It is my sad duty to inform you that Harry Wise, Florida's "Mister Magic", passed
away around midnight on Thursday November 19, 2009 in Orange City,
Florida after a two-year battle with prostate cancer. His lifelong
friend Mr. Lynn Ashe is Harry's Executor and will be administering
Harry's estate. There is not yet any mention of any funeral or planned
memorial service as of this writing. Harry had just turned 75 the day before.
I had just posted his birthday on the PCR roster, and now this. To honor Harry, it will stay up until month's end.
Long-time readers of PCR may remember when William Moriaty (La Floridiana) and I went to The Third Sanford Summit to meet Harry along with Weird Florida author Charlie Carlson, Dottie Carlson, and Art Litka in the summer of 2006.
William, great man that he is, had stayed in regular touch with Wise the Wizard right up until the end. He, Charlie, and Harry attended many special events together and Harry knew how fondly he was remembered by his fans. Because so many of these were in or around Sanford, FL, yours truly's abysmal transportation situation prevented me from attending many of these long-distance affairs, but I always sent my best wishes regardless.
While in Sanford, however, I did do some extended videotaped interviews with Harry which will hopefully see the light of day soon in Memoriam. His knowledge and humor were compelling, and I regret I only had the opportunity to meet with him twice. But at least I have that.
It is also extremely important to note that a few years back, Charlie Carlson wrote an excellent biography of Harry Wise entitled, "The True Story of Magician Harry Wise, A Wizard's Tux and Tales", which is very highly recommended if you can find a copy.
Harry is among the last of old Florida's TV showmen who also had a national career and are leaving way too soon. We have also recently lost Dottie Carlson and magician Roy Huston to the scourge of cancer. That is way too many, too soon.
Rest in Peace, Harry. You will be sorely missed.
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2009
WOW! As Ye Olde Editor sat down to compose the homepage this morning, I discovered no less than FOUR writers had already sent in columns! Mike, Jason, ED, and Chris Munger all had stuff on the web Tuesday or very early Wednesday. Way to go, gang, that's the way to do it! Plus it keeps yours truly on his toes, haha.
As Mike Smith noted last week in Mike's Rant, comedian, magician, and actor Carl Ballantine recently passed away at the age of 92. Mike also noted that Ballantine was possibly best known as Lester Gruber, a member of McHale's Navy, an early '60s sit-com situated in WWII starring Ernest Borgnine and Joe Flynn.
Until a few months ago, I might've disagreed. Although I had only foggy memories of McHale's Navy, I vividly remembered Ballantine as the inept magician "The Amazing Ballantine" (or some derivation of that) appearing on The Merv Griffin Show or The Tonight Show. Actually well-skilled, he bumbled his way through the act in the best tradition of vaudeville, one of the last to do so.
This year, my local TV area started carrying a retro-TV station called...Retro TV. Through that, I re-discovered McHale's Navy. (I re-discovered a lot of things on Channels 8.2 and 32.2 I'll go into some other time, namely that some things didn't hold up over time.)
Slight digression: While I definitely remembered Ballantine, and stars Tim Conway, Ernest Borgnine and Joe Flynn, the biggest shock is that I had no memory of a pre-bigtime Gavin McLeod (Mary Tyler Moore, The Love Boat) being onboard as a very minor (but regular) character who barely had any lines! My how times changed for him!
The other hoot is how old some of the actors were playing sailors on their (presumably) first hitch. McHale would regularly refer to his men as "kids", yet Ballantine was well into his forties at the time, and Conway, then about thirty, was nearly totally bald.
Anyway, back on topic. Carl Ballantine's "Gruber" was easily the most heavily-featured supporting character of McHale's Navy, next to Conway's "Chuck" Parker. Always a fast-talker, Gruber was basically the huckster of the group.
Carl Ballantine was among the last of old Hollywood whose like we'll never see again. Rest in peace.
POSTED BY NOLAN B. CANOVA, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2009
I'm probably going to get sh*t about this from our regular critics (all two of them under a variety of fake names) whose job it is, among other things, to lambast the close-knit camaraderie of the PCR staff. But, I'm compelled nonetheless to respond to last week's very unusual--and moving--FANGRRL.
Although the mutual admiration displayed on each week's Readers' Comments might annoy the more cynical of you out there, I think a few of you may have missed the point of Lisa's column.
Starting it with "Dear Nolan" made it more personal (plus, I'm, you know, the publisher), but it was more like an open letter. An open letter to me...and to all of us here. I'm not real good at emotional stuff like this, but here goes....
I was deeply honored and very moved by your comments in last week's FANGRRL. It is no secret how much I admire you and what you've meant to me and to all of us. The day you accepted my invitation to join Nolan's Pop Culture Review is one I will always remember. I am more glad than you can know, and very honored, that anything I did or we did at CrazedFanboy.com helped you get through the rough times you've experienced over the past three years. And, more than anything, I'm extremely grateful your cancer went into remission, your recovery is under control, and you're still with us.
I will always be there for you. You certainly have always been there for me. You're a gas to talk to, and I enjoyed every minute of every day we've worked together. Or played together. And I hope to continue that for a loooong time.