Archives for CATEGORIES category

Morgan Woodward, American Actor 1950s – 1990s

Posted on May 02, 2012 under ARCHIVES, CATEGORIES | 2 Comments


Morgan Woodward

His Beginnings:

Morgan Woodward was born on September 16, 1925 in Fort Worth, TX.  His father and Uncle were both doctors, his uncle Dr. S.A. Woodward was summoned to help in a birth of a male child.  The child was named Woodward Ritter, who later on was known as Tex Ritter.

Morgan’s brother, Dr. Lewis Woodward, was a successful professor of music at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, CA.  What a small world; his brother worked with Jack Elam’s half brother who was also a PhD.  Jack Elam is also recognized as one of the best known supporting actors of his time.

Upon graduating from college, Morgan enrolled in the University of Texas Law School.  His studies were interrupted when he was recalled to active duty in the Air Force, during the Korean War.  After being released from the military, he pursued a career in acting instead of returning to law school.

His Career:

One of his longest running television roles was as Deputy “Shotgun” Gibbs in the long running series “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp”  (1955 – 1961).  He portrayed Gibbs as a trustworthy, cantankerous character endeared by the viewing audience.

Morgan Woodward enjoyed on of the longest and most successful careers in both television and motion pictures.

Over his career, he was a guest star on more than 40 television shows from the 50s through the 90s.  He holds the record of appearing in more Gunsmoke and Wagon Train episodes than any other actor.  He played various characters on Gunsmoke 19 times and 12 times on Wagon Train.  He was also in the made-for-tv movie –  “Gunsmoke: To The Last Man” (1992) as Sheriff Abel Rose

He is probably best known for his villains on old westerns and two very distinctive characters on the long running series “Dallas” and his portrayal as Boss Godfrey in the blockbuster movie “Cool Hand Luke”.


Cool Hand Luke (1967)

He portrayed Marvin “Punk” Anderson in a recurring role on “Dallas” which aired from 1978 to 1991.  In Cool Hand Luke (1967), starring Paul Newman, he portrayed the silent, sunglasses-wearing Boss Godfrey — “the man with no eyes”.

He also starred two episodes in the original Star Trek as two different characters.  In “Dagger of the Mind”, he portrayed Dr. Simon Van Gelder, an attending physician at a hospital of the criminally insane.

In “The Omega Glory”, he portrayed Captain Ron Tracey, commander of the starship USS Exeter.

The Omega Glory

Morgan Woodward was so sought after due to his ability to wear so many different hats in so many different roles.

In 2005, he attended the 50th anniversary celebration of the premier of Gunsmoke in Dodge City, Kansas. James Arness’ wife and son also attended as Jim was unable to travel.

Due to his long and successful career in TV and Movies, he is recognized by many viewers in many generations. I, personally, believe his work is some of the very finest in the entertainment industry and he should never be forgotten.

The Man:

He served as a pilot in the Army Air Force in World War II and had been flying airplanes since he was 16.

One of his favorite hobbies is restoring and rebuilding antique aircrafts.  In aviation circles, he is considered an authority on Early American Aircraft and has received many awards for his restorations.

In August, 1995, he received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his many western roles.

Personal Quote:

“Recognition is a funny thing. I’ve been recognized for many roles and recently I had someone remember me from an old show I did more than 20 years ago. It was such an obscure role that it took me a few minutes to remember the part myself. But it’s amazing what people will remember you for doing. I still get response about my role as Shotgun Gibbs on ‘Wyatt Earp’ and that ended in the early 60′s.”

TV Western Sugarfoot Starring Will Hutchins

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 under ARCHIVES, CATEGORIES | Comments are off

While rummaging through all the old westerns, I came across this little gem that I had totally forgotten about. It was a great western with a good deal of humor added to it. So I figure it was time to give it a good dusting and bring it back to the surface.

The TV Western, Sugarfoot aired from 1957 to 1961, starring Will Hutchins as the “green horn” frontier lawyer Tom Brewster and costarred veteran actor Jack Elam as his sidekick Toothy Thompson. I can’t think of a better character name for Jack Elam then Toothy!

Sugarfoot was one of the earliest productions between ABC and the struggling Warner Brothers studio, chaired by William T. Orr.  During this period of time, Warner Brothers produced other well-known westerns including: Maverick starring James Garner and Jack Kelly, Cheyenne starring Clint Walker, Lawman starring John Russell, Peter Brown and Peggy Castle, Bronco starring Ty Hardin and Colt 45 starring Wayde Preston.

The Scenario:

Tom Brewster was a correspondence school graduate whose total lack of cowboy skills earned him the nickname Sugarfoot.  The pilot episode was a remake of the 1954 Western The Boy From Oklahoma.

In the movie, The Boy From Oklahoma, Will Rogers, Jr starred in the title role.  His character never used a gun, instead he used his roping skills to capture villains.  The television show Sugarfoot altered this, somewhat, by making Brewster a “reluctant” user of a gun yet was willing to as a last resort.

The Pilot episode of Sugarfoot “Brannigan’s Boots” was so similar to the earlier film that Sheb Wooley and Slim Pickens reprised their roles in the show as Pete and Shorty.  Slim Pickens was a well known veteran actor in many westerns, both in films and television.  Sheb Wooley is best know for his character on the TV Western Rawhide, as scout for the cattle drive, Pete Nolan.  Well known actor Dennis Hopper was also in the pilot playing Billy the Kid.

Some thought that Sugarfoot was related to the 1951 Movie Sugarfoot, starring Randolph Scott.  This was not the case at all, there was absolutely no similarities whatsoever.

Ward Bond (1903-1960) Film Star

Posted on Oct 12, 2011 under ARCHIVES, CATEGORIES | 1 Comment

 

April 9, 1903 – Nov. 5, 1960

Ward Bond made his screen debut in Salute (1929) then went on appearing in over 200 supporting roles.  He rarely played the lead until starring in the extremely popular western TV show “Wagon Train as Major Seth Adams” from 1957 until his death in 1960.

I absolutely loved Ward Bond and his many, many films.  Being a huge 30s and 40s buff, I could swing a stick and hit at least a dozen films at once that he was in. His impressive 6’2″ height and his gentle persona made him an indelible image on the screen.

Born Wardell Edwin “Ward” Bond, born April 9, 1903, whose rugged appearance and laid back persona put him high in demand with John Ford and other films directors such as Frank Capra.

He was born in Benkelman, Nebraska just a few miles from both Kansas and Colorado.  He, and his family, Father — John W., Mother — Mable L and Sister Bernice lived there until 1919 when they moved to Denver, Co.  He graduated from East High School in Denver and then attended the University of Southern California where he played football.  At 6’2″ and 195 pounds, he was a starting lineman on USC’s first national championship team in 1928.

His lifelong friend and colleague, John Wayne played tackle for USC in 1926 before an injury ended his career .  Ward Bond, John Wayne and the entire Southern Cal team were hired to appear in Salute a 1929 football film starring George O’Brien and directed by John Ford.

During the filming of Salute, both Wayne and Ward became friends with John Ford thereby being in many of Ford’s future films.

John Wayne and Ward Bond, Tall in the Saddle (1944)

As mentioned earlier, Bond was cast in more than 200 roles.  To list all his films would be quite extensive.  He had a long and very good working relationship with John Ford and Frank Capra.

Reverend Capt. Clayton, The Searchers (1956)

Some of Ford’s films included:  The Searchers, Drums Along the Mohawk, The Quite Man and Fort Apache, The Grapes of Wrath and Mister Roberts.  He made 25 films with Ford.

Capra’s films: It’s a Wonderful Life and  It Happened One Night.

Other Films, to name a few: Bringing Up Baby, Gone with the Wind, The Maltese FalconSergeant York and Rio Bravo.

He also appeared in Raoul Walsh‘s 1930 wide-screen wagon train epic The Big Trail, which featured John Wayne in his first leading role.

He was in 11 films that were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, which may be more than any other actor.

In 1957 he was cast as Major Seth Adams, Wagon Master in the extremely popular TV Show “Wagon Train“.  His bigger than life stature, booming voice and kindly persona made his character one of the most popular with viewing audiences.  He remained on Wagon Train until his untimely death in 1960.

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In 1942 he was cast as  John L Sullivan in Gentleman Jim with Errol Flynn as Gentleman Jim Corbett.  John L Sullivan was the first Heavyweight champion of gloved boxing (Feb 7, 1881 0 1892)  and was generally considered the last heavyweight champion of bare-knuckle boxing.

 He lost his title to ” Gentleman Jim” Corbett on Sept 7, 1892 in New Orleans.  The fight began at 9 p.m. with over 10,000 viewers at unbelievable ticket prices of $5 to $15 a ticket.  (That’s approximately $117 to $353)  In the 21st round, Corbett landed a smashing left that put Sullivan down for good and declared the new champion.

Gentleman Jim is one of my very favorite Ward Bond movies because of his performance.  He played Sullivan with such passion and depth, I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.  Upon losing his title , Bond’s performance brought  tears to my eyes and does every time I see this film.

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On Feb. 5th 1960 Ward Bond died from a massive heart attack at noon in Dallas, TX.  There was a rumor that country singer Johnny Horton was killed in a car accident (on the same day) while driving to see Ward Bond to discuss a fourth season of Wagon Train.  Although Horton was killed in a car crash on the same day at 1:30 in the afternoon, he was headed to Austin — Not Dallas.

Ward Bond was only 57 when he passed away and John Wayne gave the eulogy at his funeral.  In Bond’s will, he bequeathed to Wayne the shotgun with which Wayne had accidentally shot Bond!

Ward Bond has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the Television & Motion Picture industry.


Ward Bond (Bert) Jimmy Steward (George Bailey) Frank Faylen (Ernie)

Not only was he one of the most sought after and finest supporting actors of his time, he was one of my very favorite actors.  I categorically love the scene with Ward Bond and  Frank Faylen serenading George and Mary Bailey on their wedding night under the window of the “old Granville place” with “I Love You Truly”in “Its A Wonderful Life”.  I do believe that the tenor in the harmony was Ward Bond and Feylen was singing baratone.

 

One Final Note:

Many actors along with most men in the U.S., during World War II, enlisted in the armed services.  Being epileptic, Ward Bond was rejected by the draft.

 

Eric Blore Character Actor of his Time

Posted on Jan 28, 2011 under CATEGORIES, Uncategorized | No Comment

Eric Blore, Actor (1887 – 1959)

I have always been a huge fan of the movies out of the 30′s and 40′s.  One of the most famous dance teams ever were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.   A Character actor that appeared in 5 out of  their 9 Astaire/Rogers movies was a British actor, Eric Blore.

Blore was an consummate comedian with a tweak of Sarcasm and Pomposity.  I never saw a performance of his that didn’t just leave me tickled!

Eric Blore started off as an insurance agent, but while in Australia he took a great interest in stage and theater.  His short physic, elfish appearance and quick witted charm made him endearing to watch.

He became quite well known as the waiter in Astaire/Rogers “Flying Down to Rio (1933).  Still deeply involved in Broadway, he played the waiter in the stage version of The Gay Divorcee and reprised his role in the film version once again with Fred and Ginger.

“Blore had been perfecting his basic comic characters since his London days – a leering-eyed English gentlemen – brusque/wise-acre butler or waiter or other service provider — with a lock-jawed British accent. These characters accompanied by Blore’s flawlessly timed delivery were thoroughly applicable and effective as he moved permanently to Hollywood character acting. He played a fair spectrum of other roles, even in a few rare dramas, such as the adventure The Soldier and the Lady (1937) and Island of Lost Men (1939).”

Blore worked constantly from 1934 through the 1940s.   I think some of his best lines and antics were in Top Hat (1935) and Shall We Dance  (1937).  His flawless portrayals of  valets and butlers seemed to flow so naturally, leaving audiences laughing in sheer delight.

Although appearing in films with Henry Fonda, Barbara Stanwyck and Charles Coburn, parts started to become less frequent in the late 40s.  He was chosen for the voice of  Disney’s Mr. Toad in the film The Wind in the Willows (1949). By 1955 he had pretty much retired.

In 1959, the New Yorker reported that Eric Blore had passed away! Much to the furry of Blore’s Lawyer, the New Yorker was going to print a retraction, because Blore had Not Passed away!  Then strangely enough, the retraction was never released because  Eric Blore  did indeed passed away that evening.  Eric would have loved the irony of this incident and probably would’ve enjoyed a great laugh!