Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Book of the Month: My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business

Written by one of televisions most beloved funny men, Dick Van Dyke's autobiography, My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business, covers everything from his early days on radio and television at its birth, his stint in WWII, the beloved TV show named after him, meeting silent film stars Stan Laurel and Buster Keaton, his Disney films, the rocky 60s, his personal struggles, and his later work, including his fairly recent role in Night at the Museum where he impressed the cast by doing most of his own stunts.

With a forward by Carl Reiner, the 280 page book is a quick and easy read (I will admit though, I skipped/skimmed the later chapters on his struggles and divorce as I never like to read that sort of thing) and contains stories that Dick Van Dyke fans won't want to miss. I especially enjoyed reading about The Dick Van Dyke Show.

For example:

Many of the episodes were based on actual things that had happened to different members of the cast. When Dick told about how his younger brother Jerry used to sleepwalk, it was written into a two-part episode with Jerry Van Dyke as the guest star.

Dicks wife Margie rarely came to the set because she said he acted pretty much the same as he did at home.

The cast knew from the beginning that creato Carl Reiner intended to stop after 5 seasons. The show was canceled after the first season due to a bad time slot (they were competing with the hugely popular Perry Como show) but after it found its audience in summer re-runs, it was picked back up.

Did you know there are words to the shows theme song? They were written by Morley Amsterdam, who played Buddy Sorrell on the show.

So you think that you got trouble
Well trouble's a bubble
So tell old Mister Trouble to get lost.

Why not hold your head up high, and
Stop cryin'
Start tryin'
And don't forget to keep your fingers crossed.

When you find the joy of liven'
Is lovin'
And given'
You'll be there when the winning dice are tossed.

A smile's just a frown
That's turned upside down
So smile, and that frown
Will defrost
And dont forget to keep your fingers crossed.

The Petrie's last name was supposed to be pronounce Pee-tree but Dick Van Dyke mispronounced it and no one corrected him.

The title of the show came about at the last minute. However, everyone was worried that no one would watch the show as Dick Van Dyke was a household name. Rose Marie, who played Sally Rogers, even quipped, "What is a Dick Van Dyke?" (In the walnut episode, guest star Danny Thomas says, "What is a Danny Thomas?").


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Faces of Classic TV

Alice Pierce - Bewitched

Barbara Billingsly - Leave it to Beave

Irene Ryan - The Beverly Hillbillies

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Three Stooges in Ancient Times

The Three Stooges began as a vaudeville act, "Ted Healy and his Stooges" in the mid-1920s. The "Stooges" were Moe and Shemp Howard and Larry Fine. The four made a feature film titled Soup to Nuts, after which Shemp left to start a solo film career. Younger brother Curly Howard took his place. Two years later, the trio left Healy and began to make short subject comedies or "shorts" for Columbia Pictures. Between the years of 1934 and 1946, they made over 90 short films. In 1946, Curly dropped out due to health reasons and Shemp took the role as the third Stooge once again until his death in 1955. Curly died in 1952.

The Three Stooges were usually set in "modern" times - the Depression, WWII - but they also covered everything from Cave Men to Cowboys, often utilizing sets from historical films being made at Columbia at the time. The two shorts below are set in "Ancient" Times. I hope you enjoy them!

Matri-Phony (1942) - Ancient Rome

Mummy's Dummies (1948) - Ancient Egypt

All in all, the Stooges (including later replacement Joe Besser and Joe DeRita) made a total of 190 shorts, all which have been released recently on dvd. Since hitting the airwaves in 1958, The Three Stooges has been a staple on television, even to this day.

I will leave you with this excerpt from the Ted Okuda and Edward Watz book The Columbia Comedy Shorts:
Many scholarly studies of motion picture comedy have overlooked the Three Stooges entirely – and not without valid reasoning. Aesthetically, the Stooges violated every rule that constitutes "good" comedic style. Their characters lacked the emotional depth of Charlie Chaplin and Harry Langdon; they were never as witty or subtle as Buster Keaton. They were not disciplined enough to sustain lengthy comic sequences; far too often, they were willing to suspend what little narrative structure their pictures possessed in order to insert a number of gratuitous jokes. Nearly every premise they have employed (spoofs of westerns, horror films, costume melodramas) has been done to better effect by other comedians. And yet, in spite of the overwhelming artistic odds against them, they were responsible for some of the finest comedies ever made. Their humor was the most undistilled form of low comedy; they were not great innovators, but as quick laugh practitioners, they place second to none. If public taste is any criterion, the Stooges have been the reigning kings of comedy for over fifty years.
This post is part of The Sword & Sandal Blogathon hosted by Moon in Gemini. The subject may be ancient, but the posts aren't!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Olivia de Havilland's TV Appearances

Olivia de Havilland was, and is, a big movie star. Not only has she reached the monumental landmark of turning 100 today, but she is a living icon.

Some movie stars had second careers in television, some had movie careers that had died and were just appearing in television as an alternative. And some were barely in it.

Olivia appeared in four television episodes, two TV mini-series, and five TV movies. Unfortunately I did not have as much success finding the episodes to watch that I did with my post on Bette Davis.

Here is a list of Olivia's television appearances:

1965: The Big Valley "Winner Lose All"
1966: ABC Stage 67 "Noon Wine"
1968: The Danny Thomas Hour "The Last Hunters"
1981: The Love Boat "The Duel/Two for Julie/Aunt Hilly"

ABC Stage 67 "Noon Wine"

1979: Roots, the Next Generations - ep. 1.1 & 1.2
1986: North and South, Book II - ep. 1.3 & 1.4 (other four ep. credits only)

1972: The Screaming Woman
1982: Murder is Easy
1982: The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana (she plays the Queen Mother) - looks painful to watch considering we know the outcome, but Olivia's part looks good!
1986: Anastasia, the Mystery of Anna (the Dowager Empress Maria) - features a young Christian Bale!
1988: The Woman He Loved

Olivia also appeared several times on What's My Line.

This post is part of The Olivia de Havilland Centenary Blogathon. Click below to view all of the posts from the event.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Photo of the Week: Desi Arnaz and "sons"

Desi Arnaz cheers on the Dodgers with Desi Jr. and child actor Richard Keith who played "Little Ricky" on I Love Lucy, 1958.