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This one's about the Blues, Pete Kelly's Blues

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 12, 2014 01:40pm | Post a Comment

Today Jack Webb is best remembered for his portrayal of Detective Sergeant Joe Friday on the radio and television series Dragnet. Friday – a stiff, slouching, robotic cop who chain smokes as he rails against drug abuse – embodies for many folks the definition of a hypocrite and a square. However, the real Webb was also quite the hepcat, an amateur jazz musician with a massive collection of records. In addition to playing hard-boiled detectives, he also used radio to attack social injustices (on One out of Seven) and, with Pete Kelly's Blues, indulge his lifelong love of jazz and Chandler-esque noir.
 


Pete Kelly's Blues lobby card

Pete Kelly's Blues began as an unsponsored replacement series for The Halls of Ivy after a 13 February audition. It debuted on NBC on 4 July, 1951 and aired on Wednesday nights in most markets (Saturdays in others). It was created by Richard L. Breen, who'd previously worked with Webb on the wonderful and not-at-all dissimilar radio noir series, Pat Novak, for Hire, which Webb had left in 1947. Throughout the series' short run, Webb continued to star on both the radio version of Dragnet, which ran from 1949 until 1957, and the television version, which began a few months after Pete Kelly's Blues and continued to air until in its first run until 1959).

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Show-Me Hollywood -- Missourians in Hollywood on Missouri Day

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 16, 2013 12:00pm | Post a Comment
Happy Missouri Day! I was not born in Missouri but I count myself fortunate to have grown up there, moving to the Show-Me State from Kentucky when I was four and staying until I was sixteen. Of course, I ended up moving west (St. Louis is the Gateway to the West after all) to the great state of California, following in the footsteps of many before me. For this blog entry, I'd like to honor Missouri natives who worked in Hollywood film.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of Missouri

Also, there's some sporting event involving a cricket-derivative going on right now between Los Angeles and St. Louis -- arguably the greatest cities in their respective states (well, arguable in St. Louis's case). So forgo your animal-style friesCool Ranch tacosFrench Dipskogi tacos, and Mission burritos for one day and prepare a feast of BBQCherry Mashesgooey butter cakeOzark PuddingSt. Louis-style pizzaSt. Paul sandwiches, and toasted ravioli as we honor the Missouri-Hollywood connection.


MISSOURIANS IN HOLLYWOOD HALL OF FAME

   
(l-r:
 Akon, Alice Joyce, Arch Hall Sr., and Barbara O'Neil)


   
(l-r: Basil Poledouris, Bert Convy, Betty Garrett, and Betty Grable)


   
(l-r: Brenda Joyce, Burt Bacharach, Cecil Cunningham, and Cedric the Entertainer)


   
(l-r: Charles "Slim" Whitaker, Chingy, Chris Cooper, and Cliff Edwards)


   
(l-r: Craig Stevens, Cy Kendall, Dan O'Bannon, and David Sharpe)


   
(l-r: Dee Wallace Stone, Dennis Weaver, Diane Brewster, and Dianne Wiest)


   
(l-r: Dick Gregory, Dick Van Dyke, Dolores Michaels, and Don C. Harvey)


   
(l-r: Don Cheadle, Don Johnson, Doris Roberts, and Dorothea Kent)


   
(l-r: Eddie Griffin, Edward Pawley, Edwin August, and Ellen Drew)


   
(-r: Ellen Foley, Eulalie Jensen, Fannie Ward, and Frances Guihan)


   
(l-r: Frank Faylen, Fred Berry, Fred Kohler, and "Classy" Freddie Blassie)


   
(l-r: Gene Gauntier, George Hearn, Georgia Hale, and Geraldine Page)


   
(l-r:
 Ginger Rogers, Goodman Ace, Grace La Rue, and Hall Bartlett)


   
(l-r: Harry Goz, Harry Babbitt, Helen Martin, and Isadore "Friz" Freleng)


   
(l-r: James Gunn, Jane Novak, Jane Wyman, and Janet Jones)


   
(l-r: Jason Wiles, Jean Harlow, Jenifer Lewis, and Jim Bannon)


   
 (l-r: Joe Besser, Joe S. Camp, Jr., Joel Huggins, and John Ashley)


   
 (l-r: John Beal, John Goodman, John Hamm, and John Huston)


John Kander   
(l-r: John Kander, John Milius, John Pankow, and Johnny Haymer)


   
(l-r: Johnny Johnston, Josephine Baker, Joy Harmon, and Joyce Holden)


   
(l-r: Julia Montgomery, June Clyde, Kasi Lemmons, and Kathleen Turner)


   
(l-r: Kathryn Adams, Kay Thompson, Ken Page, and Kevin Kline)

   
(l-r: King Baggot, Krista Tesreau, Lance "Lance Rock" Robertson, and Larry McCormick)


   
(l-r: Laura La Plante, Lee Falk, Leslie Charleson, and Lige Conley)


   
(l-r: Lincoln Kilpatrick, Linda Blair, Linden Chiles, and Lori Saunders)


   
(l-r: Lottie Briscoe, Lucas Grabeel, Luther Henderson, and Margaret Campbell)


   
(l-r: Marguerite Churchill, Marian Ainslee, Marian Shockley, and Marjorie Beebe)


   
(l-r: Mark Linn-Baker, Marsha Mason, Marvin Miller)


  
(l-r: Mary Treen, Mary Wickes, Matthew Betz, and Maya Angelou)


   
(l-r: Melanie Fullerton, Mike Nader,  Mildred June, and Monique Gabrielle)


   
(l-r: Morris Carnovsky, Moses Gunn, Mykelti Williamson, and Nathaniel Taylor)


   
(l-r: Nicholas Worth, Noah Beery, Olive Young, and Patricia Farr)


   
(l-r: Patsy Ruth Miller, Phyllis Fraser, Phyllis Smith, and  Pooja Kumar)


   
(l-r: Ray Young, Redd FoxxRobert Altman, and Robert Cummings)


   
(l-r:  Robert Guillaume, Robert Lowery, Roberta Sherwood, and Ronald Stein)


   
(l-r: Rosemary Theby, Ruth Warrick, Sally Long, and Sandahl Bergman)



Sara Shane   
(l-r: Sara Shane, Scott Bakula, Sean Gunn, and Stan Brakhage)


   
(l-r: Stephanie E. Williams, T-Bone Burnett, Taylor Momsen, and Teddy Infuhr)


   
(l-r: Todd Newton, Todd Susman, Tommy Rall, and  Ub Iwerks)


   
(l-r: Vincent PriceVirginia Gibson, Virginia Mayo, and Walker Edmiston)


   
(l-r:  Wallace Beery, Wallace Reid,  William Christy Cabanne, and William S. Burroughs)


  
(l-r: Wilton Graff,  Winston Miller, and Yvette Vickers)

   
(l-r:
 Marshall Bruce "Eminem" Mathers IIIDan Gilvezan, David Koechner)

 
Edie McClurg and Debbie Lum



*****

No picture yet:  Al Hirschfeld, Alan J. Levi, Allan Melvin, Andreas Katsulas, Anita Barone,Anthony Cistaro, Arthur Morrison,  Ben Baker, Betty Lynne, Bobb'e J. Thompson,  Brian Vincent, Carlton S. King, Chip McAllister, David Burton Morris, David Rollins, Del Andrews, Edythe Sterling, Elizabeth Kerr, Elsa Benham, Eric Kilpatrick, F. Richard Jones, Frank Converse, Fred S. Fox, Harry Depp, Harry Harris, Irving Baker,  Jack Danon, Jan Duggan, Jim Finn,  John Hancock, John Stix, Jules Buck,  Lawrence H. Woolner, Leroy J. Prinz, and Lew Kelly, Martine Bartlett, Nicholas Corea, Norbert F. Brodin, Otto H. Fries, Paul Yawitz, Philip Roth, Porter Strong, Richard Shepherd, Robert Vaughn, Rochelle Firestone, Shelby Storck, Sr., Victor "Denver Dixon" Adamson, Violet LaPlante, William Fairbanks, William Gibberson, William Lowery, 


Honorary Missourians not actually born in Missouri: Brad Pitt, Cornell Iral "Nelly" Haynes, Jr., Jenna Fischer, Steve McQueen, Tina Turner, and Walt Disney, 

*****

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Ferlin Husky, R.I.P. (December 3rd, 1925- March 17th, 2011)

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, March 19, 2011 01:36pm | Post a Comment
Country music legend Ferlin Husky passed away this Thursday. He was best known for his string of late 50's singles including the legendary track "Drunken Driver." The Missouri native got his start entertaining sailors in WWII. After moving to Bakersfield, CA for a DJ gig, he began performing in honky tonks under the name Terry Preston.  Reverting back to Ferlin Husky for his Capitol and King LPs, he soon found major success through marketing to the Rock and Roll crowd. Although already in his early 30's, ten years older than the King, Capitol pushed him as a hearthrob type aimed at the youth market through albums such as Teen-Age Rock, featuring his tracks alongside artists such as Tommy Sands and Gene Vincent. After his initial string of success Ferlin settled into a steady country music career with the occasional low budget film appearance. Hillbillys In A Haunted House, Las Vegas Hillbillys and Swamp Girl are his best know films. Although decidely B-level, he worked alongside Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Mamie Van Doren, Lon Chaney Jr., Zsa Zsa Gabor and Patty Duke. Unfortunately his later years were fraught with health problems but he went out on a high note with last year's induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Although the country section of my personal collection is amongst the smallest divisions, Husky's Boulevard of Broken Dreams from 1957 is tied with Miles Davis' Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud for my favorite LP of all time. Less a country record, more in an intimate pop crooner vein with country flavor around the edges, Boulevard's production is pure tube studio & echo chamber magic from an era that could never be recreated. Unfortunately I can't find any safe links to post a track so I'm including the appropriately titled "Gone."

Happy Missouri Day, Frankie & Johnny!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 20, 2010 10:47pm | Post a Comment

In recognition of Missouri Day, here's a brief breakdown on Missouri's second most famous couple (after the fictional Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher), a real-life couple usually referred to as Frankie and Johnny. After Frankie caught her man in flagrante delicto with another woman, Alice Pryor, and shot him dead, it was commemorated in numerous songs and films.

Frankie Baker was a 22-year-old St. Louisan dancer who was dating 17-year-old Allen "Al" Britt. Britt had another girlfriend on the side. Britt's friend Richard J. Clay warned Britt about dating two women at the same time but Britt carried on. Then, on October 15th, 1899, around 3:30 in the morning, Baker headed home to her apartment at 212 Targee Street in Chestnut Valley and caught Britt in bed with Pryor. An argument ensued with Baker's roommate, Pansy Marvin, testifying that Britt threw a lamp at Baker and cut her with a knife. In return, Frankie shot him once with her Harrington & Richardson .38. Britt died of his wounds two days later. Baker claimed in her trial that she'd acted in self-defense. She was acquitted but didn't escape notoriety.


Al Britt's grave

Happy Missouri Day, Stagger Lee!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 20, 2010 05:35pm | Post a Comment


Stagger Lee
is one of Missouri's most celebrated characters in song. Loads of people have sung about the seemingly amoral anti-hero, but here are the facts, ma'am.


Lee "Stag" Shelton
was born on March 16, 1865. As a young man he drove a carriage cab and pimped. He also operated a "sporting club," the Modern Horseshoe Club in St. Louis's "Bloody Third" Ward, in an area known as Chestnut Valley. Chestnut Valley and the sporting clubs located there were instrumental in the development of ragtime. Shelton was part of a pimp clique called The Macks. His trademarks included a high roller stetson, rings, an ebony cane, spats and St. Louis flats -- mirrored shoes with pointy, upturned toes. Oh yeah, and a .44 Smith & Wesson.


On St. Stephens Day, 1895, Shelton and Billy Lyons were at a the Bill Curtis Saloon (described by the paper as "the envy of all its competitors and the terror of the police") together, in the "Deep Morgan" neighborhood. Initially they were cordial, but after more drinks, began smacking each others' hats after the conversation turned to politics. First, Shelton grabbed Lyons' derby. Lyons then removed Shelton's stetson. According to witnesses, Shelton demanded either the hat be returned or Lyons pay with his life. Lyons pulled out a knife he'd borrowed in advance from his friend and companion at the bar, Henry Crump. Shelton then shot Billy Lyons.


Stagger Lee's old residence

According to a witness, Lyons dropped the hat, at which point Shelton yelled, "Give me my hat, nigga!," picked it up and walked back to his home on Sixth in "Tamale Town," gave his gun to his landlady and hit the hay. At 4:00am, Lyons died in the hospital.


Shelton went to trial (twice) and ended up getting sent to Jeff City to serve his 25 year sentence. He was paroled in 1909 but went back two years later after robbing a house and bashing owner William Akins's head in with his gun. In 1912, Stagger Lee died in prison of consumption. He's buried at the Greenwood Cemetery in Hillsdale.


John Lomax
published the first known version of a commemorative song which he was given by Ella Scott Fisher in 1910. Mississippi John Hurt wrote what many consider the definitive version. In 1959, Lloyd Price had a massive #1 hit with his version, recorded the previous year.


It's also been done by Beck, Bill Haley & His Comets, Dave Van Ronk, Doc Watson, Dr. John, Duke Ellington, Fats Domino, Frank Hutchison, Furry Lewis, Huey Lewis and the News, Ike and Tina Turner, James Brown, Johnny Dodds, Ma Rainey, Memphis Slim, Neil Diamond, Nick Cave, Pat Boone, Professor Longhair, Sam the Sham, Sidney Bechet, Snatch and the Poontangs, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Taj Mahal, The Isley Brothers, Tim Hardin, Tom Rush, Wilbert Harrison, Wilson Pickett, Woody Guthrie and many more...


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