Friday, May 25, 2018

"Friday on My Mind"

Friday has always been my favourite day of the week. Of course, as a child it meant that for the next few hours and two days there would be no school. In my family it also meant that we would go grocery shopping as soon as my brother and I got home from school. Along with groceries we usually got soda, candy, and comic books. For a good portion of my childhood at least one of the television networks had a movie anthology on Friday night, so I could look forward to watching a movie on TV. It was on Friday night that I first Seven Faces of Dr. Lao (1964), Yellow Submarine (1968), the Planet of the Apes movies, and the "Matt Helm" movies. As an adult Friday has meant that I would off work for the weekend.

Of course, I am not the only who loves Friday. Harry Vanda and George Young of The Easybeats loved Friday enough to write a song about it. "Friday on My Mind" would go to no. 1 on the Australian and New Zealand charts, no. 6 on the British chart, and no. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. It would ultimately become The Easybeats' biggest hit worldwide. It should be little wonder that in 2001 the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) named it the "Best Australian Song" of all time.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Movie Poster Designer Bill Gold Passes On

Bill Gold, a graphic artist who designed movie posters from Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) to J. Edgar (2011), died on May 20 2018 at the age of 97. The cause was complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Bill Gold was born on January 3 1921 in Brooklyn, New York. He was interested from art from a young age and won art prizes at Samuel J. Tilden Hgh School. He received a scholarship to Pratt Institute, where studied advertising and illustration.

After graduating from Pratt Institute he asked the art director of the poster department of Warner Bros.' New York City office for a job. He had young Mr. Gold design posters for such older films as Escape Me Never (1935) and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) as a test. The art director was impressed with Bill Gold's work and as a result he was hired. His first assignment would be one of the all time classics, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942). The second film for which he designed a poster would be another all time classic, Casablanca (1942). Over the next several years he would design posters for such films as The Big Sleep (1946), Rope (1948), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Mister Roberts (1955), and Splendour in the Grass (1961). During World War II he served three yeas in the United States Army Air Force, making training films.

In 1962, after Warner Bros. closed its New York advertising unit, Bill Gold founded Bill Gold Advertising. As might be expected, Warner Bros. was one of his chief clients. Over the next many years he would design posters for such films as The Music Man (1962), My Fair Lady (1964), Fiddler on the Roof (1970), Alien (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), The Untouchables (1987), and Unforgiven (1992). Over the years he worked with several well-respected directors on multiple projects, including Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, John Boorman, Clint Eastwood, and several others. He collaborated for decades with illustrator Bob Peak, who worked on several of Bill Gold's posters. Not only did Mr. Gold's career span eight decades, but it also involved work on over 2000 posters.

Bill Gold was a remarkable poster designer, remarkable all the more because he had no discernable style. Mr. Gold always designed his posters so that they fitted the movies they were for. His poster for Casablanca (1942) was notably different from his poster for Strangers on the Train (1941), which was in turn different from his poster for Alien (1979). While he varied his style according to the movie he was promoting, his posters were always eye-catching. A poster designed by Bill Gold would always be noticed.

Below are some examples of Mr. Gold's work:

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)


Casablanca (1942)


Giant (1956)


Barbarella (1968)


The Exorcist (1973)

Alien (1979)

On Golden Pond (1981)

Unforgiven (1992)

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The TCM Memorial Day Marathon 2018

Again this year Turner Classic Movies will be showing military-themed movies in honour of Memorial Day. This year's Memorial Day marathon begins on May 25 at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central and lasts through May 28. This year will see some truly great films aired.

Obviously the annual Memorial Day Marathon will see several war movies aired, including some of the classics of the genre. TCM is showing The Guns of Navarone on Friday, May 25 at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central. If is followed by The Dirty Dozen  at 11:00 PM Eastern/10:00 PM Central. On Memorial Day itself they are showing The Great Escape at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central, followed by The Bridge on the River Kwai at 11:00 PM Eastern/10:00 PM Central. Over the weekend Turner Classic Movies will also be showing such classic war movies as Twelve O'Clock High, Kelly's Heroes, Darby's Rangers, Where Eagles Dare and yet others.

Of course, there are also films for those who might not particularly like war movies. TCM is showing two of the all time great military themed comedies. At 3:30 PM Eastern/2:30 PM Central they are showing No Time for Sergeants. It is followed by Mister Roberts at 5:45 PM Eastern/4:45 PM Central. For those who love the patriotic morale boosters of World War II, TCM is showing Thousands Cheer, Stage Door Canteen, and Hollywood Canteen early Saturday morning. For those whose tastes run more to drama, TCM is showing From Here to Eternity at 8:00 PM Eastern/7:00 PM Central on May 26 and The Best Years of Our Lives at 5:00 PM Eastern/4:00 PM Central on Memorial Day itself. There is even a movie for fans of film noir. On Noir Alley there will be The Clay Pigeon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Late Great Clint Walker

Clint Walker, who played the title role in the classic TV  Western Cheyenne and appeared in such films as Send Me No Flowers (1964) and The Dirty Dozen (1967), died today at the age of 90. The cause was congestive heart failure.

Clint Walker was born Norman Walker in Hartford, Illinois. He left school at age 16 to work for a living. He worked in a factory, and then on riverboats before finding work in the merchant marine. He and his family later moved to Long Beach, California where he worked as a port security guard a nightclub bouncer. He then moved to Las Vegas where he served as a deputy sheriff who provided security for the Sands Hotel. It was there that actor Van Johnson suggested Mr. Walker go into acting. It was studio head Jack Warner who renamed him "Clint Walker"

Clint Walker made his film debut in an uncredited role as a Tarzan-type character in The Bowery Boys film Jungle Gents (1954). He appeared as a Sardinian Captain in The Ten Commandments (1956). Clint Walker was then cast as Cheyenne Bodie in the TV Western Cheyenne. Debuting in 1955, Cheyenne was the first hour long Western, the first of Warner Bros.' successful line of Westerns (which included Maverick and Sugarfoot), and one of the first adult Westerns. Along with Gunsmoke and The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, it sparked a cycle towards Westerns that lasted for five years. The show proved highly successful, making Clint Walker a household name nearly overnight. Mr. Walker had a cameo as Cheyenne in the Maverick episode "Hadley's Hunters" (the Warner Bros. Westerns and even their detective shows took place in the same shared universe, years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe). While still starring on Cheyenne, Clint Walker appeared in the films Fort Dobbs (1958), Yellowstone Kelly (1959), and Requiem to Massacre (1960).

In the Sixties Clint Walker played the role of millionaire Bert in Send Me No Flowers (1960) and the role of the quiet and meek Samson Posey in The Dirty Dozen (1967). He also appeared in the films Gold of the Seven Saints (1961), None But the Brave (1965), The Night of the Grizzly (1966), Maya (1966), More Dead Than Alive (1969), Sam Whiskey (1969), The Great Bank Robbery (1969), and The Phynx (1970). On television he guest starred on 77 Sunset Strip, Kraft Suspense Theatre, and The Lucy Show.

In the Seventies Mr. Walker starred in the short-lived TV series Kodiak. He appeared in the mini-series Centennial. He appeared in the TV movies Yuma, Hardcase, The Bounty Man, Scream of the Wolf, Killdozer, Snowbeast, and Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women. He appeared in the films Pancho Villa (1972), Baker's Hawk (1976), The White Buffalo (1977), and Deadly Harvest (1977).

In the Eighties Clint Walker appeared in the films Hysterical (1983) and The Serpent Warriors (1985). He guest starred on the TV show The Love Boat and appeared in the TV movie The All American Cowboy. In the Nineties he provided the voice of Nick Nitro in the movie Small Soldiers (1998). He guest starred on the TV shows Sweating Bullets and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues. He reprised his role as Cheyenne in the TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.

Clint Walker was perfect as Cheyenne Bodie, the quiet spoken drifter who could use his firsts or his gun when the time came. It should be little surprise that most of the roles played by Mr. Walker resembled Cheyenne to some degree or another. Bert in Send Me No Flowers was so soft spoken, kind, and good natured that he was perhaps the only man who could be considered as a serious rival to Rock Hudson. In The Dirty Dozen Samson Posey was soft spoken and even meek, but can become very angry when pushed too far. Certainly Clint Walker played soft spoken, good natured heroes well. He was certainly suited to the part. Good natured in real life and an enormous man (he was 6 foot 6 inches tall), he was a striking figure. It should be little wonder that Cheyenne  would play a role in sparking the cycle towards Westerns on television in the late Fifties.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Godspeed Patricia Morison

Patricia Morison, the dark haired beauty who appeared in such movies as Dressed to Kill (1946) and Song of the Thin Man (1947) as well as on Broadway in Kiss Me Kate and The King and I, died yesterday, May 20 2018, at the age of 103.

Patricia Morison was born Eileen Patricia Augusta Fraser Morison on March 19 1915 in New York City. Her father was William Morison, a Belfast born playwright who acted under the name Norman Rainey. Her mother, Selena Morison (née Fraser), had served in British Intelligence during World War I. She graduated from Washington Irving High School in New York City. She then studied at the Arts Students League and at the same time studied acting at Neighbourhood Playhouse. She studied dancing under Martha Graham.

Miss Morison made her debut on stage at the Provincetown Playhouse in the musical revue Don't Mind the Rain. In 1933 she was cast in the short-running production Growing Pains, but did so badly that she was fired during rehearsals. The young Miss Morison (who was only 18 at the time) cried so hard that they gave her a walk on in the play. In the late Thirties she appeared on Broadway in the  productions Victoria Regina and The Two Bouquets. Her performance in Two Bouquets brought her to the attention of talent scouts from Paramount Pictures, who signed her to a contract. She made her film debut in Persons in Hiding in 1939. In the late Thirties she appeared in such films as I'm from Missouri (1939), The Magnificent Fraud (1939), Untamed (1940), and Rangers of Fortune (1940).

Sadly, Paramount would not utilise Miss Morison to her full potential. She appeared primarily in B movies at the studio. In the early Forties she appeared in such films as Romance of the Rio Grande (1941), The Roundup (1941), One Night in Lisbon (1941), Are Husbands Necessary? (1942), and Night in New Orleans (1942). Following Night in New Orleans Patricia Morison left Paramount and went freelance. For the remainder of the Forties she appeared in such films as Silver Skates (1943), The Fallen Sparrow (1943), Calling Dr. Death (1943), The Song of Bernadette (1943), Dressed to Kill (1946), Queen of the Amazons (1947), Tarzan and the Huntress (1947), Song of the Thin Man (1947), The Prince of Thieves (1948), and Sofia (1948). She appeared on Broadway in Kiss Me Kate, originating the role of Lilli Vanessi. She made her television debut in 1950 in an episode of Robert Montgomery Presents.

In the Fifties Patricia Morison played Dr. Karen Gayle in the TV show The Cases of Eddie Drake. She guest starred on such shows as Pulitzer Prize Playhouse, The Jackie Gleason Show, Four Star Playhouse, Screen Directors Playhouse, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers, and Have Gun--Will Travel. She appeared in a television adaptation of Kiss Me Kate, reprising her role as Lilli. On Broadway she appeared in The King and I. She appeared in the movie Song Without End (1960).

In the Sixties she guest starred on the TV shows The United States Steel Hour and Directions,. She appeared in another adaptation of Kiss Me Kate, once more playing Lilli. She appeared in the movie Racing Fever (1964). In the Seventies she appeared in the movie Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood (1976). In the Eighties Miss Morison appeared in the TV movie Mirrors and guest starred on the classic sitcom Cheers. In the Nineties she guest starred on the TV show Gabriel's Fire and appeared in the movie The Long Day Closes (1992).

In later years Miss Morison devoted herself to painting. She had several art shows in the Los Angeles area. In December 2012, at the age of 97, she appeared in Ladies of an Indeterminate Age at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.

I have always thought Patricia Morison was poorly utilised by Hollywood. She was much more than a striking, raven haired beauty. She was also a very talented actress. She gave an impressive performance as the femme fatale Phyllis in Song of the Thin Man. She was also impressive in her brief appearance as the Empress Eugenie in Song of Bernadette. Even in the many B-movies in which she appeared, Patricia Morison gave good performances. That she had considerable talent can be seen in the fact that she was apparently better appreciated on Broadway than in Hollywood. She originated the role of Lilli in Kiss Me Kate and took over the role of Anna in The King and I. She spent much of her career touring with or appearing in stock productions of such plays as Kismet; The Merry Widow; Song of Norway; Bell, Book and Candle; and many others. Patricia Morison was enormously talented. It was a shame that Hollywood did not seem to realise that.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Road to Hope & Crosby


The silver screen has boasted many great comedy teams over the years. Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello, and Martin & Lewis all left their mark on film history. Among the comedy teams that can be counted as having had an impact on movie history are the team of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. What set the team of Hope & Crosby apart from such classic duos as Abbott & Costello or Martin & Lewis is that they weren't actually a formal team. Bing Crosby was a highly successful singer, radio star, and a movie star, truly one of the first multi-media superstars in popular culture. Bob Hope was a very successful comedian, radio star, and movie star, whose films were among the most successful released by Paramount in the Forties and Fifties. That having been said, when they appeared together in the highly successful "Road..." movies, they operated as one of the best comedy teams in films. Watching the "Road..." movies one would never know that they were two individual artists with their own successful careers and not a formal comedy team.

While it would be the "Road..." movies that would immortalise the team of Hope & Crosby, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby had worked as a team well before they made the first movie in the series, Road to Singapore (1940).  The two first met on October 14 1932 outside the Friar's Club in New York City. At the time Bing Crosby was the much bigger star of the two. As one of "The Rhythm Boys", a trio of singers with Paul Whiteman's orchestra, he had several hits in the late Twenties. As a solo performer he had his own radio show in 1931 and already had such hits as "Out of Nowhere", "Just One More Chance", and "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a Five and Ten Cent Store)".  In contrast, Bob Hope was still an up and coming comedian working the vaudeville circuit.

Despite the fact that Bing Crosby was already a highly successful entertainer, he and Bob Hope would perform as a team not long after the two had met. It was in December 1932 that Bob Hope acted as a master of ceremonies at a two week show held at the Capitol Theatre in New York City. Among the performers at the show was Bing Crosby. Together the two came up with various comedy bits that went over very well with the audience at the Capitol. Although the two would not become a formal comedy team, they discovered that they worked well together and, as a result, would work together many more times.

It would be in the next few years that Bob Hope's career would begin to flourish. It was in 1934 that he began appearing on radio. Eventually Mr. Hope made his way to Hollywood in 1937, signing with Paramount Pictures. It was then that he reconnected with Bing Crosby. In fact, an early publicity stunt not long after Bob Hope arrived in Hollywood was a charity golf match between him and Bing Crosby. The two would meet for lunch on the Paramount lot and Bing Crosby had Bob Hope as a guest on his radio show, The Kraft Music Hall. When Bing Crosby was hosting a special Hollywood night at  Del Mar, he and Bob Hope performed some of the bits that they had done at the Capitol many years before. It was the production chief of Paramount, William Le Barron, who suggested that the two make a movie together.

That having been said, it would be some time before the team of Hope & Crosby would appear in their first film. As surprising as it sounds, Road to Singapore did not originate as a project teaming Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, although the origins of the film are a bit obscure. Apparently it originated as a script for Mr. Crosby entitled Follow the Sun. Follow the Sun would be reworked as a script titled Road to Mandalay, with a view to it starring the successful team (and married couple) of George Burns and Gracie Allen. Burns & Allen turned the film down, whereupon it was rewritten for Fred MacMurray and Jack Oakie. The two of them allegedly turned it down, although neither of them could remember doing so. The script was then reworked and retitled Road to Singapore. It was then that it was offered to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.

It would be with Road to Singapore that a third member would be added to the team of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Although many people think of Hope & Crosby as a team, when it comes to the "Road..." movies, it should actually be Hope, Crosby, & Lamour. Dorothy Lamour was cast as the romantic interest in Road to Singapore. She was a former big band singer turned Hollywood actress who found herself playing exotic roles in such films as The Jungle Princess (1936) The Hurricane (1937), and Tropic Holiday (1938). She played so many exotic roles that by 1940 she had earned the dubious title of the "Sarong Queen". Dorothy Lamour learned on her first day on the set of Road to Singapore that it was useless to pay any attention to the script, as Bob Hope and Bing Crosby simply extemporised as they saw fit. Regardless, in the "Road..." movies she became very much a part of the team, playing straight woman to both Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Bob Hope would be billed third on Road to Singapore, beneath Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour. It would be the only "Road..." movie on which he received third billing. With Bob Hope's film career taking off, afterwards the billing would always be "Bing Crosby," "Bob Hope", and "Dorothy Lamour".

Road to Singapore proved to be highly successful. It received generally positive notices from critics. It also did very well at the box office. With such success, it was probably no surprise that there would be a sequel. Road to Zanzibar (1941) was written by the same screenwriters, Frank Butler and Don Hartman. The director of Road to Singapore, Victor Schertzinger, returned as well. While Road to Singapore might have been the first film, it was Road to Zanzibar that would set the course for the rest of the series. It was Road to Zanzibar that introduced many of the in jokes and asides to the audience. To use a modern term, it was with Road to Zanzibar that the "Road..." movies became meta. Dorothy Lamour also became much more a part of the comedy in Road to Zanzibar, every bit the equal of Hope & Crosby in the film. Like Road to Singapore, Road to Zanzibar would prove to be highly successful. Of course, this meant that there would be another "Road..." movie.

Indeed, for many Road to Morocco (1942) is the best of the "Road..." movies. If anything else, Road to Morocco is by far the most frantic and most off-the-wall of the "Road..." movies. What is more, it is even more meta than any other entry in the series. In what is one of the film's most famous scenes, a camel speaks and says, "This is the screwiest picture I was ever in". The film's opening number, "(We're Off on the) Road to Morocco", contains references to both Dorothy Lamour and Paramount Pictures. At one point Bob Hope gives a recap of every difficulty they have gotten into (the blame for which he places firmly on Bing Crosby). Bing Crosby replies to Bob Hope, "I know all that!", to which Bob Hope responds, "Yeah, but the people who came in the middle of the picture don't!" 

Road to Morocco made more money than any of the other "Road..." movies up to that time, $4 million at the box office. It was also the fourth highest grossing film of 1942. Despite this, it would be several years before another "Road..." movie would be made. Road to Utopia would not begin filming until November 1943. It would not be released until 1946. The film is unique in the "Road..." series in that it is the only one that does not have an actual place in the title. It is also the only film in the series that is not set in modern times. Instead it is set in Alaska at the time of the Klondike Gold Rush. Road to Utopia proved to be another hit.

Curiously, Paramount had planned for Road to Utopia to be the last of the "Road..." movies. The studio faced two problems with the later "Road..." films. One was that the movies were expensive to make. Another was that they had problems working around Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's busy schedules. Fortunately, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby wanted to continue making the "Road..." movies. To this end they worked out a deal with Paramount in which they would share the costs of the movie with the studio. Dorothy Lamour was unhappy that she was not included in the deal. Sadly, no one ever asked her. 

Road to Rio was released on Christmas Day in 1947. Like the previous "Road..." movies it proved highly successful, ranking sixth at the box office for the year. Curiously, it would be another five years before there would be another "Road..." movie. Like Road to Rio, the film was financed by Bing Crosby Enterprises, Hope Enterprises, and Paramount Pictures. Road to Bali (1952) would the only "Road.." movie filmed in colour. It also featured a number of cameos, including Jane Russell, Humphrey Bogart (parodying his film The African Queen), and Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Sadly, Dorothy Lamour once again did not share in the profits of the film. Worse yet, she would be excluded from the soundtrack album after saying that she did not think it was fair that she would not be paid as much as Hope & Crosby for her songs on the album. Dorothy Lamour's songs on the soundtrack album would then be recorded by Peggy Lee.

Of course, this was only the culmination of a long standing problem for Dorothy Lamour on the "Road..." pictures. Even though she was every bit a part of the team in the movies, she felt she was often given short shrift with regards to the movies. While making Road to Utopia, Miss Lamour showed up to a shoot that was scheduled for 9:00 AM Saturday only to find neither Bob Hope nor Bing Crosby were there. She waited until the afternoon when Gary Cooper dropped by the set. Mr. Cooper told her that she should simply go home. Eventually Hope & Crosby showed up, claiming they were at a charity golf match and had simply forgotten about the scene being shot. Fortunately Bob Hope and Bing Crosby never pulled a stunt like that again. Still, it was another example of why Dorothy Lamour began to feel left out with regards to the "Road..." movies. 

As to Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's feelings for Dorothy Lamour, the two men differed in that respect. Bob Hope liked Miss Lamour and would even include her on his television specials in later years. Unfortunately, she could not help but think that to Bob Hope she was only "the girl" in the movies. Sadly, although it never showed on the screen, Bing Crosby disliked Dorothy Lamour immensely. If they met in public he would barely acknowledge her. If Dorothy Lamour had reservations about Bob Hope and her place in the "Road.." movies, it was clear that Bing Crosby thought of the "Road..." movies as being Hope & Crosby, with Dorothy Lamour simply being "the girl".

Regardless, there would be one more "Road..." movie after Road to Bali. In fact, as soon as Road to Bali was released, there was a script for another "Road..." movie, Road to the Moon. It was set to begin filming in the autumn of 1953, but instead was shelved. Ultimately the next Road movie, The Road to Hong Kong (1962), would be based on an entirely new script. It would be the only "Road..." movie not made by Paramount, instead being made for United Artists. Sadly, it would also be the only "Road..." movie in which Dorothy Lamour was not third billed. Instead the leading lady in The Road to Hong Kong would be a young British actress named Joan Collins. Apparently Bing Crosby thought Dorothy Lamour was too old to play the female lead in the film. To his credit, Bob Hope did not want to make the film without Miss Lamour. Hope & Crosby finally reached a compromise where Dorothy Lamour received a cameo in the film. 

The Road to Hong Kong was not well received by critics. Despite this, it did respectably at the box office, ranking in the top ten highest grossing films of the year. If things had unfolded differently, The Road to Hong Kong might not have been the last "Road..." movie. It was in the early Seventies that screenwriter Ben Starr (who had co-wrote Our Man Flint, among other films) wrote a screenplay titled Road to Tomorrow. Unfortunately for Mr. Starr, Bob Hope scrapped the project. It was later that Mel Shavelson, who had worked on Bob Hope's radio show and written several of his films, wrote a screenplay entitled Road to the Fountain of Youth. The film was set to begin production in 1977.  It would have not only reunited Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, but Dorothy Lamour as well. It was being produced by Lew Grade, who had produced many classic British TV shows. Unfortunately, the project was delayed when Bing Crosby fell off a stage and hurt his back while filming a television appearance. It was then on October 14 1977 that Bing Crosby died, dashing any hope that there would ever be another "Road.." movie.

Of course, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's partnership went beyond the "Road..." movies. One would often appear on the other's radio shows and still later on the other's television specials. In fact, when Philco Radio Time debuted on October 16 1946, it was Bob Hope who was Bing Crosby's first guest. Even when the two were not appearing together, they would often take pokes at the other. It was a rare Bob Hope special in which he did not joke about Bing Crosby, and vice versa.

While Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were always close friends in the "Road..." movies and always seemed to be such in their various appearances together, in reality they were not particularly close. The simple fact was that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were two very different men. Bob Hope was very much an extrovert. On movie sets he was constantly joking with the rest of the cast and the crew. In contrast, Bing Crosby was very much a private man. On movies sets he was more likely to go off on his own. Bob Hope had several friends and acquaintances with whom he interacted. Bing Crosby kept to his family and a few close friends. While the two men might not have been particularly close, they were fond of each and enjoyed working together. When Bing Crosby died, Bob Hope cancelled a scheduled appearance, which was something he almost never did. On Bing Crosby's part, he clearly liked Bob Hope as well. Mr. Hope and his wife were one of only forty people to attend Bing Crosby's funeral, which by his request was closed to the public.

While Bob Hope and Bing Crosby may not have been particularly close in real life, they left behind a legacy of work as a team that is matched by only a few. The "Road.." movies remain popular to this day, to the point that even people who are not ordinarily classic movie buffs are familiar with them. Their success lie in the relationship between Hope & Crosby.  The two of them often act as rivals, always vying for the hand of Dorothy Lamour. They often make snide remarks about each other. They often get each other in trouble. At the same time, however, there is an underlying affection between the two and one will always go to help the other. While they were never actually a formal comedy team the way Abbott & Costello or Martin & Lewis were, they did truly make a great team. 


Friday, May 18, 2018

Godspeed Joseph Campanella

Prolific character actor Joseph Campanella died May 16 2018 at the age of 93. The cause was complications from Parkinson's disease. He appeared in everything from major motion pictures to prime time TV shows to daytime soap operas.

Joseph Campanella was born on November 21 1924 in New York City. During World War II he served in the United States Navy, commanding a Landing Craft Infantry Ship in the Philippines. Following the war he graduated from Manhattan College in the Bronx with a degree in English literature. He then studied drama at Columbia University. He had an offer to play baseball in a New York Giants minor league team located in Georgia, but he turned it down in order to pursue acting. For a time he worked as a sportscaster on radio in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.

Joseph Campanella made his television debut in an episode of Suspense in 1952. During the Fifties he guest starred on such TV shows as The Guiding Light, Studio One, Robert Montgomery Presents, The United States Steel Hour, Kraft Television Theatre, Omnibus, and Armstrong Circle Theatre. He made his film debut in an uncredited role in Murder Inc. (1960).

In the Sixties Mr. Campanella was a regular on the TV show The Nurses, the first season of Mannix, and the TV show The Bold Ones: The Lawyers. He guest starred on such shows as Naked City, The Untouchables, Route 66, The Doctors, East Side/West Side, The Lieutenant, Combat!, Days of Our Lives, Run for Your Life, The Big Valley, The Wild Wild West, The Invaders, The Fugitive, Mission: Impossible, The Virginian, The Doris Day Show, Gunsmoke, Insight, and The Name of the Game. He appeared in the films The Young Lovers (1964) and The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967).  He appeared on Broadway in The Captains and the Kings, A Gift of Time, and Hot Spot.

In the Seventies he continued to appear on The Bold Ones: The Lawyers. He had a recurring role on the sitcom One Day at a Time. He guest starred on such shows as Alias Smith and Jones, Night Gallery, Marcus Welby M.D., The Sixth Sense, The F.B.I., Gunsmoke, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Rookies, The Magician, Petrocelli, Ironside, Medical Centre, Police Woman, The Rockford Files, Fantasy Island, and Vega$. He appeared in the mini-series Pearl. He appeared in such films as  Ben (1972), Child Under a Leaf (1974), Meteor (1979), Defiance (1980), and Hangar 18 (1980).

In the Eighties Mr. Campanella had a recurring role on The Colbys. He guest starred on such shows as Trapper John M.D.; Quincy M.E.; Matt Houston; Airwolf; Hotel; Murder, She Wrote; The Golden Girls; Mama's Family; Dallas; Superboy; Beauty and the Beast; and Knot's Landing. He appeared in such films as Earthbound (1981), The Game (1988), A Show of Force (1990), and Club Fed (1990).

In the Nineties Joseph Campanella began a long run as a regular on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. He provided the voice of Dr. Curt Connors (AKA The Lizard) on the animated series Spider-Man. He was a regular voice on the animated series Road Rovers. He guest starred on such shows as Dark Justice, Baywatch, Pacific Blue, Touched By an Angel, and Melrose Place. He was a guest voice as The Crime Doctor on Batman: The Animated Series. He appeared in such films as Last Call (1991), The Force Within (1993), Too Bad About Jack (1994), and Grizzly Adams and the Legend of Dark Mountain (1999).

In the Naughts Mr. Campanella was a regular on the show That's Life and had a recurring role on The Practice. He continued to appear on The Bold and the Beautiful. He guest starred on such shows as Star Trek: Voyager, The Division, Cold Case, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He appeared in the films The Dukes (2007), For Heaven's Sake (2008), and Lost Dream (2009).

Joseph Campanella was a remarkable actor. Not only was he very prolific, but he was also extremely versatile. Even in his regular and semi-regular roles on television shows he played a wide array of roles. On The Nurses he played Dr. Ted Steffen. On Mannix he was Joe Mannix's boss, Lew Wickersham, at the detective agency Interect. On The Bold Ones: The Lawyers he played attorney Brian Darrell. He was Judge Joseph Camp on The Practice. Over the years he played everything from police officers to medical doctors to military officers to lawyers to priests. He even played villains from time to time. In The Wild Wild West he played Talamantes, who plotted to seize the throne of an East European country. He did an impressive turn as The Crime Doctor on Batman: The Animated Series. And, of course, he was the voice of The Lizard on the animated series Spider-Man. Joseph Campanella's talent was such that he could play any role given him and be very convincing. Whether as hero or villain, he always turned in a good performance.