Thursday, January 01, 2015

This Week in Television History: January 2015 PART I

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.

January 2, 1990
Alan Hale Jr., the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, dies of cancer at age 68. 
Hale was born in Los AngelesCalifornia. His father was character actor Alan Hale, Sr. and his mother was Gretchen Hartman (1897–1979), a silent film actress. His father (whom his son greatly resembled), had an extremely successful career in movies both as a leading man in silent films and as a supporting actor in sound movies, appearing in many Errol Flynn films, acting in 235 movies altogether, and playing Little John in Robin Hood films three times over a 28-year span, beginning with the silent Douglas Fairbanks version. While his father was adapting to sound films, Hale, Jr. began his career while still a baby.
During the Second World War, Hale, Jr. enlisted in the United States Coast Guard.
After the death of his father in 1950, Alan stopped using "Junior".
Hale's first important roles were as a member of Gene Autry's recurring cast of players. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, he frequently appeared in Autry movies and The Gene Autry Show on TV. He also starred in television series, such as 1952–53's Biff Baker U.S.A.. He guest starred in the NBC western anthology Frontier. He later appeared in the classic syndicated western series Wanted Dead or Alive opposite Steve McQueen in episode No. 5 as Shawnee Bill, and played the titular lead in the television series Casey Jones (32 black and white episodes of 25 minutes from 1957 to 1958). In 1961, he appeared in Audie Murphy's short-lived NBC western detective series, Whispering Smith, as the witness to a murder. In 1962, Hale also appeared on The Andy Griffith Show as Jeff Pruitt, a rough, back-woods bachelor who comes to Mayberry to find a bride. In the episode, he refers to Barney Fife more than once as "little buddy," a nickname he would later use in his most famous and beloved role, that of the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, which ran from 1964 to 1967. He appeared in an episode of CBS's The New Phil Silvers Show in the 1963–1964 season.
Hale's work was not confined to comedies. In 1958, he guest starred on NBC's adventure series Northwest Passage, co-starring Buddy Ebsen. In 1962, he guest starred in an episode of ABC's crime drama Target: The Corruptors! with Stephen McNally. He starred with Bob Denver (Hale's Gilligan co-star) in The Good Guys (1968–70). He appeared in three episodes of ABC's Fantasy Island in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
During his career, he was noted for his supporting character roles in such movies as Up Periscope with James GarnerThe Fifth MusketeerThe Lady Takes a Flyerstock car racing film Thunder in CarolinaThe Giant Spider InvasionHang 'Em High with Clint Eastwood, and The West Point Story with James Cagney as well as The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck.
The Skipper on Gilligan's Island (1964–1967) proved to be the most prominent role for Hale, as the show continued to be popular for later generations of viewers due to syndicated re-runs. The popularity of the show typecast its actors, making it difficult for them to successfully pursue diversified acting opportunities. They received no substantial residual payments for their roles, and the difficulty in finding roles often created financial hardship and resentment. However, Hale often said he did not mind being so closely identified with the Skipper. He co-owned a restaurant in the West Hollywood area (Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel) and would often greet customers in his "Skipper" hat.
During the weekends of 1974 to 1977, a new generation enjoyed the cartoon version of The New Adventures of Gilligan and by 1978, they brought back the original crew for a TV movie named Rescue From Gilligan's Island. Hale also portrayed the Skipper in two more TV reunion movies in 1979 and 1981, and participated in numerous reunions with the cast throughout the 1980s. His final appearances as the Skipper were on a 1988 episode of the sitcom ALF, and for several 1989 clips promoting Gilligan's Island reruns on TBS (TV network), both alongside his old friend Bob Denver. He also made a cameo appearance with Denver in the film Back to the Beach.
Hale was known for his great love of children. When he was dying of cancer, he learned there was a sick child in the same hospital who loved the Gilligan's Island show. He went to see the boy and said "The Skipper's here, son, everything is going to be all right." The child, having noticed all the weight Hale had lost due to cancer, inquired about it. Hale made up a story on the spot about how there was a new version of the show in the works, and he was going to play Gilligan.

A resident of HollywoodCalifornia in the final years, Hale died of thyroid cancer at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Los Angeles January 2, 1990 (aged 68). He was cremated, and his ashes were scattered at sea.

January 3, 1950
Victoria Principal is born. 

Victoria Principal was born in FukuokaJapan, the eldest daughter of a United States Air Force sergeant. Best known for her role as Pamela Barnes Ewing on the CBS nighttime drama Dallas from 1978 to 1987.
In 1974, she was cast in the disaster film Earthquake. Although the role had been narrowed down to three actresses, Principal won the role when she showed up for the third audition having cut off her waist-length brown hair, dyed it black, and put it into an afro. The producer was stunned and impressed by Principal's risky transformation in order to look more closely like the Italian character Rosa. Principal won the part in that moment. She continued to act in lesser-known films such as I Will, I Will... for Now and Vigilante Force with Kris Kristofferson. She was given a three-picture deal with Brute Productions. However, Principal decided to stop acting and became an agent, which was her profession from 1975 to late 1977.
In 1977, Aaron Spelling offered her a role in the pilot of his television series Fantasy Island, which she accepted. Soon after, in 1978, she landed her most famous role, playing Pamela Barnes Ewing in the evening soap opera television series Dallas. In 1983, she earned a Golden Globe Nomination as Best Actress in a Television Series for her role on Dallas.
After nine years, Principal left Dallas in 1987. She went on to star in various made-for-television movies such as MistressBlind WitnessNaked LieSparks: The Price of Passion, and Don't Touch My Daughter, a few of which she co-produced. In 1994, she appeared in an episode of the hit sitcom Home Improvement.

Principal returned to primetime soap operas in 2000, when she appeared in another Aaron Spelling production, the short-lived NBC television series Titans.

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

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa
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