Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bradley Bolke Passes On

Bradley Bolke, a voice actor who voiced Chumley on the animated TV show Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, died on January 15 2019 at the age of 93.

Bradley Bolke was born in New York City on October 1 1925. When he was five years old his family moved to Mount Vernon, New York. He attended New York University and majored in radio. After graduating in 1945, he worked in radio. Over the years his voice could be heard in many radio and television commercials.

It was in 1954 that Mr. Bolke first provided a voiced for an animated short, voicing a wolf and a sheepdog in the short "The Reformed Wolf" from Terrytoons. His brother Dayton Allen, now best remembered as the voice of Deputy Dawg, also provided voices for the short. Over the years Bradley Bolke would provide voices for several more animated shorts and was the voice of Stanley (as well as various incidental voices) in Famous Studios' series of "Honey Halfwitch" shorts in the mid to late Sixties. Ventriloquist and voice actor Shari Lewis was the voice of Honey Halfwitch herself.

Bradley Bolke was the voice of Nikita Khrushchev on Vaughn Meader's classic 1962 comedy album The First Family and its 1963 follow up The First Family - Volume Two. In 1963 Mr. Bolke could be heard in two Saturday morning cartoons. He provided the voices of Chumley in Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales and the Ghostly Trio (among others) on The New Casper Cartoon Show. He could later be heard in two TV films on the anthology  The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie: The Mad, Mad Monsters (1972) and The Red Baron (1972). He was the voice of Jangle Bells on the classic TV special The Year Without a Santa Claus.

His single appearance in live action was in the feature film Diary of a Bachelor (1964).

Bradley Bolke was an extremely talented voice artist. He was capable of many different voices, from sounding remarkably like Nikita Khrushchev to the friendly tones of Chumley to the slightly higher pitched voice of Jangles Bells. While his filmography is not quite as extensive as some and he is not as well known as some other voice artists, he certainly possessed a good deal of talent.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Godspeed John Falsey

John Falsey, who co-created the shows St. Elsewhere, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure with Joshua Brand, died on January 3 2019 at the age of 67. The cause was complications from an injury to his head he had sustained during a fall.

John Falsey was born on November 6 1951 in New Haven, Connecticut. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts with a degree in English. He later earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. It was in 1979 that he joined the writing staff on the TV show The White Shadow. He also served as the story editor on the show. It was there that he met his frequent creative partner Joshua Brand.

Messrs. Falsey and Brand would go onto create the classic show St. Elsewhere. Debuting in 1982, St. Elsewhere ran for six seasons. The series earned a host of Emmy nominations and won 24 Emmy Awards. While St. Elsewhere was never a smash in the ratings (it never ranked above no. 49 for the season), it developed a cult following and remains popular to this day. John Falsey also served as a producer on the show.  John Falsey served as a supervising producer on the anthology series Amazing Stories. With Stu Krieger, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the short-lived series A Year in the Life, which aired for one season.  Joshua Brand and John Falsey ended the Eighties by creating the series Northern Exposure. Like St. Elsewhere it would pick up a number of Emmy Awards and develop a cult following. Unlike St. Elsewhere it proved to be a hit in the Nielsen ratings.  Sandy Veith, a writer at Universal Studios, in the Eighties and early Nineties, argued that Universal had taken an idea he had developed while there and claimed that it was the basis for Northern Exposure. In 1994  he was awarded $7.3 million.

In the Nineties Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the period drama I'll Fly Away. While critically acclaimed, the show earned low ratings and lasted only two seasons on NBC. A follow up movie would air on PBS after the show had been cancelled by the Peacock Network. With Frank South, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the short-lived series Going to Extremes. It lasted only 17 episodes. Joshua Falsey ended the Nineties serving as a consulting producer on the show Providence.

After his work in television John Falsey returned to writing short storied and a novella. He also moved back to Iowa City. 

John Falsey co-created some of the most successful shows of the Eighties and Nineties. Both St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure have followings to this day, and both are regarded as classics. Both certainly earned their share of Emmy Awards. While I'll Fly Away is not quite as well remembered, it is still highly regarded. I am among the fans of all three shows, and if I compiled a list of my 100 favourite shows of all time, it is likely that both St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure would make the list. While he stopped working in television after the Nineties, John Falsey certainly left his mark on television history.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Late Great Carol Channing

Carol Channing, star of Broadway, film, and television died yesterday, January 15 2019, at the age of 97. She will always be remembered as Dolly Levi in the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!.

Carol Channing was born on January 31 1921 in Seattle, Washington. Her father was a city editor at The Seattle Star and moved the family to San Francisco when Miss Channing was only two weeks old. She attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she majored in drama. She made her professional debut on stage in 1941 in No for an Answer in New York City. She made her Broadway debut in Let's Face It! in 1943. Miss Channing would appear several more times on Broadway, in the productions Proof Thro' the Night (1942), Lend an Ear (1948), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Wonderful Town (1953), The Vamp (1955), Show Girl (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Four on a Garden (1971), Lorelei (1974), and two revivals of Hello, Dolly!.

While Carol Channing did not make many movies, her appearances on film would be significant. She made her film debut in Paid in Full in 1950. She then appeared in such films as The First Travelling Saleslady (1956), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), and Skidoo (1968). She did voice work on the animated films Shinbone Alley (1970), Happily Ever After (1990), and Thumbelina (1994).

Carol Channing appeared frequently on television. She guest starred on Omnibus, Playhouse 90, The Red Skelton Show, The George Burns Show, Laugh-In, The Love Boat, Burke's Law, The Drew Carey Show, Touched by an Angel, and Style & Substance. She did voice work on several animated television shows, including Where's Waldo?, The Addams Family, and Family Guy. She was a frequent guest on variety shows, talk shows, and game shows, including such shows as The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Spike Jones Show, The Rosemary Clooney Show, The Perry Como Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, Tonight Starring Jack Paar, The Gary Moore Show, The Andy Williams Show, Password, I've Got a Secret, What's My Line?, The Joey Bishop Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The David Frost Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Flip, The Dean Martin Show, The Hollywood Squares, Dinah!, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Quite simply, Carol Channing was a force of nature. Vibrant, vivacious, and larger than life, few performers could deliver a song the way she could. There was no one like Miss Channing. She was utterly singular. She originated the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentleman Prefer Blondes on Broadway and she made the role of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! so much her own that it is hard picturing anyone else in the role (the 1969 film adaptation with Barbara Streisand is proof of that). She sparkled as the eccentric Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Even when Miss Channing was not performing on stage or on film, she was very entertaining. A gifted conversationalist with an excellent sense of humour and perfect comedic timing, it was no wonder she was in so much demand on variety shows, talk shows, and game shows from the Fifties to the Eighties. Carol Channing was utterly unique, not simply for her appearance or for her voice, but because few ever had her talent or her enthusiasm for entertaining.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ten Classic Actors from Missouri

Jacqueline of Another Old Movie Blog has come up with a great game for the start of this year. Quite simply, one names any 10 classic actors from his or her state, Canadian province, or country. I am fortunate in being from Missouri in that we have produced a number of great actors over the years, not to mention other creative personnel in film. I have restricted my list to actors actually born in Missouri, although, as I will mention after my list, there are others who lived here for an extended period of time.

Vincent Price: Given how refined and sophisticated he was, one might think the Master of Menace was born in the United Kingdom or Europe, but he was actually born in St. Louis, Missouri. What is more, Vincent Price maintained close ties to Missouri his entire life. Starting around 1960 he would make annual appearances at Northeast Missouri State University, something he did for 30 years. He also taught workshops on both acting and art history at the university. In 1984 Mr. Price founded the Vincent Price Theatrical Performance scholarship at the university, awarded to those who have demonstrated talent in acting. It is little wonder the state of Missouri loves him so, to the point that upon the centenary of his birth (the "Vincentennial", as it was called), the city of St. Louis set aside a day for celebration.

Betty Grable: Dancer, singer, pinup girl, and the highest salaried woman in the United States for the years 1946 and 1947, Betty Grable was born in St. Louis  on December 18 1916.

Ginger Rogers: Ginger Rogers was born in Independence, Missouri and spent much of her childhood in nearby Kansas City, Missouri. Her birthplace, 100 W Moore St., Independence, Missouri, is now The Ginger House, a museum dedicated to the legendary star.

Robert Cummings: Better known these days as Bob Cummings, the movie star and sitcom star was born in Joplin, Missouri. Mr. Cummings has the distinction of being the only star of Kings Row (1942) to have actually been born in Missouri (the fictional town of Kings Row in both the novel and the movie was very thinly based on author Henry Bellamann's hometown of Fulton, Missouri). Like Vincent Price, Bob Cummings also acknowledged his ties to Missouri. On his classic sitcom The Bob Cummings Show (also known as Love That Bob), his character Bob Collins's hometown was Joplin. In 1988 he was an honoured guest at Fulton, Missouri's Kingdom Days festival and even hosted a special screening of King's Row.

Jean Harlow: The original Blonde Bombshell was born in Kansas City, Missouri. She attended Miss Barstow's Finishing School for Girls there, which Bess Truman had also attended.

Virginia Mayo: Not only was Virginia Mayo born in St. Louis, but her family had very deep roots there. In fact, her great-great-great grandfather was Captain James Piggott, who founded East St. Louis, Illinois, in 1797. One of Virginia's aunts operated an acting school in St. Louis, and Virginia Mayo started attending there when she was six. She even began her acting career in St. Louis. One of her first professional acting jobs was at the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre (better known now as The Muny). Virginia Mayo is one of my all time favourite actresses, and I am very proud that we share our home state.

Cliff Edwards: Ukulele player, singer, actor, and the voice of Jiminy Cricket, Cliff Edwards was born in Hannibal, Missouri (which is about an hour away from my hometown). Not only was Cliff Edwards the voice of Jiminy Cricket, but he also became a close friend of Walt Disney. While Mr. Disney was not born in Missouri, he grew up in Marceline and started his career in Kansas City. Uncle Walt even paid for Cliff Edwards's grave marker upon his death.

Frank Faylen: A character actor with numerous credits, today Frank Faylen is probably best known as taxi cab driver Ernie Bishop in It's a Wonderful Life (1946) and Dobie's father Herbert T. Gillis on the classic sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Frank Faylen began his career here in Missouri and, what is more, he started rather young. His family lived on a showboat and he appeared with his parents on stage when he was still a baby!

Dabbs Greer: A character actor with a long list of credits, Dabbs Greer was born in Fairview, Missouri and attended Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Fittingly, he made his film debut as an extra in a movie about another famous Missourian, Jesse James (1938). Although he spent much of his life in California, when he died he was buried in Peace Valley Cemetery in Anderson, Missouri, where he had spent much of his childhood.

Ruth Warrick: Ruth Warrick was born in one of my favourite cities, St. Joseph, Missouri. She had an auspicious film debut, appearing as Charles Foster Kane's first wife in Citizen Kane (1941). Over the years she appeared in other classic films, including The Corsican Brothers (1941) and Journey into Fear (1943). She would be part of the original cast of the soap opera All My Children, on which she starred for 25 years.

As I mentioned earlier, Missouri has produced several individuals on the other side of the camera in addition to actors. Elgin Lessley, the pioneering cameraman who worked with Roscoe Arbuckle and Buster Keaton, was born right here in Randolph County (in Higbee, which is only about twenty minutes away from me). Legendary animators Ub Iwerks and Friz Freleng were born in Kansas City. There have also been more recent actors born here. Jon Hamm, best known as Don Draper on Made Men, is living proof that the handsomest, coolest men were all born in Missouri on March 10. Like Elgin Lessley, character actor Brent Brisoce was also born in Randolph County (Moberly, to be exact). He was one of my acquaintances in my youth, and there was never a nicer guy. One of my favourite actors, Robert Guillaume was born in St. Louis. Of course, there are also several famous people who weren't born in Missouri, but spent their childhoods here, including Agnes Moorehead (who grew up in Carondolet, St. Louis), Walt Disney (who claimed Marceline, Missouri as his hometown and began his animation career in Kansas City), and Steve McQueen (who claimed Slater, Missouri as his hometown). BTW, both Marceline and Slater are about an hour away from my hometown.

Anyway, I hope my fellow bloggers participate in this game, as I am interested to see what actors are from your home state or province!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Godspeed Don Lusk

A young Don Lusk working on Pinocchio
Don Lusk, the last living Disney animator from the Golden Age of Animation, died on December 30 2018 at the age of 105.

Don Lusk was born on October 28 1913 in Burbank, California. He was hired by Walt Disney Productions in 1933 as an in-betweener. He was 20 years old at the time. His first work as an animator for Disney was on the short "Mickey's Polo Team" in 1936. Among other animated shorts on which he worked was "Ferdinand the Bull" (1938), which won the Oscar for Best Short Subject, Cartoons. He went onto work on the feature films Pinocchio (1940), Fantasia (1944), and Bambi (1942). Mr. Lusk was one of the 334 Disney employees who went on strike in 1941. Unlike many of those who walked out on strike, he would go onto have a long career at Disney, although he admitted that after the strike his opportunities for advancement at the company were limited.

During World War II Don Lusk was drafted into the United States Marine Corps. He served in the training film unit in Quantico, Virginia. He returned to Disney following the war and worked on such  features as Song of the South (1946), The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951), Peter Pan (1953), Lady and the Tramp (1953), Sleeping Beauty 1959), and One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), as well as several animated shorts.

Don Lusk left Disney in 1960. Afterwards he worked on several animated shorts for Walter Lantz. In the Sixties he worked on features for various companies: Gay Pur-ee (1962) for UPA, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear (1964) and The Man Called Flintstone (1966) for Hanna-Barbera, The Man from Button Willow (1965) for United Screen Arts, and A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) for Lee Mendelson Films. In the Seventies he worked on Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977).  His last feature film work was on The Thief and the Cobbler (1993) for animator Richard Williams.

Mr. Lusk also did a good deal of work on television. He did a good deal of work for Hanna-Barbera, serving as an animator on The Atom Ant/Secret Squirrel Show and The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He directed several episodes of The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, Challenge of the Gobots, the 1986 version of Jonny Quest, Smurfs, The Pirates of the Dark Water, and various other shows for the company. He directed several Peanuts specials for Lee Mendelson Films.  He retired from the animation industry in 1993 when he turned 80.

To say the death of Don Lusk marks the end of an era would not be an exaggeration. He started working at Disney four years before the company would release its first animated feature (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937). His career spanned the Golden Age of Animation, during which he worked on feature films and theatrical shorts. He made the transition to television just as animated cartoons started to dominate Saturday morning. Mr. Lusk may not have enjoyed the name recognition or prestige of Disney's Nine Old Men, but in many ways he was a pioneer in animation, working in the industry from early in the Sound Era into the Nineties. That he had a career that lasted so long and spanned decades is proof that he was a man of considerable talent.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Godspeed Dame June Whitfield

Dame June Whitfield, who appeared in several "Carry On..." movies and starred on such TV shows as Happily Ever After, Terry and June, Last of the Summer Wine, and Absolutely Fabulous, died on December 28 2018 at the age of 93.

Dame June Whitfield was born on November 11 1925 in Streatham, London. Her mother enrolled her in the Robinson School of Dancing, Elocution, Pianoforte, and Singing when she was only three. She was only five years old when she made her stage debut in a play. She attended Streatham Hill High School until she was evacuated to Bognor Regis during World War II. There she attended St. Michael's School. She was later evacuated to Penzance. Afterwards her parents moved to Huddersfield. She graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1944.

In the Forties she worked with actor Wilfrid Pickles on the West End and elsewhere. She made her film debut in an uncredited role in Quiet Weekend in 1946. She appeared in another uncredited role in The 20 Questions Murder Mystery in 1950. In 1951 she made her television debut on an episode of The Passing Show. In 1953 she replaced Joy Nichols on the hit radio show Take It From Here. In the Fifties she was a regular on the TV shows Fast and Loose, The Tony Hancock Show, and Before Your Very Eyes. She guest starred on such shows as Jack Hylton Presents; Yes, It's the Cathode-Ray Tube Show!; Hancock's Half Hour; Dixon of Dock Green; My Pal Bob; On with the Show; It's Saturday Night; and Arthur's Treasured Volumes. She made her first appearance in a "Carry On..." film in 1959 with Carry On Nurse. She appeared in the film Friends and Neighbours (1959).

In the Sixties she was a regular on the TV shows The Seven Faces of Jim, Six More Faces of Jim, More Faces of Jim, How to Be an Alien, Baxter On..., Call It What You Like, Mild and Bitter, Hancock's, Beggar My Neighbour, and The Best Things in Life. She guest starred on such shows as Benny Hill, Steptoe and Son, The Big Noise, Frankie Howard, Never a Cross Word, Father Dear Father; Harry Worth; The Fossett Saga; Armchair Theatre; and According to Dora. She appeared in the film The Spy with a Cold Nose (1966).

In the Seventies Dame June was a regular on the TV shows The Dick Emery Show and Happily Ever After. She guest starred on The Goodies, Whoops Baghdad!, Bless This House,. The Morecambe & Wise Show, Jackanory, Cannon and Ball, and It Ain't Half Hot Mum. She appeared in the films The Magnificent Seven Deadly Sins (1971), Bless This House (1972), Carry On Abroad (1972), Carry On Girls (1973), and Not Now, Comrade (1976).

In the Eighties she starred on the show Terry and June. She was a regular on the shows Roland the Rat: the Series and Cluedo. She guest starred on such shows as Minder, Sharing Time, and The Sooty Show. In the Nineties she played Eddy's mother on Absolutely Fabulous, a role she would play into the Teens. She guest starred on such shows as Out of Sight, Friends, Brambly Hedge, Rex the Runt, and Days Like These. She appeared in the films Carry On Columbus (1992) and Jude (1996).

Throughout the Naughts she played Nelly on Last of the Summer Wine. She guest starred on the shows The Royal, Dirty Tricks, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, New Tricks, Children in Need, Harley Street, Kingdom, Doctor Who, and Coronation Street. She appeared in the film Innocent (2009).  In the Teens she appeared in the films Run for Your Wife (2012) and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016). She guest starred on the shows Midsomer Murders, Jonathan Creek, Topsy and Tim, EastEnders, and Boomers.

If Dame June Whitfield was just so prolific as an actress, it was because she was just so very good. Dame June had a gift for comedy, with absolutely perfect timing. She was also rather versatile. She could play everything from middle aged housewife June Medford to Mother on Absolutely Fabulous to God herself on the miniseries You, Me and the Apocalypse. Dame June Whitfield was in demand throughout her career precisely because she was so very talented.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

(This post is part of the "The Year After Year Blogathon" hosted by MovieMovieBlogBlog)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) remains one of Judy Garland's most popular films. In fact, it was the highest grossing movie she ever made, raking in even more money than The Wizard of Oz (1939). What is more, it was well received upon its initial release. It was nominated for the Oscars for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay; Best Cinematography; Colour; Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture; and Best Music, Song (for "The Trolley Song"). In the American Film Institute's list of Greatest Movie Musicals it was ranked 10th, although I have no doubt there are those who would rank it higher.

Meet Me in St. Louis was based on the novel of the same title by Sally Benson. The novel itself originated as a series of eight vignettes based on Miss Benson's experiences growing up in St. Louis in 1903 and 1904. The vignettes were published in The New Yorker from June 14 1941 to May 23 1942 under the title 5135 Kensington (the title coming from the address of her family's home in St. Louis, 5135 Kensington Avenue). Sally Benson added four new stories to the original eight vignettes to create the book Meet Me in St. Louis, with each story representing a month from 1903 to 1904. MGM bought the film rights to Meet Me in St. Louis in January 1942, before the book was even published later in the year.

Initially Arthur Freed, head of MGM's musical unit, hired Sally Benson herself to write the screenplay for Meet Me in St. Louis. Ultimately, Mr. Freed was disappointed with Miss Benson's work, so that in the end it would be Irving Brecher and Fred F. Finklehoffe who would write the screenplay for the film. Mr. Brecher had written the screenplays for the Marx Brothers' films At the Circus (1939) and Go West (1940), and the screenplay for Shadow of the Thin Man (1941). Fred F. Finklehoffe had written the play Brother Rat and the screenplay for the musical Strike Up the Band (1940). 

Although Meet Me in St. Louis is now one of Judy Garland's most popular films, when she was cast she was not particularly eager to appear in the movie. Miss Garland had just appeared in her first adult role in the film Presenting Lily Mars (1943). In Meet Me in St. Louis, the 21 year-old Miss Garland would be playing 17 year-old Esther Smith, yet another juvenile role. Director Vincente Minnelli tried to convince Judy Garland that the film was perfect for her, to no avail. She then went over his head to Louis B. Mayer himself. Initially Mr. Mayer took Miss Garland's side. Fortunately, Arthur Freed was able to convince Louis B. Mayer that Judy Garland should star in Meet Me in St. Louis. While Miss Garland relented, the filming of Meet Me in St. Louis would not be particularly easy.

Indeed, Judy Garland would miss sixteen days during the shooting of Meet Me in St. Louis, calling in due to an ear infection, having a tooth pulled, a sinus condition, swollen eyes, and the common cold, among other reasons. Joan Carroll, who played Esther's sister Agnes, had to have her appendix removed was and out for two weeks. Mary Astor missed three weeks due to sinusitis. Margaret O'Brien was out thirteen days due to hayfever and influenza, among other things. Meet Me in St. Louis had been budgeted at $1.708 million, but due to much of the cast missing several days, it finally came in at $1.885 million.

While Meet Me in St. Louis proved more expensive to make than originally thought, in the end it proved to be worth it. It proved to be MGM's highest grossing film in 1944 and the fourth highest grossing film of the year. It not only went over well with audiences, but with critics as well. As mentioned earlier, it also earned four Oscar nominations. 

Meet Me in St. Louis portrays a year in the life of the Smith family from the summer of 1903 to the summer of 1904. The movie is notable for having little in the way of a plot, structured as a series of vignettes taking place throughout the year. In the summer the Smiths hold a house party. At Halloween young Tootie engages in various bits of mischief. On Christmas Eve is the neighbourhood's annual Christmas ball. Of course, featured during these vignettes are various songs, including "The Boy Next Door" (in summer), "The Trolley Song" (in summer), and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (at Christmas), among others. Both "The Trolley Song" and particularly "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" would become standards.

Much of what is enjoyable about Meet Me in St. Louis is that it acts as a look at a bygone time. At the summer house party, Tootie performs a cakewalk, a custom still practised in some small towns but now largely forgotten in larger cities. During Halloween the neighbourhood children go about throwing flour on people, a custom so long forgotten that the whole thing probably seems a bit alien to modern day viewers. There are trolleys, old fashioned telephones, horse drawn carriages, and various other things that probably seem novel to the modern viewer. Meet Me in St. Louis does a fairly good job of capturing life in St. Louis in 1903 and 1904.

Of course, because of the Christmas sequence and the iconic song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" there are many who think of Meet Me in St. Louis as a Christmas movie. While Meet Me in St. Louis is one of my all time favourite movies (which is why I chose it for this blogathon), I have never seen it as a Christmas movie myself. I have never timed the sequences, but I suspect the Halloween sequence (my favourite in the movie) is actually longer than the Christmas sequence! That having been said, I don't think of it as a Halloween movie either.

Aside from iconic songs and a fairly strong script, Meet Me in St. Louis benefits from an excellent cast. Judy Garland gives one of her best performances in the film, as does Margaret O'Brien. Mary Aston is excellent as the matriarch of the Smith family, Anna, as is Harry Davenport as Grandpa. The cast included some actors who would soon be famous of their own accord, including June Lockhart and Hugh Marlowe. 

If Meet Me in St. Louis remains one of Judy Garland's most popular movies, it is perhaps because it is such a good movie all around. It features a strong cast with a strong script that has plenty of humour and a number of classic songs. Judy Garland was initially resistant to appearing in the movie, but audiences have probably been thankful ever since that she did. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Announcing the 5th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon

I am announcing A Shroud of Thoughts' fifth annual "Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon". The first four years were fairly successful, so I am looking forward to another year's worth of good blog posts. For those unfamiliar with the Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon, it is a blogathon in which bloggers write entries about their favourite episodes of their favourite classic television shows. This year it will take place March 22, 23, and 24.

Here are the ground rules:

1. Posts in the blogathon must be about an episode from a scripted drama. Episodes of reality shows, talk shows, game shows, and variety shows are ineligible. That having been said, posts can be on episodes from any genre of scripted dramas: animated shows, anthology shows, detective shows, police procedurals, science fiction shows, situation comedies, and so on. I also have to say that episodes can be from scripted dramas that aired at any time of day. They don't have to be from prime time alone. If one wanted to write about his or her favourite episode from his or her favourite Saturday morning cartoon or daytime soap opera, one could.

2. Because this blogathon is dedicated to classic television and I think a classic is something that must have stood the test of time, episodes must be from shows that are at least 25 years old. That means one cannot write posts on episodes from shows that debuted after 1994 (nothing from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, let alone Blackish). Now here I want to point out that the episode itself does not have to be 25 years old, only the show on which it aired. Law & Order debuted in 1990 and ran until 2010, so that its final season aired after 1994. Because Law & Order is over 25 years old, however, one could still write about an episode that aired in the 2009-2010 season.

3. Given my love of British television, it should come as no surprise that posts do not have to be about episodes from American shows alone. Posts can be about episodes from any show from any country as long as the show is a scripted drama and debuted over 25 years ago. If you want to write about your favourite episode of The Saint, The Little Hobo, Jaianto Robo, or Escrava Isaura, you can.

4.  I am asking that there please be no duplicates. That having been said, if someone has already chosen to cover "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" from The Twilight Zone, someone else could still write about another Twilight Zone episode.

5. In keeping with ground rule no. 4, I am asking that if you participated in the past years' blogathons that you write about a different episode from what you did the past years. That having been said, you could write about an episode from the same show.  If you wrote about the Star Trek episode "Amok Time" last year, then you could write about the Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" this year.

6. I am not going to schedule days for individual posts. All I ask is that the posts be made on or between March 22, March 23, or March 24 2018.

7. On March 22 I will set up the page for the blogathon. I ask that you link your posts to that page. If you want you can use one of the graphics below or make your own!

If you want to participate in the Favourite Television Show Episode Blogathon, you can simply comment below or you can get a hold of me either on Twitter at mercurie80 or at my email:  mercurie80 at

Below is a roster of participants and the topics they are covering. Come March 22 I will make a post that will include all of the posts in the blogathon.

A Shroud of Thoughts: ER "Night Shift"

Caftan Woman: Gunsmoke, "The Guitar"

Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more: Moonlighting, "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice"

In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: The Big Valley, "Earthquake"

Crítica Retrô: The Flintstones, "The Monster from the Tar Pits"

Moon in Gemini: The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "Chuckles Bites the Dust"

Coffee, Classics, & Craziness: The Fugitive, "Nightmare at Northoak"

Hamlette's Soliloquy: Maverick, "A Shady Deal at Sunny Acres"

John V's Eclectic Avenue: The Outer Limits, "The Bellero Shield" 

Below are some graphics you can use for the blogathon (or you can always make your own)!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year 2019

At least for me, 2018 turned out to be an absolutely horrible year, and I am glad to see it go. I am then looking forward to 2019, a lot less happy than I was at the start of 2018. Regardless, it is a custom here to post classic pinups at certain holidays and New Year's Day is no different. Here then are this New Year's pinups.

First up is the lovely Nancy Carroll, who is having a ball on New Year's!

Next up is Piper Laurie, who waited by the clock for the New Year to arrive.

Here is Barbara Eden greeting 1963!

Joan Vohs apparently attended a New Year's masquerade.

Cyd Charisse greeting the NewYear!

And last is Ann Miller posing in front of a clock at the stroke of midnight!
Happy New Year!