Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ken Howard R.I.P.

Ken Howard, actor and one-time president of the Screen Actors Guild, died on March 23 2016 at the age of 71. No cause of death has been given.

Ken Howard was born on March 28 1944 in El Centro, California. He grew up in Manhasset, New York. He attended  Amherst College and then studied acting at the Yale School of Drama. He made his Broadway debut in Promises Promises in 1970. That same year he made his film debut in Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon. In the late Sixties he went on to appear on Broadway in 1776 (in which he played Thomas Jefferson) and Child's Play.

The Seventies would prove to be a busy decade for Mr. Howard. He appeared on Broadway in the productions Seesaw, Little Black Sheep, The Norman Conquests: Living Together, The Norman Conquests: Table Manners, The Norman Conquests: Round and Round the Garden, and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He appeared in the films Such Good Friends (1971), The Strange Vengeance of Rosalie (1972), 1776 (1972), and Independence (1976). On television he played the lead role in three different TV shows: Adam's Rib (a sitcom based on the classic film of the same name), The Manhunter (a series about a bounty hunter set during the Depression), and The White Shadow (a series centred on a high school basketball coach). He guest starred on the shows Bonanza, Medical Centre, and Hallmark Hall of Fame.

The Eighties saw Ken Howard appear as a regular in multiple TV shows as well: the sitcom It's Not Easy, Dynasty, and The Colbys. He guest starred on the shows Glitter, Hotel, and American Playhouse. He appeared in the miniseries The Thorn Birds. He appeared in the film Second Thoughts (1983). He appeared on Broadway in Rumours.

In the Nineties Ken Howard guest starred on P.S.I. Luv U; The Golden Girls; One West Waikiki; Murder, She Wrote; The Client; Diagnosis Murder; The West Wing; and The Practice. He had a recurring role on Melrose Place. He was a guest voice on Batman: The Animated Series. Mr. Howard appeared in the films Oscar (1991), Ulterior Motives (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), The Net (1995), and At First Sight (1999).

In the Naughts Ken Howard was a regular on the shows Crossing Jordan and Cane. He guest starred on the shows Family Law, Arli$$, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, The Ghost Whisperer, George Lopez, Huff, Conviction, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Brothers and Sisters, Eli Stone, Boston Legal, Dirty Sexy Money, and Cold Case. He appeared in the films Stuck (2004), In Her Shoes (2005), Arc (2006), Smother (2007), Michael Clayton (2007), Under Still Waters (2008), 2:13 (2009), The Beacon (2009), and A Numbers Game (2010).

In the Teens Ken Howard had a recurring role on 30 Rock and appeared in episodes of the soap opera The Young and the Restless. He guest starred on such shows as Fairly Legal, The Closer, Blue Bloods, and The McCarthys. He appeared in the films J. Edgar (2011), Just an American (2012), A Fighting Man (2012), A.C.O.D. (2013), Better Living Through Chemistry (2014), The Judge (2014), The Wedding Ringer (2015), and Joy (2015).

Ken Howard was both prolific and versatile. When it comes to television I remember him best for two roles. The first is Dave Barrett, the protagonist of the TV series The Manhunter. At a time when private eye shows were a dime a dozen, The Manhunter was different. Not only was it set in the West during the Depression (Barrett lived on a farm in Idaho), but its protagonist actually had a family (his parents and his sister were regulars on the show). What is more, Barrett wasn't a private eye, but a bounty hunter. Ken Howard did a very good job of bringing the character of Barrett to life. The other TV role I remember him well for is Jordan Cavanaugh's stubborn father Max on Crossing Jordan. Mr. Howard gave a very nuanced performance as Max, and he had a very good rapport with series star Jill Hennessey.

Of course, Ken Howard did more than television. He also did films. Indeed, he played Thomas Jefferson twice on the silver screen, appearing in the role in the musical 1776 and the docudrama Independence. Thomas Jefferson wasn't the only historical figure Ken Howard played either. He also played Attorney General Harlan F. Stone in J. Edgar, Mark Twain in an episode of Bonanza, and Father Damien  in the 1980 TV movie Father Damien: The Leper Priest. With a knack for bringing characters to life, it is little wonder Ken Howard was in demand to play historical figures. In fact, he was in demand throughout his career, playing a wide variety of characters. Ken Howard played everything from lawyers to politicians and from cops to criminals. What is more, he did all of them well.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Late Great Ronnie Corbett

Ronnie Corbett, best known for his work with  Ronnie Barker on the long running comedy sketch show The Two Ronnies, died on March 31 2016 at the age of 85. He had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in March 2015.

Ronnie Corbett was born in Edinburgh on December 4 1930. He attended James Gillespie's High School and the Royal High School. He decided he wanted to be an actor after appearing in theatrical productions at his church youth club.  After leaving school he worked for a time for the Ministry of Agriculture. Mr. Corbett's national service was with the Royal Air Force. Initially an aircraftman 2nd class, he was commissioned as a pilot officer in the RAF's secretarial branch. His active service ended in October 1951 and he transferred to the reserve. He was promoted to flying officer in 1952. At only five feet, one inch tall, he was the shortest commissioned officer in the British armed forces at the time.

After national service Mr. Corbett moved to London to pursue his acting career. It was there that he made his professional debut on stage in Take It Easy. He made his film debut in 1952 in You're Only Young Twice. During the Fifties he appeared in such films as The Million Pound Note (1954), Fun at St Fanny's (1955) , After the Ball (1957), and Rockets Galore (1958). He made his television debut in an episode of Rheingold Theatre in 1953. He was a regular on the BBC comedy Sheep's Clothing and worked on the TV show Crackerjack. He guest starred on The Vise.

The Sixties saw Mr. Corbett appearing on The Frost Report from 1966 to 1967. It was on that show that he first worked with Ronnie Barker. Following The Frost Report he starred in the sitcom No, That's Me Over Here!. In the Sixties he was also a regular or semi-regular on the shows It's Tarbuck and Frost on Sunday. In 1969 he appeared in his own show, The Corbett Follies. He also guest starred on the shows Three Live Wires, The Dickie Henderson Show, The Saint, Hark at Barker, The Bruce Forsyth Show, Jackanory, and It's Tommy Cooper. He appeared in the films Monsieur Lecoq (1967), Casino Royale (1967), and The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (1970).  In 1963 he appeared in London in the musical The Boys from Syracuse at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane.

The Seventies saw the debut of The Two Ronnies in 1971. The show featured Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett in various comedy sketches, both together and individually. The show was known for its wordplay and often surreal humour. Ronnie Corbett was known for his monologues in which he would try to tell a joke only to lose his train of thought. The Two Ronnies proved very popular and ultimately ran until 1987. In the Seventies Ronnie Corbett also starred on the sitcoms Now Look Here and The Prince of Denmark, as well as his own show All This and Corbett Too. In 1971 he appeared in two TV specials, The Ronnie Barker Yearbook and Ronnie Corbett in Bed.  He appeared in the films No Sex Please: We're British (1973) and Rubbish Tips (1980).

In the Eighties Ronnie Corbett continued to appear on The Two Ronnies. He also starred on the sitcom Sorry! and his own show, The Ronnie Corbett Show. In the Nineties Mr. Corbett hosted the game show Small Talk and starred on the show Timbuctoo. He appeared in the TV productions Call up the Stars, The Nearly Complete and Utter History of Everything, and Cinderella. He also appeared in the film Fierce Creatures (1997).

In the Naughts Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker appeared in The Two Ronnies Sketchbook, a collection of old Two Ronnies sketches with newly filmed introductions. He also appeared in the TV special The One Ronnie in 2010. He guest starred on the shows Extras and Love Soup, and provided a guest voice for a character on The Sarah Jane Adventures. He appeared in the film Burke and Hare (2010). He also appeared on the BBC Radio 4 sitcom When the Dog Dies. 

The Two Ronnies remains one of the best remembered British sketch comedy shows on both sides of the Atlantic. Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett certainly made a great team, both in terms of personality and physical contrast. Ronnie Barker was rotund and droll, while Ronnie Corbett was diminutive and mischievous. Neither could really be described as a straight man to the other, as they both took the roles of straight man and gag man at different times. What is more, the Two Ronnies always got along. When Ronnie Barker died in 2005, Ronnie Corbett said, "We worked together since 1965 and we never had a cross word" and "It was 40 years of harmonious joy, nothing but an absolute pleasure. I will miss him terribly." If Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett saw a good deal of success as a comedy team, it was perhaps because they got along so well.

Of course, Ronnie Corbett had a highly successful career apart from Ronnie Barker. He excelled in playing shy, unassuming types, such as librarian Timothy Lumsden in Sorry!. He played similar roles in Now Look Here and its sequel Prince of Denmark. That is not to say Ronnie Corbett was not capable of playing other roles. In the comedy Burke & Hare he played Police Captain Tom McLintock, the officer who pursues the title characters. In Casino Royale he played a SMERSH agent. If Ronnie Corbett was successful as a comic actor it was perhaps because he was gifted with perfect timing and perfect delivery. Ronnie Corbett could elicit laughs with merely a look. What is more, it seemed as if he truly enjoyed what he was doing. It seemed apparent that Mr. Corbett wanted nothing more than to make people laugh. He may have only been 5 foot 1, but in the end Ronnie Corbett was a giant in the world of comedy.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Godspeed Garry Shandling

Comedian, actor, and writer Garry Shandling died on March 24 2016 at the age of 66. He died from a massive heart attack. He had suffered from the condition known hyperparathyroidism.

Garry Shandling was born on November 29 1949 in Chicago. He grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Mr. Shandling had become interested in comedy when he was very young, but initially majored in electrical engineering at the University of Arizona. Before graduating he switched his major to marketing. After receiving his degree he pursued one year of postgraduate work in creative writing.

In 1973 Mr. Shandling moved to Los Angeles where he went to work for an advertising agency. It was while he was still working at the advertising agency that he sold a script to the sitcom Sanford & Son in 1975. He sold three more scripts for Sanford & Son, one for the sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, and one for The Harvey Korman Show. He then became a stand-up comic. In the next few years he appeared as a stand-up comedian on the shows Rock Concert and Solid Gold. It was in 1981 that he first appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He would appear several more times on the show.

In 1984 Garry Shandling appeared in his first special, Garry Shandling: Alone in Vegas, which aired on the premium cable channel Showtime. It was followed by another special, The Garry Shandling Show: 25th Anniversary Special, that also aired on Showtime. It was that same year that the sitcom It's Garry Shandling's Show debuted on Showtime. It's Garry Shandling Show centred on, well, Garry Shandling, who played a neurotic, self-deprecating comedian who was aware he was a TV show character. The show developed a cult following and ran for four seasons and 72 episodes.

The success of It's Garry Shandling's Show was followed in 1992 by The Larry Sanders Show. The Larry Sanders Show was essentially a mockumentary sitcom that offered a "behind the scenes" look at a fictional, late night talk show (titled, of course, The Larry Sanders Show). Airing on HBO, The Larry Sanders Show developed a cult following. It ran for six seasons and 89 episodes. During the Nineties Garry Shandling guest starred on The Ben Stiller Show, Caroline in the City, and The X-Files. He appeared in the films The Night We Never Met (1993), Love Affair (1994), Mixed Nuts (1994), Hurlyburly (1998), and What Planet Are You From? (2000).

In the Naughts Garry Shandling appeared in the films Town & Country (2001), Zoolander (2001), Run Ronnie Run (2002), Trust the Man (2005), and Iron Man 2 (2010). He provided a voice on the animated film Over the Hedge (2006). He guest starred on Tom Goes to the Mayor. In the Teens he appeared in the films The Dictator (2012) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014).

Garry Shandling was an extraordinary talent. He was certainly very funny. His neurotic, self-deprecating persona as a stand-up comic was one with which many could identify. And if they couldn't identify with Garry Shandling's stand-up persona, chances were good that they knew someone like him. That having been said, Garry Shandling was much more than a stand-up comedian. He was also a writer and producer who took the television sitcom in directions that had rarely been explored before. Like The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Green Acres before it,  It's Garry Shandling's Show often broke the fourth wall and the idea that Garry Shandling knew he was a character on a TV show was an important part of the show. by doing this Mr. Shandling was able to parody sitcom tropes while at the same time sticking to them.

The Larry Sanders Show would also be starkly original. While done as a "behind the scenes" look at a late night talk show, The Larry Sanders Show was in truth a sitcom that sent up television conventions.  In blurring the lines between reality (the guests on the show were often real life show business personalities playing themselves), The Larry Sanders Show was in many respects a forerunner of 30 Rock and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

While Garry Shandling was extraordinarily talented as both a comic and a writer, he also had some talent as an actor. Garry Shandling on It's Garry Shandling's Show was very different from Larry Sanders on The Larry Sanders Show. The former was a neurotic with extremely low self esteem, while the latter was an egomaniac prone to bouts of anxiety. He also gave solid performances as Senator Stern in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: the Winter Soldier as well as Artie in Hurlyburly. Quite simply, Garry Shandling was an extraordinary talent who created two starkly original sitcom and excelled at both stand up comedy and acting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Earl Hamner, Jr. Passes On

Earl Hamner, Jr., the creator of the TV show The Waltons, who also wrote several episodes of The Twilight Zone, died on March 24 2016 at the age of 92. The cause was bladder cancer.

Earl Hamner, Jr. was born on July 10 1923 in Schuyler, Virginia. He was the eldest of eight children. Earl Hamner, Jr. was first published when he was only six years old. His poem, "My Dog", was published in The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earl Hamner, Jr. was in his sophomore year at the University of Richmond when he was drafted into the United States Army during World War II. He was trained to defuse mines and sent to France after the invasion of Normandy. He was later transferred to the Quartermaster Corps. It was while he was stationed in Paris that he began writing fiction, inspired by the works of such authors as Thomas Wolfe and William Faulkner. It was while he was in Paris that he began what would become his novel Spencer's Mountain.

Following World War II Mr. Hamner earned a degree in broadcast communications from the University of Cincinnati in 1948. He worked for a time at the Cincinnati radito station WLW. His first novel, Fifty Roads to Town, was published in 1953.  At the same time he broke into television with a script for The Kate Smith Hour. In the Fifties he wrote scripts for the shows The United States Steel Hour, Justice, and Tactic.

Earl Hamner, Jr.'s novel, Spencer's Mountain, was published in 1961. The novel would be adapted as the 1963 film of the same name. The novel would also lead to the 1971 television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which in turn would lead to the TV series The Waltons. It was the year 1962 that saw the first episode of The Twilight Zone written by Earl Hamner, Jr. "A Piano in the House" centred on a hated theatre critic who buys a piano that unmasks those listen to it. Earl Hamner, Jr. wrote several more episodes of The Twilight Zone, including "Ring-A-Ding Girl", "You Drive", "Stopover in a Quiet Town", and "The Bewitchin' Pool".

In the Sixties he also wrote episodes of the TV shows Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; It's a Man's WorldThe Long, Hot Summer; Wagon Train; The Invaders, and CBS Playhouse. He wrote several episodes of the shows Gentle Ben and Nanny and the Professor. He also wrote the teleplay for the 1968 TV movie Heidi, which notoriously pre-empted a game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets. He also wrote the TV movie Tiger, Tiger. He wrote the screenplay for the movie Palm Springs Weekend (1963). In 1965 his novel You Can't Get There From Here was published. The year 1970 saw the publication of his novel The Homecoming: A Novel About Spencer's Mountain, which provided the basis for the 1971 TV movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.

While for the most part The Homecoming: A Christmas Story was loyal to novel, there were some major changes. The names of the characters were changed and the Spencers became the Waltons. The TV movie proved very successful in the ratings, enough that it led to the TV show The Waltons. Scheduled against the hit Flip Wilson Show on NBC, no one, not even CBS executives, expected the show to survive. It ultimately became one of the biggest hit shows of the Seventies. The Waltons, on which Earl Hamner, Jr. served as producer and narrator, ran for nine seasons and 210 episodes. After the show went off the air it would be followed by several reunion movies.

In the Seventies Earl Hamner, Jr. also created the short-lived series Apple's Way. He wrote the teleplays for the TV movies Aesop's Fables, Pomroy's People, Lassie: A New Beginning, and Joshua's World.  He wrote the screenplays for the films The Last Generation (1971), Charlotte's Web (1973), and Where the Lilies Bloom (1974).

In the Eighties Earl Hamner, Jr. created the prime time soap opera Falcon Crest. It ran for nine seasons and 227 episodes. He also created the short lived shows Boone and Morningstar/Eveningstar. He wrote the TV movie The Gift of Love: A Christmas Story. In the Nineties he wrote the teleplays for the TV movies The Magic Paintbrush, A Mother's Gift, and The Education of Little Tree. He also wrote an episode of The Wild Thornberrys. In the Naughts he wrote and episode of Night Visions as well as the teleplay for the TV movie The Night Before Christmas: A Mouse Tale .

There can be no doubt that Earl Hamner, Jr. is best known as the creator of The Waltons and he will probably always be remembered as such. The show proved to be a hit in the Seventies and has persisted in syndication ever since. There are also many who remember him for the many episodes of The Twilight Zone  he wrote. That having been said, Earl Hamner, Jr. was actually quite versatile. He did not simply write family dramas such as The Waltons and Apple's Way, and he delved into the realm of fantasy on more occasions than just The Twilight Zone. He wrote episodes for shows as diverse as The Invaders and Nanny and the Professor. He created a prime time soap opera (Falcon's Crest) and a period piece set in the Fifties centred on an aspiring rock and roll singer (Boone). Mr. Hamner also wrote several successful novels, some of which would lead to success on television. While Earl Hamner, Jr. will always be best remembered as the creator of The Waltons, he actually did a good deal more.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Godspeed Patty Duke

Today, March 29 2016, Anna Duke-Pearce, better known by her stage name Patty Duke, died at the age of 69. The cause was sepsis from a ruptured intestine.

Anna Marie Duke was born in Elmhurst, Queens, New York on December 14 1946. Her father, John Brock Duke, was a taxi driver and a handyman. Her mother, Frances (née McMahon), was a cashier. Her father left the family when Anna was only six years old. Anna started acting at age 7. Her care would be turned over to talent managers John and Ethel Ross, who had represented her older brother Ray. John and Ethel Ross immediately changed her first name from Anna to Patty. Sadly, John and Ethel Ross's style of management was often exploitative and often unethical.

Patty Duke's television debut would be an episode of Armstrong Circle Theatre in 1956. In 1957 she appeared in episodes of  Kraft Theatre and The Dupont Show of the Month. She appeared in an episode of Rendezvous in 1958. That same year she had recurring roles on the short lived show Kitty Foyle and the soap opera The Brighter Day. She appeared in a television adaptation of Swiss Family Robinson. It was also in 1958 that Patty Duke made her film debut in Country Music Holiday and that same year she appeared in the movie The Goddess.

It would be 1959 that would be the year that established Patty Duke as a star. She guest starred several more times on Armstrong Circle Theatre. She appeared in a television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis. In 1959 Patty Duke appeared on The $64,000 Question where she won $32,000.  Unfortunately the game was rigged and Miss Duke was called to testify at the United State Senate's investigations into television quiz shows in 1962.  She appeared in the films 4D Man (1959) and Happy Anniversary (1959).  It would be her role as Helen Keller in the Broadway production The Miracle Worker in 1959 that brought Miss Duke to national attention.

By the early Sixties Patty Duke was then a household name. She reprised her role as Helen Keller in the film adaptation of The Miracle Worker (1962), for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In 1962 she also appeared in the Broadway production Isle of Children, which only ran a few days. Miss Duke guest starred on the TV shows Ben Casey, The United States Steel Hour, and The Wide Country. It was in 1963 that she made her debut in her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show. The show was created by William Asher and Sidney Sheldon and starred Patty Duke as "identical cousins". Patty Lane was the typical American teenager, interested in rock 'n roll, clothes, and boys. Her Scottish cousin who came to live with her family, Cathy, was urbane, studious, and serious. The show proved to be very popular and is still rerun to this day. For The Patty Duke Show, Miss Duke was nominated for the Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead).

While the series was still on the air Patty Duke starred in the 1965 comedy Billie. After The Patty Duke Show left the air Miss Duke appeared in the films Valley of the Dolls (1967) and Me, Natalie (1969). She guest starred on the TV shows The Virginian, Journey to the Unknown, and Matt Lincoln. She appeared in the TV movies, The Cliff and My Sweet Charlie.

In the Seventies Patty Duke guest starred on such shows as Night Gallery, The Sixth Sense, Hawaii Five-O, Police Story, Police Woman Marcus Welby M.D., Insight, and The Streets of San Francisco. She starred in the mini-series Captains and the Kings. She appeared in several TV movies, including Deadly Harvest, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, Curse of the Black Widow, and a television adaptation of The Miracle Worker for which she won an Emmy for her role as Anne Sullivan. She appeared in the movie The Swarm (1978).

In the Eighties Patty Duke starred in the TV shows It Takes Two, Hail to the Chief, and Karen's Song. She starred on the mini-series George Washington She guest starred on the shows The Love Boat, Hotel, It's a Living, and J. J. Starbuck.  She appeared in such TV movies as Something So Right, September Gun, Perry Mason: The Case of the Avenging Ace, and Call Me Anna (an adaptation of her autobiography). She appeared in the films Willy/Milly (1986) and The Hitch-Hikers (1989).

In the Nineties Miss Duke starred in the show Amazing Grace. She guest starred on the shows The Torkelsons, Touched by An Angel, Hallmark Hall of Fame, and Fraiser. She was the voice of Lady Morgana on the animated show The Legend of Prince Valiant. She starred in the Patty Duke Show reunion movie The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' in Brooklyn Heights. She appeared in such TV movies as Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive, A Matter of Justice, A Christmas Memory, and Miracle on the Mountain: The Kincaid Family Story. She appeared in the movies Prelude to a Kiss (1992), and Kimberly (1999).

In the Naughts Patty Duke guest starred on the shows Family Law, Hallmark Hall of Fame, First Years, Touched by an Angel, and Judging Amy. She appeared in the films Wrong Turn (2003) and Bigger Than the Sky (2005). She appeared in a revival of Oklahoma! on Broadway. In the Teens she guest starred on Hawaii Five-0, Drop Dead Diva, Glee, and Liv and Maddie. She appeared in the film Amazing Love. Her last appearance will be in the film Power of the Air, set to release next year.

From 1985 to 1988 Patty Duke was the president of the Screen Actors Guild. She was only the second woman to hold the position (former Real McCoys star Kathleen Nolan was the first).

In 1982 Patty Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She was one of the earliest celebrities to go public with her diagnosis. She became a mental health advocate and lobbied tirelessly on behalf of those with mental illness.

Anna Duke-Pearce was a most remarkable actress. Her performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker remains among the most impressive of any Oscar winning performances. That she was so convincing as a blind and deaf girl is made all the more impressive by the fact that she was only 16 when the movie was released.  Of course, as well known as the 1962 movie The Miracle Worker is, Mrs. Duke-Pearce might be better known for her work on The Patty Duke Show. The show was extremely popular in its first run and has continued to be rerun for the past fifty two years. While playing the dual roles of Patty and Cathy Lane was probably not nearly as difficult as playing Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and the material was much lighter, Anna Duke-Pearce did a fine job of playing the identical, yet very different cousins. If The Patty Duke Show remains popular to this day, it is largely due to Anna Duke-Pearce in the lead roles.

Of course, Anna Duke-Pearce did much more than The Miracle Worker and The Patty Duke Show. She regularly appeared in television movies throughout the Seventies and Eighties. In the 1970 TV movie My Sweet Charlie she played a pregnant runaway. In the 1983 TV comedy Western September Gun she played a nun who finds herself allied to an over-the-hill gunfighter (played by Robert Preston). In the 1979 television adaptation of The Miracle Worker she was impressive as Anne Sullivan, playing opposite the role of Helen Keller that she had originated. She was easily the best thing about the feature film Valley of the Dolls, playing alcoholic, drug addicted star Neely O'Hara.

Although she had become famous under the name "Patty Duke", Anna Duke-Pearce preferred her given name of "Anna Marie". Those people I know who had the fortune to meet her always said the same thing. She is one of the most down-to-earth and nicest people one could ever meet. Anna Duke-Pearce always had a kind word for her fans and she seems to have truly appreciated them. That makes her death at such a relatively young age all the sadder. Anna Duke-Pearce was both a very talented actress and a truly nice person.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Thank You For a Successful Blogathon!

I just wanted to thank everyone who participated in this weekend's 2nd Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon. We had a line up of great blog posts for this blogathon and a wide variety of shows covered. I am already looking forward to next year's blogathon, which will again be in late March (provided the TCM Classic Film Festival isn't scheduled then).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter 2016

For those of you who celebrate the holiday I want to wish you a very happy Easter! And as usual here at A Shroud of Thoughts, holidays mean vintage pin ups. Without further ado, then, here they are!

First up is Dorothy Hart, who is being stalked by a scary bunny!

Next up is Shirley MacLaine with an Easter greeting.

 Adele Mara bursting through a huge Easter card!

Wendy Barrie with a giant egg and a cute bunny.

Debbie Reynolds with a cartoon bunny.

And last but not least is Ann MIller with some chicks!