Sunday, August 12, 2018

This Week in Television History: August 2018 PART I

The further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

August 15, 1923
Rose Marie, actress and comedian who also had a successful singing career as Baby Rose Marie was born. 

A veteran of vaudeville, Rose Marie's career includes film, theater and television. Her most famous acting role came as television comedy writer Sally Rogers on CBS's classic sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. She later portrayed Myrna Gibbons on CBS's classic sitcom The Doris Day Show and she was also a frequent panelist on the game show Hollywood Squares.

August 19, 1963
John Phillip Stamos (STAY-mohs) is born) 
Best known for his work in television, especially in his starring role as Jesse Katsopolis on the ABC sitcom Full House. Since the ending of that show in 1995, Stamos has appeared in numerous television films and series. Since 2005 he has been the national spokesperson for Project Cuddle.  From 2006 to 2009, Stamos had a starring role on the NBC medical drama ER as Dr. Tony Gates. In September 2009, he began playing the role of Albert in the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie. In September 2010 Stamos began a multi-episode arc as Dr. Carl Howell on the second season of the Fox series Glee. In 2013, he assumed a major role in the third season of the USA Network television series Necessary Roughness, which stars Callie Thorne.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".


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Tony Figueroa

Friday, August 10, 2018

Your Mental Sorbet: WKRP in Cincinnati cast reunion


Here is another "Mental Sorbet
that we could use to momentarily forget about those
things that leave a bad taste in our mouths



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Tony Figueroa

Monday, August 06, 2018

This Week in Television History: August 2018 PART I

The further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.
Donna Allen-Figueroa

August 6, 1908
Will Lee is born. William "Will" Lee (August 6, 1908 – December 7, 1982) was an American actor and comedian, best known for playing Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street, from the show's debut in 1969 until his death in 1982.
Lee was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York and began his career as a character actor on stage. He was a member of the Group Theater in the 1930s and appeared in Johnny Johnson, Night Music, Boy Meets Girl, The Time of Your Life (as Willie the pinball machine addict) and other Broadway plays. He succeeded John Garfield as the lead in Golden Boy.
Lee was co-founder of the Theater of Action and a member of the Federal Theatre Project. During World War II, he served in Army Special Services in Australia and Manila and was cited twice for directing and staging shows for troops overseas, as well as teaching acting classes. After the war, he appeared Off Broadway in Norman Mailer's Deer Park (as movie mogul Teppis) and on Broadway in The Shrike, Once Upon a Mattress, Carnival!, Incident At Vichy and The World of Sholom Aleichem.
Lee also began appearing in movies, including bit parts in Casbah, A Song Is Born, Little Fugitive, and Saboteur. He was blacklisted as an alleged communist and barred from movies and on TV for 5 years during the Red Scare, according to members of his family. He had been active in the Actor's Workshop and had been an unfriendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in 1950 investigating show business. At the end of that period, in 1956, he landed the role of Grandpa Hughes in As The World Turns; however, the role was recast with Santos Ortega on the show's second episode.
He taught at the American Theatre Wing for 9 years (where one of his students included James Earl Jones), as well as at the New School for Social Research, Boston University, and the Uta Hagen-Herbert Berghof Studio. In addition, he conducted his own acting classes. Outside of Sesame Street, later roles included TV movies and a supporting role as the judge in the 1983 movie Daniel. Lee also worked in commercials, including a spot for Atari, as a grandfather learning to play Pac-Man from his granddaughter and spots for Ocean Spray juice.
In 1969, he pursued the role of Mr. Hooper on the popular children's show Sesame Street. "He gave millions of children the message that the old and the young have a lot to say to each other," said Joan Ganz Cooney, president of the Children's Television Workshop. The New York Times reported that on Sesame Street, Lee's Mr. Hooper ranked ahead of all live cast members in recognition by young audiences, according to a survey. His bowtie and hornrimmed reading glasses became his trademark.
In a November 1970 TIME article, following the show's first season, Lee recalled his feelings about the show:
I was delighted to take the role of Mr. Hooper, the gruff grocer with the warm heart. It's a big part, and it allows a lot of latitude. But the show has something extra, that sense you sometimes get from great theater, the feeling that its influence never stops.
In addition to being a staple of Sesame Street for more than 10 years, Lee played Mr. Hooper in TV specials (Christmas Eve on Sesame Street and A Special Sesame Street Christmas), guest appearances (Evening at Pops: 1971), stage appearances, countless record albums, and parades, including the 1982 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was revealed in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street that Mr. Hooper is Jewish, as was Lee himself. Lee taped his final segments as Mr. Hooper in November 1982, but his death would become the focal point of Episode 1839, in which Mr. Hooper's death is explained to Big Bird by the adults. 
According to his obituary in The New York Times as he became known on Sesame Street, children would approach him on the street and ask, "How did you get out of the television set?" or whisper, "I love you." "Apart from the joy of knowing that you are helping so many kids, the recognition is heartwarming," Lee was quoted as saying in 1981.
Lee died in December 1982 at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City from a heart attack. His death left the producers of Sesame Street with questions about how to acknowledge the death of one of the series' most visible actors. After considering a number of options, CTW decided to have the character of Mr. Hooper die as well instead of getting a new actor for him, and use the episode to teach its young viewers about death as a natural part of life.
Episode 1839, now known to children and fans as "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" aired on November 24, 1983 (Thanksgiving Day), and was quickly selected by the Daytime Emmys as being one of the 10 most influential moments in daytime television.
Lee was never married and never had any children. His sister is Sophia Lee-Lubov, who used to live in Florida.


August 7, 1948
Stanley Victor Freberg author, recording artist, animation voice actor, comedian, radio personality, puppeteer, and advertising creative director was born. His first jobs (at age eighteen) involved supplying voices for Warner Brothers cartoons, usually in support of Mel Blanc and always without credit.  Soon though, Freberg was being heard on radio shows and on early television.  He and V.O. actor Daws Butler worked puppets and supplied the vocals on Bob Clampett's Time for Beany, the first kids' show to attract an adult audience. 
In 1950, he launched a long association with Capitol Records, recording silly and satirical material.  The sales and critical reaction stunned the Capitol execs so they let him keep on doing pretty much anything he wanted, even when it meant attacking their own industry.  His recordings all had two outstanding qualities.  One is that they were funny.  The other is that they were produced with high production values, first-rate music (usually supplied by arranger-conductor Billy May) and a fine supporting cast that included Butler, June Foray and Peter Leeds, along with the hundreds of voices that came out of Freberg himself.  Even if you didn't get the satire — and some folks didn't, especially when Freberg records were released overseas — the material was always fun to listen to.
Freberg starred in two network radio shows, both of which also featured his frequent partner, Butler.  The 1954 That's Rich was a fairly standard situation comedy but the 1957 Stan Freberg Show was a glorious (if short-lived) festival of satire and comedy.  It made him, by his definition, "the last network radio comedian in America." A nice way to end an era.
When The Stan Freberg Show ended after 15 weeks, Freberg found a new outlet for his humor in advertising, with award-winning campaigns for Sunsweet Prunes, Jeno's Pizza Rolls, Chun King Chow Mein, Pittsburgh Paints and many other clients.  He didn't exactly invent the funny commercial but he quickly became its master, and rival ad agencies scrambled to emulate his lead.  And of course, he continued to release records, including the album many believe to be the greatest comedy record of all time. Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, The Early Years.

August 10, 1948
Candid Camera, produced and hosted by Alan Funt, debuted on this day in 1948. Funt had originally created the concept for radio, debuting Candid Microphone in 1947. 

When it premiered as a television show, the program kept the name Candid Microphone until its second season. Both the radio and TV versions featured unsuspecting people captured in their natural, bemused responses to comic setups. Candid Camera ran on network television from 1948 to 1950, again in 1953, and once again from 1960 to 1967. In 1989, Alan's son Peter became his father's co-host in a series of Candid Camera specials. In 1991, CBS tried to revive the show with Dom DeLuise and Eva LaRue as co-hosts, but the show flopped.

August 11, 1933
Jerry Lamon Falwell, Sr. The evangelical Christian pastor, televangelist, and a conservative commentator was born. 

He was the founding pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, a megachurch in Lynchburg, Virginia. He founded Lynchburg Christian Academy (now Liberty Christian Academy) in 1967, Liberty University in 1971, and cofounded the Moral Majority in 1979.
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, Falwell said on Pat Robertson's The 700 Club, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'" Falwell further stated that the attacks were "probably deserved," a statement which Christopher Hitchens called treasonous. After heavy criticism, Falwell said that no one but the terrorists were to blame, and apologized saying "if I left that impression with gays or lesbians or anyone else, I apologize."

 On May 15, 2007, Falwell was found without pulse and unconscious in his office about 10:45 am after missing a morning appointment and was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital.

"I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast.... He went to his office, I went to mine and they found him unresponsive" said Ron Godwin, the executive vice president of Falwell's Liberty University. His condition was initially reported as "gravely serious"; CPR was administered unsuccessfully. As of 2:10 pm, during a live press conference, a doctor for the hospital confirmed that Falwell had died of "cardiac arrhythmia, or sudden cardiac death." A statement issued by the hospital reported he was pronounced dead at Lynchburg General Hospital at 12:40 pm, EST. Falwell's family, including his wife Macel and sons Jerry Falwell, Jr. and Jonathan Falwell, were at the hospital at the time of the pronouncement.


To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Charlotte Rae

Because of the power of television, I was visible to everybody all over the world. But there are many things in the theater that are more fulfilling and that I look forward to doing more. But really, I love it all: theater, film, television. 
Charlotte Rae
Charlotte RaeApril 22, 1926 – August 5, 2018
Born Charlotte Rae Lubotsky in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She did radio work and was with the Wauwatosa Children's Theatre. In 1942, at age 16, she was an apprentice with the Port Players, a professional theater company that came for the summer to Milwaukee, with several established actors such as Morton DaCosta, who would eventually direct The Music Man on Broadway.
Rae attended Northwestern University, although she did not complete her studies, where she met Cloris Leachman, who many years later succeeded Rae on The Facts of Life for the show's last two seasons. At Northwestern she met several then unknown stars and producers, including Agnes NixonCharlton HestonPaul LyndeGerald FreedmanClaude Akins and songwriter Sheldon Harnick. In a 2016 interview with Milwaukee Talks, she said about her decision in appearing in only dramatic television was, "When I started out, I wanted to be a serious actor, I never thought I'd get into comedy." When a radio personality told her that her last name wouldn't do, she dropped it, to her father's chagrin.
She moved to New York City in 1948, where she performed in the theater and nightclubs. During her early years in New York, she worked at the Village Vanguard (alongside up-and-coming talents such as singer Richard Dyer-Bennet) and at the posh Blue Angel, home to budding talents Barbra StreisandMike Nichols and Elaine May. She moved to Los Angeles in 1974.
A stage actress since the 1950s, she appeared in Three Wishes for JamieThe Threepenny OperaLi'l Abner, and Pickwick. In 1955 she released her first (and only) solo album, Songs I Taught My Mother, which featured "silly, sinful, and satirical" songs by Sheldon HarnickVernon DukeJohn La ToucheCole PorterRodgers and Hart, and Marc Blitzstein (who reportedly wrote the song "Modest Maid" especially for Rae), among others.
She appeared in Ben Bagley's revue The Littlest Revue (and on its cast album) in 1956, appearing alongside Joel Grey and Tammy Grimes, among others, and singing songs by Sheldon Harnick ("The Shape of Things"), Vernon Duke ("Summer is a-Comin' In"), and Charles Strouse & Lee Adams ("Spring Doth Let Her Colours Fly"), a parody of opera singer Helen Traubel's Las Vegas night club act), among others.
Rae would later record Rodgers and Hart Revisited with Dorothy LoudonCy Young, and Arthur Siegel, singing "Everybody Loves You (When You're Asleep)" and in several other duets and ensembles for Bagley's studio. Rae received two Tony Award nominations during her Broadway career. The first was in 1966 for Best Featured Actress in a Musical in Pickwick; the second came in 1969 for Best Actress in a Play for Morning, Noon and Night.
In 1973, Rae played the role of Southern Comfort in Terrence McNally's spoof Whiskey at Saint Clements' Theatre off-Broadway. She appeared in The Vagina Monologues off-Broadway. In 2000, she starred as Berthe in the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Pippin. In 2007, she appeared in a cabaret show at the Plush Room in San Francisco for several performances. In the 2008 movie You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Rae has a role as an older woman who has a fling with Adam Sandler's character. On February 18, 2009 she appeared in a small role as Mrs. Ford in the Life episode "I Heart Mom".
Her first significant success was on the sitcom Car 54, Where Are You? (1961–1963), in which she played Sylvia Schnauzer, the wife of Officer Leo Schnauzer (played by Al Lewis). She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her supporting role in the 1975 drama Queen of the Stardust Ballroom. In January 1975, Rae became a cast member on Norman Lear's ABC television comedy Hot l Baltimore, wherein she played Mrs. Bellotti, whose dysfunctional adult son Moose, who was never actually seen, lived at the "hot l" (the "E" on the hotel's neon sign was burnt out). Mrs. Bellotti, who was a bit odd herself, would visit Moose and then laugh about all the odd situations that Moose would get into with the others living at the hotel. Rae also appeared in an early season of Sesame Street as Molly the Mail Lady.
In 1978, NBC was losing to both CBS and ABC in sitcom ratings, and Fred Silverman, future producer and former head of CBSABC, and NBC, insisted that Norman Lear produce Diff'rent Strokes. Knowing that Rae was one of Lear's favorite actresses (in addition to Hot l Baltimore, she also appeared in a 1974 episode of All in the Family) he hired her immediately for the role of housekeeper Edna Garrett, and she co-starred with Conrad Bain in all 24 episodes of the first season. Her character proved to be so popular that producers decided to do an episode that could lead to a spinoff. That episode (called "The Girls School") was about girls attending a fictional school called Eastland. In July 1979, Rae proposed the idea for the spinoff. NBC approved the show, to be called The Facts of Life, which would portray a housemother in a prestigious private school and dealt with such issues facing teenagers as weight issues, depression, drugs, alcohol, and dating.
Rae said in a 2015 interview with Entertainment Tonight, about The Facts of Life series that had an off-stage scale to weigh the girls, when the pressure had the opposite effect that producers were hoping for; "The more they tried to pressure them and weigh them and threaten them, the more they would eat. It's not the way you handle adolescence. You don't do that."
After working as a character actress/comedian in supporting roles or in guest shots on television series and specials, The Facts Of Life gave Rae not only her best-known role but it finally made her a television star. The role of Edna Garrett was the unifying center of attention of the program as well as a warm, motherly figure for the girls.
pretty little liars first dont succeed charlotte rae PLL ReWatch: If At First You Dont Succeed, try drowning your competition
Pretty Little Liars: Season 1, episode 15, “If At First You Don’t Succeed, Lie, Lie Again,” aired Jan. 31, 2011.
The Facts of Life had marginal ratings at first but after a major restructuring and time change for the second season, the show became a ratings winner between 1980 and 1986. Midway throughout both the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons, Rae missed several episodes because she requested her appearances be reduced. She felt the girls' characters were maturing and not requiring as much of Mrs. Garrett's rearing and advice. Rae began to comtemplate leaving the series, as she felt her time on the show had run it's course. She left at the beginning of the eighth season, and Cloris Leachman was then brought in as Mrs. Garrett's sister, Beverly Ann Stickle, for the show's last two years. The part of Beverly was quite similar to Leachman's character of Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Phyllis from the 1970s. Unfortunately, the character of Beverly was not as popular with viewers as Mrs. Garrett had been. Nevertheless, Leachman remained with the show until it was canceled in 1988.
In 2001, Rae, Lisa WhelchelMindy Cohn, and Kim Fields were reunited in a TV movie, The Facts of Life Reunion. In 2007, the entire cast was invited to attend the TV Land Awards where several members of the cast, including Rae, sang the show's theme song.
On April 19, 2011, the entire cast was reunited again to attend the TV Land Awards, where the show was nominated and won the award for Pop Culture Icon. The same day, Nancy McKeon and Kim Fields (who played Jo and Tootie, respectively) also gave a speech in honor of her 85th birthday. The cast did likewise on ABC's Good Morning America, where at the end of the segment, reporter, Cynthia McFaddenwished Rae a happy birthday, and the cast sang the show's theme song.



Good Night Ms. Rae 

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Tony Figueroa