His first know film appearance was in “Valley of Decision” in 1945. Other early titles included “Anchors Aweigh” and “The Green Years.”


Arguably, Stockwell’s biggest role was as Admiral ‘Al’ Calavicci in NBC sci-series “Quantum Leap” which ran for five seasons between 1989 and 1993. The womanizing, larger than life character was the foil for Scott Bakula’s role as Dr. Sam Beckett, a physicist who engaged in space time experiments.

The role earned Stockwell multiple nominations for the Primetime Emmys and for the Golden Globes, with a Golden Globe win in 1990 for “best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, miniseries or motion picture made for television.” Stockwell received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on Feb. 29, 1992.

Stockwell earned a supporting actor Oscar nomination for 1988 film “Married to the Mob.” Before that he was twice named best actor at the Cannes film festival in 1959 and 1962. The first of these was for “Compulsion,” in which Stockwell reprised a role he had earlier played on Broadway.


Stockwell famously dropped in and out of his acting career. In the 1960s, he joined the Topanga Canyon hippie group did drugs and participated in love-ins. In the early 1980s, after becoming depressed about his restarted acting career, Stockwell obtained a real estate license and moved out of Hollywood. He was apparently persuaded by Harry Dean Stanton to return and try again.

What followed were roles in some of the era’s defining movies. These included Wim Wenders’ “Paris, Texas,” “To Live and Die in L.A.,” “The Rainmaker,” “Robert Altman’s “The Player,” “Married to the Mob” and the two Lynch movies.

He went on to have recurring roles in “Battlestar Galactica” series and “The Tony Danza Show.”