“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Lee Mendelson Christmas…

December 27th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Lee Mendelson was a producer who changed the face of the holidays when he brought A Charlie Brown Christmas to television in 1965 and wrote the lyrics to its signature song, Christmas Time Is Here. Mendelson headed the team that included Peanuts author Charles Schulz, director Bill Melendez, and pianist and composer Vince Guaraldi.

“`Lee graduated from Stanford University in 1954, served in the Air Force, and worked for his father’s fruit-and-vegetable company before being employed at the Bay Area’s KPIX-TV. In 1963, he started his own production company and made a documentary on San Francisco Giants legend Willie Mays, A Man Named Mays, that became a hit special on NBC.

“`Mendelson’s team was convinced to create the comic strip’s first television special in 1965. Schulz wrote the now-familiar teleplay of a depressed Charlie Brown seeking the meaning of Christmas. Lee hired Guaraldi to provide the music after hearing the jazz artist’s composition Cast Your Fate to the Wind while driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. It became the biggest holiday classic on television. The program won an Emmy and Peabody Award and has played on the small screen annually ever since.

“`Mendelson also took other comic strips from newspapers to animated television, including Garfield, for which he produced a dozen specials. Lee won twelve Emmys in his long career.

“`Lee Mendelson was eighty six.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Other Than White Christmas…

December 21st, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Bing Crosby is best known as a crooner of holiday tunes. His most famous was White Christmas. But upon closer inspection, Bing has garnered more single purchases than Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Judy Garland, Gene Autry and Alvin and The Chipmunks… combined! White Christmas is the world’s best selling song with an estimated fifty million copies sold.

“`Here is a rundown:

~ I’ll Be Home For Christmas – A Top Ten tune for Bing in 1943, it was originally written to honor our military overseas who longed to be home at Christmas time. This song touched the hearts of Americans, soldiers and civilians alike, in the midst of World War II.

~ Mele Kalikimaka – One of the earliest recordings of this novelty composition was made by Crosby and The Andrews Sisters in 1950. It was written in 1949.

~ Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep –  An Oscar-nominated song from the musical, White Christmas, it is a duet sung by Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. It is a yuletide classic, despite zero references to Christmas in the lyrics. Also featured in the film is the ditty Snow.

~ Do You Hear What I Hear – This is a tune that feels like a twentieth century standard, but it was actually conceived as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crises in 1962. It shares the heartfelt passage of the Nativity of Jesus, as referenced in the Gospel of Matthew.  Initially performed by the Harry Simeone Chorale, it was an instant classic for Bing the following year.

~ Little Drummer Boy / Peace On Earth –  It was a televised duet performed one month before the passing of Crosby; he is incredibly joined by David Bowie in the performance. The Christmas special aired as a posthumous tribute to Bing. The eventual single became one of Bowie’s best selling in his career, with estimated sales of 400,000 in the United Kingdom.

“`By the way, Crosby did not like White Christmas. It took Fred Astaire to convince Bing to record the Irving Berlin composition originally intended as an offering for Astaire. Go figure…

“`Bing Crosby is the perfect way to usher in the holidays!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- That’s Aiello…

December 13th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Danny Aiello was a blue-collar character actor, who had a long career playing tough guys on the big screen. The pinnacle of his career was an Oscar-nomination for his role in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.


“`A child of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, Aiello retained a pugnacity he learned on city streets. After three years in the service, he worked at several factory jobs, and eventually ending up as a baggage man at Greyhound. The ambitious Aiello rose to become president of the transit union.

“`After working as a bouncer at The Improv, he became a nightly regular at Cafe’ Central. This famous night spot was partly owned by Regis Philbin. Soon, a couple of opportunities for acting emerged.

“`Early cinematic work included roles in Bang the Drum Slowly and The Godfather Pt. II, both featuring Robert De Niro. Woody Allen hired him to appear in  Broadway Danny Rose, The Front, The Purple Rose of Cairo, and Radio Days. His signature moment came while co-starring in Moonstruck with Cher. Memorable assignments included The Pick-Up ArtistFort Apache The Bronx, Once Upon a Time in America, Hudson Hawk, and in Harlem Nights. Aiello also played Madonna’s father in the pop icon’s Papa Don’t Preach video.

“`The familiar Danny Aiello was eighty-six.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- LOC National Film Registry 2019…

December 12th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`This year’s selections of the Library of Congress National Film Registry have just been announced. Twenty-five entrants including fairly recent productions:  Amadeus, Platoon, Boys Don’t Cry, Purple Rain, She’s Gotta Have It, Coal Miner’s Daughter, and Zoot Suit. Noted motion pictures from Hollywood’s Golden Age include:

~ GASLIGHT –  Based on a Broadway play, and also staged as Angel Street. Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar for her spellbinding performance in the lead role. She was ably assisted by Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty, and in her movie debut,  Angela Lansbury as a cockney maid, and expertly directed by George Cukor.  Gaslighting remains firmly within our cultural lexicon.


~ SLEEPING BEAUTY –  This was the last of classic animated fairy-tale adaptations produced by Walt Disney. Along with vivid images, the film introduced audiences to one of Disney’s most enduring villainesses —  Maleficent (voiced by Eleanor Audley). Disney transformed a timeless fable from the original Charles Perrault The Sleeping Beauty of the Wood and The Brothers Grimm Little Briar-Rose.

~ OLD YELLER –  Also produced by Disney, this timeless production was directed by Robert Stevenson, and stars Fess Parker, Dorothy McGuire, and Tommy Kirk. It was adapted from a Fred Gipson novel.  Few cinematic endings have ever proved as emotionally affecting as the conclusion of this melodramatic piece.

“`An unprecedented seven motion pictures directed by women are in the year’s list, the most since the inaugural registry in 1989.  The oldest footage is of immigrants arriving in New York at Ellis Island in 1903, a poignant examination of a still debated policy.  And The Last Waltz, Martin Scorsese’s 1978 documentary,  pays tribute to the 1976 farewell concert by The Band, featuring performances by the biggest names in music.

“`Selections heralding diversity dominates this year’s class.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Big Bird Loses His Voice…

December 9th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Caroll Spinney lent his voice to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for nearly fifty years on Sesame Street. His death came on the same day that the PBS program was honored for lifetime achievement in the arts as a Kennedy Center Honors recipient. CAROLL SPINNEY

“`After Spinney spent four years in the Air Force, he returned to his residence in Massachusetts to work in television. He teamed up with puppeteer Judy Valentine for their own daily series. He later worked on a Boston version of Bozo’s Big Top. After a rotten performance during a puppet fest in Utah, he met Muppet master Jim Henson.

“`Spinney joined the Muppet crew when Sesame Street turned from a popular phenomenon into an American institution. Big Bird became the program’s biggest star, his name and image synonymous with PBS and children’s television. After Henson died in 1990, Caroll went to the funeral dressed in his familiar yellow garb and sang It Isn’t Easy Being Green to honor the voice of Kermit the Frog.

“`Caroll Spinney was eighty-five.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Triple Threat…

December 6th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Ron Leibman appeared in film, theater, and television in a career that spanned six decades. He won his Tony Award for Tony Kushner’s stage production, Angels in America. He portrayed controversial lawyer Roy Cohn. Ron’s wife was actress Jessica Walter.

“`Leibman was a member of the Compass Players in the late 1950s, and he was admitted to The Actors Studio, shortly thereafter. Ron made his motion picture debut in Where’s Poppa in 1970. Other movies include The Hot Rock, Slaughterhouse-Five, Norma Rae, Zorro: The Gay Blade, and Rhinestone.         RON LEIBMAN –>

“`Ron received an Emmy in 1979 as the Lead Actor in Kaz. He also guest-starred in Police Story, Murder She Wrote, Law and Order, The Sopranos, and memorably, in Friends.

“`Ron Leibman was eighty-two.


“`Robert Walker Jr was the son of an iconic actor who shared the same moniker, and Academy Award-winning actress, Jennifer Jones. Bob’s step-dads included David O. Selznick and Norton Simon.

“`His movies included Ensign Pulver , Easy Rider, The Happening, and The War Wagon. He was prolific on television, guest starring in Route 66, Naked City, Ben Casey, Combat!, The Big Valley, Dr. KildareThe Time Tunnel, Bonanza, The F. B. I., Charlie’s Angels, The Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, and Murder She Wrote.

“`Robert Walker Jr. (above) was seventy-nine.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Leonard Goldberg Dies…

December 5th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`Leonard Goldberg was a movie and television producer. He served as the head of programming with ABC, and president of Twentieth Century Fox. He also produced a string of hit television series as a partner with Aaron Spelling.                 LEONARD GOLDBERG –>

“`As a television producer,  Leonard developed the Peabody Award-winning  Brian’s Song and  The Boy in the Plastic Bubble; with the latter helped to launch John Travolta’s film career. Leonard also produced the Emmy-winning Something About Amelia that aired on ABC in 1984. It was one of the highest-rated television films of the year, watched by around sixty to seventy million people.

“`Goldberg’s success on television include Charlie’s Angels, Hart to Hart, The Rookies, Fantasy IslandT. J. Hooker, Starsky and Hutch, and most recently, Blue Bloods. He oversaw the creation of The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and the daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows. Plus, he is credited with pioneering the made-for-TV movie format.

“`He supervised the cinematic productions: BigSleeping with the Enemy, WarGames, The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, Die HardBroadcast News, Wall Street, and Working Girl.

“`The producer has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; and in 2007, he was inducted in the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

“`Leonard Goldberg was eighty-five.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Beast of 2020 Fathoms…

December 4th, 2019

Manny P. here…

“`2020 will be an epic year in the collaboration of Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events. Together, they bring Big Screen Classics. Here is next year’s lineup:

Until next time>                               “never forget”