MR AND MRS C.
Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver on the television series "Leave It To Beaver," died this past weekend after a fight with polymyalgia she was 94. Born Barbara Coombes a few days before Christmas 1915 in Los Angeles, Ms. Billingsley moved to New York City after a year of junior college to appear in the Broadway play "Straw Hat," which played for only five shows. While still pursuing acting jobs, she supported herself by working as a model. She moved back to Los Angeles in the early 1940s and spent the next decade or so appearing in various "B" films, most often as not in an uncredited role. In 1955 she played Helen Wilson opposite Stephen Dunne in the short-lived series "Professional Father." That same year she appeared with a young DeForest Kelly in the Walter Cronkite-narrated news series "You Are There." The next year she starred in another series, "The Brothers," which lasted one episode less (5) then "Professional Father" had. However, her next role defined her for the rest of her life. In 1957 she starred with Hugh Beaumont, Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers (as the Beaver) in the long running series "Leave It To Beaver." As housewife June Cleaver, Billingsley kept the house clean, the family fed and offered advice whenever needed, all while wearing a single strand of pearls. Though she was often teased about the strand of pearls, she actually wore them to cover a large surgical scar on her neck. The show ended in 1963 and, with the exception of a couple appearances on "The F.B.I." she remained out of the public eye until Jim Abrahams and brothers David and Jerry Zucker convinced her to appear in their comedy "Airplane!" In a film, which turned 30 this year and was named the #10 comedy of all time by the American Film Institute, Ms. Billingsley stole the show as an elderly passenger who "speaks jive," serving as a translator between a stewardess and two black passengers. When informing one of the men, who is ill, that the stewardess is getting him some medicine, she says, "Jus' hang loose, blood. She gonna catch ya up on da' rebound on da' med side." Her scene draws some of the loudest laughs in the film, and rightly so. The film introduced her to a new audience, including the children of parents who had grown up watching "Leave It To Beaver." I saw her and Tony Dow in a dinner theatre production of "Come Blow Your Horn" in Kansas City in 1983 and she continued to work for the next 20 years, often playing off her June Cleaver image. She even reprised her role in a "Leave It To Beaver" television film as well as a new series "The New Leave It To Beaver," which reunited her with Dow, Mathers and Ken Osmond's Eddie Haskell. The series ran for six years on the Disney Channel.
If Ms. Billingsley was "America's Mom," then Tom Bosley was definitely "America's Dad." Bosley, who starred as Howard Cunningham for 10 years on "Happy Days," died today at the age of 83. Cause of death has been updated as lung cancer. Born October 1, 1927 in Chicago, Bosley got his start in the 1950s, appearing on episodic television shows, including a leading role in a "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "Arsenic and Old Lace." He worked steadily on television, appearing in shows like "Dr. Kildare," "Ben Casey," "The Defenders" and "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." My first sighting of Mr. Bosley was as the family doctor in the Lucille Ball/Henry Fonda comedy "Yours, Mine and Ours." In 1969 he became a regular on "The Debbie Reynolds Show," which was canceled the next year. He also had numerous appearances on "The Sandy Duncan Show" and "Love, American Style," including an episode entitled "Love and the Old Fashioned Father." In that episode, animated by Hanna/Barbera, Bosley voiced Harry Boyle, a character he later reprised in the animated prime time series "Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home." Ironically, it was another "Love, American Style" episode that gave Bosley his greatest role. In the episode "Love and the Happy Days," Howard Cunningham is played by the late Harold Gould. When the success of "American Graffiti" made producers scramble for something to capitalize on the nostalgia of the 1950s and 1960s, the role was recast with Bosley and, on January 15, 1974, television history was made. Bosley was different then previous television dads, who came across as stuffy and aloof with their children. Father may have known best but if Robert Young was my television dad I'd have run away the first chance I got. Bosley played a father that, not only didn't always know best, but wasn't ashamed to admit it. And where most sitcom couples slept in separate beds, Howard was not above getting "Frisky" with his beloved Marion! After the show's ten year run, Bosley starred in two more series: "Murder She Wrote" and "The Father Dowling Mysteries. Mr. Bosley worked steadily up to the end, recently appearing opposite Jennifer Lopez in this year's comedy "The Back Up Plan." I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bosley but I was very fortunate to know his cousin, Todd, who himself is a successful actor ("Jack," "The Little Giants," "Scrubs").
DON AND COSMO BACK ON THE BIG SCREEN
Those of you who remember my trip to Omaha this past May where I got to meet screenwriter Carl Gottlieb during a special presentation of "JAWS" will be happy to learn that coming up on Friday, November 5th, Bruce Crawford is presenting a special screening of the classic MGM musical "Singin' In The Rain." Appearing at the screening is one of the film's stars, Ms. Debbie Reynolds. The screening will be held at the Joslyn Art Museum's Witherspoon Hall Theatre, located at 2200 Dodge Street in Omaha, Nebraska. Ms. Reynolds will be available to sign autographs and meet her fans after the film. Tickets are $25.00 each, with the proceeds benefiting the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an organization serving the needy in the Omaha area. Local fans can purchase tickets at any Omaha-area Hy Vee food store. Out of town attendees can call 402-320-1944 for ticketing info. For more information about the event, head to www.omahafilmevent.com
APOLOGIZE TO THIS
Anyone else think it's funny that Clarence Thomas' wife, Virginia left a voice message for Anita Hill asking her to apologize for her testimony against her hubby when he was being confirmed for the Supreme Court? For those of you not old enough to remember, Hill used to work for Thomas at the EEOC. While there he did some stupid things, including, according to Ms. Hill's testimony:
"He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes....On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess....Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"
This is certainly the guy I want making our laws. Even though (4) other co-workers testified that Ms. Hill had often complained about Thomas' harrassment, the man was narrowly chosen by a vote of 52-48. Of course, this was after Thomas told the media that the hearing was a "high class lynching." That comment, coupled with fact that the seat Thomas was up for was being vacated by the great Thurgood Marshall, the first and, at the time, only black justice, pretty much sealed the nod for the fan of the man they called Long Dong Silver.
Something tells me that every night Mrs. Hill gives old Clarence the stink-eye over dinner because she has to know what a dick head she's married to. Maybe she thinks if Hill apologizes she can believe all of his hijinx never happened. Maybe.
THIS JUST IN
Bolstered by the actions of Virginia Hill, the city of Dallas, Texas has asked Caroline Kennedy to apologize to the city for her father being in town on November 22, 1963.
JUST IN TIME FOR HALLOWEEN
Make up master Greg Nicotero has just premiered a short film that incorporates his love for classic monsters with a twist. For some reason the film is no longer on You Tube but I have added a link to the MovieMikes page that features it. Please give it a look:
Shaved Fish - John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band
Let It Be - The Beatles
This past October 9 would have been John Lennon's 70th Birthday. I thought I'd spend this week looking at a diverse collection of his work.
"Shaved Fish" was Lennon's last album release before his five year "retirement" to raise his son, Sean. The album consists of all of the singles Lennon released in his solo career, with the exception of "Stand By Me," which was on his last studio album, "Rock and Roll." The songs run the gamut from Lennon's only solo number one song during his lifetime, "Whatever Gets You Through The Night" to more personal songs like "Mother." Among the unusual aspects of the album is the fact that "Give Peace A Chance" is credited to both Lennon AND Paul McCartney. I'm asssuming this is because at the time the song was written the two had a deal that all of their songs would be credited to both. It wasn't until the early 1990s that the song was credited to only Lennon.
On Thanksgiving night, 1974, Elton John played Madison Square Garden in New York City. His special guest that night: John Lennon. The two had made a bet. Elton wanted to cover "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" and wanted Lennon to sing with him. Elton agreed to sing background on "Whatever Gets You Through the Night" and guaranteed Lennon that the song would hit #1. Lennon told him if it did he'd do "Lucy." While no video of Lennon's last live performance exists, here is the audio from his final song:
Originally meant to be a documentary on the making of an album, the film "Let It Be" became an inside look at the destruction of a band. With the constant in fighting between the Beatles, coupled by the unwanted appearance of Yoko Ono at recording sessions, the film, and album, gives fans a final look at the creative process that built the worlds' most popular band.
The album contains songs that span the groups' time together, from "One After 909" which John Lennon wrote in 1957 and Paul McCartney added some material to shortly after the two met, to Paul's plea to John to stay with the band, "Two of Us." The album was produced by Phil Spector, who put his famous "wall of sound" on Paul's "The Long and Winding Road," which McCartney famously hated. In 2003 McCartney re-released the album as "Let It Be: Naked," stripping away much of the background music and restoring the songs to their original raw format. The reissue included a second disc which was comprised of discussions between the band during the making of the album. One famous exchange, not released, concerned George Harrison walking out one afternoon, presumably after McCartney tried one time too many to show Harrison "how" to play a song on guitar. After Harrison left, Lennon famously turned to Ringo and Paul and said, "Fuck him...if he's not back by Thursday we'll get Clapton!" Incidentally, the Beatles won an Oscar for "Let It Be!"
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!
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