Tag Archives: Los Angeles Times

Classic Hollywood #24

W.C. Fields In A Rare Color Photograph Circa 1940

WC Fields color

W.C. Fields or Bill Fields to his friends, was one of the most talented comedians of the first half of the 20th century. He began his show business career in vaudeville as a juggler and worked his way up to top billing in the Ziegfeld Follies for a ten year stretch. From there he went on to become a major film star during the 1930’s and early 1940’s. Today, upon viewing his films, many people do not understand why he was considered funny. But I assure you there is a subtle brilliance in Fields’ portrayals of the henpecked husband, disreputable man and misunderstood misanthrope.

One of the more popular, yet apocryphal stories about Fields, was that he had hundreds of bank accounts spread across the country, many under ridiculous pseudonyms such as Otis Criblecoblis; Mahatma Kane Jeeves; Aristotle Hoop; Ludovic Fishpond; Figley E. Whitesides and so on. After Fields died in 1946, his mistress Carlotta Monti claimed that there was over $1.3 million in unclaimed funds in banks under the fake names. An assistant hired to solve the dilemna of Fields estate found only 24 accounts all under Fields real name.

J.P. McEvoy’s profile of Fields in the July 26, 1942 Los Angeles Times revealed some things about Fields and his money:

Bill agrees in part, with Arthur Brisbane, who said that to keep a comic good was to keep him poor. Bill has no intention of becoming poor so that people will think he is funny, but he refuses to let photographers snap him in his big cars or silhouetted against his Hollywood mansion. “People won’t laugh if they think I’m rich,” he says. “They’ll snarl, ‘That so and so. Trying to be funny, eh? I could be funny too if I had all that dough.’ ”

“All that dough” are the words for it, for Bill has been in the big money for years. But he’s never invested, bought a stock, or even owned a house – he’s salted it away in cash and Government bonds. It is reliably reported he had $400,000 cash in the New York Harriman bank in ’29 and got all of it out before it folded in the crash. When he toured the world he banked his salary in every country  – and got it all over here before trouble started. “Bill will feed you, clothe you and house you,” says an old pal, “but he won’t lend you a nickel.”

My favorite story about Fields was told by Groucho Marx. In the early 1940’s Groucho visited Fields at his house on DeMille Drive in the Laughlin Park section of Los Angeles.

Fields took Groucho up to the attic where he showed Groucho his stash of liquor. It was literally thousands of cases of assorted booze. Groucho was shocked and said “Bill what do you need all this liquor for? Prohibition is over.”

Fields looked at Groucho and half seriously replied, “Well, it might come back!”

Two Baseball Greats Pass Away- Stan Musial & Earl Weaver And Remembering An Infamous Interview

Cardinals Superstar Stan Musial Dies At 92, Orioles Manager Earl Weaver Dies At 82 And One Very Dirty, Funny Radio Show

If you are like me, Saturday, January 19, 2013 will be remembered by baseball fans as a very sad day because two Hall of Famers died.

Stan Musial was one of the greatest players to ever play the game and was a gentleman on and off the field.

Earl Weaver was supposedly a gentleman off the field. On the field he could be a terror to the umpires.

I’ll leave the comments of greatness to others on both of these legends. While both of these men will get accolades and fond remembrances in the obituary pages, few will mention the outtake reel from “The Manager’s Corner” with Earl Weaver and Tom Marr.

This pre-game show that usually aired 20 minutes before every Orioles game never made it on the air for obvious reasons. I first heard this about 15 years ago. It had me rolling on the floor with laughter. I’d like to remember Earl as having a funny enough sense of humor to purposely make a radio show un-airable. Here is the story of how this 1982 “interview” transpired.

WARNING – EXTREMELY STRONG LANGUAGE – Play in the presence of children if you swear like a sailor.

“Mongo” – Alex Karras NFL Star Dies At 77

Karras, Famous For Stellar NFL Career, Will Always Have A Place in Movie Comedy History

Alex Karras died in Los Angeles at the age of 77 on October 10, 2012 due to kidney failure and other health complications.

The Detroit Lions All-Pro defensive tackle will be remembered by many as a great football player who played from 1958-1970. But I, along with many other people, will remember his acting career which stretched from 1968 -1998. Mel Brooks comedy fans especially loved Karras’ portrayal as the monosyllabic ruffian cowboy, Mongo, in Brooks brilliant 1974 western satire Blazing Saddles.

Karras did not have many scenes in the movie, but they were all very funny.

This scene below is the one that shocked audiences: Karras’ one punch knockout of a horse.  As an fyi -Karras did not actually hurt the horse and people would later come up to him and ask how he could do such a horrible thing.  “I thought it was hilarious, but I didn’t want to hurt that horse at all, believe me,” Karras said in a 2011 interview with the “Sports and Torts” Internet radio show. “I’m not the type of person to do that.”


Jim McCrary, Rock Photographer Dies at 72, Famous For Carole King Tapestry Photos

Jim McCrary Photographed Over 300 Album Covers For A&M Records

Cover Photograph to Carole King’s Tapestry Album

Jim McCrary who will be remembered for taking in 1971 one of the most iconic album cover photos in music history, Carole King’s Tapestry, died  at the age of 72 on April 29, 2012 of complications from a chronic nervous system disorder at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Palo Alto, CA.

Jim McCrary self-portrait 1978

McCrary was a self-taught photographer beginning his career in 1952. He worked for many years as staff photographer for several portrait studios and in the photography department of Rockwell International during the 1950’s and 1960’s. McCrary joined Herb Alpert’s and Jerry Moss’ A&M Records in 1967 as chief photographer. For the next seven years he photographed most of A&M’s albums, publicity and advertising work.  Among his better known images are of Joe Cocker, Cat Stevens, Gram Parsons & The Carpenters.


McCrary left rock photography in the late 70’s after he felt he had lost touch with the music of the bands he was working with.  His work won many awards from the Los Angeles & New York Art Directors Clubs, and appeared in several “Best” Album Cover books.

McCrary shared his talent and taught at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Tom Upton, who was once a student of McCrary’s in the 70’s said “…he was magnanimous and kind. He expected hard work and absolute transparency when reviewing work. He was the antithesis of the celebrity photographer as guru, popular at the time. He required no fealty or brown-nosing, just honesty and plain backgrounds so you had to engage your subject. He taught us about hard light and soft light in a portrait, and what the consequences were.  You, the subject, the light, and no bull.  His assignments were affectionately termed ‘McCrary Portraits’ by his students.”

Survivors include his son Jason McCrary and two brothers Wylee Dale McCrary and Doug McCrary.

To read the story about how Carol King’s Tapestry photo shoot unfolded, click here.