Saturday, July 13, 2019

New Old Time Radio Page

Yesterday's post on the radio show revival of the Seventies got me to thinking about how I should really write more about Old Time Radio. It also got me to thinking about the various posts I have written about Old Time Radio through the years. I decided to create a new page where all of my posts on Old Time Radio would be collected.

Obviously I am much too young to remember Old Time Radio. After all, I was born six months after Old Time Radio came to an end when the last episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense aired on September 30 1962. That having been said, I knew about Old Time Radio from an early age. My parents told me about Old Time Radio shows such as Fibber McGee & Molly and One Man's Family. When I was in third grade our teacher, Mary Simons (who was also a family friend), played old episodes of The Lone Ranger for us. With more and more Old Time Radio shows becoming available on vinyl and cassette, I would eventually hear episodes of The Mercury Theatre on the Air, The Shadow, The Green Hornet, and others. I have then been a fan of Old Time Radio most of my life.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Radio Show Revival of the Seventies

It was on September 30 1962 that Old Time Radio came to an end with the final episodes of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense. They would be the last two radio dramas that CBS would air for some time, and they would be among the last few radio shows with any amount of success. While the radio shows of old were gone, they were not forgotten. Indeed, the Seventies would see a revival of radio shows, with new shows debuting and Old Time Radio shows being released on tape and on vinyl.

Of course, it must be kept in mind that even after Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense ended their runs, there would be yet other survivors of Old Time Radio that would continue to air. The Grand Ole Opry had debuted in 1925 as The WSM Barn Dance and still airs to this day. King Biscuit Time debuted in 1941 and also continues to air to this day.

What is more, it was only a little under two years after Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense had left the air that there was an attempt at a new radio show. It was on August 3 1964 that Theatre 5 debuted on ABC Radio. Theatre 5 was an anthology series that aired Monday through Friday at 5:00 in the afternoon. Given when it debuted, Theatre 5 could be considered the first attempt to revive Old Time Radio. Unfortunately, it would not prove successful. Theatre 5 left the air only a little less than a year after it had debuted, on July 25 1965.

While Theatre 5 was not successful, it was clear that there was still interest in the radio shows of old. It was in the Sixties that collectors of Old Time Radio shows emerged. Many collectors would seek out the surviving transcription discs of radio shows from radio stations, sponsors, stars, and even guests from the shows. Many collectors would also record programs on reel to reel tape, cassette tapes not being available yet. As might be expected, a good deal of trading programs went on among collectors. Eventually companies emerged that would sell higher quality recordings of radio shows, initially on reel to reel tape and later on vinyl and still later on cassettes. Among the many companies that would emerge in the late Sixties, early Seventies, and later were Mar-Bren Sound Co., Mark56 Records, Murray Hill, and Nostalgia Lane.

Given the interest in Old Time Radio that emerged in the Sixties, it should come as no surprise that there would be books published on the subject. In 1967 The Great Radio Heroes by Jim Harmon became one of the earliest books published on Old Time Radio. The Great Radio Heroes covered a wide range of Old Time Radio shows, everything from The Shadow to The Adventures of Superman to I Love a Mystery. It also proved to be a success, so successful that it is still in print today.

By the early Seventies there was enough interest in Old Time Radio that not only would a thriving industry of companies releasing radio shows on vinyl and cassette arise, but some companies would even use vinyl LP collections of radio shows as promotional items. Among the most notable is Coca-Cola, who released the LPs The Lone Ranger (Original Radio Broadcasts) and The Shadow (Original Radio Broadcasts) in 1972, and then Superman (Original Radio Broadcasts), Dick Tracy (Original Radio Broadcasts), and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon (Original Radio Broadcasts) in 1973.  Old radio shows weren't only released on vinyl and cassette. Some would actually find their way back on the air as well. Charles Michelson Inc. began syndicating reruns of old radio shows to stations around the country. By 1974 the company had sold Old Time Radio reruns to over 400 stations in the United States.

With the rising interest in old radio shows, it was only a matter of  time before someone would try to revive the form. It was in 1971 that the radio show Earplay debuted on NPR.  Earplay began when NPR station WHA received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. While the program can quite rightfully be considered a revival of Old Time Radio, it did differ from the radio shows of old in some respects. For one thing, it aired in stereo. In fact, it was not unusual for one speaker to be used for one character and another speaker used for another character. Second, the production of Earplay was much more like that of a film than an Old Time Radio show. Segments would be recorded with only the voices of actors and then the sound effects and music would be added later.

Producer Karl Schmidt initially pitched his idea for Earplay as a 10 to 15 minute program, as he was worried that listeners at the time might not be accustomed to longer radio dramas. Fortunately, listeners eagerly embraced Earplay, so that in its second year it expanded to an hour. Playwrights from David Mamet to Achibald MacLeish wrote for the show. Over the years Earplay would feature such top actors as Leon Ames, Vincent Gardenia, Brock Peters, and Meryl Streep. Airing on NPR gave Earplay more freedom than it might have had on a commercial radio network, but it did have a downside when it came to funding the show. This would be one of the factors in the show's demise. Earplay would be discontinued in 1981 after ten years on the air.

It was perhaps the success of Earplay as much as it was growing interest in Old Time Radio that would lead the commercial radio networks to start their own radio shows. It was on September 3 1973 that The Zero Hour debuted in syndication. It was hosted by Rod Serling.  It was produced by Norman Corwin, who had produced many radio shows for CBS during the Golden Age of Radio. The Zero Hour focused on tales of adventure, mystery, and suspense.  It was a half hour in length and ran five days a week. In its first season episodes of The Zero Hour would air in five parts, Monday through Friday.

It was even before The Zero Hour ended its first season on December 7 1973 that the Mutual Broadcasting System began repeating episodes of the show on October 15 1973. When the second season of The Zero Hour began on April 19 1974 there was a significant change in the show. While it still aired five nights a week, the multi-part episodes were gone. Episodes would begin and end in a half hour each night. The final episode of The Zero Hour aired on July 26 1974, less than a year after it had debuted.

While The Zero Hour would not prove to be a success, the next radio show to debut would prove to be one of the most successful programs of the Seventies radio show revival. CBS Radio Mystery Theater was created by Himan Brown, who had created the classic radio show Inner Sanctum Mystery and produced over 30,000 shows, from The Adventures of the Thin Man to Terry and the Pirates. It should come as no surprise that CBS Radio Mystery Theater drew heavily from Inner Sanctum Mysteries. Like Inner Sanctum Mysteries, CBS Radio Mystery Theater started with a creaking door. Like Inner Sanctum Mysteries, it also had its own host with a dark sense of humour in the form of acclaimed actor E. G. Marshall. And like Inner Sanctum Mysteries, it was an anthology series that featured tales of mystery, suspense, and horror. CBS Radio Mystery Theater was an hour in length and aired seven nights a week.

CBS Radio Mystery Theater debuted on January 6 1974. While the show's target audience appears to have been older listeners who could remember Old Time Radio, the program picked up a loyal following of younger listeners as well. E. G. Marshall remained with the show for most of its run, with Tammy Grimes taking over as host in its final season. CBS Radio Mystery Theater aired nearly nine years, ending its run on December 31 1982. Since then CBS Radio Mystery Theater has been rebroadcast on both CBS stations and NPR stations.

The year 1974 seems to have been the peak of the radio show revival. It was on May 1 1974 that Sounds of the City debuted on the Mutual Black Network. Sounds of the City differed from many radio shows in the revival in that it was not an anthology series. Instead it was a fifteen minute soap opera with continuing characters. It was also unique in that it centred on black characters. Among the actors on the show were Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis. The series focused on an African American family from the South and their efforts to make the transition to life in the North.

Sounds of the City would only last 39 weeks, but it is hard to say that the show was not a success. The impetus for the soap opera was Byron Lewis, who had founded UniWorld Group Inc., a multicultural advertising agency, in 1969. Among other things, it was UniWorld that handled the promotional campaign for the movie Shaft (1971). Unfortunately the Seventies were a tough time for black owned advertising agencies, so that by 1974 UniWorld was struggling. It was then that Byron Lewis remembered how his family listened to such Old Time Radio soap operas as Stella Dallas. He struck upon the idea of an African American soap opera, He found a sponsor in Quaker Oats, who would remain a client of UniWorld after Sounds of the City. It was then Sounds of the City that saved the agency.

There would be one other radio show that debuted in 1974 that was not an anthology show. A Prairie Home Companion would number among the most successful radio shows to emerge from the revival. It was essentially a revival of the variety shows of old, owing less to modern comedy (such as The Firesign Theatre Radio Hour Hour and The National Lampoon Radio Hour) than it did the variety shows of the Golden Age of Radio.

In fact, it was after Garrison Keillor had researched The Grand Ole Opry for an article that he hit upon the idea of doing a variety show on radio. A Prairie Home Companion debuted on July 6 1974 on Minnesota Public Radio and was distributed through its syndication branch American Public Media. The show proved to be a success and aired until June 13 1987. For many years there would be annual farewell broadcasts until, at last, A Prairie Home Companion was revived on October 2 1993. Garrison Kellor eventually left the show, with his last episode airing on July 2 2016. Chris Thile was announced as the show's new host in October 2016. It was on November 29 2017 that Minnesota Public Radio ended its association with Garrison Keillor due to allegations of sexual misconduct. Because Keillor owned the rights to the name A Prairie Home Companion, the show's name was changed to Live from Here. Live from Here continues to air to this day.

The next radio show to debut would begin in the offices of General Mills, Inc.'s advertising agency Dancer-Fitzgerald-Sample. The agency was looking for a means to reach children besides television. It was in 1972 that the National Association of Broadcasters changed its code of practices so that advertising during children's shows was reduced from 16 minutes an hour to 12 minutes an hour. At the same time, costs for creating children's programming (which at the time consisted primarily of animated cartoons) had increased. It was also at that time that Himan Brown, who had been producing The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, wanted to introduce radio drama to a younger audience. The end result would be The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater. 

The General Mills Adventure Radio Theater was hosted by Tom Bosley, then familiar to many as Mr. Cunningham on Happy Days. It aired on Saturday and Sunday evenings and the episodes ran an hour. General Mills Radio Adventure Theatre debuted on February 5 1977. The program featured a mix of original episodes based on history and legends and episodes based on such literary classics as Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped, H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Jule Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater ran for 52 episodes and aired its last original episode on July 31 1977. General Mills dropped out as the show's sponsor, so that when CBS began rerunning the show on August 8 1977 it aired under the title CBS Radio Adventure Theater. The program last aired on CBS on January 29 1978.

The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater was not the last new radio show to debut on CBS in the Seventies, nor was it the last one to have a big name sponsor. Sears Radio Theatre was produced by Elliott Lewis, a veteran radio actor who had voiced Archie Goodwin on The Amazing Nero Wolfe and Frank Remley on The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show among many other roles. Mr. Lewis had also directed episodes of Suspense, Pursuit, and the revival series Zero Hour. He had also produced Broadway is My Beat, The Lineup, Suspense, On Stage, and Crime Classics.

Sears Radio Theater ran five nights a week and ran an hour. It also had a rather unique format in that each night of the week was dedicated to a different genre and had a different host. Western Night was Monday, hosted by Lorne Greene.  Comedy Night was Tuesday, hosted by Andy Griffith. Mystery Night was Wednesday, hosted by Vincent Price. Love and Hate Night was Thursday, hosted by Cicely Tyson. Finally, Adventure Night was Friday. Initially Adventure Night was hosted by Richard Widmark. Later it would be hosted by Howard Duff and still later by Leonard Nimoy. Sears Radio Theater featured some well known actors, including Eve Arden, Tom Bosley, Hans Conried, John Dehner, Henry Morgan, Janet Waldo, and Jesse White.

Sears Radio Theater debuted on CBS on February 5 1979. Its first season ran until August 2 1979. The show then left CBS for the Mutual Broadcasting system where it was renamed Mutual Radio Theater. Otherwise the show was unchanged, with each night dedicated to a different genre, although Leonard Nimoy now hosted Adventure Night. Mutual Radio Theater made its debut on Mutual on March 3 1980. It would run until December 19 1980.

The Seventies were over, but there would be one more show in the radio show revival that had begun during the decade. It was in the same year, 1981, that Earplay ended that NPR launched a new series of radio dramas titled NPR Playhouse. Like Earplay, NPR Playhouse aired weekly. Unlike Earplay it was only a half hour, although it often aired multi-part stories. NPR Playhouse's debut on March 1 1981 would be an auspicious one. It was upon its debut that it began a 13 part expanded adaptation of the movie Star Wars (1977).  The Star Wars adaptation garnered a larger audience than NPR had ever had. Over the years NPR Playhouse would feature adaptations of Don Quixote, Madame Bovary, a series of Sherlock Holmes short stories, and even Doc Savage pulp novels. It also featured original episodes, as well as episodes that had originated on Earplay.

NPR Playhouse would prove fairly successful, so successful that it ran for over twenty years. Unfortunately, NPR discontinued NPR Playhouse in September 2002 because so many of its stations did not carry the show. While NPR Playhouse was the last show in the revival that had begun in the Seventies, its success was only exceeded by A Prairie Home Companion in terms of how long it ran.

The Seventies would see more new radio dramas debut than any decade since Old Time Radio ended. As to the reason the radio drama revival began at all, it went beyond the renewed interest in Old Time Radio that had begun in the Sixties. The Seventies saw a nostalgia wave that lasted for much of the decade. While many are familiar with the wave of the Fifties nostalgia that produced the musical Grease and the sitcom Happy Days during the decade, there was a boom in nostalgia for other eras as well. Among the most successful shows of the Seventies was The Waltons, which was originally set during the Great Depression. Several successful movies set in the era of Old Time Radio were released in the Seventies, including Summer of '42 (1971), The Way We Were (1973), Chinatown (1974),  and Death on the Nile (1978). Reprints of old pulp magazine novels that had begun in the Sixties with Bantam's reprints of the Doc Savage novels only increased in the Seventies. While the renewed interest in Old Time Radio dramas had begun among aficionados in the Sixties, the nostalgia wave of the Seventies would bring it into the mainstream.

The Seventies radio drama revival would have a lasting impact. While at no point have there been as many new radio dramas been on the air as there were in the Seventies, in the intervening years Old Time Radio shows have become increasingly available. They would continue to be released on cassette and vinyl. Still later Old Time Radio shows would be released on CD and on MP3. There are numerous sites on the web where one can stream old radio dramas. There are even multiple mobile apps for streaming old radio shows. Old Time Radio may have ended on September 30 1962, but it never really went away.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Late Great Freddie Jones

Actor Freddie Jones died on July 9 2019 at the age of 91. He appeared in such films as Far from the Madding Crowd (1967) and Dune (1984), and he was a regular on the soap opera Emmerdale. He also made a notable guest appearance on The Avengers, becoming the second of six men to play John Steed (more on that later).

Freddie Jones was born in Dresden, a suburb of Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, on September 12 1927. He attended grammar school in Longston. He had his first taste of acting while very young, appearing when he was a Boy Scout in at a show at the old Theatre Royal in Hanley. After leaving school, he worked for a brief time at the home appliance store Creda in Blythe Bridge. Afterwards he worked for ten years as a lab assistant in a chemical factory in Tamworth. He began acting as an amateur at the old Shelton rep and other companies in the Stoke region.

Freddie Jones was in his thirties when he won a scholarship to the Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama. He spent some time with the Lincoln repertory before he made his London debut with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Afore Night Come at the Arts Theatre in 1962. On stage he also appeared in a revival of The Birthday Party in 1963, Lower Depths at the Aldwych Theatre in 1964, and The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade in 1964. In 1965 he made his only appearance on Broadway, reprising his role in The Persecution and Assassination of Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. In 1980 he played Sir in The Dresser.

Freddie Jones had an extensive career in television. He made his television debut in the two-part TV movie Androcles and the Lion in 1960. He played Count Muffat in the mini-series Nana and Claudius in the mini-series The Caesars. Mr. Jones also appeared in the mini-series The Victorians and Germinal. He played Ben Gunn in the series Treasure Island. Freddie Jones made several guest appearances on TV in the Sixties, the most notable being in The Avengers episode "Who's Who???" In the episode he played a criminal named Basil whose mind is switched with John Steed, so that for most of the episode it was actually Freddie Jones who was playing John Steed and Patrick Macnee who was playing Basil. This made Freddie Jones the second man to play Steed (the others besides Patrick Macnee being Simon Oates in the 1971 stage play The Avengers, Donald Monat in the 1971 South African radio drama The Avengers, Ralph Fiennes in the 1998 movie The Avengers, and Julian Wadham in the recent Big Finish audio series The Avengers – The Lost Episodes). In the Sixties Freddie Jones also guest starred on such shows as It Happened Like This, Z Cars, Maupassant, Festival, ITV Play of the Week, The Wednesday Play, Our Man at St. Mark's, The Liars, Theatre 625, The Baron, Half Hour Story, Contrasts, BBC Show of the Week, Cold Comfort Farm, The Saint, ITV Playhouse, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Omnibus, Menace, and The Main Chance.

In the Seventies Freddie Jones was the Storyteller on the TV series Jackanory. He had the role of Mr. Chaffery on Love and Mr. Lewisham, the Mayor on The Government Inspector, Sir George Uproar in The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Bertrand de Born on The Devil's Own, Selwyn Raven in The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, and Socrates in The Greeks: A Journey in Space and Time. He appeared in the mini-series Fall of Eagles, Children of the Stones, Nicholas Nickleby, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Fall of Eagles, Pennies from Heaven, and Bull Week. He guest starred on the shows The Goodies, His and Hers, The Protectors, The Adventurer, Ooh La La!, Armchair 30, Bowler, Armchair Theatre, Childhood, Late Night Drama, ITV Sunday Night Drama, This Week, Centre Play, Thriller, Shades of Greene, Space: 1999, Brensham People, Just William, The Galton & Simpson Playhouse, Three Piece Suite, The Duchess of Duke Street, Van der Valk, Target, Hazell, BBC Play of the Month, and Strangers.

In the Eighties Freddie Jones was a regular on the TV programmes The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, The District Nurse, Vanity Fair, How to Be Cool, and Sob Sisters. He guest starred on the shows Theatre Box, Travelling Man, Bulman, Summer Season, Theatre Night, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Boon, TECX, Hale and Pace, and Screenplay. He appeared in the miniseries The Paper Man.

In the Nineties Mr. Jones appeared in the mini-series Hotel Room, Mr. Wroe's Virgins, No Bananas, Neverwhere, Drover's Gold, and The Life and Crimes of William Palmer. He guest starred on the shows Inspector Morse, Screen One, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Lovejoy, Mother's Ruin, Just William, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, The Bill, Dalziel and Pascoe, Duck Patrol, Sunburn, The Passion, and The League of Gentleman.

It was in the Naughts that Freddie Jones began playing the long running role of Sandy Thomas on Emmerdale. He would remain on the show for 13 years and Sandy Thomas would be the final role he would play. He appeared in the mini-series Casanova. He guest starred on the shows Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), The Royal, Midsomer Murders, Casualty, and Heartbeat. In the Teens he continued to appear on Emmerdale.

Freddie Jones also had a fairly successful movie career. He made his movie debut in Accident in 1967. That same year he reprised his role as Cucurucu in the film version of Marat/Sade. In the Sixties he also appeared in the films Far From the Madding Crowd (1967), The Bliss of Miss Blossom (1968), Otley (1969), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), Doctor in Trouble (1970), The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970), and Goodbye Gemini (1970).

In the Seventies Mr. Jones appeared in the movies Assault (1971), Mr. Horatio Knibbles (1971), Kidnapped (1971), Anthony and Cleopatra (1972), Sitting Target (1972), Son of Dracula (1973), The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973), Juggernaut (1974), Vampira (1974), Never Too Young to Rock (1976), Zulu Dawn (1979), and The Elephant Man (1980).

In the Eighties Freddie Jones appeared in the movies Firefox (1982), Captain Stirrick (1982), Krull (1983), E la nave va (1983), Firestarter (1984), Dune (1984), Young Sherlock Holmes (1985), Comrades (1986), Maschenka (1987), Consuming Passions (1988), Erik the Viking (1989), and Wild at Heart (1990). He was the voice of Dalben in the animated film The Black Cauldron (1985).

In the Nineties he appeared in the films Poslední motýl (1991), Spies Inc. (1992), The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993), Prince of Jutland (1994), Die unendliche Geschichte III: Rettung aus Phantasien (1994), What Rats Won't Do (1998), My Life So Far (1999), House! (2000), and Married 2 Malcolm (2000).

In the Naughts  Freddie Jones appeared in the films The Count of Monte Cristo (200), Puckoon (2002), Ladies in Lavendar (2004), The Libertine (2004), Caught in the Act (2008), and Come On Eileen (2010). He was the narrator for the film By Our Selves (2015).

Freddie Jones was a phenomenally talented actor. A perfect example of his talent is The Avengers episode "Who's Who???." As mentioned earlier, in the episode he played Basil, a criminal whose mind is switched with John Steed early in the plot. Mr. Jones not only played Basil perfectly, but he was also extremely convincing as Steed. In fact, if not for the fact that Freddie Jones didn't exactly look like Steed, he could have easily played him on a regular basis. Of course, Mr. Jones did much more than guest star in an Avengers episode. He played the ill-fated asylum director Professor Richter in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. He played Thufir Hawat, Mentat and Master of Assassins, in Dune. He was the entirely clueless Harald the Missionary in Erik the Viking. Over the years Mr. Jones appeared in everything from Hammer Horrors to comedies to dramas to science fiction. He did all of it very well.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Godspeed Rip Torn

Rip Torn, the actor who appeared in such films as Cross Creek (1984) and played Artie on The Larry Sanders Show, died yesterday, July 9 2019, at the age of 88.

Rip Torn was born Elmore Rual Torn Jr. on February 6 1931 in Temple, Texas. The nickname "Rip" was passed down through the family, and he shared it with his father and an uncle. He attended Texas A&M and majored in agriculture before transferring to the University of Texas and switching to drama. After graduating Mr. Torn served in the Army in two years before moving to New York to study acting at the Actors Studio.

Rip Torn made his Broadway debut in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1956. Later, in 1960, he appeared in Sweet Bird of Youth. In the Sixties he appeared in the productions Daughter of Silence, Strange Interlude, Blues for Mister Charlie, and The Cuban Thing. In the Seventies he appeared on Broadway in Dance of Death, Look Away, and The Glass Menagerie. In the Eighties he appeared in Mixed Couples. In the Nineties he appeared in Anna Christie and The Young Man from Atlanta.

Rip Torn also had an extensive career in television. He made his television debut in 1956 in an episode of Omnibus. In the Fifties he guest starred on the TV shows The Kaiser Aluminum Hour, The Alcoa Hour, The Seven Lively Arts, The Restless Gun, The United States Steel Hour, Kraft Television Theatre, Matinee Theatre, Pursuit, Sunday Showcase, Playhouse 90, and Thriller. In the Sixties Mr. Torn guest starred on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Frontier Circus, Naked City, The Dick Powell Show, The Untouchables, Route 66, The Lieutenant, Channing, The Eleventh Hour, Ben Casey, Combat!, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Rawhide. In the Seventies he guest starred on such shows as Bonanza, Mannix, Most Wanted, and The Eddie Capra Mysteries. He appeared in the mini-series Blind Ambition.

In the Eighties Rip Torn appeared in the mini-series The Blue and the Gray, The Atlanta Child Murders, and Dream West. In the Nineties he played Artie, the bombastic producer of a talk show on The Larry Sanders Show. In 1996 he won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for the role. He also served as the narrator on the show Ghost Stories and provided various voices on the animated series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat. He guest starred on such shows as Columbo, Chicago Hope, The Wonderful World of Disney, and  Seasons of Love. He appeared in the mini-series Heaven & Hell: North & South, Book III.

In the Naughts Rip Torn had a recurring role on the shows Will & Grace, The Lyon's Den, and 30 Rock. He guest starred on Soul Food and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. His last appearance on television was in TV series TripTank in 2016.

In addition to his careers on Broadway and television, Rip Torn also had a successful movie career. He made his film debut in an uncredited roll in Baby Doll in 1956. In the late Fifties he appeared in the films A Face in the Crowd (1957), Time Limit (1957), and Pork Chop Hill (1959). In the Sixties he appeared in the films King of Kings (1961), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), Hero's Island (1962), Critic's Choice (1963), The Cincinnati Kid (1965), You're a Big Boy Now (1966), Beach Red (1967), Sol Madrid (1968), Beyond the Law (1968), Lion's Love (1969), Coming Apart (1969), Tropic of Cancer (1970), and Maidstone (1970).

In the Seventies he appeared in the films Slaughter (1972), Payday (1973), Cotter (1973), Crazy Joe (1974), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Birch Interval (1976), Nasty Habits (1977), The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977), Coma (1978), The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979), Heartland (1979), One-Trick Pony (1980), and First Family (1980). In the Eighties Rip Torn appeared in such films as A Stranger is Watching (1982), The Beastmaster (1982), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), Cross Creek (1983), Flashpoint (1984), City Heat (1984), Summer Rental (1985), Extreme Prejudice (1987), Nadine (1987), Cold Feet (1989), and Beautiful Dreamers (1990).

In the Nineties Rip Torn appeared in such films as Defending Your Life (1991), Beyond the Law (1993), RoboCop 3 (1993), For Better or Worse (1995), Canadian Bacon (1995), How to Make an American Quilt (1995), Trial and Error (1997), Men in Black (1997), The Insider (1999), and Wonder Boys. He was the voice of Zeus in Disney's animated feature Hercules (1997). In the Naughts he appeared in such films as Men in Black II (2002), Rolling Kansas (2003), Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004), Yours, Mine & Ours (2005), Marie Antoinette (2006), Three Days to Vegas (2007), Lucky Days (2008), American Cowslip (2009), and The Afterlight (2009). In the Teens he appeared in The Legend of Awesomest Maximus (2011), 3 Weeks to Daytona (2011), Men in Black 3 (2012), and Bridge of Names (2012).

By his own admission, Rip Torn could be irascible, but he was also an extremely talented actor. He played a wide variety of roles, ranging from Judas in King of Kings to General Ulysses S. Grant in the mini-series The Blue and the Gray. He played the affable defence attorney Bob Diamond in Defending Your Life, but he also played the villainous wizard Maax in The Beastmaster. His career spanned genres, and he appeared in everything from war movies (Pork Chop Hill) to science fiction (The Man Who Fell to Earth) to historical dramas (The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover) to comedies (Defending Your Life). Rip Torn may not have always been the easiest actor to get along with, but he was extremely versatile and talented.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Eddie Jones Passes On

Eddie Jones, who played Pa Kent on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and appeared in such movies as The Rocketeer (1991) and A League of Their Own (1992), died on July 6 2019 at the age of 84.

Eddie Jones was born in Washington, Pennsylvania on September 18 1934. As a young man he hitch-hiked to California. He was working as a gas station attendant when he was discovered by an agent, thus beginning his acting career. He made his film debut in Bloodbrothers in 1978. In the late Seventies he appeared in the films On the Yard (1978) and The First Deadly Sin (1980). In the Eighties he appeared in such films as Prince of the City (1981), Q (1982), C.H.U.D. (1984), The New Kids (1985), Year of the Dragon (1985), Invasion U.S.A. (1985), The Believers (1987), Apprentice to Murder (1988), American Blue Note (1989), Stanley & Iris (1990), Cadillac Man (1990), and The Grifters (1990). In the Eighties he appeared in such movies as The Rocketeer (1991), A League of Their Own (1992), Sneakers (1992), True Friends (1998), Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 (1998), Stranger in My House (1999), and Return to Me (2000). In the Naughts he appeared in such films as The Singing Detective (2003), Seabiscuit (2003), The Terminal (2004), Fighting Tommy Riley (2004), and Disconnect (2010). In the Teens he appeared in the movies Act Your Age (2011), Mercy (2014), and On the Road to Hollywood True Stories (2017).

In addition to appear in movies and on television, Eddie Jones also had a career on stage. He appeared in Curse of the Starving Class at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre in 1978. He also appeared off Broadway in An Act of Kindness (1980), The Freak (1982), Triple Feature (1983), and April Snow (1988). He made his Broadway debut in 1972 in That Championship Season and appeared again on Broadway in Devour the Snow.

Mr. Jones also had an extensive career on television. In the Eighties he had a recurring role on The Equalizer. He appeared in the mini-series Doubletake, I'll Take Manhattan, and The Kennedys of Massachusetts. He guest starred on the shows Tales from the Darkside, Spenser for Hire, Tattingers, It's Gary Shandling's Show, The Young Riders, WIOU, and Grand. In the Nineties, Eddie Jones had a regular role on the primetime reboot of Dark Shadows. He played Jonathan Kent on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. He had a regular role on the SyFy series The Invisible Man. He guest starred on Matlock, Cheers, Bodies of Evidence, Touched by an Angel, EZ Streets, Party of Five, and Hyperion Bay. From the Naughts into the Teens he guest starred on Judging Amy, Crossing Jordan, Ghost Whisperer, Veep, and Aquarius.

Eddie Jones was an extremely versatile actor. He may be best known as Pa Kent on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, the slightly old-fashioned, but gentle source of wisdom for Clark Kent. It was only a few years earlier that he played the drunken pilot Malcolm in The Rocketeer. Over the years he played everything from Marla Hooch's loving father who begs baseball scout Ernie Capadino to give her a chance even though she "ain't pretty" to NSA officer Buddy Wallace in Sneakers to War Admiral owner Samuel Riddle. Over the years he played everything from police officers to judges to men of the cloth. Eddie Jones always brought sincerity to any role he played, particularly when he played loving parents such as Jonathan Kent and Dave Hooch.