Monday, October 21, 2013

This Week in Television History: October 2013 PART IV



Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:
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.

October 22, 1938
Christopher Allen Lloyd is born. Among his best-known roles are Emmett "Doc" Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy, Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values, and Judge Doom in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He rose to prominence in the 1980s as Jim Ignatowski in the television series Taxi.

Lloyd, who also has done voiceover work in animation, has won three Primetime Emmy Awards and an Independent Spirit Award, and has been nominated for two Saturn Awards and a Daytime Emmy Award.

October 23, 1983
Jessica Savitch died at the age of 36.

Jessica Savitch had dinner with Martin Fischbein, vice-president of the New York Post, in New Hope, Pennsylvania. After the meal at Odette's Restaurant, they began to drive home about 7:15 pm, with Fischbein behind the wheel and Savitch in the back seat with her dog, Chewy. Fischbein may have missed posted warning signs in a heavy rainfall, and he drove out of the wrong exit from the restaurant and up the towpath of the old Pennsylvania Canal's Delaware Division on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. The car veered too far to the left and went over the edge into the shallow water of the canal. After falling approximately 15 feet and landing upside down, the station wagon sank into deep mud that sealed the doors shut. Savitch and Fischbein were trapped inside as water poured in. A local resident found the wreck at about 11:30 that night. Fischbein's body was still strapped behind the wheel, with Savitch and her dog in the rear. After the autopsies, the Bucks County coroner ruled that both had died from asphyxiation by drowning. He noted that Fischbein was apparently knocked unconscious in the wreck but Savitch had struggled to escape. There was no finding that drugs or alcohol had played any part in the crash.


October 24, 1973
Kojak first aired.  
Kojak stared Telly Savalas as the title character, bald New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. It aired from October 24, 1973, to March 18, 1978, on CBS. It took the time slot of the popular Cannon series, which was moved one hour earlier. Kojak's Greek American heritage, shared by actor Savalas, was prominently featured in the series.
In 1999 TV Guide ranked Theo Kojak number 18 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.



October 25, 1928

Marion Ross is born.  


Ross's best known role is in the sitcom Happy Days, which aired for eleven seasons on ABC, from 1974 to 1984. She portrayed endearing matriarch Marion Cunningham, mother of Richie, Joanie, and (briefly) Chuck. She later starred in the short-lived but critically acclaimed drama—infused with a healthy dose of humor—Brooklyn Bridge, which ran on CBS from 1991 to 1993. Despite lasting only two seasons, the series won a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Emmy Award following its first season. With Ross in the lead role, even though the series was created and executive-produced by Gary David Goldberg and was substantially based on his early life, this "drama" won its Golden Globe and received its Emmy nomination in the comedy/musical category.

October 26, 1914
John Leslie "Jackie" Coogan born in Los Angeles, California. 
Coogan began his movie career as a child actor in silent films. Many years later, he became known as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family (TV show, 1964-1966). In the interim, he shocked the United States by suing his mother and stepfather over his squandered film earnings and provoked California to enact the first known legal protection for the earnings of child performers.
He began his acting career as an infant in both vaudeville and film, with an uncredited role in the 1917 film Skinner's Baby. Charlie Chaplin discovered him in a Los Angeles vaudeville house, doing the shimmy, a popular dance at the time, on the stage. His father, Jack Coogan, Sr. was also an actor. The boy was a natural mimic, and delighted Chaplin with his abilities in this area. As a child actor, he is best remembered for his role as Charlie Chaplin's irascible sidekick in the film classic The Kid (1921) and for the title role in Oliver Twist, directed by Frank Lloyd, the following year. He was also the first star to get heavily merchandised, with peanut butter, stationery, whistles, dolls, records, and figurines just being a sample of the Coogan merchandise. He also travelled internationally to huge crowds. Many of his early films are lost or unavailable, but Turner Classic Movies recently presented The Rag Man with a new score. Coogan was famous for his pageboy haircut and his The Kid outfit of oversized overalls and cap, which was widely imitated, including by the young Scotty Beckett in the Our Gang films.

Jackie Coogan has his hand and foot prints in concrete out front of Grauman's Chinese Theater (now Mann's Chinese Theater), Ceremony #19, on December 12, 1931 (his former wife Betty Grable, Ceremony #68, on February 15, 1943 also). He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of 1654 Vine Street, just south of Hollywood Blvd.

As a child star, Coogan earned an estimated $3 to 4 million, but the money was taken by his mother, Lilian, and stepfather, Arthur Bernstein, for extravagances such as fur coats, diamonds, and cars. He sued them in 1938 (at age 23), but after legal expenses, he only received $126,000 of the approx. $250,000 left. When Coogan fell on hard times, Charlie Chaplin gave him some financial support.
The legal battle did, however, bring attention to child actors and resulted in the state of California enacting the California Child Actor's Bill, sometimes known as the Coogan Bill or the Coogan Act.
Coogan Law | SAG-AFTRA 
This requires that the child's employer set aside 15% of the child's earnings in a trust, and codifies such issues as schooling, work hours and time-off. Jackie's mother and stepfather attempted to soften the situation by pointing out that the child was having fun and thought he was playing. However, virtually every child star from Baby Peggy on has stated that they were keenly aware that what they were doing was work.

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

Stay Tuned




Tony Figueroa
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