Monday, July 03, 2017

This Week in Television History: July 2017 PART I

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 3, 2012

TV legend Andy Griffith dies age 86 at his North Carolina home. 


Andrew Samuel Griffith was born on June 1, 1926, in Mount Airy, North Carolina. He majored in music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, graduating in 1949. Griffith went on to teach school for several years before finding success as a stand-up comedian. In 1957, he made his feature film debut in the critically acclaimed drama "A Face in the Crowd," starring, in a serious role, as a drifter who becomes a manipulative, power-hungry celebrity.

"The Andy Griffith Show" premiered in the fall of 1960 and quickly became a hit. Griffith played the amiable Sheriff Andy Taylor, a widower raising his young son Opie, played by Ron Howard (now a successful Hollywood director, whose credits include "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Da Vinci Code").  Set in the small, idyllic community of Mayberry (based on Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy), the show included an ensemble of eccentric characters such as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), prim Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), gas-station attendant Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), Floyd the barber (Howard McNear) and Otis the town drunk (Hal Smith). The folksy sitcom, memorable for its whistled theme song, which played over opening credits featuring Andy and Opie on their way to go fishing, continues to air in reruns. Additionally, the program spawned the TV shows "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." (1964-69) and "Mayberry R.F.D." (1968-71).

Mayberry RFD - S01E01 - Andy and Helen Get Married by superannuatedlps

During the
1970s and 1980s, Griffith appeared in several short-lived TV series and various made-for-TV movies before again finding success in the legal drama "Matlock," which originally aired from 1986 to 1995. The actor's final role was in the 2009 feature film "Play the Game." Also in 2009, the Andy Griffith Museum opened in Mount Airy. The TV legend died of a heart attack on July 3, 2012, at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina.


July 4, 1927
Playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon born in the Bronx section of New York City. 

In one of his earliest jobs, in the 1950s, Simon wrote for Sid Caesar’s live comedy television program Your Show of Shows, alongside other future greats such as Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner. As Simon went on to write for the stage and big screen, humor would continue to play a major role in his work. Simon’s first Broadway play, Come Blow Your Horn, opened in 1961. He went on to write over 30 plays, including Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969), The Sunshine Boys (1972), Chapter Two (1977), the autobiographical trilogy of Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1985) and Broadway Bound (1986), Lost in Yonkers (1991) and The Goodbye Girl (1993).
Simon wrote the screenplay for many of his stage productions that were adapted for the big screen. In 1967, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda starred in a cinematic version of Barefoot in the Park, about a young newlywed couple in Manhattan. Redford had also appeared in the original Broadway cast. In 1968, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred in a film version of The Odd Couple, about the mismatched roommates Felix Ungar, a neurotic neat freak, and Oscar Madison, a slob. Matthau also played Oscar Madison in the original Broadway production. The Odd Couple later became a popular TV sitcom that aired from 1970 to 1975 and starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. In 1998, Lemmon and Matthau reunited for The Odd Couple II. (The pair appeared in a number of comedic films together, starting with 1966’s The Fortune Cookie and including 1993’s Grumpy Old Men and its 1995 sequel.)
Simon has received four Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay: for The Odd Couple, The Sunshine Boys (1975), which starred Matthau and George Burns, The Goodbye Girl (1977), which starred Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason (whom Simon was married to from 1973 to 1981) and California Suite (1978), which featured Jane Fonda, Alan Alda, Michael Caine and Richard Pryor.

July 6, 1927
Patrick “Pat” Layton Paulsen was born. 

The comedian and satirist notable for his roles on several of the Smothers Brothers TV shows, and for his campaigns for President of the United States in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996, which had primarily comedic rather than political objectives, although his campaigns generated some protest votes for him.

July 7, 1927

Carl Hilding "Doc" Severinsen the pop and jazz trumpeter is born. 

He is best known for leading the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Severinsen was born in Arlington, Oregon, the son of Minnie Mae and Carl Severinsen, who was a dentist. He was nicknamed "Little Doc" after his father, and had originally wanted to play the trombone. But the senior Severinsen, a gifted amateur violinist, urged him to study the violin. The younger Severinsen insisted on the trombone, but had to settle for the only horn available in Arlington's small music store a trumpet. A week later, with the help of his father and a manual of instructions, the seven-year-old was so good that he was invited to join the high school band.

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


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Tony Figueroa
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