Archive for the ‘1970s’ Category

Obit watch: July 17, 2017.

Monday, July 17th, 2017

It seems unfair to reduce Martin Landau to one thing. After all, he was great in “Ed Wood”. And he was excellent in a lot of other stuff:

Well, maybe not that.

But by 1981 the good parts had grown hard to find for both Mr. Landau and Ms. Bain; that year, in what he later acknowledged was a low point, they appeared in the TV movie “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”

Well, maybe not that, either. But there’s one thing that stands out for me. Childhood nostalgia or whatever, let’s run that tape again.

I need to find that episode in my stack of “M:I” DVDs, if for no other reason than to figure out what the deal is with the cat. Plus: Darren McGavin!

I really wish I had more to say about George Romero, but I don’t. I’ve seen “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” and was just pretty much “meh” about both of them.

Obit watch: July 20, 2017.

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Bill Dana. Or perhaps I should say “the other Bill Dana”? (Previously.)

In this case, we’re not talking about the legendary NASA test pilot (who passed away in 2014) but the legendary television comedian, perhaps most famous for his portrayal of José Jiménez.

The character became an immediate hit, and over the next decade Mr. Dana invented a variety of preposterous professions for José, including deep-sea diver, wild animal trainer and, most famously, astronaut. He recorded several hit comedy albums as José (often rendered without accents) and appeared as his alternative self on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The Andy Williams Show,” “The Hollywood Palace” and even, in a cameo role, “Batman.” A series of his own, “The Bill Dana Show,” on which he played José as a hotel bellhop, aired on NBC from 1963 to 1965.

By 1970, Mr. Dana had stopped performing as José — he even read the character’s obituary at an event in Los Angeles sponsored by the Congress of Mexican-American Unity — though he insisted that he made that decision not because of mounting anger about the character but because some people were misinterpreting his intentions.
He decided to drop the character, he said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, because of people “who would tell me, ‘Boy I shore love it when you play that dumb Mexican.’’’

After retiring Jose, he continued to work, but more as a writer than performer: among his writing credits was the Sammy Davis Jr. episode of “All In the Family”.

We extend our condolences to Mr. Dana’s family and friends, and to great and good friend of the blog guffaw.

Obit watch: June 6, 2017.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Peter Sallis, knock-around British actor, has passed away at 96. (Edited to add 6/7: NYT obit.)

He was in a whole bunch of stuff, including a role on “Doctor Who” and voice work in the animated “The Wind in the Willows” TV series. In England, he may have been most famous for his role in the long running TV series, “Last Of the Summer Wine”: he played Norman Clegg from the start of the series in 1973 until it ended in 2010.

In the US, he may be better known as the original voice of Wallace in the Aardman Animations “Wallace & Gromit” films.

Tribute from Nick Park here.

Roger Smith, “Jeff Spencer” on “77 Sunset Strip”. He was also married to Ann-Margret and was her manager for many years. (edited to add: NYT obit.)

There’s a great story (recounted in Joe Bob Briggs’ Profoundly Erotic among other places): after Ann-Margaret fell in Lake Tahoe, Smith “commandeered” (some sources say “stole”) a small private plane and flew from Burbank to Lake Tahoe and back again, in some accounts through a thunderstorm, with his seriously injured wife, so she could get treatment and reconstructive surgery at UCLA instead of in Lake Tahoe. (As you know, Bob, she made a full recovery. My recollection is that the reconstructive surgery that UCLA did was actually cutting edge work for 1972.)

Obit watch: April 24, 2017.

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Erin Moran, for the historical record. I’m not linking to the AV Club obit because it’s ugly and below their usual standards.

Albert Freedman died a few weeks ago, though the NYT didn’t report his death until Saturday.

Mr. Freedman was a television producer in the 1950s. He specialized in televised game shows: the most famous of the shows he produced was “Twenty-One”.

And now you see where I was going with this, don’t you? Yes: Mr. Freedman was the person who recruited Charles Van Doren and fed him answers so he could defeat Herbert Stempel, leading to the “Quiz Show” scandal.

(I kind of knew in the back of my mind that Charles Van Doren was still alive: I remember when that New Yorker essay was published, though I don’t think I read all of it. What I didn’t know until I looked it up: according to Wikipedia, Herbert Stempel is also still alive.)

Kate O’Beirne, National Review writer and editor. Lawrence sent this to me: I’m not a regular NR reader, but their obit makes her sound like someone I’d enjoy having a holiday dinner with if I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Obit watch: April 7, 2017.

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Don Rickles: NYT. LAT. AV Club.

Joe Harris passed away on March 26th, though the NYT didn’t get around to reporting it until a week later. Mr. Harris was a commercial illustrator who is credited with creating the original Trix rabbit. Later on, he joined Total TeleVison, a company that produced Saturday morning cartoons. There he created Underdog.

Yeah, the animation may not have been great, but it did have one of the best cartoon theme songs ever.

Question for the huddled, wretched masses yearning to breathe free: what are some of the other great cartoon theme songs? Off the top of my head, I love the themes for “SuperChicken” and “George of the Jungle” (I have been known to quote the “SuperChicken” theme at work.) Oddly enough, I also have fond memories of the “Hong Kong Phooey” theme (and when are we going to get a live action “Hong Kong Phooey” movie?). Am I just a sucker for good theme songs wrapped around bad animation?

Obit watch: April 6, 2017.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

I’m seeing reports from reliable sources (and CNN) that Don Rickles has passed away, though I’m not seeing anything link-worthy.

If I get a chance, I’ll update later today: otherwise, it may be tomorrow before I’m able to throw up a good round-up.

Obit watch: March 22, 2017.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

Chuck Barris, “Gong Show” host and noted CIA assassin, has passed away.

Or has he? You know, a conspiracy to fake his own death and go on one last mission for The Company is exactly the kind of thing that would appeal to Mr. Barris…

Colin Dexter, mystery writer. I haven’t read any of the Inspector Morse novels yet, though they are on my big list to read someday, so I can’t offer much about Mr. Dexter. However, The Rap Sheet has a good round-up and I would expect more tributes there as time goes by.

Obit watch: February 8, 2017.

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Professor Irwin Corey, “the world’s foremost authority”, has passed away. He was 102.

One of Mr. Corey’s best-remembered routines was staged not in a club or broadcast studio but at Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan, at the National Book Awards ceremony in 1974. That year the fiction prize was shared by Isaac Bashevis Singer and Thomas Pynchon. No one in the crowd had any idea what the reclusive Mr. Pynchon looked like, and when Mr. Corey arrived to accept the award for him (the novelist had approved the stunt), many people thought they were getting their first look at Mr. Pynchon.

For the record, Richard Hatch: NYT. A/V Club.

Obit watch: January 28, 2017.

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

John Hurt. NYT. A/V Club.

Since the A/V Club hit one of his most famous scenes, I’ll hit the other:

For the calm dignity he brought to this performance — a powerful reproof to those who demonized and humiliated Merrick — Mr. Hurt was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for best actor, critical plaudits and the admiration of the film’s director, David Lynch, who said 10 years later, in an interview in The New York Times Magazine: “John Hurt is simply the greatest actor in the world.” (Robert De Niro won the best actor award in 1981.)

(I’d kind of like to see the Hurt/Egoyan “Krapp’s Last Tape”, but it looks like you can only get that in the “Beckett On Film” set, which is pricy but contains some other stuff I’d like to see as well.)

Barbara Hale, who knocked around movies and TV a bit before she settled into her most famous role. LAT. NYT.

That role, by the way, was “Della Street”, Perry Mason’s secretary during the Raymond Burr run from the beginning of the TV series in 1957 all the way through the last TV movie in 1993. (I make the distinction because: while I personally don’t remember this and it didn’t last very long, there was an attempt to revive Mason in the 1970s, with Monte Markham in the titular role. Ms. Hale was not involved with that. She was, however, involved with “The Perry Mason Mysteries” which were made after Burr’s death and didn’t involve Perry Mason at all.)

Noted: she was also the wife of Dean Martin’s character in “Airport”.

Obit watch: January 27, 2017.

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Mike Connors.

He served in the Air Force during World War II, then enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he played basketball (and earned the nickname “Touch” on the court).

Under the name Touch Connors, he also appeared in several forgettable films (“Swamp Women,” “Flesh and the Spur”), many of them for the director Roger Corman, and at least one enduring film: “The Ten Commandments” (1956).

By the end of its eight-season run, “Mannix” earned Mr. Connors a salary of $40,000 an episode. He used his fame to publicize a then-underreported chapter in Armenian history by narrating “The Forgotten Genocide,” a 1975 documentary about the targeted killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. He would later narrate another Armenian-themed documentary, “Ararat Beckons,” by the same director, J. Michael Hagopian.

Serdar Argic, call your office, please.

One more crime series lay in Mr. Connors’s future — “Today’s FBI,” which lasted one season on ABC in 1981…

I remember liking that show. Doesn’t look like it has ever had a DVD release, and I can’t tell if it streaming anywhere. But the opening is on YouTube.

Remember when TV shows had openings? And theme music?

Obit watch: January 26, 2017.

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Your Mary Tyler Moore roundup: NYT. A/V Club. LAT. WP.

CBS is doing an hour-long tribute special tonight. And apparently, MTM Enterprises has been posting full episodes of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on YouTube (minus the opening credits).

If they don’t play “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” at her funeral, there just ain’t no justice in this world.

My mother asked me yesterday if there was anybody from the show other than Betty White who was still alive. The answer kind of surprised me:

Cloris Leachman (“Phyllis”) is still around, though she’s pushing 91. Ed Asner is also still alive (he’s 87). Gavin MacLeod’s still around. Valerie (‘Rhoda”) Harper seems to be doing more or less okay after that cancer scare a couple of years ago. And Georgia Engel (Ted Baxter’s girlfriend) is only 68 and still working.

Obit watch: January 2, 2017.

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

William Christopher, most famous as Father Mulcahy on “M*A*S*H” and “AfterMASH”.

(My mother observed that she saw him recently on a “Murder She Wrote” rerun, in which he was the bad guy. It looks like he knocked around a bit before “MASH”:

He appeared on a number of popular shows, including “The Andy Griffith Show,” “The Patty Duke Show,” “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and “The Love Boat.”

)

(And I was reading up a little on “AFterMASH” over the weekend. Yes, it was probably a bad idea in retrospect: even the executive producer thinks so, though I disagree with his assertion that it featured “the three weakest characters”: I don’t think he gives Harry Morgan enough credit.

But the thing that surprises me (I never watched an episode) is that it was actually a top 10 show in the first season. The thing that killed it wasn’t quality, or the lack thereof: it was that CBS, in their infinite wisdom, decided “AfterMASH” could go head-to-head against “The A-Team” for the second season. That…didn’t quite work.)