Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Tony “Wally Cleaver” Dow is 69 years old today!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

TonyDowComparison2 Tony Lee Dow (born April 13, 1945) is an American film producerdirector and sculptor, and a television actor.

Dow is best known for his role in the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, which ran in primetime from 1957 to 1963. Dow played Wally Cleaver, the elder son of June (Barbara Billingsley) and Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont), and the brother of Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver (Jerry Mathers).

Early life and career

Dow was born in Hollywood, California, to John Stevens, a designer and general contractor, and Muriel Virginia Dow (née Montrose) (May 27, 1906–April 30, 2001),[1] a stunt woman in early Westerns and Clara Bow‘s movie double in Hollywood. In his youth Dow was a Junior Olympicsdiving champion.[2] He won the role of Wally Cleaver in a casting call with almost no previous acting experience.

Dow remained on the series until it ended in 1963. After the run of Leave It to Beaver, he appeared on My Three SonsDr. KildareMr. Novak(five episodes in three different roles), The Greatest Show on Earth, and Never Too Young. From 1965 to 1968 Dow served in the National Guard, interrupting his acting career.[4] On his return to acting, he guest-starred in Adam-12Love American StyleSquare PegsThe Mod SquadThe Hardy Boys and Emergency!

During the 1970s Dow continued acting while working in the construction business and studying journalism and filmmaking.[5] In 1987 he was honored by the Young Artist Foundation with its Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award for his role as Wally Cleaver.

Dow’s most recent screen appearance was in the 2003 film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.

Behind the camera

In 1986, he wrote an episode of The New Leave It to Beaver, and in 1989, he made his directorial debut with an episode of The New Lassie, followed by episodes of Get a LifeHarry and the HendersonsSwamp ThingCoachBabylon 5Crusade, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Dow also served as the visual effects supervisor for Babylon 5. In 1996, he provided visual effects for the Fox TVM Doctor Who.

Personal life

Dow (top) with his Leave It to Beaver co-stars (L–R) Hugh BeaumontBarbara Billingsleyand Jerry Mathers, circa 1959

In the 1990s Dow revealed that he has suffered from clinical depression. He has since starred in self-help videos chronicling this battle, including “Beating the Blues” (1998).[7]

Dow has become a serious, and respected sculptor, creating abstract bronze sculptures. In his artist statement, he says the following about his work: “The figures are abstract and not meant to represent reality but rather the truth of the interactions as I see and feel them. I find the wood in the hills of Topanga Canyonand each piece evolves from my subconscious. I produce limited editions of nine bronzes using the lost wax process from molds of the original burl sculpture.”[8] One of his bronze pieces was on display in the backyard garden of Barbara Billingsley, who played his mother on Leave It to Beaver. Dow was chosen as one of three sculptors to show at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibition, in the Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris, France, in December 2008. He represented the United States delegation, which was composed of artists from the Karen Lynne Gallery. His abstract shown at the Louvre was titled, “Unarmed Warrior,” a bronze figure of a woman holding a shield

 

 

Frank “Lumpy Rutherford” Bank died one year ago today at the age of 71

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

 

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Frank Bank (April 12, 1942 – April 13, 2013) was an American actor, particularly known for his role as Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the 1957–1963 situation comedy television series Leave It to Beaver. Popular character actor Richard Deacon portrayed Lumpy’s overbearing television father,Fred RutherfordVeronica Cartwright was cast as Lumpy’s sister, Violet.

Frank Bank (April 12, 1942 – April 13, 2013) was an American actor, particularly known for his role as Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the 1957–1963 situation comedy television series Leave It to Beaver. Popular character actor Richard Deacon portrayed Lumpy’s overbearing television father,Fred RutherfordVeronica Cartwright was cast as Lumpy’s sister, Violet.

Bank was cast in fifty episodes of Leave It to Beaver between January 24, 1958, until the series finale on May 30, 1963. Thereafter, he was cast as Clarence Rutherford in 101 episodes of the series sequel, The New Leave It to Beaver, which aired on cable television from 1983 to 1989.[1]

Beginning in 1973, Bank became a bond broker in his native Los AngelesCalifornia. His autobiography, Call Me Lumpy: My Leave It To Beaver Days and Other Wild Hollywood Life, was published in 1997.[2]

Bank died April 13, 2013, in Rancho Mirage, one day after his 71st birthday, from undisclosed causes. He was survived by his third wife, Rebecca, four daughters, and five grandchildren

Bank was cast in fifty episodes of Leave It to Beaver between January 24, 1958, until the series finale on May 30, 1963. Thereafter, he was cast as Clarence Rutherford in 101 episodes of the series sequel, The New Leave It to Beaver, which aired on cable television from 1983 to 1989.[1]

Beginning in 1973, Bank became a bond broker in his native Los AngelesCalifornia. His autobiography, Call Me Lumpy: My Leave It To Beaver Days and Other Wild Hollywood Life, was published in 1997.[2]

Bank died April 13, 2013, in Rancho Mirage, one day after his 71st birthday, from undisclosed causes. He was survived by his third wife, Rebecca, four daughters, and five grandchildren.

Here is his obit from the LA Times:

Frank Bank dies at 71; played ‘Lumpy’ on ‘Leave It to Beaver’

After playing Wally’s dim-witted sidekick on the popular TV show in the 1950s and 1960s, Bank found himself typecast, so he quit acting and became a successful financial broker, with ‘Beaver’ co-stars Jerry Mathers and Barbara Billingsley among his clients.

April 15, 2013|By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times
Ken Osmond, left, Tony Dow and Frank Bank starred in TV's "Leave It To Beaver."
Ken Osmond, left, Tony Dow and Frank Bank starred in TV’s “Leave… (MCA/Universal )

Frank Bank, who as Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford served as the dim-witted foil to “Beaver” Cleaver and brother Wally on the classic TV comedy “Leave It to Beaver,” died Saturday. He was 71.

A spokesman for Hillside Memorial Park in Los Angeles confirmed Bank’s death but did not disclose where he died or the cause.

Bank had a number of illnesses and was hospitalized recently in Rancho Mirage, said Jerry Mathers who played Beaver Cleaver in the popular series that ran from 1957 to 1963.

“Leave It to Beaver” revolved around young Beaver and his misadventures, which usually involved the teenage Wally and Wally’s friends — skinny, sarcastic Eddie and oafish, overweight Lumpy, who loved pushing Beaver around.

“Lumpy was the ultimate bully, but Frank was a very, very kind and gentle person and a very good actor to play it so well,” Mathers told The Times this week. “The show was about all the people you knew growing up and throughout your life, and Frank brought that perspective to the show.”

After the show ended, Bank was chosen to play comic book character Archie Andrews in the pilot for a new series but found he could not shake his previous TV identity. “That’s not Archie, that’s Lumpy,” Bank, in a 1998 People magazine interview, recalled hearing the sponsor say.

Discouraged by the typecasting–and not wanting “to be like George Reeves, who could only be Superman,” he said — he decided to give up on acting to pursue business.

While others read Daily Variety, Bank said he read the Wall Street Journal during breaks on the “Leave It to Beaver” set. Later, he helped his parents at the meat market they owned and taught himself about the stocks and bonds business.

By the mid-1970s he was earning a six-figure income as a stock-and-bond broker in Los Angeles. Among his clients were former co-stars Mathers and Barbara Billingsley, who had played Mrs. Cleaver. “Frank is certainly brighter than Lumpy Rutherford, and a very good stockbroker,” Billingsley said in the People magazine article.

Born in Los Angeles on April 12, 1942, Bank made his acting debut in 1950 with an uncredited appearance in the movie “Cargo to Capetown.” He had small parts on television before joining the cast of “Leave It to Beaver” and becoming forever linked to the Lumpy character.

He rarely brought up his role in the iconic sitcom until after he married and had children old enough to wonder what their father did when he was younger. Then, he told Orange Coast magazine in 1989, “they were so proud, I became proud.”

He reprised the Lumpy role in the 1983 TV movie “Still the Beaver” and the series “The New Leave It to Beaver,” seen on the Disney Channel and later WTBS from 1985 to 1989

A longtime resident of the San Fernando Valley, he wrote a memoir, “Call Me Lumpy” (1997). Subtitled “My Leave It to Beaver Days and Other Wild Hollywood Life,” it drew attention mainly because of a bawdy chapter detailing his “perpetual sexfest” during the 1960s. “I have slept with over 1,000 women,” the chapter begins.

The introduction to the book was written by Ken Osmond, who played Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver” and later was a Los Angeles police officer until he was shot in the line of duty and retired.

His friend and former co-star “has got some working brain cells,” Osmond wrote. “They just don’t show when you first meet him. I have no idea why.”

Bank is survived by his wife, Rebecca; daughters Julie Bank, Kelly Lightner, Michelle Randall and Joanne Littman; and five grandchildren.

 

 

David “Keith Partridge” Cassidy is 64 years old today!

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

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David Bruce Cassidy (born April 12, 1950)[1] is an American actor, singer, songwriter and guitarist. He is widely known for his role as Keith Partridge in the 1970s musical/sitcom The Partridge Family. He was one of pop culture‘s celebrated teen idols, he enjoyed a successful pop career in the 1970s, and he still performs as of 2014.

Cassidy was one of the contestants on Celebrity Apprentice in 2011,[2] in which his daughter Katie Cassidy made a brief appearance at her father’s request.

Early life

David Cassidy was born at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City, the son of actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward. His father was of half Irish and half German ancestry, and his mother is of mostly Colonial American descent, along with smaller amounts of Irish and Swiss.[3]Some of his mother’s ancestors were among the founders of Newark, New Jersey.[3]

As his parents were frequently touring on the road, he spent his early years being raised by his maternal grandparents in a middle-class neighborhood in West Orange, New Jersey.[4] In 1956, he found out from neighbors’ children that his parents had been divorced for over two years and had not told him.[5] David’s parents had decided because he was at such a young age, it would be better for his emotional stability to not discuss it at that time. They were gone often with theater productions and home life remained the same.

In 1956, his father married actress Shirley Jones, and three half-brothers were born: Shaun (1958), Patrick (1962) and Ryan (1966). As a young teen he moved into Shirley’s home in Beverly Hills where his father and half-brothers resided. David remained there seeking fame as an actor/musician until he moved out when his career began to flourish.

Career

On January 2, 1969, Cassidy made his professional debut in the Broadway musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling. It closed after four performances[6] but a casting director saw the show and asked Cassidy to make a screen test. In 1969, he moved to Los Angeles.[6]

After signing with Universal Studios in 1969, Cassidy was featured in episodes of the TV series IronsideMarcus Welby, M.D.Adam-12 andBonanza. In 1970, he took the part of Keith Partridge, son of Shirley Partridge, who was played by Cassidy’s real stepmother and series’ lead, Shirley Jones.

The Partridge Family series creator Bernard Slade and producers Paul Junger Witt and Robert “Bob” Claver did not care whether Cassidy could sing, knowing only that his androgynous good looks would guarantee success. But shortly after production began, Cassidy convinced music producer Wes Farrell that he was good enough and he was promoted to lead singer for the show’s recordings. Once “I Think I Love You” became a hit, Cassidy began work on solo albums as well. Within the first year he had produced his own single, “Cherish” (from the album of the same title), which reached No. 9 in the US, No. 2 in the UK and No.1 in Australia and New Zealand. He began tours that featured Partridge tunes and his own hits. Though he strove to become a respected rock musician along the lines of Mick Jagger or Alice Cooper, his channel to stardom launched him into the ranks of teen idol, a brand he loathed until much later in life when he managed to come to terms with his bubblegum pop beginnings.

Cassidy in 1974

Ten albums by The Partridge Family and five solo albums were produced during the show with most selling more than a million copies each. Internationally, Cassidy’s solo career eclipsed the already phenomenal success of The Partridge Family. He became an instant drawcard with spectacular sellout concert successes in major arenas around the world. These concerts produced mass hysteria resulting in the media coining the term “Cassidymania”. By way of example, he played to two sellout crowds of 56,000 each at the Houston Astrodomein Texas over one weekend in 1972.[7] His concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden sold out in one day and resulted in riots after the show.[8] His concert tours of the UK sold out and included six sellout concerts atWembley Stadium over one weekend in 1973. In Australia in 1974, the mass hysteria was such that there were calls to have him deported from the country, especially after the madness at his 33,000 audience concert atMelbourne Cricket Ground.[9][10]

Cassidy performing in Hamburg, 1973

A turning point in his live rock concerts (while still filming The Partridge Family) was a gate stampede which killed a teenage girl. At a show in London’s White City Stadium on May 26, 1974, 650 were injured in a crush at the front of the stage. Thirty were taken to the hospital, and one, 14-year-old Bernadette Whelan, died on May 30 from injuries.[11] The show was the penultimate date on a world tour. A deeply affected Cassidy faced the press, trying to make sense of what had happened. Out of respect for the family and to avoid turning the girl’s funeral into a media circus, Cassidy did not attend the service. He did, however, speak to Whelan’s parents and send flowers. Cassidy stated at the time that this would haunt him until the day he died.[12][13][14]

Cassidy’s 1994 autobiography, C’mon Get Happy: Fear And Loathing On The Partridge Family Bus, provides an account of most aspects of his fame, including contracts, money and his fanatical worldwide fan following.

I’m exploited by people who put me on the back of cereal boxes. I asked my housekeeper to go and buy a certain kind of cereal and when she came home, there was a huge picture of me on the back. I can’t even eat breakfast without seeing my face.

The New Musical Experience Magazine, October 1972.[15]

By this point, Cassidy had decided to quit both touring and acting in The Partridge Family, concentrating instead on recording and song-writing. International success continued, mostly in Great Britain and Germany, when he released three well-received solo albums on RCA between 1975 and 1977. Cassidy became first to have a hit with “I Write the Songs“, a Top 20 record in Great Britain before the song became Barry Manilow‘s signature tune. Cassidy’s recording was produced by the song’s author-composer, Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys.

In 1978, Cassidy starred in an episode of Police Story titled “A Chance To Live,” for which he received an Emmy nomination.[16] NBC created a show based on it, called David Cassidy: Man Under Cover, but it was canceled after one season. (A decade later, the successful Fox series 21 Jump Street used the same plot, with different youthful-looking police officers infiltrating a high school.)

In 1985, music success continued with the Arista release of the single “The Last Kiss” (#6 in the UK), with backing vocals by George Michael, which was included on the album Romance. These went gold in Europe and Australia and Cassidy supported them with a sellout tour of the UK, which resulted in the Greatest Hits Live compilation of 1986. Michael cited Cassidy as a major career influence and interviewed Cassidy for David Litchfield’s prestigious Ritz Newspaper.[17]

Cassidy returned to the American Top 40 with his 1990 single “Lyin’ To Myself,” released on Enigma Records. In 1998, he had an AC hit with “No Bridge I Wouldn’t Cross” from his album Old Trick, New Dog. His 2001 album Then And Now went platinum internationally and returned Cassidy to the Top 5 of the UK album charts for the first time since 1974.

Cassidy has performed in musical theatre. In 1981, he toured in a revival of a pre-Broadway production of Little Johnny Jones, a show originally produced in 1904 with music, lyrics, and book by George M. Cohan. (The show is excerpted in the biographic film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), when James Cagney sings “Give My Regards to Broadway” and “The Yankee Doodle Boy.) However, Cassidy received negative reviews, and he had been replaced by another former teen idol, Donny Osmond,[18] by the time the show reached Broadway.[19]Cassidy, in turn, was himself a replacement for the lead in the original 1982 Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.[20] He appeared in London’s West End production of Time and returned to Broadway in Blood Brothers alongside Petula Clark and his half-brother, Shaun Cassidy. In concert performances in 1990, Cassidy hired his recalcitrant TV brother Danny Bonaduce as his warm-up act. In 1995, he hosted the VH1 show 8-Track Flashback, which ran until 1998. In 1996, he replaced Michael Crawford in the Las Vegas showEFX, re-writing it into one of the Strip’s favorite shows – although Cassidy was forced to resign after he injured his foot during a performance. He also created The Rat Pack is Back, in which he made guest appearances as Bobby Darin, which ran successfully. In 2000, he wrote and appeared in the Las Vegas show At the Copa with Sheena Easton, as both the young and old versions of the lead character, Johnny Flamingo. In 2005, Cassidy played the manager of Aaron Carter‘s character in the film Popstar. In 2006, as well as performing with Peter Furniss andThomas Bowles, he made a guest appearance for BBC Children in Need performing live, then assisting Terry Wogan collecting donations from the studio audience.

He co-starred alongside his brother Patrick in a 2009 ABC Family short-lived comedy series titled Ruby & The Rockits, a show created by his brother Shaun.[21]

The BBC telecast an episode of The One Show with Cassidy as guest on April 11, 2011. During the broadcast he got into an argument with English horse racing commentator Brough Scott.[22] Nancy Sinatra had this to say on her family’s website later that day: “Cassidy is a real jerk who never cleared rights to the Sinatra name for his Sinatra show and he deserves his karma for breaking copyright laws. The proof of the pudding is he didn’t give a damn about those poor horses or show any respect to Mr. Scott. I believe he respects nothing and nobody, especially my father.”[23]

Personal life

Cassidy’s first wife was actress Kay Lenz, whom he married on April 3, 1977,[24][25] and divorced on December 28, 1983,[26] although one reference claims 1982.[27]

His second wife was South African sportswoman Meryl Tanz, whom he married in 1984.[1] Tanz, a horse breeder, introduced Cassidy tothoroughbred horse racing.[citation needed] This marriage ended in 1985,[1] or 1986.[27]

He has a daughter, actress Katie Cassidy, born in 1986, from a relationship with Sherry Benedon.[28]

David Cassidy has a son with Sue Shifrin, Beau Devin Cassidy, born February 8, 1991.[citation needed] Cassidy and Shifrin married on March 30, 1991, his third and her second marriage. On August 25, 2013, Cassidy’s Los Angeles publicist confirmed that the couple has separated.[29]

Cassidy has written a memoir that was published in the UK in March 2007. Could It Be Forever? My Story gives details of his personal life.[30]

Cassidy’s father Jack is credited with setting his son up with his first manager. After signing with Universal Studios in 1969, Jack introduced him to former table tennis champion and close friend Ruth Aarons, who later found her niche as a talent manager, given her theater background.[31] Aarons had represented Jack and Shirley Jones for several years prior, and would later represent Cassidy’s half-brotherShaun. Aarons became an authority figure and close friend to Cassidy, and would prove to be the fighting force behind his on-screen success. After making small wages from Screen Gems for his work on The Partridge Family during season one, Aarons discovered a loophole in his contract and renegotiated it with far superior terms, and a four-year duration, a rare stipulation at the time.[32]

Arrests for DUI

Cassidy was first arrested for DUI in Florida on November 3, 2010.[33] He was arrested for DUI a second time in Schodack, New York in the early hours of August 21, 2013. He was pulled over after failing to dim his headlights as he passed a police car going in the opposite direction. After performing poorly on a field sobriety test, Cassidy was subjected to an alcohol breath test returning a blood alcohol level of 0.10, which is above the New York State legal limit of 0.08.[34]

The arresting officer, named Tom Jones, reported that Cassidy was polite and courteous, and jokingly asked officer Jones “What’s New Pussycat?” in reference to the 1965 hit song by the singer Tom Jones.[34] Cassidy was subsequently charged, taken to jail, and released several hours later on $2500 bail. He now faces felony charges because of his prior DUI in Florida in 2010. Cassidy was required to appear before a town judge in Schodack, NY in September 2013.[35] He publicly admitted he had an alcohol problem in 2008.[34]

Cassidy was arrested on suspicion of DUI a third time in California on January 10, 2014 after he made an illegal right turn against a red light. He was held overnight in jail and was scheduled to appear in court on February 5.[36]

Activism

In 2011, Cassidy recorded a public service announcement for Alzheimer’s research and prevention—due to his mother, Evelyn Ward, having the disease—and said that he will champion that cause whenever possible. He planned to address Congress in 2012.[37]

Cassidy is a long-time registered Democrat. Describing Republican candidates for president Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as a panelist onThe Colbert Report, Cassidy stated, “I believe the both of them are the most embarrassing, sad, pathetic… I mean, really, this is the best we can do?”[38]

Portrayals in media

In 1999, ABC produced a TV-movie biography based on The Partridge Family entitled, Come On Get Happy: The Partridge Family Story based on former co-star Danny Bonaduce‘s account behind the popular series and personal life regarding himself and Cassidy. Cassidy was portrayed by Rodney Scott and Bonaduce was portrayed by Shawn Pyfrom.

On January 9, 2000, NBC premiered a television movie based on the life and short-lived success of Cassidy entitled The David Cassidy Story. While the former TV biopic focuses on both Bonaduce and Cassidy’s personal lives, this television film focused mainly on Cassidy’s rise to fame and unconventional early life. In this film, Cassidy is portrayed by Andrew Kavovit.

 

 

Louise “Mary Hartman” Lasser is 75 today!

Friday, April 11th, 2014

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Louise Lasser (born April 11, 1939) is an American actress. She is known for her portrayal of the title character on the soap opera parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She was married to Woody Allen and appeared in several of his films.

Personal life

Lasser was born in New York City, the daughter of Paula and S. Jay Lasser, a tax expert.[1] She was raised Jewish.[2] Lasser studied political science at Brandeis University.[3] She was married to Woody Allen from 1966 to 1970. She lives in Manhattan and teaches acting technique at HB Studio.

Early career

Lasser was the understudy for Barbra Streisand in the Broadway musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale. She also appeared on the soap operaThe Doctors and television commercials. Lasser appeared in the Woody Allen films Take the Money and Run (1969), Bananas (1971), andEverything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), as well as being one of the voices for his earlier spoof dubbing of a Japanese spy movie, What’s Up Tiger Lily? (1966). She also had a brief cameo in his film Stardust Memories (1980).

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Lasser became a household name for starring as the neurotic, unhappy housewife Mary Hartman in the serialized parody Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The show aired five nights a week in 1976–1977. Lasser decided to leave the series after 2 seasons (325 episodes). The serial was rebranded as Forever Fernwood and continued on for 26 weeks.

In 2000, Lasser appeared on a panel with her former cast members at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills (taped for the museum archives).

Lasser was interviewed about the series in the bonus features in the Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman Complete Series DVD box-set from Shout Factory which was released December 2013.

Other roles and appearances

On July 24, 1976, Lasser hosted Saturday Night Live at the end of the first season. Her performance is best known for her opening monologue in which she has a Mary Hartman-esque meltdown and locks herself in her dressing room. She is then coaxed out by Chevy Chase/Land Shark.[4]

Lasser wrote the telemovie Just Me and You (1978), starring in it alongside Charles Grodin.

She had a recurring role as Alex’s ex-wife on the hit series Taxi and starred in the 1981–82 season of the TV series It’s a Living, playing waitress Maggie McBurney. (This reunited her with her former Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman co-star, Marian Mercer, who played her supervisor, Nancy.)

Lasser also had a recurring role as Victor Erlich’s Aunt Charise, a neurotic comic character on St. Elsewhere in the mid-1980s. In 1989, Lasser played the mother of the main character in the movie Sing (1989).

In 1998, she appeared as the mother of the three main female characters in Todd Solondz‘s film Happiness. She appeared in the film Mystery Men (1999) as the mother of Hank Azaria‘s character.

Lasser had a role in Darren Aronofsky‘s film Requiem for a Dream (2000), and she co-starred with Renée Taylor in National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers (2003)

Lasser acted in 2 episodes of HBO’s Girls as a Manhattan artist for the series’ 3rd season (2014).

Lasser is currently a member of faculty at HB Studio, where she teaches acting technique.

 

Harry Morgan was born 99 years ago today.

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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Harry Morgan (born Harry Bratsberg, often spelled Harry Bratsburg; April 10, 1915 – December 7, 2011) was a prolific American actor and director whose television and film career spanned six decades. Morgan’s major roles included Pete Porter in both December Bride(1954–1959) and Pete and Gladys (1960–1962); Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967–1970); Amos Coogan on Hec Ramsey (1972–1974); and for his starring role as Colonel Sherman T. Potter inM*A*S*H (1975–1983) and AfterMASH (1983–1984). Morgan also appeared in more than 100 films.

Early life and career

Morgan was born in DetroitMichigan, in 1915, the son of Hannah and Henry Bratsberg,[2][5] who were of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry.[10] In his interview with the Archive of American Television, Morgan spelled his Norwegian family surname as “Bratsberg.”[5] Many sources, however, including some family records, list the spelling as “Bratsburg.” According to one source, when Morgan’s father Henry registered at junior high school, “the registrar spelled it Bratsburg instead of Bratsberg. Bashful Henry did not demur.”[11]

Morgan was reared in Muskegon, Michigan, and graduated from Muskegon High School in 1933, where he achieved distinction as a statewide debating champion.[12] He originally aspired to a J.D.degree, but began acting while a junior at the University of Chicago in 1935.

He began acting on stage under his birth name, in 1937 joining the Group Theatre in New York Cityformed by Harold ClurmanCheryl Crawford and Lee Strasberg in 1931.[13][14] He appeared in the original production of the Clifford Odets playGolden Boy, followed by a host of successful Broadway roles alongside such other Group members as Lee J. CobbElia KazanSanford Meisner, and Karl Malden. Morgan also did summer stock at the Pine Brook Country Club located in the countryside of Nichols, Connecticut.

Film work

Morgan made his screen debut (originally using the name “Henry Morgan”) in the 1942 movie To the Shores of Tripoli. His screen name later would become “Henry ‘Harry’ Morgan” and eventually Harry Morgan, to avoid confusion with the popular humorist of the same name.

In the same year, Morgan appeared in the movie Orchestra Wives as a young man pushing his way to the front of a ballroom crowd with his date to hear Glenn Miller‘s band play. A few years later, still credited as Henry Morgan, he was cast in the role of pianist Chummy MacGregor in the 1954 biopic The Glenn Miller Story.

Morgan continued to play a number of significant roles on the big screen in such films as The Ox-Bow Incident(1943); Wing and a Prayer (1944); Dragonwyck (1946); The Big Clock (1948); High Noon (1952); and several films in the 1950s for director Anthony Mann, including Bend of the River (1952); Thunder Bay (1953); The Glenn Miller Story (1954); The Far Country (1955) and Strategic Air Command (1955). In his later film career, he appeared in Inherit the Wind (1960); How the West Was Won (1962) (as Ulysses S. Grant); John Goldfarb, Please Come Home (1965); Frankie and Johnny (1966); Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969); Support Your Local Gunfighter! (1971); Snowball Express (1972); The Shootist (1976); The Wild Wild West Revisited (1979); and a cameo in the film version of Dragnet (1987) with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.

Radio and television

Morgan hosted the NBC radio series Mystery in the Air starring Peter Lorre in 1947. On CBS, he played Pete Porter in Pete and Gladys (1960–1962), with Cara Williams as wife Gladys. Pete and Gladys was a spinoff of December Bride (1954–1959), starring Spring Byington, a show in which Morgan had a popular recurring role. In 1950, Morgan appeared as an obtrusive, alcohol-addled hotel clerk in the Dragnet radio episode “The Big Boys”.

1960s: Dragnet and other roles

Morgan with Jack Webb inDragnet.

After Pete and Gladys ended production, Morgan guest starred in the role of Al Everett in the 1962 episode “Like My Own Brother” on Gene Kelly‘s ABC drama series, Going My Way, loosely based on the 1944 Bing Crosby filmof the same name. That same year he played the mobster Bugs Moran in an episode of ABC’s The Untouchables, with Robert Stack. In 1963, he was cast as Sheriff Ernie Backwater on Richard Boone‘s Have Gun – Will Travelwestern series on CBS.

In the 1964–1965 season, Morgan co-starred as Seldom Jackson in the 26-week NBC comedy/drama Kentucky Jones, starring Dennis Weaver, formerly of Gunsmoke.

Morgan is even more widely recognized as Officer Bill GannonJoe Friday‘s partner in the revived version ofDragnet (1967–1970).

Morgan had also appeared with Dragnet star Jack Webb in two film noir movies, Dark City (1950) andAppointment with Danger (1951), and was an early regular member of Jack Webb’s stock company of actors on the original Dragnet radio show. Morgan later worked on two other shows for Webb: 1971’s The D.A. and the 1972–1974 western series, Hec Ramsey. Morgan also appeared in at least one episode of Gunsmoke.

1970s: M*A*S*H

As Colonel Potter inM*A*S*H with Alan Alda andMike Farrell

After his contract with Mark VII had expired in 1974, Morgan’s first appearance on M*A*S*H was in the show’s third season (1974–1975), when he played eccentric Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele in “The General Flipped at Dawn“, which originally aired on September 10, 1974.

The following season, Morgan joined the cast of M*A*S*H for his co-starring role as Colonel Sherman T. Potter. A fan of the sitcom, Morgan replaced McLean Stevenson, who had left the show at the end of the previous season. Unlike Stevenson’s character Henry Blake, Potter was a career Army officer who was a firm yet good-humored, caring father figure to the people under his command.

In 1980, Morgan won an Emmy award for his performance on M*A*S*H. When asked if he was a better actor after working with the show’s talented cast, Morgan responded, “I don’t know about that, but it’s made me a better human being.”[15] After the end of the series, Morgan reprised the Potter role in a short-lived spinoff series,AfterMASH.

Morgan also kept busy appearing in several Disney movies throughout the decade, including The Barefoot ExecutiveSnowball Express,Charley and the AngelThe Apple Dumpling GangThe Cat from Outer Space (opposite McLean Stevenson) and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again.

Later years

In 1986, he costarred with Hal Linden in Blacke’s Magic, a show about a magician who doubled as a detective solving unusual crimes. The series lasted only one season. Morgan’s character, Leonard Blacke, was a semi-retired con artist.

In 1979, Morgan played Mr. DePinna in a TV version of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart‘s Pulitzer prize-winning play You Can’t Take It With You. He also played the lead role of Martin Vanderhoff in a short-lived series based on the same play, in 1987. He was given a supporting role in John Wayne’s last film The Shootist in 1976, playing the town lawman who cheered Wayne’s character’s forthcoming demise from cancer.

In 1987, Morgan reprised his Bill Gannon character, now a captain, for a supporting role in another film version of Dragnet, a parody of the original series written by and starring Dan Aykroyd and co-starring Tom Hanks and Christopher Plummer.

In the 1990s, Morgan played the role of Judge Stoddard Bell in a series of TV movies starring Walter Matthau (The IncidentAgainst Her Will: An Incident in Baltimore (TV 1992) and Incident in a Small Town (1994 TV)). He was on an episode of The Simpsons as Officer Bill Gannon fromDragnet in the 7th season (“Mother Simpson“) and had a recurring role on 3rd Rock from the Sun as Professor Suter. Morgan directed episodes for several TV series, including two episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, 1 episode of Adam-12 and eight episodes of M*A*S*H. Morgan had a guest role on The Jeff Foxworthy Show as Raymond and a guest role on Grace Under Fire as Jean’s pot-smoking boyfriend.

In 2006, Morgan was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

Personal life

Morgan was married first to Eileen Detchon from 1940 until her death in 1985. During Morgan’s time on M*A*S*H, a photograph of Detchon regularly appeared on the desk of his character. A drawing of a horse, seen on the wall behind Potter’s desk, was drawn by Morgan’s grandson, Jeremy Morgan. In addition, Eileen was the name of the wife of Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet. Morgan had four sons with his first wife: Christopher, Charles, Paul, and Daniel (who died in 1989).

He then married Barbara Bushman Quine (granddaughter of silent film star Francis X. Bushman) on December 17, 1986; the marriage lasted until his death. In July 1997, Morgan was charged with abusing his wife a year earlier, after a beating left her with injuries to her eye, foot, and arm.[16] Prosecutors dropped the charges after the 82-year-old actor completed a six-month domestic violence counseling program.[17]

Morgan had two siblings, Marguerite and Arnold (both deceased).

Death

Morgan died peacefully in his sleep at 3:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, on December 7, 2011, at the age of 96.[7][18] His son, Charles, said he recently had been treated for pneumonia.[7] His body was cremated and his remains were given to his family.[19] Following Morgan’s death, Mike Farrell, who played B.J. Hunnicutt opposite Morgan in M*A*S*H, released a statement: “He was a wonderful man, a fabulous actor and a dear and close friend since the first day we worked together. As Alan [Alda] said, he did not have an unadorable bone in his body… He was a treasure as a person, an imp at times, and always a true professional. He had worked with the greats and never saw himself as one of them. But he was… He was the rock everyone depended on and yet he could cut up like a kid when the situation warranted it. He was the apotheosis, the finest example of what people call a ‘character actor’. What he brought to the work made everyone better. He made those who are thought of as ‘stars’ shine even more brightly… The love and admiration we all felt for him were returned tenfold in many, many ways. And the greatest and, most selfless tribute to the experience we enjoyed was paid by Harry at the press conference when our show ended. He remarked that someone had asked him if working on M*A*S*H had made him a better actor. He responded by saying, ‘I don’t know about that, but it made me a better human being.’ It’s hard to imagine a better one”.

Natalie “Lovey Howell” Schafer died 23 years ago today, at the age of 90.

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

natelie schafer

Natalie Schafer (November 5, 1900 – April 10, 1991) was an American actress, best known asEunice “Lovey” Wentworth Howell on CBS‘s sitcom Gilligan’s Island (1964–67).

Early life and career

Schafer was born in Red BankNew Jersey, the eldest child of Jennie Elizabeth (née Tim) and Charles Emanual Schafer.[1][2] Her family was German Jewish.[2] She began her career as an actress on Broadway before moving to Los Angeles in 1941 to work in films.

Schafer appeared on Broadway in seventeen plays between 1927 and 1959, often playing supporting roles. Most of these appearances were in short-run plays, with the exceptions of Lady in the Dark (1941–1942), The Doughgirls (1942–1944), and Romanoff and Juliet (1957–1958). She was also seen in a revival of Six Characters in Search of an Author, directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie(1955–1956). She also appeared in stock and regional productions of plays.

Schafer appeared in many films, usually portraying beautiful sophisticates, but she is best known for the situation comedy Gilligan’s Island, playing the role of the millionaire’s wife, Eunice “Lovey” Wentworth Howell.

She reprised her role in the made-for-TV spin-off films that were made after the show’s demise, along with the animated spinoff, Gilligan’s Planet, in 1982. Originally written as a humorless grande dame, Schafer worked with the writers to create a character not unlike the scatterbrain roles played in 1930s films by Mary Boland and Billie Burke. Schafer specifically suggested that the writers read the George S. KaufmanMarc Connelly play Dulcy for its dizzy title-character.

She was a guest star on many television series, including Goodyear Playhouse/Philco Playhouse: (The Sisters, with Grace Kelly, 1951), I Love Lucy (1954), Producers’ Showcase (The Petrified Forest, with Lauren BacallHumphrey Bogart, and Henry Fonda, 1955), Guestward, Ho!(1960), The Beverly Hillbillies (1964), Mayberry RFD (1970), The Brady Bunch (1974), and Phyllis (1976). In 1971–72, Schafer joined the cast of the CBS daytime-serial, Search for Tomorrow as Helen Collins, the mother of characters Wade and Clay Collins. Her final performance was given in 1990, in the television film I’m Dangerous Tonight, opposite Anthony Perkins and Corey Parker. The actress also guest-starred, opposite William Shatner, on 1960’s Thriller in its first season.

Personal life

Schafer in 1990

Schafer was married to actor Louis Calhern from 1934 to 1942; they had no children. Long after their divorce, the two appeared together in the 1956 film Forever, Darling. During much of the 1940s and 1950s she was romantically linked to author and playwright George S. Kaufman.

Schafer was legendarily secretive about her age, never even telling Calhern. 1912 was generally given as her birth year for many years, which few believed, yet her actual year of birth (which was not discovered until after her death) of 1900 shocked even her intimate friends. She was also a breast cancer survivor, a fact she withheld from her fans and friends.[3][4]

Her investments, particularly in real estate, made her a multi-millionaire. Differing sources state that most of this fortune was bequeathed to either her Gilligan’s Island co-star Dawn Wells, or to care for her dogs (Wells has not commented). Wells did reveal on the talk show Vicki!, starring Vicki Lawrence, that Schafer spent her last years living with her Gilligan’s Island co-star, with Wells as her caretaker. Wells also revealed that one of Schafer’s favorite things on Gilligan’s Island was “falling through quicksand.” The Los Angeles Times reported that Schafer bequeathed two million dollars to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital; the money was used to renovate the hospital’s outpatient wing, which was renamed the “Natalie Schafer Wing.”[5]

Death

Natalie Schafer died of cancer in her Beverly Hills home, at the age of 90.[6] She was cremated; her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean, off San Pedro’s Point Fermin Light, in California.

 

 

Larry “Frank Burns” Linville died 14 years ago today at the age of 60

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Larry_Linville_1991

Lawrence Lavon “Larry” Linville (September 29, 1939 – April 10, 2000) was an American actor. He was known for his portrayal of the surgeon, Major Frank Burns, in the long-running televisionseries M*A*S*H. 

Early life and education

Linville was born in Ojai, California, the son of Fay Pauline (née Kennedy) and Harry Lavon Linville.[2] Raised in Sacramento, he attended El Camino High School[3] (Class of 1957) and later studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder before applying for a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

Career

After returning to the United States, Linville began his acting career at the Barter Theatre inAbingdon, Virginia. It was a year-round repertory theatre and the director, Robert Porterfield, provided many new actors with opportunities.

M*A*S*H

Larry Linville (left) with the cast of M*A*S*H (1974)

When the TV series M*A*S*H started, Linville signed a five-year contract. He played Frank Burns, a major and surgeon. He achieved wide recognition in this role, in which his character was contrasted with those played by Alan Alda and others in the ensemble. He was offered a renewal for two more seasons when his contract expired, but he declined. After five seasons, Linville had grown tired of playing the character. During that period, the show’s tone had changed from pure comedy to more drama-focused story lines, as it reflected issues related to the Vietnam War (though M*A*S*H was set during the Korean War, it aired during the Vietnam era and tended to reflect this period in a roundabout fashion). Linville felt that he had taken the Frank Burns character as far as he could, and chose to leave the series to pursue other roles.

After M*A*S*H

After M*A*S*H, Linville starred or appeared in many films and TV programs.

He was a guest-star on many television shows, most frequently Mission ImpossibleMurder, She WroteFantasy IslandThe Love Boat;BonanzaMannixThe FBI Story; and CHiPs. He also appeared on episodes of Airwolf (he played Maxwell in “And A Child Shall Lead”); Adam 12The Rockford Files; and before appearing on M*A*S*H, Linville played a doctor on the TV Movie The Night Stalker, a predecessor of theKolchak television series-in an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, in which he played the youngest police captain on the force. AfterM*A*S*H, he played a stock character—the “Crazy General”—along with Edward Winter in the pilot episode of Misfits of Science. He also co-starred in the short-lived sitcom Grandpa Goes to Washington with Jack Albertson.

Linville appeared as jealous ex-boyfriend Randy Bigelow in the 1982 short-lived Disney series Herbie the Matchmaker. He also starred in an episode of “The Jeffersons” where he played Florence’s boss when she got a job in a hotel as head of housekeeping. He also starred in the short-lived The Jeffersons spinoff Checking In, where he played Florence Johnston‘s (Marla Gibbs) nemesis, Lyle Block; however, this series only lasted four episodes. Linville co-starred in 1984 on Paper Dolls, a nighttime drama on ABC offering a glimpse behind-the-scenes of the fashion industry. In 1991, Linville appeared on an episode of the television series Night Court as a doctor. Linville also appeared in an episode of ER in 1994 as a medical consultant. He also appeared in an episode of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman season 1 episode 3 as a crackpot claiming to have been abducted by Superman and taken aboard his spaceship.

Marriage and family

He was married five times: to Kate Geer (sister of actress Ellen Geer), with whom he had a daughter, Kelly Linville (born 1970) before they divorced. Kelly was his only child. He also married (and divorced) Vana Tribbey, Melissa Gallant, and Susan Haganand. His final marriage was to Deborah Guydon, whom he was with at his death.

After doctors found a malignant tumor under his sternum, Linville underwent surgery in February 1998 to remove part of his lung. He received further treatment but had continuing health problems over the next two years. Linville died of pneumonia in New York City on April 10, 2000 after complications from cancer surgery. His ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Bodega BayCalifornia.

Chuck “The Rifleman” Connors was born 93 years ago today

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Chuck_Connors-wikimediaKevin Joseph “Chuck” Connors (April 10, 1921 – November 10, 1992) was an American actorwriter and professional basketball and baseball player. He is one of only 12 athletes in the history of American professional sports to have played both Major League Baseball and in the National Basketball Association. With a 40-year film and television career, he is best known for his five-year role as Lucas McCain in the highly rated 1958-1963 ABC seriesThe Rifleman.

Connors was born Kevin Joseph Connors in BrooklynNew York CityNew York, the second of two children and only son of Allan and Marcella Connors, immigrants from the Dominion of Newfoundland, now a Canadian province. He was raised Roman Catholic and served as an altar boy at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn.

His sister found out Connors did not like his first name and was seeking another one. He tried out “Lefty” and “Stretch” before settling on “Chuck”, because while playing first base, he would always yell, “Chuck it to me, baby, chuck it to me!” to the pitcher. The rest of his teammates and fans soon caught on and the name stuck. He loved the Brooklyn Dodgers despite their losing record during the 1930s, and hoped to someday join the team himself.

Connors’s athletic abilities earned him scholarships to both the Adelphi Academy (where he graduated in 1939) andSeton Hall University in South OrangeNew Jersey. He left college after two years.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Army at Fort KnoxKentucky. He spent most of the war as a tank-warfare instructor, stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and later at West Point, New York.

Sports career

Chuck Connors
Chuck Connors Brooklyn Dodgers.JPG

Connors as a Dodger.
 

During his Army service, Connors moonlighted as a professional basketball player, joining the Rochester Royals and helping to lead them to the 1946 National Basketball League championship.[1] Following his military discharge in 1946, he joined the newly formed Boston Celtics of the Basketball Association of America.

Connors left the team for spring training with Major League Baseball‘s Brooklyn Dodgers. He played for numerous minor league teams before joining the Dodgers in 1949, for whom he played in only one game. He joined the Chicago Cubs in 1951, playing in 66 games as a first baseman and occasional pinch hitter.[2] In 1952, he was sent to the minor leagues again to play for the Cubs’ top farm team, the Los Angeles Angels.

Connors was also drafted by the NFL’s Chicago Bears, but never suited up for the team. He is also credited as the first professional basketball player to break a backboard. During warm-ups in the first-ever Boston Celtics game on November 5, 1946 at Boston Arena, Connors took a shot that caught the front of the rim andshattered an improperly installed glass backboard.[3]

In 1966, Connors played an off-field role by helping to end the celebrated holdout by Los Angeles Dodgerspitchers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax when he acted as an intermediary during negotiations between the team and the players. Connors can be seen in the Associated Press photo with Drysdale, Koufax and Dodgers general manager Buzzie Bavasi announcing the pitchers’ new contracts.

Acting career

Television roles

Connors realized that he would not make a career in professional sports, so he decided to pursue an acting career. Playing baseball near Hollywood proved fortunate, as he was spotted by an MGM casting directorand subsequently signed for the 1952 TracyHepburn film Pat and Mike. In 1953, he starred opposite Burt Lancaster as a rebellious Marine private in the film South Sea Woman and Trouble Along the Way oppositeJohn Wayne as a football coach.

Connors was cast as Lou Brissie, a former professional baseball player wounded during World War II, in the 1956 episode “The Comeback” of the religion anthology series CrossroadsDon DeFore portrayed the Reverend C. E. “Stoney” Jackson, who offers the spiritual insight to assist Brissie’s recovery so that he can return to the game. Grant Withers was cast as Coach Whitey Martin; Crossroads regular Robert Carson also played a coach in this episode. Edd ByrnesRhys Williams, and Robert Fuller played former soldiers. X Brands is cast as a baseball player.[4]

In 1957, Connors was cast in the Walt Disney film, Old Yeller in the role of Burn Sanderson. That same year, he co-starred in The Hired Gun.

Character actor

Connors acted in feature films including The Big CountryMove Over Darling with Doris Day and James GarnerSoylent Green with Charlton Heston, and Airplane II: The Sequel.[5]

He also became a lovable television character actor, guest-starring in dozens of shows. His guest-starring debut was on an episode of NBC‘s Dear Phoebe. He played in two episodes, one as the bandit Sam Bass, on Dale Robertson‘s NBC western Tales of Wells Fargo. Other television appearances were on Hey, Jeannie!,The Loretta Young ShowSchlitz PlayhouseAdventures of SupermanScreen Directors PlayhouseFour Star PlayhouseMatinee TheatreCavalcade of America,GunsmokeThe Gale Storm ShowWest PointThe MillionaireGeneral Electric Theater hosted by Ronald W. ReaganWagon TrainThe Restless GunMurder, She WroteDate with the AngelsThe DuPont Show with June AllysonThe VirginianNight Gallery, and many others.[6]

The Rifleman

Main article: The Rifleman

Connors beat out 40 actors for the lead on The Rifleman, portraying Lucas McCain, a widowed rancher known for his skill with a customized Winchester rifle. ThisABC Western series, which aired from 1958 to 1963, was also the first show to feature a widowed father raising a young child. Connors said in a 1959 interview withTV Guide that the producers of Four Star Television (Dick PowellCharles BoyerIda Lupino and David Niven) must have been looking at 40–50 thirty-something males.” At the time, the producers offered a certain amount of money to do 39 episodes for the 1958-59 season. The offer turned out to be less than Connors was making doing freelance acting, so he turned it down. A few days later, the producers of The Rifleman took their own children to watch Old Yeller in which Connors played a strong father figure. After the producers watched him in the movie, they decided they should cast Connors in the role of Lucas McCain and make him a better offer, including a five-percent ownership of the show.

The Rifleman was an immediate hit, ranking #4 in the Nielsen ratings in 1958-59, behind three other Westerns — GunsmokeWagon Train, and Have Gun – Will Travel.

The producers were looking for an unfamiliar child actor to play Mark McCainJohnny Crawford, a former Mousketeer, baseball fan and Western buff, beat out 40 young stars to play the role. Crawford remained on the series from 1958 until its cancellation in 1963.

The Rifleman landed high in the Nielsen ratings until the last season in 1962-63, when ratings began to drop. The show was cancelled in 1963 after five seasons and 168 episodes.

Johnny Crawford said of his relationship with Connors: “I was very fond of Chuck, and we were very good friends right from the start. I admired him tremendously.” Crawford also said about the same sport that Connors had played: “I was a big baseball fan when we started the show, and when I found out that Chuck had been a professional baseball player, I was especially in awe of him. I would bring my baseball and a bat and a couple of gloves whenever we went on location, and at lunchtime I would get a baseball game going, hoping that Chuck would join us. And he did, but after he came to bat, we would always have trouble finding the ball. It would be out in the brush somewhere or in a ravine, and so that would end the game.”

Crawford stayed in touch with Connors until his death in 1992. “We remained friends throughout the rest of his life. He was always interested in what I was doing and ready with advice, and anxious to help in any way that he could … He was a great guy, a lot of fun, great sense of humor, bigger than life, and he absolutely loved people. He was very gregarious and friendly, and not at all bashful … I learned a great deal from him about acting, and he was a tremendous influence on me. He was just my hero.” He and Connors reprised their roles as the McCains on a television western movie, The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.

The rifle

There were three rifles made for the show. Two identical 44-40 Winchester model 1892 rifles, one that was used on the show and one for backup, and a Spanish version called an El Tigre used in the saddle holster.[7] The rifle levers were modified from the round type to a more “D” shaped in later episodes.[8]

Two rifles were made for Chuck Connors personally by Maurice “Moe” Hunt that were never used on the show. He was a fan of the show and gave them to Connors.Arnold Palmer, a friend and Honorary Chairman of the annual Chuck Connors charity golf event, was given one of the personal rifles[9] by Connors and it was on display at the The World Golf Hall of Fame.[10]

Typecasting/other TV roles

In 1963, Connors appeared in the film Flipper. He also appeared opposite James Garner and Doris Day in the comedy Move Over, Darling.

As Connors was strongly typecast for playing the firearmed rancher turned single father, he then starred in several short-lived series, including: ABC’s Arrest and Trial, featuring two young actors Ben Gazzara and Don GallowayNBC‘s post-Civil War-era series Branded (1965–1966)

and the 1967-1968 ABC series Cowboy in Africa, alongside British actor Ronald Howard and Tom Nardini. Connors guest-starred in a last-season episode of Night Gallery titled “The Ring With the Red Velvet Ropes”. In 1973 and 1974 he hosted a television series called Thrill Seekers.

He had a key role against type as a slave owner in the 1977 miniseries Roots, and was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance.[11]

Connors hosted a number of episodes of Family Theater on the Mutual Radio Network. This series was aimed at promoting prayer as a path to world peace and stronger families, with the motto, “The family which prays together stays together.”

In 1983, Connors joined Sam Elliott and Cybill Shepherd in the short-lived NBC series The Yellow Rose, about a modern Texas ranching family. In 1985, he guest starred as “King Powers” in the ABC TV series Spenser: For Hire, starring Robert Urich. In 1987, he co-starred in the Fox series Werewolf, as drifter Janos Skorzeny. In 1988, he guest starred as “Gideon” in the TV series Paradise, starring Lee Horsley.

In 1991, Connors was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Personal life

Connors and son, Jeffrey, on The Riflemanset in 1959. Jeffrey had a role as Toby Halperin in the episode “Tension”.

Connors was married three times. He met his first wife, Elizabeth Jane Riddell Connors, at one of his baseball games, and married her on October 1, 1948. They had four sons, Michael (born 1950), Jeffrey (born 1952), Steven (born 1953), Kevin (1956–2005), and divorced in 1961. Connors married Kamala Devi (1963), the year after co-starring with her in Geronimo. She also played with Connors in BrandedBroken Sabre, and Cowboy in Africa. They were divorced in 1973. Connors played in Soylent Green (1973), as Tab Fielding, and Faith Quabius played an attendant. They were married in 1977 and divorced in 1979.[12]

Connors was a supporter of the Republican Party and attended several fundraisers for campaigns of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.

Connors was introduced to Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev of the former Soviet Union at a party given by Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, California, in June, 1973. Connors presented Brezhnev with a pair of Colt Single Action Army “Six-Shooters” (revolvers) which Brezhnev liked greatly. Upon boarding his airplane bound for Moscow, Brezhnev noticed Connors in the crowd and went back to him to shake hands, and jokingly jumped up into Connors’ towering hug. The Rifleman was one of the few American shows allowed on Russian television at that time; that was because it was Brezhnev’s favorite. Connors and Brezhnev got along so well that Connors traveled to the Soviet Union in December 1973. In 1982, Connors expressed an interest in traveling to the Soviet Union for Brezhnev’s funeral, but the U.S. government would not allow him to be part of the official delegation. Coincidentally, Connors and Brezhnev died on the same day, ten years apart.

Charity

Connors hosted the annual Chuck Connors Charitable Invitational Golf Tournament, through the Chuck Connors Charitable Foundation, at the Canyon Country Club in Palm Springs, California. Proceeds went directly to the Angel View Crippled Children’s Foundation that was over $400,000.00.[13]

Death

Connors died on November 10, 1992 in Los Angeles at the age of 71 of pneumonia stemming from lung cancer. At the time of his death, his companion was Rose Mary Grumley. He was interred in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Los Angeles.

 

Keshia Knight Pulliam is 35 years old today!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

130603184727-childstar-12-horizontal-gallery

Keshia Knight Pulliam (born April 9, 1979) is an American actress. She is best known for her childhood role as Rudy Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show and as reformed con artistMiranda Lucas-Payne on the TBS comedy-drama Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.

Personal life

Keshia Knight Pulliam was born in Newark, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Denise and James Pulliam, Sr., a manager.[1] She has three younger brothers.

Pulliam attended Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, New Jersey. After The Cosby Show ended her family moved to Virginia, where Pulliam attended the Potomac School in McLean, Virginia and Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Virginia. She received a bachelor of arts degree in Sociology from Spelman College in 2001.[citation needed] She is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.[citation needed]

Career

Pulliam became the youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Emmy at age six for best supporting actress. Even before that – at age three – she played “Keshia” on Sesame Street. She also played in the movie “Polly” with Phylicia Rashad. Her character on The Cosby Show, “Rudy”, was known for being the “baby” of the family.

She is ranked at 19 in VH1‘s list of the “100 Greatest Kid Stars”. In a 2008 interview, she revealed that when she read for the role of Rudy, when she was only five, she kept looking away from the director (Jay Sandrich), who finally asked her what she was looking at. She said when pointing to a monitor, “How can you make me on the TV?”[2] Throughout the show’s eight seasons, Pulliam had an on-and-off-screen chemistry with Bill Cosby, as the two shared their own friendship when not filming. For example, she related how “Mr. Cosby and I, we had a competition going on to see who would do a better job at lip-syncing. That was our little inside thing. I think I did a better job.” She also appeared on a 1997 episode of Bill Cosby’s follow-up sitcom Cosby, playing a guitar-player. She has remained friendly with Cosby.

Pulliam won a celebrity version of Fear Factor in September 2002. She also won a celebrity version of The Weakest Link, and participated inCelebrity Mole 2: Yucatan. In 2004, she performed in Chingy‘s music video for “One Call Away“. In 2005, she played Darnelle in Beauty Shopwith Queen Latifah.

Pulliam performed in Donald Gray’s play The Man of Her Dreams in the fall of 2006 in St. Louis.[3] In 2008, she joined the cast of Tyler Perry’s House of Payne as Miranda, the new wife of Calvin Payne. The role earned her the 2009 and 2010 NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

In 2009, she portrayed “Candy” in the film Madea Goes To Jail.[4]

Pulliam appeared in Tank‘s 2010 music video for his cover of “I Can’t Make You Love Me“, playing his love interest.

In 2011, commenting on the fact that only white actors had won Golden Globe Awards that year, she said:

I think that there is definitely work to be done. It can always be more diverse. We live in a very multicultural and global society. More needs to be done to increase the representation of all people and really show the world for what it is. It’s not just one color.[5]

In 2013, she was a contestant on the ABC celebrity diving show Splash. She was first to be eliminated.

Michael “Olivia Walton” Learned is 75 years old today!

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

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Michael Learned (born April 9, 1939) is an American actress known for her role as Olivia Walton onThe Waltons.

Personal life

Learned was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter and oldest child of Elizabeth Duane “Betti” (née Hooper) and Bruce Learned, a diplomat.[2] Her maternal grandfather was an attaché for the United States Embassy in Rome.[3] She lived on a Connecticut farm with her five sisters for the first ten years of her life. Learned said that her parents never explained why she got her masculine given name although she mentioned that other people she conferred with didn’t believe her when she said “Michael” was her real name.[4] When she was 11, Learned moved to Austria, where her father worked for the U.S. State Department. At this time, she attended Arts Educational School, Tring now Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in TringHertfordshire, England. During this time, she discovered the theater and decided to make acting her life’s work.[5] In a 2002 article she wrote for Daily Word, a publication of the Unity Church, Learned states that at the time she was cast in The Waltons, she had “hit rock bottom”. It was then, at age 32, that Learned realized she was an alcoholic. Taking herself to ex-husband Peter Donat’s cabin on the California coast, Learned states she decided to “get sober” and that her time there was the beginning of a spiritual journey. Learned further stated in the article that she has been sober since 1977.[1]

Learned has been married four times. Her first husband was Canadian-American actor Peter Donat, whom she married in 1956, when she was 17 years old. The marriage was dissolved in 1972. She had three children by the marriage; Caleb, Christopher and Lucas. Her second marriage, to Glenn Chadwick, lasted from 1975–1977, and ended in divorce. In 1979, she married actor/screenwriter William Parker. That marriage ended and in 1988 she married lawyer John Doherty; they reside in California.

Career

Television

She was billed as “Miss Michael Learned” on The Waltons because she was relatively unknown at the time, and producers did not want confusion among viewers about her gender. By the sixth season, as the show continued its success and after the departure of co-star Richard Thomas, producers’ fear of gender confusion had alleviated and the “Miss” was dropped from Learned’s billing. She was nominated for sixEmmy Awards and won three for her role of Olivia Walton.

In 1979, her contract was not renewed; some sources indicate that she opted not to re-sign with the show to avoid typecasting as an “Olivia Walton” character.[6] Her character’s abrupt disappearance was explained by Olivia developing tuberculosis and entering a sanatorium in Arizona. She made occasional guest appearances until the show’s cancellation and later appeared in four of the six Waltons reunion movies made during the 1980s and 1990s. For her portrayal of Olivia Walton, Learned was nominated for four Golden Globe Awards.

During her run as Olivia Walton, Learned and The Waltons co-star, Will Geer, appeared together in the 1974 made-for-TV movie, Hurricane.

Learned later starred as Nurse Mary Benjamin in the hospital drama Nurse, which ran on CBS during the 1981–82 season. Though the series was well received critically, it was not a ratings success and lasted only two seasons. Learned was nominated for two Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Lead Actress” and won yet another Emmy for this role in 1982.

She later had a starring role in the unsuccessful 1989 sitcom Living Dolls and reprised her Waltons role for a number of TV movies and reunions in the 1990s.

Learned played “Judge Helen Turner” on the ABC soap operas All My Children and One Life to Live as part of the “baby switch” storyline on both shows. In The Secret World of Alex Macks second season, she guest starred as a ghost who regretted the decisions of her long-estranged granddaughter, revealed at the end to be the show’s main villain, Danielle Atron (Louan Gideon). She also guest-starred in Scrubsas Mrs. Wilk in five episodes from the show’s fifth season. She also played Shirley Smith on ABC’s General Hospital.

In the fall of 2011, Learned played Katherine Chancellor on the CBS daytime drama, The Young and the Restless, filling in for Jeanne Cooper, who was on extended medical leave from the series.[7]

Theatre

In the late 1960s, Learned and her husband (Peter Donat) appeared in various roles with the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) in San Francisco.

She has appeared in many stage productions on Broadway, Off Broadway, and elsewhere, including the 2006–2007 national touring production of On Golden Pond. In the fall of 2008 she starred in Innovation Theatre Works’ production of Driving Miss Daisy, playing the title role of Daisy Werthen opposite Willis Burks II as Hoke and Dirk Blocker as Daisy’s son Boolie.