Thursday, August 31, 2006

On this day in 1997, we lost a royal princess and a true lady! Diana was an amazingly wonderful, kind and gentle soul who was simply trying to go on with the rest of her life in as normal a fashion as possible. Was the Royal Family involved as ome people claim? Who knows! Diana was killed of course in that tragic accident that also killed her fiance Dodi Fayed. Dodi was a producer of such films as "Hook", "The Scarlett Letter" and "FX 1 and 2". I had some experience with Dodi Fayed and his company back when i was a talent agent over eleven years ago. At that time, Dodi's company was optioning a property that I represented that I still consider to be one of the best stories that I have ever encountered called "Manhattan Transfer" written by an amazing writer by the name of John Stith. Imagine if you will that an ailien race has invented a doomsday machine that goes out of control. This death machine escapes their palnet world and goes on a rampage throughout the universe destroying every planet and ailien world that it encounters. The ailiens are powerless to stop it! Now the poor creatures feel badly-- as only ailiens can feel badly and decide to go ahead of this death machine and capture a bit of every planet and world in the doomsday's path. When I say capture, I literally mean take it-- so that they include these "planet souvinirs" in a big gallatic zoo/ theme park. Manhattan Island is that souvinir from Earth. So imagine now that the island of Mnahattan is completely enclosed with a plastic dome--(clean air and food pumped into it daily) and transfered to a spacecraft the size ofr two mountain ranges. The people trapped in the city should be happy to live in a world where the air is clean, the food is provided and no one has to work ever again-- right? Wrong-- the people want New York City just the way they have always had it-- crowds, taxicabs, bad weather-- the works. So the surviving New Yorkers break into the ailien Mother Ship and after a scuffle with the ailiens thermselves, the New Yorkers conmvince the ailiens that they can help these creatures to defeat this invention of destruction. Great novel! Today also is the birthday of a great American lyricist and librettist-- Mr. Alan Jay Lerner. Lerner with Frederick Lowe created some of the most successful Broadway shows in history including their first in 1947 (the year I was born) "Brigadoon" (my personal favorite) along with "My Fair Lady" "Gigi" and "Camelot". Mr. Lerner was sixty-seven when he died of lung cancer and was married eight times. One of his ex wives said that he changed dramiticly once married to anyone and put it this way "Marriage is Alan's way of saying goodbye!" He tried collaborating with Richard Rodgers in "Rex" (the story of King Henry the VIII) and failed-- with Leonard Bernstein in "1600 Pensylvania Avenue" that closed in 4 nights), Andre Previn in "Coco" This did a little better-- 250 shows) and Charles Strouse in the one night open, the next day closed musical disaster called "Dance A Little Closer" based on the classic play "Skin of Our Teeth" by Thornton Wilder. The critics dubbed it "Close A Little Faster-- Please!" One thing I did not know was that Alan Jay Lerner was contarcted with Lyold Webber to do the lyrics for "Phantom Of The Opera" (later taken over by Charles Hart) I wonder how much different "Phantom" might have been had Alan jay Lerner done the lyrics-- hmmm. He also turned down the opportunity to do the English language lyrics for "Les Mserables"-- Funny thing, this very famous and succesful artistic genius died so broke that there was not enough money in his estate to hold the the twenty-five thousand dollar wake that his will had insisted be thrown for him. At the time of his death, he owed the Internal Revenue Service over a million dollars-- sad! . He died twenty years ago this year in 1986. Well, recording session today to reimburse David Meinke for services rendered, but very happy to do it! And oh yes-- very sad to hear of the death of actor Glenn Ford at age 90. I knew his dialogue coach, Mr. Harold Clifton when I was doing plays for the San Gabriel Little Theatre in my youth-- ah those were the days. Clifton was a director there and a charcater you simply would not believe-- calling all of his actors "children"-- the play we did was actualy one that Mr. Ford had done for real in the movies called "The Gazebo". Well until next time!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Well, today would have been the 98th birthday of a great Hollywood star and Disney legend: the one and only Fred MacMurray. Fred starred in six movies for the Disney Studios including "The Shaggy Dog". "The Absent Minded Professor" "Son of Flubber, "The Happiest Millionaire" and my personal favorite "Follow Me, Boys" in 1966-- released the same year forty years ago that Walt Disney, himself passed from this weary blue globe called Earth. The funny thing about Fred's career is that sometimes the craziest things led to sucess and prosperity. Back in the mid thirties, steamy actress Claudette Colbert was set to star in the film "The Gilded Lily". There was a key scene in this movie that required her male actor co-star to be able to carry on a movie dialogue conversation while eating popcorn continuously sitting in the stands of a football stadium. Half of the actors on the Paramount Lot were tested and all of them failed miserbly. Then somebody on the picture remembered that Fred MacMurray had done that very task in a long forgotten movie for the same studio. Now Fred at the time was already under contract to that studio-- so he couldn't say "no". The result was that "The Gilded Lily" and its popcorn dialogue scene made Fred Macmurray a star. Fred was also offered the role of Elliot Ness for TV's "The Untouchables" and was the first actor offered the role of Perry Mason for television to boot! He turned down bothy series because of his golfing and hunting interests, but most of his dedication to his family: wife June Haver and his two adopted daughters. The only reason that Fred accepted "My Three Sons" (he had officially turned it down the first time) was that producer Don Fedderson invented a technique to television filming forever dubbed "The MacMurray Way" -- that was that the complete seasons scripts had to be finished before the season began and Fred was required to be on the set only three months of the year-- his scenes were all shot ahead of time-- his fellow actors came in later to film their scenes. Fred was a great friend of ventriloquist Paul Winchell and the classic comedian George Gobel.Fred always appeared on George's first and last television program each season. Gobel was absolutely one of the funniest guys on television. Fred was declared the first "Disney Legend" in 1983-- as well he should. Fred had leukemia and a painful urinary infection for years before sucumbing to pneumonia at the age of eighty-three.. Well, last night I went again to Micelli's Italian restaraunt and had spaghetti and raviloi combo. The waiters sing here songs mostly from Broadway shows and I love listening to them and relaxing from a hard day at work. It's great service and a great piano player. It was a crazy day at work yesterday what with the manager suddenly deciding to take an unannouced day off and another being stranded in Long Beach-- and thus late coming in. I have two days off in a row-- hurray!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Well today, kind friends is the one year anniversary of the fifth deadlist hurricane in the history of weather. That hurricane was Katrina. She hit New Orleans at 5:46 am on this day last year with a fury that the poor city simply could never have imagined. The thousands of victims: those killed, injured or left homeless was one of the worst scenarios ever witnessed. Even today, it is not easy for "The Big Easy". There are still those without homes or shelters . Even the mighty Superdome is just now becoming what it once was as developers rush to prepare it for the opening home game of the New Orleans Saints. My paryers are out to those who are still waiting to have their life back. What a sad commentary. So for all of us who complain about our lives turned around and being sad, I am reminded what my dear mother, Virginia used to tell us kids "I complained because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet!" And while this is the anniversary of a great day of destruiction, tragedy and sadness, it is also the anniversary of the end of Communisim in Russia in 1991. Fifteen years ago today. Amazing-- something so evil and so powerful simply fades away . Well another hot day here over one hundred degrees, but not much else happening. Bye for now!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Today would have been the 98th birthday of the 36th president of the United States: Lyndon Baines Johnson. This troubled man had some brilliant ideas that simply were darkened by his support of the only war the United States has ever lost outright. Vietnam was the biggest mistake this dear country has ever made-- bar none! When Johnson was re-elected as President in his own right following the death of John F. Kennedy, he won that election by the greatest landslide in the hstory of American politics. His opponent: Barry Goldwater (remember him?) won only two states out of fifty. Who can forget that incredible pronouncement that Lyndon Johnson made on television March 31, 1968 when he told a stunned national audience "And therefore, I will not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president." I remember watching that speech and being so damned shocked and then thinking out loud that everything was about to change: that now Robert Kennedy had a chance to win the presidency. How prophetic was the year 1968. Johnson quits, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King are assasinated and Richard Nixon is elected president. Johnson carried on John Kennedy's programs with courage and conviction. Without Vietnam, he might have been considered a very great president. And speaking of exploding events, today marks the anniversary of the greatest natural disaster of all time: Krakatoa: east of Java in 1883. On that morning at 5:31AM Mother Nature put on her greatest temper tantrum of all time. Two thirds of that island group was wiped away by this single violent act of nature. What was not destroyed by the volcano itself was literally done in by the resulting tidal waves the disaster triggered. And in the music gone by department today is the 69th birthday of singer Tommy Sands. I remember Tommy so well playing the very romantic co- lead with dear Annette Funicello in Walt Disney's 1960 masterpiece "Babes In Toyland". That picture also starred the late great Ed Wynn as the Toymaker. Tommy Sands and Annette also sang the the title song "The Parent Trap" written by my good friends The Sherman Brothers. Tommy retired to Hawaii, I understand and was evn operating a clothing store. His last TV appearances were on the very old classic Hawaii-Five-0 show! So there we are! Troubled presidents, exploding volcanos and star fading singers -- all on the same day. It kind of has a theme doesn't it? Another day of work on a Sunday, and once again it will be a very hot day! I had to take my John to the ER for a mind blowing ear ache yesterday but all seems well now! Let us hope the rest of the week goes well!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

We lost the living saint who was known simply as "Mother Teresa" in 1997. This would have been her 95th birthday. For eighty-eight years this amazing and miraculous woman single-handedly did more to give comfort and hope and love to the "poorest of the poor" than any other individual of the 20th Century. Now beautified by the Catholic Church she is on the fast track to becoming the most rapidly proclaimed saint in history. I had this vision on the day that she died that all of the angels and saints and Jesus, himself came to greet HER at those "Pearly Gates" when she arrived there. This amazing woman left even the humility of a poor convent in her native Albania to form her own order "The Sisters of Charity" and she and that order of nuns brought hope and love and comfort to those who needed her and them most. Among the many wise things this great nun said was "I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus 'Love One another, as I have loved you!" Ask yourself every day "How has He loved me?" "Do I really love others in the same way?" "Do I forgive others in the same way?" Unless this love and forgiveness is among us at every moment, we can kill ourselves with work and it will ONLY be work-- not love. Work without love is slavery!" She also said "Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than you do in your own weaknesses-- and what we lack will become courage if we listen for his voice in the silence of our hearts!" Amazing words from a small, frail, short and sweet woman who always said that the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace! No matter how many Christian religions exist on this planet and how many different roads To God that they all follow these words of hers sum up our entire belief: as Christians in general "Jesus is my God. Jesus is my Spouse. Jesus is my life. Jesus is my only love. Jesus is my all in all. And oh yes Jesus is my everything! So starting this day, I am saying those words and living those words and forgiving every soul who has hurt me, put me down, chastised me or betrayed me. I forgive them all as God has and always will forgive me. Their small attempts at making me feel inferior or sad or under accomplished are just that-- small potatoes in a field of bounty and beauty and constant blessings. So I don't have fame, fortune and the ability to live as my sisters live-- so what? Someday I will. I know that because God has given me an extrordinary talent without one day of education for it! And God wastes nothing! I can't take expensive vacations any more-- that's okay, I've seen thirteen countries in the world in the first thirty-five years of my life! I am blessed by amazing friends like my arranger Tim Doran who puts up with my bad musical habits and character flaws-- but for all these years, he has stood by my side and helped me and cared about me and works to accomplish my dream (and his) that no one else in the world could even begin to do. He was selected to go to Julliard in his youth. He went another route instead! Trust when I tell you that a Julliard educated composer and arranger would never have worked with the likes of me. Our paths would NEVER have crossed-- now if that doesn't illustrate one of my songs "God Draws Straight With Crooked Lines" I don't know what does! So thank you, God and thank you Tim. And thank you, Mother Teresa for your words of wisdom and the reminder that redaing them today has accomplished for my life!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Today would have been the 88th birthday of perhaps the most amzing composer, arranger and musical conductor of all times, Mr. Leonard Bernstein. Lennie was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts. His Jewish grandmother insisted that he be called "Louis" (and always was in her prescence) but his parents always called him Leonard. Initially, Leonard's father, Sam adamantly opposed Leonard's participation in music even though he took young Leonard to orchestra concerts. He began learning the piano at a young age (sometimes on the sly from his father) When his father found out that the future maestro was taking those lessons he refused to pay for them, so young Bernstein taught young students, himself and used that income to pay for his own lessons. Bernstein attended Harvard University in 1935. After Harvard, Mr. "B" enrolled in the Curtis Institute of music in Philedelphia where he received the only grade of "A" that the great Fritz Reiner had ever awarded in his class on conducting in the history of the school's existence! He studied paino with Isabella Vengerova and Heinrich Gebhard. Leonard enjoyed a promiscous sexual life mostly with young men. He married to quell the gossip about his being gay and with his wife, Felicia he had three children! During most of his married life he was discreet as he could possibly be but became much more open and emboldened leaving his wife with his companion Tom Cothram. Leonard was highly regarded as a conductor, composer, pianist and educator. He wrote three symphonies, two operas, five musicals and three ballets. On December 25th, 1989 Bernstein conducted Beethoven's Symphony Number Nine as part of the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout his life he conducted many of Aaron Copeland's works and the two became great friends. A thing that surprised me was that Leonard Bernstein wrote and conducted the film score for "On The Waterfront" Leonard died just five days after retiring. On the day of his funeral procession through the streets of Manhattan construction workers removed their hard hats and waved and yelled "Goodbye, Lenny". Leonard Bernstein had touched the "common man". Today is also the 75th birthday of the one and only Regis Philbin. What an amazing life this man has had. I started watching him back in the late 60's when he co-hosted with Joey Bishop on his late night television show. And for toppers, today is also the 76th birthday of Sean Connery, Mr "OO7". Well that about it for today!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Well, today, good friends is the 80th anniversary of the first appearnce of George Burns and Gracie Allen in vaudeville at the Palace Theatre in New York City in 1926. This was the big time! This was every comedian's dream It is also the year that they were married. In their act, Gracie played the scatter-brained wife and George her hapless (read "straight man") husband. George claimed all he had to do was to ask Gracie "So how's your brother doing" and the great Gracie Allen could go on and on for twenty minutes while George rolled his eyes, mugged to the audience and smoked his cigar! George was born in New York in 1896. They were together until Gracie retired in 1958. Their first movie together was the classic "Big Broadcast of 1932." This was a great team and a great love affair. After Gracie died in 1966, George visited her gravesite every single day, telling "her" all the news and the gossip of the day as if she were standing there listening to him. So a happy day! Tim and I completed the recording for "Traveling Companion". I've learned a lot from these recordings, but most of all I learned that I must plan in composition a song's range while I'm creating it much more carefully from now on. Singers have limits and the more I learn about those limits the better the songwriter I will be. I must also plan on what kind of singer I need throughout a musical and not exceed the limitations of a tenor and invade the barritone (or any other) singer's range. Of course, had I been given the opportunity to study music and to play the piano none of these problems would ever be here, but that's okay. I must simply plan a song better and listen much more closely to my amazing partner, Tim Doran. Well, thats it for today!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I would guess that in a thousand tries few people would recognize the image at the left of this text. He looks very distinguished, but by presidential standards, Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States was the very first presidential "one term wonder" since the defeat of John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States-- and Admas was not elected directly by the people. It wasn't until the election of Andrew Jackson, that the citizens of the United States had anything directly to do with the election of the president. Harrison was the first president to be elected not by the majority of the popular vote, but by winning in the electoral college count-- the same fate that bested Albert Gore in the election of 2000 that brought us the "George Bush Nightmare". Harrison was made a little famous when Walt Disney made a musical called "The One And Only, Genuine, Original Family Band" with songs written by my very favorite composers in all of the world Richard and Robert Sherman. Oh yes, they wrote "Oh, Benjamin Harrison, you're far beyond comparison. You keep our life a garrison for life and liberty" Harrison was much alligned by the time he left office but actually I did discover that under his administration the Mckinley Tariff Act was enacted. He was a very gifted speaker, I am told and while campaigning journied ten thousand miles in thirty-one days. He could make dozens of speeches in a very short time by containing one subject driven home very very well. He was also the first grandson of a man to become president. William Henry Harrison (who lasted all of thirty days as president due to pnumonia) was his grandfather. "The Family Band" musical has some great songs and really shows the conflict thta existed between the two politicians. Harrison died in 1901-- the very year Walt Disney was born. We held our inventory last night and it seemed to go very smoothly. So today, its back to work on yet another Sunday. We will be recording some more "Traveling Companion" songs on Tuesday and I'm looking forward to that! Looks like the hot weather is returning on Tuesday as well-- 106 degrees is predicted. I hope they're wrong! Well, until next time

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Well, friends, its "curtains" for another Broadway show. "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" closes on September 3rd after 777 performances. The investors only barely got back their investments on this one! While I enjoyed the movie and I thought the story was interesting, I just never loved the score at all. To me, a musical has to have songs that you can "carry home" and enjoy long after. After listening to five or six songs from this piece I am afraid, I just turned it off. Tonight also marks the departure of Mary Stahl, the original Wardrobe mistress from "The Phantom Of The Opera". Mary was with Phantom when it opened in 1988. That leaves only one original cast member left and that is George Lee Andrews who currently plays the part of Andre.There's a big party tonight for her at the Majestic Theatre before the show. She wants to retire to a little farm that she bought with her savings.Today also would have been the birthday of a great baseball star: the amazing Roberto Clemente who lost his life in a plane crash trying to help the victims of Managua from an earthquake that happened during Christmas 1971. The supplies that had been sent before were getting into the wrong hands of profiteers and not getting to the victims themselves. Roberto was an amazing hitter for the Pittsburg Pirates. Also a Happy Birthday to Robert Redford who turns 69 years old today! Bye for now!

Friday, August 18, 2006


Well, I'm sorry that I haven't been blogging for a few days. but it's been really crazy in my life for the last few days including a day at the store where from out of nowhere came a $17,000.00 day. Samuel L. Jackson came into our store and bought $9,000 worth of cameras and lenses and the previous day we had a visit from television past. The star's name was Kate Jackson, the actress who played "Sabrina" on "Charlie's Angels"Kate had her adopted son 11 year old "Taylor" with her. He is simply a charming little boy. But Kate seemed a bit scatterbrained and unfocused and I only hope this is but a temporary setback. She's looked a lot more glamorous than I saw her that night. I really don't think she knew what she wanted and ended up staying an hour and a half after closing. Samuel L. looked well and it was great meetinghim too! August 17th also marked the birthday of the great Mae West -- who would have been 113 years old. My cousin, James Crabe was the director of cinematography on her very last picture- the one and only "Sextette"-- Mae was at one time of the most controversial stars of her day! She encountered many obstacles in her long life including early censorship! Mae was able to look young for a long time by doing such "beauty secret" as massaging for two hours daily cold cream into her breasts to keep them youthful looking! Mae was born in Brooklyn in 1893. Mae began performing in vaudeville at the age of five. She was prosecuted on morals charges for portraying and producing a risque production called "Sex" in 1927. She was incarcerated on Welfare Island, but so overwhelmed the Warden there, that he permitted her to wear her silk panties instead of the standard prison issue. Of course, this same warden took Mae West to dinner every single night of her ten day stay. Mae West felt that talking about sex was a basic human right issue and she was an early advocate of gay rights long before the word "gay" had even been coined! In 1932, Mae west appeared in a classic movie starring George Raft called "Night After Night".She wanted to live close to the studio doing the picture (Paramount) and moved into a house two blocks away! She maintaineed a residence in this same house at 570 North Rossmore Avenue for the rest of her life. It was in this movie that she created one of her most famous lines when the director gave her free reign to make up her own lines in the picture. In Mae's very first scene she walks into a fancy nighclub where a hat check girl excaims "Goodness, what lovely diamonds" To which the great Mae West shot back "Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie!" Atta, girl, Mae! Bye for now!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

WE REMEMBER ETHEL BARRYMORE and we remember........ EDNA FERBER Well today we will recall a great actress and a great writer. Ethel Barrymore was part of the great Barrymore family legacy that branches down to actress Drew Barrymore today. Ethel Barrymore is known for her mindblowing portrayal of Nora in the 1916 Broadway production of Ibsen's "The Doll House" and the part of Julliet in the first Broadway production of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Julliet" in 1906. The above picture was taken when Ethel was sixteen years old in the year 1896. So Ethel was a mere twenty-two at the time! Drew Barrymore bears an incredible likeness to her great grandmother. Some amazing facts that I discovered doing a bit of research today is the fact the Ethel Barrymore was a devout Roman Catholic who was proposed to by the legendary Winston Churchill. She turned him down and married another and when that marriage failed, she never remarried because of rules in place by the Church-- same as toady, by the way! How might the course of history changed if she had said yes, maintained her career and faithful husband Churchill would have followed his wife into this country and NOT become England's Prime Minister during World War Tw0! It might have been a totally different world today if that had taken place. Ethel was in many ways a greater performer than her brother, Lionel. The other person we remember today is Edna Ferber. Now if the novel and the motion picture "So Big" and "Giant" (that big Texas oil drama that starred Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and the late great James Dean) does nothing to jar your memory or if you know absolutely nothing of her collaboration with the amazing playwright George S. Kaufman in great plays like "Dinner At Eight" than perhaps the title "Showboat" will shake your memory! . It was Ms. Ferber's classic novel that Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II adapted their classic Broadway musical "Showboat" to the world in 1925. All musicals before this time were frivilous, non plotted showcases for songs and songwriters. "Showboat" began to change all of that-- and this musical would lead later to the first great Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration in "Oklahoma" in 1943. Edna Ferber was a major writer of this period and this blog salutes both she and Ethel. I am starting to complete yet another musical. This time its "Young MacDonald" a very broad comedy- musical that I hope we can find an Broadweay audience for. It's a show business musical! And it will very much remind you of a comedy by Kaufman and Hart-- who together wrote some of the funniest Broadway comedies of all time! These plays include the classic "George Washington Slept Here" and the amazing "The Man Who Came To Dinner" -- two plays that are just as funny today as they were all those many years ago! Well that's it for now!

Monday, August 14, 2006


It started on December 7th, 1941 and ended on this day, August 14th 1945. World War Two lasted a total of three years and two hundred and fifty days. Russia had declared war on Japan on the very day that the United States had dropped the second atomic bomb on the island nation. The conflict had ended in May in Europe, but the Japanese were much more stubborn. Harry Truman had at least three more atomic bombs ready to drop on Japan had she been stubborn still. Thank God, we did not have to continue the war.Japan might not have recovered if three more bombs had been dropped! Amazingly, I discover that we had been supplying Japan with vital components to fight the war in the months just prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Poor FDR-- he could be brilliant and he could be very mis-informed sometimes! And also on this day, it looks like we finally have a cease fire between Lebanon and Israel. So an anniversary of peace and peace established on the same day! Let us hope these two nations will now learn how to negotiate before beginning useless hostitlities. Defending yourself is one thing, but jumping the gun before facts are known and going to war because two soldiers were kidnapped is not common sense. I think the world has learned a few lessons! I will always argue for peace. War accomplishes nothing-- it never has-- it never will. We went to war with Mexico because they would not let us purchase the Mexican territories today known as California, Arizona and New Mexico for fifty-six million dollars-- four years later with fifty-nine thousand Americans dead including Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, we ended the war and still gave the Mexican government the fifty-six million dollars! Now what kind of sense was that? The classic novel Gulliver's Traverls by Jonathan Swift depicts two nations (Lilliput and Brobdinag) going to war over the argument of which end of an egg to open first: the large end or the small one! Sometimes the reasons of real wars seem that trivial and silly! Today also is the 61st birthday of a very funny comedian, Mr. Steve Martin. Steve turns sixty-one years old today. My all time favorite Steve Martin films were the "Father of The Bride" films produced in the 90's. But when Steve tries to recreate classic characters like Sgt. Bilko and Inspector Clousseau, I simply think this very talented man is out of his league! So Happy Birthday, Steve Martin! Not much else happening here, but another day of work at Ritz. It looks like my old boss at Hooper Camera is slowly going out of business but we will see what we will see! Well bye for now!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Today is the birthday of the late great Bert Lahr, forever known as the "Cowardly Lion". I guess of all of the great character actors that surrounded my childhood and teenage years, Bert Lahr who was born on this day in 1895 stands out as brightly as Jimmy Durante always has. Burt ran away from home at age fifteen determined to be part of show business-- and oh he was. I remember the series of commercials he did for Lay's Potato Chips ("Bet, you can't eat just one!) right after the Frito Company of Plano, Texas and Lay Enterprises of Atlanta merged in 1961. The story of how Bert got that commercial series was really funny. In the 1960's classic performers like Bert and Mickey Rooney couldn't "get arrested" as the old Hollywood expression goes. Bert went to his agent one day and wondered why he was not getting sent out for audfitions-- especially in commercials with TV so popular and because of the many showings of "The Wizard Of Oz" on television. Bert's agent at the time tried to explain to the classic performer that he was just too "old hat" to get anything new or if didn't remind people of the Cowardly Lion. Bert bet his agent $500.00 that he could get any commercial that the agent would send him on. Now maybe that agent was crazy, but the bet was made and Bert went to the audition. Everybody elsae there was a glamour beauty or a handsome male 60's fresh face. There was funny faced Bert in the middle of them. And of course, the casting people couldn't understand why a Hollywood agent would send an old character actor to try out for being the spokesman for a brand new ultimate and slim potato chip that the two companies were trying to push. Until this time potato chips were thick and cumbersome to chew. Laura Scudders was the king of the potato chips. "What are you doing here, old timer" they asked Bert Lahr. We're introducing something really new and modern with a great new taste. What could you do for this campaign. Bert mugged at them "Throw me the bag, sonny, I'll sell 'em for you-- give me ten seconds to come up with something" So the casting folks threw Bert Lahr the bag of untested potato chips-- lighter, thinner, almost airy to the taste. Bert took a bite, then another and another and within ten seconds he mugged to the camera "Nobody, can eat just one!" -- that was it! Until in his death in December 1967, Bert Lahr was never out of work again. He was Lay's potato Chips! Bert played many corny crazy parts not just in Hollywood but on the Broadway stage. He co-starred with Ethel Merman in Cole Porter's classic musical "Dubarry Was A Lady"-- in which he dreams he's Louis the 16th. The classic Porter song "Friendship" came from this show-- later when Dubarry was not a hit-- Porter snuck it into another musical he was developing "Anything Goes" . Believe it or not, Bert even played a comic Queen Victoria once. Now I don't know about you, but I would have paid a great admission ticket to have seen that one! His son John Lahr was a Broadway critic for the New York Times and wrote a beautiful memoir of his father in the novel "Notes On A Cowardly Lion". Dear Bert Lahr, thank you for brightening my childhood. I felt happy every time I saw you do that silly lion-- it was classic and so were you. Bert Lahr's last film appearnce was in the movie "The Night They Raided Minsky's". Unfortunatly, Bert Lahr died in the middle of the filming of that picture. A double had to be used to fill in some of the scenes. But always and everywhere, Bert, I will remember you and how much you made me laugh!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Well, I'm writing this late today, but I wanted to give some praise to a very fine entertainer that I watched on TV as I was growing up in high school and going to college. His name of course was Mike Douglas and he passed away this morning: on his 81st birthday at 5:30am-- very sad. Mike Douglas was realy cool and laid back. He was a true gentleman in every respect. He had some of the most famous people in the world on his program that was first broadcast from Cleveland , then went to Philedelphia and finally moved to Los Angeles in 1978. He was the singing voice of Cinderella's "Prince Charming in Walt Disney's classic animated movie in 1950. Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater (who played his trombone on the program) and John Lennon and Yoko Ono all appeared as guests and co-hosts. I remember so well his last top ten hit in 1966-- the year my father died. It was called "The Men In My Little Girl's Life"-- simply charming. Mike Douglas had three for real daughters--two were twins. I will miss him much! Well another birthday today is that of Alex Haley-- the world famous author of "Roots"-- which of course became that historical, star-studded television mini-series that everybody in this country must have watched. A lot of Hollywood stars appeared in those programs! I watched every episode! Not too much other to report here. Hot weather continues here. And speaking of weather, it has been confirmed that July 2006 is now the official hottest July since weather has been recorded back in 1878. It looks like there might be a cease fire between Israel and Lebanon, thank God! As far as that plot to blow up those airplanes, all I can say is that God certainly came through for us on this one. WE simply would not have come back from this cowardly plot if it had been successfully implemented! Thank you, Dear Lord! I've had a couple of bad sales days at work, but hopefully all will go well tomorrow. And Hurray, I have a Sunday off this week! I can go to church! I plan to praise God on my knees for this favvor! Until next time....

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today is the birthday of the 31st president of the United States: Herbert Clark Hoover. Hoover was a one term president who was blamed unfairly for "The Great Depression" but like Jimmy Carter after him became one of the finest ex-presidents of this country, bar none ever! It is abundantly clear that had the depression been delayed by just three years, the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt would never have been possible. Sometimes during our fame years, we strike out and are blamed for things we should never be blamed for. Jimmy Carter suffered the same things when he was blamed for the failure of the rescue of the Iranian hostages back in 1979. Poor Mr. Hoover was the subject of so many jokes. The great radio announcer, Harry Von Zell (who announced for George Burns and Gracie Allen) actually went on the air one night announcing the ex-president "And now, ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce to you "Mr. Hoover-Heever" Poor Harry-- that mistake followed him for years. Hoover lived until the age of ninety and served on many committees and federal projects. I was dismayed to discover a new piece of art unveiled today at the New York Museum of Sex-- why do a museum of sex anyway. Well, at any rate I've decided to show it off here. Happy 78th birthday to Mr. Eddie Fisher ("Oh My Pa Pa) and ("The Games That Lovers Play") among others. He of course was married to both Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor. He created quite a scandal in his day, but he sure had a wonderful voice. Also Happy birthday to actress Rhona Flemming. Rhonda believe it or not turns eighty-three years young today. Well off to work and a meeting in Beverly Hills. I sure hope IO can find a parking spot.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The distinguished looking gentleman on your left is none other than the great writer, civil librettists and naturalist Henry David Thoreau. Now if the name does not ring a bell two words should. Those two words are "Walden Pond" --for this is where the great writer spent two years, two months and two days living in a hovel in order to study nature, and write about the amazing Walden Pond. Today is the anniversary of the first publishing of that great work. Walden Pond was not out in the middle of nowhere. In fact, it was only a mile and a half from the home where Thoreau had always lived. Once while on a trip for supplies from this very nearby town, Thoreau was accosted by the local tax man who wanted the great writer to pay his past due "poll taxes". Imagine that! Imagine owing tax money in order to vote? Thoreau refused and was thown into jail. From this incvident came the great play "The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail" The point of writing about Walden, by the way was to show that mortal man and mother nature are never that far from one another. Thoreau's very best friend in all the world was the beloved poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. Through him, Thoreau met and was influenced by some of the greatest writers of the day including Nathaniel Hawthorne! Thoreau was an abolitionist and a civil liberationist. He believed in peace "at all costs". Now isn't it funny that today's important association with a great man of peace is the aniversary of a sad day in war: the day in 1945 when the United States for the second time in three days dropped an atomic bomb on Japan: this time on the city of Nakasaki. On this same day, the Soviet Union declared war on the same embattered country. I wonder what Thoreau might have to say about that? War is never the answer and someday mortal man will learn this. It won't be easy. Men's passions seem to win over logic and communication! But as Henry David Thoreau fought and advocated peace and freedom so should we. But never for an agenda. I think Mr. Bush needs to read Thoreau a whole lot more! What do you think?

Monday, August 07, 2006

One year ago this day, we lost a remarkable journalist. Peter Jennings was a kind hearted, ethical, hard working and much beloved television journalist. He was a victim of lung cancer and it saddens me to see great people felled by this terrible disease. It claimed Walt Disney and the one and only John Wayne to name but two. He strove for fairness and objectivity in television news making for over three decades. You could count on Peter Jennings. He told you the truth! And, most importantly, it reported all the news with a strict professionally objectivity. There was no prejudice or rush to judgment with this remarkable man! But I think that even Peter would be amazed at this war between Israel and Lebanon. Now I will once again maintain a nation's right to defend herself, but for goodness sake, can we not to go to war before we try to negotiate? The kidnapping of two Israelli soldiers in my humble opinion is NOT a reason to go to war where thousands of people including young children are the victims. Israel is indeed surrounded by enemies-- so is the United States. September 11th 2001 proved that one! Israel represents God's chosen people and with that distinction and honor comes responsibility. Impatience, dear Israel is not ever good for you! You learned this in the the thirty days that Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God. You learned this from father Abraham --whose siring a child with his maid servant instead of waiting for God's blessings of a child with your natural wife is what brought your enemies into being in the first place! The descendents of this woman made what is the Muslims and the other enemies of your great nation. Patience is a virtue. Going to war at the drop of a hat will win you nothing! A world war was started by the assassination of two world leaders. Another war was started by the issue of Helen of Troy. Can you imagine if the United States had decided to go to war with North Korea over the seizure of the USS Pueblo back in 1968? None of us would be here today. North Korea had a nuclear weapon even back then. And even if it hadn't, don't you suppose that the then very threatening Soviet Union would have retaliated against the United States if we had attacked or rallied against North Korea for seizing that ship? They most certainly would have done so! In 1968-- Russia still wanted to conquer the World. The October missile Crisis was only six years before that-- and we all know how close we came to nuclear war over that. Peter Jennings would have agreed. Revenge doesn't work. It never will!

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Today is the birthday of the grandest comedian who ever lived- bar none. Today Lucille Ball would have been 90 years old!~ The most famous red head in the world was born in 1916 in Jamestown, New York. Funny thing, "I Love Lucy" only came about after her movie career seemed to be fizzling. She met Desi Arnaz at a party one evening and the two were instantly attracted to one another!! It was at Desi's suggestion that Lucy try television. The two of them were married four months after that fateful meeting! CBS didn't want any part of Desi Arnaz at first and wanted to film the series In New York using kinescope. Thank goodness Desi insisted on Hollywood studio shooting and a three camera filming of each episode! With a live audience! How did they win? Well a pilot starring Desi helped and then they both agreed to a thirty-five percent salary cut in exchange for their conditions and complete ownership of the show. Brilliant business thinking! Lucy was simply the one person who could always put a smile on my face. No matter how sad I was, no matter what was wrong, somehow, always, she could make me forget my troubles-- at least for awhile and sometimes for the entire day or the entire matter. When I was studying comedy writing with the late great Danny Simon, the one principle that he always harped on was that great honesty makes great comedy. If you try to be funny, you never will. People being themselves can be downright hystrerical. Of course, the magic chemistry she shared with Desi Arnaz (the world's most perfect straight man) and Vivian Vance as Ethel and William Frawley as Fred was a giant contributor to the legendary status of "I Love Lucy"-- but fear not -- what Lucy did solo (even after "I Love Lucy") could also be downright hysterical. And what a head for business she had. She bought Desi's half of Desilu in 1960 with a three million dollar bank loan-- unheard of for a woman at that time! When she sold Desilu to Paramount Pictures seven short years later, she made aa pure profit oif 14 million dollars-- Not bad! There were so many great "Lucy" moments on that show! I remember so well the episode in which Lucy is pregnant and can't seem to tell Ricky. He's so busy. Always running to the club! No time even for morning coffee! She thinks he doesn't love her anymore. She is really sad. Finally in desperation, she goes down to the Copa and takes a table. Ricky comes onstage and announces that someone has requested the song "We're Having A Baby (My Baby and Me) As he sings and goes around the restaurant, he goes up to many couples asking them if they are the ones who requested the song! He passes Lucy and says "Oh, Hello, Honey" and keeps singing and searching for the happy couple. No one responds to his repeated question "Is it you?" Finally, it dawns on him and Ricky realizes that it's Lucy who requested that song. Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls that moment is the most magical moment of television history. The director of that particular episode --the great William Asher wrote that he was taken completely aback by the sentiment, the honesty and the sincerity that was displayed in this scene. There wasn't a dry eye in the entire live audience!~ Lucy WAS pregnant at that moment-- and despite all the troubles Lucy & Desi had in real life-- they really did love one another-- and you just know it in this scene. No doubts! Asher says he filmed a more upbeat version of the same scene-- thank goodness it was never used. Lucy attributed her success in business by saying that she ran her business like she ran her home. She would tell her children. "We touch in this family because there's never enough time to make it up later!" How true! Boy, does that hit home! My mother used to say "Don't bring me flowers after I'm dead-- I can't smell them then!" And oh do I still miss her still after thirty-one long years! Today also is the birthday of actress Billie Burke-- dear Glinda in "The Wizard Of Oz"-- a very special lady too. She had a classic quote that I love "Age doesn't matter unless you're a hunk of cheese!" As I talked about great moments in peace yesterday, I must mention that today is an anniversary for the reason for that desire for that great peace. The atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on this day in 1946. Sixty thousand people in one instant lost their lives. Another interesting note was on this day in 1947, Variety announced that the great John Garfield was to take the lead for a new Tennessee Williams play called "Streetcar Named Desire" But Garfield was a man of his word and with other contractual obligations at hand (though with a smart lawyer he could have gotten out of it) Garfield had to bow out-- leaving room for a yet unknown actor-- that actor was Marlon Brando. Isn't it funny how fate plays such an important role in our lives and destinies? We get sick and think it's disaster-- and then we meet someone because of that illness and that person provides us an opportunity that makes many things possible. So happy birthday, Lucille Ball. When I am old and gray, I will still be laughing and loving you!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Today is the anniversarey of a great day for peace. On this day in 1963, the United States, Russia and Brittan signed a nuclear test ban treaty that pledged that none of these three nations would ever again test nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater or in outer space! It was the very first treaty involving the Atomic Age and thankfully it has always been respected and renewed over the last forty-three years. I was a sophmore in high school when this occured and yet I can still remember this event. A Gershwin tune was played in the grand reception hall following the signing. It followed the fragile and almost tragic events of the October 1962 Missle crisis when the United States and Russia were a heartbeat away from nuclear war over missles placed in Cuba by the Soviet Union. Now the Soviet Union is no more and Castro is very close to dying himself. We were to lose John Kennedy by an assassain's bullett less than three months after this historic day! Today we also lost Marilyn Monroe-- what a interesting contrast-- great peace achieved and a great life lost of a woman who had lost her personal peace. We must all be at peace with ourselves. As the great song goes "Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me!" She was indeed a candle in the wind and Hollywood and the world may never again see the likes of some one so beautiful and so intelligent. Marilyn Monroe was no dumb blonde by any stretch of the imagination. I remember how much I loved her performance in that comedy classic "Some Like It Hot". This picture was so wonderfully funny and honest. I also remember the picture's last line-- poor Jack Lemmon can't get Osgood (played by the master Joe. E. Brown) to not like him. Finally Lemmon has to say to him-- I'm not what you think I am...(then removing his wig he says) "I'm a man" and Joe E. Brown says the best line in the whole movie "Well, nobody's perfect! " -- how true. Not candles in the wind. Not great leaders of our time. Not kings or queens or movie stars-- we are all human. We make mistakes. We say things we later regret. We look like we're incredibly prejudice in one angry outburst. So we must take life one day at a time. We must appreciate the gifts that we all have been given. We need to listen to our hearts more and rely on God in every way we can. That means we simply have to surrender sometimes and let God take the wheel! If "nobody's perfect" that includes, life, fate and destiny. I must also take a niod toiday to the passing in 1987 of the great director John Huston who left this sphere of blue on this date in 1987. Mr. Huston was an amazing director. His motion picture "Stagecoach" is a amazing tale of how individual each person of the globe can be. I'm sure he would echo today's theme-- "nobody's perfect"

Friday, August 04, 2006

Two great events happened on this date. The first is the birthday of the one and only --the legendary .... Louis Armstrong. Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong" was in one word: incredible. He could create the most amazing trumpet sounds and he could sing in that raspy gravely voice of his so uniquely. I remember so well seing him perform at Disneyland in the 1960's during the "Dixieland at Disneyland" private parties that the Disney folks used to hold there before Walt's passing! His first important song that he introduced was "Chinatown My Chinatown!" back in 1929. Today would have been 106 years old. One myth that has been dispelled: the great Satchmo was for years thought to have been born on the Fourth of July, He was not! He was born August 4th, 1900. At the time of his death which occurred three days after his 71st birthday tributes had arrived from some legends as Duke Ellington, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Al Hirt, Earl Hines, Tyree Glen and Eddie Condon. Mr. Ellington had said "If anybody was Mr. Jazz, it was Louis Armstrong!" President Richard Nixon sent the following telegram: Mrs. Nixon and I share the sorrow of millions of Americans at the death of Louis Armstrong. He was one of the architects of an American art form, and he was both a free and individual spirit and an artist of worldwide fame . His great talents and magnificent spirit added richness and pleasure to our lives!" In his own words about himself in 1969, Louis Armstrong said "I never tried to prove noithing, just always to give a good show. My life has been my music; it always come first! The music ain't worth nothing though if you can't lay it on the people. The main thing is to live for that audience"-- cause what you're there for is to please the people". One of his finest hits was the title tune from "Hello Dolly" that he actually got to sing in the movie with Barbara Streisand. What almost became his theme song in his later life "What a Wonderful World" didn't become truly popular until it was part of the soundtrack for "Sleepless in Seattle" Today also is the birthday of Anne Frank. On this day in 1942, fourteen year old Anne received that world famous diary, we have all read. There is a magnificent Anne Frank website that really reviews the entire contents of that diary and gives a brand new appreciation for this brave little girl who really was an incredible little writer I strongly suggest that everybody looks at this site as soon as possible! Another cool day today, hurray! Recieved a nice thank you card on behalf of my new little great niece, Christina Grace Dillon-- what a darling!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Today is the 80th birthday of the amzing Tony Bennett. Tony was born as Antonio Dominick Benedetto in 1926, in Asrtoria, New York. His father was a grocer and his mother was a seamstress. By the age of ten, he was singing professionally listening to artists like Al Jolson, Jack Teagarden, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. His uncle was a tap dancer in vaudeville giving him an early window into show business. Tony's big break came in 1949 when the amazing Pearl Bailey spotted him and asked him to open for her in Greenwich Village. As fate would have it, Miss Bailey had invited Bob Hope to see the opening night show. Hope went nuts over the young singer and decided to invite Pearl and he on the road with him. But hope made a big suggestion. The young singer's name needed to be simple and easy to say and remember. And so Antonio Benedetto became Tony Bennett. In 1950, Tony made a demo record and was signed to a Columbia Records recording contract by none other than Mitch Miller (yes, "Sing Along With Mitch!) Miller warned Tony not to try and imitate Frank Sinatra. Tony's first big hit was "Because of You" selling over a million copies. His second hit was the country yarn "Cold Cold Heart"while hit number three was of course the legendary "Rags to Riches" written by Richard Adler (who's birthday is also today) and the late Jerry Ross. Adler & Ross went on to write the smash broadway musicals "Pajama Game" and "Damn Yankees" Tony's signature song "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" was recorded in 1962 . In 2001, this song ranked 23rd on a list of 1000 songs of the most historically significant of the 20th Century. The difficult years began in 1965 and hit rock bottom in 1979. Tony had been asked to do "modern music" of the time and it simply wasn't well received. Even a stint of having his own record label and a stint of living in England didn't help. By 1979, Tony had no recording contract, no manager and was not performing any concerts outside of Las Vegas! His second marriage failed and Tony had developed a drug addiction and was living beyond his means! After a near death cocaine overdose and a stoic battle with the Internal Revenue Service that tried to seize his home in Los Angeles-- he called his sons Danny and Dae for help. Danny was not much of a musician, but did have a great head for business. His father was a great musician but couldn't manage money or promote himself. Danny moved his dad back to New York, began booking his father into colleges and got him away from his pure "Las Vegas" image. The trick worked. Kids started responding especially after rock stars like Linda Ronstadt began recording albums of standards. Columbia Records re-signed him in 1986 and kids who have never heard the songs of Gershwin, Cole Porter and the like were suddenly saying "Gee, who the heck wrote that?' To them it was different and if you're different you stand out! Well, dear Tony, happy 80th birthday. I will always cherish your singing and the songs that you have brought to life! Historical note for today: Christopher Columbus (another great Italian) started his journey to discover America today from Spain in 1492. Cool day here. I love the temperature difference-- well until tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well, today is a day for American History buffs. On this date in 1923 occurred the sudden death of Warren G. Harding by stroke and the assumption of the presidency by Calvin Coolidge. Of course it is said that poor Harding was so manipulated and controlled by special interest groups that he was perhaps the worst president of the 20th century. The infamous "Tea Pot Dome Scandals" were the equivalent of Watergate back then. Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words. There is a wonderful story about Will Rogers who met Coolidge one day at the White House. The great witsman and philosopher-actor was awe-struck at meeting Coolidge and said "You know, Mr. President, I have a bet with a Hollywood friend that says that even if I got to meet you, I wouldn't get more than two words out of you" To wit the expressionless Coolidge replied very cooly "You lose!" The other momentous occasion of this day was the historic exploits of John F. Kennedy and his saving of the crew of PT 109. I remember well the movie starring Cliff Robertson, an actor that Kennedy, himself had selected to play the role. It was perhaps this one act of bravery that put Kennedy in the spotlight that eventually got him elected to the U.S. Senate and the assumption of the presidency in January of 1961. Today also is the day in 1990 the Iraq invaded Kuwait-- and this entire mess and our involvement with Saddam Hussein began. Will the world ever learn? And here's another coincidence, on this same day in the year 2000 the Republicans nominated dear old George W. Bush-- dear God-- isn't it amazing all the loops that American History creates. You have a president in 1923 who is considered to be a crook, a dictator who invades a country without cause and another guy nominated for president who has really done many of the same things that Harding was accused of-all n the same day within a span of eighty-three years. Well another day of work and a cooler day. I keep writing and trying to promote "Traveling Companion" We've had some criticisms but I am confident we can address the problems and get this musical sold and produced. It has some great songs and a great story! So onward and full steam ahead to make the sample better!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The picture in black and white is a photo of Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham's oldest son. He lived until 1926. Eighty years ago. Abraham's youngest son, Willie died while Lincoln was president
Happy 73rd birthday to a very funny man-- Dom DeLuise. Comedian, author, cook and all around comedian. I have always enjoyed watching this incredibly entertaining man. Here he is pictured with the Broadway and Hollywood legend Rita Moreno. I think one of the funniest movies I have ever seen Dom in was in "The Twelve Chairs" -- the Mel Brooks classic comedy romp. He is a great animal lover to boot as you can see in the other picture on this site. So Happy birthday to a great fellow Italian! One of the most interesting articles about this day in history that i was reading about this morning really demonstrates that people in the world can really be "sheep" For on this day in 1936-- seventy years ago -- 100,000 German people saluted and "heiled" Adolph Hitler as he arrived in triumph at the opening of the Olympics in Berlin. A little girl gave the old beastie a huge bouquet of flowers. Oh well! The devil gets his grand opportunities in so many ways. Perhaps we will someday learn from history what lessons it has tried to teach us. I was also reading today about Robert Todd Lincoln-- the only surviving son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Today would have been his birthday. He lived to be eighty-two years old and he served inder both President Garfield and Chester Arthur's administrations as Secretary Of War and later as emissary to Great Britain. There is now a musical being developed centered around the true story of the time in 1873, when Robert Todd Lincoln testified against his mother which resulted in her being declared insane and committed for many months in an asylum. Mary Todd was indeed a little strange, but she loved Abraham Lincoln in more ways than can be written about! She was holding Lincoln's hand when he was shot by JohnWilkes Booth on that fateful April evening in 1865. Can you imagine losing first your youngest son (Willie) in 1862 and then your incredible nation-adored husband just three years later and then having your oldest son commit you to an insane asylum. Just for the record, had it not been for the hatred of two women: Mary Todd Lincoln and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant -- Lincoln might not have been assainated at all! Lincoln had invited Ulysses and his wife, Uma to Ford's Theatre that fateful night. Grant had a bodyguard that would have made the "Incredible Hulk" look like Mary Poppins- without the magic! He was nicknamed "the great mountain man". This bulky, muscle-laden almost seven foot bodyguard went absolutely everywhere that Grant went. Mrs. Grant was so adamant about not attending in public withg Mary Lincoln in any way that she flat out decalred to Grant "If you make me sit in the same box with that woman- I will divorce you in public!" Imagine-- not throw a party for, not embrace, not dine with-- just share a box at a theatre. Lincoln had announced that Grant would be there that night! Now because dear old Grant wanted to be President of the United States more than anything else in the world and obviously was not about to battle his wife, he made a last minute excuse to Lincoln and left town-- with that same bodyguard. in tow! Even back in the 1860's, a divorce in public would have sunk Grant's presidential ambition like a rock! Everyone knows that Lincoln's guard fell asleep that night-- a treasonable offense today! Grant's bodyguard would have been there-- at the entrance to the Presidential box! But General George Maclelan and his wife was invited instead. But the public announcement about Grant's appearance at Ford's Theatre was never rescinded. No who knows but maybe--just maybe -- Booth was enticed by the possibility of killing both Lincoln and Grant! At any rate, had Grant's bodyguard been there that night, there is absolutely no way that Wilkes Booth would have gotten past this "mountain man" . Isn't it amazing what history presents in missed opportunties and teaches in tragic aftermaths! It will be interesting to see if this musical about this unfortunate incident will fly. There is grand potential for its development. Well until next time!