Friday, July 30, 2021

A Sprinkle a Day: "Tall Story"

Full disclosure is that this post is nothing more than a little appetizer to have something up while I continue to work on my next offering, which is taking much longer than anticipated (because I am clinically insane and can never leave well enough alone when looking into things...!) After one post recently about Ensign Pulver, it got some of us talking about director Josh Logan (seen above right) and his proclivity for showcasing beefcake in many of his stage and screen projects. From there, I was interested in looking back at one example that, while very brief, is still a favorite of mine. It occurs in the movie Tall Story (1960), all about the eligibility and romantic exploits of a star college basketball player.

Adapted from an only semi-successful Broadway play of the same name (108 performances), it was the film debut of one Miss Jane Fonda (who was nervous, unsure in the part, bulimic and resistant to the cosmetic enhancements applied to her by the Warner Brothers stylists.) Warren Beatty was considered for her costar, but there was worry over casting two unknowns together, so it fell to the more established Anthony Perkins to essay the part of the star basketball player. Fonda was his adoring cheerleader girlfriend.

Gay in real life and in an on-again/off-again relationship with Tab Hunter, Perkins not only had to learn to effectively play basketball, but also learn how to take an interest in the physical attributes of his female costar! Granted, later in his life a conflicted Perkins married and fathered children, but at this stage those happenings were years away.

Fonda fell hard for her lean and lanky leading man and later remarked that both she and Josh Logan were in love with Perkins at the same time...! But I digress. We're here to talk about my favorite 15 seconds of the film.

In his customary style, Logan wanted to include a little male hunkitude and included a moment in which Fonda absentmindedly follows Perkins into the men's locker room to return his jacket, where she dreamily gazes at him, barely able to put sentences together. Suddenly, it occurs to Perkins that his gal-pal is standing in a place where a naked man is apt to appear at any moment!

...and just like that, one does!

Fonda is stunned to be facing a humpy naked collegian emerging from the showers with only a towel hanging in front of him.

Horrified at her faux pas, she is beside herself.

The slab of beefcake, however, takes in all in his stride and even flings the towel over his shoulder, giving her the Full Monty!

His sole line is: "If it's all right with you, it's all right with me," followed by a chuckle. The closer shots of this sequence do not match the long shots, in which his towel is always in front of him. So I don't know if there is some cutting of the moment involved (how dare they!) or if the approach to the scene was changed mid-stream. 

Now you just KNOW that Logan had a ball casting this part. He went with fresh, new Warner Brothers contractee Van Williams. Williams, a discovery of producer Mike Todd, had his career dreams derailed when Todd died in a 1958 plane crash, but he proceeded on, winning a couple of roles on General Electric Theater before Warner's picked him up and placed him in their detective show Bourbon Street Beat. He received this 8x10 glossy publicity photo for his less than 15-second long movie debut!

When Bourbon Street was cancelled, his character was transferred onto Surfside 6, a cookie-cutter series much like his first. The black and white show never did capitalize on his delectable physique the way many of the show's publicity pics did.

This bizarrely posed shot has Troy Donohue taking in the glory of Williams, Diane McBain contorted and looking off elsewhere and Lee Patterson seeming either to be in "time out" or taking a leak in the corner...! Ha ha!
The gorgeous Williams guest-starred on many other Warners shows, popped up in the occasional movie and eventually landed his signature role of The Green Hornet, though it only lasted one season. By 1982, the basically shy, yet still-in-demand, actor had exited the profession to concentrate on a communications business. He'd rarely been comfortable among the various types of slick businessmen that Hollywood tended to be populated by.

An interesting footnote is that this sequence, featured on lobby cards for Tall Story, is not to be found in the finished film. It's entirely separate from the locker room sequence. It takes place in the camping trailer that Perkins buys from a friend of his. Logan apparently intended for there to be another dose of unexpected male nudity for Fonda but someone somewhere decided to axe it. (Okay, I'll say it again... How dare they?! LOL)

The trailer in the movie is owned by Tom Laughlin and his wife Barbara Darrow. I don't know if it happened to be him in that cut moment, though the body (and hair!) don't resemble him at all, or if somehow ol' Van wound up in there or what...! I may never know.

Another hilarious footnote is that the novel which inspired the resultant play and movie was all about a football hero, not basketball...!

No matter. The movie wound up giving us a quick glance at one of my most admired hunks. Williams passed away in 2016 of kidney failure at age 82, leaving behind his second wife, five children and nine grandchildren. His brief association with The Green Hornet will assure him a place in cult fandom, in no small part due to his friend and costar in the series, Bruce Lee.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Fun Finds: TV Radio Mirror, July 1970

I try to avoid doing two Fun Finds in a row, but it was actually the easiest type of post for me to do at this particular moment and, after all, I haven't been able to do any of these for quite some time, so here we go! This is one of seven such magazines I picked up for $5.00 total at a large Ohio antique show. Needless to say, with both Chad Everett and James Brolin on the cover, it caught my eye. Hopes of truly great photos of them inside were dashed, but the rag still included a few interesting tidbits, which I will now share with you. The staples in this (thicker than some) publication were in a spot that made scanning more difficult, but I tried to get the best version I could of each page.

After a barely two-year union with Burt Reynolds, Judy Carne entered into this second ill-advised union. They were divorced the year after this following drug issues and a serious car accident that left her with a broken neck! The blurb about Burgess Meredith's movie was quite surprising to me.

Tom Poston certainly didn't abandon acting. He continued on a long career, a notable stint occurring on Newhart. The eventual musical rendition of Gone with the Wind was profiled here years ago. An incredible thing... Don Matheson and Deanna Lund, former costars on Land of the Giants, had a daughter together, but were divorced by 1980.

The blurb at the top-right of this page made me smile. Fill out the attached ballot and the first 400 entries receive a cookbook called "Casseroles and More Casseroles!" By the way, Bill Medley wound up wed for a second time this same year and was married twice more after that. The fourth wife, wed in 1986, is still with him today.

The twin sons mentioned in the top-story, Wil and Kin... They grew up to be humorous TV host Wil Shriner and soap opera actor Kin Shriner! Seems a little odd, though, that Herb Shriner one so much more space over Gypsy Rose Lee and Anita Louise! Louise died of a stroke, which was not mentioned here.

Jo Ann Castle, who'd wed this second husband in 1968 was divorced again by 1971 after these two babies...! A third union lasted from 1978 to 1986. Most of Tinseltown expected Dean Martin to reconcile with Jeanne, but it didn't come to pass. The Patty Duke/Desi Arnaz Jr saga went on and on for years. She became pregnant and the father of said child was rumored to be his (among a few options!) Lucy was apoplectic. Sean Astin was later determined to be the child of music promoter Michael Tell.

The ad on the left! LOL How many gals have been asked that by a close friend who disapproves of their current boyfriend.

Peter MacLean's show did run for 342 performances and included Fritz Weaver, Pat Hingle and Ken Howard in its cast. It concerned rivalry and disruption at a Catholic boy's school. I was really surprised to find out that Fatty Arbuckle played the title role in "The Mikado" in Japan! (And that anyone DID "The Mikado" in Japan at all...!)

I have no idea why Natalie Nevins was fired from The Lawrence Welk Show. Rafer Johnson married a gal named Elizabeth in 1971, so Pat Morrow was soon out of the picture. She later married the son of Rosalind Russell.

The lovely Inger Stevens was constantly becoming involved with the wrong men. They were either of a different faith or failed to take the relationship seriously or were already married. Or, in one case, of a race that could damage her reputation at that time. This article points to a married film star and a charming TV star, but does NOT tell who "killed" her. It only suggests that she died because she, once again, loved the wrong man. She had already survived a suicide attempt back in 1959.

There are pictures out there from this happy moment (which I have seen now that I specifically looked), but I hadn't ever come across any before. And this one seems unique.

The stories that correspond with these pics are on the next page.

The way Sean Flynn (Errol's son) met his end was sad. His mother, Lily Damita, struggled for years to get answers and mourned his fate for many years. I had no clue Liza Minnelli had ever been in a motorcycle crash (much less with Tony Bill!) Unless the photo of A-M was taken seconds after her famous fall from a platform while onstage (it wasn't), I'm not a big fan of her "Spirit of '76-ish" headband. Carol Lynley never did remarry after her first divorce in 1964.

Man... I feel like I never miss knowing of a drama series that ran in the early-'70s, but I have never heard of Storefront Lawyers! It ran for 23 episodes and starred Robert Foxworth. The name was changed midway to Men at Law, but I hadn't heard of that either! One interesting thing about another obscure series mention here, The Silent Force, is that the undercover drama costarred Lynda Day George and when it was cancelled after 15 episodes, she landed on Mission: Impossible in a similar role. So it served as sort of an audition for the venerable spy series.

Are you ever like me and look back at the release dates of movies and think, "That was released the same time as this one?!" Somehow I just didn't connect Women in Love as having come out the same time as Beneath the Planet of the Apes (or even Woodstock.) I also have no recollection whatsoever of there having been a Peter O'Toole movie called Brotherly Love.

From what I could gather (and I often have trouble discerning the meat of most of these stories thanks to the writing style which often devolves into veiled gobbledygook), Jackie's sacrifice was allowing the world to think she was a neglectful mother to her two young children by leaving them for an extended honeymoon trip all over Europe when, in fact, she was doing it for their own good in order to prevent suddenly shoehorning them into an all-new lifestyle, locale and family without giving it time to sink in...

Now you didn't really fall for this, did you? Actually believing that squeaky-clean DD would truly mean that movies should contain a bunch of sex and nudity? In a classic "bait & switch" headline, she is saying that if it happened full bore for a while, it might become so commonplace that the novelty would wear off. Then we could return to the prior, more upright type of movie-making & stage plays.

Not sure what her ol' pal Rock would have felt about her description of homosexuality as a "social problem," but I'm sure it was a common opinion of the time (and now, for some!)

Like millions before me, I adore Doris, but I don't agree with her statement that Homosexuals are "made" and not born. Hopefully at some point she got her ideas straightened out, so to speak.

Wow. First Natalie Nevins is canned and now there's a story about Lawrence Welk falling out with The Lennon Sisters! He discovered them and fostered their career, but once they gained popularity, he still held almost iron-clad control over them, preventing them from accepting things that would lead them to greater success while continuing to pay them the paltry wages he meted out to his cast. Notice Janet adjusting her wig in the shot above!

This was a terrible time for the gals. They had just begun their own chiffon & sparkle variety series with Jimmy Durante when their beloved father and guidepost was murdered! Their hearts barely in it, they continued to plow on like the troopers they were, but the show wasn't picked up for a second season. Fortunately, time heals all wounds and the ladies have long been part of the extended Welk "family" again for many years now.

Now the feature piece on the sexy TV docs. First is James Brolin (of Marcus Welby, M.D.), who was married then to wife Jane. They met when she was working as a casting director for the Batman series and used the then-unknown Brolin in some bit roles.

Do you recognize the now-famous Josh Brolin, born in 1968?! A sister arrived in 1972.

The other doc was Chad Everett of Medical Center. He was married in 1966 to young actress Shelby Grant who he was with for 45 years until her death of an aneurysm.

Apart from the later George Clooney of E/R, there was never a sexier doctor for me than Everett. Steadfast, forthright (if a little preachy and crusading at times), he looked good in anything, including (perhaps even especially!) his scrubs. 

I got a kick out of this poll... sort of along the lines of those notes kids passed in school that read, "Do you like me?" with a yes or no box! Everett, despite a misunderstanding with Lily Tomlin over a flip remark he made on The Dick Cavett Show, was devoted to Shelby and wrote her poetry while renewing their vows every seven years. Brolin shocked the world by marrying Barbra Streisand of all people in 1998, but it's lasted for close to a quarter-century, so something is very right about it!

Giirrrlll....! This article seems to be sniffing around for something, and it's not those carnations in the picture.

He had pretty good taste in dates of the female persuasion. I loved Mary Ann Mobley and Bobbie Gentry. Don't know much about Mary Costa. The article is a lot of smoke, mirrors, skirting and hooey, as one might expect, but I had to chuckle when he stated twice that the gals he's dated haven't been "physically beautiful!" (16 year-old Julie Budd was on the receiving end of one instance of that.)

This crisis was ultimately averted. All three young stars of The Mod Squad continued on with the show until its 1973 demise.

One amusing wrinkle is that principle holdout Peggy Lipton was then involved with music producer (and notorious man about town) Lou Adler. Squad producer Aaron Spelling announced that he was going to replace Lipton with Shelley Fabares - who happened to be the estranged wife of Adler! (If you're wondering, Fabares was about 1-1/2 years older than Lipton.)

Lots of typical mumbo-jumbo in this profile of Room 222's Lloyd Haynes. His character was apparently involved with Denise Nicholas, though it was only implied, if that, on the show. In real life, he was squiring a blonde gal around.

The reason he couldn't marry (anyone) is that his divorce from his first wife wasn't going to be final until later in the year. The kicker is that when he wed, that same year, it was to an entirely different woman! Saundra Burge. They divorced in 1973. A third wife 8 years later survived him when he passed away of lung cancer at age 52.

My OCD wouldn't allow me to post these pages sideways as they appeared in the magazine! I turned them onto their sides for you.

If you didn't know, Stephen Oliver did not win an Oscar by the time he was 30 or at any point thereafter! His career eventually segued into mostly low-budget exploitative fare though his pal Steve McQueen used him for a role in Tom Horn (1980.)

Rough and tumble Oliver made a career out of playing strong characters, often villainous, and was wed three times briefly. One, to Lana Wood, only lasted six weeks! This was his observation of that episode, which amusingly ties in with this photo spread: "I wasn't ready for marriage. I'm mature in other ways, but not when it comes to getting along with women. The thing that led to the big blowup was my going away for a weekend of skydiving. Well, what's so terribly wrong about that? If a man can't go out on a weekend with male friends and take a couple of jumps, what kind of a marriage has he got? So I left one evening and came home the following afternoon - and, of course, she was gone."

Soaps are notorious for utilizing "rapid aging syndrome" in order to propel characters and storylines forward (and do away with annoying babies, toddlers and children as fast as possible! LOL) Once such case is outlined here from As the World Turns.

The two performers depicted on this page played mother and son, but were the same age!

At least Patricia Bruder's character Ellen had given birth to her child while very young (the soap world's first illegitimate baby from a major character- circa 1958.) Still, she was made to look more and more matronly in order to keep the illusion going and eventually became a sidekick to Helen Wagner's Nancy Hughes, who'd been a friend of her parents on the show!

As you can see, the topic of "representation" was explored in publications like this as long as fifty+ years ago!

The article is generally positive-slanted and, clearly, some inroads had been made in the short time since Bill Cosby landed on I Spy.

...but as you can see there were some differences in opinion. It went on to discuss some of the backlash Diahann Carroll had faced for "selling out" as a Black actress playing "white" on Julia and how the many Black performers on TV weren't portraying "realistic" characters. This was countered, for better or worse, a few years later with shows like Good Times, Sanford & Son, What's Happening? and others, which had varying degrees of acceptance/disapproval from both Black and white viewers.

Good Lord... Dr. Marcus Welby and his wife and "a little liquor" mixed up in it.

Young had a long (61-year!) marriage, but he did suffer along the way from depression and alcoholism when the success he'd enjoyed in movies and two hit TV series dwindled. In the wake of this, he turned his eye (sorry!) to establishing help for people with such issues, ultimately having a mental health center named after him.

Maybe I don't hang out in too many hospitals, but nurses have really changed, I think. At first glance I thought Johnny and June were in a middle school cafeteria!

Today, John Carter Cash is 51, has four children of his own (three from his first marriage) and works as a music producer and songwriter.

As a Cincinnati kid, I either never got the chance or somehow otherwise missed the entire Romper Room experience... I'd certainly heard of it, though.

What I didn't know until today is that there were many different versions of the show, with a different "Miss" So and So hosting each one! It was franchised out so that each market could have its own participants and staff. The concept went on for more than 40 years.

We'll finish off the magazine with a few colorful ads. I couldn't resist the eye shadow and lashes on this one. Don't leave home without your "Glamour-Fluffs!"

If they're asking me to believe that these sheets stayed white after she slathered herself with this self-tanning lotion I may beg to differ... Sea & Ski must have come out with this in order to rival another more famous rendition of this product.

Here we go...! People used to always make mention of QT tanner. I can recall fellow middle school students who used this coming in with hideously stained hands from not rinsing them off thoroughly after application. The directions here have you applying it three times a day!

In my day, the only sunscreen we knew of was thick, white zinc oxide, which most life guards had on their noses at one point or another, but which most people avoided unless left with no choice. Otherwise, you just burned and scorched yourself until relenting and wearing a T-shirt! LOL That was the way we handled the sun. Then that night, you'd have someone hose you down with Solarcaine as blisters formed......

It was all part of achieving that deep, glamorous tan. This ad features Coppertone Shade, which did have SPF 6 (!) in it, but in my neck of the woods, it was basically unheard of. And who could afford Coppertone anyway?! My sister used baby oil, sometimes with a little iodine in it. The scan is wonky, but the two items on the far right are Tanning BUTTER! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Extra, Extra!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That concludes our presentation of the magazine. But we do need to revisit a blurb from the very first page we looked at inside... If you think for one minute that I was about to let this pass without further investigation, you must be quite new here! Ha ha!

I HAD to know what movie Burgess Meredith directed and just what in the world was seen within it in the way of straitlaced Peter Lind Hayes portraying a homo....

Get a load of this dirt cheap poster for the (was it even?) release of The Yin the Yang of Mr. Go (1970!) There are so many things wrong with it that I can't even... LOL

The gray-haired gentleman in the foreground is Mr. Hayes (an actor, announcer, songwriter and host - ever see him in The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, 1953?) who is being tormented by the title character, a Mexican-Asian villain played by famed Brit James Mason! Mason shows him filmed proof of an indiscretion he's been set up for.

Hayes is seen in a bar lighting the cigarette of a young gent and flirting with him. Wait till you get a load of this....

Recognize him??

It's JEFF BRIDGES in his first film role (and one of the few early acting gigs that didn't come about out of his association with his famous father Lloyd Bridges!)

The pair trade a few pithy remarks with one another, with Bridges affecting a bit of a limp wrist.

Then it's off to an upstairs room for some fun. I included an inset of the drag queen pianist because, well, I knew some of you would want to see her better (and I promise it's not Ruta Lee! Ha ha!)

Here, we switch to black & white film, meant to be the blackmail clip shown to Hayes and Bridges starts knocking him around a bit, stripping off his shirt and enticing him. When the person taking Hayes' role (indiscernable in the horrible copy of this I watched) comes over for a kiss, the image changes to negative and it's even more difficult to see exactly what is happening. It's more of a suggested kiss between the men than a full-on visible one. 

Still, it's unlikely that Bridges hosts viewing parties of this one at the old homestead! He later declared that he didn't even realize that the much-troubled movie was ever even completed and released. Don't hold your breath for a digitally-restored Blu-ray any time soon! Ha ha! Till next time....

***** Addendum - Page 88 *****