Saturday, May 25, 2024

Godspeed Darryl Hickman

Darryl Hickman, who appeared in such movies as The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), and The Tingler (1959), and later did a good deal of voice work on television cartoons, died on May 24 2024 at the age of 92.

Darryl Hickman was born  on July 28 1931 in Hollywood, California. His father was an insurance salesman. His younger brother was Dwayne Hickman, who would later become famous as the title character on the classic sitcom Dobie Gillis. Darryl Hickman would appear on three episodes of the show in its first season as Dobie's older brother Davey.

He was discovered by one of his father's clients, a former Ziegfeld Girl named Ethel Meglin who had a troupe of child performers known as Meglin Kiddies. It was a year after becoming one of Meglin Kiddies that Darryl Hickman signed with Paramount. He made his film debut in Three Cheers for Love (1936). He had an uncredited role in the classic The Prisoner of Zenda (1937). In the late Thirties he appeared in the movies If I Were King (1938), The Star Maker (1938), Emergency Squad (1938), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), The Farmer's Daughter (1940), Untamed (1940), The Way of All Flesh (1940), Prairie Law (1940), and Mystery Sea Raider (1940).

In the Forties he appeared in the movies Sign of the Wolf (1941), Men of Boys Town (1941), Coffins on Wheels (1941), Mob Town (1941), Glamour Boy (1941), Young America (1942), Joe Smith, American (1942), Jackass Mail (1942), Northwest Rangers (1942), Keeper of the Flame (1942), The Human Comedy (1943), Assignment in Brittany (1943), Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout (1944), Song of Russia (1944), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), And Now Tomorrow (1944), Salty O'Rourke (1945), Captain Eddie (1945), Kiss and Tell (1945), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Two Years Before the Mast (1946), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Boys' Ranch (1946), The Devil on Wheels (1947), Black Gold (1947), Dangerous Years (1947), The Sainted Sisters (1948), Fighting Father Dunne (1948), Big Town Scandal (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), The Set-Up (1949), Any Number Can Play (1949), A Kiss for Corliss (1949), and The Happy Years (1950). He made his television debut in 1950 in an episode of Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1950).

In the Fifties Darryl Hickman increasingly appeared on television. As mentioned above, he appeared in three episodes of Dobie Gillis as Dobie's older brother Davey Gillis, who was away at college. He also guest starred on the shows Sky King; Mark Saber; The Ford Television Theatre; The Ranger Rider; Biff Baker, U.S.A.; Footlights Theatre; The Lone Ranger; Waterfront; Annie Oakley; Public Defender; Schlitz Playhouse of Stars; Sneak Preview; The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp; The Sheriff of Cochise; Panic!; Perry Mason; Climax!; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Playhouse 90; Men of Annapolis; General Electric Theatre; Studio One; Matinee Theatre; Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse; Pursuit; Wanted: Dead or Alive; Tales of Wells Fargo; Whirlybirds; Walt Disney Presents; Gunsmoke; The Millionaire; The DuPont Show with June Allyson; The Man and the Challenge; and The Detectives. He appeared in the movies Lightning Strikes Twice (1951), Criminal Lawyer (1951), Submarine Command (1951),  Destination Gobi (1953), Island in the Sky (1953), Sea of Lost Ships (1953), Southwest Passage (1954), Prisoner of War (1954), Ricochet Ronance (1954), Many Rivers to Cross (1955), Tea and Sympathy (1956), The Iron Sheriff (1957), The Persuader (1957), and The Tingler (1957).

In the Sixties he starred on the Civil War drama television series The Americans. He guest starred on The Loretta Young Show, Westinghouse Preview Theatre, The United States Steel Hour, 87th Precinct, Insight; Rawhide; The Untouchables; Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Colour; Dr. Kildare; Vacation Playhouse; New York Television Theatre, and Love, American Style.

From 1975 to 1977 Darryl Hickman served as an executive producer on the daytime soap opera Love of Life. He also served as a producer on the short-lived sitcom A Year at the Top. He was later put in charge of CBS's daytime programming and spent five years in the position. During the Seventies he guest starred on the TV shows Maude and All in the Family. He provided additional voices for the Saturday morning cartoon Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo. In the movie Network (1976) he played an executive from UBS's West Coast Special Programs Department.

In the Eighties he appeared in the movies Looker (1981) and Sharky's Machine (1981). He was regular voice actor on several Saturday morning cartoons and other television cartons, including Space Stars, Pac-Man, The Biskitts, Challenge of the GoBots, Pole Position, Super Friends, The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible; Wildfire, Johnny Quest, Sky Commanders, and A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. He guest starred on the shows Whiz Kids and Beauty and the Beast.

In the Nineties Darryl Hickman guest starred on Baywatch and The Nanny. He continued to provide voices for The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible. In 2006 he and several other former child actors appeared on Turner Classic Movies, where they were interviewed by Robert Osborne. Darryl Hickman also appeared at the TCM Classic Film Festival multiple times.

Darryl Hickman also wrote several episodes of The Loretta Young Show and one episode of Hawaiian Eye. In 2007 he published a book on acting, The Unconscious Actor: Out of Control, In Full Command.

Darryl Hickman was a remarkable actor who had great range. He played Danny Harland, the younger brother of Richard Harlan (Cornel Wilde), left disabled by polio, in Leave Her to Heaven. He played a delinquent in Men of Boys Town. In The Human Comedy he played Lionel, an intellectually disabled, but sensitive and at times insightful boy.  In Tea and Sympathy, he played Al, the sympathetic roommate of Tom Robinson Lee (John Kerr). He gave some great performances on television as well, In the Perry Mason episode "The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece," he played Steve Harris, a somewhat duplicitous, poor young man engaged to the wealthy Edna Hammar (Nancy Hadley).  In the Gunsmoke episode, "The Choice" he played Andy Hill, a young gunslinger who appears to want to give up using his guns. He also did a good job playing Dobie Gillis's  older, but somewhat wiser brother Davey on the classic sitcom Dobie Gillis. Darryl Hickman gave many great performances throughout his career and played a wide variety of roles.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Nobu McCarthy: Iconic Japanese American Actress

Nobu McCarthy is not exactly a household name, but chances are good that most people have seen her in a movie or an episode of a television show. Today she may be best known as Yukie, the romantic interest of Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid Part II (1986), but throughout her career she appeared in several movies and in several television show episodes.

Nobu McCarthy was born Nobu Atsumi on November 13 1934 in Ottawa, Ontario. At the time her father, Masaji Atsumi, was a private secretary to the Japanese ambassador to Canada. She was brought to Japan while still an infant. She later trained in ballet and sing with various groups, both live and on radio. She won the title of Miss Tokyo, a beauty pageant leading up to the Miss Japan competition.

Nobu McCarthy made her film debut under her given name, Nobu Atsumi, in the Japanese film, Wrestling Champion: Nihon no tora in 1954. It was in 1955 that she married Sgt. David McCarthy of the United States Army. It was in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles that talent agent Fred Ishimoto discovered her. She was sent to an audition at Paramount, and landed a part in the Jerry Lewis movie The Geisha Boy (1958). That same year she made her television debut in a bit part in an episode of the TV series Meet McGraw.

In the late Fifties and early Sixties, Nobu McCarthy would become very much in demand. Following her part in The Geisha Boy, she appeared in such films as Wake Me When It's Over (1960) and Love with the Proper Stanger (1963). She was a frequent guest star on television, appearing on such shows as The Red Skelton Show, Sea Hunt, Laramie, Wagon Train, Perry Mason, Mister Ed, The Wild Wild West, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and Batman.

Nobu McCarthy's acting career slowed in the late Fifties, but following her divorce in 1970 she joined the East West Players, the first Asian American theatre company in 1971. She played a number of roles on stage with the company. It was in 1989 that she replaced the East West Players' founder Mako, and she served as the company's artistic director until 1993.

Nobu McCarthy continued to appear in movies on television throughout the Seventies. She guest starred on such shows as Anna and the King, Kung Fu, The Magician, Barney Miller, Hawaii Five-O, and Quincy, ME.. In the Happy Days episode "Arnold's Wedding," she played the bride of Arnold (Pat Morita), the owner of Arnold's Drive-In. She continued to appear on the RV shows in the Eighties, including such shows as The Love Boat; Magnum, P.I.; and China Beach. She appeared in the movie The Karate Kid Part II. She won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for the movie The Wash (1988).

Following the Eighties, Nobu McCarthy's career slowed. She appeared in the movies The Painted Desert (1993) and Last Chance (1999), and the TV series Any Day Now. In the Nineties she taught theatre at the California State University, Los Angeles and UCLA.  She was working on the movie Gaiijin--Ama-me Como Sou (2005) when she fell ill on the set. She died from an aortic aneurysm at the age of 67.

Nobu McCarthy certainly broke new ground for Japanese American actors. As the Artistic Director of the East West Players she was instrumental in saving the company, which was reportedly near collapse at the time. George Takei, forever known as Sulu on Star Trek, said of Nobu McCartny, "She brought a calming influence to the group, broadened the outreach, and brought a sense of balance and stability." |

Sadly, Nobu McCarthy often found herself playing in movies that trafficked in stereotypes, including The Geisha Boy and even The Karate Kid Part II. Many of her early roles conformed to the "Lotus Blossom" stereotype. Even as she found herself often playing such roles, Nobu McCarthy worked to move Hollywood beyond East Asian stereotypes. In the television documentary Slaying the Dragon (1988), which dealt with the history of East Asian American actresses in Hollywood, she said that she once turned down an audition because the directors told her they were looking for a "Dragon Lady" type. In Five Gates to Hell, a movie featuring more than its fair share of East Asian stereotypes, Nobu McCarthy played a Japanese nurse. She appeared in both the play The Wash and the movie based upon it, she played a wife who files for divorce from her husband and then sought a new romance.  In Painted Desert she played a Japanese American running an old Southwest cafe who must deal with mobsters.

As an actress Nobu McCarthy had considerable talent, and she gave many remarkable performances beyond The Wash. In the Barney Miller episode "Christmas Story," she played Dorothy Murakami, a victim of a purse snatching to whom Yemana (Jack Soo) is attracted, not realizing she is a prostitute. In 1976 she played the lead role of Jeanne Wakatsuki in the groundbreaking 1976 television movie Farewell to Manzanar, which centred on the internment of Japanese Americans in prison camps during World War II. Her performances in the aforementioned Painted Desert was remarkable.

Nobu McCarthy may not be a household name, but she broke new ground for East Asian American actors. She paved the way for many Japanese American actors today.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Comic Book Artist Don Perlin Passes On

Don Perlin, the comic book artist who co-created Moon Knight, died on May 14 2024 at the age of 94.

Don Perlin was born on August 27 1929 in New York City. He grew up in Brooklyn. He was 14 years old when he began studying art under Burne Hogarth, best known for his work on the Tarzan newspaper comic strip. Among his fellow students was Al Williamson, who later became known for his work on EC Comics. Eventually Don Perlin could no longer afford to attend classes, but he would later study at  the Cartoonists and Illustrators School, co-founded by Burne Hogarth.

It was in the late 1940s that Don Perlin did his first professional work at Fox Features. In the late Forties he also worked on the comic book Love at First Sight and The Beyond for Ace Magazines. In the early Fifties he worked on Captain Science for Youthful Magazines. He also worked for Ziff-Davis, Hillman Periodicals, and Stanley Morse, and later Harvey Comics, St. John Publications, Comic Media, and what would become Marvel Comics. In 1953 he was drafted into the United States Army.

After his stint in the military, Don Perlin worked Charlton Comics' war titles, as well as occasional work for what would become Marvel Comics. He also illustrated an adaptation of Jules Verne's Robur the Conqueror for Classics Illustrated. It was in 1961 that he began many years of working almost exclusively for Charlton Comics. At Charlton his work covered nearly every genre, from the publisher's romance titles to their horror to their war titles to their Western titles. His only other work during this period was Hogan's Heroes for Dell and comic book biographies of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall for Fitzgerald Publications.

From 1974 to 1987 he worked with Marvel Comics as a penciller. He worked for a long time on Werewolf by Night, where he co-created the character of Moon Knight with writer Doug Moench. At Marvel he also worked on the titles Captain America, The Defenders, Ghost Rider, Man-Thing, and Transformers.

It was in 1991 that he became part of Valiant Comics. There he worked on the company's revival of Solar, Man of the Atom, as well as Bad Eggs and Timewalker. He co-created Bloodshot with Kevin VanHook and Don Layton, and drew several issues of the character's original run.

Don Perlin is not often counted among the greatest comic book artists, but his work truly demands more attention. While it might have lacked the sense of action in more highly regarded artists, he more than made up for it with his composition and detail. His work always had texture to it, and he was consummate storyteller. Unlike some flashier artists, his artwork always moved the story forward. Don Perlin was among the artists who shaped Marvel's house style in the Seventies. This was with good reason, as he was simply a great draughtsman.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Late Great Dabney Coleman

Dabney Coleman, who appeared on the TV shows Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman; Buffalo Bill; and The Slap Maxwell Story, and in such movies as 9 to 5 (1980), Tootsie (1982), and You've Got Mail (1998), died on May 16 2024 at the age of 92.

Dabney Coleman was born on January 3 1932 in Austin, Texas. His father died of pneumonia when Dabney Coleman was four, and his mother moved the family to Corpus Christi. He attended the Virginia Military Institute. In 1953 he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in the Special Services Division for two years. After his service, Dabney Coleman studied law at the University of Texas at Austin.

It was actor Zachary Scott, a friend of Mr. Coleman's first wife Anne Harrell, who convinced him to become an actor. He then left college and went to New York where he studied acting  with Sanford Meisner at the Neighbourhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He made his debut on Broadway in A Call on Kuprin in 1961. He made his television debut in 1961 in an episode of Naked City. In the Sixties he had a recurring role as Dr. Leon Bessmer, a neighbour of the title character Ann Marie, in the first season of the TV series That Girl. He guest starred on the shows Armstrong Circle Theatre, Alcoa Premiere, Ben Casey, Breaking Point, Arrest and Trial, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Dr. Kildare, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Outer Limits, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Hazel, The Donna Reed Show, 12 O' Clock High, The F.B.I., The Fugitive, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Run for Your Life, I Dream of Jeannie, The Flying Nun, The Invaders, Dundee and the Culhane, Iron Horse, Judd for the Defence, Death Valley Days, The Mod Squad, Then Came Bronson, Bonanza, Dan August, and Nanny and the Professor. He made his move debut in The Slender Thread (1965), The Scalphunters (1968), The Trouble with Girls (1969), Dowhill Racer (1969), and I Love My Wife (1970).

In the Seventies Dabney Coleman had a recurring role on the soap opera Bright Promise. He was a semi-regular on the shows Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Forever Fernwood. He starred on the show Apple Pie. He guest starred on the shows The Bold Ones: The New Doctors; Owen Marshall, Counsellor at Law; Banyon; Room 222; Ironside; Search; The Wide World of Mystery; Griff; Columbo; Kojak; The F.B.I.; Sons and Daughters; The Manhunter; Mannix; Medical Centre; McMillan & Wife; Medical Story; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Cannon; Switch; Bert D'Angelo/Supersta; The Streets of San Francisco; Police Story; Petrocelli; Fernwood 2 Night; Quincy, M.E.; The Love Boat; Diff'rent Strokes; and Barnaby Jones. He appeared in the movies Cinderella Liberty (1973), The Dove (1974), The Towering Inferno (1974), Bogard (1975), Bite the Bullet (1975), The Other Side of the Mountain (1977), Midway (1976), Viva Knievel! (1977), Rolling Thunder (1977), The Other Side of the Mountain Part II (1978), Go Tell the Spartans (1978), North Dallas Forty (1979), Nothing Personal (1980), Pray TV (1980), How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980), Melvin and Howard (1980), and Nine to Five (1980).

In the Eighties he starred on the shows Buffalo Bill and The Slap Maxwell Story. He guest starred on the shows Dolby and It's Gary Shandling's Show. He appeared in the mini-series Fresno. He appeared in the movies On Golden Pond (1981), Modern Problems (1981), Young Doctors in Love (1982), Tootsie (1982), WarGames (1983), The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), Cloak & Dagger (1984), The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), Dragnet (1987), Hot to Trot (1988), Where the Heart Is (1990), Short Time (1990), and Meet the Applegates (1990).

In the Nineties Dabney Coleman starred on the TV shows Drexell's Class and Madman of the People. He was the voice of Principal Peter Prickly on the animated TV series Recess. He guest starred on the shows Columbo, Directed By, and The Wonderful World of Disney. He was a guest voice on the animated shows The Magic School Bus, Jumaji, and Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child. He appeared in the movies There Goes the Neighbourhood (1992), Amos & Andrew (1993), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Clifford (1994), Judicial Consent (1995),  Un amour de sorcière (1997), You've Got Mail (1998), Giving It Up (1999), Inspector Gadget (1999), Stuart Little (1999), and Taken (1999).

In the Naughts he appeared in the movies The Climb (2002), Moonlight Mile (2002), Where the Red Fern Grows (2002), Domino (2005), and Hard Four (2007). He reprised his role as Principal Prickly in the animated movie Recess: School's Out (2001). He was a regular on the shows The Guardian, Courting Alex, Heartland, and Boardwalk Empire. He was a recurring voice on the animated show Pound Puppies. He guest starred on the shows The Zeta Project, Law & Order and Special Victims Unit.

In the Teens he continued to appear on Boardwalk Empire. He guest starred on the shows Ray Donovan, NCIS, For the People, and Yellowstone. He appeared in the movie Rules Don't Apply (2016).

Even though he was known as a nice guy in real life, Dabney Coleman was perhaps best known for playing jerks in movies and on TV shows. And there can be no doubt he was good at it. Perhaps his most famous movie role was misogynistic, double-crossing boss Franklin Hart Jr. in Nine to Five. In The Man with One Red Shoe, eh played the duplicitous CIA deputy director Burton Cooper. On television he was the title character on Buffalo Bill, an egomaniacal talk show host. He also played the title character on The Slap Maxwell Story, a self-centred, none too honest sportswriter for a newspaper.

While Dabney Coleman was very good at playing jerks, he could play other sorts of roles. Many will remember him as Dr. Leon Bessemer, the laid-back obstetrician who was Ann Marie's neighbour on That Girl. In the movie Cloak & Dagger, Dabney Coleman played a widowed father struggling to connect with his son. In On Golden Pond he played dentist Dr. Bill Ray, who tried hard to impress the father of his girlfriend Chelsea (Jane Fonda), played by Henry Fonda. Dabney Coleman was a remarkable actor with great range. While he was best known for playing jerks, he could play a number of other types of characters as well.