Friday, May 24, 2024

Nobu McCarthy: Iconic Japanese American Actress

Nobu McCarthy is not exactly a household name, but chances are good that most people have seen her in a movie or an episode of a television show. Today she may be best known as Yukie, the romantic interest of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid Part II (1986), but throughout her career she appeared in several movies and in several television show episodes.

Nobu McCarthy was born Nobu Atsumi on November 13 1934 in Ottawa, Ontario. At the time her father, Masaji Atsumi, was a private secretary to the Japanese ambassador to Canada. She was brought to Japan while still an infant. She later trained in ballet and sing with various groups, both live and on radio. She won the title of Miss Tokyo, a beauty pageant leading up to the Miss Japan competition.

Nobu McCarthy made her film debut under her given name, Nobu Atsumi, in the Japanese film, Wrestling Champion: Nihon no tora in 1954. It was in 1955 that she married Sgt. David McCarthy of the United States Army. It was in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles that talent agent Fred Ishimoto discovered her. She was sent to an audition at Paramount, and landed a part in the Jerry Lewis movie The Geisha Boy (1958). That same year she made her television debut in a bit part in an episode of the TV series Meet McGraw.

In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Nobu McCarthy would become very much in demand. Following her part in The Geisha Boy, she appeared in such films as Wake Me When It's Over (1960) and Love with the Proper Stanger (1963). She was a frequent guest star on television, appearing on such shows as The Red Skelton Show, Sea Hunt, Laramie, Wagon Train, Perry Mason, Mister Ed, The Wild Wild West, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Batman.

Nobu McCarthy's acting career slowed in the late Fifties, but following her divorce in 1970 she joined the East West Players, the first Asian American theatre company in 1971. She played a number of roles on stage with the company. It was in 1989 that she replaced the East West Players' founder Mako, and she served as the company's artistic director until 1993.

Nobu McCarthy continued to appear in movies on television throughout the Seventies. She guest starred on such shows as Anna and the King, Kung Fu, The Magician, Barney Miller, Hawaii Five-O, and Quincy, ME.. In the Happy Days episode "Arnold's Wedding," she played the bride of Arnold (Pat Morita), the owner of Arnold's Drive-In. She continued to appear on the RV shows in the Eighties, including such shows as The Love Boat; Magnum, P.I.; and China Beach. She appeared in the movie The Karate Kid Part II. She won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for the movie The Wash (1988).

Following the Eighties, Nobu McCarthy's career slowed. She appeared in the movies The Painted Desert (1993) and Last Chance (1999), and the TV series Any Day Now. In the Nineties she taught theatre at the California State University, Los Angeles and UCLA.  She was working on the movie Gaiijin--Ama-me Como Sou (2005) when she fell ill on the set. She died from an aortic aneurysm at the age of 67.

Nobu McCarthy certainly broke new ground for Japanese American actors. As the Artistic Director of the East West Players she was instrumental in saving the company, which was reportedly near collapse at the time. George Takei, forever known as Sulu on Star Trek, said of Nobu McCartny, "She brought a calming influence to the group, broadened the outreach, and brought a sense of balance and stability." |

Sadly, Nobu McCarthy often found herself playing in movies that trafficked in stereotypes, including The Geisha Boy and even The Karate Kid Part II. Many of her early roles conformed to the "Lotus Blossom" stereotype. Even as she found herself often playing such roles, Nobu McCarthy worked to move Hollywood beyond East Asian stereotypes. In the television documentary Slaying the Dragon (1988), which dealt with the history of East Asian American actresses in Hollywood, she said that she once turned down an audition because the directors told her they were looking for a "Dragon Lady" type. In Five Gates to Hell, a movie featuring more than its fair share of East Asian stereotypes, Nobu McCarthy played a Japanese nurse. She appeared in both the play The Wash and the movie based upon it, she played a wife who files for divorce from her husband and then sought a new romance.  In Painted Desert she played a Japanese American running an old Southwest cafe who must deal with mobsters.

As an actress Nobu McCarthy had considerable talent, and she gave many remarkable performances beyond The Wash. In the Barney Miller episode "Christmas Story," she played Dorothy Murakami, a victim of a purse snatching to whom Yemana (Jack Soo) is attracted, not realizing she is a prostitute. In 1976 she played the lead role of Jeanne Wakatsuki in the groundbreaking 1976 television movie Farewell to Manzanar, which centred on the internment of Japanese Americans in prison camps during World War II. Her performances in the aforementioned Painted Desert was remarkable.

Nobu McCarthy may not be a household name, but she broke new ground for East Asian American actors. She paved the way for many Japanese American actors today.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Comic Book Artist Don Perlin Passes On


Don Perlin, the comic book artist who co-created Moon Knight, died on May 14 2024 at the age of 94.

Don Perlin was born on August 27 1929 in New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn. He was 14 years old when he began studying art under Burne Hogarth, best known for his work on the Tarzan newspaper comic strip. Among his fellow students was Al Williamson, who later became known for his work on EC Comics. Eventually Don Perlin could no longer afford to attend classes, but he would later study at  the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, co-founded by Burne Hogarth.

It was in the late 1940s that Don Perlin did his first professional work at Fox Features. In the late Forties he also worked on the comic book Love at First Sight and The Beyond for Ace Magazines. In the early Fifties he worked on Captain Science for Youthful Magazines. He also worked for Ziff-Davis, Hillman Periodicals, and Stanley Morse, and later Harvey Comics, St. John Publications, Comic Media, and what would become Marvel Comics. In 1953 he was drafted into the United States Army.

After his stint in the military, Don Perlin worked Charlton Comics' war titles, as well as occasional work for what would become Marvel Comics. He also illustrated an adaptation of Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror for Classics Illustrated. It was in 1961 that he began many years of working almost exclusively for Charlton Comics. At Charlton his work covered nearly every genre, from the publisher's romance titles to their horror to their war titles to their Western titles. His only other work during this period was Hogan's Heroes for Dell and comic book biographies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall for Fitzgerald Publications.

From 1974 to 1987 he worked with Marvel Comics as a penciller. He worked for a long time on Werewolf by Night, where he co-created the character of Moon Knight with writer Doug Moench. At Marvel he also worked on the titles Captain America, The Defenders, Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, and Transformers.

It was in 1991 that he became part of Valiant Comics. There he worked on the company's revival of Solar, Man of the Atom, as well as Bad Eggs and Timewalker. He co-created Bloodshot with Kevin VanHook and Don Layton, and drew several issues of the character's original run.

Don Perlin is not often counted among the greatest comic book artists, but his work truly demands more attention. While it might have lacked the sense of action in more highly regarded artists, he more than made up for it with his composition and detail. His work always had texture to it, and he was consummate storyteller. Unlike some flashier artists, his artwork always moved the story forward. Don Perlin was among the artists who shaped Marvel's house style in the Seventies. This was with good reason, as he was simply a great draughtsman.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Late Great Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman, who appeared on the TV shows Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Buffalo Bill; and The Slap Maxwell Story, and in such movies as 9 to 5 (1980), Tootsie (1982), and You've Got Mail (1998), died on May 16 2024 at the age of 92.

Dabney Coleman was born on January 3 1932 in Austin, Texas. His father died of pneumonia when Dabney Coleman was four, and his mother moved the family to Corpus Christi. He attended the Virginia Military Institute. In 1953 he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in the Special Services Division for two years. After his service, Dabney Coleman studied law at the University of Texas at Austin.

It was actor Zachary Scott, a friend of Mr. Coleman's first wife Anne Harrell, who convinced him to become an actor. He then left college and went to New York where he studied acting  with Sanford Meisner at the Neighbourhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He made his debut on Broadway in A Call on Kuprin in 1961. He made his television debut in 1961 in an episode of Naked City. In the Sixties he had a recurring role as Dr. Leon Bessmer, a neighbour of the title character Ann Marie, in the first season of the TV series That Girl. He guest starred on the shows Armstrong Circle Theatre, Alcoa Premiere, Ben Casey, Breaking Point, Arrest and Trial, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Dr. Kildare, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Outer Limits, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Hazel, The Donna Reed Show, 12 O' Clock High, The F.B.I., The Fugitive, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Run for Your Life, I Dream of Jeannie, The Flying Nun, The Invaders, Dundee and the Culhane, Iron Horse, Judd for the Defence, Death Valley Days, The Mod Squad, Then Came Bronson, Bonanza, Dan August, and Nanny and the Professor. He made his move debut in The Slender Thread (1965), The Scalphunters (1968), The Trouble with Girls (1969), Dowhill Racer (1969), and I Love My Wife (1970).

In the Seventies Dabney Coleman had a recurring role on the soap opera Bright Promise. He was a semi-regular on the shows Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Forever Fernwood. He starred on the show Apple Pie. He guest starred on the shows The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law; Banyon; Room 222; Ironside; Search; The Wide World of Mystery; Griff; Columbo; Kojak; The F.B.I.; Sons and Daughters; The Manhunter; Mannix; Medical Centre; McMillan & Wife; Medical Story; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Cannon; Switch; Bert D'Angelo/Supersta; The Streets of San Francisco; Police Story; Petrocelli; Fernwood 2 Night; Quincy, M.E.; The Love Boat; Diff'rent Strokes; and Barnaby Jones. He appeared in the movies Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Dove (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), Bogard (1975), Bite the Bullet (1975), The Other Side of the Mountain (1977), Midway (1976), Viva Knievel! (1977), Rolling Thunder (1977), The Other Side of the Mountain Part II (1978), Go Tell the Spartans (1978), North Dallas Forty (1979), Nothing Personal (1980), Pray TV (1980), How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980), Melvin and Howard (1980), and Nine to Five (1980).

In the Eighties he starred on the shows Buffalo Bill and The Slap Maxwell Story. He guest starred on the shows Dolby and It's Gary Shandling's Show. He appeared in the mini-series Fresno. He appeared in the movies On Golden Pond (1981), Modern Problems (1981), Young Doctors in Love (1982), Tootsie (1982), WarGames (1983), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), Cloak & Dagger (1984), The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), Dragnet (1987), Hot to Trot (1988), Where the Heart Is (1990), Short Time (1990), and Meet the Applegates (1990).

In the Nineties Dabney Coleman starred on the TV shows Drexell's Class and Madman of the People. He was the voice of Principal Peter Prickly on the animated TV series Recess. He guest starred on the shows Columbo, Directed By, and The Wonderful World of Disney. He was a guest voice on the animated shows The Magic School Bus, Jumaji, and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. He appeared in the movies There Goes the Neighbourhood (1992), Amos & Andrew (1993), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Clifford (1994), Judicial Consent (1995),  Un amour de sorcière (1997), You've Got Mail (1998), Giving It Up (1999), Inspector Gadget (1999), Stuart Little (1999), and Taken (1999).

In the Naughts he appeared in the movies The Climb (2002), Moonlight Mile (2002), Where the Red Fern Grows (2002), Domino (2005), and Hard Four (2007). He reprised his role as Principal Prickly in the animated movie Recess: School's Out (2001). He was a regular on the shows The Guardian, Courting Alex, Heartland, and Boardwalk Empire. He was a recurring voice on the animated show Pound Puppies. He guest starred on the shows The Zeta Project, Law & Order and Special Victims Unit.

In the Teens he continued to appear on Boardwalk Empire. He guest starred on the shows Ray Donovan, NCIS, For the People, and Yellowstone. He appeared in the movie Rules Don't Apply (2016).

Even though he was known as a nice guy in real life, Dabney Coleman was perhaps best known for playing jerks in movies and on TV shows. And there can be no doubt he was good at it. Perhaps his most famous movie role was misogynistic, double-crossing boss Franklin Hart Jr. in Nine to Five. In The Man with One Red Shoe, eh played the duplicitous CIA deputy director Burton Cooper. On television he was the title character on Buffalo Bill, an egomaniacal talk show host. He also played the title character on The Slap Maxwell Story, a self-centred, none too honest sportswriter for a newspaper.

While Dabney Coleman was very good at playing jerks, he could play other sorts of roles. Many will remember him as Dr. Leon Bessemer, the laid-back obstetrician who was Ann Marie's neighbour on That Girl. In the movie Cloak & Dagger, Dabney Coleman played a widowed father struggling to connect with his son. In On Golden Pond he played dentist Dr. Bill Ray, who tried hard to impress the father of his girlfriend Chelsea (Jane Fonda), played by Henry Fonda. Dabney Coleman was a remarkable actor with great range. While he was best known for playing jerks, he could play a number of other types of characters as well.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Mark Damon Passes On


Mark Damon, an actor who appeared in such films as House of Usher (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963) and later became a producer, died on May 12 2024 at the age of 91.

Mark Damon was born Alan Harris on April 22 1933 in Chicago. When he was very young his family moved to California. He attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and then UCLA. He trained in acting with Lee Strasberg and Sanford Meisner.

He made his television debut in 1952 in an episode of Gang Busters. In the Fifties he guest starred on the shows Meet Corliss Archer, Your Play Time, I Led Three Lives, Cavalcade of America, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Matinee Theatre, The 20th Century Fox Hour, Men of Annapolis, Panic!, The Californians, The Silent Service, Tales of Wells Fargo, The Ann Sothern Show, The Lineup, Zorro, The DuPont Show with June Allyson, and National Velvet. He made his movie debut in 1956 in Inside Detroit. He appeared in the movies Screaming Eagles (1956), Between Heaven and Hell (1956), Young and Dangerous (1957), Life Begins at 17 (1958),The Party Crashers (1958), The Rebel Breed (1960), and House of Usher.

In the Sixties he guest starred on the shows Walt Disney Presents, Hawaiian Eye, and Lock Up. He appeared in the movies Peccati d'estate (1962), Beauty and the Beast (1962), The Longest Day (1962), The Young Racers (1963), Il giorno più corto (1963), Black Sabbath (1963), Sfida al re di Castiglia (1963), Wounds of Hunger (1963), I cento cavalieri (1964), Il figlio di Cleopatra (1964), Agente segreto 777 - Operazione Mistero (1965), Dio, come ti amo! (1966), Johnny Oro (1966), Johnny Yuma (1966), Requiescant (1967), La morte non conta i dollari (1967), Colpo doppio del camaleonte d'oro (1967), Un treno per Durango (1968), Nude... si muore  (1968), Kiedy milosc byla zbrodnia (1968), Tutto per tutto (1968), Lo sbarco di Anzio (1968), ¿Quién grita venganza? (1968), and Temptation (1969).

In the Seventies Mark Damon appeared in the movies L'arciere di fuoco (1971), La spada normanna (1971), Questa libertà di avere... le ali bagnate (1971), Posate le pistole, reverendo (1971), I leoni di Pietroburgo (1972), Monta in sella!! Figlio di... (1972), Byleth (Il demone dell'incesto) (1972), Lo chiamavano Verità (1972), Confessioni segrete di un convento di clausura (1972), Little Mother (1973), Il plenilunio delle vergini (1973), La tumba de la isla maldita (1973), Es knallt - und die Engel singen (1974), and There is No 13 (1974). He guest starred on the TV show The Protectors..

In 1983 he appeared in the movie Stuck on You!. He appeared in the movies Deceiver (1997). In 1991 he guest starred on the TV show Gabriel's Fire.

Mark Damon's first production credit was executive producer on Wounds of Hunger in 1963. In the Seventies he produced The Arena (1974) and The Choirboys (1977). In the Eighties he was a producer on Das Boot (1981), The Neverending Story (1984), The Clan of the Cave Bear (1986), Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986), Short Circuit (1986), Flight of the Navigator (1986), The Lost Boys (1987), Bat*21 (1988), Mac and Me (1988), High Spirits (1988), Wild Orchid (1989), Dark Angel (1990), and Vietnam, Texas (1990).

In the Nineties he produced the movies Beastmaster 2: Through the Time Portal (1991), Inner Sanctum (1991), Diary of a Hitman (1991), Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue (1991), Stalingrad (1993), The Jungle Book (1994), The Winner (1996), Loved (1997), The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo (1997), The Blackout (1997), Deceiver (1997), Orgazmo (1997), A Dog of Flanders (1998), Grizzly Falls (1999), Eye of the Beholder (1999), and Love & Sex (2000). He was an executive producer on the TV movie Red Shoe Diaries.

In the Naughts he produced The Body (2001), The Musketeer (2001), Feardot.com (2002), Extreme Ops (2002), The United States of Leland (2003), 11:14 (2003), Monster (2003), The I Inside (2004), Beyond the Sea (2004), The Upside of Anger (2005), O Jersualem (2006), Captivity (2007), It's Alive (2009), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009), and Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009).

In the Teens and Twenties he produced The Ledge (2011), Flypaper (2011), Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012), 2 Guns (2013), Lone Survivor (2013), And So It Goes (2014), Blind (2016), The Hurricane Heist (2018), The Last Full Measure (2019), Willy's Wonderland (2021), Best Sellers (2021), 9 Bullets (2022), Fast Charlie (2023), and Rumble Through the Dark (2023).

Mark Damon was a remarkable actor. He did a memorable turn in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents  episode "Place of Shadows," on which he played a young man who insinuates his way into an monastery to kill a man who cheated him and ruined his life, a man being cared by the monastery. He was also memorable as a juvenile delinquent in the movie Young and Dangerous (1957). His most memorable role may well have been that of Philip Winthrop in House of Usher. In House of Usher Philip Winthrop is engaged to Madeline Usher (Myrna Fahey). Unfortunately, her brother Roderick Usher (Vincent Price) is none too happy with the two getting married. Mark Damon had considerable talent.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Turtles Drummer John Barbata Passes On


John Barbata, who played drums for The Turtles, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and Jefferson Airplane, died on May 8 2024 at the age of 79.

John Barbata was born on Easter Day, April 1 1945, in Passaic, New Jersey. Growing up he lived in Sarnac Lake, New York and Nutley, New Jersey. He became interested in drumming after watching his older brother play drums in his school's marching band. His family moved to California when he was 16 years old. As a teenager he formed a band called The Ambassadors. He played drums with The Ambassadors for several months before being approached by surf rock band The Sentinels about becoming their drummer. He played drums on The Sentinels' singles, as well as their albums Big Surf, Surfer Girl, and Vegas Go Go.

In the spring of 1966 The Turtles were looking for a replacement for their drummer Don Murray. Gene Clark of The Byrds recommended John Barbata to them. He played drums on The Turtles' no. 1 hit "Happy Together" and remained with the band until they disbanded in 1970. That same year he replaced Crosby Stills Nash & Young's drummer Dallas Taylor. He went onto play drums on eight of CSN&Y's albums, as well as play drums on solo albums for Graham Nash, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills.

In 1972, while Crosby Still Nash & Young were on hiatus, he joined Jefferson Airplane to record their final studio album of the Seventies, Long John Silver, and the live album Thirty Seconds Over Winterland. He remained with the band when they reformed as Jefferson Starship. He remained with Jefferson Starship until injuries from a car crash in October 1978 forced him to leave the band. Prior to the accident he had also recorded with Doctor John, The Everly Brothers, Joni Mitchell, Leon Russell, Linda Ronstadt, and yet others.

Following his accident, John Barbata left the music industry. He published a memoir, The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer in 2005. He spent his final years in southern Oklahoma.

John Barbara was one of the most remarkable drummers of the Sixties and Seventies, and it seems likely his percussion was responsible for much of The Turtles' success. His style was utterly unique, with Mr. Barbata taking elements from other types of music. It is little wonder that he was very much demand (he reportedly turned down an offer to drum for Elvis Presley). It is also little wonder that he would have a lasting influence on other drummers. John Barbarta was a major talent, and that talent was in part responsible for the success of the bands with whom he played.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Godspeed Rudy Moreno, the Godfather of Latino Comedy


Rudy Moreno, the comedian and actor known as "the Godfather of Latino Comedy," died on May 11 2024 at the age of 66. The cause was complications from a stroke and sepsis.

Rudy Moreno was born on July 24 1957 in Lincoln Heights in Los Angeles. He entered show business when he was only 13 when he formed his first garage band. After graduating from high school he became a disc jockey and radio and also worked as a disc jockey at various Southern California nightclubs. He had worked for years as a DJ when Rudy Salas of the rock band Tierra asked him if he had ever considered doing stand-up comedy. Rudy Moreno then began opening for Tierra at their performances. His act proved to be so successful that he would go onto open for other artists, including Natalie Cole, Lynyrd Skynrd, Los Lobos, Smokey Robinson, The Tempations, and others.

During his career Rudy Moreno played at clubs throughout the United States. He had what may be the longest running show in Los Angeles County, playing for years at the Ice House Comedy  Club in Pasadena. He also opened the door for many young comics. Among them was Ken Jeong, perhaps best known as Ben Chang on the sitcom Community. He noted in his tweet paying tribute to Rudy Moreno that Mr. Moreno was the fist person to book him at the Ice House.

Rudy Moreno was a year into his career when television producer Jeff Valdez booked him for the TV show Comedy Compadres, which featured Latino comedians. It would be the first of many television appearances for Rudy Moreno. He appeared on such stand-up comedy shows as Comics Unleashed, Laugh Out Loud Comedy Festival, Gabriel Iglesias Presents Stand-Up Revolution, and StaannDUP!. He went on to make guest appearances on the TV shows Cybill, Pacific Blue, L.A. Doctors, Everybody Loves Raymond, ER, Luis, Judging Amy, The Shield, George Lopez, Monk, Criminal Minds, Arrested Development, American Vandal, Mom, and Dave. He appeared in the TV mini-series Kingpin. He also appeared in the movie Father Stu (2022).

Rudy Moreno and his family founded Komics for Kids, an event that assists inner city children. He also raised funds for a number of other charities. Mr. Moreno was also a talented guitarist.

Rudy Moreno was a brilliant comedian. When it came to Latino humour he was definitely a master, although his jokes were such that people of any ethnicity could appreciate them. He could certainly command an audience like no one else. He always came to the stage with wit and charm.

Beyond being a very talented comedian, Rudy Moreno was simply a very nice man. He promoted the careers of countless young comics and other artists. My dearest Vanessa Marquez knew Rudy Moreno and described him as "the sweetest man." In 2010 he even arranged a meeting for Vanessa with his agent to see if they would represent her. Throughout his life Rudy Moreno helped so many. He wasn't just a great comic. He was a true gentleman.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

The Late Great Roger Corman


Roger Corman has been called "the King of the B's" and "the King of Schlock." By any nickname, he was a pioneer of independent cinema. And while many of the films he made were considered embarrassingly bad by critics, he also made a number of films considered classics, including The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), X-The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Trip (1967). Roger Corman died May 9 2024 at the age of 98.

Roger Corman was born on April 5 1926 in Detroit. It was in 1940 that his family moved to Beverly Hills. He attended Beverly Hills High School and afterwards studied industrial engineering at Stanford University. During World War II he served in the United States Navy. It was after he was discharged that he decided he was not interested in engineering. Having become fascinated by movies after his family had moved to California, he got a job as a messenger at 20th Century Fox and eventually became a story analyst. After he failed to receive credit for his work on The Gunfighter (1950), he left 20th Century Fox. He then went to England where he did graduate work in English Literature. He spent some time in Paris afterwards.

Once he returned to the United States he worked for a time as a literary agent and script reader. Noticing the low quality of many of the scripts he read, Roger Corman decided he could do better. He wrote the script House in the Sea and sold it to Allied Artists for $4000. It was retitled Highway Dragnet and released in 1954 and starred Joan Bennett and Richard Conte. He used the money from that script sale to finance his first film, Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954), directed by Wyott Ordung. He followed Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954) with the crime drama The Fast and the Furious (1954). The Fast and the Furious (1954) was distributed by a new company, American Releasing Corporation (ARC), founded by entertainment lawyer Samuel Z. Arkoff and sales manager James H. Nicholson. ARC would eventually be renamed American International Pictures (AIP), and Roger Corman would have a long relationship with the company.

Roger Corman's next film distributed by ARC would also mark his directorial debut, the Western Five Guns West (1955). In the late Fifties Roger Corman would direct the movies Apache Woman (1955), Day the World Ended (1955), Swamp Women (1955), The Oklahoma Woman (1955), Gunslinger (1956), It Conquered the World (1956), Naked Paradise (1957), Not of This Earth (1957), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), The Undead (1957), Rock All Night (1957), Teenage Doll (1957), Carnival Rock (1957), Sorority Girl (1957), The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957), War of the Satellites (1958), Machine-Gun Kelly (1958), Teenage Caveman (1958), She Gods of Shark Reef (1958), I Mobster (1959), The Wasp Woman (1959), A Bucket of Blood (1959), Ski Troop Attack (1960), House of Usher (1960), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), and Last Woman on Earth (1960). Although Roger Corman's name is closely associated with American International Pictures, some of his well-known movies were released by Allied Artists, including Not of This Earth, and Attack of the Crab Monsters. He made movies for yet other companies.

In the Sixties Roger Corman directed Atlas (1961), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Premature Burial (1962), The Intruder (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), Tower of London (1962), The Raven (1963), The Young Racers (1963), The Terror (1963), X-The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Secret Invasion (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). It was in August 1965 that Roger Corman signed with United Artists to make two films over three years. It was also in the mid-Sixties that he signed a contract with Columbia. Ultimately, he made no projects for either studio and returned to making independent movies. He finished the Sixties directing The Wild Angels (1967), The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), The Trip (1967), Target: Harry (1969), Bloody Mama (1970), and Gas! -Or- It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (1970).

It was on July 8 1970 that Roger Corman founded New World Pictures with his brother Gene. In the Seventies Mr. Corman concentrated on producing movies, although he would still direct a few. A He directed Von Richthofen and Brown (1971) and did uncredited directing on  Deathsport (1978), and  Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). After the Seventies he would direct only one more movie, Frankenstein Unbound (1990).

Roger Corman was prolific as a producer of movies, producing many, many movies in addition to those he directed himself. On IMDB his credits as a producer number 493. In the Fifties he produced such films as Monster from the Ocean Floor (1954), The Fast and the Furious (1954), Night of the Blood Beast (1958), The Brain Eaters (1958), Hot Car Girl (1958), The Cry Baby Killer (1958), and Beast from Haunted Cave (1959). In the Sixties he produced such films as Dementia 13 (1964), Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet (1965), Queen of Blood (1966), Blood Bath (1966), The Shooting (1966), Devil's Angels (1967), Targets (1968), and The Dunwich Horror (1970).

In the Seventies he produced such movies as Boxcar Bertha (1972), Sweet Kill (1973), Caged Heat (1974), Cockfighter (1974), The Arena (1974), Death Race 2000 (1975), Eat My Dust! (1976), Fighting Mad (1976), Grand Theft Auto (1977), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), Piranha (1978), Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979), Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), Galaxy of Terror (1980), and Smokey Bites the Dust (1980).  In the Eighties he produced Forbidden World (1982), Space Raiders (1983), Suburbia (1984), Amazons (1986), Sweet Revenge (1987), Slumber Party Massacre II (1987), Munchies (1987), Andy Colby's Incredible Adventure (1988), Masque of the Red Death (1989), The Terror Within (1989), Naked Obsession (1990), and Slumber Party Massacre III (1990).

In the Nineties Roger Corman produced such movies as The Unborn (1991), Killer Instinct (1992), Munchie (1992), Carnosaur (1993), Dracula Rising (1993), The Skateboard Kid (1993), The Unborn 2 (1994), Angel of Destruction (1994), Hellfire (1994), The Fantastic Four (1994), Carnosaur 2 (1995), Carnosaur 3: Primal Species (1996), and The Shepherd (1999). In the Naughts he produced such films as Raptor (2001), Escape from Afghanistan (2002), Dinoroc (2004), The Hunt for Eagle One (2006), The Hunt for Eagle One: Crash Point (2006), and Supergator (2007). He was also executive producer on the TV series Black Scorpion. In the Teens he produced Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader (2012), Roger Corman's Operation Rogue (2014), Fist of the Dragon (2015), and Death Race 2050 (2017).

In addition to directing and producing, Roger Corman also acted in films, usually in bit parts or cameos. In the Fifties he appeared in the movies Monster from the Ocean Floor, The Fast and the Furious, Day the World Ended, Naked Paradise, War of the Satellites, The Cry Baby Killer, Hot Car Girl, The Wasp Woman, Ski Troop Attack, and Battle of Blood Island (1960). In the Sixties he appeared in the movies Atlas (1961), Blood Bath (1966), and Target: Harry (1969). In the Seventies he appeared in The Godfather Part II (1974) and Cannnoball! (1976). In the Eighties he appeared in The Howling (1981), Der Stand der Dinge (1982), Swing Shift (1984), Lords of the Deep (1989), and Hollywood Boulevard II (1990). In the Nineties he appeared in The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Philadelphia (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), Scream 3 (2000), and The Independent (2000). He appeared in the TV movies Body Bags (1993)  and The Second Civil War (1997), and guest starred on the shows Rebel Highway, Beverly Hills 90120, The Practice, and The Phantom Eye. In the Naughts he appeared on the movies Loony Tunes: Back in Action (2003), The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Searchers 2.0 (2007), and Rachel Getting Married (2008). He appeared in the TV movies Dinoshark (2010) and Sharktopus (2010). In 2012 he appeared in Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader. He was the voice or Prospero in the segment "The Masque of the Red Death" in the animated movie Extraordinary Tales (2013).

It may well be impossible to completely access Roger Corman's impact on cinema.  While he considered motion pictures to be "..the only truly modern art form," at the same time he recognized that it was a business. He made movies on extremely tight budgets and very brief shooting schedules. That many of his movies are now considered classics is perhaps a testament to his talent as a director. Little Shop of Horrors, the movies in the Corman/Poe Cycle (particularly House of Usher and The Masque of the Red Death), X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, The St. Valentine's Day Massacre, and others are highly regarded in some quarters. Even when Roger Corman directed the occasional misfire (of which there are quite a few), the movies made money. Much of this was due to the fact that he had a knack for noticing the latest trends. When there was a moral panic over juvenile delinquency in the Fifties, he made movies like The Cry Baby Killer and Hot Car Girl. When Hammer Film Productions revived the Gothic horror genre, he made the Edgar Allan Poe movies. In the Sixties he made biker movies.

Roger Corman was also known for giving young talent their start in movies. The number of directors who began their careers with Mr. Corman is not a short one. It includes Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, Joe Dante, and yet others. They were all graduates of "the Roger Corman School of Filmmaking," which involved making due with shoestring budgets and limited resources. Roger Corman fostered many young actors as well, most notably Jack Nicholson, but also Peter Fonda, Robert De Niro, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn, Dennis Hopper, David Carradine, and yet others.

For all his fame as a director and producer, from all reports Roger Corman was also a total gentleman. Many who knew him noted both his kindness and generosity. Those who worked with him have been effusive in their praise for him. Those who met him have also had praise for him. Regardless of what anyone might think of him as a filmmaker, he appears to have been a genuinely good human being.

One should make no mistake about it. Roger Corman made his share of bad movies. He was known as the King of Schlock with good reason. Regardless, his movies were always profitable and more often than not entertaining. What is more, than were many gems to be found alongside the dross. True, he directed Teenage Caveman and Bloody Mama, but he also directed The Intruder and The Pit and the Pendulum. Roger Corman's goal was to entertain audiences, and in doing so he revolutionized the film industry and created a few classics along the way.