Saturday, March 31, 2012

not the Beave

Jimmy Mathers
I was watching an old 1964 episode (It's All Relative) of Bewitched last night and saw a kid that looked and sounded just like Jerry Mathers of Leave It To Beaver fame.  What puzzled me was that this little beaver was too young.  There was no way he could be the same Jerry Mathers who I saw grow up in Leave It To Beaver from 1967 to 1963.  Jerry Mathers had to have had a younger doppelganger brother that looked and sounded just like him.  Sure enough, when the credits rolled, I saw that Jerry Mathers had a little brother Jimmy who had also been a child actor.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's your theory Darwin?

Stan Burns and Mike Marmer were writers for Get Smart and left their job for the Carol Burnette Show to do Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp.  Here the two played continual homage to successful spy comedy Get Smart.  I also saw a lot of Man From U.N.C.L.E. in the ape show.  Lancelot Link was a secret agent who worked for A.P.E. (Angecy to Prevent Evil). One of the things that made this show unique isn't necessarily the acting chimps, but what came out of the chimps mouths.  Burns and Marmer had to go to great creative lengths to make the dialogue sync with the apes moving lips.

"Voice-overs were ad-libbed on the set, giving birth to beautifully absurd moments of the chimps breaking into songs at the end of sentences or spontaneously reciting Mother Goose rhymes just so it would look right."

-The Believer

Lest we forget the Evolution Revolution.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Irene Ryan was her name.  We all knew her as 'Granny' on the hit television show The Beverly Hillbillies.  Google for a picture of her and you might be surprised at some of her earlier photographs.  Like Angnes Moorehead of Bewitched, Irene Ryan had also been a veteran of stage, radio, and screen before she got the roll of chasing Jethro around with a broom.  Irene went to her audition with her gray hair pulled back into a bun and in character.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

the bewitching mother in-law

 Agnes Moorehead never regretted her role in the popular television show Bewitched.  It's the role that she is most remembered for by our generation.  She was a veteran of stage, radio and silver screen, one of  the famous (along with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton)  Mercury Players.   She rarely played leading roles. She was a self-proclaimed character actress, enjoyed playing diverse supporting roles.  Orson Welles once said of Agnes, "Give her the part - she can play anything."
Agnes saw nothing wrong in playing a witch in a television sitcom.  She was a devout Christian, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister.  As a child she loved impersonating parishioners of her father's church and would stay in character for days.  Dick Sargent (who played the 2nd Darrin Stephens) recalled Agnes arriving to the Bewitched set carrying a script in one hand and her Bible in the other.

Agnes Moorehead died of cancer a few years after Bewitched was canceled
It was believed that she contracted cancer while working on the set of Howard Hughes' The Conqueror.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

hey, hey, we're the Monkees

They called these guys the pre-fab four - Beatle's knock-off for television.  With the huge success of The Beatles, someone had the big idea  to create their own fab four band version of A Hard Days Night for TV.  The concept was sold to Screen Gems and attempted to cast the already established band, Lovin' Spoonful, to be the band.  Spoonful was under contract with another company at the time and couldn't sign on with Screen Gems.

Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Davy Jones, and Peter Tork were hired to be a boy band grooving to prerecorded music played by studio session artists.  But The Monkees quickly emerged with a sound of their own.  It wasn't long before they wanted to have more input in production - and eventually won out.  Micky, Michael, Peter and Davy didn't want to just play like they were a band - they wanted to be a band!

The 'pre-fab four' developed their own unique sound - a band different than the The Beatles.  In fact, The Monkees rubbed shoulders a good bit with and befriended members of The Beatles.  Once Michael Nesmith asked John Lennon  "Do you perceive us to be a cheap imitation of The Beatles, your movies and records?"  Lennon replied, "I think you're the greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers. I've never missed one of your programs.

George Harrision understanding that the pre-fab band were having to produce a TV show, produce their own albums as well as tour stated that "It's obvious what's happening, there's talent there. They're doing a TV show, it's a difficult chore and I wouldn't be in their shoes for the world. When they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be the best."  Later, Peter Tork played Paul McCartney's five string banjo on Harrison's Wonderwall Music album.

What started out to be a knock-off band for TV - turned out to be a new and fresh voice in American pop music.  Every now and then I'll hear one of their songs on the radio and appreciate them more than I did when I was a kid.  These four talented young men seized an opportunity and fought to make more of it.  The Monkees became a real band - a notable place in Rock and Roll history.
  You guys made us believers.

Rest in peace Davy Jones.