Saturday, June 15, 2024

"Tous les garçons et les filles" by Françoise Hardy

As I related earlier in the week on my 20th anniversary post, for much of last week I had a fever. I have not been tested, but I am thinking it was Covid. At any rate I am still feeling under the weather. I will then leave you with the first hit by the legendary Françoise Hardy, "Tous les garçons et les filles (literally in English, "All the Boys and the Girls")."

Friday, June 14, 2024

The Late Great Françoise Hardy

Singer, songwriter, and pop icon Françoise Hardy died on Jun 11 2024 at the age of 80. The cause was  laryngeal cancer.

Françoise Hardy was born on January 17 1944 in Paris, France. She attended  Institution La Bruyère in Paris. After passing her baccalauréat, her father gave her a guitar as a gift. She enrolled enrolled in the Paris Institute of Political Studies, but dropped out to attend the Sorbonne to study German. In her free time she composed songs on her guitar. She played at the Moka Club, and then auditioned for record label Pathé-Marconi. They turned her down, but the audition encouraged her to pursue music. She tried Philips Records, who suggested she take singing lessons. She joined Le Petit Conservatoire de la chanson, a school for radio performers.

It was on May 14 1951 that Françoise Hardy auditioned for the label Disques Vogue. They suggested she study music theory and harmony lessons with a pianist. She was eventually signed to Vogue. Her first single, "Tous les garçons et les filles," was released in June 1962. It proved to be a hit, reaching no. 1 on the French singles chart. It also reached no. 1 in Belgium and Québec. It proved to be one of her few hits in the United Kingdom, reaching no. 36 on the British singles chart.

Françoise Hardy proved to be a phenomenon in her native France, following "Tous les garçons et les filles" in the Sixties with such hits as ""L'amour s'en va," "L'età dell'amore," "Frag' den Abendwind," and others. During the Sixties she became a style icon, and she served as inspiration for such fashion designers as as André Courrèges, Yves Saint Laurent, and Paco Rabanne. Her success as a music artist would continue into the Seventies, with such hits as "Soleil," "Message personnel,' "Je suis moi,""Que vas-tu faire?," "Femme parmi les femmes," and "J'écoute de la musique saoule." In the Eighties she had such hits as "Tamalou" and "Partir quand même." Françoise Hardy's career would slow in the Nineties, although she continued to be a popular artist. From 1962 to 2018 she released over thirty albums.

Françoise Hardy also had an acting career. She made her film debut in Château en Suède in 1963. In the Sixties she had a cameo in What's New Pussycat (1965) and appeared in the movies Une balle au coeur (1966), Masculin féminin (1966), and Grand Prix (1966). She went onto appear in the TV series Numéro un  in the Seventies.

Françoise Hardy was certainly a phenomenon. She was incredibly popular in France and much of the rest of Europe. And while she was not particularly well-known in the Anglosphere, she did have a cult following in English speaking countries as well. She proved influential on such diverse music artists as Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, and Blur. Françoise Hardy certainly had a wonderful voice. It was capable of great emotional depth and sensitivity. Certainly few could deliver a song quite like she could. And she was also a very talented songwriter, even having written her very first hit, Tous les garçons et les filles." Early in her career she was often counted as part of the "yé-yé" movement, although that never quite sounded right. Not only did she sound very little like the contemporary "yé-yé" singers, but her even her earliest work displayed an emotional depth lacking in some of the other "yé-yé" singers' work. Regardless, Françoise Hardy had an impact that went well beyond her native France and will continue to be felt for years to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Godspeed William Russell

William Russell, the English actor who played the title character on The Adventures of Sir Lancelot and Ian Chesterson on Doctor Who, died on June 3 2024 at the age of 99.

William Russell was born William Russell Enoch in Sutherland, County Durham on November 19 1924. His family moved to moved to Solihull, and then Wolverhampton. There he attended Wolverhampton Grammar School. Later he attended Fettes college in Edinburgh and Trinity College, Oxford. Initially he studied philosophy, politics and economics, but he found himself ill-suited to economics. He then switched to English. His national service was in the Royal Air Force. Afterwards, he played in weekly repertory theatre in Tunbridge Wells, fortnightly rep at the Oxford Playhouse.

William Russell began his career using his part of his given name, Russell Enoch. It was under that name that he made his movie debut in Gift Horse in 1952. He used the name Russell Enoch he appeared in One Good Turn with Norman Wisdom in 1955. Mr. Wisdom objected to his surname because he had a rival by that name years go. William Russell then took up his first name and middle name as his stage name.

In the Fifties William Russel Sir Lancelot in The Adventures of Sir Lancelot. He also appeared in the mini-series St. Ives and in the mini-series Nicholas Nickleby. He guest starred on the shows BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Lili Palmer Story, Assignment Foreign Legion, The Adventures of Aggie, Hour of Mystery, Sword of Freedom, Television World Theatre, Saturday Playhouse, Television Playwright, ITV Play of the Week, Armchair Theatre, and Tales from Dickens. He appeared in the movies Appointment in London (1953), Intimate Relations (1953), Malta Story (1953), Always a Bride (1953), The Saint's Return (1953), They Who Dare (1954), The Gay Dog (1954), One Good Turn (1955), Above the Waves (1955), The Man Who Never Was (1956), The Big Chance (1957), and The Adventures of Hal 5 (1958).

In the Sixties William Russell played Ian Chesterson on Doctor Who. He appeared in the mini-series Triton, Hamlet, and Jane Eyre.  He also starred on the show Breaking Point. He guest starred on Tales from Dickens, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, Drama 61--67, Moonstrike, Suspense, Dr. Finlay's Casebook, This Man Craig, Who-Dun-It., and Parkin's Patch. He appeared in the movies The Share Out (1962), The Great Escape (1963),and Return to Sender (1963).

In the Seventies William Russell starred on the shows Harriet's Back in Town. He guest starred on the shows Justice, Father Brown, Whodunit?, The Main Chance, Against the Crowd, The Doll, Scene, Crown Court, Van der Valk, Strangers, Parables, Disraeli, BBC2 Play of the Week, Spearhead, Shoestring, Armchair Thriller, Play for Today, The Professionals, and ITV Playhouse. He appeared on the TV series Mackenzie. He appeared in the mini-series The Hanged Man and Testament of Youth. He appeared in the movie Superman (1978).

In the Eighties William Russell appeared on the shows The Black Adder, Robin of Sherwood, and Boon. In the Nineties he was a regular on Coronation Street. He guest starred on Casualty, Great Performances, and Heartbeat. In the Naughts he guest starred on Poirot. His last appearance was in 2022, playing Ian Chesterson one last time on Doctor Who.

William Russell was a remarkable actor. Chances are very good he will always be best remembered as Ian on Doctor Who and then as Sir Lancelot. Despite this, over the years he played a wide variety of roles. He was Sorren ("Security") in The Great Escape. In the Justice episode "Point of Death" he played a doctor accused of hastening a patient's death so he could harvest the kidneys. On The Black Adder he played the Duke of Winchester on his deathbed. In the Robin of Sherwood episode "The Pretender" he played the villainous Duke of Gloucester. William Russell played a wide variety of roles throughout this career and played all of them well.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Godspeed Janis Paige

Janis Paige, who appeared in such movies as Silk Stockings (1957) and Please Don't Eat the Daisies  (1960) as well as the TV show It's Always Jan, died on June 2 2024 at the age of 101.

Janis Paige was born Donna Mae Tjaden in Tacoma, Washington. She started singing in public when she was only five years old. After she graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, she, her mother, and her sister moved to Los Angeles. She sang at the Hollywood Canteen and at a club on  Cahuenga Boulevard for military personnel that was set up during World War II.

It was in 1944 that Janis Paige made her movie debut in Bathing Beauty. From the mid to late Forties she appeared in the films Hollywood Canteen (1944), Her Kind of Man (1946), Of Human Bondage (1946), Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946), The Time, the Place and the Girl (1946), Love and Learn (1947), Cheyenne (1947), Always Together (1947), Winter Meeting (1948), Wallflower (1948), Romance on the High Seas (1948), One Sunday Afternoon (1948), The Younger Brothers (1949), The House Across the Street (1949), La strada buia (1950), and This Side of the Law (1950).

In the Fifties Janis Paige starred in the short-lived sitcom It's Always Jan. She made her television debut in ABC Album in 1953. She appeared in the TV shows The Philip Morris Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, Studio 57, Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars, Shower of Stars, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, General Electric Theatre, and The Ann Sothern Show. She made her debut on Broadway in Remains to Be Seen in 1952. She starred in the original production of The Pajama Game. She appeared in the movies Mister Universe (1951), Two Guys and a Gal (1951), Silk Stockings (1957), and Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960).

In the Sixties she appeared on Broadway in Here's Love and Mame. She appeared in the movies Bachelor in Paradise (1961), The Big Step (1961), Follow the Boys (1963), The Caretakers (1963), and Welcome to Hard Times (1967). She appeared on television in the shows Wagon Train, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, 87th Precinct, Aloca Premiere, The Dick Powell Show, Burke's Law, The Fugitive, and The Red Skelton Show.

In the Seventies Janis Paige had a regular role on the TV show Lanigan's Rabbi and a recurring role on Eight is Enough. She appeared on the television shows Sarge, Columbo, Banacek, Mannix, Joe Forrester, Doc, Medical Story, Police Story, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, All's Fair, The Nancy Walker Show, The Betty White Show, The Love Boat, Alice, Hawaii Five-O, Charlie's Angels, The Rockford Files, and All in the Family.

In the Eighties Janis Paige had recurring role son the shows Gun Shy; Baby Makes Five; Trapper John, M.D.; General Hospital, and Santa Barbara. She appeared on the shows Happy Days; Bret Maverick; Flamingo Road; Lewis & Clark; Too Close for Comfort; Romance Theatre; Matt Houston; St. Elsewhere; Fantasy Island; Trauma Center; Night Court; Capitol; Mission: Impossible; and Shades of LA. She appeared on Broadway in Alone Together.

In the Nineties she continued to appear on Santa Barbara. She guest starred on the shows Hearts Are Wild, Room for Two, Legend, and Caroline in the City. She appeared in the movie Natural Causes (1994). In 2001 she guest starred on the show Family Law.

Janis Paige was an incredible talent. She was a great singer, with an absolutely beautiful voice. It is no wonder she was cast in so many musicals. Of course, she also had great talent as an actor. For many she may be best remembered for her guest appearance on All in the Family on which she played Denise, the diner waitress who tempts Archie Bunker to cheat on his wife Edith. In Silk Stockings she played Hollywood actress Peggy Dayton, who is unsure about playing in her first drama. On Trapper John, M.D. she played Catherine Hackett, the hard-nosed hospital administrator who often comes into conflict with the surgeon of the title. In The Caretakers she played one of the patients at a mental hospital, a former prostitute named Marion. Throughout her career Janis Paige played a wide variety of roles in a wide variety of movies and TV shows.

Monday, June 10, 2024

The 20th Anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts

Last Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts. I was planning to do a post for the occasion on that date, but Monday night I developed a runny nose and sore throat, along with a low-grade fever. By Tuesday morning the low-grade fever had turned into a medium-grade fever. I spent the next several days mostly just sleeping. I didn't even eat. By Friday morning the fever had broken, but I have spent the past few days regaining my strength. I cannot be sure, but I think I may have had Covid.

Regardless, it was on June 4 2004 that I launched A Shroud of Thoughts. From about 2002 to 2005, blogs were a bit of a fad. They had actually been around since the mid-Nineties. Jorn Barger coined the term weblog in December 1997 and Peter Merholz shortened weblog to blog in the spring of 1999. Regardless, it was in the early to mid-Naughts that the mainstream media began to take notice of blogs. At that point in time, it seemed as if everyone and their siblings had their own blog. Among the people with a blog at the time was a lady friend of mine. It looked like fun, so I decided to start my own blog.

At the time the fashion in blog titles tended to involve the word "thought" or some synonym thereof. I then took the title A Shroud of Thoughts from a phase from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage canto iii stanza 113:

I have not loved the world, nor the world me;
I have not flattered its rank breath, nor bow'd
To its idolatries a patient knee,
Nor coin'd my cheek to smiles, nor cried aloud
In worship of an echo; in the crowd
They could not deem me one of such; I stood
Among them, but not of them; in a shroud
Of thoughts which were not their thoughts, and still could,
Had I not filed my mind, which thus itself subdued.

If I had it to do all over again, I probably would have chosen a name more fitting a blog devoted to pop culture and nostalgia. As it turned out, by the time I thought to change the blog's name, it already had a small following. I worried that if I changed it, then my readers might be confused. It has remained A Shroud of Thoughts ever since.

A Shroud of Thoughts has evolved over the years so that it is a bit different from what it was back in 2004. It has always been devoted to pop culture and nostalgia, but in those early years, I wrote some posts of a more personal nature. Since I am a fairly private individual, I eventually dropped those sorts of posts. I also reviewed more recent television shows and movies, although those fell by the wayside as time went by. This was not a conscious choice on my part, but simply the case that I was much more interested in classic films and television shows.

Of course, the world has changed a great deal since 2004. As of 2004, television broadcasts in the United States were still in analogue. We would not make the change to digital for another few years. Furthermore, in 2004 only a small majority of Americans had access to cable television, a mere 58.7%.  This meant the broadcast networks were much more powerful then than they are now, although cable channels had eroded the sort of audiences they had enjoyed from the Fifties to the Eighties. Streaming as we now know it really didn't exist in 2004. It wouldn't be until 2006 that Amazon would introduce Amazon Unbox (which would evolve into today's Prime Video). Netflix entered the streaming field in 2007. Even then, it would be many more years before it would become prevalent.

Cell phones were around in 2004, but they were not nearly as prevalent as they are now. At that time only 66% of all Americans had cell phones, contrasted to 97% of all Americans now. Smartphones were only in their early days then, and would not become prevalent for many, many more years. In 2004 90% of all Americans still had landline phones. That number has since dropped to 25% in 2024.

Social media was still in its infancy in 2004. At the time I launched A Shroud of Thoughts, Friendster was a little over a year old. MySpace was a couple of months shy of its first birthday. Facebook had launched a few months earlier, although at the time it was only open to college students. Twitter would not launch until a little less than two years later.

My own life has changed considerably since 2004. I started this blog working one job and then quit it after I got another job. After many years of working that job, I was laid off from it. Since then I have published a few books. It was in 2011 that my best friend died at a terribly young age. It was also in that year that TCMParty, the collective live tweet of movies airing on Turner Classic Movies, was launched. Through TCMParty, I would meet many of my closest friends, including my dearest friend, Vanessa Marquez. Sadly, she died tragically in 2018 and I have missed her ever since. I have been on TCM, went to Hollywood, met Margaret O'Brien at a TCM event, and became friends with yet other celebrities in all that time as well.

I suppose that since 2004 A Shroud of Thoughts has become my life's work. My first book was largely a collection of posts from this blog. It has afforded me opportunities I might not have had otherwise. And I have met many friends through this blog. My life would certainly be poorer without it.

Anyhow I want to thank anyone and everyone who has ever read this blog over the years. as well as my fellow bloggers who have supported me in this endeavour. I really don't know if A Shroud of Thoughts would have survived the past ten years without them.

As I promised last Monday, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of A Shroud of Thoughts I would share a list of what I consider to be the 20 best posts from the blog over the years. After being rudely interrupted by Covid, then, here is that list.

"The NBC Mystery Movie" November 13 2004 

"The Rise and Fall of the Independent Television Station" June 13 2005

"The Most Successful Studio Never to Exist" June 11 2006

"Doc Savage's 75th Anniversary" March 1 2008

"Bus Stop: A Lion Walks Among Us" September 14 2008

"All of Your Toys: The Monkees vs. Don Kirshner" April 17 2010

"The CBS Late Movie" August 12 2010

"The Gothic Horror Boom of the Sixties" October 30 2011

"The 60th Anniversary of King Kong (1933)" March 2 2013

"The JFK Assassination's Impact on American TV & Film" November 22 2013

"Rock & Rule: Canada's Animated Masterpiece" October 4 2024

"The 60th Anniversary of The Phil Silvers Show," September 20 2015

"The 75th Anniversary of Archie" January 13 2017

"The 50th Anniversary of He & She" September 6 2017

"Stand and Deliver Turned 30" October 5 2018

"The Greatest Movies Hammer Films Never Made" July 18 2019

"The Wild Wild West: 'The Night of the Murderous Spring" March 20 2021

"The 50th Anniversary of Sanford and Son" January 14 2022

"The 30th Anniversary of Twenty Bucks (1993) January 22 2023

"The 30th Anniversary of State of Emergency (1993)" February 12 2024