“Forgotten Hollywood”- Goodbye to Sondheim…

November 26th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim would change American musical theater, reaching artistic heights with legacy works as  West Side Story, Gypsy, Company, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, FolliesSweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, A Little Night Music, and Into the Woods. He began to grasp the essence of musical theater when he was a teenager from his neighbor and mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II. He later advised a new generation of Broadway influencers, including Lin Manuel Miranda.

                                   STEPHEN SONDHEIM

“`He began his career writing for the television series Topper.  He devoured 1940s and 1950s films, and called cinema his basic language; his film knowledge got him through The $64,000 Question contestant tryouts. Sondheim disliked movie musicals, favoring classic dramas such as Citizen Kane, The Grapes of Wrath and A Matter of Life and Death. He loved the work of Michael Curtiz and Raoul Walsh.

“`He eventually collaborated with and wrote the lyrics to Leonard Bernstein’s score for West Side Story, inspired by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. He also worked with fellow composer Jule Styne as a lyricist for Gypsy, loosely based on the memoirs of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee. The initial musical for which Sondheim wrote music and lyrics was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The concept, based on farces by Plautus, was written by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart. Sondheim’s score was not well received;  while the show won several Tony Awards (including Best Musical), he did not receive a nomination.

“`He scored signature hit Send in the Clowns from his 1973 musical A Little Night Music. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Judy Collins, among others. One of Sondheim’s greatest triumphs was the Pulitzer Prize he shared with composure James Lapine for the 1984 musical Sunday in the Park with George,  about nineteenth-century French Neo-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat. The two later collaborated on Into the Woods.  Other projects did not fare as well. Plus, he seldom compared favorably to the efforts provided by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“`Other film assignments not related to his work on Broadway include The Last of Sheila, co-written with Anthony Perkins; and music provided for  The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, Reds, Dick Tracy, and The Birdcage.  He recently collaborated with Steven Spielberg on an update of West Side Story to be released in December.

“`Sondheim received an Academy Award for Best Original Song for Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man) from Dick Tracy. He also won eight Tonys for his work on Broadway and eight Grammy Awards for his musical theatre albums. Sondheim has also been nominated for two Golden Globes and he received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1993. In 2015, President Barack Obama presented the lyricist the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a White House ceremony.

“`A virtual tribute Take Me to the World: A Sondheim 90th Celebration was live-streamed on Broadway.com’s YouTube channel on April 26th.  Participants included Lin-Manuel Miranda, Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Nathan Lane, Josh Groban, Patti LuPone, Neil Patrick Harris, Bernadette Peters, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mandy Patinkin, Christine Baranski, Jason Alexander and Audra McDonald.

“`His work addressed darker, more harrowing elements of the human experience, with songs often tinged with ambivalence about various aspects of life. It allowed him to be uniquely relatable to his theatre-going audience.

“`Stephen Sondheim was ninety-one.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- From Screen to Television…

November 24th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 examines the transition of stars from cinema to the small screen, such as Raymond Burr, Karl Malden, Walter Brennan, George Reeves, Robert Young, and Lucille Ball. I am thrilled to join Art Kirsch and John Coleman for this engaging examination.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Dark Christmas Carol…

November 23rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`I must admit… There is great comraderie among the cast of Dark Shadows still alive. Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott have been lifelong friends since they co-starred in the spooky soap opera.                                 (Parker and Scott joining me at a book fest) —>

“`Now, they will join  David Selby, Nancy Barrett, David Henesy, Jerry Lacy, and others for a Zoom Christmas reading of A Christmas Carol on December 19th at 4p (pst). Spend Christmas in Collinsport!

“`This is going to be spectacular!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Alley Chat…

November 15th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 offers a complete rundown of a recent dedication of the Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd Alley in Hollywood. I join Art Kirsch and John Coleman for this engaging discussion.

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- A Leap of Faith…

November 9th, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Dean Stockwell began his career as a child actor and spent seventy years providing audiences with memorable performances.  He is best remembered as Admiral Al Calavicci on television’s  Quantum Leap. Stockwell (right) earned Emmy and Oscar attention along the way.

“`Dean grew up surrounded by thespians. His father, Harry Stockwell, was an actor and lyric baritone singer in New York productions of Carousel and Oklahoma! as well as the voice of Prince Charming in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. His elder brother was television and film actor Guy Stockwell.

“`Contracted my MGM, Stockwell appeared in Anchor’s Aweigh (alongside Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Kathryn Grayson), The Valley of Decision, The Green Years and as the son of Nick and Nora Charles in Song of the Thin Man.  Dean was loaned out by MGM to co-star in Gentleman’s Agreement and The Boy with Green Hair.  After his performances in Secret Garden and Kim, he took a break from Hollywood. As a young adult, he had impressive turns in Sons and Lovers and Long Day’s Journey Into Night.

“`He was busy on television, guest-starring in Combat!, The Twilight Zone, Wagon Train, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare, Bonanza, Mission: Impossible, Night Gallery, Mannix, The F. B. I.The Streets of San Francisco, ColumboMcCloud, The A-Team, Hart to Hart, Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote. Stockwell spent five years on Quantum Leap. This effort led to other guest-starring roles in sci fi episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise, Stargate SG1, and Battlestar Galactica. He was close pals with Leap co-star Scott Bakula and Russ Tamblyn, who he had known since the 1940s.

“`Some of his most impressive work was delivered in the 1980s after a brief hiatus from show business. He was cast in  Dune, The Legend of Billie Jean, To Live and Die in L. A., Blue Velvet, and his celebrated turn in Married to the Mob. The latter film was his favorite.

“`Dean Stockwell was eighty-five.

Until next time>                               “never forget”

“Forgotten Hollywood”- Wild Bill…

November 3rd, 2021

Manny P. here…

“`Celebrating Act 2 shares a great conversation about the iconic director… William Wellman. John Coleman, Art Kirsch, and I offer a stirring retrospective…

“`Enjoy!

Until next time>                               “never forget”