Monday, February 24, 2020

This Week in Television History: February 2020 PART IV

February 24, 1980
The U.S. Hockey Team won its “Do you believe in miracles?” gold medal during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games beating Finland (4-2) in their final medal round game. The Soviet Union took the Silver Medal by beating Sweden in their final game. Sweden took home the Bronze Medal, with Finland finishing fourth.

Two days prior on February 22, 1980 was the "Miracle on Ice". The U.S. men's ice hockey team, led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet Union team, 4 - 3. The Soviet Union team, who were considered to be the best international hockey team in the world, they entered the Olympic tournament as heavy favorites, having won every ice hockey gold medal since 1964, and all but one gold medal since 1956. On February 9, the American and Soviet teams met for an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden in order to practice for the upcoming competition. The Soviet Union won (10-3) so the odds were in favor of the Russians.

The day before the match, columnist Dave Anderson wrote in the New York Times, "Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments."

The game ended with Al Michaels delivering the most famous call in Hockey history, "Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk...five seconds left in the game... Do you believe in miracles? YES!!!"

Though the Olympic Games are supposed to be an arena free of politics the Soviet and American teams were long time rivals due to the Cold War.
President Jimmy Carter was considering a U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics, to bheld in Moscow out of protest to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. President Carter eventually confirmed the boycott on March 21, 1980.

At the same time there was another international drama playing out. Despite President Carter’s initial refusal to admit the Shah of Iran into the United States, on October 22, 1979, he finally granted the Shah entry and temporary asylum for the duration of his cancer treatment. In response to the Shah's entry into the U.S., Iranian militants seized the American embassy in Tehran, taking 52 Americans hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.
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The "Miracle on Ice" was a shot in the country’s morale during a time of great uncertainty.

February 25, 1950
Comedy program Your Show of Shows, hosted by Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca, first airs.
Although the show lasted only four seasons, it became a classic of television's golden era, featuring comedy by future stars Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, and others. The series was one of television's Top 20 hits for three of its four years.

February 27, 1940
Howard Hesseman is born. 
The actor is best known for playing disc jockey Johnny Fever on WKRP in Cincinnati and schoolteacher Charlie Moore on Head of the Class.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Ja'Net DuBois

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Ja'Net DuBois

She began her acting career in theater during the early 1960s, appearing in Broadway's Golden Boy with Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr. in 1964. DuBois's early television acting credits include the 1969 television movie J.T. and the long–television soap opera Love of Life, on which her 1970 to 1972 role as Loretta Allen made her the first African–American female as a regular cast-member on a daytime serial.' In 1970, DuBois appeared in her first film, playing Vera in Diary of a Mad Housewife.
Television producer Norman Lear saw DuBois in Lanford Wilson's play The Hot l Baltimore at the Mark Taper Forum, which led to her being cast in the 1974 to 1979 CBS comedy series Good Times. DuBois recorded the album Again, Ja'Net DuBois, on her Peanuts and Caviar label, in 1983. DuBois appeared in former Good Times co-star Janet Jackson's 1987 "Control" music video as her mother. In 1992, she co-starred with Clifton Davis in And I Still Rise, a play written and directed by Maya Angelou. She co-starred in the films I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), and on television in MoeshaThe Steve Harvey ShowA Different World, and The Wayans Bros..
During the 1980s, DuBois operated the Ja'net DuBois Academy of Theater Arts and Sciences, a performing-arts school for teenagers in Long Island, New York. In 1992, DuBois, Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu co-founded the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles.
In 1995, DuBois won a CableAce award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Lifetime movie Other Women’s Children. In 2000, DuBois served as Grand Marshal for the North Amityville Community Parade and Festival Day in Amityville, New York. She won two Emmy Awards for her voiceover work on the animated program The PJs (1999). DuBois with the cast of Good Times received The Impact Icon Award at the 2006 TV Land Awards.

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 Good Night Ms. DuBois

Monday, February 17, 2020

This Week in Television History: February 2020 PART III

February 18, 1925

George Harris Kennedy, Jr. is born. 
The actor who has appeared in more than two hundred film and television productions. He is perhaps best known for three of his roles: as the convict "Dragline" in Cool Hand Luke, for which he won an Academy Award; as airline mechanic Joe Patroni in all four of the 1970s Airport disaster films; and as Captain Ed Hocken in the Naked Gun series of comedy films.

February 22, 1980
“Do you believe in miracles?” 

"Miracle on Ice". The U.S. men's ice hockey team, led by coach Herb Brooks, defeated the Soviet Union team, 4 - 3. The Soviet Union team, who were considered to be the best international hockey team in the world, they entered the Olympic tournament as heavy favorites, having won every ice hockey gold medal since 1964, and all but one gold medal since 1956. On February 9, the American and Soviet teams met for an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden in order to practice for the upcoming competition. The Soviet Union won (10-3) so the odds were in favor of the Russians.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

Friday, February 14, 2020

Monday, February 10, 2020

Robert Conrad

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Robert Conrad
Conrad Robert Falk
March 1, 1935 – February 8, 2020
Conrad attended Chicago schools including South Shore High SchoolHyde Park High School, the YMCA Central School, and New Trier High School. He dropped out at age 15 to live on his own and begin working full time, including jobs loading trucks for Consolidated Freightways and Eastern Freightways, and driving a milk delivery truck for Chicago's Bowman Dairy.
After working in Chicago for several years and studying theater arts at Northwestern University, Conrad pursued an acting career. One of his first paying roles was a week-long job posing outside a Chicago theater when the 1956 film Giant was showing; Conrad bore a resemblance to the iconic actor James Dean, who starred in Giant so his mother used her entertainment industry contacts to help him get the part, which was intended as a publicity stunt to boost attendance at the theater. Conrad also studied singing; his vocal coach was Dick Marx, the father of singer Richard Marx.
In 1957, Conrad met actor Nick Adams while visiting James Dean's gravesite in Fairmount, Indiana. The two became friends, and Adams suggested that Conrad move to California to pursue acting.
Adams got a bit part for Conrad in the 1958 film Juvenile Jungle. Adams was supposed to appear in it, but later withdrew so he could take a part in a different movie. His brief non-speaking role in Juvenile Jungle enabled him to join the Screen Actors Guild. He had a small role in the film Thundering Jets (1958) and made his TV debut in the Bat Masterson episode, "One Bullet from Broken Bow".
Conrad was soon signed to an acting contract by Warner Bros. He also sang, and released several recordings with Warner Bros. Records on a variety of LPs, EPs, and SPs 33-1/3 and 45 rpm records during the late 1950s and early 1960s. He had a minor Billboard hit song in "Bye Bye Baby" which reached #113.
At Warner, he appeared in the 1958 second season of the James Garner series Maverick (episode: "Yellow River"). He guest-starred in a number of other shows, either for Warner or Ziv Television, including Highway PatrolLawmanColt .45 (playing Billy the Kid), Sea HuntThe Man and the Challenge, and Lock Up.
Warner Brothers had a big success with its detective show 77 Sunset Strip and then made Hawaiian Eye, a follow-up series. Conrad starred as detective Tom Lopaka. He was introduced on Strip, then spun off into his own series that ran from 1959 to 1963, both in the U.S. and overseas. During the series' run, Conrad appeared on an episode of the Warner Brothers series The Gallant Men. When Hawaiian Eye was over, Conrad starred in Palm Springs Weekend (1963), Warners' attempt to repeat the success of Where the Boys Are (1960) with its young contract players.
In Mexico, Conrad signed a recording contract with the Orfeon label, where he released two albums, with a few singles sung in Spanish. In 1964, he guest-starred on an episode of Temple Houston and then performed in the comedic film La Nueva Cenicienta (also known as The New Cinderella. The next year, he was in the episode "Four into Zero" of Kraft Suspense Theatre and played Pretty Boy Floyd in Young Dillinger alongside his old friend Nick Adams.

In 1965, Conrad began his starring role as government agent James West on the popular weekly series The Wild Wild West, which aired on CBS until its cancellation in 1969. He made $5,000 a week. He did most of his own stunts and fight scenes during the series, and while filming the season four episode "The Night of the Fugitives," he was injured and rushed to the hospital after he dived from the top of a saloon staircase, lost his grip on a chandelier, fell 12 feet, and landed on his head.
In addition to starring in The Wild Wild West, Conrad found time to work on other projects. He went to Mexico in 1967 to appear in Ven a cantar conmigo (Come, sing with me), a musical. He also formed his own company, Robert Conrad Productions, and under its auspices he wrote, starred in, and directed the 1967 Western film The Bandits.
Conrad appeared in episodes of Mannix and Mission: Impossible. In 1969, he signed a three-picture deal with Bob Hope's Doan Productions. The first two films were slated to be Keene then No Beer in Heaven but only the first movie was ever produced.
In 1969, he debuted as prosecutor Paul Ryan in the TV movie D.A.: Murder One (1969). He reprised the movie in D.A.: Conspiracy to Kill (1971) and the short-lived 1971 series The D.A.. He was also in such made-for-television movies as Weekend of Terror (1970) and Five Desperate Women (1971). He tried another TV series as American spy Jake Webster in Assignment Vienna (1972), which only lasted eight episodes. He was a murderous fitness franchise promoter in an episode of Columbo ("An Exercise in Fatality"). Conrad starred in the feature films Murph the Surf (1975) and Sudden Death (1977). He reprised his role as Paul Ryan in the TV movie Confessions of the D.A. Man.
Conrad found ratings success again from 1976 to 1978 as legendary tough-guy World War II fighter ace Pappy Boyington in Baa Baa Black Sheep, retitled for its second season and in later syndication as Black Sheep Squadron. He directed three episodes.
The show's success led Conrad to win a People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Actor and a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. He followed it with a lead part in the television miniseries Centennial (1978).
In 1978, Conrad starred in the short-lived TV series The Duke as Duke Ramsey, a boxer turned private eye. Conrad directed some episodes. In the late 1970s, he served as the captain of the NBC team for six editions of Battle of the Network Stars. Around this time reprised the role of West in a pair of made-for-TV films which reunited him with his West co-star, Ross MartinThe Wild Wild West Revisited (1979) and More Wild Wild West (1980).

Conrad was identified in the late 1970s with his television commercials for Eveready batteries, particularly his placing of the battery on his shoulder and prompting the viewer to challenge its long-lasting power: "Come on, I dare ya". The commercial was parodied frequently on American television comedies such as Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show and The Carol Burnett Show.
Conrad made the occasional feature such as The Lady in Red (1979) for Roger Corman's New World Pictures, where he played John Dillinger from a script by John Sayles. Conrad later played a modern-day variation of James West in the short-lived series A Man Called Sloane in 1979. Conrad directed some episodes.
Conrad spent most of the 1980s starring in TV movies. He played a paraplegic coach in Coach of the Year (1980), and the title role in Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (1982). Both were for his own company, A Shane Productions. Conrad played a Police Chief in the comedy in the theatrically released film Moving Violations (1985), and in the following TV movies; The Fifth Missile (1986), Assassin (1986) and Charley Hannah's War (1986).
in 1986 Conrad served as special guest referee for the main event of WrestleMania II that featured Hulk Hogan v King Kong Bundy inside a steel cage for the WWF Title
Conrad starred in the television series High Mountain Rangers (1987) and also directed the pilot and wrote several episodes of the show. The series co-starred Conrad's two sons and was produced by his daughter. He appeared in the made-for-television movies Police Story: Gladiator School (1988), and Glory Days (1988), directing the latter. He then tried Jesse Hawkes (1989), another short-lived series and a spin off of High Mountain Rangers. He once again directed the pilot.
Conrad appeared in the popular music video for Richard Marx's Hazard, which was a #1 hit in 13 countries including the United States. He had a supporting role in Jingle All the Way (1996) with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conrad's later credits include an episode of Nash Bridges and the film Dead Above Ground (2002).
Conrad appeared in the movie Samurai Cowboy in 1994. The following year, he created the TV movie Search and Rescue, in which he starred, which in turn led to a short-lived TV series, also created by Conrad.
In 2005, he ran for President of the Screen Actors Guild. In 2006, Conrad recorded audio introductions for every episode of the first season of The Wild Wild West for its North American DVD release on June 6. The DVD set also included one of Conrad's Eveready battery commercials; in his introduction, Conrad stated he was flattered to be parodied by Carson. He was inducted into the Hollywood Stuntmen's Hall of Fame for his work on The Wild, Wild West series.

Beginning in 2008, he hosted a weekly two-hour national radio show (The PM Show with Robert Conrad) on CRN Digital Talk Radio. He appeared in the documentary film Pappy Boyington Field (released in July 2010 on DVD) where he recounted his personal insights about the legendary Marine Corps aviator he portrayed in the television series. His last appearance on the radio show was July 18, 2019
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Good Night Mr. Conrad