If you have been watching Ken Burns excellent documentary about Muhammad Ali on PBS, you can only wonder how Muhammad Ali’s views on everything would be taken today. Ali was always unabashedly honest expressing his opinions. Ali said and did things that always created controversy. Continue reading →
Detroit Tigers catcher Bill Freehan at Yankee Stadium 1969
Before Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk arrived in the late 1960s and early 1970s there was no question as to who was the best catcher in the American League. It was the Detroit Tigers Bill Freehan.
I won’t recount Freehan’s excellent baseball career or personal story in too much detail here. Freehan told it himself while at the height of his playing days in a little known autobiography.
Freehan’s terrific 1970 book, Behind The Mask: An Inside Baseball Diary (World Publishing) was written with editors Dick Schaap and Steve Gelman and was quickly forgotten.
It is one of the best books ever written about the nuances of baseball. Behind The Mask was overshadowed because it came out the same year as ex-Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton’s explosive tell-all Ball Four. Continue reading →
Johnny Carson Looks At Press Photos With Bob Uecker, Going Over Bob’s Legendary Baseball Career
In the mid-90s actor Leslie Nielsen was doing publicity for a comedic book “Bad Golf My Way.” The radio stations who set up interviews with Nielsen expected the star of “Airplane” and “Police Squad / The Naked Gun” to be as witty as the man who was in those movies.
While Leslie Nielsen had a sense of humor he was not a funny man. The public seems to forget that writers write those funny lines for actors to say.
Nielsen did his best, doing four hours of back to back interviews with FM stations across the country. But the radio hosts mostly got a reality check. Just because you’re a comedic actor does not translate into being a funny guest.
On the other hand Bob Uecker was a professional baseball catcher for six seasons in the 1960s who had a career .200 batting average. While Uecker was by his own estimate not a particularly good ballplayer, he was very funny. Uecker parlayed his natural sense of humor into a fifty year career as a baseball announcer and talk show guest, and he is still going strong, The 87-year-old Uecker remains the radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers.
Here is Uecker’s seventh appearance on The Tonight Show, September 23, 1971.
What makes this clip rare is that for the first 10 years that Carson hosted The Tonight Show from New York, almost every tape was subsequently erased. Continue reading →
The United States Used To Celebrate George Washington’s Birthday
Now It Is Ignored
How We Stopped Honoring One Of The Greatest Americans
The Life of George Washington Harper’s Weekly February 27, 1864
Growing up in the seventies, we didn’t get a “winter break” at school in mid-February for a full week. School in February was closed on two days: February 12 for celebrating Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday and February 22 for George Washington’s Birthday. That is if one of the days didn’t fall on a weekend!
Grammar school teachers made a big deal out of our two great presidents. We learned all about Washington and Lincoln leading up to the holidays. Washington secured our liberty and Lincoln preserved it. The two were somewhat distant historical figures, yet their importance was still to be held in some amount of reverence.
From the time he came to prominence during the Revolution, George Washington, The Father of our Country was practically worshiped by its citizens. This was true for nearly two hundred years, Washington was thought of and remembered as a great American. He was honored with place namings and later his own holiday.
That is until the late twentieth century when George Washington’s Birthday became the victim of bureaucrats.
How Washington’s Birthday Became A Holiday
George Washington’s Final Birthday 1799 Harper’s Weekly Feb. 25, 1899
George Washington’s Birthday was the first federal holiday to single out an individual’s birth date. Continue reading →
Greer Garson – Acting Talent Does Not Equate To Being A Good Talk Show Guest
Greer Garson (1904-1996) was a fine and talented actress. Anyone seeing her deeply moving performances in Goodbye Mr. Chips or Mrs. Miniver can attest to that.
Garson won the Academy Award for her portrayal as the title character in Mrs. Miniver. Six additional Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role affirm that her colleagues appreciated Garson’s acting skills.
But according to Craig Tennis, a former talent coordinator of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson from 1968-1976, Greer Garson was not great when it came to spontaneity. Continue reading →
Barbara Stanwyck Thanks “Golden Boy” For Her Honorary Oscar 1982
In a six decade career Barbara Stanwyck (1907-1990) received four Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a leading role. The films were Stella Dallas (1937); Ball of Fire (1941); Double Indemnity (1944) and Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). She did not win for any of these great performances in fine pictures.
Stanwyck and William Holden starred together in the 1939 film Golden Boy. It was Holden’s first starring role. And he was almost fired. But Barbara Stanwyck insisted Holden stay on the film. The two became lifelong friends.
At the April 3, 1978 Academy Awards presentation, William Holden and Barbara Stanwyck were reunited as co-presenters for the award for best sound.
This was the era before everyone handing out awards had every word scripted for them and was littered with politically correct, back-slapping fake accolades and bad jokes. What happened next was completely genuine, unrehearsed and quite touching as you will see by Stanwyck’s reaction.
Finally four years later on March 29, 1982, the Academy recognized Stanwyck with an honorary Oscar for “superlative creativity and unique contribution to the art of screen acting.”Continue reading →
Canned Hitchcock – Alfred Hitchcock found out how his motion pictures would look if laid end to end when Universal Studios lines up prints of all his films, starting with “The Pleasure Garden” circa 1925, and ending with his 53rd motion picture, “Family Plot,” now being edited by the master of suspense.Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot starring Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris and William Devane, has been selected to open the 1976 Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Filmex) on March 21 at Plitt’s Century Plaza Theatre as a black tie pre-release world premiere, followed by a special Filmex Society “Salute To Alfred Hitchcock” at the Century Plaza Hotel. Film drama about the search for a lost heir will open nationally three weeks later on April 9. – photo: Philippe Halsman, January 1976
IMDB lists 54 feature film credits for Alfred Hitchcock as director, not 53. Somewhere along the line someone forgot to count one of Hitchcock’s films. Continue reading →