Thursday, July 26, 2018

Varietal Spice

They say variety is the spice of life? Then I have a few spice girls to show you today. This post started out as a visual tribute to the sometimes elaborate hair of female guests on 1960s variety shows, but soon evolved into a general appreciation of the whole package: the carefully coiffed 'dos, the elegant gowns, the sparse yet glamorous sets, colorful lighting, etc... For the most part, variety shows (ala The Ed Sullivan Show, Hollywood Palace, etc...) are dead now, but in their hey-day one could spot a lovely lady coming out on stage all decked out and singing a song or dancing. Like many folks, I love scampering through youtube and coming upon things like this. Bless the people who take care to upload them. Sometimes it's amazing, sometimes less so, but they nearly always LOOK interesting! Ha ha!  I've attached links so that you can witness the performances yourselves should you wish to.
Today's cover girl for this post is Miss Barbara Eden, romping around to the strains of "Spinning Wheel!"
Many a teen-aged boy dreamed of Jeannie (and a few probably dreamed of BEING Jeannie! - ha ha!)
Here she is in an earlier appearance, singing "Big Beautiful Ball" and sporting some of that piled-high hair we love so much.
This is the one that actually started the whole idea off. One look at Miss Julie London's crown of tresses and false eyelashes and I was all in! She's singing "Nice Girls Don't Stay for Breakfast."
Miss Shirley Jones starts off this number in a sleek, but conventional '60s hairstyle and wedding dress, but soon morphs into a green gown and a higher stacked coiffure. (As an aside, I have always adored pale green and purple as a color combination.)
The song is "Love Walked In." Sadly, I was unable to get a look at this creation from the back.
Variety show staple Miss Leslie Uggams sports a fairly high hairpiece here.
She's belting out "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues." I just love the beaded detailing on her gown.
It's Christmas in July as Miss Florence Henderson (Mrs. Brady) performs a medley while bedecked in period wear and an elaborate hairdo.
Generally, I'd rather take a bullet than listen to children singing, especially in unison as happens for much of this... Thank God we can at least appreciate Flo's lengthy curls.
Miss Nancy Wilson (who sang the jaunty theme song for one of our guilt pleasures, Love Has Many Faces, 1965) is icy blue with Andy Williams here.
Here are some close-ups of her colorful eye makeup as she's performing "On a Clear Day You Can See Forever" with Williams.
Miss Diana Ross (I'm bound legally to refer to her that way! LOL) along with The Supremes joined up with The Temptations for a mash-up. They took turns singing songs made popular by the other group!
Gladys Knight and the Pips perform "Baby I Need Your Lovin'" which is obscured throughout by psychedelic effects.
Miss Knight generally wore her hair long with maybe some height at the top, thus this piled-up, curly do is something of a departure for her.
Miss Ann-Margret does one of her characteristically sultry performances in a slinky pink gown with a bejeweled neckline.
She does "The Look of You" and later "Put a Little Love in Your Heart." What sends this over the top for me is her hooty bedazzled microphone!
Now entering the Miss Bobbie Gentry wing of this exhibit. She croons "Let it Be Me" with Glen Campbell.
I love her eyelashes and hair, but get a load of the shoes!
Here, she performed an entire medley with Bobby Darin in profile! The two remain nose-to-nose throughout. (For some reason he is afforded a brief close-up from another angle, but she isn't...!)
This is the way most of us recall Gentry if we do at all. Looking as if she's just auditioned for either Valley of the Dolls (1967) or Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970), we adore her hair, her lashes, her ensemble and, well, just all of it! She's performing a song called "Touch 'Em With Love."
Arguably, her most famous numbers, though, were "Fancy," later remade with success by Reba McIntire and, as seen here, "Ode to Billie Joe." Her makeup here does Sharon Tate proud!
The talented songwriter-producer and vocalist abruptly retired in 1978 after having come up against behind-the-scenes sexism and a spate of lackluster sales of her work and is, thus, unjustly forgotten by many.
Heading old school for a moment, we catch up with Miss Ginger Rogers, hoofing her way through "That's How Young I Feel" and "Dancing," both from Jerry Herman shows she performed on stage (Mame and Hello Dolly!) No close-ups of Ginge in this instance.
With it's teal and kelly green colors and the gazebo, this set brings to mind the Promenade Room from my beloved The Towering Inferno (1974), but the attraction here is Miss Alice Faye singing a medley of songs.
This set is punctuated with some slick costume augmentations and a fair amount of choreography for the fifty-one year-old performer. Love the necklace!
Another frequent variety show performer was Miss Peggy Lee. Here, she is doing "Walking Happy," followed by "Little Girl Blue."
At this time, she was elegant and glitzy (and, of course, very blonde.) Lee perfected a style that was very stationary and quiet. Reportedly, she adopted this method while singing in a noisy, hectic supper club wherein she barely sang out in order to force people to silence themselves and listen in order to hear her!
If you look at later appearances, she really went off the rails with her hair, makeup and clothing, eventually appearing quite alien! But, here, she was still pretty lovely.
Here we find Miss Lee in one of those cascading Grecian hairstyles we live for! She and Dean Martin are engaged in a medley.
Rounding third and heading for home, I give you this. I nearly died when I saw it. Not only do I adore the instrumental of "Love is Blue," but I've recently become obsessed with Mitzi Gaynor in her many TV specials. How many things I'm insane about could this clip combine? The song (which she hilariously overdramatizes, but who gives a shit!?), the cool color scheme, the sheer drapes, a dazzling Bob Mackie gown with a mind-boggling neckline and the shapely, always "in it to win it" Gaynor...
Did I mention the neckline of this show-stopping dress?!
No, this is not Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as colorized by Ted Turner... It is my ALL-TIME favorite variety show appearance. I've featured it before many moons ago, but I never tire of it.
It's the jaw-dropping Miss Nancy Ames (another practically forgotten performer who was exceedingly popular in her day.) She sings a really unusual combination of "With a Little Help from My Friends" and "Games People Play." The first time I heard it was sort of shell-shocked. Soon after I began to love it and eventually to crave it! LOL
The powerful alto was charmingly introduced by Engelbert Humperdinck and they proceed to duet, making a gorgeous couple. (She even allows some room in her hairdo for him to rest his chin!) Look at her startlingly beautiful face in close-up...
Ames receded from view in the 1970s to focus on an event planning enterprise (which is still in operation) and it was the television and recording worlds' loss.
We love watching Ames on old episodes of Password (even if she could be a bit of a cheater with gestures!) and in her many variety appearances (the vast majority of which are NOT on youtube), but it is for this neck-bending confection that we place her in The Underworld's highest esteem!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Chatterboxing Once Again!

I'm afraid I've gone and recorded yet another podcast. This one is special to me because it constitutes my very first "celebrity interview!" I was asked to co-host an installment of "True Stories of Tinseltown," one of the podcasts on which I was once a guest myself, as child actress Kathy Garver was brought on for an interview.

Garver, who is likely best-known for her role as Cissy Davis on the sitcom Family Affair (1966-1971), enjoyed a startlingly lengthy career as a performer which continues to this day. Dancing away on stage at age three, she proceeded to roles on television and movies opposite many of the top stars of the day. You will be surprised at some of the people she rubbed elbows with over her career as a child actress and - fortunately for us - she has a very good memory.
At the time of the recording, I was STILL battling a serious upper respiratory infection (but there was no way in hell I was going to miss the chance to take part!) Also, because there were three of us, there are times when we sort of step on one another, mostly at first. And I, uncharacteristically I think, seemed to have a higher number of "uhs" and "ums" than I usually do when speaking publicly... I'll blame the meds and also my excitement and enthusiasm over chit-chatting with a famous person.

Miss Garver is now seventy-two and is exceedingly charming, well-spoken and captivating to listen to. I know that even if you were never a fan of Family Affair, you will find her recollections and reflections on the people and projects she was involved with to be refreshing and interesting. I took pains to come up with questions I thought she might not have been asked before in her many previous interviews and it seemed as if she found that refreshing (I felt that it showed in her voice and remarks.)

She is the author of a few books (an autobiography, a book on former child performers and now a cookbook) and remains highly active as a guest speaker and also as an actress in various independent projects.
The fact (which I did not have time to mention or ask about) that she provided the voice for Firestar on the animated Saturday morning kids series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends as well as those of Rima the jungle girl and Hawkgirl on The Super Friends has assured her a spot at various Comic-Cons as well.

After the interview with Ms. Garver ends about 30 minutes in, we continue to flap our gums about Family Affair, Anissa Jones, Kym Karath, Little House on the Prairie, vintage daytime soaps, etc... If you listen, I hope you enjoy it. Here is a link to the recording.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Pop Quiz: Trekking on with the Celebrity Name Chain

Yes, I know I just did one of these. Thing is, I've been out of commission a bit as of late. Some (non life-threatening) medical issues along with an avalanche of work have kept me sidelined and unable to put up the sort of posts I would prefer. As I was doing the original Celebrity Name Chain Pop Quiz, I found that, with two exceptions, I could perform the task on virtually everyone from Star Trek (now annoying called "Star Trek: The Original Series" to differentiate it from all the redux that have come in its wake.) With apologies to Majel Barrett and Nichelle Nichols, we proceed onward with the rest of the cast. We don't feel too guilty, though, about Nichols since she actually has her very own tribute on this site already! If you don't know, you guess the first person pictured's name and their last name is the first name of the second performer. (Or vice-versa) Thus, a name chain. Obviously, a working knowledge of the performers' names is key so it will be tougher on non-fans of the show. I learned my lesson, though, and have added some hints this time. Now let's load our photon torpedoes and beam down to the brief quiz!

1. Here we find the original Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise from the pilot (and later edited into a two-part episode of the series), Christopher Pike paired with the soap opera actress who famously took on Aaron Spelling (and won) over being fired from Melrose Place prior to filming her role because she was pregnant.
2. Next up is one of the early-1930s' most popular actors, famous for portraying questionable gentlemen in a number of racy "Pre-Code" films and later for portraying the attorney-sleuth Perry Mason in a series of movies, long before Raymond Burr scored a hit on television. He's paired with the famous principle star of Star Trek, who played Captain James T. Kirk.
3. The youthful man on the left made an impact in the cinema during the late-1980s and early-'90s before later landing a lengthy role on a prime-time TV medical hit (from 2004-2012.) His counterpart is the famous Mr. Spock, an emotion-free Vulcan on Star Trek
4. Oh, if you're a fan of David Letterman you might recognize the man on the left as Larry 'Bud' Melman, but, you see, that was not his real name. That was just a character he played during his many appearances on Late Night with David Letterman. He's paired with the cantankerous Dr. Leonard McCoy, who retained his homespun attitudes despite having been launched into space.
5. Famous as one of the rare Dynasty cast members to appear in its initial episode up until its finale eight years later (with an interruption to star in his own spin-off series) is matched with Mr. Scott, chief engineer of the Enterprise and not only named Scott, but portrayed as a Scot with the actor providing an accent that many people believed was his very own! (It wasn't. He was Canadian!)
6. This British blonde was the leading lady in several sexually-charged movies of the 1970s. She departed the biz for the most part after marrying a handsome fellow actor in 1984, though he died prematurely in 2010. Her name game partner is Enterprise helmsman Mr. Sulu, who has recently found a whole new level of fame as a humorist and activist.
7. Initially intended to be a regular, Yeoman Janice Rand (of the famed beehive hairdo) was fired after about a dozen episodes over personal and physical issues. Probably only fans of the 1960s sitcom Hazel will know the second actress's name, though she is also known as the mother of Meredith Baxter Birney (neither last name giving anything away.) When Hazel changed networks, she and her screen husband were let go.
8. The lady on the left was a popular actress of movies and TV in the '60s and '70s. Later, she found a whole new raft of fans when she turned to alcohol-tinged comedy on a sitcom with a devoted cult following. The final Star Trek cast member of this quiz was added in season two to bring in some of the teen fans who loved The Monkees. He, Mr. Chekov, was even given a Davy Jones-ish wig at first before later getting to use his own brunette locks.

Answers below!

"Jeffrey Hunter Tylo" (One of our favorite actors, talked out of taking the lead in Trek and denied the lead in The Brady Bunch because he was "too good looking to play an architect," Jeffrey Hunter has a brief tribute here. Hunter Tylo is back on The Bold and the Beautiful now, where she got most of her attention to start with back in the 1990s. Her judgement against Spelling was $4.8 million and set a precedent for such cases.) 
We've never gotten enough of Hunter's winning smile and bright blues eyes...
...nor of his lean tan physique in many rugged movies from Sailor of the King (1953) to White Feather (1955) to The Searchers (1956) among many others.
Hunter was taken from us altogether too early (aged forty-two) when an on-set accident left him with a concussion. A drinking problem compounded this condition and he fell on some steps, fracturing his skull on a banister.
"Warren William Shatner" (Mr. Warren William was, surprisingly enough, one of the more physically fit and active stars of his time in an era where this was not particularly emphasized. He not only played amoral businessmen in films like Skyscraper Souls (1932), but also was Julius Caesar to Claudette Colbert's Cleopatra (1934) - the film in which she bathed in ass's milk.  You'd have to have lived under a rock to not know who William Shatner is!
Mr. William as 1930s audiences saw him on and off screen.
"Robert Sean Leonard Nimoy" (Robert Sean Leonard starred in films like Dead Poets Society, 1989, Swing Kids, 1993, and Much Ado About Nothing, 1993, before costarring in House with Hugh Laurie. Leonard Nimoy initially resented his association with his alien character, penning a book called "I Am Not Spock," but later grew to appreciate its legacy and impact, penning a book called, "I Am Spock!"
"Calvert DeForest Kelley" (Calvert DeForest eventually began appearing with Letterman using his own name, but for many folks he was eternally "Larry 'Bud' Melman." DeForest Kelley played a lot of shady characters in westerns on TV and in movies. He also appeared in the howler Where Love Has Gone (1964) just before heading onto Trek.

"John James Doohan" (John James wasn't even supposed to be a regular on Dynasty, just a guest in the pilot, but he was able to talk his way into a role that buttered his bread for a decade! His spin-off, The Colbys, only lasted two seasons, but was glitzy fun while it lasted. Years later, he popped up as a bad guy on As the World Turns. James Doohan was a decorated Canadian soldier prior to his busy acting career. Like most of his Trek costars, he was typecast thereafter, but in time was able to parlay that into further notoriety and income.
Like most soap actors, daytime or prime-time, James was enlisted to remove his shirt. Often. 
No matter what anyone else thought or said, I LOVED The Colbys, especially because of (not pictured) Stephanie Beacham. This publicity shot between takes is a lot more loose than the drama-fueled show ever was...!
Like many late-1970s and '80s TV stars, James was poured into a Speedo for the semi-annual Battle of the Network Stars specials.
"Susan George Takei"  (Susan George costarred with Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs, 1971, with Peter Fonda in Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, 1974, and Perry King in Mandingo, 1975. Her handsome husband was Simon MacCorkindale, of Death on the Nile, 1978, among many other things. Takei, after some lean year post-Trek, began appearing on The Howard Stern Show, revealing a clever sense of humor (and later the fact that he was gay.) He became a heavy LGBT activist and a popular Internet humorist and has a gargantuan following today.
Jogging your memory with a glimpse of Mr. Simon MacCorkindale.

"Grace Lee Whitney Blake" (Grace Lee Whitney had at the time of Star Trek an alcohol problem which led to some weight gain, a big no-no when handed a micro-miniskirt as her uniform. She was also the victim of a decision to leave Captain Kirk open to romance with female guests on the show. Her quasi-romantic attachment to him became a problem in that vein. Whitney Blake later co-created and wrote for the sitcom One Day at a Time.
"Jessica Walter Koenig" (Jessica Walter was one of the ladies who formed The Group, 1966, and is well-known as the crazed, knife-wielding lover of Clint Eastwood in Play Misty for Me, 1971. Later, she scored as the heavy-drinking mother on Arrested Development. Walter Koenig later had a recurring part on Babylon 5 and served as Best Man to  George Takei at his 2008 wedding to his longtime partner Brad Altman.
Till next time!  Take care... Or perhaps I ought to say, "Live Long and Prosper!"  Ha ha!