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.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quote of the Week: Lou Grant on Mary's Dinner Parties

It's not that I don't have a good time at your parties, Mary. I've had some of the worst times in my life!
~ Lou Grant, 4:10 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Photo of the Week: Dan Blocker of "Bonanza"

Dan Blocker and his wife, Dolphia Parker, married 1949 until Blocker's death in 1972.
Four children: Dirk, David, Debra, & Danna.
My dad's uncle lived down the street from Dan Blocker's brother in Texas.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Book of the Month: I, Rhoda

Last week I finished reading Valerie Harper's autobiography I, Rhoda. It was funny, down-to-earth, and brutally honest, just like Rhoda.

I love Rhoda Morgenstern. She is such a relatable character in that she has everyday struggles, just like the rest of us. And what better way to find out more about Rhoda than to read about the woman who made her come to life, Valerie Harper?

In reading I, Rhoda, I learned so many interesting things about the woman behind the character, Valerie Harper. Did you know she trained many years to be a dancer? That she was married to Dick Schaal, who appeared on numerous episodes of both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and it's spin-off series Rhoda as various characters (remember the guy from season one of MTM that's obsessed with Mary and to whom Rhoda says that immortal line, "I'd like to introduce myself, I'm another person in the room."). I learned about her struggles, her meetings with legends of Hollywood (she saw Rock Hudson at the giant statue of Jesus in Rio de Janeiro, or how her trainer boyfriend helped Paul Newman with his back pain), behind-the-scenes of the MTM show, the origin of the head scarf, and much, much more!

If you are a fan of Rhoda Morgenstern, then you will want to read this book. This is an autobiography I didn't want to put down and you won't either.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Fresh Start

Ok, it's time for me to whip this blog back into shape. I have neglected it shamefully for over two months and I have no excuse. The problem was, I was basically only posting my Bewitched outfit posts and if I didn't watch an episode and take screenshots of all of Sam's clothes, well, I just didn't have anything to post! And posting an episode everyday make it difficult to keep up, especially if I'm wanting to watch other TV shows in addition to movies for my movie blog. So, here is how things are going to be on THIS blog:

On Sundays I will post a Quote of the Week. Since I am re-watching the first four seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore show they will probably mostly be quotes by Rhoda Morgenstern.

On Mondays I will share a photo of a Classic TV Star or a Behind-the-Scenes photo from a Classic TV show.

On Tuesdays I will spotlight a room from a Classic TV set, for example, the Steven's living room, Tabitha's bedroom, etc. Doing one room at a time will be easier than trying to post an entire house.

The rest of the week will be regular posts (aka hopefully I'll start watching Bewitched again).

On the first of the month I want to highlight a book about Classic Television, whether it be a biography of a TV star or one about television shows in general.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Guest Star Bette Davis - Her Television Appearances

Bette Davis. Her name is well known to the classic movie fan and the modern movie fan. However, it's not a name one would generally associate with Classic Television. But Bette Davis DID appear on the small screen, in such classic shows as Gunsmoke and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. This post will look at some of her television appearances as well as provide links to watch them.

Bette Davis was 44 when she first appeared as a guest star in a television series. According to IMDb, here are the shows she appeared in. I was able to find over half of them on Youtube and a couple on Hulu (all free, links included - download them while they are still there!). If any of the videos have been removed, let me know and I will upload it to my channel (I downloaded them all to my laptop).

All Star Revue (1952) ep. 2:33

The 20th Century Fox Hour (1956), Crack-Up

Schlitz Playhouse (1957) For Better, For Worse
          Who drank the scotch? That's the question John Williams asks his new wife, Bette Davis. Turns out, she's a compulsive liar - daddy issues. At first seems like an odd role for Davis - a new bride in love is not what one imagines when hearing her name. Making her a liar, well, that changes things. Then throw in a little hit-and-run accident. This is the "for worse" side of marriage.

The Ford Television Theatre (1957) Footnote on a Doll
          Recognize that voice coming from the doorway? It's Cinderella's wicked stepmother/Maleficent! Is the other lady familiar too? It's the millionaire's "and his wife" from Gilligan's Island!
          Davis plays former first lady Dolly Madison. She's is invited to tea by a spiteful woman intent on embarrassing her by also inviting Madison's alcoholic gambler son.

Telephone Time (1957) Stranded
          Davis is a rural schoolteacher in Minnesota stranded with five students in a one-room schoolhouse during a blizzard. When the electricity goes out, and with it the telephone and furnace, they must use their wits to survive. Luckily there is a cast iron stove but how will they keep warm after all the books and desks have been burned? Will they be able to hold out until help arrives?


Studio 57 (1958) The Starmaker
          Davis teams up with real life husband, Gary Merrill, for this episode. Davis runs an acting agency and has to deal with moody young actor with an overbearing famous father. There are a couple comical scenes.


General Electric Theater (1957&1958) With Malice Toward One & The Cold Touch
          In the first episode, Davis is an aspiring novelist attending a writers conference (yes, that's Aunt Bee as her seamstress!). At the conference, her story she submitted is brutally criticized by the lecturer, who has chosen it at random. Bette teaches him a lesson he won't forget soon!

          The second episode takes us to the Crown City of Hong Kong. Davis's husband is called to the telephone while they are waiting for their room to be finished and doesn't return. Turns out, he didn't take the call either, but left the hotel with two men. The police are no help, so she accepts the assistance of a local. The quality of this video is particularly bad but it's one you won't want to miss how Bette handles the situation!

Suspicion (1958) Fraction of a Second

Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1959) Out There - Darkness

The DuPont Show with June Allyson (1959) Dark Morning
           This one was a goodie! Bette Davis is living alone until the arrival of her eleven year old niece. The niece seems normal.. a little shy perhaps. Then we learn that her parents were shot with no one but their daughter in the house and no leads as to who else could have killed them. The girl has just spent the last year under observation to see if she is mentally unstable but was completely cleared. The community in which Davis lives is not happy to have a suspected - in their mids confirmed - murderer in their midst! Would have been great as a full length movie (with Joan Crawford as the girl's mother)!

Wagon Train (1959 & 1961) The Ella Lindstrom Story, The Elizabeth McQueeny Story (post here), & The Bettina May Story


The Virginian (1962) The Accomplice (post here)
          Bette plays a bank-teller involved in a hold-up. She identifies one of the Virginian's friends as the shooter, even though she knows he didn't do it, and blackmails the real shooter so she can go to Rome.

Perry Mason (1963) The Case of Constant Doyle (clip)

With Paul Drake (William Hopper, son of famed columnist Hedda Hopper)

Un-aired TV Pilot for the Bette Davis Show released as TV Movie The Decorator (1966)
          By the laugh track we know this show is supposed to be a comedy. Davis is, as the title suggests, a decorator, interior to be exact. She hasn't had a decorating job in a while and the bills are piling up. Her next client is a millionaire from Oklahoma. "That's south of here, isn't it?" He lives in Oil City, and in order to decorate his house, Bette must go there and live in his house for the time it takes to decorate it.

Breakfast is a meal for ditch-diggers and drum majorettes.

The Judge's house. "What time do Roy and Dale ride up?"

While I enjoyed this episode, it was strange to watch a sitcom starring the great Bette Davis. She's more the "witty comeback" type, if she's going to say anything funny. Something unpleasant to hear - Bette Davis's cigarette laugh WITH the laugh track going at the same time... Even with its oddities though, I wouldn't have minded seeing more episodes.

Do you think my type is coming back?

Gunsmoke (1966) The Jailer (was removed from YT) - you can read a great post on it here - includes a little info on her Perry Mason appearance too.
          Six years ago, Marshall Dillon had a man arrested. He hung and the three of the sons went to prison. Now they are out and Bette Davis, the wife, can get her revenge. She kidnaps Miss Kitty in order to get Matt Dillon. Now she's going to hang him in front of Miss Kitty like he had her husband hung in front of her.

It Takes a Thief (1970) Touch of Magic

She also appeared as herself on What's My Line here & here.

This post is part of The Bette Davis Blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Please take a look at all of the other posts on this legendary actress, along with my contribution on my other blog, Phyllis Loves Classic Movies.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Batman V Superman: TV Edition

Turner Classic Movies is celebrating the release of Batman V Superman today by showing old comics movies. I thought I would share a few TV/cartoon videos with you.

The 1960s Batman TV show is the only Batman I have seen, and my favorite. Adam West IS Batman. Burt Ward IS Robin. I keep hoping to one day be able to afford all three seasons on dvd. I also want the Ken and Barbie that was made recently but I highly doubt I'll ever get them... Na na na na na na na na Batman!
POW!    ZAP!    BANG!

I saw Man of Steel (2013) I theaters mainly because I like Henry Cavill. The movie was good but could have been better. I wish Cavill would have had more dialogue rather than just destroy a city... So, I highly doubt I will shell out ten bucks to go see the sequel in theaters. I'll just wait till it comes to Redbox. I'd rather watch the old 1940s Superman cartoons anyway...

The Mad Scientist

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Bewitched S1 E10: Just One Happy Family

Air Date: November 19, 1964

Episode Description: Samantha's warlock father learns she is married and drops by to meet Darrin. What he doesn't know is that Darrin is a mortal.

Sam wears the dress from episodes 3,4 & 6. The TV repair man tries to gyp Sam, unsuccessfully.

Sweater and slacks from episode 8.
A complete look at the dress worn in episode 7. First episode with Samantha's warlock father, Maurice, played by Maurice Evans.

A look at the back of the dress.

White pumps complete the look.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bewitched S1 E9: The Girl Reporter

Air Date: November 12, 1964

Episode Description: A college student interviews Darrin. Her boyfriend becomes jealous.

Sam wearing what appears to be the dress we glimpsed at the beginning of episode 6

Wearing the matching floral separates from episodes 3 & 7.

And the robe from episodes 5 & 6.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bewitched S1 E8: Witch or Wife

Air Date: November 5, 1964

Episode Description: Darrin is stuck with a heavy workload while Larry is away on business. A bored Samantha goes against her better judgment and goes to lunch with Endora... in Paris. While they are there they run into Larry and Louise (first appearance in the show). When Darrin finds out he thinks Samantha may be happier without him.

Sam getting out the dress first worn in episode 3 for dinner with Darrin.

Elizabeth Montgomery makes even an ordinary bathrobe glamorous.

What you wear when your husband can't make it to dinner after all. This robe was first worn in episode 6.

Reading a note pinned to Darrin's pillow. This negligee has delicate ruffles and a gathered bustline (I'm sure there's a name for it but I don't know it).

V-neck sweater and slacks (I wonder if this is one of the tops worn is season 3 that we have seen so far?)

These photos shows the detailing on the sweater (pretty sure it's the same one).

Here's another photo that looks like it may be the same sweater so I think it is safe to say the above sweater is beige.

Attending a fashion show in Paris. Note how the ribbon tie on the top threads behind the pockets. Hat and gloves required.

A better look at the hat and the material of the top and skirt.
This outfit was also featured on the cover of TV in a golden color.

Strapless two-tone evening gown with matching stole and beading detail.

Tweed skirt and collarless jacket (I see it in a pale pink like this skirt and jacket in pink eggshell from Really Wild Clothing shown below). Worn with a white top. Note the double pockets. The colorized version has it yellow with an aqua green trim.
I leave you with some advice from Endora (sitting on top of a plane).