Saturday, February 25, 2012

Character Actor Laurie Main Passes On

Character actor Laurie Main passed on 8 February 2012 at the age of 89.

Laurie Main was born on 29 November 1922 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. At age 16 he migrated to England. He made his film debut in 1953 in The Yellow Balloon. During the Fifties he appeared in such movies as Delavine Affair (1954), Shop Spoiled (1954), The Master Plan (1955),  and tThe Whole Truth (1958). He appeared on such television shows as The Adventures of Robin Hood, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan, Fair Game, BBC Sunday Night Theatre, Dow Hour of Great Mysteries, and The DuPont Show of the Month.

In 1960 Mr. Main migrated to the United States where he studied under Agnes Moorehead. During the Sixties he appeared in such films as The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Punch and Judy Man (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), Munster Go Home (1966), and On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970). He appeared on such television shows as Bachelor Father, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Play of the Week, Maverick, The Detectives, The Jack Benny Programme, The Third Man, Honey West, I Spy, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., The Andy Griffith Show, That Girl, The Monkees, Hogan's Heroes, and Daniel Boone.

In the Seventies he appeared in such TV shows as The Doris Day Show, The Partridge Family, and McMillan and Wife. He appeared in such movies as Private Parts (1972), The Strongest Man in the World (1975), Freaky Friday (1976), Time After Time (1979), and The Competition (1980). During the Eighties he served as the narrator on the TV programme Welcome to Pooh Corner. He also served as the narrator on various Winnie the Pooh shorts and television specials. He appeared on such TV shows as Casablanca and Murder She Wrote. He appeared in such films as Cheech and Chong's The Corsican Brothers (1984), My Chauffeur (1986), Wicked Stepmother (1989), and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).

Laurie Main was a prolific actor, appearing in many films, many television programmes, and a good deal on stage. The reason that he worked so frequently was simply that he was very talented. During his long career he played everything from spies to preachers and played every role convincingly. He was versatile and gifted with a great voice, two things which allowed him such a long and prolific career.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Russell Arms R.I.P.

Russell Arms, who appeared in the classic movie The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) and spent four years on the TV series Your Hit Parade, passed on 13 February 2012 at the age of 92.

Russell Arms was born on 3 February 1920 in Berkeley, California. He studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse in California. In 1941 he signed with Warner Brothers.  His first movie role was in The Man Who Came  to Dinner, in which he played Richard Stanley, the son of Ernest and Daisy Stanley (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke), the poor couple whose household is thrown into chaos by radio personality Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley). In the Forties he went onto appear in such movies as Captains of the Clouds (1942), Wings for the Eagle (1942), Deception (1946), Life with Father (1947), Quick on the Trigger (1948), and Cover Up (1949). He made his television debut on The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre in 1948. During World War II he served in the United States Army Signal Corps from 1941 to 1944.

Russell Arms began the Fifties once more serving in the Signal Corps from 1951 to 1953. It was in 1952 that he joined the cast of Your Hit Parade. Your Hit Parade was a transplant from radio to television on which the show's regular cast would perform the top songs of the week. Mr. Arms remained with the show from 1952 to 1956. He also appeared on such shows as Robert Montgomery Presents, The Gale Storm Show, The Lineup, December Bride, and Buckskin. He appeared in the movie By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).

From the Sixties into the Eighties, Russell Arms appeared on such television shows as Gunsmoke, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Surfside 6, Have Gun--Will Travel, Rawhide, The Rogues, Dragnet, Perry Mason, The Mod Squad, Adam-12, Harry O., Man From Atlantis, and Hardcastle & McCormick.

Russell Arms also had a career in music. His single "Cinco Robles (Five Oaks)" went to #22 on the Billboard chart in 1957. He released an album, Where Can a Wanderer Go, the same year.

Russell Arms was a reliable actor, guaranteed to give a good performance in any show or movie. He was also a talented singer with a very pleasant voice. Indeed, he was the only member of the cast of Your Hit Parade to have a hit single while the show was on the air. While most people today remember him from his very first film, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and his many guest appearances, he should perhaps be remembered for much more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Godspeed Michael Davis or MC5

Michael Davis, bassist for revolutionary rock band MC5, passed on 17 February 2012 at the age of 68. The cause was liver failure.

Michael Davis was born in Detroit, Michigan on 5 June 1943. He attended Wayne State University in Michigan, but dropped out with the intent of becoming a folk musician. He was briefly married, during which time he lived in Florida and New York. After he returned to Detroit he joined MC5 (short for "Motor City 5"), replacing their original bassist in 1964. It was in 1968 that MC5 was signed to Elektra.  Their first album Kick Out the Jams, was released in 1969. Recorded live at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit on 30 October and 31 October 1968, the album caused some controversy because of some of the lyrics were objectionable for the time.

MC5's second album, Back in the USA, was released in 1970. The sound of MC5 had changed dramatically on Back in the USA, with a sound that approached that of punk rock with hard, fast songs. Back in the USA did not sell as well as Kick Out the Jams, nor would their third album, High Time. Released in 1971, the album sold even worse than Back in the USA. Despite its poor sales, High Time would prove to be a lasting influence on punk rock and heavy metal. Their second and third albums having sold poorly, MC5 was dropped from their label.

Sadly, Michael Davis had developed a problem with substance abuse that would lead to him leaving MC5 in 1972. He would also serve a short jail term. After his release from jail, he joined the art rock band Destroy All Monsters in 1977. He spent seven years with the band. In the Nineties, Michael Davis moved to Arizona. He would then play with Blood Orange, Rich Hopkins, and Luminaros. In 2003 Michael Davis reunited with surviving MC5 members Wayne Kramer and Dennis Thompson to play at the 100 Club in London. This was followed in 2004 by a world tour under the name DKT/MC5.

In addition to playing the bass, Michael Davis was also an abstract painter. He had become interested in art during his time spent in jail and over the decades he even studied art at several schools. His painting "White Panther/Big World” appeared on the cover of the 2009 album MC5: The Very Best of MC5.

As the bassist for MC5 Michael Davis was responsible for much of the band's hard edged sound, the sound that would prove influential with regards to punk rock and heavy metal. Along with the other members of the band he would also write on the first album Kick Out the Jams.  Michael Davis was then one of those few who provided the template for punk rock, years before the genre would actually be recognised. Without Michael Davis and the other members of MC5, there might never have been such bands as The Sex Pistols, Black Flag, or The Dead Kennedys.

Monday, February 20, 2012

B Movie Actress Elyse Knox Passes On

Elyse Knox, who starred in such B movies as The Mummy's Tomb (1942) and Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943), passed on 16 February 2012 at the age of 94. She was mother of actors Mark Harmon, Kristin Harmon, and Kelly Harmon.

Elyse Knox was born Elyse Kornbloth in Hartford, Connecticut on 14 December 1917. In high school she studied oil painting. She continued to paint for the rest of her life. She studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York City. Afterwards she worked as an artist's assistant at a design studio in New York  City. It was when a model did not show up that the design studio decided that Miss Knox should stand in for her. It was not long before she appearing in magazines. It was when she appeared as a bride in a newsreel that she attracted the attention of Hollywood.

Elyse Knox made her film debut in an uncredited, bit part in the movie Wake Up and Live (1937).  In the late Thirties she appeared in such films as Star Dust (1940), Lillian Russell (1940), and Girl From Avenue A (1940). In the Forties she appeared in such films as Sheriff of Tombstone (1941), Top Sergeant (1942), Arabian Nights (1942), The Mummy's Tomb (1942), Don Winslow of the Coast Guard (1943), Hit the Ice (1943), A Wave,  a WAC, & a Marine (1944), Joe Palooka, Champ (1946), Sweetheart of Sigma Chi (1946), Joe Palooka in Fighting Mad (1948), Forgotten Women (1949) , and Joe Palooka in the Counterpunch (1949).  It was after There's a Girl in My Heart in 1949 that she decided to retire from acting to concentrate on her family.

Elyse Knox established herself as an impressionist painter.

Elyse Knox was certainly beautiful. And while the roles in the various B movies in which she appeared generally were not very demanding, she was convincing in all of them. It was little wonder then that she was quite successful as a B movie actress. During her career she appeared opposite such leading men as Roy Rogers, Lon Chaney Jr., Abbott and Costello, and Edward Norris. While Miss Knox did not have a particularly long career (a little over a decade), she certainly had a memorable one.