Saturday, June 28, 2014


Jerry Lewis once made a comment that there were no funny female comedians, he must never have watched the legendary Gilda Radner. She left this world too soon in 1989 at the age of 42, but in her short life, she made millions of people laugh. Gilda Radner would have been 68 today - June 28th.

Radner was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Jewish parents Henrietta (née Dworkin), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner, a businessman. She grew up in Detroit with a nanny, Elizabeth Clementine Gillies, whom she called "Dibby" (and on whom she based her famous character Emily Litella), and an older brother named Michael. She attended the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe. Toward the end of her life, Radner wrote in her autobiography, It's Always Something, that during her childhood and young adulthood she battled numerous eating disorders: "I coped with stress by having every possible eating disorder from the time I was nine years old. I have weighed as much as 160 pounds and as little as 93. When I was a kid, I overate constantly. My weight distressed my mother and she took me to a doctor who put me on Dexedrine diet pills when I was ten years old."

Radner was close to her father, who operated Detroit's Seville Hotel, where many nightclub performers and actors stayed while performing in the city. He took her on trips to New York to see Broadway shows.[As Radner wrote in It's Always Something, when she was twelve her father developed a brain tumor, and the symptoms began so suddenly that he told people his eyeglasses were too tight. Within days he was bedridden and unable to communicate, and remained in that condition until his death two years later.

Radner enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she made a lifelong platonic friend of fellow student David Saltman, who wrote a biography of her after her death. Gilda joined him and his girlfriend on a trip to Paris in the summer of 1966. Saltman wrote that he was so affectionate with his girlfriend that they left Radner to fend for herself for much of their sightseeing Twenty years later, when details of Radner's eating disorder were reported in a bestselling book about Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Saltman realized Radner had been in a quandary over the French cuisine, but had no one with whom she could discuss her situation.

In Ann Arbor, Radner began her broadcasting career as the weather girl for college radio station WCBN, but dropped out in her senior year to follow her then-boyfriend, a Canadian sculptor named Jeffrey Rubinoff, to Toronto, Canada. In Toronto, she made her professional acting debut in the 1972 production of Godspell with future stars Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Victor Garber and Martin Short.

Afterward, Radner joined the Toronto Second City comedy troupe. Radner was a featured player on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, a comedy program syndicated to some 600 U.S. radio stations from 1974 to 1975. Fellow cast members included John Belushi, Richard Belzer, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Rhonda Coullet. This led to her being hired for the first cast of Saturday Night Live in 1975. She would remain there for five years, and the rest is comic history...

Friday, June 27, 2014


This appeared in the New York Times the day after Judy's funeral. Judy Garland's funeral was on June 27, 1969...

Judy Garland's Funeral Draws Her Colleagues


While legions of her fans maintained an ardent vigil in the hot and humid streets, colleagues of Judy Garland bade her farewell yesterday in a swift, simple service at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home. "Judy's great gift," James Mason said in his eulogy, "was that she could wring tears out of hearts of rock." But there were few tears and seats to spare yesterday in the flower-bedecked room where an estimated 20,000 people had paused between noon Wednesday and 11 A.M. yesterday to peer into the glass-enclosed coffin of their favorite. "She gave so richly and so generously," said Mr. Mason, who had played opposite Miss Garland in "A Star Is Born," "that there was no currency in which to repay her."

Waiting for celebrities outside, pressed against gray police stanchions barring them from the chapel at 81st Street and Madison Avenue, a crowd estimated at 1,300 to 1,500, waited for a renewed glimpse of the celebrities.  From the ranks of show business were Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow to Miss Garland's Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz," and Lauren Bacall, Alan King, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Johnny Mercer, Paula Wayne, Fred Ebb, Freddie Bartholomew, Otto Preminger and Spyros Skouras; and Harold Arlen, who wrote the song most closely associated with Miss Garland: "Over the Rainbow." Also in attendance were fellow entertainers Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, who reportedly helped to pay for the cost of Garland's funeral. Mickey Rooney, who co-starred with Miss Garland in the Andy Hardy films when both were young, appeared briefly at the funeral home, evoking gasps and cheers from the spectators. He was not among the 200 people who remained for the service.

Mayor and Mrs. Lindsay were among the guests, as was Mrs. Patricia Kennedy Lawford.Present, too, were Miss Garland's children, Liza Minnelli and Lorna and Joseph Luft, and Sid Luft, her third husband, and Mickey Deans, her fifth, whom the 47-year-old star married in March.The Rev. Peter A. Delaney of Marylebone Church, London, who officiated at Miss Garland's marriage to Mr. Deans, conducted the 20-minute Episcopal service.

In a departure from custom, friends of the family reported, the service included a reading from one of Miss Garland's favorite Bible passages, I Corinthians, xiii, which begins: "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Although the press was barred from the actual service, portions of the funeral, including Mr. Mason's eulogy, were audible through a loudspeaker provided by Campbell's in an upstairs room. In 1926, the same concern handles the funeral of Rudolph Valentino, whose death led to a massive display of grief from a desolate public that thronged to the Campbell chapel, then at Broadway and 66th Street. Lois Smith, Miss Minnelli's public relations representative, said that the service yesterday had been intended by Miss Minnelli to convey a "feeling of joy."

Jack French, Miss Garland's musical accompanist, began the funeral with an organ rendition of one of Miss Garland's favorite songs, "Here's to Us," from the Broadway production "Little Me."He ended the service with "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," which the mourners sang. Then, the coffin containing the body of Miss Garland, who died last Sunday in London of an apparently accidental overdose of sleeping pills, was placed in a waiting hearse that headed a cortege of three limousines and a flower car. Under a blanket of yellow roses, the coffin was taken to Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, N.Y. There it was placed in a crypt where it will remain until a mausoleum is built. Several hundred people were awaiting the arrival of the coffin, and when they lingered about the crypt long after the coffin was emplaced, a policeman told them: "The funeral of Judy Garland is over. We would appreciate you leaving." On Madison Avenue, where the crowd had surged through the barricades as the funeral ended, a few of Miss Garland's fans, clutching flowers, still clustered. "I have nothing else to do right now," said one.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I think I say this all of the time when I think of an age of a classic film. I can not believe that the Broadway Melody of 1938 is over 75 years old! I recently watched an old copy I burnt onto DVD from TCM a few years back, and it's another one of those musicals that MGM did that I can watch over and over again. Broadway Melody of 1938 is actually a 1937 musical film, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and directed by Roy Del Ruth. The film is essentially a backstage musical revue, featuring high-budget sets and cinematography in the MGM musical tradition. The film stars Eleanor Powell and Robert Taylor and features Buddy Ebsen, George Murphy, Judy Garland, Sophie Tucker, Raymond Walburn, Robert Benchley and Binnie Barnes. The film marks the first substantial role that the talented Judy Garland had on film.

Young horse trainer Sally (Eleanor Powell) befriends Sonny (George Murphy) and Peter (Buddy Ebsen), who have been hired to look after a horse her family once owned. Concerned for the horse's well-being, she sneaks aboard a train taking the horse and its caretakers to New York City. En route she meets talent agent Steve Raleigh (Robert Taylor) who, impressed with her dancing and singing, sets her on the road to stardom and romance blossoms between the two. A subplot involves a boarding house for performers run by Sophie Tucker, who is trying to find a big break for young Judy Garland.

This was the third of the "Broadway Melody" series, and had the working title of Broadway Melody of 1937. When it was released, late in 1937, it was advertised with the tagline So new it's a year ahead!. The film was in production from late February to 20 July 1937, and was released on 20 August. Its initial running time was 115 minutes, compared to the final running time of 110 minutes.

Judy Garland had been under contract to MGM for two years now, and the studio really had no idea what to do with her. I guess this film could be called her break through film. The film appearance paved the way for Garland getting the lead role in The Wizard Of Oz. Judy Garland's number, "You Made Me Love You" has been cited as her first great film success. The song was specially prepared by Roger Edens for Clark Gable's 36th birthday as a present, and Garland sang it at the party given by MGM. Producer Louis B. Mayer was so impressed he ordered that it be included in the next possible musical MGM was producing.

The finale of the film takes place on a giant set upon which neon signs are visible showing the names of famous stage and screen stars. During Sophie Tucker's final number, all of the signs in the background actually change to read "Sophie Tucker" in tribute to her. Like Ethel Merman, Hollywood never knew what to do with Sophie Tucker, and she made only a few films. Personally I think this is her greatest role.

I have not gotten the chance to see many Robert Taylor films, but he definitely had chemistry with Eleanor Powell. Sometimes Taylor seems wooden to me, but in this film the whole cast is excellent. Powell was in my opinion the best dancer of all time, and her biggest mistake was marrying actor Glenn Ford and retiring from movies. The only thing is Eleanor Powell was a such a great dancer that she made her dancing co-stars George Murphy and Buddy Ebsen look like amateurs dancing next to her. The film is excellent to see some of the great stars of the 1930s, and MGM definitely did have more stars than there were in the heavens at that time...



Sunday, June 22, 2014


I was born five years after Judy Garland died, but I grew up in a house with Judy. My mother's favorite musical actress was Judy. She especially loves Garland's 1940s musicals at MGM like Meet Me In St. Louis and The Harvey Girls. My Grandfather was a record hoarder and had every Decca 78rpm that Judy did (unfortunately it was not a lot). So I grew up knowing a lot about Judy Garland. Is she my favorite singer - NO. Is she my favorite actress - NO. However, watching and listening to her work, she was definitely one of the greatest entertainers of all-time. She was taken from the world way too early on June 22, 1969 at the age of 47. Sadly, it does not seem like her last days were full of songs and rainbows.

On March 15th 1969 at Chelsea Register Office on the Kings Road, Judy Garland married a gay discotheque manager and part-time jazz pianist called Mickey Devinko better known as Mickey Deans. After the brief ceremony, which was actually her fifth, Garland said:

           "This is it. For the first time in my life, I am really happy. Finally, I am loved.”

Not that loved, because despite the long celebrity guest-list, not one of Judy’s famous friends made it to the reception held at Quaglino’s the large and expensive restaurant situated in Bury Street just south of Piccadilly. Several hundred people were invited and only fifty made it to the function.

Actually there was one celebrity guest at the wedding – Mickey Deans’ best man, Johnnie Ray. Ray had had hits in the fifties such as Cry and The Little White Cloud That Cried and was famous for the mootable ability to cry on stage earning him the moniker ‘the Nabob of Sob’ or occasionally the ‘Prince of Wails’. In reality, Ray was no close friend of Deans or Garland and the only reason that he was a guest at the wedding was that he was due to open for a brief Scandinavian tour Deans had organised for his new wife four days after the wedding.

After the wedding Garland and Deans rented a small mews house in a Chelsea cul-de-sac called Cadogan Lane. On Saturday 22 June, just three months after their wedding, Judy and Mickey had been watching a BBC documentary on the Royal family but, not untypically, had started to furiously row. Garland ran into the street shouting and screaming (also not untypically) followed not long after by Deans who ran after her. He was unable to find his wife and returned to the house and soon after went to bed.

At around 10.40am the next morning the phone rang for Garland. Deans, initially unable to find her, found the bathroom door locked. He climbed out on to the roof and looking through the window saw Garland motionless on the toilet with her head slumped forward and her hands on her knees. Climbing into the bathroom he found her skin was discoloured and dried blood had dribbled from her mouth and nose. She had been dead for about eight hours.

The Chelsea Coroner, Gavin Thurston wrote “This is a clear picture of someone who had been habituated to barbiturates in the form of Seconal for a very long period of time, and who on the night of June 22nd/23rd perhaps in a state of confusion from a previous dose (although this is pure speculation) took more barbiturate than her body could tolerate.” Garland had been prescribed Seconal, the drug that killed her, off and on, since the fifties. It is a barbiturate derivative medicine that was becoming widely misused in the sixties.

Judy Garland was just 47 years old and $4 million in debt when she died. She was buried in New York and, making an effort this time, guests included Lauren Bacall, James Mason, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Lana Turner and latterly Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra who paid all the funeral expenses. Judy, our Dorothy, was gone but her memory has survived for 45 years now. The happiness she had not been able to find during her short time in this world, she had given to her millions of fans through the decades...

Friday, June 20, 2014


It is hard to believe that the world lost Judy Garland on June 22, 1969. In that 45 years since her untimely death, the star that was and is Judy Garland never faded, and here are some of the photos of her life...

Reunited with Ray Bolger - 1968

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


My mother is a much bigger Judy Garland movie fan than I am, but being a lover of classical movies I have definitely seen almost every film Judy has made. She was a good actress, much better than she was given credit for, and I came up with my list of my five favorite Judy Garland films. Again, this is only my opinion and personal preference, and it is not based on anything else…

5. A STAR IS BORN (1954)
After Judy was fired from MGM in 1950, she never really was a movie star again. After 1950, Garland did continue to make movies, but she made quality and not quantity. One of her best acting of her career was done in 1954’s A Star Is Born. Co-starring with James Mason, Judy played a rising star who gets involved with a fading star (Mason). Garland was nominated for an Oscar, but she unfortunately lost. The famous song from the film was “The Man That Got Away”, but my personal favorite number was “Lose That Long Face”. When the movie came out Warner Brothers edited the film to death, and key scenes were lost, but I believe it has recently been completely restored.

By the time Judy made Easter Parade in 1948, her drug problems were really beginning to come to a head. Her weight went up and down during the filming, and it showed in many of her scenes. However, Judy pulled it together to make this musical classic. with Fred Astaire as her leading man and a boatload of Irving Berlin songs. Even though the age difference between Astaire and Garland was 23 years, they make a great song and dance team. Evergreen Irving Berlin songs included the title song, “I Love A Piano”, and “Shakin The Blues Away”, but Berlin also wrote some new songs like: “A Fella With An Umbrella” and “Better Luck Next Time” – the latter of the songs Garland sang brilliantly.

3. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
No list of Garland films would be complete without “The Wizard Of Oz”. Judy was the second choice to play Dorothy, after MGM could not get Shirley Temple. The film was not a success when it came out in 1939 – and it would not be until it was shown on television in the 1950s that it would become the classic it is viewed as today. It is hard to add more about this classic, but it was the role that made Judy a star. Sadly, it was reported that Garland began her drug usage while this movie was being made. I am a grown man with children now, but when I watch the scene of Judy singing “Over The Rainbow” on her Kansas farm…I cry like a baby every time.

2. SUMMER STOCK (1950)
MGM ended their relationship with Garland after 1950’s Summer Stock, and it was a big mistake. Again, Garland’s weight fluctuated greatly throughout the movie, but Garland sounded great. She was teamed with Gene Kelly for the third and last time in this film, and like Astaire did in Easter Parade, Kelly helped Garland get through her scenes. Supporting the dynamic duo of musicals were great character stars like: Phil Silvers, Eddie Bracken, and Marjorie Main. The plot of putting on a show at a farm was corny, but the musical numbers made the film great. This movie is one of the first Garland musicals I ever watched on video, so I have a soft spot for the film. Seeing Judy perform “Get Happy” makes the movie worth it alone.

1. FOR ME AND MY GAL (1942)
Judy was going on 20 when she made For Me And My Gal, and it was billed as her first adult role. She was done playing Dorothy and hanging out with Andy Hardy now. Garland played a rising vaudeville star who meets up with a vaudeville ham (played by Gene Kelly in his first movie role). The story takes place during the first World War, so all of the songs are from that era. You would think it would make the movie corny hearing those songs, even in 1942 when the film was made, but it adds some great realism to the movie. For a 1942 musical, there is some real drama in the movie showing some of the horrors of war. The main attraction is Garland who looks and sounds great singing standards like “After You’ve Gone”, “Ballin The Jack”, and “Oh You Beautiful Doll”. Again, the film has a special place in my heart, because I remember my Grandfather telling me it was the first movie he saw in the movie theater was a 13 year old boy. The ending of the movie, is a tearjerker as well, at least to me. For me not being a huge Garland movie fan, a lot of her movies make me cry!

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Here is the sad procession following the death of the great Gracie Allen on August 27, 1964 at the age of 62. Following casket of Gracie Allen in funeral procession at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park are husband, George Burns, holding handkerchief to face. Holding his arms are grandchildren, Laura, left, and Melissa Wilhoite. Behind them is Burns' son, Ronald. Among celebrities acting as pallbears are, from left in foreground, Jack Benny, Edward G. Robinson, Bobby Darin...

Friday, June 13, 2014


For all of the readers who associate Vermont Crooners with frogs or cicadas, have we got news from you. He was born in Island Pond, Vermont on July 28, 1901, and was one of the most successful entertainers and voices of early American entertainment. His name was Hubert Prior Vallee which he changed to Rudy Vallee and during the 1920’s and 1930’s his deep and crooning vocals and trademark megaphone were the talk of Hollywood and catapulted him to hosting his own variety hour, “The Rudy Vallee Show” from 1929 to 1943.

Young Vallee idolized professional saxophone player Rudy Wiedoft and actually changed his first name in honor of his idol. He began his friendship with the saxophone player after graduating college and the pair remained staunch friends until Wiedoft’s death. Vallee owned one of Wiedoft’s saxophones and ironically it ended up being sold to an Arkansas attorney, who then gifted it to then current Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. Vallee’s first professional break came with the band The Yale Collegians at the Heigh Ho Club in New York City. His voice was rough but quickly became labeled as crooning by club guests and Hollywood reviewers alike.

Well ahead of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, Vallee started using a megaphone during his performances and would switch back and forth projecting his voice to great distances in the clubs or achieving softness and lower ranges previously not heard in a crowded setting. Vallee not only recorded successful albums during his incredibly long career but hosted the first radio talk show to 200 million listeners. He invited people of all walks of life and ethnicity. Louis Armstrong came as well as other newcomers to the clubs in Harlem. While he starred in thirty-three films during his career it is surprisingly his last career move that most people remember him for. He starred in the early 1960s Broadway hit, “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying” which ran for four years before also starring in the movie version of it.

Vallee summed up why he felt his fame was just as important as legends like Sinatra and Crobsy, but that his style came from his upbringing and his lack of awe for the Hollywood crowd during a February 22, 1958 interview with Mike Wallace “ I felt that the little musical gifts that I had were in a sense--not great, but they were gifts and if I could bring that pleasure to people in those first series of letters that said we'd brought them something different, soothing and pleasing and -- it was an honest reaction -- there was no newspaper publicity -- the newspapers have never forgiven us for the fact that they were created through radio. That one year of radio catapulted us into this great fame, and I felt that we justified it in that our music and my little attempts at singing were pleasing enough to justify it. There was no hokum --it wasn't forced or artificial, and I never stopped to think about it very much.” With the wonders of the Internet and video archives accessible to the masses, Vermonter Rudy Vallee’s songs, radio show and crooning style of voice are all available to be listened to and watched.

One afternoon when your fingers are flashing over the secrets of the Internet and you are peeking into that window on a global world, Google the sounds and stories of a Vermont crooner who was known for his style, frugality and staunch independent thought at a time when blending into the Hollywood magical machine was the norm. The Valley Voice salutes Rudy Vallee for keeping his Vermont roots and staying true to his own plans for a career and walking to his own drummer. As Vallee expressed to Mike Wallace in that famed interview, “I never went with the Beverly Hills pack ... Benny, Burns and Allen, that type of crowd,-for some reason I just never got to know well, and never moved with them...I have a great many friends in show business, and I go out with them quite occasionally ...I don't want to be sort of put on a pedestal to be with somebody that is out of show business with the feeling that they're going to give me reverence... pay homage, and so forth. No... it just so happens for no reason at all, I pick laymen and people not associated with show business for my closest associates...” Use your fingers and search out a Vermonter who is virtually unknown to most but a legend in his own time and place in American history. See how crooning started with a young man from Island Pond early in the 20th century and perhaps even listen to his 1931 version of “As Time Goes By” nearly a decade before the famed Casablanca recording.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Guy Lombardo gets a bad rap for being corny and outdated. He was getting jokes made about him back as early as the 1940s that he was cheesy. However, he was one of the best loved bandleaders of all time, and was popular until his death in 1977. Despite his fame in the music industry, Guy Lombardo rarely enjoyed the company of guest stars in the recording studio. This is doubling puzzling when you consider Jack Kapp, the head of Lombardo's label, pioneered the practice of twinning his talent pool in the 1930s. (Note: This list only covers Lombardo's commercial recordings. It does not included parings on radio, film or television)...

Weston Vaughan - Who? This deservedly forgotten singer provided the vocal on the Royal Canadian's first hit record, Charmaine. There lies one of his few claims to fame. Incredibly, Vaughan's mewly whining didn't prevent him from making records well into the 1930s. Maybe he worked cheap.

The Two Black Crows - Oh, I am so glad these sides were never issued. The Crows were George Moran and Charles Mack, two white guys who recorded a series of droll but hopelessly racist comedy routines in a heavy southern Negro drawl. In March of 1928 they were accompanied by the Royal Canadians on four rejected numbers. To quote the Crows: "Even if that was good I wouldn't like it!"

Kate Smith - Two sides recorded in 1931: River, Stay 'Way From My Door and Too Late. Kate was a pretty moral young lady - she once refused to have sex siren Mae West in the same room with her. Chances are the sweet sounds Royal Canadians made them one of the few suitable accompanists for her singing.

Al Jolson - In December of 1932 Jolson had not made a record in over two years when he walked into the studios of the American Recording Corp. to wax five sides - two of them with Lombardo: Rock-A-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody and April Showers. Unfortunately, Jolson's bravura signing style was at odds with the band's bleating sax section. The result produced what critic Will Friedwald calls "the most unintentionally hilarious record of all time." Jolson would not make another record for 13 years when he was signed by Decca. We can be grateful the company did not rejoin Jolie with label mate Lombardo.

Bing Crosby - Oddly enough, Crosby and Lombardo worked together at the beginning and end of their superstar years. In 1933 Crosby was paired with Lombardo for three sides: You're Getting to Be a Habit With Me, Young and Healthy and You're Beautiful Tonight Dear. When these selections were first released on LP in 1978 producer/annotater Michael Brooks noted how the listener is "engulfed by that sax section which is like being smothered by a giant placenta." How would he know? Twenty one years later both men enjoyed one of their last chartings with a Frank Sinatra cover: Young at Heart. Save for reissues of White Christmas and Auld Lang Syne, neither man would attain the heights of pop music they had scaled in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Andrews Sisters - Patty, Maxene and La Verne helped Guy cruise to another million seller with Christmas Island, proving that the Royal Canadians weren't just for New Year's Eve. In a possible reference to Lombardo's Canuck roots, the chorus of the song goes "Aloha - eh!" The disc's flip side was Winter Wonderland - which became a seasonal standard. Prior to this 1946 hit, Guy and the sisters had first recorded a year earlier and would reunite in 1951 for Play Me a Hurtin' Tune. Lombardo did.

Hildegarde - Comedian Jimmy Durante once joked he wanted to marry this popular chanteuse - just to give her a last name. She waxed five titles with the Royal Canadians in 1945 and 1946 including such standards as June is Bustin' Out All Over and The Gypsy.

Mary Martin - The future star of South Pacific and Peter Pan cut two unremarkable sides with the band in 1947: Come to the Mardi Gras and Almost Like Being in Love.

Louis Armstrong - Despite their mutual admiration, Armstrong and Lombardo recorded just two sides: Mumbo Jumbo and Come Along Down - both penned by Carmen Lombardo. The numbers are from the 1966 Jones Beach musical Mardi Gras which featured Armstrong.


Friday, June 6, 2014


Mona Freeman, a film star of the 1940s and '50s who often played the spunky, wholesome girl next door but longed for roles as "wildcats, brazen women, the menacing side of the triangle," has died. She was 87.
Freeman also was a painter; her most widely viewed work, a portrait of kindly, bespectacled candy matriarch Mary See, hangs in See's Candies shops across the U.S.
Freeman, who had a lengthy illness, died May 23 at her Beverly Hills home, said her daughter, Mona Hubbell.
A teenage model in New York City, Freeman was named "Miss Subways" in May 1941. She was 14 at the time and was helping to put her brother through Yale.
In her first film, "Till We Meet Again" (1944), she played a 15-year-old girl in wartime France. In film after film — "Junior Miss" (1945), "Dear Ruth" (1947), "Dear Wife" (1949), "Dear Brat" (1951), she played blond, beautiful, wide-eyed teens.
In 1953 — as a 27-year-old married mother — she complained to columnist Hedda Hopper about the burden of eternal youth. Asked what kind of role she really wanted, Freeman, who was "curled up in a chair in [Hopper's] den, primly dressed in a yellow pleated skirt and angora sweater," replied:
"There's a triangle love case in the courts right now — and the girl has to be an all-time dilly. I'd like to play a character like her."
Hopper was stunned: "'Mona!' I exclaimed."
Three years later, the 30-year-old Freeman was wistful about her seemingly endless adolescence.
"It was fine for a while," she told The Times. "Casting directors had only to find my agent's number to fill that type of role. But just like driving the same road day after day, they've become a bore to me."

Freeman appeared in many TV productions, including "The United States Steel Hour," "Playhouse 90," and episodes of "Maverick," "Perry Mason," "Checkmate" and "The Millionaire." Her films included "Streets of Laredo" (1949), "The Heiress" (1949), "Copper Canyon" (1950) and "Battle Cry" (1955). She also toured with Edward G. Robinson in a 1958 production of the Paddy Chayefsky play, "Middle of the Night."
Born in Baltimore on June 9, 1926, Monica Elizabeth Freeman was raised in Pelham, N.Y. Her marriage at 19 to Los Angeles auto dealer Pat Nerney ended in divorce seven years later. In 1961, she married Los Angeles businessman H. Jack Ellis and devoted herself to painting portraits, many of them on commission.
Freeman's portrait of Mary See, the mother of the candy company's founder, has been displayed in the chain's shops for decades.
Freeman had an art studio at home and owned a gallery.
"I didn't dislike acting, but when I no longer needed the money I lost all interest," she told the Toronto Star in 1988. "I haven't even seen some of my pictures."
But as miscast as she sometimes felt, she could have a good time on the set.
In addition to her daughter from her first marriage, who starred under the name Monie Ellis in the 1972 TV film "Gidget Gets Married," Freeman's survivors include six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren... 


There are so many talented stars in Hollywood, especially during the golden age of Hollywood. There was also an endless amount of great child stars, and forgotten Jo Ann Marlowe was one of them. I remember the pint size actress mostly from Yankee Doodle Dandy and Mildred Pierce. Sadly not much is written about her.

Jo Ann Marlowe was born Jo Ann Mares in Schuyler, Nebraska on December 15, 1935 to Edward and Theora Mares. Jo Ann was discovered on a family vacation in Hollywood at age 4 by a Warner Brothers director in a restaurant. The family relocated to California and Jo Ann took the stage name, Jo Ann Marlowe. Jo Ann acted for the next 10 years in 29 motion pictures including Yankee Doodle Dandy which won an Oscar for James Cagney. Jo Ann played the role of 6 year old Josie Cohan. She is best known as the younger daughter, Kay, in Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford and Ann Blythe
Jo Ann left acting in the early 1950s and went on to law school at Loyola University in Los Angeles and became a lawyer. On September 10, 1960 she married John F. Dunne in California. The couple had a daughter, Kimberly who was born in 1963. The couple divorced in April 1968 in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Jo Ann was a Chief Trial Lawyer for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles. She certainly overcame the problem with being a child star. However, her life would end tragically but not quickly. She suffered injuries in a car accident in late 1968. Jo Ann was left in a coma until her death more than 22 years later when she died at her mother Theora Mares' home in Los Angeles on January 2, 1991.

Her mother Theora survived her until February 2011 when she passed away at age 96. Jo Ann and her parents are buried at San Fernando Mission cemetery. Jo Ann Marlowe is now a forgotten footnote in the history of classic movies, and it is unfortunate...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Here is an obituary that CNN did on the great character actor Burgess Meredith. He died on September 9, 1997. Meredith never turned in a bad role. My favorite role he did was as a bookworm on aTwilight Zone episode on television...

Burgess Meredith dies at 89

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Burgess Meredith, the raspy-voiced character actor best known for his portrayal of the gruff boxing manager in the "Rocky" movies, has died at his home in Malibu, California. He was 89.

Meredith, who died Tuesday, had been suffering from melanoma and Alzheimer's disease, said his son, Jonathan.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, and educated at Amherst College in Massachusetts, Meredith's film and theater career spanned seven decades. His stage debut came in 1933 in New York, and his screen debut, at 26, was in the 1936 drama "Winterset," recreating a role he had played on Broadway. He would go on to appear in nearly 70 movies, mostly in supporting roles.

But it was as Rocky's boxing trainer, Mickey, for which he will probably be best remembered. He received an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor in 1976 for his work in the original movie, and he reprised the character in three of the four "Rocky" sequels.

"Burgess Meredith always was ... an irreplaceable legend, a craftsman who rarely comes along, not (one) in a generation but in several generations," Sylvester Stallone said. "I thank him for his performance in 'Rocky' because I truly feel without his participation in the film, it would never have had its emotion core."

In addition to his Oscar nomination for "Rocky," Meredith was also nominated for the best supporting actor in 1975 for his work in "Day of the Locust." He didn't win either time.

In Hollywood, Meredith was known for having a tempestuous personality. In his 1994 autobiography, "So Far, So Good," he wrote that his violent mood swings were diagnosed as an illness called cyclothymia.

He was married four times, including a brief union with film star Paulette Goddard, with whom he starred in the 1940 film "Second Chorus." His other wives included Helen Derby, actress Margaret Perry and dancer Kaja Sundsten.

Meredith starred in the 1939 film version of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" and as the Penguin in the 1966 "Batman" televison seires which also spawned a movie.

"I waddled like a penguin, which seemed rather obvious to do. The touch I liked was that peculiar penguinlike quack I use in my lines," he said.

In his later years, he was often cast as an elderly curmudgeon. He played Jack Lemmon's father in the 1993 comedy "Grumpy Old Men" and its 1995 sequel, "Grumpier Old Men."

"Burgess was not only a marvelous actor, he was one of the dearest human beings I ever knew," Lemmon said. "I will miss him terribly, as will everyone who was ever fortunate enough to know him."

His quirky voice also led to voice-over work in television commercials, including pitches for Untied Air Lines and Skippy peanut butter.

Meredith's fourth wife, his son and daughter were with him when he died. Funeral services were pending, and the body was to be cremated...


Monday, June 2, 2014


I am going to start out this article by saying it is hard to raise children. There are so many outside pressures that societies places on parents as well as children. Those pressures are magnified when one is famous. The famous parent has an image that they must keep up for the public. Also, they are the real problems that “normal” parents have. In my opinion, famous people do not make good parents. Even if they try their best, their children also have to live up to their image. That image is nearly impossible to match, and the child cannot create a life of their own, because they are always compared to their famous and successful parent. Then after the child grows up and often after the famous parent is dead, they write the tell-all book. They do it for many reasons, but I think the two biggest is money and revenge. Two of the most famous instances of the children writing a book about their parents are when Christina Crawford wrote “Mommie Dearest” about her adopted mother Joan Crawford in 1978, and when Gary Crosby wrote “Going My Own Way” about his father Bing Crosby in 1983. 

Two be perfectly blunt and honest, neither Joan Crawford nor Bing Crosby were the greatest parents. Joan Crawford was one of the most popular movie actresses Hollywood has ever known. She started her career in films as a modern flapper girl, and she was quickly signed by MGM studios. For the next decade, Crawford made some great films and some horrible films at the studio. It was not until she moved to Warner Brothers in the mid-1940s, that she scored gold with an Oscar winning role in Mildred Pierce (1945). Ironically, her role was as a dominating mother. Around the same time, Joan adopted a girl Christina. I often wonder if Joan did it just for publicity, but deep down I think she wanted to be a mother. However, Christina was basically raised by nannies. Joan was deeply devoted to her fans. She attributed her fame to her fans throughout the years. According to sources in the Crawford camp, as Christina got older she resented this attention that Joan’s fans were getting and not her. As a result, she acted out and made it know she would not bow before the great Joan Crawford. That anger continued and built throughout her adulthood. There is no denying that Joan did get physical with Christina, but that was the norm for Joan’s generation, and she did not know how to cope with someone so disagreeable to her. It is not an excuse. Joan was no great parent, but Christina did not make life easy either. 

As for Bing Crosby, he had the most widely recorded voice in the history of mankind. How can someone compare to that. When his son Gary was born in 1933, Bing was becoming the most popular star in the world. By the 1940s, Bing was the most popular icon in movies, on records, and in radio. Bing worked non-stop and pretty much was never home. Bing grew up with a strict mother himself, and he wanted to instill that strictness in his children. However, with Bing gone maybe 300 days a year, when he would come home and try to discipline the children and be a father, it would just make their relationship worse. If Bing was able to tell his sons, especially Gary, that he loved them more then Gary might have turned out differently. What compounded matters was the fact Bing’s wife Dixie Lee was becoming an alcoholic. She could not cope with the fame and the absence of a husband for long periods of time. Gary blamed Bing for Dixie’s problems, and when Dixie died of cancer in 1952 then Gary really started acting out. Gary got in public fights (some with brothers), got married and divorced numerous, and arrested on many occasions. All four sons suffered from alcoholism like their mother. However, even though one’s home life may not be ideal or may not have a father present, once one is an adult then their life is their own responsibility. Gary never took responsibility for his own life.

As a result, Christina Crawford and Gary Crosby both wrote books about the parents, which painted these icons (both passed away by then) as monsters. Literally, the stories have escalated about both stars to the degree that Joan and Bing are closed to the status of murderers. I am not discounting what was written about them, but I am not saying the books are 100% accurate. Christina to this day maintains the book and factual. However, many of the decisions she has made makes one second guess all of her stories. It has been reported that Christina has had parents where she gives out wire hangers (supposedly Joan beat her with them), and years later now she treats her reported abuse as a fun, money making gimmick. If the abuse was 100% true, then I do not think she would be making light of it. If it was true then it would be a horrible tragedy. As for Gary Crosby, he wrote his book about his dad to ride the coattails of Christina Crawford. As source in the Crosby family says that Gary actually wrote two versions of his book. The publisher said it wasn’t juicy enough so he made Bing out to be an abusive and unfeeling monster. As Gary laid dying of cancer in 1995, he not only was planning on doing a duets album with old recordings of his father, but he recanted his whole book. He said Bing never beat him, and although he was absent for most of his childhood he admitted the book was mostly lies.

Whatever the truth actually is, the damage was done to the memory of Joan Crawford and Bing Crosby. When one sees their names they instantly think of the abuse and not the talent the stars had. Maybe Joan and Bing were not the greatest parents, but isn’t that their own business behind closed doors. They both entertained millions of fans who needed it during the Great Depression and World War II. Even if they were the monsters that their children painted them as for financial gains, that does not diminish their talents. Both icons deserve to be remembered for their talents and not negative books written by their children…