Amoeblog

Art Clokey 1921 - 2010

Posted by Whitmore, January 12, 2010 08:31am | Post a Comment
Art Clokey
Art Clokey
, the animator who created Gumby and Davey and Goliath, both coming into being by way of stop motion clay animation, died this last weekend at his home in Los Osos, California. He was 88.
 
Fashioned from a little green slab of clay, Gumby made his television debut in 1956 on The Howdy Doody Show. The following year The Gumby Show premiered. Along with his constant pony pal and sidekick Pokey, together they rambled though what could best be described as a series of gentle but weird LSD trips. Their colorful adventures against a toy strewn landscape often included Gumby's pestering nemseses, The Blockheads. (According to his son, Clokey did try LSD once, but under medical supervision and years after he created Gumby. I like to think he tripped with Cary Grant and Steve Allen.)Gumby and Pokey
 
Though the initial show was short-lived, Gumby enjoyed a comeback in 1961 running through 1968, then again in the 1980s and once again in the 1995 feature film, Gumby: The Movie, also directed by Art Clokey. Eventually 233 episodes were produced. Davey and Goliath, which ran in the 1960’s and 70’s, had over 300 episodes underwritten by the Lutheran Church of America.
 
Born as Arthur Charles Farrington in Detroit on Oct. 12, 1921, he lived with his father after his parents divorced. But at age nine Art’s father was killed in an automobile accident and instead of rejoining his mother, he was placed in an orphanage near Hollywood. Art was adopted sometime later by Joseph Waddell Clokey, an established composer and music professor at Pomona College in Claremont.
 
Art Clokey earned a bachelor’s degree from Miami University in Ohio and later attended Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, intent on becoming an Episcopal priest. He left soon after and entered the University of Southern California, where he studied film with Slavko Vorkapich, a pioneer in modern montage techniques. In 1955, Clokey made a student film, Gumbasia, with animated clay shapes gyrating to a jazz score. The film was the inspiration for the later television series. (The film is included on the DVD Gumby Essentials, released in 2007 by Classic Media.)
 
In 2006 Art Clokey was the subject of a documentary film, Gumby Dharma.
 
Art Clokey’s first marriage, to Ruth Parkander ended in divorce. His second wife, Gloria, died in 1998. He is survived by his son, Joe, a stepdaughter, Holly Harman, and three grandchildren. Another daughter, Ann, died in 1974.

Carl Ballantine 1917 - 2009

Posted by Whitmore, November 8, 2009 12:35pm | Post a Comment
Carl Ballantine
The comically inept magician known as The Amazing Ballantine or The Great Ballantine or the perfectly over the top moniker, Ballantine: The World's Greatest Magician, has died. The truly amazing Carl Ballantine, the comedian and character actor who is perhaps best known for his role of Lester Gruber, the confident con artist in McHale's Navy, was 92.

He died in his sleep this past week at his home in the Hollywood. I used to see him around the neighborhood all the time, usually at the post office or the grocery store. In a town jammed with celebrity sightings, it was only a Carl Ballantine sighting that would elicit an email or a phone call from several friends of mine.

Born Meyer Kessler in Chicago on September 27, 1917, he started performing magic tricks as a 9 year old, tricks learned from a local barber. By the time he was a teenager he was successful enough as a magician that he supported his family. When he felt a slight change in his magic career was needed, he renamed himself; 'Ballantine' came from an advertisement he saw for Ballantine whisky. One night when a magic trick failed miserably and he threw out a couple of one-liners to cover the error, the Amazing Ballantine was born. His career spanned vaudeville, film, television, Vegas and Broadway. Since the early 1940s, Ballantine always performed in a top hat, white tie and tails, his reason: “If the act dies, I'm dressed for it.”

In 1956 Ballantine was the first magician to play Las Vegas, appearing on a bill at the El Rancho Vegas Casino with Harry James, Betty Grable and Sammy Davis Jr. To promote the show, he rode a horse down the Las Vegas strip.

Ballantine appeared in a number of films, including The Shakiest Gun in the West, (1968), The World’s Greatest Lover (1977), Mr. Saturday Night (1992), and Speedway (1968) starring Elvis Presley, who offered Ballantine a Cadillac. His wife, comedian Ceil Cabot (who died in 2000 after 45 years of marriage), wouldn’t allow him to accept it. His most recent film appearance was in the biopic, Aimee Semple McPherson (2006).

Soupy Sales 1926 – 2009

Posted by Whitmore, October 22, 2009 11:11pm | Post a Comment
SOUPY SALES

Soupy Sales
has died. After some 25,000 pies to the face and more than 5,000 live TV appearances over the past six decades, the comedian, actor, kids show host, author and raconteur passed away at 9:51pm, Thursday at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx, New York. Sales had been having health problems and entered the hospice last week. He was 83.
 
Best known for his long-running local and network kids television shows like Lunch with Soupy Sales, he was the king during the 1950s and '60s. Known as the man who would do almost anything for a laugh including bad puns and cheap gags, his trademark was his pie-throwing and his style was improvisational; kids of all ages loved his manic zaniness and slightly blue antics and innuendos. A-list celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Tony Curtis and Shirley MacLaine would stop by and seldom left pie free. A friend of mine tonight commented that Sales was like a “cool, hilarious soupy salesbig brother.”
 
The name Soupy Sales originates from a childhood nickname, "Soupy” and "Sales" was the suggested by a television station executive who knew another comic named Chic Sale. Born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926, in Franklinton, North Carolina, Soupy was the youngest of three sons and his parents ran a dry-goods store; according to legend his family, the only Jewish family in town, sold sheets to the Klu Klux Klan. Sales grew up in Huntington, West Virginia, and received his B.A. in Journalism from Marshall University. During the Second World War he served in the Navy in the South Pacific, and it was there he created some of his strange characters he would use years later, such as “White Fang, the meanest dog in all the United States.”
 
Sales began his Television career in 1950 on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati, hosting America's first teen dance show, Soupy's Soda Shop. In 1951 in a skit on his late night comedy series Soupy's On!, he got his first pie in the face on television. Two years later he moved to Detroit and WXYZ-TV, where his kids show Lunch with Soupy Sales was a huge success. After seven years on the air in Michigan he moved to Los Angeles in 1961.
 
He really hit his stride in 1964 when he moved the show to WNEW-TV in New York. The Soupy Sales Show, had amazing ratings and was syndicated throughout the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand during its two year run. When the series ended, Sales had appeared on 5,370 live television programs, the most in the TV history.
 
In the mid sixties Sales recorded two albums and had a Top Ten single in 1965 with "Do the Mouse;" Sales even performed "The Mouse" on the Ed Sullivan Show. Eventually his single in New York City alone sold 250,000 copies.
 
His most notorious stunt took place in New York on New Year's Day, 1965 when he ended his live broadcast by telling his viewers to “take some of those green pieces of paper with pictures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln and Jefferson from their parents’ wallets and send them to him and he would send them a postcard from Puerto Rico.” Unfortunately the bit worked a little too well and money started rolling in, and though the money was returned, he was still suspended by WNEW for a two weeks. Of course, kids showed up picketing Channel 5 over Sales’ suspension and his popularity went through the roof.
 
During the 1970’s and 80’s Soupy was a regular on game shows like What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, The $10,000 Pyramid and Match Game. In 1985 he joined WNBC-AM as a disc jockey, and is perhaps best remembered as having the show between the two shock jocks, Don Imus and Howard Stern.
 
Over the last ten years Sales turned to writing. In 2003 he published his autobiography, Soupy Sez!: My Zany Life and Times, and a collection of his humor, Stop Me If You've Heard It!: Soupy Sales' Greatest Jokes. Finally in 2005, Soupy Sales received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
 
Soupy Sales is survived by his wife, Trudy, and two sons, Hunt and Tony, famous in their own right as musicians who have worked with the likes of David Bowie, Todd Rundgren and Iggy Pop.
 
"Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you."




Vic Mizzy 1916 - 2009

Posted by Whitmore, October 21, 2009 10:22am | Post a Comment

American composer Vic Mizzy, best known for his absolutely note perfect theme songs for such iconic 1960’s television shows as The Addams Family and Green Acres, died of heart failure this past weekend at his home in Bel-Air. He was 93.
 
Mizzy’s brilliance has been indelibly etched in television history with his ability to accentuate the quirkiness of those shows with his own offbeat, clever sensibility. "They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're altogether ooky: the Addams family."
 
Born in Brooklyn on Jan. 9, 1916, Mizzy’s first instrument was a toy accordion, later he learned to play a real one along with the piano. When he was 14, he met fellow Brooklyn native Irving Taylor, the two began a successful writing partnership that continued while Mizzy attended New York University and through the Second World War when both Mizzy and Taylor served in the Navy. They co-wrote a number of hits, including "Three Little Sisters," There's a Faraway Look in Your Eye," and "Pretty Kitty Blue Eyes," and "Take It Easy." After the war, with another songwriting partner, Mann Curtis, Mizzy wrote more hits like "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time," "The Whole World Is Singing My Song," "Choo'n Gum" and "The Jones Boy." His songs were recorded by celebrated pop vocalists like the Andrews Sisters, the Mills Brothers, Doris Day, Dean Martin, Perry Como and Billie Holiday.
 
However, he found his greatest success in his television work. Mizzy first wrote themes for the Shirley Temple Storybook, “The Enchanted Melody,” and The Richard Boone Show, but it was his ghoulishly fun theme song for the television classic The Addams Family that won him lasting fame. Based on Charles Addams' macabre New Yorker cartoons, it starred John Astin as the twistedly dapper Gomez Addams and Carolyn Jones as his sexy and devastatingly beautiful wife Morticia Addams. Mizzy chose to play a harpsichord to help conjure up the bizarrely unconventional air; he also punctuated the rhythm with some cool proto-beatnik finger-snapping which helped to define the peculiar humor of the show. When Filmways, the production company, refused to pay for vocalists, Mizzy simply overdubbed himself singing and looped in actor Ted Cassidy, who portrayed the butler Lurch, for the "neat, sweet, petite" section. Mizzy’s underscores were as comical as his themes; he had a knack for enhancing the lunacy of the characters and the situations with just the right instrumentation, just the right melody.

The following year Mizzy composed the title song for Green Acres, the 1965-71 comedy starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. For the Green Acres theme, Mizzy used the unique combination of a bass harmonica and a little fuzz laden guitar and an electric bass clarinet to create the loopy hoedown vibe. He also flawlessly explained the entire back story in the lyrics -- definitely a lost art! -- of the wealthy Oliver and Lisa Douglas chucking away their New York penthouse lifestyle so that Oliver could live out his fresh air dreams and be a farmer. One of Mizzy’s most brilliant moves, financially speaking, was retaining the publishing rights to Green Acres and The Addams Family themes. Not only have they both been in constant reruns for over four decades, but ownership enabled him to license them for use in commercials (like the recent M&Ms ads that featured the Addams Family theme). As he always joked, a couple of finger snaps paid for a real good life in Bel-Air.

Guiding Light 1937 – 2009

Posted by Whitmore, September 21, 2009 08:45pm | Post a Comment

The longest-running drama in US broadcast history, Guiding Light, has wrapped it up after 15,762 episodes and an incredible 72-year run. This past Friday, September 18th CBS aired the final episode. Because of its high production costs and falling ratings, it was decided last April to pull the plug. Though there was a huge outcry over the decision, viewership over the last year was still down to about 40 percent of the audience it captured a decade ago. CBS plans to replace the soap opera on October 5 with yet another, newer version of Let's Make a Deal, hosted by Wayne Brady. That sounds like a winning idea!
 
According to what I heard by the water cooler this afternoon, the daytime Soap icon went out big and tearful, with most of the characters gathering for the perfect picnic on the perfect day. Meanwhile back in the town of Springfield, in front of the old light house, the incessantly on-again-off-again romance between Reva and Josh met Fate one more time, one last time, where finally, once again, they reconfirmed their love for each other. This time -- it was best of times, music filled the air tenderly as a beautifully slow moving, gauzy camera shot gazed over the lovers driving off into the sunset in Josh's pick-up truck, no doubt destined for bliss and wedding bells and living happily ever after in the foggy Neverland of cancellation.
 
Some fans complained the ending was rushed. Other fans are still in denial, thinking this must be an elaborate and misplaced April Fools joke, a publicity stunt. Some are saying CBS is crazy, out of their minds, that CBS and their collective heads are up their collective asses, and though it’s great Reva and Josh are finally together again, what about Jeffery, nobody mentioned Jeffrey, what happened, is he still alive, where’s Jeffrey?
 
Nonetheless, millions of devout fans are having to bid adieu to those wonderfully dysfunctional Spaulding and the Lewis families and the seemingly infinite number of marriages, scandals, divorces, affairs, remarriages, re-divorces, the missing, the found, the dead, the back-from-the-dead, little white lies, big bad lies, secrets, shames, gossip, cheats and scoundrels, lusty scoundrels and cheats, the innocent, love gone bad, gone mad, temptations, taboos, mind boggling miracles and mind bending seductions, steamy and sexy story lines heating up kitchen tables and kaffeeklatsches across this star spangled land of ours where old and young hearts skip beats in odd polyrhythmic patterns.
 
Created during the Depression, The Guiding Light debuted January 25, 1937 as a 15-minute program on NBC radio. It was the original soap opera; being owned by Procter & Gamble, most advertisements spotlighted P&G’s line of products like Ivory, Tide, Mr. Clean, Cascade, Zest and Crest toothpaste. The Guiding Light first moved to the CBS radio in 1947 and later premiered on the same television network on June 30, 1952. No American Television show has come this close to spanning the entire history of the medium.
 
So as we fade to black, stay tuned for the award winning drama The Edge of Night, next over most of these CBS stations. This program was recorded.”



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