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Holiday ‘22 Trivia Edition

November 30, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows, key names in the “Golden Age” of entertainment history and legendary cinematic performances.

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‘Tis the season for having some fun and testing your knowledge of some of the classic videos that we have talked about and highlighted on ATVN recently.

I hope all of you have been enjoying our featured stories on unique facts as well as information on the actors, shows and movies being featured as part of the Astound TV Network’s fall schedule.

Now it’s time to find out how much you’ve learned by taking our Classic Video Showplace “holiday edition” of our quiz. 

See how you do answering the following questions and then check out the correct responses listed below. 

Have fun!

  1. Which legendary performer from the holiday classic The Wizard of Oz, also starred in a film based largely on a parody of another classic program of that era, a few years after “Oz” landed in theaters?
  2. Which broker-turned-actor got a job from Orson Welles and was a main character in the iconic movie Citizen Kane, only after desperately needing work due the infamous Stock Market Crash of 1929?
  3. Speaking of Orson Welles, what infamous holiday broadcast did Welles and his fellow “Mercury Theater” actors create which caused a national panic on Halloween 1938?
  4. What mega-film star of the 1930s and 1940s became one of the first movie stars featured in a successful drama television series in the 1950s?
  5. Which early television child actor is often credited with being the first ever “teen idol?”
  6. Which film is widely regarded as the “best” Abbott and Costello movie? (HINT: it does NOT include their famous “Who’s On First?” routine).
  7. Which radio singing sensation of the 1940s portrayed someone constantly referred to as “that crazy kid” well into his 50s on multiple early television programs as both a regular cast member and a guest star.
  8. Fred MacMurray starred in hundreds of films from the 1930s to the early 1980s, including the classic The Caine Mutiny as well as Disney favorites like The Shaggy Dog and The Absent Minded Professor.  But what is his best known television character’s name?
  9. Speaking of MacMurray, he got his start on a Broadway play that shares the name of what 1980s television short-lived spin-off show that starred John Ritter.  
  10. What future star did Dave Nelson (of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet fame) direct in his film, Cry Baby (hint: this young actor would portray the likes of Ichabod Crane, Willy Wonka and Captain Jack Sparrow in later years)?

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Answers:

  1. Jack Haley (“The Tin Man”)
  2. Everett Sloane
  3. “War of the Words”
  4. Loretta Young
  5. Ricky Nelson
  6. “Africa Screams”
  7. Dennis Day
  8. Steven Douglas (from “My Three Sons”)
  9. “Three’s A Crowd”
  10.  Johnny Depp

You can see all of the above-mentioned actors and many of these classic films and television shows on the ATVN programming lineup.  To see the full listing of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

Don’t forget to keep checking back to the Showplace for more classic trivia and little-known bits of information about some of the greatest shows and movies of all time.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Jack Haley

November 18, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

Perhaps the most popular movie anywhere that is traditionally shown this time of year is the timeless classic – the 1939 version of The Wizard of Oz.

While many people know the story of the film’s leading lady Judy Garland, most don’t realize that her supporting cast members had stellar entertainment careers even before this version of “Oz” made its debut.

One of the biggest stars was the man that played Tin Man and Hickory – an actor who wasn’t even a part of the movie when “Oz” began filming.

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Jack Haley was born August 10, 1897 in Boston, Massachusetts to Canadian-born parents of Irish descent.  Within months of his birth, his father died due to a tragic accident and Jack later lost his brother to tuberculosis.

Haley quickly became a success in vaudeville and began appearing in films with the 1927 flick, Broadway Madness.  Some of his standout performances in the cinema include Poor Little Rich Girl with Shirley Temple, Higher and Higher with Frank Sinatra, and People Are Funny with Rudy Vallee.  

Jack also had a very popular variety radio show in the mid-1930s…one regular cast member on his show was a young, at that time blonde, showgirl, named Lucille Ball.

He also performed as Davey Lane in the Irving Berlin musical Alexander’s Ragtime Band and starred in a 1936 film called Pigskin Parade, in which his supporting cast members consisted of a new, still relatively unknown singer at that time–Judy Garland.

While Garland was not Metro-Goldwyn-Mayers’s first choice to play Dorothy in Oz, Haley wasn’t brought into production until a near fatal accident befell Buddy Ebsen, the man originally pegged to play the Tin Man.

According to features that accompany the DVD release of Wizard Of Oz, Ebsen was rushed to the hospital early in the filming process when his make-up, made of real aluminum powder, became trapped in his lungs and led to a severe bronchial infection that sidelined him for months.

(Ironically, Ray Bolger was initially slated to play the Tin Man but he persuade

d Ebsen to switch roles, claiming that his body was better suited to the more wiry frame of the Scarecrow.)

Haley was brought in to replace Ebsen and made the role his own.  It was reportedly not the most enjoyable experience in Haley’s career. Dancing in his cumbersome costume was a chore, and the aluminum “paste” they used as a replacement makeup on him also caused recurring health issues and damage to his eyes.

Jack would continue working as a live entertainer and appear in films and television appearances for the next several decades.

Haley appeared with “Oz” co-star Ray Bolger as a presenter for the 51st Annual  Academy Award show weeks before his death.  He was 93 when he passed on.

Jack had two sons–one, Jack Jr. became a two-time Emmy Award winner (and producer of the Academy Awards specials). Jack Jr. also married Liza Minelli, the daughter of another former “Oz” star … Judy Garland.

You can see one of Haley’s starring roles in the 1946 film People Are Funny along with his guest starring roles on classic television shows on the Astound TV Network.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The Loretta Young Show

November 10, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

One of the classic television shows “new to ATVN” this fall is one of the first successful drama programs of the medium, The Loretta Young Show.

Building on Loretta’s blockbuster success in films, including her late 1940’s hits like The Farmer’s Daughter and Come To The Stable, NBC decided to try a brand new idea to initiate an anthology dramatic series with Young as the host/star.  (She was nominated for Oscars for both of those films and won for the former movie.  We’ll have more on Young’s lengthy and tremendously successful cinematic accomplishments coming up in a future “Showplace” blog entry).

The initial name for her program was called Letters To Loretta.  The original premise for the show started with Young speaking directly to the audience.  She began the show by reading her “fan mail,” which included a question addressed to her.  In answering the “fan’s” question, it started that episode’s story for the evening.

Not only did this unique start to every episode resonate well with audiences, but Young’s lavish clothing and styles were all-the-rage for audiences, as they would tune in to see what stylish outfits and new hairstyles she would showcase each week.

Young would then often star in most episodes of the program, portraying a different character, only to return at the end of the show – as “herself” –  to “wrap up” the program and wish the audience a good night.

Halfway through the program’s first season, the show’s name was changed to The Loretta Young Show, even though the practice of each program’s letter kickstarting a new storyline lasted through the show’s first five years.

Young used her star power and cinematic influences to entice well-established movie stars onto her show (it was extremely rare for major film stars to guest star on 1950’s television).   Additionally, the show attracted young stars who would go on to become major personalities in their own right.

Just a sample of the featured performers on this program include:  Van Johnson, Ellen Burnstyn, Claude Akins, Eddie Albert, Ethel Merman, Mike Connors, Chuck Connors, Mae Clarke, Jackie Coogan, William Frawley, Dennis Hopper, Charles Bronson and many others!

The program was also well-received by viewers and critics alike (it was ranked as the third-best dramatic TV series in the mid-1950s by “Billboard” magazine), but it also received strong financial support.  The show’s main sponsors were Procter and Gamble and Listerine (both companies still exist today) and the cigarette juggernaut, Phillip Morris, who, during their heyday, also backed other hit shows of the time period like I Love Lucy.

The Loretta Young Show ran successfully for eight years and was always popular in the ratings throughout the show’s run.  However, for its final season, the show was opposite the wildly popular CBS comedy, the original Candid Camera, and Young’s show was beaten soundly in the head-to-head Nielsen share numbers.  Despite finishing with a very respectable amount of viewers, NBC summarily canceled the “Young” after that eighth season wrapped up in 1961.

The show immediately went into syndication and was also popular with 1960’s television viewers.  However, Young ordered that the original introductions and “wrap-ups” be removed because she was afraid that her mid-1950s hair and wardrobe styles would date the show and hurt the re-runs’ success.  Thankfully those original introductions and wrap-arounds, once thought lost, now can be seen with the corresponding drama and the programs shown in their initial entirety on the Astound TV Network this fall.

Be sure to tune in (and set your DVRs) for The Loretta Young Show, Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and Fridays at 1:30 pm, as well as other TV classics on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

Jack Palance

November 2, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.


This month we look back at the anniversary of the passing of a unique Hollywood icon.


Of all the actors in the latter half of the 20th-century, very few film stars had a more deliberate delivery than the man often featured as a lead villain in many films–Jack Palance.

Jack was born Volodymyr Palahniuk to Ukrainian immigrant parents in Lattimer Mines, Pennsylvania on February 18, 1919. The son of a coal miner, Volodymyr took up boxing at an early age, but, upon losing an unsanctioned fight before his 18th birthday, he decided that acting on stage would be a “safer” profession.

He then accepted a football scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina but stopped playing after two years because of, according to his obituary, the “commercialization” of the NCAA.  Upon the outbreak of World War II, he enlisted into the United States Army Air Force, using the name “Walter Polanski.”  It was during his training that a report surfaced of a training accident involving “Walter,” where he was severely injured jumping out of a burning plane while on a base in Arizona. Upon his entrance into film acting a few years later, this incident was embellished by Hollywood press agents to claim the actor had his entire face reconstructed from this accident, which brought about his strong cheekbones and unique facial features.

After receiving an honorable discharge after the end of WWII, Polanski then attended Stanford University but left one credit short of graduation to start his acting career in the theater.  To support himself he also worked as a photographer’s model, a waiter, short-order cook, a lifeguard and a soda jerk.

He made his Broadway debut in 1947’s The Big Two, portraying a Russian soldier before being selected as Marlon Brando’s understudy in A Streetcar Named Desire.

It was at this time that his stage name was briefly changed to “Walter Palanski” before the actor himself heard too many people mispronouncing his name, so he later changed it to Walter Jack Palance.

In 1950 he began his film career, mostly playing “mean” characters, by portraying a gangster in Panic In the Streets, and received second billing behind Joan Crawford in just his third film, Sudden Fear, which earned him an Oscar for best supporting actor.

In the very next year he earned another Academy Award nomination for his role as the hired gunslinger in the western, Shane.

Throughout the next 30 years, Palance often worked in various films and television shows outside of America (he starred in three Italian-based films in 1976 alone).  This fact was lost on many United States viewers who lauded Palance’s performance when he “returned” to TV with his 1980’s hit show as the narrator of Ripley’s…Believe It Or Not.

He would also return to more commercially appealing, American-produced movies in the later 1980s with hits like Batman (starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicolson), Young Guns and Tango and Cash.

But perhaps his most beloved character ever came about when Billy Crystal, who was a fan of Palance’s career as a boy, approached him about playing the cantankerous but true cowboy hero, Curly Washburn, in the 1991 smash hit, City Slickers.  

His performance (turned in at the tender age of 76) earned him his second Academy Award.  His nearly forty-year gap between winning Oscars was the longest “drought” in the long running award’s history, until Alan Arkin claimed that distinction in 2006.

The movie (and Palance’s role in particular) was so popular that it spawned a sequel, in which Palance returned, even though his character died near the end of the original.  (He came back as Curly’s twin brother in City Slickers 2).

Jack continued to star in movies and make television guest appearances until 2002.  He died four years later, much like Curly Washburn did, in his sleep.

He was 87.

You can see Palance starring in the Italian-produced blockbuster, The Cop In Blue Jeans, airing on the Astound TV Network.  To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Night of the Living Dead

October 26, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

As we countdown to the Astound TV Network’s special Halloween Marathon (24 hours of specialty Halloween-based movies and shows, starting at 9am on Monday, October 31st), we focus this week on one of the all-time classic horror films!

There are quite a few classic horror films that provided the genesis to a seemingly endless supply of successful film series, sequels and spin-off ideas.

But one of the biggest “landmark” films of the genre was Night of the Living Dead.

The film’s producer/director/writer/editor George Romero graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and embarked on a career in the film industry in the early 1960s.  His first job was directing and producing industrial films and commercials for television before he decided to venture into horror films.

He teamed up with his friends John Russo and Russell Streinder to form their own production company, The Latent Image, later to be called Imagine Ten, and wanted to capitalize on the flurry of scary films that remained popular during the 1960s.

Originally written as a horror-comedy under the title Monster Flick, the concept was reworked several times by Romero and Russo.  Ultimately, the final concepts involved a young man who runs away from home and discovers rotting human corpses scattered across a meadow that aliens use for food.  “Flesh eaters” and reanimating human corpses were also thrown into the script, with several of these last-minute ideas paving the way for later-produced sequels years later.

The film initially had trouble getting picked up by film studios, with rejections including calling the script “too cornballish.”  

Undaunted, Romero took $6,000 and found ten partners to also invest the same amount to raise money to produce the film independently.

Money was still an issue when it came to shooting the actual film locations and sound stages.  Several shooting sites consisted of condemned buildings scheduled for demotion, cemeteries or structures that needed significant renovations.

Chocolate syrup drizzled over bodies were used for blood and roasted ham and other donated meats were used for body parts and charred flesh.  Most costumes consisted of items found in second-hand stores and others were bought on the cheap from Goodwill.

Also because of budget constraints, Romero had to use cheaper 35mm film to shoot.  Ironically, critics praised the decision to use lower quality video to give the film a “grainy” feel and enhance the scary aspects of the film’s content.

Romero also caught a break casting university professor-turned-actor Duane Jones in the starring role.  Jones found the writing low-brow and the unintelligent dialogue insulting and refused to read the lines as written.  Instead, he rewrote much of the dialogue on his own.

Co-star Judith O’Dea also didn’t like her lines and stated in several interviews that both she and most other cast members actually AD-LIBBED most of the lines throughout the entire shooting of the film!

Another unique aspect of this movie: the film distributors originally would not send the pictures out with the ending they shot and insisted that Romero and his team re-shoot the final sequences.  They stated that moviegovers would not accept the ending as-is and ordered that a “Hollywood” ending be inserted.

Romero refused and the film’s ending stands today as it was originally intended.

To say that the film proved to be a success and has withstood the test of time would be an understatement.  In addition to originally grossing more than $30 million at the box office (on an original budget of $114,000), the film was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1999.

We will look at more of Duane’s starring performance in this film and his trailblazing legacy in a future blog entry here at the “Showplace.”

In the meantime, be on the lookout for Night of the Living Dead along with other Halloween holiday favorites coming up as part of Monday’s 24-hour “Halloween Takeover” marathon on ATVN.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on the Astound TV Network, check out the weekly listings here

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

George C. Scott

October 20, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

You will probably have a chance to see George C. Scott in his iconic role as “Patton” in the film of the same name, traditionally shown around Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Independence Day holidays.

But there is a much different side to Scott’s acting career in his role as Edward Rochester in the classic story told in the 1970 film Jane Eyre, which you can see on ATVN.

The story revolves around Eyre’s character (portrayed by Susanna York, who would go on to play Superman’s birth mother in the 1976 motion picture Superman)–an orphan who is hired to serve as a governess for Rochester–an English manor lord.  The two eventually fall in love and decide to marry, but Rochester houses a dark secret from Eyre.  When Jane discovers this enormous secret…well, no spoilers here–you’ll have to watch the film for yourself!

Scott’s role as Rochester was not unlike many of his performances as strong-willed characters.  For this role he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Lead Actor in an Anthology, Movie or Limited Series.  But Scott’s life was filled with extraordinary accomplishments.

According to David Sheward’s book, “Rage and Glory: The Volatile Life and Career of George C. Scott,” this legendary actor was born on a kitchen table in the small town of Wise, Virginia.  After a four-year stint with the Marine Corps from 1945 to 1949 and a brief venture into journalism, Scott developed the acting bug and quickly ascended to becoming a lead actor on the Broadway stage.

Before the 1950s were over, he captured his first Academy Award in Otto Perminger’s Antonomy of a Murder, which also starred James Stewart, Eve Arden, Lee Remick, Murray Hamelton and Orson Bean.

Scott owned the 1960s, starring in long-running shows on Broadway and classic films like Dr. Strangeglove, or How I Stopped Worrying and Love The Bomb, The Bible: In the Beginning, The Crucible and others.  He was also a highly sought after television guest star, appearing in some of the 1960s most popular shows like Ben Casey, The Virginian, The Naked City, The Road West and frequently appeared on Bob Hope’s celebrity specials.

Scott would also go on to star as iconic characters after 1970, including Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, Benito Mussolini in Mussolini: The Untold Story, Fagin in Oliver Twist, The Beast in 1976’s Beauty and the Beast, Sherlock Holmes in They Might Be Giants, the controversial Juror #3 in the 1997 remake of 12 Angry Men, and even returned to his role as Patton in the biopic’s sequel, The Last Days of Patton.

But arguably his two greatest movie contributions came in 1970 when both Patton and Jane Eyre were released.

Be on the lookout for Jane Eyre coming up this Monday at 9am on ATVN.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

Erin Gray

October 12, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

It’s hard to have been a young TV viewer from the late-1970s through the early-1990s without coming across the versatile performances of Erin Gray.

Erin was born in Honolulu in the territory of Hawaii (it wasn’t officially made a state until a few years after her birth).  She moved in with her grandparents when she was eight due to her parents’ separation.  A few years later she entered the field of modeling.

At 14, she won a major modeling competition, earning her first professional assignment in St. Louis, Missouri.  At 17 she made her television debut as a dancer on the program Malibu U.

She briefly attended UCLA but left to return to modeling in New York where she also pursued television gigs.  By the age of 25 she was regarded as one of the top television models and was earning over $100,000 per year.

Over the next few years she won guest appearances on shows such as Maude, The Rockford Files, BJ and the Bear and Police Story.

By the age of 28 she landed a co-starring role in the original sci-fi classic Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.  

According to Filmbug.com, Gray thought her character made a landmark accomplishment as she was cast as a colonel, which she said was the first time a woman on television was placed in charge of men.  She was quoted as saying that her character “sparked a new idea that women can be in charge, too.”

She followed that performance with another leading role in a show geared at younger TV viewers.  The comedy Silver Spoons was the show that launched Ricky Schroeder into superstar status in the early 1980s as a teen heartthrob.  The entire cast was on NBC’s Today show a few years ago, marking the 25th anniversary of that show’s pilot.  On that reunion program Gray and all her cast members recalled that the on-screen chemistry was real and the four lead characters have remained great friends to this day.

For the next decade, Erin would have recurring roles or guest star on some of the biggest television shows of the time period, appearing as Monica Johnson, who was Mitch (David Hasselhoff) Buchanan’s boss on Baywatch and as Jenny Hayden on another sci-fi show, StarmanJust some of her guest spots on popular 1980s television shows included: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Hotel, Hunter, Simon and Simon, Vega$, Magnum PI, The Fall Guy, Murder, She Wrote, LA Law, Evening Shade, The New Lassie, Burke’s Law, Jake and the Fatman, Silk Stalkings and Superboy.

She also starred on the big screen in one of the popular “Jason” horror serial films, Jason Goes To Hell, as well as co-starring in the Kenny Rogers film Six Pack.  Gray also starred in one of the Perry Mason television specials: The Case of the Avenging Ace.

She also co-wrote a book entitled, “Act Right,” which lends advice to new actors and tips for people looking to get into the performing arts.

In the later 1990s she transitioned away from acting and became a casting agent, a profession in which she remains active to this day.  However, over the last two decades, she has appeared occasionally in television shows, web series and lending her voice to video games.  She did star in another big screen production – the 2011 movie Dreams Awake.

To catch Erin Gray during the peak of her on-screen popularity, tune in and set your DVRs for her starring performance in 1980’s Coach of the Year, airing this Tuesday morning at 9am on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Africa Screams

October 6, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

While the comedic pairing of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello is best known for its radio editions of the hit patter-comedy routine, “Who’s on First,” the duo also had a string of successful hits on the big screen.

Arguably, the pair’s biggest movie success came in the 1949 comedy Africa Screams.

Abbott and Costello had already been a success on stage since 1935 and spent the next several years adding appearances on popular radio shows as guest stars.  In 1941 after getting rave reviews as Fred Allen’s “summer replacement,” they earned their own radio series.

Their success on radio paved the way for a series of money-making motion pictures throughout the next two decades.  The pair made an incredible 24 movies between 1941 and 1948 before embarking on “Africa.”  Among the best received films during this time period includes Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein, One Night In The Tropics, Buck Privates, Buck Privates Come Home and The Naughty Nineties, in which the team duo stole the spotlight when the film featured a retooling of their “Who’s On First” routine.

As the decade was coming to a close, the pair wanted to embark in new territory and incorporate some other popular names of the era, as well as include new settings to their popular comedic formula.

Famed animal trainer and circus mogul Clyde Beatty, along with his famous performing animals, was brought into the mix.  Also added to the cast was popular boxer Max Baer (as “Grappler” McCoy)  and Shemp Howard, who was looking to branch out from his “Three Stooges” success and enhance his star power as a solo performer.

The film also marked the first time that Abbott and Costello worked with Hillary Brooke and Joe Besser — both actors would later become part of the ensemble cast for the duo’s television series.  Besser and Howard would also share time working as part of the “Stooges” franchise over the next few years.

The picture itself was not without issues.  

According to the book, “Abbott and Costello in Hollywood” by Bob Furmanek, the movie’s subplot regarding the affectionate gorilla was originally presented as a female simian pursuing Costello. However, the Breen Office censors that enforced the Production Code in Hollywood at that time demanded that the gorilla’s gender be changed because they felt a female gorilla’s pursuit of a man would be on par with bestiality.

Years later, the original nitrate stock negative of the film had decomposed, but the nitrate fine grain was still serviceable. Furmanek, an author and historian, had obtained the rights to the original print in the 1980s and had it transferred to 35mm for preservation purposes.

This film was also unique in that Abbott and Costello had gone out on their own to independently finance their film for the first time while relying on the “United Artist” umbrella created by Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin to help with the distribution of the movie. 

Africa Screams turned out to be a huge success, grossing over $1.5 million in its release (while working with a budget just under $500,000) and paved the way for other successful releases over the next two years, including Abbott and Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff, Abbott and Costello In The Foreign Legion and Abbott and Costello Meet The Invisible Man.

The success of “Africa” also spawned the creation of the popular “Abbott and Costello” television show, which boasted solid ratings for four years before a reoccurring rift would once again develop between the pair–ultimately separating them for good.

We’ll have more on the sometimes strained relationship and little known facts about the legendary pairing of Abbott and Costello in an upcoming blog entry here at “The Showcase.”  Meanwhile, you can watch Africa Screams by tuning in or setting your DVRs to ATVN this Tuesday at 9:00 am.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on the Astound TV Network, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ATVN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Everett Sloane

September 30, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 

Everett Sloane is another one of those names that may not be familiar to video audiences now, but chances are you have seen him in a prominent classic film or television show.

Everett was born on October 1, 1909, in Manhattan, New York.  At the tender age of seven he was featured as Puck in the Manhattan Public School production of Williams Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream and caught the acting bug.  

He worked in a traveling production company until making his New York stage debut in 1928, but took a full-time job as a Wall Street ticket runner.  The famous crash of 1929 cut his Wall Street salary in half, so Sloane delved deeper into the entertainment industry to earn a living and began work doing radio plays.

The “Crash” turned out to be fortuitous for Everett as he became a hit in the new medium and ended up performing in over one thousand radio productions throughout his career, including recurring roles on elite shows like The Inner Sanctum and as the comic relief cab driver on The Shadow.

One of his biggest “breaks’’ was working for Orson Wells’ immensely popular Mercury Theatre, which produced not only some of the most popular shows in the late 1930s but produced the infamous “War of the Worlds” teleplay that spooked the nation into thinking that aliens from Mars were actually invading Earth!

Wells signed a movie production contract with RKO Pictures and incorporated many of his veteran voice actors in his films.  Sloane made a splash in his film debut (to say the least!) with Citizen Kane, the movie regarded by many as the greatest film of all time.

In it, Sloane played Charles Foster Kane’s (portrayed by Orson Wells) confidant and business manager, Mr. Bernstein.  Sloane was featured as both his “older self,” retelling stories from his perspective of Kane’s life, as well as appearing in the flashback sequences through the picture.  Despite the film’s controversies and the alleged attempts to blackball members of the film’s cast and crew, Sloane quickly found work in the theater, performing in over one hundred stage productions of Richard Wright’s Native Son.

Sloane then returned to Hollywood and starred in another Wells’ production of the movie Journey Into Fear, with fellow Citizen Kane cast members Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Warrick.

Among his other film highlights include starring in Marlon Brando’s film debut, The Men, The Prince Who Was a Thief with Piper Laurie and Tony Curtis, Patterns with fashion icon Van Heflin and later in a reunion with Wells in The Lady From Shanghai and Prince of Foxes.

When Everett turned his attention to television he continued to have immediate and continual success by guest starring on some of the greatest shows of all time.  

His TV appearances include Bonanza, The Andy Griffin Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gunsmoke, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Perry Mason.

He also did voiceovers in cartoons and narrated the 1965 movie, Hercules and the Princess of Troywhich turned out to be his last role.

Everett was diagnosed with glaucoma and, fearing he would go blind as a result of it, took an overdose of barbiturates and died in his sleep on August 6, 1965.

He was 55 years young. 

You can see Everett Sloane in the 1956 film Patterns (this Tuesday at 9am on ATVN) as well as his guest starring roles in Bonanza and other TV classics on the Astound TV Network.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on ATVN, check out the weekly listings here.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

Rick Geho

September 19, 2022 By Chris Michael Leave a Comment

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.
Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on ATVN with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

This blog regularly touches on some of the all time, world-renowned greats in the communications industry. We’ve written about James Stewart, Sidney Poitier, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Betty White, Jackie Robinson, Jose Ferrar, Audrey Hepburn, Buster Keaton, Cary Grant and other names that should stand the test of time.
But if some of you are not familiar with the name Rick Geho…that is a good thing!

Like most successful directors and executive producers in the television industry, by NOT knowing the name of someone behind the scenes, it’s about as big a compliment as you can get.

The people whose faces appear on your television screen are known as the “celebrities,” whose names, mannerisms and personas–real or created–are what viewers see and most likely remember. The only time you look to see who is the executive producer are the times when things go horribly wrong, or when you get so disgusted by what you are seeing on the screen that you take the time to find out who they are to send them an angry email complaint or phone call.

So if the name Rick Geho doesn’t ring a bell for you right away, I will thank you on his behalf.

For nearly 50 years, Rick has been the managing force behind our local television station, under the Twin County, C-Tec, RCN and now, Astound Broadband, brands. During his tenure, local programming highlights include, but are not limited to, the annual Dream Come True Telethon (36 years and counting), Lehigh Valley high school sports, Lafayette College sports, current in-studio productions such as “Nuestro Valle,” “SportsTalk” and “Community Spotlight,” and coverage of many community events, like the July 4th fireworks, Halloween parades, Christmas Light display shows and others.

Furthermore, nowhere else in the COUNTRY do you see the amount of local scholastic sports programming than you can in the Eastern Pennsylvania region. Rick has been at the forefront of that development, starting earlier and working longer than most people will ever work in this industry.

Rick’s education began with an associate’s degree from Electronic Engineering Tech, followed by a diploma from the Radio Engineering Institute. He also holds a General (First Class) Radiotelephone Operator license, issued by the FCC.

His many interests include trains (and older railroad stations), baseball, animal welfare, trains, arts and culture, civil rights, social action, human rights, trains, politics, science, technology…and did I mention a love of everything trains?

As someone who has known him for 26 years, I can tell you that Rick is someone who deeply cares about the people in our viewing area and has a passion for both its rich traditions as well as its quality well-being going forward. He frequently worked at all hours of the day, seven days a week, making sure that all the details of every production and every broadcast event would go off as seamlessly as possible. Whether it be sports, public affairs, concerts, parades or anything that is of interest to the people of the region, he worked tirelessly to try to bring it to people’s homes, and to make it a pleasant experience for viewers to watch.

Most importantly to the readers of this particular blog, Rick is one of the people responsible for collecting all of the great classic television shows and movies that you can enjoy on the Astound TV Network. He ultimately is the one to make sure all these programs and movies make it on the air and into your homes, so you can enjoy them at the time that they are scheduled to run–which Rick also had the chore to oversee.

After nearly 50 years of bringing quality local sports, original programming and some of the greatest video works of all time to television sets in the Lehigh Valley and beyond, he has decided to retire from ATVN.

Rick’s last day will be next Saturday, October 1st.

In typical “executive director” fashion, he has denied all in-house motions to do any on-air tributes, mentions or recognitions of his five-decades-long work. He has also declined a request to appear on our live sports show to talk about his career and discuss all that he has accomplished on our network and in the communications industry.
Whether he says it or not, you cannot deny the deep impact he has made on local television in our viewing area and that ATVN would not be what it is today without his hands on the controls.

To check out the fruits of one of Rick’s responsibilities, tune in to the Astound TV Network over the next week to check out our new fall lineup of shows, movies and diverse programming, with something for everyone.

There is a complete rundown here on our website of classic programming as well as lifestyle shows, community, news and cultural programs, local origination and live sports productions on ATVN. Check out the weekly listings here.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Astound Broadband or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

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