Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bradley Bolke Passes On

Bradley Bolke, a voice actor who voiced Chumley on the animated TV show Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, died on January 15 2019 at the age of 93.

Bradley Bolke was born in New York City on October 1 1925. When he was five years old his family moved to Mount Vernon, New York. He attended New York University and majored in radio. After graduating in 1945, he worked in radio. Over the years his voice could be heard in many radio and television commercials.

It was in 1954 that Mr. Bolke first provided a voiced for an animated short, voicing a wolf and a sheepdog in the short "The Reformed Wolf" from Terrytoons. His brother Dayton Allen, now best remembered as the voice of Deputy Dawg, also provided voices for the short. Over the years Bradley Bolke would provide voices for several more animated shorts and was the voice of Stanley (as well as various incidental voices) in Famous Studios' series of "Honey Halfwitch" shorts in the mid to late Sixties. Ventriloquist and voice actor Shari Lewis was the voice of Honey Halfwitch herself.

Bradley Bolke was the voice of Nikita Khrushchev on Vaughn Meader's classic 1962 comedy album The First Family and its 1963 follow up The First Family - Volume Two. In 1963 Mr. Bolke could be heard in two Saturday morning cartoons. He provided the voices of Chumley in Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales and the Ghostly Trio (among others) on The New Casper Cartoon Show. He could later be heard in two TV films on the anthology  The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie: The Mad, Mad Monsters (1972) and The Red Baron (1972). He was the voice of Jangle Bells on the classic TV special The Year Without a Santa Claus.

His single appearance in live action was in the feature film Diary of a Bachelor (1964).

Bradley Bolke was an extremely talented voice artist. He was capable of many different voices, from sounding remarkably like Nikita Khrushchev to the friendly tones of Chumley to the slightly higher pitched voice of Jangles Bells. While his filmography is not quite as extensive as some and he is not as well known as some other voice artists, he certainly possessed a good deal of talent.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Godspeed John Falsey

John Falsey, who co-created the shows St. Elsewhere, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure with Joshua Brand, died on January 3 2019 at the age of 67. The cause was complications from an injury to his head he had sustained during a fall.

John Falsey was born on November 6 1951 in New Haven, Connecticut. He graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts with a degree in English. He later earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa. It was in 1979 that he joined the writing staff on the TV show The White Shadow. He also served as the story editor on the show. It was there that he met his frequent creative partner Joshua Brand.

Messrs. Falsey and Brand would go onto create the classic show St. Elsewhere. Debuting in 1982, St. Elsewhere ran for six seasons. The series earned a host of Emmy nominations and won 24 Emmy Awards. While St. Elsewhere was never a smash in the ratings (it never ranked above no. 49 for the season), it developed a cult following and remains popular to this day. John Falsey also served as a producer on the show.  John Falsey served as a supervising producer on the anthology series Amazing Stories. With Stu Krieger, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the short-lived series A Year in the Life, which aired for one season.  Joshua Brand and John Falsey ended the Eighties by creating the series Northern Exposure. Like St. Elsewhere it would pick up a number of Emmy Awards and develop a cult following. Unlike St. Elsewhere it proved to be a hit in the Nielsen ratings.  Sandy Veith, a writer at Universal Studios, in the Eighties and early Nineties, argued that Universal had taken an idea he had developed while there and claimed that it was the basis for Northern Exposure. In 1994  he was awarded $7.3 million.

In the Nineties Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the period drama I'll Fly Away. While critically acclaimed, the show earned low ratings and lasted only two seasons on NBC. A follow up movie would air on PBS after the show had been cancelled by the Peacock Network. With Frank South, Joshua Brand and John Falsey created the short-lived series Going to Extremes. It lasted only 17 episodes. Joshua Falsey ended the Nineties serving as a consulting producer on the show Providence.

After his work in television John Falsey returned to writing short storied and a novella. He also moved back to Iowa City. 

John Falsey co-created some of the most successful shows of the Eighties and Nineties. Both St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure have followings to this day, and both are regarded as classics. Both certainly earned their share of Emmy Awards. While I'll Fly Away is not quite as well remembered, it is still highly regarded. I am among the fans of all three shows, and if I compiled a list of my 100 favourite shows of all time, it is likely that both St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure would make the list. While he stopped working in television after the Nineties, John Falsey certainly left his mark on television history.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Late Great Carol Channing

Carol Channing, star of Broadway, film, and television died yesterday, January 15 2019, at the age of 97. She will always be remembered as Dolly Levi in the original Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!.

Carol Channing was born on January 31 1921 in Seattle, Washington. Her father was a city editor at The Seattle Star and moved the family to San Francisco when Miss Channing was only two weeks old. She attended Bennington College in Vermont, where she majored in drama. She made her professional debut on stage in 1941 in No for an Answer in New York City. She made her Broadway debut in Let's Face It! in 1943. Miss Channing would appear several more times on Broadway, in the productions Proof Thro' the Night (1942), Lend an Ear (1948), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), Wonderful Town (1953), The Vamp (1955), Show Girl (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1964), Four on a Garden (1971), Lorelei (1974), and two revivals of Hello, Dolly!.

While Carol Channing did not make many movies, her appearances on film would be significant. She made her film debut in Paid in Full in 1950. She then appeared in such films as The First Travelling Saleslady (1956), Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), and Skidoo (1968). She did voice work on the animated films Shinbone Alley (1970), Happily Ever After (1990), and Thumbelina (1994).

Carol Channing appeared frequently on television. She guest starred on Omnibus, Playhouse 90, The Red Skelton Show, The George Burns Show, Laugh-In, The Love Boat, Burke's Law, The Drew Carey Show, Touched by an Angel, and Style & Substance. She did voice work on several animated television shows, including Where's Waldo?, The Addams Family, and Family Guy. She was a frequent guest on variety shows, talk shows, and game shows, including such shows as The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Spike Jones Show, The Rosemary Clooney Show, The Perry Como Show, The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, Tonight Starring Jack Paar, The Gary Moore Show, The Andy Williams Show, Password, I've Got a Secret, What's My Line?, The Joey Bishop Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The David Frost Show, The Carol Burnett Show, Flip, The Dean Martin Show, The Hollywood Squares, Dinah!, The Mike Douglas Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Quite simply, Carol Channing was a force of nature. Vibrant, vivacious, and larger than life, few performers could deliver a song the way she could. There was no one like Miss Channing. She was utterly singular. She originated the role of Lorelei Lee in Gentleman Prefer Blondes on Broadway and she made the role of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! so much her own that it is hard picturing anyone else in the role (the 1969 film adaptation with Barbara Streisand is proof of that). She sparkled as the eccentric Muzzy Van Hossmere in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Even when Miss Channing was not performing on stage or on film, she was very entertaining. A gifted conversationalist with an excellent sense of humour and perfect comedic timing, it was no wonder she was in so much demand on variety shows, talk shows, and game shows from the Fifties to the Eighties. Carol Channing was utterly unique, not simply for her appearance or for her voice, but because few ever had her talent or her enthusiasm for entertaining.