Saturday, February 28, 2015

R.I.P. Dick Bakalyan

From actor Mike McGreevey who appeared with him in several Disney films in the 1970s comes word of the passing of consummate character actor Dick Bakalyan, perhaps seen most this past year on the hugely-hyped BATMAN box set as he appeared in no less than SIX different roles on that series including the "Martian" seen here.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Put Down Your Pencils! The Contest is Over!

At the stroke of midnight, my wife--standing in for the cat who was outside in 13 degree temps doing who knows what!--closed her eyes, meowed and pawed at the winners one by one. And here they are:

Copy # 1--Eric Stettmeier
Copy # 2--Tom Vincent
Copy # 3--Nicholas Prom
Copy # 4--Dan Longe
Copy # 5--Brian Dobbelaere

Congratulations to all five winners! Your copies of HAUNTED HORROR # 15 will go out tomorrow. Remember! If you like it, hit up your local comic shop on a regular basis for more pre-Code sickness! And while you're at it, check out the other great Yoe Books regular comic title, WEIRD LOVE, for even more wackiness!

We'd appreciate it of you stop back here at the blog from time to time as well, and check out our 11 other blogs!!! Thanks to all for entering! More contests coming soon!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hurry! Limited Time Offer! Haunted Horror Giveaway!

I find myself with 5 extra copies of the latest issue of HAUNTED HORROR, the Ghastly Award winning comic book series from Yoe Books that reprints some of Dr. Wertham's worst nightmares out of 1950s comics! If you like horror comics but haven't yet tried HAUNTED HORROR, here's your chance to score one of these 5 copies free and easy!

Send me your name and snail mail address via email to Subject line should mention HAUNTED HORROR. This post is going up at midnight ET on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Tomorrow night at midnight, the first 5 names drawn at random by my cat get a copy. All copies will be mailed first thing Friday morning (weather permitting).

Multiple entries will be disqualified. No purchase necessary. Offer valid in the continental US only. (Sorry.)

See you back here tomorrow night with the names of the winners!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Charlton Arrow # 4

Coming soonish! THE CHARLTON ARROW # 4. You'll note my name on the cover for the first time since issue # 1. This time I take a look at the relatively short teen idol years of Bobby Sherman, star of his own Charlton comic book back in the proverbial day!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Don Marlowe

This guy was quite the con artist. A very small time actor in the 1950s, in 1968 he published his memoirs which repeated his oft-told claim of having been Porky in the Our Gang comedies. Since, by his own admission, he was born in 1919, this would have made him 16 when Porky was in the series as Buckwheat's partner in crime and sometimes Spanky's "little" brother. Of course, the fact that it was common knowledge that Eugene Lee was Porky never stopped his claims. 

Marlowe also claimed to have befriended Bela Lugosi for 3 decades, acting as his "unofficial" agent. He also claimed at one point to have test footage from Lugosi's aborted version of FRANKENSTEIN!

Not to be outdone by that claim, he also claimed to have Karloff's unpublished memoirs which he intended to publish!

His book was hyped with the claims of how he knew old Hollywood better than anyone because HE was it went on to mis-identify people in photos and stories left and right. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Circus '70

In 1970, Cincinnati's Coney Island opened up a wonderful-smelling, air-conditioned puppet theater that ran a show called Sid and Marty Krofft's Circus '70. What did Sid and Marty Krofft have to do with it? I don't know. They were busy in Hollywood, putting on their psychedelic TV series like HR PUFNSTUF, LIDSVILLE and THE BUGALOOS, all of which would, at one time or another, be represented in this theater over the couple of years it was there before the entire theme park closed. 

Did Sid train the puppeteers perhaps? Or at least supervise their hiring? (It would have been Sid because I've learned from working with Kathleen on her book that Marty was the business guy. Sid was the creative guy.)

It became Kaleidoscope a year later but continued on with a marvelously clever and entertaining puppet show. Other Krofft presentations appeared at other amusement parks but the idea did not follow on to the then-new Kings Island when Coney Island closed. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Best of Booksteve on Facebook

Between dealing with our local version of Snowmageddon as well as several deadline jobs this week so postings have been sparse and may continue to be for a bit. Feel free to check out this public link to my "Best of" Facebook Timeline posts. As you can see, this album covers a lot of ground. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

R.I.P. Lesley Gore

Sad to report the passing of one of my first favorite singers, Ms. Lesley Gore. I saw her as Pussycat on BATMAN and in the movie SKI PARTY and later collected her singles!

Rest in Peace and thanks.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nostalgia Expo 2015

This year's Nostalgia Expo has been officially announced for May. Mark your calendars now. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stan and Kiss

Publicity shots from ROCK SCENE magazine capture the infamous day in 1977 when the members of KISS mixed their blood with the printing ink to make the first ever KISS mag/comic!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday 13 in the Okefenokee

Being a selection of more or less random, non-consecutive strips detailing the running gag of Churchy LaFemme's obsession with Friday the 13th in POGO.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Help Eddie Deezen

My Internet friend Eddie Deezen has been a unique and welcome comic presence in movies for four decades now. He easily stole scenes in big-budget films including GREASE, WAR GAMES, 1941, POLAR EXPRESS and--generally considered his best performance--I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND. As one of the world's greatest Beatles fans and trivia experts, his role in that film was almost autobiographical. 

Likewise, he took the lead role in fun lower budget, often straight to video releases such as BEVERLY HILLS VAMP and MOB BOSS. In more recent years, he became a memorable voice actor in everything from SPONGE BOB to SCOOBY DOO and charmed a whole new generation as rival genius Mandark in DEXTER'S LIBRARY. 

Eddie recently revealed that a reason his appearances have become much more infrequent is that he has developed a polyp on his vocal cords that he is now scheduled to get removed. Contrary to popular thinking, working actors, although they may make good money when they can work, are not rich. Toward that end, Eddie has started a Go Fund Me campaign to offset his medical costs.

He's a good guy and can use your help. Please consider a donation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ms. Molecule is Coming VERY Soon!

Things are moving fast! I haven't posted in the past couple of days because I have been working on various transcription jobs for the upcoming ACE Magazine. I'm also going to be interviewing my wife about her comic book heroine, Ms. Molecule, for ACE! She didn't exist a week ago and now she should be available online either this weekend or next weekend!

Go here for details!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Buster Keaton's Television Work of the 1960s

In 1951, Charlie Chaplin met Buster Keaton for the first time in decades when the Great Stone Face arrived to discuss their ultimately memorable scene in LIMELIGHT. Apparently presuming that Keaton would arrive looking haggard and destitute and grateful for the bone the former Tramp was throwing him, Charlie was genuinely shocked when his long ago silent comedy rival showed up—in Buster’s own words—“in fine fettle.” A confused Charlie asked, “How do you manage to stay in such good shape? What makes you so spry?”

“Television,” was Buster’s reply.

Buster Keaton’s career had certainly fallen from grace since the heady days of his silent comedy success. Blame it on the talkies. Blame it on his alcoholism. Blame it on his nightmarish personal life. Blame it on MGM. Blame it on whatever you want. But contrary to what many think, Keaton continued working throughout and had largely put his demons behind him over time. As television began its pervasive intrusion into American life, Buster embraced it right from the beginning, appearing with comic Ed Wynn as early as 1949. In the early 1950s, Buster had his own sitcom on the West Coast and began appearing in an ever-increasing series of commercials for various clients, both regional and national. Buster, in fact, became widely known for his inventive and funny beer spite of his previous and well-known reputation as an alcoholic!
While Keaton was busy becoming a familiar face to TV viewers of all ages, a forgotten cache of his old silent films turned up. In some cases unavailable for reevaluation for nearly three decades, critics and fans alike suddenly hailed him as one of cinema’s true geniuses! He was lauded at film festivals and started writing his autobiography.

For the last decade of his life, Buster Keaton was humble but happy. He was finally married to a wonderful wife, the work he had put so much effort into so long ago was finally recognized and given its due, and—perhaps best of all—Buster was still working! He didn’t just sit back and talk about the past. He didn’t just coast on his own reputation. No, he adapted to the times and thus remained a viable entertainer right to the end and not just a novelty act trotted out for nostalgia (although there was definitely a little of that, too.)

The beginning of the 1960s saw Keaton at a bit of a late-career peak. As his age-related health issues began to increase, though, his professional output began to slowly diminish. He is said to have asked his agent to price him out of commercials. He didn’t want to do them. He was, however, so GOOD at them that no matter how much his agent asked for...he got it!

As a matter of fact. as he began appearing in the big screen Beach Party movies as well as continuing with making  industrial films, print ads, commercials, TV guest appearances, and film festival tributes, one is hard-pressed to see any slow-down at all!

In January of 1960, Buster Keaton’s first TV appearance of the decade was probably on NBC’s TODAY where he promoted his autobiography, MY WONDERFUL WORLD OF SLAPSTICK. Over the next few years, Buster would go on to appear as himself on game shows (including MASQUERADE PARTY, IT COULD BE YOU, PLAY YOUR HUNCH and TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES), talk shows and variety shows (including THE REVLON REVUE, THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW and THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE) and even a return to TODAY in 1963 where the entire program was done as a tribute to his career. He’s even listed as performing in what is described as a 007-inspired sketch on a 1965 episode of THE JONATHAN WINTERS SHOW.

In 1961, a slightly disguised Buster Keaton was involved in one of the best-remembered stunts from Allen Funt’s CANDID CAMERA in which he pranked a number of lunch counter customers by sneezing his toupee into his soup! He would appear several times on that series.

He did a few pilots—some of which aired and some of which didn’t. Few if any of them had him as the lead. Buster was frequently cast as an Indian throughout his career—presumably due to his unflinching cigar store Indian expression—and that’s the role Buster played in an Ernie Kovacs pilot called MEDICINE MAN that was being shot just as Kovacs was killed in a car accident.

Keaton was also called on to appear in character roles in a number of TV dramas and comedies as well, making those episodes immediately noteworthy and memorable.

In 1960, he played Santa Claus in an hour-long episode of the anthology series, SUNDAY SHOWCASE.

A now-beloved 1961 TWILIGHT ZONE episode written specifically for Buster by Richard Matheson was “Once Upon a Time,” a light-hearted, silent film style episode featuring Keaton as a time-traveling janitor.

MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON was a weekly TV version of the classic Frank Capra film that starred the folksy Fess Parker between his more successful runs as Davy Crockett and Dan’l Boone. Buster played an old acquaintance from back home who visits Jefferson Smith in Washington.
There were also visits to BURKE’S LAW, THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH, a TV movie with Hoagy Carmichael and even a return appearance on THE DONNA REED SHOW where he had winningly co-starred in an early season.

Buster Keaton’s best showcase amongst his TV appearances was probably his ROUTE 66 appearance. The conceit of that long-lasting series was that its stars traveled the country by car, stopping in a new location each week for a new adventure with an all-new cast. It was genius, really, allowing for an anthology show and yet with continuing characters—Martin Milner, George Maharis, and their cool sportscar.

Airing early in the show’s third season, the boys were by that time secure in their roles and perfectly comfortable with letting some veteran scene-stealers have their way with the episode, “Journey to Nineveh.” Early talkie comic Joe E. Brown (best-remembered today for the classic closing line of Billy Wilder’s SOME LIKE IT HOT) gives a perhaps surprisingly ingratiating performance as a small town man accused of theft by some locals. Buster is his brother, believed to be a well-known jinx and out fishing when we first meet him, giving him long minutes of perhaps improvised outdoor humor, much of it silent up to a point. Like many a show attempting to invoke the spirit of silent comedy, the normally straight program added some out of place “humorous” sound effects. While all eyes are on Keaton whenever he’s on screen, Brown is equally wonderful and Edgar Buchanan has some choice bits toward the end. A pre-Gomez Addams John Astin even shows up for a funny bit. Not bad at all for what was normally a serious show.

Speaking of scene-stealers, Buster’s other important TV show was called THE SCENE-STEALERS. It was a one-hour public service special promoting awareness of the 1962 New March of Dimes program. The premise reunites Ed Wynn with Keaton as a hapless pair of comic characters on the loose in a TV studio collecting coins for that year’s March of Dimes campaign as they stumble from set to set. Along the way, they meet celebrities including James Garner, David Janssen, Ralph Edwards and even Lorne Greene and Dan Blocker in an episode of BONANZA, probably TV’s hottest show at that time. Specialty bits come from Jackie Cooper, Eartha Kitt, Jack Lemmon,

Nanette Fabray and others. The real treat is seeing Buster Keaton reunited with his one-time MGM partner Jimmy Durante for a brief few moments.

Keaton’s fellow comedy legend Stan Laurel, long retired, passed away in 1965 and it hit Buster hard, perhaps reminding him of his own mortality. In televised footage from the funeral, he’s seen tearing up over the loss of his old colleague and friend.

Buster’s final TV appearance—other than perhaps a still-running commercial or two—was in a CBS television variety special done in tribute to Stan Laurel that aired in November of 1965. The show spotlighted a diverse guest list but had little of nothing to do with Laurel or his style of humor. Buster’s sketch, though, was easily the highlight, and featured Lucille Ball and Harvey Korman.

Just a few months after that special aired, Buster Keaton’s literally lifelong career came to an end with his passing...and that’s when his legend REALLY started to grow, as it still does today!

For more Buster Keaton, go here for the complete list of blogs participating in the Buster Keaton Blogathon!


Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Aldrich Family

Here's Ezra Stone with the cast of THE ALDRCH FAMILY, arguably the world's first sitcom. I was privileged to appear opposite Ezra some 25 years ago now in one of his last appearances as Henry Aldrich in a re-creation at Cincinnati. I played his sidekick, Homer. If you ever read a biography of composer Irving Berlin, look for Ezra, who played an important role in Berlin's story. In later years he became aTV director known for THE MUNSTERS, LOST IN SPACE and DIANA, the sitcom with Diana Rigg.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Christa on Wonder Woman

I've been informed that the Christa Helm episode of WONDER WOMAN will be airing tomorrow evening on ME-TV. Check here for details: 

If you don't know who the ill-fated Christa Helm was, go here for our extensive coverage:

This WONDER WOMAN episode features her in a major role as an egotistical beauty contest contestant in an early World War II episode. Bobby Van, Dick Van Patten and Anne Francis also guest star with Lynda Carter's Diana Prince entering the contest undercover.

With a thankless role in a horror movie, a starring vehicle that remains unreleased, some long lost commercials and a bit part on STARSKY & HUTCH, this WONDER WOMAN episode stands out as actually the pinnacle of Christa Helm's tragic career. If you haven't seen it, or if you didn't know about Christa when you did, now's your chance. 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Ms. Molecule

So last night in Facebook's Charlton-Neo group, Mort Todd half-jokingly suggested that the new Charlton needed a small superhero since the Atom and Ant-Man were on the horizon and hot. After I suggested a few joke names, Mort himself suggested Mr. Molecule. My wife, Rene, suggested changing it to MS. Molecule and even came up with a backstory. 

Rene wrote: "Young woman has inoperable cancer. She is given an experimental drug which is believed to shrink the cancer but when she is placed in an MRI machine, something goes horribly wrong and she shrinks instead of the cancer. They find a way to bring her back but if they do, her cancer will return. So, she fights crime and longs for the day when she can go back to normal." A later suggestion from Mort and expanded on by Rene was that she could fight medical problems inside the human body a la FANTASTIC VOYAGE. 

Neo artist Sandy Carruthers (SPOOKMAN, MEN IN BLACK) felt inspired to visualize the character and now there's a little talk of maybe actually doing something with her! Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

More Fibber and Molly

What's that?You want MORE Fibber and Molly? Sure! Here ya go. Double click to read.