Tag Archives: Entertainment

Who Was Appearing At The Madison Square Garden Theatre 116 Years Ago Today

December 17, 1900 The Great Sarah Bernhardt Was Appearing At The Madison Square Garden Theatre

madison-square-garden-theatre-program-dec-17-1900-coverMadison Square Garden was the center of entertainment for wealthy New Yorkers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Occupying the entire block between Park and Madison Avenues from 26th to 27th Streets, the Garden Theatre was the work of architects McKim, Mead and White.

Program for week of December 17, 1900 at Madiison Square Garden

Program for week of December 17, 1900 at Madiison Square Garden

The Garden Theatre featured the most famous stars of the day and 100 years ago today, you could have seen the fabulous French star Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) during her “farewell” week. Bernahardt made over nine “farewell” tours of America between 1906 – 1918. In 1900 Bernhardt was just doing farewell weeks.

Bernhardt was appearing in a prose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The crazy part was Ms. Bernhardt was playing….Hamlet! This was considered very controversial in 1900.

The other ads on the page show what major acts were appearing at theatres around the city.

The famous Maude Adams (1872-1953), was concluding her run at the Knickerbocker Theatre in L’Ainglon. There were only 12 more performances scheduled.

The Garden Theatre was managed by Charles Frohman, the most influential and important theatre impresario of the day. Frohman also managed the Criterion, Empire and Garrick Theatre. In addition to managing theatres, Frohman was the personal manager of Maude Adams.

If you have ever seen the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, you may know that writer Richard Matheson based a good deal of Seymour’s character (Elise McKenna) on Ms. Adams. Continue reading

Ralph Branca’s Least Favorite Record

Ralph Branca Probably Never Played This LP Record

Ralph Branca, the Brooklyn Dodgers hurler who gave up the 1951 home run known as the “Shot Heard Round The World” died at the age of 90 on Wednesday, November 23, 2016 in Rye Brook, NY.

After giving up the home run, Branca was unjustly made a poster boy for failure. A three time All-Star, Branca was a very good pitcher and had won 75 games by the age of 25. An injury in 1953 cut short his promising career.

giants-win-pennant-lp-front-cover

The Giants Win The Pennant! 1952 Chesterfield cigarettes limited edition LP record

The home run that Bobby Thomson of the Giants hit off Branca to win the third and deciding playoff game, was very likely a pitch that Thomson knew was coming.

The Giants had been stealing signs from opposing teams catchers and relaying them to their hitters with a telescope and a buzzer system at home games at the Polo Grounds during the season. It was confirmed years later that the Giants had tipped batters during the playoff game as well. Thomson though never admitted to having been tipped to what the pitch would be that won the game.

When Thomson hit his home run, Giants announcer Russ Hodges Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #54 – Katharine Hepburn 1940

Katharine Hepburn Looking Beautiful – Even Her Neck!

katharine-hepburn-1940-photo-van-damm-studioThere are a number of classic movie fans who like Katharine Hepburn as an actress but don’t care for her looks.

Looking at a photograph of Hepburn like this one taken in 1940 by Vandamm Studio, how could anyone say she doesn’t look absolutely beautiful?

The one feature Katharine Hepburn did not like about herself, especially as she aged, was her neck. She called it her “turkey neck.” By the end of the 1940s, wrinkles around her neck made her self conscious, and she would frequently cover up her neck both on screen and off. Continue reading

The Girls Of The Chorus – 1920

The Girls From The Chorus of Always You, A 1920 Musical Comedy

chorus-girls-1920-broadway-show-always-youThere’s really no reason to show this photograph other than it portrays an eternal theme – trying to get your big break on Broadway. Most chorus girls toil in anonymity for years without finding fame and fortune.

Unfortunately there is no identification on the back of the photo, other than the play name.

Always You, a musical comedy in two acts ran from January 5 until February 28, 1920, for a total of 66 performances.

Checking the cast through the IBDB the ensemble (chorus girls) include: Rose Cardiff, Virginia Clark, Elinore Cullen, Lillian Held, Irma Marwick, Helen Neff, Marietta O’Brien, Mildred Rowland, Emily Russ, Memphis Russell, Marvee Snow and Beatrice Summers.

Which six are pictured?

I’m not sure who is who, but I believe Memphis Russell is third from right and another one of the women is Marietta O’Brien (second from left) who has an interesting story.

After Always You, Marietta O’Brien appeared in a number of musical plays and revues. She also posed nude for famous Ziegfeld Girl photographer Alfred Cheney Johnston. In 1928 O’Brien married Ned Jakobs, the producer of the play she was starring in, The Houseboat On The Styx.

The only problem with that was Ned was already married Continue reading

We’d Like To Hear From Houdini (And Teddy Roosevelt While We’re At It)

On The 90th Anniversary of Houdini’s Death, We’d Like Some Advice From Houdini and His Friend Theodore Roosevelt

From left to right: William Hamlin Childs, Harry Houdini, J.C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, unidentified, Philip Roosevelt, L. F. Abbott

Aboard The Imperator June 23, 1914 – From left to right: William Hamlin Childs, Harry Houdini, J.C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, unidentified, Philip Roosevelt, L. F. Abbott

If there is an afterlife maybe Houdini is hanging out with President Theodore Roosevelt like he was in 1914. If so, I’d like to know what they think about the current state of our country.

October 31, 1926 marks the 90th anniversary of the death of the world’s most famous magician, Harry Houdini. Before he died, Houdini told his wife Bess that if there really was life after death, he would contact her. After all, Houdini spent a lot of his time showing how all people who claimed to contact the dead were charlatans. If anyone could prove that there was life after death it would be Houdini.

He never made contact with Bess. There are still seances held each year that try and contact Houdini.

So every so often we’ve asked the question: has Houdini made contact from other side like he said he would?

Of course not. Houdini is still dead and there’s no word from him. Continue reading

The 40th Anniversary Of The Best Baseball Movie Ever Made

The Bad News Bears – The Best Baseball Movie Ever Made

bad-news-bears-1976-lobby-card-1The approaching end of the regular baseball season got me thinking, what is the best baseball movie ever made? The clear winner for me would be the The Bad News Bears, hands down.

Some might disagree and say Field of Dreams, The Natural, A League of Their Own or Pride of The Yankees are better films. While those are all excellent movies, the 1976 Bad News Bears has an honesty and appeal that has endured for over 40 years. It’s also not just about baseball, it is about real life and overcoming challenges and disappointments. By the way, you can forget the lame remake in 2006 that failed at every level.

Yes, it’s been 40 years since the release of The Bad News Bears. That just blows my mind. I was a kid in 1976 and could very strongly relate to the action on the screen with things happening in my little league and off the field experiences.

Viewing the film now, I believe this exact version, line for line and scene for scene, could not and would not be made today. The world has become too politically correct and “sensitive.” The kids use the “n” word liberally. Pre-teens drink alcohol. 12 kids ride with beer drinking Walter Matthau (while he’s behind the wheel) in an overloaded convertible, all of them not wearing seat belts. The fact that the film mirrored the way kids behaved and talked like in real life would probably upset too many people nowadays. Continue reading

This Is The Best Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover Band I’ve Ever Seen

Gruhak? Yes Gruhak From Croatia. An Amazing Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover Band

gruhak-photo-via-dulist-hr

If Gruhak ever does a concert in the United States, I’m going to see it.

Since the 1970s I’ve seen over 300 concerts. Among them: AC/DC, Deep Purple, Paul McCartney, Motörhead, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, The Clash, Kiss, Iron Maiden, Rush and countless other classic bands.

Sometimes the shows have been great, other times it’s been a disappointment. Especially now because as the older the bands get, the harder it is for them to perform live. In the past 10 years I’ve mostly stopped going to shows rather than see my rock ‘n’ roll illusions shattered.

Enter the tribute or cover band, that in some cases can deliver a performance that sounds better than the band they are copying. Cover and tribute bands are a dime a dozen, many of them are not very good and they play the bar circuit. There are a handful of bands that can  make a full time living at it and have developed their own fan following.

It is rare that there is a band that can have the energy, the vibe and the talent to cover multiple groups and do it well.

That fits the description of Gruhak, a five piece band from Dubrovnik, Croatia.  The word “gruhak” means a loud and obtrusive person.

Rather than go on and on about their talent, have a look and a listen.

First up – The Who – We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Now performing in a totally different style, Gruhak takes on The Doors with Love Me Two Times.

It’s not that Gruhak sound like The Doors. It’s not an imitation, but an interpretation and it’s a damned good one. Gruhak’s  singer Boris Kosovic has Jim Morrison’s intonations and the band sounds more like the Doors, than the band that Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger put together a dozen years ago with Ian Astbury, formerly of The Cult, on vocals.

As far as Gruhak’s version of We Won’t Get Fooled Again, it’s as if we’re hearing Roger Daltrey and company in their prime. The other musicians in Gruhak are equally accomplished. Continue reading

Obama’s Last and Boldest Act While In Office – Equalize Entertainment Television

President Obama Promises to Bring Change To Television Before He Leaves Office

President Obama with Jimmy Fallon photo NBCDuring President Obama’s recent visit to “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon on Friday, the president unveiled a final shocking and controversial plan to be implemented before he exits office in 2017.

President Obama declared he would drastically overhaul many segments of America’s television viewing habits beginning with entertainment and reality television programs, calling it “a painful but necessary decision.”

The president said that his plan, Change and Equalization for American Television (CHEAT), would allow television programs to be more inclusive and teach and inform rather than just have people be non-thinking couch potatoes. President Obama said, “Restructuring how people spend their free time has become a priority,” before he leaves the presidency.

“There is just too much useless information on television infiltrating young folk’s minds in the form of entertainment and reality programs,” the president told Fallon. “The Biggest Loser, Dancing With The Stars, The O’Reilly Factor, I mean the list of dangerous and uninformative programs is just too long,” President Obama said.

The president singled out a program that disturbed him greatly, not only because of its lack of diversity in the cast, but by the cruelty of the situation.

“There was one show on a few years ago, I think it was “Lost” President Obama recalled. “Well, when I tuned in a few times, I could not believe that the producers of this reality program had stranded seven people, who by the way were all white, on a desert island with no phone, no lights, no motorcar – not a single luxury. These fine brave Americans included a millionaire and his wife, a professor, and a movie star. It was clear to me they wanted to get off this island. Well it seems that one of the other islander’s, a Mr. Gilligan, must have been planted by the producers of the show to foil each rescue attempt, because he sabotaged every planned escape. It was heartbreaking”

Mr. Fallon started to explain to President Obama that the show he had watched was not Lost, when the president interrupted him by saying firmly, Continue reading

5 Great Funky Songs of the 70s Performed Live

 A Look Back At The 1970s With Great Funky Songs Performed Live

Stevie Wonder Motown Press photo

Stevie Wonder

The 1970s music scene. It wasn’t just the hairstyles, costumes or clothes. It wasn’t just the sheer magnitude of the musicianship. It wasn’t just that the songs were actually saying something. It wasn’t that these bands had multi-talented singer-songwriters.

It was a combination of these things and something else. There was something intangible about the 1970s: that great music like this was written, performed live and recorded for posterity. It makes me feel really sorry for the 2016 generation: kids who have not discovered this music and think that Pitbull, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber or Kanye West are the greatest.

As with all good music, appreciating it meant you were colorblind. You couldn’t care less if the band was white, black yellow or polka dotted. All that mattered was that it was great music.

Here are 5 great funky songs from the 70s performed live.

Let’s start with one of the most underappreciated musicians of all-time, Billy Preston (1946-2006). Preston, known by many music fans for playing with the Beatles on the Get Back sessions, had his own successful solo career that never reached the heights it should have. In this ebullient performance, Billy Preston delvers the goods and belts out Will It Go Round In Circles on The Midnight Special in 1973.  Will afros ever come back? Preston and his drummer make them look cool.

There is not much more that can be said about Stevie Wonder that hasn’t already been said. He’s one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all-time. Most fans of Led Zeppelin know that Stevie’s 1972 song Superstition heavily influenced Zeppelin’s 1975 hit Trampled Under Foot. The Doobie Brothers 1973 Long Train Running also bears a striking similarity as all three songs have a similar main hook.

On the LP recording, Stevie Wonder played clavinet, drums, and Moog bass! Here live in 1973 on the show, Sesame Street (yes, the children’s PBS show Sesame Street!) is Stevie Wonder with his phenomenal live band performing Superstition. The whole band is fantastic and the mix is great, but take note of drummer Ollie Brown who keeps perfect time while making it all look too easy.

Continue reading

Olivia de Havilland Hollywood’s Greatest Living Movie Star Is 100-Years-Old Today

Olivia de Havilland – The Last Great Star of The Golden Age of Hollywood Turns 100 Today

Olivia De Havilland February 1939 photo: George Hurrell

Olivia De Havilland February 1939 photo: George Hurrell

When you think about the Golden Age of Hollywood during the 1930s you realize practically everyone from that era of fabulous film-making is dead.

Except one great star – the two time Oscar winning actress, Olivia de Havilland who turns 100 on July 1, 2016.

Olivia de Havilland is the last link to a Hollywood that has vanished. When Olivia de Havilland began her film career in 1935 it was a time when movie studios cultivated, built up and groomed actors and taught them the elements of acting, song and dance. The studios then placed actors in several films a year to build their popularity with extensive publicity behind them.

The downside was that the studios also controlled the lives of the stars, and many of them did not appreciate the meddling into their private lives. Many movie stars resented the way they were treated by the studios and the non-stop work schedule. But a lot of the movies the stars made are considered classics today and the stars the studios created became legendary.

Olivia de Havilland has starred with all the past film greats. To name them all would be an extensive list, but here are a few: Errol Flynn in many movies; Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind; Frederic March; Claude Rains; James Cagney; Rita Hayworth; Charles Boyer; Bette Davis; Frank Sinatra and dozens of other stars – every one of them are now all gone.

Olivia de Havilland on her 90th BirthdayOlivia de Havilland wrote a short memoir in 1962, Every French Man Has One (Random House).  She has said she was working on writing a real autobiography for several years now. I just hope it does get completed and sees the light of day. She has so much to say and there is a lot she has never revealed, including the reasons behind her famous feud with her sister Joan Fontaine and the details of her relationship with Errol Flynn which apparently was platonic.

I know there is a time Olivia de Havilland will no longer be with us and that makes me very sad. But it makes me happy to know that Olivia de Havilland is according to all reports in very good health and loving her life in France where she resides.

Presented below is a short gallery of Olivia de Haviiland in vintage photographs many of which have not been seen since they were originally released. I’ve read Continue reading