Archive for the ‘1970s’ Category

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.)

Obit watch: December 30, 2016.

Friday, December 30th, 2016

George S. Irving has died. He was 94.

Mr. Irving was a Tony award winner (for a revival of “Irene” in which he acted opposite Debbie Reynolds):

Mr. Irving was a regular on Broadway, in the musicals “Can-Can,” “Bells Are Ringing” and “Irma La Douce,” among others, and in plays like Gore Vidal’s political satire “An Evening With Richard Nixon and…,” in which he played the title role.

He was also a television spokesman for White Owl cigars, and narrated episodes of “Underdog”.

But he was perhaps best known as the voice of Heat Miser in “The Year Without a Santa Claus”. He was also in “A Miser Brothers’ Christmas” (which I’d never even heard of, but I was apparently in my 40s when that premiered).

Obit watch: December 2, 2016.

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

Andrew Sachs, perhaps most famous as Manuel the waiter in “Fawlty Towers”.

Milt Moss passed away on September 26th, though his death was just announced by his family this week. He was perhaps most famous as the “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” guy from the Alka-Seltzer ads of the early 1970s.

Obit watch: December 1, 2016.

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

Grant Tinker, founder of MTM Enterprises and former head of NBC.

And as chairman and chief executive of NBC from 1981 to 1986, Mr. Tinker crammed prime time with many of television’s most imaginative, successful and long-running series, including “The Cosby Show,” “Cheers,” “Hill Street Blues,” “Family Ties,” “St. Elsewhere” and “Miami Vice.”

Setting out as an independent in 1970, Mr. Tinker and Ms. Moore formed MTM to produce “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” for CBS. Created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns, the show had phenomenal success over the next seven years, which led to a host of spinoff hits and a growing stable of writers and producers eager to work in a creative atmosphere.