Monday, July 19, 2010

This week in Television History: July 2010 PART III

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 9pm ET, 6pm PT (immediately following STU'S SHOW) on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (9pm ET, 6pm PT)on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at We are also on Share-a-Vision Radio ( Friday at 7pm PT and ET, either before or after the DUSTY RECORDS show, depending on where you live.

As always, 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.

July 20, 1958
The last episode of the popular Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts airs, after nearly a decade on TV.

The program, one of television's earliest amateur talent shows, was a breakthrough vehicle for stars including Rosemary Clooney, Pat Boone, Steve Lawrence, Connie Francis, and Patsy Cline. Elvis Presley flunked his audition for the show in 1955.

Jul 20, 1973
Bruce Lee dies at age 32.

Actor and martial-arts expert Bruce Lee dies in Los Angeles at age 32 from a brain edema possibly caused by a reaction to a prescription painkiller. During Lee’s all-too-brief career, he became a movie star in Asia and, posthumously, in America.
Jun Fan (Bruce) Lee was born on November 27, 1940, in San Francisco, California. At the time, his father, a Chinese opera star, was on tour in the United States. The family moved back to Hong Kong in 1941. Growing up, Lee was a child actor who appeared in some 20 Chinese films; he also studied dancing and trained in the Wing Chun style of gung fu (also known as “kung fu”). In 1959, Lee returned to America, where he eventually attended the University of Washington and opened a martial-arts school in Seattle. In 1964, Lee married Linda Emery, who in 1965 gave birth to Brandon Lee, the first of the couple’s two children. In 1966, the Lees moved to Los Angeles and Bruce appeared on the television program The Green Hornet (1966-1967), playing the Hornet’s acrobatic sidekick Kato. Lee also appeared in karate tournaments around the United States and continued to teach martial arts to private clients including the actor Steve McQueen.
In search of better acting roles than Hollywood was offering, Lee returned to Hong Kong in the early 1970s and successfully established himself as a star in Asia with the action movies The Big Boss (1971) and The Way of the Dragon (1972), which he wrote, directed and starred in. Lee’s next film, Enter the Dragon, was released in the United States by Hollywood studio Warner Bros. in August 1973. Tragically, Lee had died one month earlier, on July 20, in Hong Kong, after suffering a brain edema believed to be caused by an adverse reaction to a pain medication. Enter the Dragon was a box-office hit, eventually grossing more than $200 million, and Lee posthumously became a movie icon in America.
Lee’s body was returned to Seattle, where he was buried. His sudden death at the young age of 32 led to rumors and speculation about the cause of his demise. One theory held that Lee had been murdered by Chinese gangsters while another rumor circulated that the actor had been the victim of a curse. The family-curse theory resurfaced when Lee’s 28-year-old son Brandon, who had followed in his father’s footsteps to become an actor, died in an accidental shooting on the set of the movie The Crow on March 31, 1991. The younger Lee was buried next to his father at Seattle’s Lake View Cemetery.

July 21, 1924
Jesse Donald "Don" Knotts is born.

The comedic actor best known for his portrayal of Barney Fife on the 1960s television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show (a role which earned him five Emmy Awards), and as landlord Ralph Furley on the television sitcom Three’s Company in the 1980s.

July 22, 1922
Daniel “Dan” Hale Rowan is born.

He was featured in the television show Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, where he played straight man to Dick Martin. Born on a carnival train near the small town of Beggs, Oklahoma, under the name of “Daniel Hale David”, Rowan toured with his parents, Oscar and Nellie David, who performed a singing and dancing act with the carnival. He was orphaned at age 11, spent four traumatic years at the McClelland Home in Pueblo, Colorado, then was taken in by a foster family at age 16 and enrolled in Central High School (Pueblo, Colorado). After graduating from high school, he hitchhiked to Los Angeles, California, in 1940 and found a job in the mailroom at Paramount Pictures; quickly ingratiating himself with studio head Buddy DeSylva, a year later he became Paramount's youngest staff writer.

Jul 25, 1985
Rock Hudson announces he has AIDS.

Rock Hudson, a quintessential tall, dark and handsome Hollywood leading man of the 1950s and 1960s who made more than 60 films during his career, announces through a press release that he is suffering from acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). With that announcement, Hudson became the first major celebrity to go public with such a diagnosis. The first cases of AIDS, a condition of the human immune system, were reported in homosexual men in the United States in the early 1980s. At the time of Hudson’s death, AIDS was not fully understood by the medical community and the disease was stigmatized by the general public as a condition affecting only gay men, intravenous drug users and people who received contaminated blood transfusions.
Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr., on November 17, 1925, in Winnetka, Illinois. He rose to fame in the 1950s, starring in such films as Giant (1956), for which he received an Academy Award nomination, and A Farewell to Arms (1957). Hudson’s good looks and charm were on display in 1959’s Pillow Talk and several other romantic comedies he made with Doris Day in the early 1960s. In the 1970s, Hudson co-starred in the popular TV series McMillan and Wife. In the early 1980s, he began experiencing health problems and underwent heart bypass surgery. His final TV role was a recurring part on Dynasty from 1984 to 1985.
In July 1985 Hudson was hospitalized while in Paris. Some media reports indicated he was suffering from liver cancer. However, on July 25, Hudson issued a press release stating he had AIDS and was in France for treatment. Hudson, who had a three-year marriage during the 1950s to a woman who had been his agent’s secretary, was believed to be gay, although he never spoke publicly about his sexuality.
Hudson died on October 2, 1985, at age 59 in Beverly Hills, California. His death was credited with bringing attention to an epidemic that went on to kill millions of men, women and children of all backgrounds from around the world. Hudson’s friend and former Giant co-star Elizabeth Taylor became an AIDS activist and rallied the Hollywood community to raise millions for research. In 1993, Tom Hanks received a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in director Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia, the first major Hollywood movie to focus on AIDS.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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