Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jacques Bergerac R.I.P.

Jacques Bergerac died on 15 June 2014 at the age of 87. He appeared in the film Beautiful Stranger (1954) and made numerous television appearances before retiring from acting to go to work for Revlon.

Jacques Bergerac was born in  Biarritz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, France on 26 May 1927. He made his film debut in Beautiful Stranger (known in the U.S. as Twist of Fate).  In the Fifties he went onto appear in such films as Marie-Antoinette reine de France (1956), Strange Intruder (1956), Les Girls (1957), Un homme se penche sur son passé (1958), Gigi (1958), Thunder in the Sun (1959), and The Hypnotic Eye (1960). He made his television debut in 1954 in an episode of Kraft Theatre. During the Fifties he appeared in such shows as The Millionaire, Playhouse 90, Climax!, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Studio One, and The Gale Storm Show.

In the Sixties Mr. Bergerac appeared in such films as Fear No More (1961), Una domenica d'estate (1962), L'ira di Achille (1962), A Global Affair (1964), La congiuntura (1964), Taffy and the Jungle Hunter (1965), and Unkissed Bride (1966). He appeared on such TV shows as GE Theatre, The Dick Van Dyke Show, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Lucy Show, Daniel Boone, Get Smart, Batman, Run for Your Life, The Doris Day Show. After retiring from show business he became the head of Revlon's office in Paris.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Godspeed Francis Matthews

Francis Matthews, who provided the voice of Captain Scarlet in Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, appeared in such Hammer productions as The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), and Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), and starred in the TV show Paul Temple, died 14 June 2014 at the age of 86.

Francis Matthews was born on 2 September 1927 in York. He  went to St George's RC Primary School in York and then  St Michael's Jesuit College in Leeds. As a young man he got a job working as an assistant stage manager at the Theatre Royal in Leeds and also made his acting debut there. He acted at the Leeds Rep before serving in the Royal Navy. After being demobilised from the Navy, he appeared in various stage productions and spent two years at the Oxford Playhouse. Mr. Matthews made his television debut as Ronald Gilchrist in the television series St. Ives in 1955. He made his film debut in Bhowani Junction in 1956.

In the late Fifties he appeared on the mini-series My Friend Charles. He also appeared on such TV programmes as ITV Television Playhouse, The New Adventures of Charlie Chan, O.S.S., The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Vise, Interpol Calling, Biggles, and The World of Tim Frazer. He appeared in such films as Small Hotel (1957), The Mark of the Hawk (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) , A Woman Possessed (1958), I Only Arsked! (1958), Corridors of Blood (1958), and Sentenced for Life (1960).

In the Sixties Mr. Matthews provided the voice of Captain Scarlet on Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. He was a regular on the TV programmes The Dark Island and A Little Big Business, and the lead on Paul Temple. He appeared on such TV shows as Richard the Lionheart, Harpers West One, Hancock, Dixon of Dock Green, The Human Jungle, Z Cars, The Saint, The Avengers, and Out of the Unknown. He appeared in such films as The Treasure of Monte Cristo (1961), The Pursuers (1961). The Battleaxe (1961), The Lamp in Assassin Mews (1962), Nine Hours to Rama (1963), Bitter Harvest (1963), A Stitch in Time (1963), Murder Ahoy (1964), The Intelligence Men (1965), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), That Riviera Touch (1966), and Taste of Excitement (1970).

In the Seventies Francis Matthews was a regular on such TV programmes as Trinity Tales, Middlemen, A Roof Over My Head, and Don't Forget to Write!. He appeared in the film 5 donne per l'assassino (1974). In the Eighties appeared on the show Tears Before Bedtime. In the Naughts he had a recurring role on Heartbeat, The Royal, and All About George. From the Eighties into the Naughts Mr. Matthews guest starred on the shows Crown Court, Bunch of Five, Taggart, The Detectives, Jonathan Creek, and Beautiful People. He appeared in the films Do Not Disturb (1999) and Run for Your Wife (2012).

Francis Matthews was a close friend to the comedy team of Morecambe and Wise, and appeared on their show multiple times. He had also appeared in their films The Intelligence Men (1965) and That Riviera Touch (1966).

There can be little doubt that Francis Matthews was blessed with an incredible voice. It was smooth, sophisticated, and urbane. Indeed, Mr. Matthews was capable imitating Cary Grant very convincingly, a talent he used both for the voice of Captain Scarlet and in the documentary Cary Grant Comes Home. The flexibility of Francis Matthews' voice and his talent as an actor allowed him to play a number of different roles, from scientists (The Revenge of Frankenstein and The Avengers episode "Mission... Highly Improbable") to knights (both medieval and otherwise, once in an episode and Richard the Lionheart and again in The Hellfire Club) to businessmen (most notably Stanley Binns in the TV series Middlemen). While Francis Matthews was best known for two heroic roles (Captain Scarlet and Paul Temple), he did play his share of villains, appearing as such on My Friend Charles and The Avengers episode Mission... Highly Improbable". Over all Francis Matthews was a very versatile actor. While well known for his appearances in Hammer Horrors he also starred in a series of situation comedies in the Seventies, and did well in both. While Francis Matthews might be best remembered as the voice of Captain Scarlet and as amateur detective Paul Temple, his career consisted of a number of diverse roles in which he performed well.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Late Great Eli Wallach

Legendary actor Eli Wallach died yesterday at the age of 98. Over the years he appeared in such classic films as Baby Doll (1956), The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Moon-Spinners (1964), Mackenna's Gold (1969), and Movie Movie (1978).

Eli Wallach was born on 7 December 1915 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents,  Abraham and Bertha Wallach, were Jewish immigrants who operated a candy store. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1936. While there he learned to ride horses, a skill that would prove most useful in his acting career. Afterwards he returned to New York City where he earned a Master's degree in Education at he City College of New York. Mr. Wallach then studied acting under Sanford Meisner at the Neighbourhood Playhouse.

In January 1941 he was drafted in the United States Army. He became a staff sergeant at a hospital in Hawaii before attending  Officer Candidate School  in Abilene, Texas. Mr. Wallach spent five years in the United States Army Medical Corps, rising to the rank of captain.

Following his service in the Army Eli Wallach returned to acting. He studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School in New York City before becoming a founding member of the Actor's Studio where he studied Method Acting with Lee Strasberg. It was in 1945 that he made his debut on Broadway debut in the play Skydrift. In the late Forties he appeared in such productions on Broadway as King Henry VIII, What Every Woman Knows, A Pound on Demand / Androcles and the Lion, Yellow Jack, Alice in Wonderland, and The Lady from the Sea.

In the Fifties Mr. Wallach continued to appear on Broadway in productions of The Rose Tattoo, Camino Real, Mademoiselle Colombe, Major Barbara, The Chairs and The Lesson, and The Cold Wind and the Warm. He appeared in the off Broadway productions The Scarecrow and The Chairs/ The Lesson. Eli Wallach made his debut on television in 1951 in an episode of Lights Out. He appeared on such TV shows as Armstrong Circle Theatre, Danger, The Web, Goodyear Playhouse, The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, Studio One, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Playhouse 90, and Goodyear Theatre. Mr. Wallach made his film debut in 1956 in Baby Doll. He appeared in The Lineup (1958) and Seven Thieves (1960) before appearing in what may be his best known role, that of Calvera in The Magnificent Seven in 1960.

In the Sixties he appeared on Broadway in the productions Rhinoceros, Luv, and Staircase. He appeared in the off Broadway productions Brecht on Brecht and The Typists and The Tiger. Mr. Wallach starred in such films as The Misfits (1961), Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962), How the West Was Won (1962), The Victors (1963), Act One (1963), The Moon-Spinners (1964), Kisses for My President (1964), Lord Jim (1965), Poppies Are Also Flowers (1966), How to Steal a Million (1966), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life (1968), The Brain (1969), Mackenna's Gold (1969), and The Angel Levine (1970).  On television he appeared on such shows as Outlaws, Naked City, The Dick Powell Theatre, Batman (on which he played Mr. Freeze), and CBS Playhouse.

In the Seventies Eli Wallach appeared on Broadway in Promenade, All!, The Waltz of the Toreadors, and Saturday Sunday Monday. He appeared off Broadway in The Diary of Anne Frank. Mr. Wallach appeared in such films as Don't Turn the Other Cheek (1971), Cinderella Liberty (1973), Crazy Joe (1974), Shoot First... Ask Questions Later (1975), Independence (1976), The Domino Principle (1977), Circle of Iron (1978), The Deep (1977), Movie Movie (1978), Firepower (1979), Winter Kills (1979), and The Hunter (1980).

In the Eighties Mr. Wallach appeared on Broadway in Twice Around the Park and Cafe Crown. He appeared off Broadway in The Nest of the Wood Grouse. He appeared in the films Sam's Son (1984), Tough Guys (1986), Nuts (1987), The Two Jakes (1990), and The Godfather: Part III (1990). On television he was one of the leads on Our Family Honour. He guest starred on such shows as Tales of the Unexpected; American Playhouse; Worlds Beyond; Highway to Heaven; Murder, She Wrote; and the revival of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He appeared in such TV movies as Skokie, The Executioner's Song, and Murder: By Reason of Insanity, as well as the mini-series Christopher Columbus.

In the Nineties Eli Wallach appeared on Broadway in The Price and The Flowering Peach. He appeared in such films as Article 99 (1992), Mistress (1992), Night and the City (1992), Honey Sweet Love (1994), The Associate (1996), Uninvited (1999), and Keeping the Faith (2000). He guest starred on such TV shows as L. A. Law and Law and Order.

From the Naughts into the teens he appeared in such films as Advice and Dissent (2002), The Root (2003), Mystic River (2003), King of the Corner (2004), A Taste of Jupiter (2005), The Hoax (2006), Mama's Boy (2007), Tickling Leo (2009), The Ghost Writer (2010), Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), and The Ghost Writer (2010). He had a recurring role on the TV show The Education of Max Bickford. He guest starred on the shows ER, Whoopi, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Nurse Jackie.

Eli Wallach was an extremely prolific actor. His film credits alone number well over one hundred, yet he also appeared frequently on both television and the stage. What is more, Mr. Wallach appeared in films of nearly every genre, including Westerns (The Magnificent Seven), caper films (How to Steal a Million), dramas (Article 99), martial arts films (Circle of Iron), and even comedies (Keeping the Faith). While most actors see success in only one or two media, Eli Wallach saw success in film, television, and on stage. And while many actors specialise in a specific genre, Mr. Wallach was capable of playing in any of them.

It was Eli Wallach's adaptability as an actor that allowed him to cross easily from films to television and that same adaptability that made him at home in any genre. Of course, it was not simply his adaptability as an actor that made him so prolific and so successful, but the fact that he was essentially a character actor with the presence of a lead. Despite not looking particularly like a leading man, Mr. Wallach's talent and presence was such that he could easily outshine the leads in any film. Despite playing the villain in a film filled with such heavyweight actors as Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach remains memorable as Calvera in The Magnificent Seven. Indeed, he very nearly overshadows the seven heroes!

The simple truth is that as an actor Eli Wallach was a true chameleon as an actor. While he may be best remembered as Calvera in The Magnificent Seven, he played a wide variety of roles, most of which were far removed from the villainous bandit. In How to Steal a Million he did a comic turn as art obsessed  tycoon Davis Leland. In The Misfits Mr. Wallach played brooding widower Guido, who was gathering up wild horses with ageing cowboy Gay Langland (Clark Gable). In The Tiger Makes Out (1967) he played a sexually repressed mailman turned kidnapper. On the surface the role of Tuco in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly superficially resembles Calvera in The Magnificent Seven (after all, both are bandits), but  Tuco was a much more bumbling, comical, and even oafish figure who was much too selfish to lead men as Calvera did. Such was Eli Wallach's talent that he was capable of great performances even when the films were not very good. A prime example of this is The Holiday (2006).  The Holiday is not a very good film, and yet Mr. Wallach is impressive as the disillusioned writer Arthur Abbott.

It is often said of character actors that people do not remember their names even if they recognise their faces. This was certainly not the case with Eli Wallach. He was so talented and so prolific that he made a name for himself simply doing character parts. Indeed, he often overshadowed the leads in the films in which he appeared. People might not remember the other actors in any given movie, but they always remembered Eli Walalch. He was just that good.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Late Great Gerry Goffin

Carole King and Gerry Goffin
Legendary songwriter Gerry Goffin died on 19 June 2014 at the age of 75. With Carole King he co-wrote such songs as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by The Shirelles, "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee, "Up on the Roof" by The Drifters, and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees. With others he wrote such songs as "Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)" by Barry Mann and "Run to Him" by Bobby Vee.

Gerry Goffin was born on 11 February 1939 in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in Jamaica, Queens, New York. He started writing lyrics even when he was a boy. After graduating  Brooklyn Technical High School he enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and attended the U.S. Naval Academy for one year. He left the Navy to attend Queens College where he studied chemistry. It was there that he met future collaborator and wife Carole King. Miss King had already written songs and had even recorded a promotional single ("The Right Girl") for ABC-Paramount. Miss King and Mr. Goffin soon started collaborating in song writing, with Miss King writing the music and Mr Goffin writing the lyrics. The two were married in 1959.

It was not long before Gerry Goffin and Carole King were churning out hit after hit. Their first major song was "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" by The Shirelles, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. That same year Goffin & King would have more hits, including "Take Good Care of My Baby" by Bobby Vee (which went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100), "Her Royal Majesty" by Bobby Darrin, and "Chains" by The Cookies. In 1961 Gerry Goffin would also have hits with other collaborators, including "Who Put the Bomp (in the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)" by Barry Mann (co-written with Barry Mann) and "Run to Him" by Bobby Vee (with Jack Keller).

Throughout the Sixties Gerry Goffin and Carole King would have a large number of hit records including "The Loco-Motion" by Little Eva (which went to #1 in 1962), "Go Away Little Girl" by Steve Lawrence (which went to #1 in 1962), "Up on the Roof" by The Drifters (which went to #5 in 1962), "One Fine Day" by The Chiffons (which went to #5 in 1963), "Don't Bring Me Down" by The Animals (which went to #12 in 1964), "Pleasant Valley Sunday" by The Monkees (which went to #3 in 1966), and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" by Aretha Franklin (which went to #8 in 1967).

Gerry Goffin and Carole King divorced in 1969 but continued to collaborate on songs until around 1971. In 1973 he released a solo album, It Ain't Exactly Entertainment. He also continued to write hit songs, including "I'll Meet You Halfway" by The Partridge Family (co-written with Wes Farrell),  "I've Got to Use My Imagination" by Gladys Knight and The Pops (co-written with Barry Goldberg), "Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To)" by Diana Ross (co-written with Michael Masser), and "Miss You Like Crazy" by Natalie Cole (co-written with Michael Masser and Preston Glass).

In 1996 he recorded another solo album, Back Room Blood.

There can be no doubt hat Gerry Goffin was one of the greatest lyricists of all time. For Mr. Goffin it was not simply a case of stringing beautiful words together. His songs were essentially stories, often describing situations with which the average person could identify. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" is essentially the tale of a young woman questioning the intentions of the man she is with. "Pleasant Valley Sunday" describes a typical Sunday in suburbia. What is more, he had an uncanny knack of being able to place himself in others' shoes. His lyrics for "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" sound like the genuine, heartfelt words of a real life woman, even though Mr. Goffin had obviously never been a woman.

It must also be pointed out that Gerry Goffin was not afraid to push the envelope with regards to his lyrical content. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" was somewhat controversial in its day, with some radio stations banning the song because they thought its lyrics were too provocative. "Star Collector" by The Monkees addressed the phenomenon of groupies and even took disparaging attitude towards them. Gerry Goffin's lyrics might not have been edgy in the way that some of his contemporaries were in the Sixties, but he did write songs that could be provocative for the era.

Of course, if there is any doubt that Gerry Goffin was one of the greatest lyricists of all time, such doubt is easily dismissed by the fact that so many of his songs remain  popular to this day. Such songs as "Take Good Care of My Baby", "The Loco-Motion", "One Fine Day", "Up on the Roof", and many others co-written by Gerry Goffin are still played on radio stations. And one can only suspect they will continue to be played well after today's hits are long forgotten.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The 100th Birthday of the Amazing Nat Hiken

Unless you are a television historian, a fan of The Phil Silvers Show or Car 54, Where Are You?, or a very devoted fan of classic television, chances are that you have never heard of Nat Hiken. That having been said, you really should have heard of Nat Hiken. The man was as close to an auteur as television ever gets. He not only created The Phil Silvers Show (AKA Sgt. Bilko) and Car 54, Where Are You?, but he also wrote, produced, and sometimes even directed them as well. His brand of comedy was character driven and fairly cerebral, presaging everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show to 30 Rock. Nat Hiken was born 100 years ago today.

Nat Hiken was born on 23 June 1914 in Chicago, Illinois. He began his comedy career while he was at the University of Wisconsin writing for the school newspaper The Cardinal. He wrote a column called "The Gripers' Club" that was a parody of newspaper advice columns. While students were invited to send letters complaining about life at the university to the column, in truth most of the letters were written by Nat Hiken himself.

 It would be "The Gripers' Club" that would lead to Nat Hiken's career in radio. He was able to interest Jack Lescoulie (who would later work on NBC-TV's Today), a radio announcer for KFWB, in the idea. As a result The Grouch Club debuted on the station in 1937. It proved popular enough that in 1938 it started airing nationally on CBS, moving to the NBC Blue Network in 1939. On the show "grouchmaster" Jack Lescoulie listened to grouches (played by such performers as Jack Albertson, Arthur Q. Bryan, and Ned Sparks, among others) complain about anything and everything. The Grouch Club was popular enough that Warner Brothers even produced a twelve minute short based on the show, "The Great Library Misery" (1938), starring Jack Lescoulie and Arthur Q. Bryan.

"The Great Library Misery" would not be Nat Hiken's only work for the big screen in the late Thirties and early Forties. He also wrote several screenplays for Warner Bros. short subjects from 1938 to 1941. If there was any doubt that Nat Hiken had hit the "big time" it would have been erased in 1940 when he became one of the writers of the phenomenally successful radio programme The Fred Allen Show. Nat Hiken would leave The Fred Allen Show in 1947 for the radio version of Texaco Star Theatre, starring Milton Berle. Mr. Hiken was the show's head writer, director, and producer. He remained with the show until 1949. It was in 1950 that he created, wrote, produced, and directed the short lived radio show The Magnificent Montague. The show centred on a fading Shakespearean actor who must work in radio for a living.

With radio losing its audience to television, Nat Hiken eventually moved to the new medium. He began his television career as a writer for Martha Raye on the variety show Four Star Revue. Nat Hiken continued to write for Matha Raye in 1954 when she received her own show, The Martha Raye Show. The Martha Raye Show proved fairly popular, but Nat Hiken's greatest success in television was just around the corner.

It was on 6 February 1954 that Phil Silvers played the Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. Among those present was Hubbell Robinson, then vice president in charge of programming at CBS. Mr. Robinson was so impressed by Mr.Silver that he offered him a contract with the network for a situation comedy. As to the man Hubell Robinson sought out to create Phil Silvers' new sitcom, that was Nat Hiken.

For the next several months Nat Hiken and Phil Silvers tried to figure out a concept that would suit the comedian. In the beginning Mr. Hiken had wanted Mr. Silvers to play a conniving Army sergeant. Mr. Silvers rejected the idea. At last Nat Hiken and Phil Silvers developed eight different ideas, including Nat Hiken's idea of a conniving master sergeant. When they offered their eight different ideas to CBS, it was Mr. Hiken's initial idea of Phil Silvers as a master sergeant that the network liked. The Phil Silvers Show was born. Of course, in the beginning it was called You'll Never Get Rich. The series' title would be changed after its first few months on to the air to The Phil Silvers Show. Its title would change once again in its original syndication run to Sgt. Bilko, a title by which it is still popularly known.

Although it would become one of the most successful sitcoms of all time and it is now regarded as a classic, The Phil Silvers Show would not be an immediate success. Ironically it aired against shows starring comedians with whom Nat Hiken had worked, The Martha Raye Show and  The Milton Berle Show on NBC (the two show rotated each week) on Tuesday night. Fortunately CBS moved The Phil Silvers Show a half hour earlier on Tuesday night and it was in that time slot that its audience began to grow. By December The Phil Silvers Show was regularly beating both The Milton Berle Show and The Martha Raye Show. While The Phil Silvers Show struggled in the ratings in its first few months, it was critically acclaimed from the very beginning.

Not only did The Phil Silvers Show receive sterling ratings, but it also received a good number of Emmy Awards. In 1956 alone it won the Emmys for Best Comedy Series, Best Actor - Continuing Performance (for Phil Silvers), Best Comedy Writing, and Best Director - Film Series (for Nat Hiken). In 1957 it won Best Series - Half Hour or Less and Best Comedy Writing - Variety or Situation Comedy. In 1958 it won essentially the same two awards as well.

Of course, while The Phil Silvers Show was fairly successful in the United States, it proved to be an outright phenomenon in the United Kingdom. The show debuted there in 1957 and it was not long before 75% of all fan mail sent to Phil Silvers came from Great Britain. The show would be repeated frequently on BBC One as part of its late night line up in the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties. In the Nineties it moved to BBC Two, where it was run not only late at night, but during the daytime and early evening.In 2003 The Radio Times named The Phil Silvers Show the best sitcom of all time. The Phil Silvers Show would also prove to be a hit elsewhere in the world. In 1975 Mr. Silvers joked, "I go to Italy, and they follow me around and sing under my hotel window."

Sadly, the success of The Phil Silvers Show would place a bit of a strain on Nat Hiken. It was not unusual for him to work twelve hour days. Eventually the stress of working on the show would even affect his health. After two seasons Mr. Hiken was simply exhausted. It was then in 1957 that he left the show. The Phil Silvers Show would continue for two more seasons without him. Although no longer working regularly on the show, Nat Hiken would continue writing episodes for it into its final season.

After The Phil Silvers Show ended Nat Hiken wrote two television specials for Phil Silvers, The Ballad of Louie the Louse in 1959 and The Slowest Gun in the West in 1960. He would return to sitcoms with Car 54, Where Are You?. Car 54, Where Are You? emerged from a visit to a New York City precinct house where Nat Hiken realised that real life policemen were a far cry from their counterparts on radio, on television, or in films. It occurred to him that the day to day work of policemen could be fodder for comedy, and he made further trips to the precinct house for research. Unlike the portrayal of precinct houses on television and in films, Mr. Hiken found it in his words to be "...a very warm, friendly atmosphere."

Nat Hiken quickly found a sponsor for his new show in the form of Proctor & Gamble, who financed the show's pilot. NBC picked up the show and it debuted on 17 September 1961. Like The Phil Silvers Show before it, Car 54, Where Are You would be critically acclaimed. It also won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Comedy in 1962. Unfortunately it was never a ratings giant. It spent its entire run opposite the second half of The Ed Sullivan Show on CBS. As a result its ratings were never particularly high. After two seasons Car 54, Where Are You? ended its run. Like The Phil Silvers Show before it, however, it would go onto a highly successful syndication run.

Of course, here it must be pointed out that Nat Hiken not only wrote, directed, and produced Car 54, Where Are You?, but he also wrote its theme song with John Strauss. Indeed, while Mr. Hiken's career in television is well known, it must also be pointed out that he also worked on Broadway. He provided music for the productions Along Fifth Avenue (1949) and Two on the Aisle (1952).

Nat Hiken went onto write the special Carol + 2 starring Carol Burnett in 1966 and to write and direct the feature film The Love God? (1969) Unfortunately Mr. Hiken died at the age of 54 from a heart attack on 7 December 1968. The Love God? was released posthumously the following year.

Nat Hiken left behind a legacy of comedy that is not often matched. His humour was cerebral and emerged from the actions of his characters rather than in situations into which they were placed. While Mr Hiken's humour could be broad at times, it was at the same time more realistic than that of many situation comedies of the Fifties and Sixties. If The Phil Silvers Show and Car 54, Where Are You? are still remembered, it is perhaps because viewers knew individuals like Sgt. Ernie Bilko or Officers Toody and Muldoon in real life.

Given the continued popularity of his shows it should be little wonder that Nat Hiken would have a lasting impact on television. James Burrows, co-creator of Cheers with Glen and Les Charles, has cited both Car 54, Where Are You? and The Phil Silvers Show as an influence. Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld, has called The Phil Silvers Show his favourite television programme. What is more Nat Hiken's influence was truly international. In the United States  Hanna-Barbera virtually lifted the entire format of the show for their primetime animated cartoon Top Cat. Taxi, Cheers Seinfeld, and many other American sitcoms were heavily influenced by The Phil Silvers Show, Car 54 Where Are You?, or both. In the United Kingdom shows from Dad's Army to Only Fools & Horses demonstrate the impact of The Phil Silvers Show there. Nat Hiken did not simply create two of the greatest sitcoms of all time. He also changed the course of both American and British situation comedies.