Thursday, May 27, 2010

Great Review by

In the world of books about classic television there aren't a lot of original ideas. Profile some shows and try to provide some fresh insight, that's pretty much the standard. But a book I'm reading now - The Lucky Strike Papers - is truly unique. It's Andrew Lee Fielding's archeological dig into the career of his mother, Sue Bennett, a popular singer on early TV programs like Your Hit Parade, The Freddie Martin Show, and Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge. The author delves deep into TV obscura to focus on what life and television were like in the not-so-nifty fifties, into how blacklisting affected these shows and others, the haphazard nature of the new, unreliable technology, and what it meant to be part of one of the most revolutionary upheavals in American history. It's a loving journey back to an era when television was a mystery to everyone involved, when charm and talent were prerequisites for appearing in people's homes. Imagine that. One of the more fascinating aspects of this book to me were the chapters related to Kay Kyser's TV program, an hour-long, live variety and game show combined. An under appreciated musical genius Kyser walked away from show business - and his hit TV show - in 1950 when he retired to Chapel Hill, North Carolina at age 45.
I actually got to know Kyser's daughter Kimberly in the 1990s and had the pleasure to meet her mom Georgia Carroll Kyser (a vocalist and a model many called the most beautiful woman in America) at her lovely home in the heart of the city, practically on the UNC campus. This was when I was working on a web site for a proposed documentary on the man that I'm still shocked didn't get funded. It's not a tightly told story, meandering and going off on tangents, but that's one of the aspects I liked about the book. The Lucky Strike Papers vividly recreates the sophomoric excitement behind the blurry, flickering pictures that came to define that piece of furniture that changed our lives. If you even know who Ishkabibble or Snooky Lanson are you're in for a treat. There are lots of pictures and screen captures to illustrate the story, this would be a terrific book to take on vacation.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tales well calculated to keep you in...SUSPENSE!

The longest-running anthology program specializing in mystery and horror came to life in 1942 with "The Burning Court" over the Columbia Broadcasting System, and gained a strong audience until 1962. Hollywood movie stars played roles (either as the victims or the murderers) in chilling stories from the masters of mystery. The radio program gained enough popularity to spawn two television programs, two mystery magazines and a series of comic books. Researched and cross-referenced by (name of author), this book delves into the background of each episode, including authorship and cast credits. If you own a few radio broadcasts or television episodes, this book is a must-have companion piece for your bookshelf.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Congratulations, Jane Briggeman!

2010 Independent Publisher Awards
Performing Arts

Gold: The Tattooed Lady: A History, by Amelia Klem Osterud (Fulcrum Publishing/Speck Press)

Silver (tie): Alice Guy Blaché: Cinema Pioneer, by Joan Simon (Yale University Press) and Inspired to Dance: Everything You Need to Know about Becoming a Professional Dancer Without Breaking a Leg, by Mande Dagenais (iUniverse)

Bronze: Burlesque: A Living History, by Jane Briggman (BearManor Media)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Its series title mentioned women, but its top three stars were men! It pioneered a new kind of story-telling with its pilot episode; its last episode was years ahead of its time. Many thought it doomed to failure - it became one of the 1968-69 season's biggest hits! It was the 1968-70 ABC-TV/Screen Gems series, HERE COME THE BRIDES! In ‘Gangway, Lord! (The) Here Come the Brides Book,' readers will learn how the approach series star Robert Brown took to his role changed the dramatic direction of the series. They will learn of the practicality of up-and-coming television superstar David Soul. Of the extraordinary opportunity handed to leading lady Bridget Hanley through the role of New Bedford bride ‘Candy Pruitt.' Featuring profiles of the series' creators, regulars and semi-regulars, a mini-history of 1960s and ‘70s television, and a chapter on HCTB's extraordinary and deeply devoted fan base, ‘Gangway, Lord! (The) Here Come the Brides Book' takes the reader back to the days of the series' original run, illustrating the show's popularity and impact on a week by week basis through a look at its competition, the appearances of its stars on talk shows and game shows, the number of fan magazine articles published on teen superstar Bobby Sherman and the rest of its cast. Including commentary and ‘making of the episode' anecdotes from guest stars, guest writers, and guest directors, ‘Gangway, Lord! (The) Here Come the Brides Book' offers very strong evidence that the 1960s and ‘70s was truly THE REAL GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Busy, Busy Authors!

Mickey Smith's How Fibber McGee & Molly Won WWII was featured, with cover photo, in the quarterly alumni magazine of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy (circulation 7500) and the University of Mississippi Alumni Review (circulation 20,000). He also has a signing scheduled for on June 3rd.

Charles Tranberg will be on "Radio Once More" again this coming Monday at 9PM Eastern, this time to discuss his Agnes Moorehead biography. He also submits fine articles to Classic Images/Films of the Golden Age about our favorite stars of yore.

Friday, May 21, 2010

It's Ready!

Laurence Oliver referred to her as an "angel." Director Henry Hathaway claimed she was a "bitch." Critics hailed Ann Harding as the finest actress to venture from Broadway to Hollywood. Her unique, natural screen presence in Holiday (1930) earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. From 1929-1936, Harding reigned as cinema's "Gallant Lady." Ann's ethereal quality belied a passionate nature. Her affairs with three remarkably talented and very married men associated with the film industry could have easily outraged fans and quashed her career. Theater visionary-director Jasper Deeter, Ann's life-long mentor, remarked that Ann was a master at hiding her childish, stubborn temperament. Friends of Ann's daughter, Jane Otto, claim that despite Ann's highly publicized custody battles. as a mother, Ann was "detached." Ann Harding - Cinema's Gallant Lady pays tribute to her career, and unveils a complex portrait of one of stage and cinemas most remarkable talents.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jack Couffer

"He's a Hyphenate". That's Hollywood lingo for a person who has done more than one job on a film. Director-Writer-Cameraman-Producer-Naturalist, and Oscar nominee, Jack Couffer falls into that rare niche of multi-taskers who has done it all. He has made movies of many genres all over the world, but his specialty has been films with animals sharing the screen with human characters.

Ring of Bright Water, Never Cry Wolf, Out of Africa, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and Living Free all bore the Couffer identity. This is the story of the pains and joys in making these and many other delightful films.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

They like it!

Here's what the Midwest Book Review said about this book:

"Enhanced with 58 color plates, fold-outs and illustrations by Toby Bluth (noted children's artist and Walt Disney animation art director), Malcolm Willits' The Wonderful Edison Time Machine is a delightful "coffee table artbook sized" novel in which four boys travel back through time to 1929 in an effort to prevent "Black Friday", the day the stock market crashed and precipitated the Great Depression. The story is original, loaded with cinematic references and humor, and evokes a sense of adventure in the capstone year of the Roaring Twenties. With its large print format, The Wonderful Edison Time Machine is highly recommended reading for readers young and old alike."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Look what's new at BearManor Media!

Take a magic carpet ride with Sabu and John Justin as they battle the evil vizier Jaffar in order to save the beautiful princess from a fate worse than death! Lavishly illustrated with over 200 color and black-and-white photos from this classic film, including many deleted scenes and production shots, and accompanied by additional text by Jim Danforth explaining the wizardry behind the special effects, this volume contains all the information for which any fan could wish.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Keystone Krowd

At Mack Sennett's Fun Factory it was all laughs: flying pies, bathing beauties on the beach, traintrack thrills, cliffhangers, sight gags, and rehearsed spontaniety. All that was required for the anxious distributors and eager movie audiences was A Reel a Week. Silent film pianist Stuart Oderman met and played for many of THE KEYSTONE KROWD and their contemporaries for whom making comedy was a very serious business. He also listened... THE KEYSTONE KROWD is a document of the twilight years of many of Sennett's innovators, who were still able to recall their early days when filmmaking was in its infancy. Come read their last opportunity to leave their impressions of themselves and their times from a golden era. From the man who brought you Talking to the Piano Player (and its upcoming sequel) comes an amazing history of the greatest comedy studio in history - Keystone.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Been there, done that

Michael A. Hoey is the son of British actor Dennis Hoey, best remembered for his portrayal of Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard in the Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone.

. . A combination memoir and history of the film business covering the decades from the 40's through the present. Here is an examination of classic Hollywood and such iconic studio bosses as Jack L. Warner, Darryl Zanuck and Walt Disney, plus memorable actors and directors, including John Ford, Fred Zinneman, George Cukor and Elvis Presley, Charlton Heston, Basil Rathbone, Angela Landsbury and Jane Wyman. Filled with the personal recollections of someone who lived it, it is also the story of a father and son, their careers and their turbulent relationship. Interwoven into these stories are numerous historical episodes about Hollywood, Broadway and Television.

. . "It's a look at Hollywood from the inside ... a fascinating glimpse at some of the industry's heavy hitters, as told by someone who was there in the trenches -- right from boyhood!" - Tom Weaver

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Need a Laugh?

For the first time ever, be privy to the open caverns of mirth that is the prolific Philip Rapp joke file! Rapp, writer for Baby Snooks, Eddie Cantor and creator of the Bickersons, wrote and collected jokes for years, drawing from it during his classic radio and TV years. Now we've taken the best quips and put them together for one great and funny book!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hey! This is fun!

The year is 1989. A crowd that numbers in the hundreds has gathered in the parking lot of the Hill Valley High School to welcome home its favorite alum - Marty McFly. His band, The Pinheads, have returned to their old stomping grounds for the last gig on their hugely successful Rock till you Drop tour. Among the familiar faces is Marty's old friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, who has come bearing gifts - eight amplifiers that dwarf his prototype. Anxious to see how loud they can get, the band plugs in for an impromptu jam that literally blows away the crowd. Fortunately, no one is seriously injured. But there's more than a few shattered eardrums. What would Marty have been referring to if he sarcastically remarked, "How many years is it going to take you to figure out this ‘overload' problem, Doc? If you need another hit on the head I'll be more than happy to oblige." Want more? We know you do. Lights, Camera, Trivia approaches each set of questions (an average of 40 per film) from a unique angle to challenge even the most hardcore fans. From the original King Kong to Scarface, Re-Animator and episodes IV-VI of the Star Wars trilogy, all the classics are here. The days of "Old School" movie trivia are over. Come on in and judge for yourself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Here's a popular one

Meet and become friends with many of the actors from the Dead End Kids, Little Tough Guys, East Side Kids and the Bowery Boys!
Since he began collecting Movie Memorabilia on the Dead End Kids in 1964, author Richard Roat has had the great fortune to develop personal relationships with David Gorcey, Stanley Clements, Gabe Dell, Bernard Punsly, Huntz Hall, Billy Benedict, Frankie Thomas, Eddie Le Roy, Brandy Gorcey (daughter of Leo Gorcey), Gary Hall (son of Huntz Hall), and Leo Gorcey Jr. (son of Leo Gorcey). This book draws upon those acquaintances and his talking with Billy Halop, Bennie Bartlett, Johnny Duncan, Ward Wood, Dick Chandlee, Eugene Francis, Harris Berger, Charles Peck, Ronald Sinclair, and more! Lavished with many photos from the films from the author's personal collection, this is one book you'll need to have in your collection, tough guy!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Just the facts, ma'am.....

Just the facts behind the law and order show of all time! The "Dragnet" presented in MY NAME'S FRIDAY is not only the crisp, campy color television series that played from 1967 to 1970. It is also the radio series of 1949-1957 and the television series of 1951-1959, which became TV's best known, longest-running and most acclaimed police drama. Here the narrative follows the ebb and flow of "Dragnet" from radio to television, detailing every awkward moment and production feature that refined the drama throughout the 1950's. From the beginning, Jack Webb had an idea of what the show should be, but it was an evolving idea, a refinement that MY NAME'S FRIDAY chronicles as the show matured from radio to television. Hayde goes beyond "just the facts" to offer readers a comprehensive look at the show that defined an entire genre.
Also included are program guides of the radio and television episodes, a collection of Sgt. Friday's most well-known speeches, and a glossary of police terms used in the series.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Well, tarnation! It's a book on our gal, Judy Canova!

Yep, this here's the first book on everyone's favorite rube, Judy Canova! Teeming with family interviews and rare, unpublished photos, this is the only book that'll ever need to be writ on music/stage/film/radio star, Judy Canova!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Her readers wanted more, so here it is!

Oh yes, Sybil Jason has a lot more to say about those classic years of Hollywood. This is the sequel to her first two books, entitled My Fifteen Minutes and Five Minutes More.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Look What's Coming Down the Pike!

Two questions that people ask television comedy writers repeatedly are: "How do you guys ever think them up?" and "Is writing for a television show anything like it was on the old Dick Van Dyke Show?" Tales from the Script invites you inside the writing rooms and into the writers meetings for such legendary television shows as The Carol Burnett Show, Laugh-In, Mama's Family, Welcome Back Kotter, Three's Company, the variety shows of Bill Cosby and Tim Conway. You'll also be part of the planning, preparation, and production of almost all of the Bob Hope Specials, including his Christmas shows entertaining America's troops around the world.
As a reader, you'll step onto the stage with the writing teams to accept "your" Emmy for "Outstanding writing in a Comedy-Variety Series." You'll also know what it feels like to be nominated, but have to sit in the audience and try to look gracious while another team steps up to accept the award. After reading Tales from the Script, you'll be able to answer for yourself whether it was anything like the old Dick VanDyke Show or not. As to the second question - "How do you guys ever think them up?" - you'll'll probably discover, as most comedy writers already have, that nobody knows the answer to that question. Foreword by Jim Nabors! To be released in June.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Al Bowlly was Britain's first pop singer, some say the world's first, if you define pop singer as someone who stands in front of a band and sings the hits of the day strumming a guitar. He rose to prominence in the decade before the Second World War, before the phrase "pop singer" had been invented, and has now become the voice of the 1930s as evidenced by the use of his recordings in films and TV drama set in that decade. In fact, when it comes to British musical nostalgia of the 1930s, the biggest name worldwide is Al Bowlly. During most of the 1930s, Al was Britain's leading popular singer and was sometimes billed as the "Ambassador of Song."

However, during his career, Al never won the fame he deserved. It is even said that he is more famous today than he was then, although he is now definitely recognized as Britain's leading light in that era of popular song. Even though the competition was good, Al was a head and shoulders above his nearest rivals when it came to his artistry and originality, but his popularity rating did not always reflect this. He was renowned within the inner circles of musicians in the London music scene as "the man," but to the contemporary public listeners in the early 1930s Al Bowlly's name seemed almost a well-kept secret.

Until now.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Look at what else is new

Jess Stacy was the kindest, sweetest, most generous man to grace this Earth. It was my lucky day when I decided to buy a house in Laurel Canyon, and my husband felt the same. After years of living in Los Angeles and working the Hollywood studios, circumstances took us all over the world and we had sold our Bel Aire home. Children gone, it was just the two of us. Lookout Mountain Ave. was the street we fell in love with, and the neighbors were a bonus! Jess and his darling wife, Patricia were our closest. Jess was a regular guest (their star) in all of the best and biggest jazz festivals. Eddie and I tagged along. What a great part of our lives! We celebrated Jess' 90th birthday together and we could see that he was losing strength... but he still have that twinkle in his eyes...'til the very end... and then some. -- Jean Porter Dmytryk