Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Obit watch: April 13, 2017.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

J. Geils, of J. Geils Band fame. Remember “Centerfold”? I used to have that on a 45 somewhere.

(Kids, ask your parents about records.)

My brother mentioned Charlie Murphy‘s death yesterday, and I’m embarrassed to admit: it rang no bells with me until I read the obit and realized, “Oh, yeah, the ‘True Hollywood Stories’ guy from ‘Chappelle’s Show’.” (I didn’t watch the show first run, but Lawrence has some DVDs that we’ve been watching from time to time.)

And I think this is worth noting for news value:

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on New York State’s highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead on Wednesday in the Hudson River, the authorities said.

I don’t want to speculate, but it doesn’t seem like the authorities suspect foul play at the moment.

Obit watch: April 12, 2017.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Dorothy Mengering, David Letterman’s mother and sometime “Late Show” correspondent.

“He kidded me in Norway,” she told the St. Petersburg Times, explaining that he asked her whether she’d seen any fjords lately. “‘I was supposed to say ‘No, but I’ve seen some Chevys.’ I didn’t get it until after we were off the air. I saw the tape of the show, and then it dawned on me.”

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.

The thrill of victory…

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

…and the agony of defeat.

It was a nice run, though. Maybe next year.

(And yes, I owe Lawrence $5.)

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: March 7, 2017.

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Robert Osborne, the Turner Classic Movies guy. I wish I had more to say about him, but I rarely have cable and thus rarely watch TCM.

Dr. Thomas Starzl, noted surgeon. Among other accomplishments, he did the first liver transplants and pioneered the use of anti-rejection drugs.

Dr. Starzl later described those early liver transplants as both a “test of endurance” and “a curious exercise in brutality.” It involved, he explained, “brutality as you’re taking the liver out, then sophistication as you put it back in and hook up all of these little bile ducts and other structures.”

Obit watch: February 27, 2017.

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Judge Joseph A. Wapner, of the Los Angeles Coun6y Superior Court. NYT.

During World War II, he served with the Army in the Pacific and was wounded by sniper fire on Cebu Island in the Philippines, leaving him with shrapnel in his left foot. He won the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his bravery and was honorably discharged in 1945.

Of course, he’s better known to those of us in the older set as the first judge of “The People’s Court”.

For the record: Bill Paxton. A/V Club.

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.