Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

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

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

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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

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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 Tracy-Hepburn 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

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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.

John “Bo Duke” Schneider is 54 years old today!

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

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John Richard Schneider III (born April 8, 1960) is an American actor and singer.[1] He is best known for his portrayal of Bo Duke in the 1970s–1980s American television series The Dukes of Hazzard,[1] Jonathan Kent in the 2001–11 TV series Smallville (an adaptation of Superman).[1] and of James “Jim” Cryer on the television series The Haves and the Have Nots, created by Tyler Perry.

Alongside his acting career, Schneider performed as a country music singer in the 1980s, releasing nine studio albums and a greatest hits package, as well as eighteen singles. This total includes “I’ve Been Around Enough to Know“, “Country Girls“, “What’s a Memory Like You” and “You’re the Last Thing I Needed Tonight“, all of which reached the top of the Billboard country singles charts.[citation needed]

Early life

Schneider was born April 8, 1960, in Mount Kisco, New York. His family included an older brother Robert, an artist living in up-state New York. John’s life as an entertainer began at the age of eight, when he put on magic shows for his peers and their families. This once got him into trouble, when he had himself chained up and tossed into a swimming pool with the intention of re-creating Harry Houdini‘s legendary escape act. When he was 14, he and his mother moved to Georgia, where his love for performing continued. John graduated from North Springs High School in 1977.[citation needed]

Career

Acting career

Schneider at the 2005 Superman Festival, Metropolis, IL

Schneider (left) with Smallville co-stars Tom Welling and Brian Peterson

He briefly attended the Georgia School of High Performance, hoping to become a race-car driver. His prowess behind the wheel enabled him to land his Dukes of Hazzard role as “Bo Duke” (from 1979 to 1985).

Beginning in 2001, he portrayed Jonathan Kent, the adoptive father of Clark Kent on Smallville, starring in 100 episodes before his character was killed off. Schneider directed some episodes of Smallville, including “Talisman”. Some episodes contain references to Schneider’s work in The Dukes of Hazzard, i.e. the season five episode “Exposed” is notable for reuniting Schnieder with his former Dukes co-star Tom Wopat. Schneider guest starred for the latter half of season five appearing in the episodes “Void” and “Oracle”. Schneider returned for the season 10 premiere of Smallville, reprising his role as Jonathan Kent in a recurring role.[2]

Schneider has appeared in many films and TV series, including five guest spots on Hee Haw and the miniseries 10.5. He had a recurring role on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman and made guest appearances on such shows as Diagnosis: MurderTouched by an AngelJAG and Walker, Texas Ranger. He appeared in the national tour of the musical The Civil War, playing a Confederate soldier.[citation needed]

In 2009, Schneider made an appearance on CSI in an episode titled “Kill Me If You Can”. He appeared in the first season of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, in which his real-life son Chasen Schneider had a recurring role. During the summer of 2008 and early 2009, John portrayed “Marshall Bowman”. He declined to continue through the second season and his character was killed off.

In 2010, Schneider appeared in the series Leverage as a corrupt music executive in the season three episode “The Studio Job”, and in several episodes of Desperate Housewives as a retired military man and father of Keith Watson (Brian Austin Green), the love interest of Bree Van de Kamp. In May 2013, he began the role of Jim Cryer on the The Haves and the Have Nots.[citation needed]

In 2011, he starred in the film Doonby, as a drifter who comes into a small town and makes it better. However, a menacing force stalks him. “It’s It’s a Wonderful Life without the wonderful part,” Schneider explains. “‘Reach down into the throat of It’s a Wonderful Life, pull it inside out and make a movie out of it.”[3]

Music career

Schneider performing in 2008

During the 1980s, Schneider parlayed his success as Bo Duke with a string of country music hits. His biggest hits include: “It’s Now or Never” (#4 country and No. 14 pop, 1981; a remake of the Elvis Presley hit); “I’ve Been Around Enough to Know” (#1 country, 1984); “Country Girls” (#1 country, 1985); “What’s a Memory Like You (Doing in a Love Like This)” and “You’re The Last Thing I Needed Tonight” (both No. 1 country, 1986); “At the Sound of the Tone” (#5 country, 1986); and “Love, You Ain’t Seen the Last of Me” (#6 country) in 1987.

Schneider has recorded 10 albums to date, including works on Scotti Brothers Records and MCA Nashville. His co-star (on The Dukes of Hazzard), Tom Wopat, also enjoyed success on the country music charts. Schneider and Wopat sang several duets on the TV series, sometimes with co-star Catherine Bach. In fact, in the season 7 DVD boxset, the trio performed a remake of the show’s theme song “Good Ol’ Boys” in a music video as a tribute to their friend Waylon Jennings.

Personal life

Schneider became a born-again Christian while living with Johnny and June Carter Cash for a short time and speaking with Johnny about Christianity.[4] In 1982, he co-founded, with Marie Osmond, the Children’s Miracle Network to help suffering children. In 1995, he founded FaithWorks Productions in order to produce family-oriented videos and recordings.

Schneider has become involved in animal advocacy. He read from Karen Dawn‘s book Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking The Way We Treat Animals at its New York book launch. In a Washington Post article he discussed the effects of the book and the people he met through the event on his life.[5] He was moved to record a personal video, which is available on YouTube and on the book’s website, in which he talks of his shock upon learning about the way animals are treated by human society, and mentions the award winning documentary Earthlings, which is about the human dependence on animals for a variety of resources.[6]

John was married to former Miss America Tawny Elaine Godin from 1983 to 1986. John married his second wife, Elly Castle, on July 11, 1993. In 2014 they are still happily married. [7] They have three children, Leah and Chasen, both of whom are Elly’s children from her first marriage,[8]and their daughter Karis.[9]

In March 2008, Schneider auctioned off his “General Lee” Dodge Charger with the winning bidder being a car dealer and collector living inHardy County, West Virginia.

James “Jim Rockford” Garner is 86 years old today!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Garner

James Garner (born James Scott Bumgarner; April 7, 1928) is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades. These included his popular roles as Bret Maverick in the 1950s western-comedy series, Maverick, andJim Rockford in the 1970s detective dramaThe Rockford Files. He has starred in more than fifty films, including The Great Escape (1963), Paddy Chayefsky‘s The Americanization of Emily (1964), Blake Edwards‘ Victor Victoria (1982),Murphy’s Romance (1985), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and The Notebook (2004).

Early life

Garner, the youngest of three children, was born in Norman, Oklahoma, the son of Mildred Scott (née Meek) and Weldon Warren Bumgarner, a carpet layer.[1][2] His two older brothers were actor Jack Garner (1926–2011) and Charles Bumgarner, a school administrator who died in 1984.[3][4] His family was Methodist.[5] His mother, who was of part Cherokee descent, died when he was five years old.[6][7] After their mother’s death, Garner and his brothers were sent to live with relatives. Garner was reunited with his family in 1934, when Weldon remarried.

Garner grew to hate his stepmother, Wilma, who beat all three boys, especially young James. When he was fourteen, Garner finally had enough of his “wicked stepmother” and after a particularly heated battle, she left for good. James’ brother Jack commented, “She was a damn no-good woman”.  Garner stated that his stepmother punished him by forcing him to wear a dress in public and that he finally engaged in a physical fight with her, knocking her down and choking her to keep her from killing him in retaliation. This incident ended the marriage.[9]

Shortly after the breakup of the marriage, Weldon Bumgarner moved to Los Angeles, while Garner and his brothers remained in Norman. After working at several jobs he disliked, at sixteen Garner joined the United States Merchant Marine near the end of World War II. He fared well in the work and with shipmates, but suffered from chronic seasickness. At seventeen, he joined his father in Los Angeles and enrolled at Hollywood High School, where he was voted the most popular student. A high school gym teacher recommended him for a job modeling Jantzen bathing suits.[10] It paid well, $25 an hour, but in his first interview for the Archives of American Television,[11] he said he hated modeling and soon quit and returned to Norman. There, he played football and basketball, as well as competed on the track and golf teams, for Norman High School.[12] He never graduated from high school, explaining in a 1976 Good Housekeeping magazine interview: “I was a terrible student and I never actually graduated from high school, but I got my diploma in the Army.”[7]

Later, he joined the National Guard serving seven months in the United States. He then went to Korea for 14 months in the Regular Army, serving in the 5th Regimental Combat Team in the Korean War. He was wounded twice, first in the face and hand from shrapnel fire from a mortar round, and second on April 23, 1951 in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dived headfirst into a foxhole. Garner was awarded the purple heart in Korea for the first injury. For the second wound, he received a second Purple Heart (eligibility requirement: “As the result of friendly fire while actively engaging the enemy”), although Garner received the medal in 1983, 32 years after his injury.[10][13][14][15] Garner was a self-described “scrounger” for his company in Korea, a role he later played in The Great Escape[16] and The Americanization of Emily.

In 1954 a friend, Paul Gregory, whom Garner had met while attending Hollywood High School, persuaded Garner to take a non-speaking role in the Broadwayproduction of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,[17] where he was able to study actor Henry Fonda night after night. Garner subsequently moved to television commercials and eventually to television roles. His first movie appearances were in The Girl He Left Behind and Toward the Unknown in 1956.

He changed his last name from Bumgarner to Garner after the studio had credited him as “James Garner” without permission. He then legally changed it upon the birth of his first child, when he decided she had too many names.[11] His brother Jack also had an acting career and changed his surname to Garner, too. His non-actor brother, Charlie, kept the Bumgarner surname.

Acting career

Maverick

With Louise Fletcher in 1958

Garner as Bret andJack Kelly as Bart Maverick

Garner was closely advised by financial adviser Irving Leonard, who also advised Clint Eastwood in the late 1950s and 1960s.  After several feature film roles, including Sayonara with Marlon Brando, Garner got his big break playing the role of professional gambler Bret Maverick in the comedy Western series Maverick from 1957 to 1960.

Garner was earlier considered for the lead role in another Warner Brothers Western series, Cheyenne, but that role went to Clint Walker because the casting director couldn’t reach Garner in time (according to Garner’s autobiography), and Garner wound up playing an Army officer in the pilot instead.

Only Garner and series creator Roy Huggins thought Maverick could compete with The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show. The show almost immediately made Garner a household name. Various actors had recurring roles as Maverick foils, including Efrem Zimbalist, Jr as “Dandy Jim Buckley,” Richard Long as “Gentleman Jack Darby,” Leo Gordon as “Big Mike McComb,” and Diane Brewster as “Samantha Crawford” (Huggins’ mother’s maiden name) while the series veered effortlessly from comedy to adventure and back again. The relationship with Huggins, the creator and original producer of Maverick, would later pay dividends for Garner.

Garner was the lone star of Maverick for the first seven episodes but production demands forced the studio, Warner Brothers, to create a Maverick brother, Bart, played by Jack Kelly. This allowed two production units to film different story lines and episodes simultaneously. The series also featured popular cross-over episodes featuring both Maverick brothers, including the famous “Shady Deal at Sunny Acres“, upon which the first half of the 1973 movie The Sting appears to be based, according to Roy Huggins‘ Archive of American Television interview. Garner and Clint Eastwood staged an epic fistfight in an episode entitled “Duel at Sundown“, in which Eastwood plays a vicious gunslinger. Critics were positive about Garner and Jack Kelly’s chemistry, but Garner quit the series in the third season because of a dispute with Warner Brothers.

The studio attempted to replace Garner’s character with a Maverick cousin who had lived in Britain long enough to pick up an English accent, played by Roger Moore, but Moore quit the series after filming only 14 episodes as Beau Maverick. Warner Brothers also dressedRobert Colbert, a Garner look-alike, in Bret Maverick’s outfit and called the character Brent, but Brent Maverick did not have a chance to catch on with viewers since Colbert made only two episodes toward the end of the season, leaving the rest of the series run to Kelly (alternating with reruns of episodes with Garner).

When Charlton Heston turned down the lead role in Darby’s Rangers before Garner’s departure from Maverick, Garner was selected and performed well in the role. As a result of Garner’s performance in Darby’s Rangers, coupled with his Maverick popularity, Warner Brothers subsequently gave him lead roles in other films, such as Up Periscope and Cash McCall.

 

With Jack Kelly in 1957

With Suzanne Storrs in 1960

With Connie Stevens in 1959

With Diane Brewster in 1957

With Diane McBain in 1959

With Jean Willes in 1960

With Connie Stevens in 1959

With Kaye Elhardt in 1959

1960s: Movie career peak

Reprising his Maverick role for a Bob Hope Buick special in 1961, Garner breaks up at rehearsal.

After his acrimonious departure from Warner Bros., in the 1960s he starred in such films as The Children’s Hour (1962) with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaineBoys’ Night Out (1962) with Kim Novak and Tony RandallThe Thrill of It All (1963) with Doris Day;Move Over, Darling (a 1963 remake of My Favorite Wife also starring Doris Day in which Garner played Cary Grant‘s role); The Great Escape (1963) with Steve McQueenThe Americanization of Emily (1964) with Julie AndrewsThe Art of Love (1965) with Dick Van DykeDuel at Diablo (1966) with Sidney Poitier; and as Wyatt Earp in Hour of the Gun (1967) with Jason Robards, Jr. as Doc Holliday, along with nine other theatrical releases during the decade.

In the smash hit war movie The Great Escape, Garner played the second lead for the only time during the decade, supporting fellow ex-TV series cowboy Steve McQueen among a cast of British and American screen veterans including Richard AttenboroughDonald PleasenceDavid McCallumJames Coburn, and Charles Bronson in a film depicting a mass escape from a Nazi prisoner of warcamp based on a true story.

The Americanization of Emily, a literate anti-war D-Day comedy, featured a screenplay written by Paddy Chayefsky and has remained Garner’s favorite of all his work.[20][21] In 1963 exhibitors voted him the 16th most popular star in the US.[22]

The cult racing film Grand Prix, directed by John Frankenheimer, left Garner with a fascination for car racing that he often explored by actually racing during the ensuing years. The expensive Cinerama epic did not fare as well as expected at the box office.

In 1969, Garner joined a long list of actors to play Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in Marlowe, a detective drama featuring an early karate scene with Bruce Lee. The same year, Garner scored a hit with the comedy Western Support Your Local Sheriff! featuring Walter Brennan and Jack Elam.

1970s

In 1971, Garner returned to television in an offbeat series, Nichols. The network changed the show’s title to James Garner as Nichols during its second month in a vain attempt to rally the sagging ratings. The motorcycle-riding character was killed in what became the final episode of the single-season series. Garner was re-cast as the character’s more normal twin brother, in the hopes of creating a more popular series with few cast changes. According to Garner’s videotaped Archive of American Television interview, Garner had Nichols killed in the last episode so that a sequel could never be made.

The year 1971 also saw him star in the comedies Support Your Local Gunfighter!, similar to the earlier Support Your Local Sheriff! but not really a sequel, and the frontier comedy Skin Game, featuring Louis Gossett, Jr. and Garner as con men pretending to be a slave and his owner during the pre-Civil War era. The following year, Garner played a modern sheriff investigating a murder in the suspense drama They Only Kill Their Masters with Katherine Ross. He appeared in two movies co-starring Vera Miles as his leading ladyOne Little Indian (1973) featuring Jodie Foster in an early minor role and The Castaway Cowboy (1974) with Robert Culp, before returning to television with a new detective series.

The Rockford Files

“Tall Woman in Red Wagon” episode (1974)

In the 1970s, Roy Huggins had an idea to remake Maverick, but this time as a modern-day private detective. Huggins teamed with co-creator Stephen J. Cannell, and the pair tapped Garner to attempt to rekindle the success of Maverick, eventually recycling many of the plots from the original series. Starting with the 1974 season, Garner appeared as private investigator Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files.

He appeared for six seasons, for which he received an Emmy Award[23] for Best Actor in 1977. Veteran character actor Noah Beery, Jr. (Wallace Beery‘s nephew) played Rockford’s father, Joseph “Rocky” Rockford, whileGretchen Corbett portrayed Rockford’s lawyer and sometime lover, Beth Davenport, until she left the series over a salary dispute with the studio. Garner also invited yet another familiar actor, Joe Santos, who played Rockford’s friend in the Los Angeles Police Department, Detective Dennis Becker. Rounding out the cast was a character actor and friend of Garner’s who had previously co-starred with him on NicholsStuart Margolin, playing Jim’s ex-cell mate and treacherous “friend” Angel Martin. In the first episode of Season Six, Paradise CoveMariette Hartley guest-starred as Court Auditor Althea Morgan. Garner had previously appeared with Rockford Files co-star Hartley in a series of Polaroid Camera commercials. Garner ultimately ended the run of the show, despite consistently high ratings, because of the high physical toll on his body.[24] Appearing in nearly every scene of the series, doing many of his own stunts — including one that injured his back — was wearing him out.[24] A knee injury from his National Guard days worsened in the wake of the continuous jumping and rolling, and he was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer in 1979.[24]

Margolin said of his longtime colleague that despite Garner’s health problems in the later years of The Rockford Files, he would often work long shifts, unusual for a starring actor, staying to do off-camera lines with other actors, doing his own stunts despite his knee problems.[24] When Garner made The Rockford Files television movies, he said that 22 people (with the exception of series co-star Beery, who died late in 1994) came out of retirement to participate.[24]

In July 1983, Garner filed suit against Universal Studios for US$16.5 million in connection with his on-going dispute from The Rockford Files. The suit charged Universal with “breach of contract; failure to deal in good faith and fairly; and fraud and deceit”. It was eventually settled out of court in 1989. As part of the agreement Garner could not disclose the amount of the settlement.[8][25]

Garner sued Universal again in 1998 for $2.2 million over syndication royalties. In this suit he charged the studio with “deceiving him and suppressing information about syndication”. He was supposed to receive $25,000 per episode that ran in syndication, but Universal charged him “distribution fees”. He also felt that the studio did not release the show to the highest bidder for the episode reruns.[25]

1980s

Garner returned to his earlier TV role in 1981 in the revival series Bret Maverick, but NBC unexpectedly canceled the show after only one season despite reasonably good ratings. Critics noted that most of the scripts did not measure up to the first series. Jack Kelly (Bart Maverick) was slated to become a series regular had the show been picked up for another season, and he appeared in the last scene of the final episode in a surprise guest role.

During the 1980s, Garner played dramatic roles in a number of TV movies, including Heartsounds (with Mary Tyler Moore), Promise (with Piper Laurie) and My Name Is Bill W. In 1984, he played the lead in Joseph Wambaugh‘s The Glitter Dome for HBO Pictures, which was being directed by his Rockford Files co-starStuart Margolin. The film generated a mild controversy for a bondage sequence featuring Garner and co-star Margot Kidder.[26]

He was nominated for his first Oscar award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in the movie Murphy’s Romance opposite Sally Field. Field, and director Martin Ritt, had to fight the studio, Columbia Pictures, to have Garner cast, since he was regarded as a TV actor by then (despite having co-starred in the box office hit Victor Victoria opposite Julie Andrews two years earlier). Columbia didn’t want to make the picture at all, because it had no “sex or violence” in it. But because of the success ofNorma Rae (1979), with the same star (Field), director, and screenplay writing team (Harriet Frank Jr. and Irving Ravetch), and with Field’s new production company (Fogwood Films) producing, Columbia agreed. Columbia wanted Marlon Brando to play the part of Murphy, so Field and Ritt had to insist on Garner.[27][28][29] Part of the deal from the studio, which at that time was owned by The Coca-Cola Company, included an eight line sequence of Field and Garner saying the word “Coke”, and also having Coke signs appear prominently in the film.[30][31] In A&E‘s Biography of Garner, Field reported that her on-screen kiss with Garner was the best cinematic kiss she had ever experienced.[32]

Garner played Wyatt Earp in two very different movies shot 21 years apart, Hour of the Gun in 1967 and Sunset in 1988. The first film was a realistic depiction of theO.K. Corral shootout and its aftermath, while the second centered around a fictional adventure shared by Earp and silent movie cowboy star Tom Mix; the real-life Earp actually was a consultant on some early silent Westerns toward the end of his life. The film featured Bruce Willis as Mix in only his second movie role. Although Willis was billed over Garner, the film actually gave more screen time and emphasis to Earp. Malcolm McDowell played a villainous silent comedian.

1990s

In 1991, Garner starred in Man of the People, a television series about a con man chosen to fill an empty seat on a city council, with Kate Mulgrew and Corinne Bohrer. Despite reasonably fair ratings, the show was canceled after only 10 episodes. In 1993, Garner played the lead in another well-received TV-movie,Barbarians at the Gate, and went on to reprise his role as Jim Rockford in eight The Rockford Files made-for-TV movies beginning the following year. The powerfully frenetic opening theme song from the original series was rerecorded and slowed to a mournfully funereal pace, and practically everyone in the original cast of recurring characters returned for the new episodes except Noah Beery, Jr., who had died in the interim. For the second half of the 1980s, Garner appeared in several of the North American market Mazda television commercials as an on screen spokesman.

In 1994, Garner played Marshal Zane Cooper in a movie version of Maverick, with Mel Gibson as Bret Maverick (in the end it is revealed that Garner’s character is the father of Gibson’s Maverick) and Jodie Foster as a gambling lass with a fake southern accent. In 1995, he played lead character Woodrow Call, an ex-lawman, in the TV miniseries sequel to Lonesome Dove entitled Streets of Laredo, based on Larry McMurtry‘s book. In 1996, Garner and Jack Lemmon teamed up in My Fellow Americans, playing two former presidents who uncover scandalous activity by their successor Dan Aykroyd and are pursued by murderous NSA agents. In addition to a major recurring role during the last part of the run of TV series Chicago Hope, Garner also starred in a couple of short-lived series, the animated God, the Devil and Bob and First Monday, in which he played a Supreme Court justice.

2000–present

In 2000, after an operation to replace both knees, Garner appeared with Clint Eastwood (who had played a villain in the original Maverick series) as astronauts in the movie Space Cowboys, also featuring Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland. During a group appearance by the cast on television’s The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Leno ran a brief clip from Garner and Eastwood’s lengthy saloon fistfight during Eastwood’s Maverick appearance in “Duel at Sundown” over forty years earlier; Tommy Lee Jones and Eastwood also stage a brief bar brawl in Space Cowboys, and Leno is shown interviewing the four astronauts in the film.

In 2001, Garner voiced the main antagonist, Commander Rourke, in Disney‘s Atlantis: The Lost Empire. In 2002, following the death of James Coburn, Garner took over Coburn’s role as TV commercial voiceover for Chevrolet’s “Like a Rock” advertising campaign. Garner continued to voice the commercials until the end of the campaign. Upon the death of John Ritter in 2003, Garner joined the cast of 8 Simple Rules as Grandpa Jim Egan (Cate’s father). Originally intended to be a one-shot guest role, he stayed with the series until its end in 2005.

In 2004, Garner starred in the movie version of Nicholas Sparks‘ The Notebook alongside Gena Rowlands as his wife (portrayed in flashbacks by Rachel McAdams, while the younger version of Garner’s character was played by Ryan Gosling, who bore no physical resemblance to Garner while two other characters in the film’s flashback sequences were portrayed by young Garner lookalikes), directed by Nick Cassavetes, Rowlands’ son. The Screen Actors Guild nominated Garner as best actor for “Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.”

In 2010, Garner voiced the wizard Shazam in the direct-to-video animated feature Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam.

In 2011, the PBS television documentary series Pioneers of Television briefly profiled Garner’s contribution to the television series Maverick and other Westerns, illustrated with film clips, rare stills, and interviews with Garner and Stephen J. Cannell, and a voiceover narration read by Kelsey Grammer touching on Garner’s difficult childhood and his impact when Maverick dominated Sunday night television.

On November 1, 2011, Simon & Schuster published Garner’s autobiography “The Garner Files: A Memoir.” In addition to recounting his career, the memoir co-written with non-fiction writer Jon Winokur, detailed the childhood abuses Garner suffered at the hands of his stepmother. It also offered frank, unflattering assessments of some of Garner’s co-stars like Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson.

In addition to recalling the genesis of most of Garner’s hit movies and television shows, the book also featured a section where the star provided individual critiques for every one of his acting projects accompanied by a star rating for each.

Garner’s three-time co-star Julie Andrews wrote the book’s foreword. Lauren Bacall, Diahann Carroll, Doris Day, Tom Selleck and Stephen J. Cannell and many other Garner associates, friends and relatives provided their memories of the star in the book’s coda.

Awards

For his contribution to the film and television industry, Garner received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (at 6927 Hollywood Boulevard). In 1990, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He was also inducted into theTelevision Hall of Fame that same year. In February 2005, he received the Screen Actors Guild‘s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role that year, for The Notebook. When Morgan Freeman won that prize for his work in Million Dollar Baby, he led the audience in a sing-along of the original Maverick theme song, written by David Buttolph and Paul Francis Webster. In 2010, the Television Critics Association gave Garner its annual Career Achievement Award.

Statue of James Garner

On April 21, 2006, a 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) bronze statue of Garner as Bret Maverick was unveiled in Garner’s hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, with Garner present at the ceremony.

Personal life

Marriage and family

The Garners in 1961. Greta is on Garner’s lap; Kim is looking out between Garner and his wife, Lois.

Garner is married to Lois Clarke, whom he met at an “Adlai Stevenson for President” rally in 1956. They married 14 days later on August 17, 1956. “We went to dinner every night for 14 nights. I was just absolutely nuts about her. I spent $77 on our honeymoon, and it about broke me.”  According to Garner, “Marriage is like the Army; everyone complains, but you’d be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist”.

When Garner and Clarke married, her daughter Kim from a previous marriage was seven years old and recovering from polio.  Garner has one daughter with wife Lois: Greta “Gigi” Garner.  In an interview in Good Housekeeping with Garner, his wife, and two daughters conducted at their home that was published in March 1976, Gigi’s age was given as 18 and Kim, 27.

Health issues

Garner’s knees would become chronic problems during the filming of The Rockford Files in the 1970s, with “six or seven knee operations during that time.” In 2000 he had both knees surgically replaced.[10]

On April 22, 1988, Garner had quintuple bypass heart surgery.[35] Though he rapidly recovered, the doctors insisted that he stop smoking. Garner complied—17 years later.

Garner underwent surgery on May 11, 2008, following a minor stroke he had suffered two days earlier.[36] His prognosis was reported to be “very positive.”[36]

Racing

Garner was an owner of the “American International Racers” (AIR) auto racing team from 1967 through 1969. Famed motorsports writer William Edgar and Hollywood director Andy Sidaris teamed with Garner for the racing documentary “The Racing Scene,” filmed in 1969 and released in 1970.[37] The team fielded cars at Le MansDaytona, and Sebring endurance races, but is best known for Garner’s celebrity status raising publicity in early off-road motor-sports events.[38] Garner signed a three-year sponsorship contract with American Motors Corporation (AMC).[39] His shops prepared ten 1969 SC/Ramblers for the Baja 500 race.[40] Garner did not drive in this event because of a film commitment in Spain that year. Nevertheless, seven of his cars finished the grueling race, taking three of the top five places in the sedan class.[41] Garner also drove the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 race in 1975, 1977, and 1985 (see: list of Indianapolis 500 pace cars).

Golf

Garner was an avid golfer for many years. Along with his brother, Jack, he played golf in high school.[12] Jack even attempted a professional golfing career after a brief stint in the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball farm system.[42] Garner took it up again in the late 1950s to see if he could beat Jack.[10] He was a regular for years at Pebble Beach Pro-Am.[42] In February 1990 at the AT&T Golf Tournament he won the Most Valuable Amateur Trophy.[6]

University of Oklahoma

James Garner is a supporter of the University of Oklahoma, often returning to Norman for school functions. When he attended a game, he frequently could be seen on the sidelines or in the press box at Oklahoma Sooners football games. Garner received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at OU in 1995.[43] In 2003, to endow the James Garner Chair in the School of Drama, he donated $500,000, half of a pledged $1 million, for the first endowed position at the drama school.[43][44] Tom H. Orr, the Director for the School of Drama (Acting/Camera Acting) and the Artistic Director University Theatre, currently holds the James Garner Chair at the university.[45][46]

Politics

Garner is a strong Democratic Party supporter, contributing over $7,500 to Democrats running for federal office the past seven years, including Dennis Kucinich (for Congress in 2002), Richard GephardtJohn KerryBarbara Boxer, and various Democratic committees and groups. Since 1982 Garner has given at least $29,000 to Federal campaigns, of which over $24,000 has been to the Democrats.[47]

On August 28, 1963, Garner was one of several celebrities to join Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” In his autobiography, Garner recalled sitting in third row listening to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

For his role in the 1985 CBS miniseries Space, the character’s party affiliation was changed from Republican as in the book to reflect Garner’s personal views. Garner said, “My wife would leave me if I played a Republican”.[48]

Prior to the entry of ex-San Francisco Mayor (later U.S. SenatorDianne Feinstein, there was an effort by Democratic party leaders, led by state Senator Herschel Rosenthal, to persuade James Garner to seek the 1990 Democratic nomination forGovernor of California

 

 

 

Wayne”Trapper John” Rogers is 81 years old today!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

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William Wayne McMillan Rogers III[1] (born April 7, 1933) is an American film and television actor, best known for playing the role of “Trapper John” McIntyre in the CBS television series, M*A*S*H.

He is a regular panel member on the Fox News Channel stock investment television programCashin’ In, as a result of having built a highly successful and lucrative second career as an investor, investment strategist and advisor, and money manager.

Life and career

Rogers was born in BirminghamAlabama. He attended Ramsay High School in Birmingham and is a graduate of The Webb School in Bell BuckleTennessee. In 1954, he graduated from Princeton University with a history degree and was a member of the Princeton Triangle Club and the Eating Club Tiger Inn. Rogers served in the United States Navy before he became an actor.

Prior to the role of Trapper John, Rogers appeared on television in various roles in both dramas and sitcoms such as The InvadersThe F.B.I.,GunsmokeGomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.The Fugitive, and had a small supporting role in the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke.

In 1959, he played Slim Davis on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow. Rogers also played a role in Odds Against Tomorrow which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award in 1960 as Best Film Promoting International Understanding. He guest starred on an episode of the CBS western, Johnny Ringo.

Rogers co-starred with Robert Bray and Richard Eyer in the western series Stagecoach West, on ABC from 1960 to 1961.

M*A*S*H (1972–1975)

When Rogers was approached for M*A*S*H, he planned to audition as Hawkeye Pierce. However, he found the character too cynical and asked to screen test as Trapper John, whose outlook was brighter. Rogers was told that Trapper and Hawkeye would have equal importance as characters.

This changed after Alan Alda, whose acting career and résumé up to that point had outshone that of Rogers, was cast as Hawkeye, and proved to be more popular with the audience. Rogers did, however, still enjoy working with Alda and the rest of the cast as a whole (Alda and Rogers quickly became close friends), but eventually chafed that the writers were devoting the show’s best humorous and dramatic moments to Alda.

When the writers took the liberty of making Hawkeye a thoracic surgeon in the episode “Dear Dad” (December 17, 1972) even though Trapper was the unit’s only thoracic surgeon in the movie and the novel, Rogers felt Trapper was stripped of his credentials.

On the M*A*S*H* 30th Anniversary Reunion Television Special aired by Fox-TV in 2002, Rogers once spoke on the differences between the Hawkeye and Trapper characters, “Alan (Alda) and I both used to discuss ways on how to distinguish the differences between the two characters as to where there would be a variance… my character (Trapper John McIntyre) was a little more impulsive (than Hawkeye)”.

Rogers considerably reduced his Alabama accent for the character of Trapper.[2]

He succeeded Elliott Gould, who had played the character in the Robert Altman movie MASH, and was himself succeeded by Pernell Robertson the M*A*S*H spin-off Trapper John, M.D..

Preceded by
Elliott Gould
“Trapper John” Actor
17 September 1972 – 18 March 1975
Succeeded by
Pernell Roberts

Departure from M*A*S*H

After three seasons, Rogers grew weary of the Trapper character being treated as more of a sidekick than an equal to Hawkeye, and decided to leave the show (as had McLean Stevenson, who had played Lt. Colonel Blake).

House Calls (1979–1982) and other roles

Later he appeared as a Federal agent in the critically acclaimed 1975 NBC-TV movie Attack on Terror: The FBI vs. the Ku Klux Klan, and ascivil rights attorney Morris Dees in 1996′s Ghosts of Mississippi. He also starred in the short-lived but critically lauded 1976 period detective series City of Angels and the 1979–1982 CBS series House Calls, first with Lynn Redgrave, and then later with actress Sharon Gless, who went on to co-star in the CBS-TV crime drama series Cagney and Lacey with actress Tyne Daly (coincidentally, one of the House Calls co-stars wasRoger Bowen who played the original Colonel Henry Blake in the MASH movie). Rogers also appeared in the 1980s miniseries Chiefs.

Rogers then guest-starred five times on CBS’s Murder, She Wrote. He has served as an executive producer and producer in both televisionand film, and as a screenwriter, and a director. In addition, he has achieved some recognition as an investor, appearing frequently on Fox News Channel business shows. He also starred in Race Against the Harvest.

He also starred in the movie The Gig (1985), alongside Cleavon Little, as a jazz musician-hobbyist whose group has an opportunity to play a Catskills resort and must confront failure. Also in 1985, he starred opposite Barbara Eden in the televised reunion movie I Dream of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later based on the 1960s situation comedy I Dream of Jeannie. Rogers took on the role of Major Tony Nelson which was originally portrayed by Larry Hagman (of the CBS-TV soap opera Dallas fame) in the television series when Hagman was unavailable to reprise the character he had originated. In 1986, Rogers hosted the short-lived CBS television series High Risk.

Fox News’ Cashin’ In

Rogers, who began to test the stock and real estate markets during his tenure as a M*A*S*H cast member, appears regularly as a panel member on the Fox Business Network cable TV stocks investment/stocks news program Cashin’ In, hosted by Fox News anchor Eric Bolling. In August 2006, Rogers was elected to the Board of Directors of Vishay Intertechnology, Inc.,[3] a Fortune 1000 manufacturer of semiconductorsand electronic components. He is also the head of Wayne Rogers & Co., a stock trading investment corporation.

Later developments

On April 23, 2012 Wayne Rogers signed on as the new spokesman for Senior Home Loans, a direct reverse mortgage lender headquartered onLong Island, New York. The national campaign is headed by industry veteran Jason Levy, CEO. Levy’s past experience includes managing theRobert Wagner reverse mortgage campaign.[citation needed]

Awards

Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.[4]

Personal life

As a young actor, Rogers met actress Mitzi McWhorter in New York City in the late 1950s. They married in 1960 and divorced in 1983, producing two children from the relationship. They had been separated for almost four years prior to the divorce. In 1986, Rogers fathered a child, a boy named Luigi Calabrese, with then-girlfriend Melinda Naud.[5] Rogers has been married to his second wife, the former Amy Hirsh, since 1988.

His two children from his marriage to McWhorter are Laura Rogers and William (Bill) Rogers IV. Both reside in California. Wayne’s grandchildren include Laura’s children: Xander and Daniel Bienstock, and Bill’s children: William V and Anaïs.

 

 

Marilu “Elaine Nardo” Henner is 62 years old today!

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Marilu-Henner-Roger-Kisby-Getty-Images

Mary Lucy Denise “Marilu” Henner (born April 6, 1952) is an American actress, producer and author. She is best known for her role as Elaine O’Connor Nardo on the sitcom Taxi from 1978 to 1983.

Early life

Born in Chicago, Illinois, to a Greek mother and Polish father, Henner was raised on the northwest side of Chicago in the Logan Square neighborhood. She is the third of six children. Her mother, Loretta, was president of the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts and ran the Henner Dance School for 20 years. Henner took her first dance class at age two then went on to teaching dance at her family’s studio when she was 14 and choreographed shows at local high schools and colleges until leaving the Chicago area during her third year of college.

Career

While a student at the University of Chicago in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, Henner originated the role of “Marty” in the Kingston Mines production of Grease in 1971. When the show was discovered and moved to Broadway, she was asked to reprise the role; however, she chose instead to play “Marty” in the national touring company alongside John Travolta, who played “Doody”. Additional Broadway credits for Henner include Over Here!, with Travolta, revivals of Pal JoeyChicagoSocial Security, and The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife. Her first film appearance was in the 1977 sleeper-hit Between the Lines, co-starring then-unknowns Jeff GoldblumLindsay CrouseJohn Heard, and Jill Eikenberry. Her second role was opposite Richard Gere in the 1978 film Bloodbrothers.

Henner came to prominence with the role of Elaine Nardo in the situation comedy Taxi.

She was the leading lady in the 1982 film Hammettdirected by Wim Wenders, produced by Francis Ford Coppola and starring her first husband Frederic Forrest. In 1983, Henner starred opposite Burt Reynolds in The Man Who Loved Women, directed by Blake Edwards. Reynolds then asked Henner to join the cast ofCannonball Run II later that year along with Shirley MacLaine and Dom DeLuise. She was the leading lady in the 1984 film Johnny Dangerously, playing love interest to Michael Keaton. In 1985 she once again appeared alongside John Travolta in Perfect. In 1991 she appeared oppositeSteve Martin in L.A. Story as Trudi, a role for which she received a nomination for an American Comedy Award as the Funniest Supporting Female in a Motion Picture. From 1990 through 1994, she appeared opposite Burt Reynolds in the situation comedy Evening Shade, which also starred Ossie Davis and Hal Holbrook. She also appeared in Noises Off (1992) and in Man on the Moon (1999), a film about her Taxi co-starAndy Kaufman. Henner played herself (as well as herself playing her Taxi character).

Henner at the 1991 Emmy Awards

Henner guested on Match Game and Hollywood Squares. She provided the voice for Gotham City socialite Veronica Vreeland in Batman: The Animated Series (1992–1999), reprising the role in the animated filmsBatman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998). In 1994, she hosted her own daytime talk show, Marilu, for 165 episodes.

Henner starred as the domineering mother of the bride in the Brooks & Dunn video “You Can’t Take the Honky Tonk Out of the Girl” in 2003.

In 2006 and 2007, Henner was the host of the television series America’s Ballroom Challenge. Henner said on an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in early 2008, that she has never actually danced ballroom and would like to go on a season of Dancing with the Stars. She later hosted FitTV and The Discovery Channel‘sShape Up Your Life, which is based on her books.

Henner was a contestant on NBC‘s first The Celebrity Apprentice, in 2008. She was fired by Donald Trump in the eighth episode, but was brought back to help fellow contestant Trace Adkins in the final task of the show.

Henner, who has highly superior autobiographical memory, was a consultant for the CBS drama Unforgettable, which starred Poppy Montgomery as Carrie Wells, a woman with the same ability. Henner guest-starred as Carrie’s aunt.[1]

In August 2012, Henner won $25,000 for the charity Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) as a celebrity contestant on Live! with Kelly “Grilling with the Stars” contest for her Healthy/Easy Grilled Mushroom and Heirloom Tomato dish.

Henner has written nine books on diethealth and memory, the most prominent being Total Health Makeover, in which she explains the virtues of a non-dairy diet in conjunction with food combining and exercise. She leads monthly classes on her website, www.marilu.com, designed to help people integrate these steps into a healthier, more active lifestyle. Both of her parents died in their 50s, which prompted her to lead a healthier lifestyle. Henner has also been host of television’s The Art of Living, produced by United States Media Television.

Henner rejoined the cast for its 13th season on The All-Star Celebrity Apprentice where she is joined by fellow Apprentice alumni. She played for her charity The Alzheimer’s Association and won over $50,000 for the cause. She returned, after being eliminated, for the final task to assist Trace Adkins.

Henner is now the host “The Marilu Show”. It airs every weekday morning on the GCN Live network or at Marilushow.com where she features guest physicians, health experts and celebrity guests and friends.

Personal life

In her autobiographyBy All Means, Keep on Moving, Henner discussed her romances with actor John Travolta and Taxi costars Judd Hirschand Tony Danza. Her first two marriages, to actor Frederic Forrest and director Robert Lieberman, ended in divorce. She married Michael Brown, a former college classmate, on December 21, 2006, before 100 people in her Los Angeles home. It was the second marriage for Brown, who has three children (Cassia Brown, Carine Brown and Michael Brown). Henner has two children, Nicholas Morgan and Joseph Marlon, from her marriage to Lieberman.

Henner has hyperthymesia and can remember the specific details of her everyday life since she was a small child.[2][3] On December 19, 2010, CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a segment which featured six individuals thought to have this condition. A longtime friend of 60 Minutes correspondentLesley Stahl, Henner was included on the show. She discussed her memory further on CBS’ The Early ShowNBC’s The Today Show, ABC’sThe View and Howard Stern‘s Sirius XM show. Her ninth book, Total Memory Makeover: Uncover Your Past, Take Charge of Your Future, is a New York Times best-seller and offers instruction on how people might access their own autobiographical memories; it was released on April 24, 2012. To promote Total Memory Makeover, she appeared on Anderson Live (Then known as simply Anderson), The ViewPiers Morgan TonightGood Morning AmericaCBS This MorningThe TalkThe Dr. Oz Show and numerous other radio and TV media outlets.

 

Max “Detective Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz” Gail is 71 years old today!

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

max-gail-barney-miller

Maxwell Trowbridge “Max” Gail, Jr.[1] (born 5 April 1943) is an American actor who has starred in stage, television, and film roles. He most notably portrayed the role of Detective Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz on the television sitcom Barney Miller.

Life and career

Gail was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Mary Elizabeth (Scanlon) and Maxwell Trowbridge Gail, a businessman,[1] and he was raised in Grosse Ile, Michigan. He attended Williams College, and was later an instructor for the University Liggett School before becoming an actor. His acting debut came in 1970 for The Little Fox Theatre in San Francisco, California, playing Chief Bromdenin the original stage production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In 1973, he reprised this role in his New York stage debut.

He is best known for his television role as Det. Stan “Wojo” Wojciehowicz in the sitcom Barney Miller (1975-1982).

Gail’s best known feature film role is in D.C. Cab (1983) as Harold, the owner of the D.C. Cab taxi company.

In 1984, Gail was featured in the monodrama “The Babe” on Broadway. This stage play was filmed and later featured on PBS.

Gail has starred in other TV series including Whiz Kids (1983) as “Llewellan Farley, Jr.”, an investigative reporter who is friends with a group of teenage computer hackers. He worked on the short-lived Normal Life (1990). He has appeared on the TV series Sons & Daughters (2006).

Gail has made many guest appearances on TV shows such as CannonDr. Quinn, Medicine WomanDue SouthThe Streets of San Francisco,Paul Sand in Friends and LoversThe Drew Carey ShowQuantum LeapPsychGary Unmarried and NCIS (Episode “Murder 2.0″).[2]

Gail appeared as Brooklyn Dodgers manager Burt Shotton in the 2013 film 42, a film about Jackie Robinson‘s first 2 years as a member of theDodgers organization, including his first year of playing at the Major League level in 1947

Gail runs Full Circle, a production company which has featured documentaries on such subjects as Agent OrangeNative Americans, andnuclear issues.

Gail’s first wife, Willie Bier, died of cancer in 1986; they have a daughter, India. He and his second wife, Nan, have two children, Maxwell and Grace. Gail has a twin sister, actress Mary Gail.

Happy birthday to Robbie “Cousin Oliver” Rist. He’s 50 years old today!

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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Robert Anthony “Robbie” Rist (born April 4, 1964) is an American actor and musician.[1]

Acting and voiceover work

As a child, Rist played Cousin Oliver in the final six episodes of The Brady Bunch.

With the regular children all getting older, his inclusion was intended to reintroduce cute younger children to the series. With his Dutch Boy haircut and wire-rimmed glasses, his resemblance to pop singer John Denver and juvenile appeal, he seemed ideal; however the plan became moot as the network had opted to not renew the series before his debut anyway. This gave rise to the term “Cousin Oliver Syndrome,” also known as “add a kid.” Several subsequent TV series in the 1970′s and ’80′s used “add a kid” hoping to revitalize ratings. Rist’s character, Oliver, uttered the final line of the final episode: “Me! Cousin Oliver!”; but the character was subsequently omitted from all future original-cast revivals of the series.

After The Brady Bunch he co-starred in a Saturday morning show called Big John, Little John, was Glendon Farrell on the David Hartman vehicle Lucas Tanner, and in 1976 and 1977 played Ted Baxter‘s son David on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In 1980, Rist played “Dr. Zee” on Galactica 1980.[2] He made four guest appearances on CHiPs and the short-lived CBS series Whiz Kids, and also played Booger in a failed Revenge of the Nerds TV pilot. In 1986, Rist had a notable supporting role as Milo in the action film, Iron Eagle which was a box-office hit despite being critically panned.[3]

As an adult, Rist has worked as a voice actor, such as in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series (as the voice of Michaelangelo); from 1984 to 1986, he starred in the Saturday morning cartoon Kidd Video, playing the character Whiz both in live-action music videos and animated sequences. He was the voice of Star, a Siberian husky, in the 1995 Universal Studios film Balto. He was also the voice of Aaron in the PC game Star Warped. An episode of Batman: The Animated Series titled “Baby Doll” contained a character called Cousin Spunky that was intended to boost sagging ratings of the fictional Baby Doll sitcom, a clear reference to Cousin Oliver (Rist lent his voice to the episode, but did not play Cousin Spunky; his character was an adult).

Rist also voices characters Choji Akimichi from Naruto, Itsuki “Iggy” Takeuchi from Initial D and Bud Bison from Megaman Starforce.

Robbie Rist is currently the voice of Stuffy, Doc’s overly proud stuffed dragon, in Disney Junior’s new animated series Doc McStuffins.

Recently, he voiced Griffin in Terminator Salvation. He also provided additional voices in Final Fantasy XIII, as well as reprising his role as Michelangelo in a fan-made movie about Casey Jones.[4]

Music

Rist is also a musician and producer. He has performed as the lead singer, guitarist, bassist and/or drummer for several Los Angeles rock bands, including WonderboyThe Andersons (band)Cockeyed Ghost, Nice Guy Eddie, and Steve Barton and the Oblivion Click. The list ofwest coast pop bands Rist has performed with numbers in the hundreds. He divides his time between film and music production, performing with Los Angeles alt-country band KingsizeMaybe and rock band Jeff Caudill & The Goodtimes Band (with Jeff Caudill of Orange County punk band Gameface and Michael “Popeye” Vogelsang of Orange County punk band Farside). Rist has also produced a number of records for bands, including Suzy & Los Quattro, Backline, Ginger Britt and the Mighty, Jeff Caudill, Steve Barton and the Oblivion Click, Nice Guy Eddie, Kingsizemaybe and The Mockers. Rist produced the Rubinoos album Automatic Toaster[5] and played drums on that album.[6] He currently is the drummer for the rock formation Your Favorite Trainwreck.[7]

Film

As of 2009, Rist is acting, working with music and also working in film production. Rist’s latest project is a horror/comedy film he produced,Stump The Band, directed by William Holmes and JoJo Hendrickson.[8]

A trailer for a project with the working title, “Robbie Rist: The Time Thief” in conjunction with Thonghead Productions is set to be released soon.

In 2013, he also appeared as the school bus driver in the camp film, Sharknado.