Saturday, March 5, 2022

Tim Considine Passes On

Tim Considine, who played eldest son Mike on My Three Sons for its first five seasons and starred in Mickey Mouse Club serials featuring Spin and Marty and The Hardy Boys, died on March 3 2022 at the age of 81.

Tim Considine was born on December 31 1940 in Los Angeles, California His father, John W. Considine Jr., was a producer for MGM. His grandfather, John Considine, was a vaudeville impresario. It was then perhaps natural for Tim Considine to go into entertainment. 

Tim Considine made his movie debut in 1953 in The Clown, playing the son of the title character played by Red Skelton. That same year he made his television debut in an episode of the show I'm the Law. He made guest appearances on the shows The Ford Television Theatre, Your Jeweler's Showcase, Chevron Theatre, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, The Great Gildersleeve, and Treasury Men in Action. In 1955 he was cast as Spin on the Mickey Mouse Club serial "The Adventures of Spin and Marty." Tim Considine would appear in subsequent Mickey Mouse Club serials, playing Spin in two more "Spin and Marty" serials, Frank Hardy in two "Hardy Boys" serials, and Steven Abernathy in the serial "Annette." Tim Considine would do further work for Walt Disney, appearing in the Disneyland serial "The Swamp Fox" and the feature film The Shaggy Dog (1960). It was in 1960 that Tim Considine was cast as Mike Douglas in the sitcom My Three Sons. In the mid to late Fifties he also appeared in the movies Executive Suite (1954), Her Twelve Men (1954), Unchained (1955), The Private War of Major Benson (1955), and Sunrise at Campobello (1960). He guest starred on the shows Zane Grey Theatre, Cheyenne, and Johnny Ringo.

In the Sixties Tim Considine continued to appear on My Three Sons until its fifth season. While he enjoyed working on the show and loved his cast mates, he had tired of the series by that point. His character, the eldest son Mike, was written out of the show as having married his fiancée Sally Ann Morrison (Meredith MacRae).  He guest starred on the shows The Untouchables, Bonanza, The Fugitive, Medical Center, Ironside, and Gunsmoke. He appeared in the movie Patton (1970), playing a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder who is slapped by General Patton.

In 1971 Tim Considine guest starred on an episode of The Smith Family. In 1973 he appeared in the movie The Daring Dobermans. Thereafter he left acting and took up writing and photography. He wrote the books The Photographic Dictionary of Soccer, The Language of Sport, American Grand Prix Racing: A Century of Drivers & Cars, and Twice Around the Clock: The Yanks at Le Mans. He returned to television in a guest appearance on the short-lived television series Legend. In 2000 he appeared in the Wonderful World of Disney TV movie The New Adventures of Spin and Marty: Suspect Behavior. He appeared in the movies Monster Makers and Frankenfish. His final feature film appearance was in the movie Ray of Sunshine (2007).

Tim Considine will probably always be best known for his work with Disney and his stint on My Three Sons, but he displayed considerable range during his career. In the episode "The Spoiler" of The Untouchables, he played Arnie Mizo, who helps his uncle Johnny Mizo (Rip Torn) recover money Johnny had stolen from mobster Vince Majesky (Claude Akins). In the Bonanza episode "The Reluctant Rebel" he played the son of a hog farmer (Royal Dano) who is embarrassed by his father's occupation and finds himself in a gang of rustlers. In the Fugitive episode "Second Sight" freelance photographer who learns a temporarily blinded Richard Kimble is on the run and is tempted by the $10,000 reward for his capture. Tim Considine was an extremely talented actor who played a variety of roles throughout his career.

Friday, March 4, 2022

The 100th Anniversary of Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens

It as 100 years ago today that Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) was released in Germany. Along with The Phantom of the Opera (1925), it may well be the most famous silent horror movie of all time. It is also one of the most famous adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, despite being wholly unauthorized. Despite a successful copyright infringement lawsuit by Bram Stoker's widow Florence Stoker, Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens would prove to be one of the most influential, if not the most influential, vampire movie of all time.Indeed, it was Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens that introduced the idea that vampires can be destroyed by sunlight (it isn't found in folkore).

I have already written several posts mentioning Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens, so I won't repeat myself here. I will simply direct people to my 2015 post Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922). You can read it here.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Godspeed Gary Brooker

Gary Brooker, the leader of the band Procol Harum died on February 19 at the age of  76. The cause was cancer. He was the only member of Procol Harum to remain with the band for the entirety of its history.

Gary Brooker was born on May 29 1945 in Hackney, East London. He spent his early years in Hackney before his family moved to Middlesex. His father played steel guitar with  Felix Mendelssohn's Hawaiian Serenaders. Gary Brooker was still very young when he learned to play piano, cornet, and trombone. In 1945 his family moved to Southend-on-Sea, Essex. He attended Southend Municipal College, where he studied zoology and botany, but he left the college to become a professional musician.

In the early Sixties Gary Brooker and guitarist Robin Trower founded The Paramounts. The Paramounts had a single hit with a cover of The Coasters' "Poison Ivy." The Paramounts disbanded in 1966. That same year Gary Brooker formed Procol. Harum with Keith Reid. It was their manager, Guy Stevens, who came up with the band's name, taking it from the name of a Burmese cat owned by one of their friends, Liz Coombes. Their debut single, "A Whiter Shade of Pale," proved to be one of the most successful records of all time. The song hit no. 1 on the UK singles chart and no. 1 in several other countries as well. It reached no. 5 on the Billboard  Hot 100. Their first album, Procol Harum, reached no. 26.

Procol Harum never again repeated the success of "A Whiter Shade of Pale," but they would see a good deal of success over the years. Into the early Seventies Procol Harum's albums regularly reached the top fifty of the UK album chart. The band also did well with regards to their singles. Their second single,"Homburg," reached no. 6 on the UK singles chart. Their 1972 single "Conquistador" reached no. 22 on the UK singles chart. In 1975 "Pandora's Box" reached no. 16. From 1967 to 2017 Procol Harum disbanded in 1977. They reformed in 1991. In all , between 1967 and 2017, they  released 20 studio albums.

While Procol Harum was disbanded, Gary Brooker released three solo albums: No More Fear of Flying (1979), Lead Me to the Water (1982), and Echoes in the Night (1985). Here leased one live album, Within Our House, in 1996. Over the years he contributed to the albums of others, from George Harrison's All Things must Pass to The Alan Parsons Project's Stereotomy to Kate Bush's Aerial.

Gary Brooker was nothing if not versatile. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" has been classed as "baroque pop." Yet other songs have been counted as progressive rock or psychedelia. Yet other songs show influence from British music halls, the blues, and classical music. It was because of Gary Brooker's diverse styles that it was difficult to pigeonhole Mr. Brooker or Procol Harum in any one genre. Although they were often classed as progressive rock, they played everything from psychedelia to jazz rock. A pianist rivalled by none and a composer capable of a diverse number of styles Gary Brooker was extremly talented.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

The Late Great Veronica Carlson

Among the many actresses to appear in the Hammer Horrors, Veronica Carlson numbered among fans' favourites. She was a frequent guest at conventions, where she became known for her friendliness and her respect for her fans. I never had the opportunity to meet Miss Carlson, but I know people who did. What is more, Veronica Carlson and I had mutual friends. All of them adored her. Sadly, Veronica Carlson died on February 27 2022 at the age of 77.

Veronica Carlson was born Veronica Mary Glazer on September 18 1944 in Yorkshire. Her father was stationed in West Germany, so she spent much of her childhood there. She attended Thetford Girls' School and the High Wycombe College of Technology and Design, where she studied art.

Veronica Carlson worked as a model which led to bit parts in Casino Royale  (1967) and Smashing Time (1967). James Carreras of Hammer Production noticed a photo of Miss Carlson emerging out of the waves in a bikini that had appeared in a tabloid. She went in for an audition was was cast in the film Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968). In the late Sixties she also appeared in the movies Hammerhead (1968), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Best House in London (1969), Crossplot (1969), Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You (1970), and The Horror of Frankenstein (1970). She made her television debut in an episode of ITV Playhouse. She guest starred on The Saint, Department S, and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

In the Seventies Veronica Carlson was a regular on the British TV series Spyder's Web. She also guest starred on Hine and Public Eye. She appeared in the films Vampira (1974) and The Ghoul (1975). In the mid-Seventies she went into semi-retirement. She moved to the Unites States and later settled in South Carolina. Miss Carlson was an accomplished and successful painter.

Veronica Carlson would return to film, appearing the movies Black Easter (1994), Freakshow (1995), Stellar Quasar and the Scrolls of Dadelia (2016), and House of the Gorgon (2019). She was set to appear in the movie The Refractory.

Veronica Carlson was a very good actress. In Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, she played the niece of a priest who very nearly comes under Dracula's control. In Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed she played the landlady Anna, who has the misfortune of having Dr. Frankenstein as a tenant. While The Horror of Frankenstein is a lesser effort from Hammer, she did well as Elizabeth in the film. In The Saint episode "The Man Who Gambled with Life," she was impressive as the daughter of an eccentric entrepreneur.

As mentioned earlier, Veronica Carlson was a favourite at conventions. Also as I mentioned earlier, we had mutual friends. They were all unanimous in their adoration of Miss Carlson. She was beautiful and elegant even as she grew older, yet she was so unassuming that one would not realize she was a well known actress if they did not know better. Miss Carlson also had a wonderful sense of humour. She was known for her kindness and thoughtfulness, and when someone talked to her, they had her total attention. Veronica Carlson was certainly known for her beauty, from those who met her and her close friends, she was a woman who had a beautiful soul as well.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Hellhound on My Trail by Robert Johnson

"Hellhound on My Trail" is one of bluesman Robert Johnson's most famous songs. There are many who consider it his greatest song. The song begins with the usual blues rope of a rambling musician before shifting to imagery of him being pursued by a hellhound. The song was recorded on June 30 1927 in Dallas, Texas. It was not only the first song Robert Johnson recorded that day, but the first song from that recording session to be released.

The imagery of hellhounds has been used in Christian sermons at least from the late Middle Ages. Cerberus, who guarded the gates of Hades in Greek mythology, is even placed by Dante as guarding the third circle of Hell in The Inferno. In addition to Cerberus and with particular regards to Northern Europe, the image of the hellhound could also possibly have its roots in Garm, the dog who guards the entrance to Hel in Norse mythology. References to hellhounds would later be found in Puritan sermons of the 18th Century and would persist into the 19th and 20th Centuries.

In fact, hellhounds were mentioned in blues and spiritual songs prior to Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail." In 1926 The Biddleville University Quintettes's religious song "Show Pity Lord" contains the line "The hellhound has turned back off my trail." "Devil Blues" by Sylvester Weaver contains the line, "Hellhounds start to chase me man, I was a running fool, My ankles caught on fire, couldn't keep my puppies cool."

While hellhounds played a large role in Christian sermons and were references in song prior to "Hellhound on My Trail," what gives the song great significance is the legend that Robert Johnson had sold his soul to the devil for skill with the guitar. Here it must be pointed out that Robert Johnson was not the only bluesman about whom a Faustian legend had sprung up or even the only musician. Legends that 18th and 19th Century Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini had sold his soul to the Devil were current even in in his lifetime. The Catholic Church in Genoa took the legend so seriously that when Paganini died, he was denied a Catholic burial. Even an appeal to the Pope would not result in the burial of the violinist's body. He would not be buried until 1876, 36 years after his death. According to LeDell Johnson, the brother of Tommy Johnson, Tommy Johnson had claimed to have sold his soul to the Devil (here it must be pointed out that Robert Johnson and Tommy Johnson were unrelated).

The legend of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the Devil often varies and it is unclear whether it was current during his lifetime or even shortly after his lifetime. Some scholars believe it originated in the Fifties and Sixties, when white fans rediscovered Robert Johnson and his music. As mentioned earlier, version of the legend vary. Some claim that Robert Johnson took his guitar to a crossroads on a plantation (often cited as Dockery Plantation, but also others as well), where he met the Devil (who is often portrayed as a large Black man). Robert Johnson gave his guitar to the Devil, who tuned it and played a few songs on it, then handed it back to Mr. Johnson. As to idea that Robert Johnson's deal with the Devil took place at a crossroads, that part of the legends may have its roots in Robert Johnson's song "Cross Road Blues." Of course, it must be pointed out that in some variations of the legend it is not a crossroads were Robert Johnson meets the Devil, but a cemetery.

The legend that Robert Johnson had sold his soul to the Devil has been used to explain how he mastered the guitar so quickly. What the legends ignores is that Robert Johnson spent a few years learning how to play guitar better from such blues legends as Ike Zimmerman. Even if one believes in the Devil, there are more rational explanations for Robert Johnson's expertise with the guitar than selling his soul.

Regardless, "Hellhound on My Trail" is a remarkable achievement in the blues. Over the years the song has been covered by such artists as Fleetwood Mac, Cassandra Wilson, and others.