Saturday, 17 January 2009

The Director, The Writer, and The Artist

The past two week it seems as if more famous people have died than usual. Among those was a Broadway director responsible for one of the most famous musicals of the past forty years, a writer who created what could be the most famous barrister short of Perry Mason, and an artist remembered for his landscapes.

Tom O'Horgan will most likely be remembered as the director who brought Hair to Broadway. He passed January 8 at the age of 84. He had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for the past few years.

Tom O'Horgan was born in Chicago on May 3, 1924. He attended DePaul University in Chicago. It was there that he learned to play many different musical instruments, and he actually played harp for several orchestras following college. He also performed with Second City, the famous improvisational comedy group. Eventually O'Horgan moved to New York City, acting in small venues and performing improvisational comedy in night clubs.

O'Horgan became a director after joining La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. It was there that he directed Jean Genet's The Maids. The organisation's founder, Ellen Stewart, soon became his mentor. Eventually his work would attract the attention of the creative team behind the musical Hair. Tom O'Horgan had been their first choice to direct the play, but he had been in Europe when it first went into production off Broadway. He was then hired for the musical's Broadway run. O'Horgan not only encouraged spontaneity among the actors, but it was he who introduced one of the play's most controversial aspects--nudity. Hair not only became a hit on Broadway, but a bit of a cultural phenomenon. Many of the songs from the musical would become hits for various artists, such as The Cowsills' version of the title song and The Fifth Dimension's medley of Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In."

Tom O'Horgan would go on to have a fairly good career on Broadway. In 1971 he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director for Lenny. In 1971 Tom O'Horgan would become the director who brought Jesus Christ Superstar to Broadway. Like Hair it was a source of some controversy, causing offence among some religious groups. He would go onto direct Inner City, Dude, The Leaf People, I Won't Dance, a revival of the musicall The Three Musketeers, and Sentaor Joe. In 1977 he directed revivals of both Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar.

As a director Tom O'Horgan may have had only a few hits, but he would leave a deeper mark than most Broadway directors. Hair broke new ground on Broadway, challenging many of the standards of the day. It is counted as the first concept musical on Broadway (a musical whose statement is more important than its plot). In this way Hair paved the way for Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, Pippin, and The Rocky Horror Show.

Sir John Mortimer had started out as a barrister, but he will forever be remembered as the creator of crime solving lawyer Horace Rumpole. Mortimer died January 16 at the age of 85 after a long illness.

Sir John Mortimer was born in Hampstead, London on April 21, 1923. He attended The Dragon School in Oxford and Harrow School in Harrow on the Hill. Mortimer read law at
Brasenose College, University of Oxford (although since Brasenose's buildings had been requisitioned for World War II, he was physically at Christ Church). Classified as physically unfit to serve in the war, Mortimer wrote scripts for propaganda films for the Crown Film Unit. His first novel, Charade, was published in 1947.

In 1948 Sir John Mortimer was called to the Bar. Early in his legal career most of his work consisted of divorce cases. After being named a Queen's Counsel in 1966, Mortimer worked more in criminal law. In fact, he became an outspoken champion of free speech. Mortimer successfully defended publishers John Calder and Marion Boyars in appealing an obscenity conviction for having published Last Exit to Brooklyn. He was also part of the defence team for the magazine Oz in what would be the longest obscenity trial in British history. It was also John Mortimer who defended Virgin Records when it was charged that the title of The Sex Pistols album Never Mind the Bollocks was obscene.

Mortimer's second novel Like Men Betrayed was published in 1953. It would lead to his first radio play, as he adapted the novel for the BBC Light Programme in 1955. His first work in television would be a double bill of The Dock Brief and What Shall We Tell Caroline in 1959, which aired under the umbrella title Back to Back. Much of Mortimer's work for the next many years would be either for the stage, television, or the movies. Mortimer made his debut as a playwright with The Dock Brief in 1958. He would go onto write such plays as I Spy, One to Another, What Shall We Tell Caroline, Two Stars For Comfort, Cat Among the Pigeons, Bells of Hell, Casebook, Edwin, and Naked Justice.

In film Mortimer's first screenplay was for Lunch Hour in 1961, adapting his own play. He would go onto work on Guns of Darkness, Carol Reed's The Running Man, and Bunny Lake Is Missing. In television Mortimer would write episodes of ITV Television Playhouse, Armchair Theatre, and Thirty Minute Theatre. He adapted both Shades of Green and Brideshead Revisited for television.

After an absence from bookshelves for many years, Sir John Mortimer returned to writing books in the late Seventies. In 1975 he created Rumpole of the Baileyfor an episode of BBC's Play for Today. Horace Rumpole was an ageing, curmudgeonly London barrister whose first loves are the courtroom, cheap cigars, and not particularly healthy food. The episode "Rumpole of the Bailey" proved popular enough to inspire not only a television series, but an entire series of books as well. It was in 1978 that the first novel featuring Horace Rumpole (entitled Rumpole of the Bailey) was published. In the end Rumpole would last through seven television series and over twenty books. Besides the Rumpole books, Mortimer would also write a series known as The Rapstone Chronicles (so named because of the small English village in which they are set), as well as several other books.

If Sir John Mortimer found success as a writer, it was because he was capable of creating whodunits with a sense of humour. In many respects, he was like a cross between Agatha Christie and P. G. Wodehouse. Indeed, the character of Horace Rumphole is a perfect example of Mortimer's humour at work. Unkempt, curmudgeonly, forever living in fear of his wife, he would probably not be most people's first choice for a defence lawyer--at least until they saw him in the courtroom, that is. In cross examination or producing evidence, Rumpole was clever to the point of being dangerous. When it came to writing entertaining reading, Sir John Mortimer was a master.

Andrew Wyeth was one of the most famous painters to come out of the United States. He was probably best known for his paintings of rural life. He passed yesterday at the age of 91.

Andrew Wyeth was born on July 12, 1917 in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. He was the fifth and youngest of the five children of Newell Convers Wyeth and Carolyn Wyeth. His father was perhaps better known as N. C. Wyeth, the legendary illustrators, who had illustrated such classics as Treasure Island, Last of the Mohicans, Kidnapped, and others. Not in particularly good health as a child, Wyeth was schooled at home and taught art by his father. He later learned egg tempera from his brother-in-law, artist Peter Hurd.

In 1937, when he was only twenty, Andrew Wyeth held his first one man exhibition at the Macbeth Gallery in New York City. Every single painting sold. While he did do a few illustrations for books early in his career, he never made a career out of it as his father did. It was in 1948 that he painted what may be his most famous piece, Christina's World. The painting showed Christina, her lower body disabled, lying in a field and looking towards her home. It was that same year that he began a series featuring his neighbours, Anna and Karl Kuerner. For the next thirty years the Kuerners and their farm would feature in many of Wyeth's paintings.

A realist for the entirety of his career, Andrew Wyeth would create several well known paintings over the next fifty years. Among his best known were Trodden Weed in 1951 (which only showed the boots a man walking over parched weeds), Master Bedroom from 1965 (featuring a dog sleeping on a bed in a New England bedroom), and The German from 1975 (a portrait of Karl Kuerner when he had cancer).

Although he was one of the most popular artists with the general public, Andrew Wyeth was often attacked by the art world. The accusation was made that his paintings represented the very middle class values that the art world sought to reject. Others maintained that his paintings were formulaic and not even particular good realist illustration. It seems most likely that the art world's adverse reaction to Wyeth was more due to two things. Firt, he was a realist at a time when abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock were fashionable. Second, he was undeniably popular. It was a regular occurrence for his exhibitions to be heavily attended and to sell out. His name was recognisable among average Americans in a way that Al Held and James Gahagan never were. At least in the Twentieth Century, popularity was a bad sign to many in the art world.

What Wyeth's critics overlooked is that his paintings evoked an emotional response in the average American that the abstract expressionists could not. His paintings were people and places with which the average American living in a rural area or small town could identify. For myself the appeal of his paintings can be summed up by Master Bedroom, featuring a dog sleeping on a bed in sparse bedroom. For anyone who has owned a dog or known a dog, this is a situation with which one might meet on any given day. It is, quite simply, a slice of the life of an average person (or dog, as the case may be). It is for that reason that Andrew Wyeth will probably be remembered long after many abstract expressionists have been forgotten.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Actor Steven Gilborn Passes On

Quite a few pop culture figures have passed so far this month, and sadly I have another one to report. Actor Steven Gilborn, who played Ellen's father on the sitcom Ellen, passed on January 2 at the age of 72. The cause was cancer.

Steven Gilborn was born in New Rochelle, New York on July 15, 1936. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in dramatic literature from Stanford University in Stanford, California. Gilborn then entered the world of academia. He taught at the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. He was a a Professor of Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Gilborn started acting in 1970. By 1977 he was appearing on Broadway in a small part in Tartuffe. He also a standby in Teibele and Her Demon in December of 1979 and January of 1980. On stage he also appeared in Awake and Sing at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey and in The Tempest and Much Ado About Nothing in Folger Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Gilborn made his big screen debut in the movie Enormous Changes at the Last Minute in 1983. He would go onto appear in the movies Vamping, Anna, He Said, She Said, Timescape, and Nurse Betty.

It would be on television that Gilborn would spend most of his career. He made his television debut in a bit part in the telefilm Doubletake in 1985. He would go onto guest star in such shows as Kate and Allie, Beauty and the Beast, Law and Order, The Golden Girls, Murphy Brown, Coach, Murder One, NewsRadio, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Bernie Mac Show, and Damages. He appeared in recurring roles on several shows, including The Wonder Years, L.A. Law, Picket Fences, Living Single, Get Real, and The Practice. He was perhaps most familiar to audiences in the semi-regular role of Harold, Ellen Morgan's sweet, but perpetually confused father.

Much of Gilborn's career was spent playing lawyers, doctors, and teachers, but in truth he was a good deal more versatile. The fact that he could be convincing as an authority figure such as a doctor or teacher, and yet play Ellen's loving but confused father to perfection shows his range. In fact, Gilborn could even play darker roles, such as his appearance in two episodes of Damages in 2007. A busy actor, he was taken from us much too soon.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Ricardo Montalban R.I.P.

Another acting legend has died. Ricardo Montalban, who played roles from The White King of Alice Through the Looking Glass to Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek, passed yesterday at the age of 88.

Ricardo Montalban was born on November 25, 1920 in Mexico City, Mexico. His parents had immigrated there from Castile in 1906. His father operated a dry goods store. As a teenager Montalban moved to Los Angeles with his brother Carlos, who worked for the major studios. Montalban was studying English at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles when he was noticed by a talent scout for MGM. His brother Carlos advised him against it. It was when his brother took him on a business trip to New York City that Ricardo Montalban appeared in a Soundie, a short film that was essentially the predecessor of music videos (they played on specially made jukeboxes with small screens). The Soundie led to small parts in plays.

It was when his mother fell ill that Montalban returned to Mexico. There he appeared in a bit part in the Cantinflas movie Los Tres mosqueteros, a parody of The Three Musketeers. Montalban's film career took off in Mexico, where he appeared in such films as Santa, Cinco fueron escogidos, and La Fuga (his first role as a male lead). He had planned to remain in Mexico when in 1947 MGM asked him to appear in Fiesta, which would be his American feature film debut. Following Fiesta he received a contract with MGM. For the next many years Montalban appeared in such films as Neptune's Daughter, Mystery Street, Across the Wide Missouri, and The Saracen Blade.

MGM dropped Montalban in 1953. He went on the road with Agnes Moorehead in Don Juan in Hell, then played in Seventh Heaven and Jamaica on Broadway. He also made his debut on television in a 1955 episode of The Ford Television Theatre. In the Fifties Montalban appeared in such shows as Chevron Hall of Stars, General Electric Theatre, Climax, Wagon Train, and Playhouse 90. The Sixties would see much of Montalban's career spent on television, as he was a regular guest star on TV shows. He appeared on such shows as Bonanaza, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables, The Defenders, Burke's Law, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Daniel Boone, The Wild Wild West, Combat, Star Trek (in what may have been his most memorable role, as Khan), Mission: Impossible, I Spy, and Ironside. Montalban also continued to appear in movies, such as Let No Man Write My Epitaph, The Reluctant Saint, Cheyenne Autumn, The Money Trap, and Sweet Charity.

The Seventies saw Ricardo Montalban continue to appear frequently on television. He guest starred on Gunsmoke, Marcus Welby M.D., Hawaii Five-O, and Columbo. During the decade he appeared in a recurring role on Executive Suite and as the star of Fantasy Island, playing the mysterious Mr. Rourke. He also continued to appear on film, in The Deserter, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, and The Train Robbers. He also appeared on Broadway in a revival Don Juan in Hell, in which he had toured twenty years earlier. Montalban also appeared in a successful series of commercials for the Chrysler Cordoba during the decade.

The Eighties saw Ricardo Montalban reprise his role as Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, immortalising the character as one of the great science fiction villains of the big screen. He also appeared in Cannonball Run II and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad. On television he had a regular role on The Colbys. The Nineties saw Montalban guest star on B. L. Stryker and Murder She Wrote. From the Nineties into the Naughts he would lend his voice to cartoons ranging from Freakazoid to Kim Possible. He appeared in the films Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over.

Ricardo Montalban was the vice president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1965 to 1970. In 1970 he founded the Nostros Foundation to improve the image of Hispanics in Hollywood. In 1999 the Ricardo Montalban Foundation was founded to stage Hispanic productions. The Foundation bought the former Doolittle Theatre and renamed it in Montalban's honour. In 1998 Pope John Paul II named Ricardo Montalban a Knight Commander of St. Gregory, the highest honour a layman can achieve in the Roman Catholic church.

If Ricardo Montalban played the superman Khan Noonien Singh so well, it was perhaps because he seemed as if he was a superman to so many of us. He was handsome, suave, charming, and, above all else, cool--everything the rest of we men long to be. This is not to say that Ricardo Montalban was not capable of playing a variety of roles. He could just as easily play a down on his luck Native American on Bonanza as he could the superhuman Khan or the nearly omnipotent Mr. Rourke. He could be convincing as both Police Lieutenant Peter Morales in Mystery Street and the gangster Frank Makouris on The Untouchables. Montalban could play a enormous variety of roles.

From all reports Ricardo Montalban was more than a great actor, but a great man as well. In founding the Nostros Foundation and promoting the image of Hispanics in the United States, he sought to end the stereotyping of those of Spanish heritage. He was well known as a philanthropist, active in supporting the American Cancer Society, the Knights of Columbus, and many others. He was a devoted family man, married to the same woman for over sixty years (Georgiana Young, sister of Loretta Young). In the end, Ricardo Montalban was about as far removed from Khan as one could be, a man who was warm, caring, and devoted to his fellow human beings. He was a great actor and a great man. Será extrañado muy mucho.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Be Seeing You, Patrick McGoohan

"Mel (Gibson) will always be Mad Max, and me, I will always be a number." (Patrick McGoohan)

One of the greatest actors to ever grace the small screen had died. Patrick McGoohan, who played John Drake, Number Six, and Dr. Sid Rafferty, passed yesterday at the age of 80.

Patrick McGoohan was born to Irish parents in Astoria, New York on March 19, 1998. It was only a few months later that his parents returned to Ireland where McGoohan spent his early years. When he was about seven the family moved to Sheffield, England. During World War II he was evacuated to Loughborough, Leicestershire. It was there in that he attended Sheffield College.

McGoohan left school when he was sixteen, working in a number of different jobs before becoming a stage manager at Sheffield Repertory Theatre. It was there that he began his career in acting when one of the actors was ill. It was in 1954 that McGoohan made his television debut, in an episode of You Are There. He made his debut on the West End, in Serious Change, in 1955. He also appeared in Orson Welles' York production of Moby Dick Rehearsed. That same year he made his motion picture debut in an uncredited part in The Dam Busters. For the next several years McGoohan was cast in small parts in such films as I Am a Camera, The Dark Avenger, and Zarak. He also appeared on television in guest spots on the shows The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and Assignment Foreign Legion. McGoohan was signed to Rank Organisation, who cast him in Hell Divers and The Gypsy and the Gentleman. McGoohan and the management of the Rank Organisation would come to head, and their contract would ended after only a few films. During this period McGoohan continued to appear in stage, among the Ibsen play Brand in 1959.

Fortunately for McGoohan, the role that would bring him fame was waiting right around the corner. After receiving nominations for Best Actor of the Year for his part in Brand and Best Television Actor of the Year for his part in "The Greatest Man in the World (an episode of Armchair Theatre), McGoohan really began to attract attention. Lord Lew Grade then approached him about the lead in a new television series, Danger Man. Originally John Drake would not have been very different from James Bond, carrying a gun and having a free and easy attitude towards women. McGoohan insisted on changes to the character, dictating that he would not carry a gun and he would never, ever kiss a woman, let alone anything else. The initial run of Danger Man proved to be a hit in the United Kingdom, cut short only because it failed to find similar success in the United States.

Following the first run of Danger Man, McGoohan appeared in the movies All Night Long and Life for Ruth, among others. He turned down both the roles of Simon Templar in The Saint and James Bond in Dr. No. He continued to appear on stage and also appeared in two works for Walt Disney. The first was a three part mini-series adaptation of Dr. Syn. The second was the movie The Three Lives of Thomasina. Both were among the favourite work he had done. It was afterwards that Lord Lew Grade asked Patrick McGoohan to once more appear as John Drake in a new run of Danger Man. The once half hour series was expanded to an hour, and the new series proved even more popular than the original. It even found success in the United States under the title of Secret Agent.

Having played John Drake for quite some time, Patrick McGoohan tired of the role. He then approached Lord Lew Grade about an idea for a series he had. That idea became the TV show The Prisoner. It would prove to be the most successful series on which McGoohan ever worked, developing a cult following world wide. It was so successful in fact that Patrick McGoohan, once best known as John Drake, would forever be remembered as Number Six (although many fans insist they are one and the same).

Following The Prisoner McGoohan appeared in the movies Ice Station Zebra, The Moonshine War, and Mary, Queen of Scots. He appeared in a guest apperance on the TV series Columbo (for which he won an Emmy) and in the film Un Genio, due compari, un pollo. In 1977 he appeared in the TV series Rafferty as the title character, a retired army doctor many consider a forerunner to Gregory House. Over the next several years McGoohan appeared in the films Brass Target, Scanners, Kings and Desperate Men, and Tresspasses. In 1985 he appeared on Broadway, in the play Pack of Lies. In the Nineties his most notable role may have been in the film Braveheart. While historically inaccurate to the point of slandering King Edward I, there can be no doubt that Patrick McGoohan did a good job in the role as written. In 2000 he reprised his role as Number Six in an episode of The Simpsons.

I must confess that among the eulogies I have written in this blog (which have been far too many of late), this has been among the most difficult for me to write. Patrick McGoohan had an impact on my life that few actors or other artists ever have. I remember well watching him as Dr. Christopher Syn in "The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh" as a child on The Wonderful World of Disney. I remember when I was just a little older watching him in Danger Man and The Prisoner. For me he was among the greatest actors to ever appear on television. There can be no doubt that he was versatile. One can simply look at the variety of roles he played to prove that. He played the cool, collected, and highly principled John Drake and Number Six (who may nor may not be the same character). He played the veterinarian who shuns sentimentality, only to have his spirit rekindled by a cat in The Three Lives of Thomasina. He played the unprincipled, power hungry King Edward in Braveheart (which was as far from the historical Edward Longshanks as one could get, but McGoohan did it well). Not only was Patrick McGoohan very versatile, but there is very little in which he appeared that I did not like. He seemed to have a bit of an instinct in finding good scripts much of the time, from the TV show Danger Man to the movie Mary, Queen of Scots. Whether as an actor or co-creator of The Prisoner, he certainly left his mark on film history.

As to myself, I cannot deny that Patrick McGoohan left his mark on me as well. He was among the first actors of whom I can really say I was aware. I have admired him since childhood. And I must admit that the principles he displayed as both Number Six and John Drake made me want to be a better person. At his passing I find myself very, very sad.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Don Galloway R.I.P.

Actor Don Galloway, best known for playing Detective Sergeant Ed Brown on Ironside, passed on January 8 following a stroke. He was 71 years old.

Don Galloway was born on July 27, 1937 in Brooksville, Kentucky. Following high school he served in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany. In 1961 he graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in drama. Following college he moved to New York City. It was in 1962 that he appeared in the off-Broadway play Bring Me a Warm Body, for which he won a Theatre World Award. It was not long afterwards that he would become a regular on the CBS soap opera The Secret Storm.

Galloway swiftly moved to acting in primetime television shows. He guest starred on the series The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Arrest and Trial before being cast as the lead in the short lived NBC sitcom Tom, Dick, and Mary (part of the umbrella title 30 Bristol Court). Following the demise of that show, he guest starred on Wagon Train, Convoy, The Virginian, and Run For Your Life.

Ironside debuted in the fall of 1967, with Don Galloway playing Chief of Detectives Robert T. Ironside's sidekick, Detective Sergeant Ed Brown. Galloway remained with it the long running series until it went off the air in 1975. After Ironside went off the air, Galloway guested on such shows as Get Christie Love, Marcus Welby M.D., Charlie's Angels, Hart to Hart, Fantasy Island, Hunter, and MacGyver. He was a regular on the series Hizzonner and the daytime soap General Hospital (from 1985 to 1987).

Galloway also appeared in movies. He co-starred with Jimmy Stewart in the 1967 film The Rare Breed. In the late Sixties he appeared in the movies Gunfight in Abilene, Ride to Hangman's Tree, Rough Night in Jericho, Once Upon a Time in the West, and The Vendors. Galloway made no movies in the Seventies, although he would appear in movies from the Eighties into the Nineties such as Satan's Mistress, The Big Chill, Two Moon Junction, Clifford, and The Doom Generation.

I always thought that Don Galloway never quite received his due as an actor. In his career he played everything from the criminal Jamie Bowen in The Rare Breed to Virgil Earp on Wagon Train. His eight season stint on Ironside demonstrated that he was certainly effective as a leading man on a television series. Sadly, he never played lead in a hit series following Ironside. Given his talent, that seems a grave injustice.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Former Mouseketeer Cheryl Holdridge Passes On

Cheryl Holdridge, one of the Mouseketeers on the original Mickey Mouse Club, passed on January 6 after fighting lung cancer for two years. She was 64 years old.

Cheryl Holdridge was born Cheryl Lynn Phelps in New Orleans on June 20, 1944. Her mother Julie Phelps, a former dancer on Broadway, moved to Burbank, California while she was still young. In 1950 her mother married Herbert Holdridge, who adopted Cheryl in 1953. She was only nine years old when she was picked to perform for the New York City Ballet Company's Los Angeles production of The Nutcracker Suite. Prior to The Mickey Mouse Club Holdridge had appeared in an unbilled, bit part in the movie adaptation of Carousel.

Holdridge auditioned for The Mickey Mouse Club in the spring of 1956, and joined the show in its second season. Holdridge was swiftly included in the core group of The Mickey Mouse Club because she was a skilled dancer and she was also immensely popular. Her fan mail nearly matched that of Annette Funicello.

Holdridge had a fairly healthy career following the demise of The Mickey Mouse Club in 1959. She appeared in an uncredited part in the movie A Summer Place. She also guest starred on such shows as Westinghouse Playhouse, Bachelor Father, Bringing Up Baby, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and The Rilfeman. For a time she was a semi-regular on Leave It to Beaver, playing Wally's girlfriend Julie Foster. Cheryl played Betty in the unsold pilot Life with Archie, based on the Archie Comics character. She also guest starred on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Dr. Kildare, My Three Sons, and Bewitched. Holdridge left acting in 1964 after she got married. After the deaths of her husbands, Cheryl would guest star on Still the Beaver (as Julie Foster) and the movie The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas.

I was not even born when the original Mickey Mouse Club first aired, but I remember Cheryl Holdridge from her many guest appearances. In fact, I remember her very well from The Rifleman episode "A Young Man's Fancy," in which she played the object of Mark's affections, and from the Bewitched episode "The Girl Reporter," in which a young reporter pursued Darrin after her boyfriend developed a crush on Samantha. Holdridge played both parts very convincingly. It is perhaps because of her talent that Holdridge had a very good career following The Mickey Mouse Club, unlike many of her fellow Mouseketeers. If she had not retired from show business to get married in 1964, who knows how far her career might have gone.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Ron Asheton Passes On

Ron Asheton, songwriter and guitarist for The Stooges, passed on Janurary 6. He was 60 years old.

Ron Asheton was born in Washington D.C. on July 17, 1948. He started playing accordion at age five. He took up guitar at age 10. It was in 1967 that Asheton formed The Stooges with brother Scott (the drummer), and James Osterberg (the singer--soon to be famous as Iggy Pop). Originally called The Psychedelic Stooges, a name which would change shortly. They often played with garage rock/protopunk band MC5. In 1969, they released their first album The Stooges. The band had few hits, although they developed a cult following. The Stooges broke up in 1974.

Following the initial breakup of The Stooges, Asheton formed the band The New Order (not to be confused with the British band). After the collapse of The New Order, Asheton then played with Destroy All Monsters. He also played with the short lived Australian band New Race. During the Nineties he was part of the band Dark Carnival. In more recent years he performed with Mark Arm of Mudhoney, J. Mascis (of Dinosaur Jr.), Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), and Mike Watt (of The Minutemen) under the name The Wylde Rattz. He also played with The Stooges again in the Naughts.

While the average person may not have heard of Ron Asheton, he was a pioneer in rock music. Had it not been for Ron Asheton and The Stooges, punk rock might never have existed. His raucous, dirty guitar influenced punk guitarists ever since. It was the raw, unrehearsed energy of The Stooges which would provide the cornerstone for punk music. And the source of much of that raw energy was Ron Asheton. Rock 'n' roll certainly would not have been the same without him.