Monday, December 10, 2018

Godspeed John D. F. Black

John D. F. Black, the screenwriter who wrote episodes of such shows as Lawman, Star Trek, and Hawaii Five-O as well as co-writing the screenplay for the movie Shaft, died November 29 2018. He was 85 years old.

John D. F. Black was born on December 30 1932. His first screenplay was for the film The Unearthly (1957), using the pen name Geoffrey Dennis. His first teleplay was for an episode of Surfside 6 in 1961. During the Sixties he wrote one of the most notable episodes of Star Trek, "The Naked Time", for which he was nominated for a Hugo Award. He also served as an associate producer on the show in its first season. He wrote several episodes of the shows Lawman, Mr. Novak, Laredo, Hawaii Five-O, and Room 222. He also wrote episodes of the shows Have Gun--Will Travel, The Untouchables, Combat!, The Fugitive, Run for Your Life, Cimarron Strip, Insight, The High Chaparral, The F.B.I., The Virginian, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He wrote the screenplays for the movies Gunfight in Abilene (1967), Nobody's Perfect (1968), and Three Guns for Texas.

In the Seventies he co-wrote the screenplay for Shaft (1971) with John Shaft's creator Ernest Tidyman. He also wrote the movies The Carey Treatment (1972), Trouble Man (1972) and Survival (1976). He wrote several episodes of Room 222, Hawaii Five-O, and Charlie's Angels. He also wrote episodes of The Bill Cosby Show, Getting Together, Jigsaw John, The Streets of San Francisco, Delvecchio, and The Man From Atlantis. He wrote the TV movies Thief; Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate; The Fuzz Brothers; Wonder Woman; and The Clone Master.

In the Eighties he wrote episodes of Hell Town; Star Trek: The Next Generation; and Murder, She Wrote.

A good argument can be made that John D. F. Black was one of the best television writers of the Sixties and Seventies. He had a talent for grasping the characters of a TV show with only a single episode. "The Naked Time" is a perfect example of this talent, containing as it does a character-defining scene for Mr. Spock. Over the years he wrote some of the best episodes of several classic TV shows, from science fiction shows to dramas to sitcoms. If John D. F. Black was very much in demand as a television writer, it was because he was just so good at it.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Channing Chase Passes On

Channing Chase, an actress who played Pete Campbell's mother Dorothy on Mad Men and also appeared on such shows as Night Court and ER, died on October 6 2018. She was 79 years old.

Channing Chase was born on June 25 1939 in Nashua, New Hampshire.She earned a Bachelor of Arts at the the University of New Hampshire. She made her first appearance on stage at the Charles Playhouse in Boston. She later went to New York City where she established a career in commercials. She appeared in commercials for Toyota, United Airlines, McDonald's, Progressive, Discover, Glade, and First Nationwide Bank. She appeared at the LaMaMa Theatre in New York City and toured with the musical "Promises, Promises"

In 1982 she moved to Hollywood. In 1984 she made her television debut in the TV movie My Mother's Secret Life. In the Eighties she guest starred on such shows as Duck Factory, Santa Barbara, One Big Family, Newhart, Night Court, Out of This World, and Murphy Brown. She appeared in several TV movies, including Billionaire Boys Club. She appeared in the feature films Surrender (1987), No Man's Land (1987), Chances Are (1989), The Rain Killer (1990), and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990). In the Nineties she appeared in four episode story arc on the TV show ER. She guest starred on such shows as Empty Nest, Sisters, Family Matters, Diagnosis Murder, Coach, Cybill, Home Improvement, and Port Charles. In the Nineties she appeared in the films Clifford (1994) and The Big Day (1999).

From the Naughts into the Teens Miss Chase played the recurring role of Dorothy "Dot" Campbell on Mad Men. During the Naughts she also appeared on the shows Emeril, Life with Bonnie, Cold Case, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Courting Alex. She appeared in the films Stealing Havard (2002), You Did What? (2006), Americanizing Shelley (2007), Evan Almighty (2007), and Stolen Lives (2009). Her last appearance on television was in the TV movie My Santa in 2013. Her last appearance on screen was in the feature film This Lonely Place in 2014.

Channing Chase was a very talented actress, although over the years she played more than her share of patrician characters. She certainly had a knack for playing blue bloods. In some respects, the role of Dorothy Campbell was simply another such character. That having been said, the role did give her a chance to display her acting talent. Later in the show's run, Mrs. Campbell developed dementia and her behaviour became erratic, something that Miss Chase played perfectly. While Channing Chase played mostly aristocratic roles, she had the talent to make each one different.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Wright King Passes On

Wright King, an actor who appeared on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire, on television in the TV series Wanted: Dead or Alive, and on film in Planet of the Apes (1968), died on November 25 2018 at the age of 95.

Wright King was born on January 11 1923 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. He graduated from high school in Mount Vernon, Illinois. He then attended the St Louis School of Theatre, from which he graduated in 1941. During World War II he enlisted in the United States Navy. He made his Broadway debut in A Streetcar Named Desire, in which he played the Newspaper Collector. In the late Forties and the Fifties he also appeared on Broadway in The Bird Cage and Borned in Texas.

Mr. King made his television debut in 1949 in an episode of Captain Video and His Video Rangers. The following year he guest starred on such shows as The Ken Murray Show, Lamp Unto My Feet, and Starlight Theatre. In the Fifties he was a regular on the TV show Johnny Jupiter. Later in the decade he played Jason Nichols on Wanted: Dead or Alive, the sidekick of bounty hunter Josh Randall (played by Steve McQueen). He also guest starred on such TV shows as The Gabby Hayes Show, Studio One, Suspense, The Adventures of Ellery Queen, Robert Montgomery Presents, The Philco Television Playhouse, The Big Story, Kraft Television Theatre, State Trooper, You Are There, Father Knows Best, Maverick, Cheyenne, The Loretta Young Show, Sugarfoot, The Rebel, and Johnny Ringo. He made his film debut in 1951 in A Streetcar Named Desire, reprising his role as the newspaper collector. In the Fifties he appeared in the films The Bold and the Brave (1956), The Young Guns (1956), Stagecoach to Fury (1956), Hot Rod Rumble (1957), The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959), and Cast a Long Shadow (1959).

In the Sixties he guest starred on such shows as Checkmate, Tales of Wells Fargo, Have Gun--Will Travel, Bronco, The Twilight Zone, Rawhide, Perry Mason, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Gunsmoke, 12 O'Clock HighThe Fugitive, The F.B.I., The Invaders, Mannix, Lancer, and Dan August. He appeared in the movies Dangerous Charter (1962), King Rat (1965), Planet of the Ape (1968), and Finian's Rainbow (1968).

In the Seventies Wright King guest starred on such shows as Room 222, The Streets of San Francisco, McCloud, How the West Was Won, Most Wanted, Police Woman, and Logan's Run. He appeared in the film Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973). His last appearance on film was in House Made of Dawn (1987).

Wright King was certainly a talented actor. While he might be best remembered as youthful bounty hunter Jason Nicholas on Wanted: Dead or Alive, he played a wide variety of roles. He played a reporter in the classic Twilight Zone episode "Shadow Play" and  a gunslinger in the Sugarfoot episode "Wolf". In Planet of the Apes he was Dr. Galen, the chimpanzee veterinarian (which, this being the Planet of the Apes, meant he treated humans).  Over the years he played a wide array of roles in his various television guest appearances and appearances in movies, and he always gave a good performance.

Monday, December 3, 2018

The Late Great Ken Berry

Actor, dancer, and singer Ken Berry plays a large role in many of my childhood memories. Like many I first saw him in the Western spoof F Troop, which ran only two seasons but would be repeated in syndication to this day. I also saw him in the continuation of The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry R.F.D. A little later I would see him in a short lived variety show, The Ken Berry "Wow" Show, where he got to display his song and dance talents. He was also a frequent guest on The Carol Burnett Show. Whether as Captain Wilton Parmenter or a song and dance man, I have been a fan of Ken Berry nearly my entire life. Sadly, Ken Berry died on December 1 1985 at the age of 85.

Ken Berry was born on November 3 1933 in Moline, Illinois. He decided he wanted to be a dancer and singer when he saw dancers at a carnival when he was 12 years old. He was a fan of movie musicals starring Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Young Mr. Berry took tap dance lessons and at age 16 he joined the Horace Heidt Youth Opportunity Program.With the program he toured for 15 months, not only visiting several towns in the United States, but also the United Kingdom and Europe.

After graduating from high school, Ken Berry enlisted in the United States Army. He was initially assigned to the artillery, but after appearing on Arlene Francis's TV show on ABC, Soldier Parade, he was transferred to Special Services. There he served under Sergeant Leonard Nimoy (later best known as Spock on Star Trek), who encouraged him to pursue a career in entertainment. In 1956 he opened for Abbott & Costello's stage act in Las Vegas. In 1957 he joined Ken Murray's Las Vegas show, The Ken Murray Blackouts. He made his debut on Broadway in The Billy Barnes Revue in 1959. He also appeared on Broadway in 1961 in The Billy Barnes People.

While still in the military Ken Berry made his television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, in addition to a few other television appearances. He made his television debut as a civilian on The Chevy Showroom Starring Andy Williams in 1959. The following years he would make guest appearances on Harrigan and Son and Hot Off the Wire. He had the recurring role of Woody on The Ann Sothern Show that same year.

The Sixties would prove to be a very busy time for Ken Berry. He had the recurring role of Lt. Melton on Ensign O'Toole and from 1961 to 1964 he played the recurring role of Dr. John Kapish on Dr. Kildare. It was in 1965 that he played his first lead role in a TV show. Mr. Berry played Captain Wilton Parmenter, the accident prone cavalry commander on the Western spoof F Troop. The show proved very popular, but ended its run after only two years because some individuals at Warner Bros. thought the show was too expensive. It would prove to be a perennial favourite as a rerun in syndication ever since. Ken Berry followed the success of F Troop with Mayberry R.F.D., which was essentially The Andy Griffith Show without Andy Griffith. It ran three seasons and was still high rated when it was cancelled as part of the Rural Purge.

In the Sixties Ken Berry also guest starred on such shows as Michael Shayne, Hennesey, The Gertrude Berg Show, General Electric Theatre, Alcoa Premiere, Mr. Novak, Burke's Law, Combat!, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Rogues, Hazel, No Time for Sergeants, Rawhide, 12 O'Clock High, The Lucy Show, and The Andy Griffith Show. He made his first guest appearance on The Carol Burnett Show in 1968 and guest starred frequently on the show for the rest of its run. He also guest starred on such variety and talk shows as The Garry Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, The Hollywood Palace, The Woody Woodbury ShowThe Ed Sullivan Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Engelbert Humperdinck Show, The Art Linkletter Show, Laugh In, The Andy Williams Show, and The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour. He also appeared on various game shows. Mr. Berry had uncredited roles in the movies Two for the Seesaw (1962) and The Lively Set (1964), and appeared in the film Hello Down There (1969).

In the Seventies Ken Berry had his own, short lived variety show, The Ken Berry 'Wow' Show. He guest starred on the shows Love American Style, The Brady BunchMedical Centre, Ellery Queen, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, Apple Pie, The Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie, CHiPs, and Fantasy Island. He continued to appear frequently on The Carol Burnett Show. He guest starred on such variety shows as The Julie Andrews Hour, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, NBC Follies, The Dean Martin Show, and The Sonny Comedy Revue. He also appeared on such games shows as Hollywood Squares and Tattletales. He appeared in several TV movies, including Li'l Abner, The Reluctant Heroes, and Letters from Three Lovers. He appeared in the feature films Herbie Rides Again (1973), Guardian of the Wilderness (1976), and The Cat from Outer Space (1978).

In the Eighties Ken Berry played Vinton Harper, Mama's good natured but none too bright son, on Mama's Family. The series had evolved out of Carol Burnett's recurring sketches "The Family" on The Carol Burnett Show. The show ran on NBC from 1983 to 1984 and then in first run syndication from 1986 to 1990. He guest starred on the shows Fantasy Island, Gimme a Break, and Small Wonder. In the Nineties he guest starred on The Golden Girls and Maggie Winters. He was a guest voice on The New Batman Adventures.

Ken Berry also toured with productions of Sugar, The Music Man, and I Do! I Do!.

Ken Berry had regular, semi-regular, or recurring roles on seven different shows, including lead roles in F Troop and Mayberry R.F.D. and as host of The Ken Berry 'Wow' Show. If Ken Berry was so much in demand on television, it was because he was so very talented. Mr. Berry was an incredible comic talent. A trained dancer, he had a gift for physical comedy, which was often put to good use on F Troop. What is more his comic talents weren't merely limited to the sitcoms or movies in which he appeared. Mr. Berry was incredible in the many sketches in which he appeared on The Carol Burnett Show. Of course, Ken Berry was also an incredible song and dance man. His talents were most visible on his various guest appearances on variety shows and his short-lived variety show The Ken Berry 'Wow' Show, as well as commercials for Kinney Shoes in the Seventies and Eighties. It was classic movie musicals that had made Ken Berry want to be a singer and dancer, and I think it is safe to say that had he been born in an earlier time he would have been a star of movie musicals. While Ken Berry will always be remembered for his roles in F Troop, Mayberry R.F.D., and Mama's Family, he did so much more.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Late Great Nicolas Roeg

Nicolas Roeg, who directed such classic films as Don't Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), died on November 23 2018 at the age of 90.

Nicolas Roeg was born on August 15 1928 in London. His family lived across from the road from Marleybone Studios. He was around 19 years old when he got a job there, operating the clapperboard. He eventually worked his way up to camera operator, serving in such a capacity on such films as Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951), Circumstantial Evidence (1952), Bhowani Junction (1956), The Man Inside (1958), Tarzan's Great Adventure (1959), The Trial of Oscar Wilde (1960), The Sundowners (1960), and Doctor Blood's Coffin (1961). He was in charge of second unit photography on Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and provided additional photography for Casino Royale (1967).

Eventually Mr. Roeg went from being a camera operator to a cinematographer. His first cinematography credit was on Information Received in 1961. In the Sixties he served as cinematographer on such films as Band of Thieves (1962), The Caretaker (1963), Dr. Crippen (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The System (1964), Fahrenheit 451 (1966), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966), Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), and Petulia (1968).

It was in 1968 that Nicolas Roeg became a director with the movie Performance (1970). While the film was produced in 1968, it would be shelved for two years because its distributor Warner Bros. was uncomfortable given its sexual content and violence. In the Seventies Nicolas Roeg directed Walkabout (1971). He followed it with the classic Don't Look Now (1973), now regarded by some as one of the greatest British films ever made. He followed Don't Look Now with The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), the cult classic starring David Bowie as an alien who visits Earth. He closed out the Seventies with the film Bad Timing (1980).

In the Eighties Nicolas Roeg directed the films Eureka (1983), Insignificance (1985), Castaway (1987), Track 29 (1988), and The Witches (1990). He directed one of the segments in the anthology film Aria (1987). In the Nineties he directed the films Cold Heaven (1991) and Two Deaths (1995). His last film was Puffball in 2007.

Mr.Roeg also did some work in television, directing the TV movie Sweet Bird of Youth (1989), the TV movie Heart of Darkness (1993), the 1996 mini-series Samson and Delilah, and a 1993 episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, among other projects.

Nicolas Roeg was certainly a talented director. His years as a cinematographer allowed him to make visually daring films in such a way that other directors couldn't. Mr. Roeg's films could also be challenging. Both Performance, Don't Look Now, and Bad Timing pushed the envelope as to what was acceptable in film at the time. Both Walkabout and The Man Who Fell to Earth were intellectually adventurous. Even when directing a more mainstream film, such as The Witches, Mr. Roeg went out on a limb with regards to the film's visuals and content. If Nicolas Roeg is remembered as a director, it is because he was a very singular one.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Christmas Movies on TCM in December

Every December Turner Classic Movies shows classic Christmas movies and even some not so classic holiday themed movies. Indeed, for many of us watching Yuletide movies on TCM is something of a tradition. Sadly, it is sometimes difficult for fans of holiday movies to keep track when their favourites are airing. To make things easier, then, I have compiled a listing of the Christmas movies airing on TCM next month. Here I must confess that I only included movies in which the holiday plays a central role in the plot. I have excluded movies in which Christmas plays a role in only a smart part of the over all movie. While I adore Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), I do not include it in the listing for that reason (in fact, my favourite time of year to watch it is spring). I also include none of the versions of Little Women (which, umm, I don't adore..) for the same reason.  I will say that I am disappointed that TCM is not showing either The Apartment (1960) or Bell, Book, and Candle (1959) this season which are two of my go-to holiday movies.

Anyway, without further ado, here is the list. All times are Central.

December 1
Beyond Tomorrow (1940) 7:00 PM
The Bishop's Wife (1947) 9:45 PM

December 1
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) 5:30 AM
A Christmas Carol (1938) 7:30 AM
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) 7:00 PM
Holiday Affair (1949) 9:00 PM

December 8
Meet John Doe (1941) 11:00 AM
Three Godfathers (1936) 1:15 PM
Holiday Inn (1942) 7:00 PM
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) 9:00 PM

December 9
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 7:15 AM
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) 7:00 PM
O. Henry's Full House (1952) 9:15 PM December 15
Holiday Affair (1949) 11:00 AM
Trail of Robin Hood (1950) 7:00 PM
3 Godfathers (1949) 8:30 PM

December 16
The Shop Around the Corner (1940 5:00 AM
In the Good Old Summertime (1949) 7:00 AM

December 17
Lady on a Train (1945) 7:00 PM
The Lady in the Lake (1947) 9:00 PM

December 19
Never Say Goodbye (1946) 4:30 PM
Bachelor Mother (1939) 7:00 PM

December 22
Santa Claus (1959) 3:15 AM
Remember the Night (1940) 7:00 PM
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 9:00 PM

December 23
Period of Adjustment (1962) 12:45 AM
A Carol for Another Christmas (1964) 2:45 AM
Scrooge (1935) 5:00 AM
Bush Christmas (1947) 7:30 AM
O. Henry's Full House (1952) 10:45 AM
Susan Slept Here (1954) 1:00 PM
Holiday Inn (1942) 5:00 PM
The Holly and the Ivy (1942) 7:00 PM
A Christmas Carol (1951) 9:00 PM

December 24
Beyond Tomorrow 5:00 AM
The Great Rupert (1950) 8:30 AM
Babes in Toyland (1934) 10:00 AM
The Shop Around the Corner (1940) 11:30 AM
Holiday Affair (1949) 1:15 PM
Christmas in Connecticut (1945) 3:00 PM
The Bishop's Wife (1947) 7:00 PM
A Christmas Carol (1938) 9:00 PM
In the Good Old Summertime (1949) 10:30 PM

December 25
Meet John Doe 12:20 AM
Desk Set (1957) 2:45 AM
Love Finds Andy Hardy (1938) 5:00 AM
3 Godfathers (1938) 7:00 AM
Bundle of Joy (1956) 9:00 AM
Bachelor Mother (1939) 11:00 AM
Fitzwilly (1967) 12:30 PM
The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) 2:30 PM
It Happened on 5th Avenue (1947) 4:45 PM

December 27
Susan Slept Here (1954) 10:00 AM

December 31
The Thin Man 7:45 AM

Monday, November 26, 2018

Godspeed Pablo Ferro

Graphic designer and title designer Pablo Ferro died on November 16 2018 at the age of 83. The cause was complications from pneumonia. Mr. Ferro designed titles for movies from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) to L. A. Confidential (1997).

Pablo Ferro was born on January 15 1935 in Antilla, Oriente Province, Cuba. As a child he enjoyed drawing. When he was 12 his family moved to New York City. His father left the family two years later. To help his mother support his family, young Pablo Ferro took whatever odd jobs he could get. Among these jobs was that of an usher at a cinema specialising in foreign films. It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the movies. He taught himself animation using one of legendary animator Preston Blair's books.

Mr. Ferro attended the School of Industrial Art. In the early Fifties, he served as an illustrator at the company that would become Marvel Comics. In the mid-Fifties he freelanced as an animator for Academy Pictures and Elektra Studios. It was while he was at Elektra that he designed the first version of the NBC peacock. He began directing television commercials later in the Fifties. It was in 1961 that he formed the partnership Ferro, Mohammed & Schwartz, Inc. with animator Fred Mogubgub and comic book artist Lew Schwartz.

Pablo Ferro broke into title design with Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). Stanley Kubrick had seen Mr. Ferro's commercials and, as a result, hired him to create the movie's trailer. Suitably impressed by the trailer that Pablo Ferro had created, he asked him to create the film's title sequence as well. He formed his own company, Pablo Ferro Films, in 1964. In the Sixties he would also create titles for Woman of Straw (1964), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Bullitt (1968), The Night They Raided Minsky's (1968), and Midnight Cowboy (1969).

In the Seventies Pablo Ferro served as a title designer on the films A Clockwork Orange (1971), Harold and Maude (1971), Bound for Glory (1976), Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977), Handle with Care (1977), Last Embrace (1979), and Being There (1979). In the Eighties he served as title designer on the films Second-Hand Harts (1981), I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982), Amityville 3-D (1983), Swing Shift (1984), No Way Out (1987), Prince of Darkness (1987), No Man's Land (1987), Johnny Be Good (1988), Beetlejuice (1988), Married to the Mob (1988), Oro fino (1989), Heart Condition (1990), Maniac Cop (1990), Pump Up the Volume (1990), Darkman (1990), and Book of Love (1990).

In the Nineties Mr. Ferro designed titles for such movies as Career Opportunities (1991), Mobsters (1991), The Addams Family (1991),  Malice (1993), Addams Family Values (1993), Philadelphia (1993), Milk Money (1994), To Die For (1995), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Mrs. Winterbourne (1996), That Thing You Do! (1996), Anna Karenina (1997), L.A. Confidential (1997), Men in Black (1997), Good Will Hunting (1997), As Good as It Gets (1997), Hope Floats (1998), Beloved (1998), and For Love of the Game (1999).

In the Naughts Pablo Ferro was the title designer for Bones (2001), My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002), Men in Black II (2002), The Truth About Charlie (2002), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), The Door in the Floor (2004), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Iowa (2005), Tweek City (2005), Starter for 10 (2006), Cthulhu (2007), The Ministers (2009), Howl (2010), and How Do You Know (2010). In the Teens he designed titles for the movies Larry Crowne (2011), Men in Black 3 (2012), and Sins of Our Youth (2014).

Over the years Pablo Ferro also served in the editorial department and created montages for such films as Handle with Care (1977), Second-Hand Hearts (1981), Beatlemania (1981), Trouble in Mind (1985), No Man's Land (1987), Pump Up the Volume (1990), Darkman (1990), Mobsters (1991), and The Truth About Charlie (2002). He also designed titles for a few TV movies.

Pablo Ferro was revolutionary when it came to movie titles. He utilised rapid cuts, hand-drawn titles, and multiple images shown on the screen all at once. What is more, his titles always fit the movie. His titles for Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb made it clear that the film was a comedy. His titles for The Thomas Crown Affair fit a heist film. Short of Saul Bass, there was probably no greater title designer than Pablo Ferro.