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Roy Rogers — King of the Cowboys — Actor — Legend

Posted on Dec 31, 2013 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment


Nov 5, 1911 to July 6, 1998

Roy Rogers was born Leonard Franklin Slye on November 5, 1911 in Cincinnati, Ohio. To young children in the 30s, 40s and 50s, he was King of the Cowboys and with his following, that couldn’t be more true!

Along with his beautiful Palomino horse, Trigger, he appeared in almost 100 films from the 30s through the 50s. Many of his films also featured his wife Dale Evans whom he married on New Year’s Eve in 1947.

In the late 1920s his family moved to California where he held various odd jobs including being a fruit picker and a factory worker. He first started a music career with his cousin Stanley, playing at local theaters and square dances.

When he met Bob Nolan and Tim Spencer, they set off playing together as a trio, followed by various name changes. They started off as the O-Bar-O Cowboys, the Pioneer Trio and finally, Sons of the Pioneers in which they appeared in several movies.

Roy also went through a variety of name changes before landing on Roy Rogers. When he started performing with Sons of the Pioneers, he was called Dick Weston which was the name he was credited with in his first film Slightly Static in 1935.

When Republic Studio gave him a seven year contract, his name was changed to Roy Rogers (1937).

His big break came in 1938 when he replaced Gene Autry in “Under Western Stars“. The movie proved to be an enormous success with the viewing audiences. He then went on starring in approximately 7 singing B-Westerns every year until the early 1950s. All these films featured Trigger, his palomino and Bullet his German Shepherd.

With a healthy rivalry between Rogers and Autry, both went on to extremely successful careers. Although Rogers was referred to as the Singing Cowboy for a short while, Gene Autry ended out coining that title while Roy Rogers became known as the King of the Cowboys.

In 1932, Roy bought a palomino colt named “Golden Cloud” whom he renamed “Trigger”. Under the name Golden Cloud, he made his debut in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn and ridden by Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian. The story goes that Trigger got his name because, while working with Smiley Burnette, Burnette said the big horse was “quick on the trigger.”

This was an era when musical westerns were hot! Some of his films include Sunset in El Dorado (1945), My Pal Trigger (1946) and The Golden Stallion (1949). Known for his heroism and good-guy persona, he was extremely popular among children. Many of his productions included a sidekick which was casted with Pat Brady who drove an old Jeep named “Nellybelle”, Andy Devine or crotchety but lovable Gabby Hayes.

In 1944, “The Yellow Rose of Texas” formed an immediate chemistry between Roy and Dale and shortly thereafter she gained the title “Queen of the Cowgirls”.


Dale Evans: Oct 31, 1912 to Feb 7, 2001

 

The Roy Rogers Show ran from 1951 – 1975, co-starring Dale Evans. At the end of each show, Roy and Dale sang the duet “Happy Trails” written by Dale. In 1962, the show went through an overhaul and returned as “The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show”.

In 1936, Roy married his first wife, Arlene Wilkins. Sadly she died after giving birth to their only son Roy, Jr in 1946. They had two daughters Cheryl who was adopted and Linda Lou.

Roy and Dale were married on New Year’s Eve in 1947 (66 years ago). They had a daughter Robin who was born with a heart defect and Down’s Syndrome. She died a few days before her second birthday. Roy and Dale adopted four children: Dodie, Sandy, Marion Swift and Debbie Lee. Again their family was struck with tragedy when Debbie was killed in a church bus accident in 1964 and Sandy chocked to death while serving in the Army in 1965.

With their many tragedies, their religion and faith always remained strong.

In 1965 Roy and Dale established the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in their hometown of Victorville, CA. The museum held Trigger whom Roy preserved when the horse died in the same year.

After celebrating their 50th anniversary, Roy passed away six months later on July 6, 1998 in Victorville, CA from congestive heart failure, he was 102 years old.

Roy has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induced into the Western Performers Hall of Fame (along with Dale) and was inducted again as a member of the Sons of the Pioneers in 1995. He received many other honors for his years of excellent contributions to the industry.

Roy Rogers, to many of us who were very young children, singing along with Roy and Dale “Happy Trails”, there is only one King of the Cowboys. He showed us the importance of values, being of our word and treating others with respect.

In this day and age, kids could sure use another Roy Rogers.

Wishing Everyone — A Happy New Year and a Prosperous Life!

 

Happy New Year from Golden Age of Westerns!

Posted on Dec 31, 2013 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment

 

Wishing Everyone a Safe & Happy New Year!

 

Artwork by Webweaver

Chuck Connors: American Actor/Athlete, Rifleman Star

Posted on Aug 01, 2013 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment

 

April 10, 1911 to Nov 10, 1992

Chuck Connors was born Kevin Joseph Connors on April 10, 1921 in Brooklyn, NY.  His parents, Allan and Marcella, were from the Dominion of Newfoundland.  He was one of two children, sister Gloria was 2 years younger.  Gloria discovered that Connors disliked his first name and went on a campaign to select another name for him.  He tried “Lefty” and “Stretch” before deciding on Chuck.  Chuck came about because while playing first base, he would yell to the pitcher “Chuck it to me baby, chuck it to me!”

Chuck was only one of 12 athletes in the history of American professional sports to have played in both Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association.  His athletic abilities earned him scholarships to both Adelphi Academy and Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ.

During World War II he enlisted into the Army at Fort Knox, KY.  He spent the majority of the war as a tank warfare instructor stationed at Fort Campbell, KY and later on at West Point, NY.

His Athletic Career:

He moonlighted, during his Army service, as a professional basketball player with the Rochester Royals, helping to lead them to the 1946 National Basketball League Championship.

Upon leaving the military, he joined the newly formed Boston Celtics and left the team for spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949.  He always loved the Dodgers and hoped someday to join their team!  He only played one game with the Dodgers and in 1951 joined the Chicago Cubs in which he played 66 games as the first baseman and occasional pinch hitter.

In 1966 Connors played an off field role by helping to end the famous holdout by Los Angeles Dodgers pitchers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax.  He acted as an intermediary during the negotiations between the team and players and can be seen in the Associated Press photo with Drysdale, Koufax and the Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi, announcing the pitchers’ new contract.

His Acting Career:

Chuck Connors realized he would never make a professional career in sports, so focused his future by pursuing a career in acting.  He was spotted by an MGM casting director and was signed for the 1952 Tracy/Hepburn film “Pat and Mike”.

He was continually casted in supporting/character roles in films for many years to follow.  In 1957 he was cast in the role of Burn Sanderson in Disney’s “Old Yeller”.  This was the same year he co-starred in “The Hired Gun”.

The Rifleman (Sept 30, 1958 to April 8, 1963)

J Crawford and C Connors The Rifleman

Chuck Connors beat out 40 actors for the leading role as Lucas McCain on the newly created television series The Rifleman.  McCain was a widowed rancher known for his skill with a customized Winchester Rifle.  The ABC Western was the first show ever to feature a widowed father raising a young son.

The producers offered a lower amount of money to do 39 episodes for the 1958/59 season.  Chuck realized he was making more as a freelance actor and turned it down.  The producers were Dick Powell, Charles BoyerIda Lupino and David Niven and known as “Four Star Television“.

A few days after turning down the role, the producer brought their children to see Old Yeller.  They watched his performance as the neighbor who originally owned Old Yeller and gave the dog to the Coates boys (Travis & Arliss).  They believed after watching the movie that Connors should be cast as Lucas McCain and made him a better offer, including a 5% ownership of the show.

The show was an immediate hit ranking in at #4 in the Nielsen Ratings following behind Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Have Gun Will Travel.

The show wanted to cast an unknown child actor to play the part of McCain’s son Mark.  Johnny Crawford was a former Mousketeer and a big fan of both Westerns and baseball.  He beat out 40 other young stars and remained on the show from 1958 until its cancellation in 1963,

Johnny Crawford on Chuck Connors:

“I was very fond of Chuck, and we were very good friends right from the start. I admired him tremendously.” “I was a big baseball fan when we started the show, and when I found out that Chuck had been a professional baseball player, I was especially in awe of him. I would bring my baseball and a bat and a couple of gloves whenever we went on location, and at lunchtime I would get a baseball game going, hoping that Chuck would join us. And he did, but after he came to bat, we would always have trouble finding the ball. It would be out in the brush somewhere or in a ravine, and so that would end the game.”

Johnny stayed in touch with Chuck until his death in 1992.

His Personal Life:

He was married three times.  He met his first wife, Elizabeth Riddell Connors, at one of his baseball games.  They were married on Oct. 1, 1948 and they had 4 sons: Michael (born 1950), Jeffrey (born 1952), Steven (born 1953) and Kevin (1956 – 2005).  He and Elizabeth divorced in 1961.

He was married to Kamala Devi from 1963 to 1972 and Faith Quabius from 1977 to 1980.

Chuck Connors passed away on November 10, 1992 at the age of 71 in Los Angeles.  He developed pneumonia, stemming from lung cancer.  He was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.  At the time of his death, his companion was Rose Mary Grumley.

Chuck Connors was blessed with a long and successful life with millions of fans.  One of those fans was Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev of the former Soviet Union.  They met at a party given by Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, CA in June, 1973.  The Rifleman was one of the few American shows allowed on Russian television because it was Brezhnev’s favorite show!

I’m not sure I can expound more on the influence and character of Mr. Connor, so I will leave it with more memories of Johnny Crawford:

“We remained friends throughout the rest of his life.  He was always interested in what I was doing and ready with advice and anxious to help in any way that he could…  He was a great guy, a lot of fun, great sense of humor, bigger than life and he absolutely loved people.  He was very gregarious and friendly and not at all bashful… I learned a great deal from him about acting, and he was a tremendous influence on me.  He was just my hero.” — J Crawford

Stop by my Fan page on Facebook: The Golden Age of Television When Westerns Ruled

Jeanette Nolan, American Character Actress – TV, Film and Radio

Posted on Apr 12, 2013 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment


Dec. 30, 1911 to June 5, 1998

When discussing the great artists that paraded through the westerns in the 50s and 60s, you cannot leave Jeanette Nolan off the list!  She was one of the very finest character actresses of her time, appearing in more than three hundred television shows!

Jeanette was born on December 30, 1911 in Los Angeles, CA and was married to western actor John McIntire in 1932 until his death in 1991.  They had two children, Holly and Tim McIntire.

Her career began at the Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA and debuted in radio in 1932 with the broadcast of Omar Khayyam.  She debuted in films playing Lady Macbeth in Orson Welles‘ 1948 production of Macbeth, based on William Shakespeare’s play. Although the film received lukewarm reviews, Jeanette’s career took off playing supporting characters from the 30s through the 1990s.

Her career in westerns was extensive, playing an array of characters from Mountain Mamas to a newly widowed sheriff in season 4, episode 7 of Have Gun Will Travel, starring Richard Boone in 1960.  In 1959 she was cast as Emmy Zecker in an episode of the western Johnny Yuma on ABC.

From 1959 to 1960 she played Annette Deveraux, part-owner of the Hotel de Paree in the series of the same name, along with Earl Holliman.

In 1963, Jeanette was cast as Mrs. Mertens in the episode “Reformation of Willie” on the ABC drama Going My Way starring Gene Kelly as a priest living in New York City.  Going My Way aired after the popular western Wagon Train in which her husband John McIntire co-starred as the wagon master Chris Hale from 1961 to 1965 (after the death of Ward Bond).  She appeared in three episodes of Wagon Train during that time as well.

In 1965 she portrayed Ma Burns in “The Golden Trail” an episode on NBC’s popular western Laredo.  Ma Burns is a refined woman who, on the side, is plotting to hijack a gold shipment which, in reality, ends out being 36 bottles of Tennessee whiskey!

She was also cast on another episode of Laredo “It’s the End of the Road, Stanley” in 1966 portraying Martha Tuforth and Vita Rose in “Like One of the Family” in 1967.  Unknown to many, Laredo was a spin-off of the classic TV western The Virginian.  Nolan also joined the cast of The Virginian in 1967 along with her husband John McIntire.

Nolan appeared as a guest star on Gunsmoke (starring James Arness) more than any other actress,  In 1974 she starred with Dack Rambo in CBS’s series Dirty Sally which was the only spin-off of Gunsmoke, playing the recurring role for 8 episodes.  Nolan portrayed the toothless, hard drinking 62 year-old Sally Fergus on her way to California to pan for gold. Cyrus Pike (Dack Rambo) is the young man who accompanies her westward, while he flees from past partners in crime.


J Nolan and Dack Rambo

December 19, 1961, Nolan played the title in Gunsmoke’s “Aunt Thede” written by Kathleen Hite and Directed by Sutton Roley.  Aunt Thede is Festus Haggen’s (Ken Curtis) cantankerous aunt who arrives in Dodge and decides to squat on some land, set up a still and  marry off to star-crossed lovers to boot!  She has a wonderful, wonderful monologue toward the end of the episode which is so beautifully written regarding the meaning of love.  Her delivery is pitch perfect!

Her versatility cast her in many other genres including crime dramas such as the very popular Columbo starring Peter Falk, Perry Mason starring Raymond Burr and the short lived Slattery’s People starring Richard Crenna.  Later on, she would appear again with Mr. Crenna and Walter Brennan on ABC’s sitcom The Real McCoys.

She appeared two separate times on the short-lived comedy The Mothers-In-Law.  She played Kaye Ballard’s grandmother Gabriela Balotta and then Annie Mac Taggart, a crazy Scottish Nanny.

She played witches on Rod Serling’s television series The Twilight Zone and later on with his series Night Gallery“Since Aunt Ada Came To Stay” with James Farentino and Michele Lee.

Her final film appearance was with Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer as Redford’s mother, Ellen Booker, in 1998.

Jeanette Nolan passed on June 5, 1998 at age 86 from a stroke.  She was buried at Tobacco Valley Cemetery in Eureka, Montano.  She is survived by her daughter Holly.

Trying to cover Jeanette Nolan’s career, in full, would take a novel.  She was an extremely fine actress with a natural charm for characters.  She played her fair share of villains but was best known for her quirky, somewhat backwards, lovable souls.  She was nominated for four Emmy Awards.

The Golden Age of Television would not have been the same without the likes of Jeanette.

Note:

Her son, Timothy John McIntire, passed away April 15, 1986 from congestive heart failure.  He was best known for his character as the disc jockey Alan Free in American Hot Wax (1978) and portrayed the country music legend George Jones in the 1981 TV movie “Stand By Your Man”.

Michael Landon, American Actor, Bonanza

Posted on Jan 30, 2013 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | No Comment


Oct. 31, 1936 to July 1, 1991

Born Eugene Maurice Orowitz on October 31, 1936 in Forest Hills, NY, second child of Eli Orowitz and Kathleen O’Neill. No one could have known this second child would become known as: Little Joe Cartwright on Bonanza, Charles Ingalls on Little House On The Prairie and Jonathan Smith on Highway to Heaven.

February, 1955, he enrolled at USC, but his fellow teammates were jealous of his long hair. On the field, one day, they pinned him down and cut off his hair. After seeing the 1949 film Samson and Delilah, Eugene honestly believed long hair would physically make him stronger. This turn of events proved to be devastating. He went back to

His father was Jewish and his mother Irish Catholic. Kathleen was a popular comedienne and showgirl working on Broadway. Eli was a studio publicist and theater manager.

In 1941 the family moved to Collingswood, New Jersey. Eugene attended Collingswood High and excelled in track and field with an expertise in Javelin throwing. This earned him a scholarship to USC in Los Angeles, CA. Although he was only 299th in a class of 301, he graduated in 1954 with a genius IQ of 159.

In the field and was throwing the javelin when he tore an elbow ligament in his left arm. He totally lost interest and dropped out of USC.

On The Road To Success:

In 1956 Eugene was hoping to be discovered for film and television roles. Realizing his name Eugene Orowitz was not exactly a great marquee name, he started looking through the telephone book for a more suitable name. He decided on Michael Lane until he discovered there was an actor in the Screen Actor’s Guild with that name. Upon continuing his search, he ran into the name Landon and Michael Landon was born.

In 1956 he met a married Dodie Levy-Fraser, a 26 year-old widow with a 7 year-old son. Her husband had been killed in an automobile accident a few years before.

While pumping gas across the street from Warner Brothers Studio, one of the studio’s talent scouts spotted him. He joined the studio’s acting class the next day. In his spare time he sold blankets door to door and believed this an invaluable experience because it taught him to communicate with all sorts of people.

After spending over 2 years waiting for a break, little did he know it was right around the corner. No one ever could have thought that a low budget horror film entitled “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” would start him on the road to unbelievable success!

In 1958, Michael landed small roles in “High School Confidential”,”God’s Little Acre” and “Maracaibo”. He then landed the lead in “The Legend of Tom Dooley” which was a low-budget western film.


1959 to 1973

Bonanza (1959-1973)

In March of 1959, producer David Dortort was searching for a handsome, young actor to portray the youngest son of Ben Cartwright in the hour long series for NBC called “Bonanza”. Remembering Michael from 1957 when they worked together on David’s first TV series “The Restless Gun” in the pilot episode “Duel at Lockwood”, Michael was the perfect choice for the role of Little Joe Cartwright.

Bonanza ran 14 years from 1959 to 1973 making him financially secure bringing him from rags to riches. The show also starred Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright, Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright and Dan Blocker as Hoss Cartwright.

In the earlier years of the series, David Dortort referred to Michael’s acting abilities as “The most highly intuitive set of natural acting responses I’ve ever seen in a young actor.”

In 1960, Michael’s marriage was on the rocks when he met 26-year old Marjorie Lynn Noe, a model instructor who worked on live television between modeling gigs. His divorce from Dodie was final in December, 1962 and he married Lynn on January, 1963.

In later years, the show ran out of scripts bringing a great threat of the show being shut down. Michael came up with a story about the Cartwrights being framed for murder and robbery. He wrote the story on yellow legal pads and handed it over to David Dortort. They broke it down into a teleplay, written by Frank Cleaver and was garnered with rave reviews. The story was titled “The Gamble” in 1962.

Michael co-authored three other teleplays for the series “Ballad of the Ponderosa”, Joe Cartwright, Detective” and “The Wormwood Cup”.

By the end of the 1971 – 72 season, Bonanza was out of the top 10 ratings and quite honestly the cast and film crew were growing tired. Both Michael and Lorne knew the show was winding down and their future was uncertain. The sudden death of Dan Blocker was an unexpected blow for both the show and cast members. He died just two weeks after gall bladder surgery on May 13, 1972. His death happened just 19 days before the 1972-1973 season production would start.

The final season of Bonanza started production in June, 1972. Michael wanted to tell a story “Forever” for his best friend Dan Blocker to showcase his acting talents. With Dan’s unexpected death, this was impossible to do. Michael rewrote the script for Joe instead.

On Michael’s birthday, October 31, the Neilson ratings came in with a disastrous No. 53 and the series was canceled on November 3rd. The cast was only given 2 days notice that they would stop filming on the 8th. NBC’s decision left David Dortort in tears and Michael disgusted with NBC.


1974 to 1983

Little House on the Prairie (1974-1983)

In 1974, Little House on the Prairie pilot film was completed at NBC as a premiere movie. Taking it to a testing house for viewers to rate, it turned out to be the highest tested viewing and rated NBC Movie of the Week. This gave the show the green light and 13 episodes started filming in June of 1974.

Michael was excited to be working on the pilot with Ed Friendly, even though they had earlier had a falling out over the adaptation of the series. Michael felt the series would be way too dark and depressing if they stuck by the books, turning the viewing audience off. NBC backed up Michael and agreed to his adaptation changes.

Michael now playing a compassionate, caring, hard-working father and husband was a big change from his years on Bonanza. Loosely based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, Little House was filled with warmth, heart-filled lessons and a significant alteration in landscaping.

In 1976, the show was at its peak of popularity and success. Unfortunately, Victor French had a falling out with the studio over a contractual dispute and left the show at the end of the 1976-77 season. He returned in an episode in 1979 “The Return of Mr. Edwards” in a dramatic story-line dealing with Edwards’ logging accident that leaves him disabled and losing the will to live.

While filming Little House in 1980, Michael fell in love with a much younger woman through the camera on the set. Cindy Clerico, 23 year-old makeup artist and stand-in for Melissa Sue Anderson and other stars in the series. Although wracked with guilt, he said his 19 year marriage to Lynn was on the rocks for some time.

His relationship with Cindy proved to be professionally ruinous. Not only was he being barbecued by the press, but NBC questioned his ability to portray Charles Ingalls, devoted father and happily married man. An even bigger blow followed when Kodak announced they were removing him as their television spokesman. Even with all controversy, Michael and Cindy married on Valentine’s Day, 1983.

The final season of “Little House on the Prairie” ended on March 21, 1983 with “Hello and Goodbye”.


1984 to 1989

Highway to Heaven (1984-1989)

Shortly after the finale of Little House, Michael was launched into another project close to his heart. His concept on a new project for NBC was partially based on his favorite movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and a promise he made God, when his eldest daughter Cheryl was seriously injured in a car accident in 1973. He named the series “Highway to Heaven” and Tartikoff gave him the green light. He wrote the pilot in 4 days, handed to the network and they bought it. Highway started shooting in April, 1984.

The story-line is about a convicted angel, Jonathan, who comes to earth in order to make people’s lives better. Mark Gordon, an ex-cop who worked out of Oakland, is saved from ruin by Jonathan and becomes his partner.

NBC wanted a good-looking co-star for the part of Mark. Michael told the network, the part would be played by his long time friend Victor French or no one at all! As happened so many other times with the network, Michael won!

Upon completion of the pilot, it was sent on to the network’s testing facility where several hundred viewers sampled it. The response was huge, the viewer response sent it sky-high (no pun intended). Highway to Heaven garnished the highest tested show of any pilot on NBC before or since.

Highway to Heaven aired on Wednesday, September 19, 1984 with a 2-hr episode. The pilot kicked off the first of a successful 5 seasons.

“Highway to Heaven” spanned 109 first-run episodes on NBC, with Michael directing 90 episodes and writing 18. Victor French directed 11 episodes.  There were nine 2-part episodes as well as a 90 minute episode on November 12, 1986.

Michael canceled the show in December, 1988. Four months later, April 1989, his friend Victor French returned from directing a film in Ireland. He was feeling ill and thought he had the flu. He checked into Sherman Oaks and was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Michael was at his bedside for an all night vigil with Victor’s family on June 15th. Victor passed away from the cancer, he was only 54 years of age.

Highway received 7 Emmy nominations and 11 Young Artist nominations over the five years. Michael received the People’s Choice Award for his work on the series.

The End of the Road — Rest In Peace:

Michael planned a trip to Park City, Utah with his family the last week of March, 1991. Suffering from severe Abdominal pains, the trip was cut short. He had not told anyone that he had been experiencing these pains since February, including his wife.

Knowing something was seriously wrong, he flew back to Los Angeles on April 2nd and checked into Cedars-Sinai on April 3rd or an MRI which revealed a large tumor in his abdomen. Cindy and the children returned to Los Angeles and on April 4th a biopsy was performed with a grim diagnosis.

On Friday, April 5th, the doctor called Michael, giving him the bad news. He had adenocarcinoma, the medical name for cancer of the pancreas. It had spread to his liver and lymph nodes and was inoperable.

Michael held a press conference on April 8th at his Malibu home, looking quite ill and showing a great weight loss.

“I think I have it because for most of my life, though I was never a drunk, I drank too much.  I also smoked way too many cigarettes and ate a lot of wrong things.  And if you do that, even if you think you’re too strong to get anything, somehow you’re going to pay”

Michael’s one-time TV big brother, Pernell Roberts issued a statement with his reaction: “I am deeply grieved”

On July 1, 1991 at 1:30 pm, Michael passed away at his Malibu home. Services were held at Hillside Memorial Park in West Los Angeles on July 5th.

John Dehner: American Actor and Disney Animator

Posted on Jun 02, 2012 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Nov 23, 1915 – Feb 4, 1992

Born John Forkum — November 23, 1915, in Staten Island, NY.  He was the son of an artist and was educated in Slemdal, Norway and Lycee Carnot in Paris, France.  He also attended high school at Hastings-on-Hudson, NY and the University of California.

John was a consummate actor whose career spanned from the early 40s through 1988.  Some of his finest work was playing supporting roles on all the old 50s and 60s Westerns.

He could speak four languages and during World War II, he was a radio news editor and received the Peabody Award for his coverage of the first United Nations Conference in San Francisco, CA.  Before WWII, he performed dozens of roles on radio due to his wonderful, rich baritone voice.

Unlike many actors, he did not start his career as an actor but as an animation artist for Disney Animation Studios. As an animation assistant he worked on  Bambi, Fantasia and various Mickey Mouse cartoons.  Afterwards, he moved to radio and was an excellent piano player to boot! His movie debut was in 1944 “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo“.

Due to his extensive talent, he was capable of wearing many different hats from despicable villains to down-trodden victims.  Appearing 12 times on Gunsmoke from 1955 to 1968, he showcased his talent in many ways.

My Personal Favorites from Gunsmoke:

Crack-Up: September 14, 1957: Season 3 — Episode 1

John portrayed villain Nate Springer.  Springer, a hired gun, shows up in Dodge City leaving Matt trying to find out who he was hired to kill.  He is a gunfighter who has lost his nerve yet still maintains his cruel, malicious persona. As usually happens on the Streets of Dodge – Matt kills Springer. It is only then Matt learns, no one hired him, he hired himself. He believed, by killing Dillon he would get his confidence back.

Here is the Evil Side of John’s Characters

Part2

Part3

Enjoy!


Caleb

Caleb: March 4, 1964: Season 9 — Episode 26

Caleb is a poor farmer who believes he is a complete loser at anything he tries to do.  He moves to Dodge in hopes of finding a meaning for his life.  He befriends a saloon girl, Julie, (Dorothy Green) who he proceeds to tell how inadequate he is and wishes he could be like Matt Dillon. Meanwhile, town bully Lige (Lane Bradford) tries to get Caleb to put on a gun and fight, when this doesn’t work he belittles Caleb in front of the entire town.

With no place to go and no money, he wanders the streets . Earlier in the show, he is on his farm talking to his dog “Dog”.  “Dog” shows up in Dodge and they meet on the streets in the late hours, his  forever friend.  Matt, who was away from Dodge, returns and meets up with Caleb.  Caleb wants to have a word with Matt, privately, when Lige appears out of the darkness, ready to kill Matt.

Caleb leaps in front of Matt and takes the bullet.  The old dog lies down on Caleb’s chest, his last words are “Dog…Dog..Dog”.  Matt learns from Julie that Caleb wanted to tell Matt how much he wanted to be just like him. His portrayal of Caleb is plain and simple.. he’s so endearing…

If you would like to watch this wonderful episode here it is:

Meet Caleb: The Gentler Side of John Dehner!

In my personal opinion, Caleb was Dehner’s finest performance.  I cannot imagine anyone’s heart not breaking. John understood “justifying” his characters.  You cannot play any role without understanding where the characters are from.  John dug deep and found an answer to every single character he ever portrayed.  His roles were not built around special effects, he was human, real and ever so human.  John was the very best at bringing to life every character he ever breathed life into.  Special effects had no place in the realism he created.

John was not only a workaholic but a perfectionist.  He never showed up on a set without knowing his lines as well as everybody else’s.  In 1959, he made 9 guest appearances on various television shows that all aired at the same time.

His work ethics landed him in motion pictures too lengthily to even attempt to list.  From supporting and leading roles to villains and comedians, John was an extremely versatile actor.

As mentioned earlier, he covered all the major westerns on television.  From Cimarron to Wagon Train, The Restless Gun, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Texan, Laramie, The Westerner, Bat Masterson, The Rifleman, Lawman, Maverick, Bronco, Bonanza, Rawhide and Branded (and of course Gunsmoke) just to name a few!

He also played Paladin in the radio version of  Have Gun Will Travel, airing from 1958 to 1960.  He was originally considered for the role of Paladin on the television show, but Warner Brothers would not release him from his contract with the show The Roaring 20′s.

His last performance was as Admiral Ernest J. King in the 1988 TV miniseries War and Remembrance.

He died on February 4, 1992, from emphysema and diabetes, in Santa Barbara, CA.  He was 76 years old.

He was known for his subtle sense of humor and people enjoyed being around him.  John Dehner is another great, great example of the many men and women who were acting in that era.  Leaving a treasure trove of great works and wonderful memories.

I cannot watch John, without respecting his workmanship and dedication to his craft. He was an actor you hated one minute and loved the next minute.

John Dehner’s performances will live on for many generations.

 

James Garner, Star of Maverick and Rockford Files

Posted on Oct 29, 2011 under ARCHIVES, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

 


Born Apri 7, 1928

I have always been a huge fan of James Garner and found his charm, good looks and sense of humor endearing!  I’ve always been proud that we share the same birthday April 7th.

James Garner was born James Scott Bumgarner on April 7, 1928 in Norman, Oklahoma.  He was one of the first actors to excel in both films and television.

His television career spanned more than five decades making him one of the most recognizable actors of all times.

The youngest of three sons, Actor Jack Garner (1926-2011) and Charles Bumgarner, a school administrator (d 1984).  His mother (Mildred) was half Cherokee and passed away when Jim was 5 years old.  After his mother’s death the boys were sent to live with relatives.  In 1934 they were reunited with their father (Weldon) when he remarried.

Garner hated his stepmother (Wilma) who repeatedly beat the three boys.  When Jim turned 14, he had enough of her and after a very heated battle, she left for good.  Jim stated that she would punish him by forcing him to wear a dress in public!  They literally had a physical fight, knocking her down and choking her to keep her from killing him.  This incident ended the marriage to his father.

His father moved to Los Angeles while the boys remained in Norman.  At sixteen he enlisted in the U.S. Merchant Marines near the end of World War II.  Although he fared well with his shipmates, he suffered from chronic seasickness.

At seventeen he joined his dad in Los Angeles and enrolled in Hollywood High School where he was voted the most popular student.  He modeled for a short time but stated he hated it and shortly thereafter quit to return to Norman.  At Norman High School he played football, basketball and competed in track and golf teams.

He joined the National Guard, serving seven months in the United States. He then went to Korea for 14 months in the Army, serving in the 24th Infantry Division in the Korean War.  He received the Purple Heart twice for two injuries, first by shrapnel in his face and hand and the second from friendly fire diving into a fox hole.

In 1954, Paul Gregory a friend he met while attending Hollywood High, persuaded Garner to take a non-speaking role in the Broadway production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial where he was able to study actor Henry Fonda.

Jim then moved into television commercials and then into television shows.  He starred in several television series including Bret Maverick in the wildly popular  western-comedy Maverick (1957-1960) and Jim Rockford in the drama The Rockford Files (1974-1980). He ended the run of Rockford, despite it’s high rating because of the physical toll it was taking on him.

The studio changed his name to James Garner (without permission), then he legally changed it upon the birth of his first child.  His brother Jack, who was also an actor, also changed his name to Garner.

Jim starred in more than 50 films including The Great Escape (1963), Paddy Chavefsky’s  Americanization of Emily (1964), Blake Edwards’  Victor Victoria (1982) and received an Academy Award nomination for his role in Murphy’s Romance (1985)

Jim is known for his enormous charm and comedic timing.  His performances in both Maverick and The Rockford Files showcased his comedy as well as in many of his films such as Support Your Local Sheriff (1969) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971).

I have always loved his sense of humor and ability at comedic relief as well as his enormous dramatic abilities. Jim Garner is a fine, fine actor!

Other works of his that I really like are Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo and Barbarians at the Gate.

For his contribution in the film and television industry, he received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 1990 he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, OK.  In 2005, he received the Screen Actors Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Note:
When Morgan Freeman won an award that Jim was also nominated for, Freeman led the audience in a sing-along of the Maverick theme song!

James has released his biography “The Garner Files”

For an extensive list on Jim Garner’s films, visit this link

Largest Fourth of July Celebration in Maine

Posted on Jul 02, 2011 under Uncategorized | No Comment

Elm St Eastport Maine

Eastport is a small city consisting entirely of islands in Washington County, Maine, United States in. The population was 1,640 at the 2000 census. The principal island is Moose Island, which is connected to the mainland by causeway. Eastport is the easternmost city in the continental United States (although nearby Lubec is the easternmost municipality).

Lubec, Maine

Independence Day in Eastport is not simply a festival, but rather a celebration of the birth of a nation. Towns and villages throughout Maine and Canada come together to party, but also to remember those who sacrificed so much to preserve and protect America.

Because “Old Home Week” traditionally begins on Canada Day and runs through Independence Day, it is actually a celebration of the birth of two nations.

Eastport hosts the largest Fourth of July celebration in Maine. Grand Independence Parade (with considerable participation of its Canadian neighbors), Fireworks over the Bay of Fundy, free entertainment at Overlook Park, greasy pole and water sports, antique car show, contests and games for all ages with prizes.

Since 1905, U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard ships have made a port call over the 4th and provided free tours.

Have a Safe and Happy Fourth of July wherever you are!

 

Many Thanks to Wikipedia for this valuable information.

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!

Just What’s The Point?

Posted on Jan 23, 2011 under Uncategorized | 2 Comments


“I’m Sick as a Dog!” … Do Dogs get Sicker than People?

“When It Rains It Pours” … Really? I’ve run into some pretty gentle rains from time to time.

“The Proof’s in the Pudding” … I don’t know and truly don’t care what that means.

“Light a Match – Start a Fire” ..  Well, Yea!

“If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee. “

- I’ll stick to coffee makers, but thanks anyway!

“Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour” .. Hey far be it from me to tell you what diet might work for you!

“An ostrich’s eye is bigger than it’s brain.” … Excuse me, but I know some people that applies to also!

“Starfish don’t have brains.” … Once again, I know some people…….”

“Step On a Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back” … Not Only Hateful, but What Idiot Came Up With That?

“Americans on the average eat 18 acres of pizza every day”.. Happy Days Are Here Again!

“A cat’s urine glows under a blacklight”.. I want to know what Genius tried that theory out!