Friday, January 29, 2021

The Late Great Cicely Tyson

Actress Cicely Tyson was a true pioneer. Throughout her career, she refused to play stereotypes. Playing Jane Foster on the drama East Side/West Side, she became the first African American to have be a regular on a drama on American broadcast television. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Sounder (1972). She won the Emmy Award for Best Lead Actress in a Drama for The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman and received a special Emmy for Actress of the Year for the same TV movie. Miss Tyson paved the way for many more Black actors. She died yesterday, January 28 2021, at the age of 96.

Cicely Tyson was born in East Harlem to parents who had immigrated from the West Indies. Following her graduation from high school she worked as  secretary for the American Red Cross. After being discovered by a photographer for Ebony magazine she became a model. She made her television debut in an episode of Frontiers of Faith in 1951. In 1960 she appeared in the TV series CBS Repertoire Workshop. Cicely Tyson made her film debut in Carib Gold in 1957. In the late Fifties she also appeared in the movies Odds Against Tomorrow (1957) and The Last Angry Man (1960).  Miss Tyson was an understudy for the title role in the Broadway production Jolly's Progress. She appeared in play The Cool World on Broadway in 1960.

Cicely Tyson appeared frequently on Broadway in the Sixties. She appeared in the productions Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright; A Hand is On the Gate; Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights; and Trumpets of the Lord. In 1961 she appeared off-Broadway in The Blacks. On television she played Jane Foster, the secretary of social worker Neil Brock (played by George C. Scott) on the acclaimed drama East Side/West Side. Not only was she the first Black actress to have a recurring role on an American television drama, but at the time she was the only Black actor with a regular role on an American broadcast television drama. During the decade she guest starred on The Nurses, Naked City, Slattery's People, The Guiding Light, I Spy, Cowboy in Africa, Judd for the Defense, Medical Center, The F.B.I., The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Here Come the Brides, The Bill Cosby Show, Mission: Impossible, and Gunsmoke. Miss Tyson appeared in the movies A Man Called Adam (1966), The Comedians (1967), and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968).

It was in 1972 that Cicely Tyson played Rebecca Morgan, the wife of a Black sharecropper and mother of a young son in Sounder. She was nominated for the Oscar for Best Lead Actress for the role.She also appeared in the movies The Blue Bird (1976), The River Niger (1976), A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich (1978), and The Concorde...Airport '79 (1979). On television she starred in the television movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, for which she won two Emmy Awards.Miss Tyosn appeared in the mini-series Roots. She played Coretta Scott King in the mini-series King. She guest starred on Insight, Emergency!, Norman Corwin Presents, and A Woman Called Moses. She appeared in the TV movies Wednesday Night Out and Just an Old Sweet Song.

In the Eighties Cicely Tyson appeared on Broadway in The Corn is Green. She appeared in the movie Bustin' Loose (1981). On television she appeared in the TV movies Benny's Place, Playing with Fire, Acceptable Risks, Samaritan: The Mitch Snyder Story, Intimate Encounters, Heat Wave, and The Kid Who Loved Christmas. She appeared in the mini-series The Women of Brewster Place. She guest starred on the TV show B.L. Stryker.

In the Nineties Cicely Tyson played the role of civil rights attorney Carrie Grace Battle on the TV series Sweet Justice. She appeared in the mini-series Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, Mama Flora's Family, and Aftershock: Earthquake in New York. She gust starred on the shows Touched by an Angel and The Outer Limits. She appeared in the TV movies Clippers, Duplicates, When No One Would Listen, House of Secrets, The Road to Galveston, Bridge of Time, Riot, The Price of Heaven, Ms. Scrooge, Always Outnumbered, and A Lesson Before Dying. She appeared in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and Hoodlum (1997).

In the Naughts Miss Tyson appeared in the movies Because of Winn-Dixie (2005), Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005), Madea's Family Reunion (2006), Fat Rose and Squeaky (2006), Idlewild (2006), and Why Did I Get Married Too? (2010). She was the voice of Jeanette Nyirabagarwa in Rwanda Rising (2007). On television she appeared in the TV movies Jewel (2001), The Rosa Parks Story (2002), and Relative Stranger (2009). She guest starred on the shows The Proud Family, Higglytown Heroes, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In the Teens Cicely Tyson returned to Broadway to appear in The Trip to Bountiful (for which she won a Tony) and The Gin Game. On television she was a regular on Cherish the Day and How to Get Away with Murder. She guest starred on House of Cards and Madame Secretary. She appeared in the TV movie The Trip to Bountiful. Miss Tyson appeared in the movies The Help (2011), Alex Cross (2012),  The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia (2013), Showing Roots (2016), Last Flag Flying (2017), and A Fall from Grace (2020).

Cicely Tyson was a remarkable actress, not merely for her talent but in her choice of roles. She would never take any role that she felt were demeaning to Black women. She refused to play maids, drug addicts, or prostitutes. Instead she played impactful, often inspirational characters, and in doing so changed the way Black women were portrayed on the big and small screens.

She leaves behind no shortage of great performances. She was impressive in Sounder, playing a strong, intelligent, and devoted mother faced with poverty. In The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman she played a centenarian from her days as a slave to her death not long before the Civil Rights movement. She gave an incredible performance as Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the mini-series King. In The Marva Collins Story she played another real life person, educator Marva Collins, who founded Westside Preparatory School in Chicago. Cicely Tyson gave so many great performances that it would take a book to detail them all. From Jane Foster on East Side/West Side to Miss Luma Lee Langston on Cherish the Day, Cicely Tyson was consistently excellent. It was through her talent and her refusal to take roles that demeaned Black women that she helped create better roles for Blacks and paved the way for many Black actresses to come.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

The Late Great Cloris Leachman

Cloris Leachman was arguably one of the most talented actors of the mid to late 20th and early 21st Centuries. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part in The Last Picture Show (1971). She was nominated and won several different Emmy Awards. Cloris Leachman  was also one of the most prolific actors of her time. She guest starred many times on television, appeared in 83 movies, and appeared on Broadway as well. She mad her debut on Broadway in 1947 and her last appearance on television last year.  Of course, Cloris Leachman was also one of the beloved actors of her time as well. Whether as Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Phyllis or Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein (1974), audiences adored her. Sadly, Cloris Leachman died yesterday, January 27 2021, at at the age of 94.

Cloris Leachman was born on April 30 1926 in Des Moines, Iowa. Her family's company, Leachman Lumber Company, is still in operation. Miss Leachman was the oldest of three daughters. The middle daughter, Claiborne Leachman, performed on Broadway and on television under the name Claiborne Cary. The youngest daughter, Mary, did not follow her sisters into show business. Cloris Leachman took an interest in acting while very young. As a teenager she performed with the Drake University Children’s Theatre and the Des Moines Playhouse. Following her graduation from Theodore Roosevelt High School, she attended Northwestern University. In 1946 she competed in the Miss America pageant as Miss Illinois.

Cloris Leachman studied acting at Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio in New York City. She made her debut on Broadway in Happy Birthday in 1947 after having served as the understudy for the character of Addie. Cloris Leachman would return to Broadway many times in her career. In the late Forties she appeared in Sundown Beach, As You Like It, and A Story for a Sunday Evening. In the Fifties she appeared in South Pacific, Lo and Behold!, Dear Barbarians, Sunday Breakfast, King of Hearts, A Touch of the Poet, and Masquerade.

Cloris Leachman made her television debut in an episode of The Ford Theatre Hour in 1948. In the late Forties she guest starred on the shows NBC Presents, Actor's Studio, Nash Airflyte Theatre, The Clock, and The Billy Rose Show. In the Fifties Cloris Leachman was a regular on the short-lived series Charlie Wild, Detective, as well as the classic show Lassie. She guest starred on several shows in the Fifties, including Pulitzer Prize Playhouse, Somerset Maugham TV Theatre, Big Town, Studio One, Armstrong Circle Theatre, Tales of Tomorrow, The Bob & Ray Show, Kraft Television Theatre, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Suspense, Danger, The Philip Morris Playhouse, The Web, The Mask, Philco Television Playhouse, Star Stage, Screen Directors Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, The Kaiser Aluminum, Zane Grey Theatre, Matinee Theatre, Telephone Time, Climax!, One Step Beyond, Johnny Staccato, Rawhide, Thriller, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Outlaws, Checkmate, and Shirley Temple's Storybook.

It was at the close of the Sixties, in 1970, that Cloris Leachman began playing what might be her most famous role, that of Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She guest starred on the shows Hawaiian Eye, The Loretta Young Show, Gunsmoke, The Donna Reed Show, Frontier Circus, The Twilight Zone, Cain's Hundred, Aloca Premiere, Target:The Corruptors, The Untouchables, Route 66, Laramie, General Electric Theatre, Wagon Train, The New Breed, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Kraft Mystery Theatre, Going My Way, The New Loretta Young Show, Stoney Burke, Saints and Sinners, 77 Sunset Strip, The Defenders, Mr. Novak, A Man Called Shenandoah, The Trials of O'Brien, Dr. Kildare, Perry Mason, Run for Your Life, The Big Valley, The Road West, The Guns of Will Sonnett, Adam-12, The Name of the Game, Mannix, Judd for the Defense, The Virginian, Ironside, Lancer, Marcus Welby M.D., and That Girl.

The Seventies saw Cloris Leachman continue to play Phyllis Lindstrom on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Phyllis. Miss Leachman also appeared as Phyllis in the Rhoda episode "Rhoda's Wedding." She guest starred on the shows Storefront Lawyers, Night Gallery, The Sixth Sense, Young Dr. Kildare, Wonder Woman, and The Associates. She also appeared in several TV movies.

In the Eighties Cloris Leachman was a regular on both The Facts of Life and The Nutt House. She guest starred on the shows ABC Afternoon Specials, American Playhouse, The Love Boat, and Ferris Bueller. She appeared in several TV movies. In the Nineties she starred on the TV Show Walter & Emily and Thanks. She guest starred on the shows The Simpsons, Sunday Dinner, The Powers That Be, The Nanny, Promised Land, The Norm Show, Twice in a Lifetime, and Love & Money.

In the Naughts Cloris Leachman had regular roles on The Ellen Show, Beach Girls, and Malcolm in the Middle. She guest starred on Diagnosis Murder, The Twilight Zone, Touched by an Angel, Happy Family, Joan of Arcadia, Two and a Half Man, The Great Malones, The Wedding Bells, The Office, Hawthorne, Blue Mountain State, and The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno.

In the Teens Miss Leachman was a regular on Raising Hope the animated series Creative Galaxy, and the revival of Mad About You. She was a guest voice on the animated shows Adventure Time, Phineas and Ferb, Bob's Burgers, Clarence, Justice League Action, and Elena of Avalor. She guest starred on Hot in Cleveland, Kirstie, Franklin & Bash, The Milers, Hawaii Five-0, Girl Meets World, The Eleventh, Royal Pains, American Gods, and Teachers.

Cloris Leachman made her film debut in Kiss Me Deadly in 1955. The following year she appeared in The Rack (1956). In the Sixties she appeared in the movies The Chapman Report (1962), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Lovers and Other Strangers (1970), and WUSA (1970).

In 1971 she appeared as Ruth Popper in The Last Picture Show, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In 1974 she appeared in what might be her second most famous role, that of Frau Blücher in Young Frankenstein. She worked with Mel Brooks again in High Anxiety (1977) and later in History of the World Part I (1981), as well as on his short-lived TV show The Nutt House. In the Seventies she also appeared in the movies Charley and the Angel (1973), Dillinger (1973), Happy Mother's Day, Love George (1973), Daisy Miller (1974), Crazy Mama (1975), The North Avenue Irregulars (1979), The Muppet Movie (1979), Scavenger Hunt (1979), Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), and Foolin' Around (1980).

In the Eighties Cloris Leachman appeared in the movies Yesterday (1981), History of the World Part 1 (1981), Shadow Play (1986), Walk Like a Man (1987), Hansel and Gretel (1987), Going to the Chapel (1988), Prancer (1989), Love Hurts (1990), Texasville (1990), and The Giant of Thunder Mountain (1990). She provided voices for My Little Pony: The Movies (1986) and the English version of Tenkû no shiro Rapyuta (1986-Castle in the Sky).  In the Nineties she appeared in the movies My Boyfriend's Back (1993), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Now and Then (1995), Never Too Late (1996), Music of the Heart (1999), Hanging Up (2000), and The Amati Girls (2000).

In the Naughts Miss Leachman appeared in the movies The Animal (2001), Manna from Heaven (2002), Alex & Emma (2003), Bad Santa (2003), Spanglish (2004), The Longest Yard (2005), Sky High (2005), The Californians (2005), Scary Movie 4 (2006), Beerfest (2006), The Women (2008), New York, I Love You (2008), American Cowslip (2009), A Very Mary Christmas (2010), and You Again (2010). In the Teens she appeared in The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (2012), Gambit (2012), Adult World (2013), The Wedding Ringer (2015), This is Happening (2015), Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Baby, Baby, Baby (2015), Is That a Gun in Your Pocket? (2016), So B. It (2016), The Bronx Bull (2016), The Comedian (2016), The Gliksmans (2017), I Can Only Imagine (2018), Lez Bomb (2019), When Last We Spoke (2019), and Jump, Darling (2020). She was the voice of Gran in The Croods: A New Age (2020).

Cloris Leachman certainly had a long career. Her career on television alone spanned over seventy years. She was also extremely prolific. She not only appeared frequently on television, but she also appeared in several movies throughout her career. Miss Leachman was a regular on several shows, from Lassie to Raising Hope. If Cloris Leachman had a long career and was prolific on both television and in movies, it was perhaps because she was an incredible actress.She was excellent at comedy. If she is remembered as Phyllis on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Phyllis, it is perhaps because she made the character seem like a real person. Phyllis was self-absorbed, a bit of a snob, and had a hard time minding her own business, but at the same time she truly cared for her friends. It was due to Cloris Leachman's talent that she not only made Phyllis funny, but even likeable despite some of her less than redeeming traits. Of course, she also did an excellent job as the elderly housekeeper Frau Blücher. She did so well in the role that Frau Blücher remains one of the favourite characters of fans of Young Frankenstein.

While Cloris Leachman's best known roles are in comedies, she was equally adept at drama. It is with good reason that she won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Last Picture Show. She was excellent as Ruth Popper, the middle-aged housewife who's husband is actually a closeted homosexual. In the Wagon Train episode "The Nancy Lee Davis Story," Miss Leachman plays a washed up saloon girl who nurses Flint McCullough back to health and has the misfortune to fall in love with him. On the Route 66 episode "Love is a Skinny Kid" she played a mother who had her daughter committed to a psychiatric hospital (Tuesday Weld), only to have the daughter return seeking revenge. In her long career Cloris Leachman played a wide variety of roles in both comedies and dramas. What is more, she always gave great performances. Mel Brooks paid tribute to Cloris Leachman upon her death, saying, "She could make you laugh or cry at the drop of a hat." That was certainly true. She was an incredible actress.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Secondhand Lions (2003)

For the most part, the focus of American television shows and motion pictures in the 20th and early 21st Centuries has been on the nuclear family, a couple and their children.  Notable exceptions have been the TV shows The Beverly Hillbillies and The Addams Family, television shows that featured extended families living under one roof. While American television shows and movies usually centre on the nuclear family rather than the extended family, there can be no doubt that the extended family has continued to be important for many Americans. This is perhaps much of the reason the movie Secondhand Lions (2003) resonates for so many.

Secondhand Lions centres on teenager Walter Caldwell (Haley Joel Osment), whose mother leaves him to spend the summer with his eccentric, reclusive great-uncles Hub (Robert Duvall) and Garth (Sir Michael Caine), who live in the rural Texas. Walter is not particularly happy to be there and his great-uncles aren't particularly happy to have him there, but the three eventually form a strong bond. An important part of the movie are the tales Garth tells Walter of his and Hub's past adventures. Exaggerated, obviously influenced by classic adventure films, and sometimes politically incorrect, Garth's tales of their adventures apparently have some truth to them. Also important to the plot is a lioness that Hub and Garth had bought for target practice, only to wind up making her a pet (despite their crusty exteriors, the two great-uncles were ultimately soft-hearted).

Secondhand Lions was written and directed by Tim McCanlies. After having worked for Disney for a time, Mr. McCanlies established himself as a script doctor and screenwriter. He wrote the screenplay for North Shore (1987) and experienced his big breakthrough with the screenplay for the classic animated film The Iron Giant (1999). He had actually written the screenplay for Secondhand Lions in the early Nineties, but would only sell it if he was also allowed to direct the film. In the meantime he directed the low-budget comedy-drama Dancer, Texas Pop. 81 (1998) to prove he could direct. Finally, years after having originally written the screenplay, Tim McCanlies persuaded New Line Cinema to let him direct Secondhand Lions.

During the long journey the screenplay Secondhand Lions took to the screen, various actors were considered for the roles of Hub and Garth: Paul Newman and Robert Redford; Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau; and even Tommy Lee Jones. When Haley Joel Osment was signed to the project, not only did not know which studio would produce Secondhand Lions, but he did not even know who his co-stars would be. Because Haley Joel Osment was going through puberty at the time, Secondhand Lions was shot in sequence.

In Secondhand Lions, Walter grows up to be a cartoonist. To provide Walter's cartoons Tim McCanlies turned to Berkeley Breathed, most famous as the creator of Bloom County. Mr. Breathed created a comic strip called Walter and Jasmine for the film, artwork from which is also shown during the closing credits.

Secondhand Lions received generally positive reviews upon its release. While it did modestly at the box office, it has since become something of a cult film. It is particularly popular with fans of family movies.

Much of the success of Secondhand Lions rests with its three leads. Robert Duvall and Sir Michael Caine give solid performances as Hub and Garth. Indeed, Mr. Caine's American accent is entirely convincing. Haley Joel Osment gives a sensitive performance as the boy who grows to love his two eccentric uncles. Mr. McCanlies's screenplay blends comedy and drama seamlessly. Set in 1962, Secondhand Lions captures the era quite well. Ultimately, Secondhand Lions is a touching coming of age movie with just enough schmaltz to be pleasing and plenty of fun. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Godspeed Bruce Kirby

Bruce Kirby, the character actor who played the none-too-bright Sgt. Kramer on Columbo, died on January 24 2021 at the age of 96.

Bruce Kirby was born Bruno Giovanni on April 28 1925 in New York City. He studied acting under Lee Strasberg. He made his television debut in 1955, guest starring in the Goodyear Television Playhouse episode "Visit to a Small Planet." In the late Fifties he guest starred on the shows Omnibus and The Phil Silvers Show.

In the Sixties Mr. Kirby played the recurring role of Officer Kissell on the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?. He guest starred on the shows Brenner, The Defenders, The Nurses, The Patty Duke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, The Mothers-In-Law, Judd for the Defense, Night Gallery, Adam-12, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Ironside, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Room 222, and Hogan's Heroes. He made his film debut in Catch-22 in 1970. He made his debut on Broadway in Diamond Orchid in 1965.

In the Seventies Bruce Kirby played the recurring role of Sgt. Kramer on Columbo. He also played the recurring role of Sgt. Vine on Kojak and the regular role of Captain Sedford on Homes and Yoyo. He was also a regular on the short-lived sitcom Turnabout. He guest starred on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ironside, Bonanza, Longstreet, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Room 222, Monty Nash, The Doris Day Show, Me and the Chimp, Banacek, The Mod Squad, McCloud, The New Perry Mason, The Bob Newhart Show, Medical Center, Chopper One, Toma, Marcus Welby M.D., Chico and the Man, The Streets of San Francisco, M*A*S*H, Harry O, Delvecchio, Rafferty, The Rockford Files, Operation Petticoat, The Eddie Capra Mysteries, Alice, Barney Miller, Eischied, and Vega$. He appeared in the movies How to Frame a Figg (1971), J.W. Coop (1971), Another Nice Mess (1972), The Commitment (1976), Fyre (1979), and The Muppet Movie (1979).

In the Eighties he played Detective Schmidt on the short-lived TV series Shannon. He played Chief Edward Stanmore on Hunter. He was a regular on the short-lived show Anything But Love. He played D.A. Bruce Rogoff on L.A. Law. He guest starred on the shows Park Place, The Greatest American Hero, Code Red, Lou Grant, Tucker's Witch, Remington Steele, Hill Street Blues, Three's a Crowd, Stir Crazy, Night Court, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Punky Brewster, Ann Jillian, In the Heat of the Night, The Fanelli Boys, and Hull High. He appeared in the movies Sweet Dreams (1975), Stand By Me (1985), Armed and Dangerous (1986), Happy New Year (1987), Throw Momma From the Train (1987), The In Crowd (1988), Lady in White (1988), The Big Picture (1989), and Big Jim (1990). He appeared on Broadway in Death of a Salesman.

In the Nineties Bruce Kirby continued to appear on L.A. Law and had a recurring role on the soap opera Days of Our Lives. He guest starred on the shows Golden Girls; Reasonable Doubts; Blue Skies; Madman of the Purple; Bless This House; This Single Guy; One West Waikiki; Murphy Brown; Murder, She Wrote; Caroline in the City; The Sentinel; Tracy Takes On...; Players; and Chicago Hope. He appeared in the movies Another Time, Another Place (1992), Mr. Wonderful (1993), Rave Review (1994), Cadillac (1997), A Bold Affair (1998), and Vinnie and Angela's Beauty Salon and Funeral Parlor (2000).

In the Naughts Mr. Kirby guest starred on The West Wing, The Agency, The Sopranos, Numb3rs, and Scrubs. He appeared in the films Crash (2004) and 2:22 (2008).

When people remember Bruce Kirby, it will most likely be as a police officer, often one who was none too bright. After all, he was Officer Kissell on Car 54, Where Are You? and Sgt. Kramer on Columbo. He certainly had a flair for comedy. That having been said, he played many other sorts of roles throughout his career. In Stand by Me, he was market owner Mr. Quidacioluo. He played radio and television host Arthur Godfrey in Sweet Dreams. And while he often played cops, he also played doctors, lawyers, and taxi cab drivers. Regardless of what kind of role Bruce Kirby played, he was always guaranteed to deliver a good performance. It is little wonder that he was so prolific in his career.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Late Great Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell
Mark Wilson, the magician who, with his partner and wife Nani Darnell, starred on the Saturday morning television show The Magic Land of Allakazam, died on January 19 at the age of 91. He also wrote the book Mark Wilson's Complete Course In Magic and served as a consultant on several television shows.

James Mark Wilson was born on April 11 1929. His father was a travelling salesman, so he spent much of his childhood travelling around the country. He developed his interest in magic while he was a very young. His family was staying in Indianapolis for a week when he was 8 years old. One afternoon Mark Wilson walked to a theatre near their hotel where he saw the magician Tommy Martin performing. He immediately decided he wanted to perform magic as well. On his walk back to the hotel, he stopped by a shop that was selling the book Thurston's  50 New Card Tricks, which he bought.

His family eventually settled in Dallas, Texas. As a teenager he worked at Douglas Magic Land there. He attended Southern Methodist University in University Park, Texas. He majored in marketing and advertising. It was in 1953 that he met a young dancer and American Airlines stewardess who used the stage name Nani Darnell at a New Year's party in 1953. They married not long afterwards.

As a young magician he received a corporate sponsorship with Morton Foods Company. It was in 1955 that he created the local Dallas TV Show Time for Magic, which was sponsored by the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company. The success of Time for Magic would lead to The Magic Land of Allakazam, which debuted on CBS on Saturday morning on October 1 1960. In 1962 it moved to ABC, where it continued on Saturday morning until 1964.

After The Magic Land of Allakazam, Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell continued to appear frequently on television. In the Sixties they appeared on House Party, The Garry Moore Show, The Kraft Music Hall, and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. In 1971 Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell were the stars of Magic Circus, a series of six television specials sponsored by the Pillsbury Company. In the Seventies Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell appeared regularly on the TV show The Magician., He also appeared on The John Denver Show, Cher, Sammy and Company, The Odd Couple, Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell, The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, and The Mike Douglas Show, as well as the specials The Hollywood Palladium, Peggy Fleming with Holiday on Ice at Madison Square Garden, and Hocus Pocus It's Magic. In 1981 Mark Wilson returned to television with his own series, The Magic of Mark Wilson. Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell's last appearance on television would be as part of the reveal of their son Greg Wilson's act on the August 10 episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us.

Mark Wilson also served as a magic consultant on the TV series The Magician, as well as the episodes of the shows Columbo and The Incredible Hulk.

In addition to performing on television, Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell performed on stage around the world. Mark Wilson provided the Hall of Magic at the 1964 New York World's Fair. At the Bell Telephone exhibit at the 1968 Hemisfair he appeared on film. As might be expected, Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell performed in Las Vegas.

Mark Wilson also wrote the books Mark Wilson's Complete Course In Magic, Mark Wilson's Cyclopedia Of Magic, Mark Wilson's Little Book Of Card Tricks, and Magic in a Box.

Mark Wilson is possibly one of the most influential stage magicians of all time. His show The Magic Land of Allakazam would interest Baby Boomers in magic and would even lead some of them to become magicians themselves. His book Mark Wilson's Complete Book of Magic would similarly inspire whole generations of young magicians. Keeping in mind that his partner and wife Nani Darnell also played a role in their success, much of what made Mark Wilson influential as a magician is that he could perform any sort of magic trick. He was as good at stage illusions as he was at parlour magic as he was at close-up magic. Mark Wilson was as comfortable with card tricks as he was sawing a lady in half. Of course, added to Mr. Wilson's sheer talent as an illusionist is the fact that he was the consummate showman. Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell certainly knew how to keep audiences entertained. He influenced such illusionists as Penn & Teller, Bill Cook, Michael King, and others. An incredible showman and talented magician, Mark Wilson will always be remembered.