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!