Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Today is the 200th birthday of one of the finest American poets of all time. His name is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What an incredible poet. Of course my favorite is "Paul Revere's Ride" and the famous line "One if by land and two if by sea" Longfellow was such an admired figure in the United States during his life, that his 7oth birthday in 1877 took on the air of a national holiday, with parades, speeches, and the reading of his poetry. He had become one of the first American celebrities, and was widely versatile poetry.His work was immensely popular during his time and is still today, although some modern critics consider him too sentimental. His poetry is based on familiar and easily understood themes with simple, clear, and flowing language. His poetry created an audience in America and contributed to creating American mythology
Longfellow's poem "Christmas Bells" is the basis for the Christmas carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day".Longfellow's home in Cambridge, the Longfellow National Historic Site, is a U.S. National Historic Site, National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Place . A two-thirds scale replica was built in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Minniehaha Park in 1906 and once served as a centerpiece for a local zoo. Today is also an historic day as the elder George Bush declared in 1991 that the war had been won in Kuwait and that Saddam and the Iraq army had been totally defeated. Well, too bad we didn't finish the job back then. Today is also Elizabeth Taylor's 75th birthday. A true Hollywood legend is she. Had a very close call at work last night as a gun was pulled on us at work. The thief stole a fifteen hundred dollar camera and a two hundred dollar spotting scope. He got away and the manager (who had not seen the gun pulled) followed him out to get the camera. The thief fired a shot and missed her-- but not by much and then escaped. The police were at the store the rest of the evening and we closed early. Never a dull moment. Earlier in the day, a customer had been waiting for a DVD transfer and was going to wait in his car eating his lunch, waiting for the job to be finished-- we talked him out of it-- saying that he be much better off enjoying his lunch relaxing in a nearby restaurant. Good thing he didn't-- a city utility truck came along and plowed into it. Had the customer remained in his car, he most certainly would have been killed right in front of our store! Crazy! Crazy day! I'm certain God was watching over all of us!
Sunday, February 25, 2007
This would have been the 94th birthday of the late great Jim Backus aka "Mister Magoo" and of course Mr. Thurston P. Howell of Gilligan's Island fame. But Jim was also a most fantastic straight actor as well. You only have to watch him portray James Dean's father in "Rebel Without A Cause" to discover that. But Mr. Magoo is what I will always remember him for and most especially two animated feature films featuring the near sighted myoptic wonder. One was a U.P.A cartoon called "A Thousand And One Arabian Nights" in which Magoo portrays Alladin's father and Hand Conreid portrays the voice of the villain "The Grand Vizier". Dwayne Hickman (yes, "Dobie Gillis) portrayed the voice of Alladin. The second feature was "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol" that I always will consider to be a Christmas animated masterpiece. Oh it certainly varies from the original story by Charles Dickens, but it has heart and warmth and some wonderful songs by Bob Merill and Jule Styne composers of "Funny Girl" The cartoon's framing device consists almost entirely of Jim Backus as Quincy Magoo singing "It's Great To Be Back On Broadway", thus explaining in song that the character Magoo is portraying a character in a Broadway theatre production. The next song is "Ringle, Ringle", Scrooge's theme song about "coins when they mingle", is half-sung by Jim Backus as Magoo, and serves to delineate the character's change of heart. Initially he appreciates the coins aesthetically and for the wealth they represent, while Jack Cassidy as Bob Cratchit sings in counterpoint that "it's cold, it's frightfully cold", and musically begs Scrooge to spare the expense of "just one piece of coal" to warm him. Later, in a musical reprise, Scrooge sings that the coins are "meant for passing around" as he spends the coins to help the Cratchit family.Joan Gardner as Tiny Tim ("played" by the animated character Gerald McBoing-Boing) sings of "razzleberry dressing" and "woofle jelly cake." in "The Lord's Bright Blessing". The Cratchit children's requests for better food, a tree and presents are countered by Jack Cassidy as Bob Cratchit singing of what the family has, in his view: "the Lord's Bright Blessing, and knowing we're together" - a togetherness that Scrooge lacks. In the Christmas Past sequence, Backus/Magoo as Scrooge sings in poignant duet with Scrooge's younger self (sung by Marie Matthews) left behind in boarding school after all the other children went home for Christmas. "In perhaps the most touching moment... Magoo is transported back to his childhood, where he stands side-by-side with his youthful self. He watches his 'child' sing When You're Alone, Alone in the World, tracing his hand on the blackboard, hoping to find a hand of his own to hold... the quavering elderly voice blending with the clear, sweet youthful one, the invisible Magoo putting a transparent arm around his 'child'
"A hand for each hand was planned for the world
Why don't my fingers reach? "Hundreds of grains of sand in the world, why such a lonely beach? Where are two shoes to click to my clack? Where is that voice to answer mine back? I'm all alone in the world"-- that lyric used to grab me every time I heard it! Jim was born the same year as my mother and passed away on July 3, 1989 from complications of Altzheimer's disease! God bless you, Jim wherever you are! Happy Birthday!
Saturday, February 24, 2007
Today is the birthday of the calendar as we know it today. The man who invented our modern day Gregorian calendar was none other than Pope Gregory VIII. This was a struggle of immense proportions: the final acceptance of which did not occur until 1923. And you thought things were difficult to gain acceptance today! The transformation of the calendar, producing our modern day Gregorian calendar came about with the aid of Jesuit priest/astronomer Christopher Clavius The reason for the reform is that the average length of the year in the Julian Calendar was too long, and the date of the actual Vernal Equinox had slowly slipped to March 10, whereas the calculation of the date of Easter still followed the traditional date of March 21.This was rectified by following the observations of Calvius and Johannes Kepler, and the calendar was changed when Pope Gregory XIII decreed that the day after October 4, 1582 would be October 15, 1582. He issued the papal bull "Inter Gravissimas" to promulgate the new calendar on February 24, 1582. On October 15, 1582, this calendar replaced the Julian calendar, in use since 45 BC, and has become universally used today.
The switchover was bitterly opposed by much of the populace, who feared it was an attempt by landlords to cheat them out of a week and a half's rent. However, the Catholic countries of Spain, Portugal, Poland, and Italy complied. France, the Protestant Netherlands and various Catholic states in Germany and Switzerland (both countries were religiously split) followed suit within a year or two, and Hungary followed in 1587.Because of the Pope's decree, the reform of the Julian calendar came to be known as the Gregorian calendar. However, the rest of Europe did not follow suit for more than a century. The Protestant German countries adopted the Gregorian reform in 1700. By this time, the calendar trailed the seasons by 11 days. Great Britain (and its American colonies) finally followed suit in 1752, and Wednesday, September 2, 1752 was immediately followed by Thursday, September 14th 1752. And you thought times flies today! Well anyway, this traumatic change resulted in widespread riots with the populace demanding that the eleven days be given back! The Gregorian Calendar was not accepted in eastern Christendom for several hundred years, and then only as the civil calendar. The Gregorian Calendar was instituted in Russia by the communists in 1917, and the last Eastern Orthodox country to accept the calendar was Greece in 1923.While some Eastern Orthodox national churches have accepted the Gregorian Calendar dates for "fixed" feasts (feasts that occur on the same date every year), the dates of all movable feasts (such as Easter) are still calculated in the Eastern Orthodox Churches by reference to the Julian Calendar. So as you can see people were just as stubborn throughout the ages about change as anyone today. Well, today I make the great trade. My cousin Brian asked me last week about the portrait of my dad painted by the renowned painter Theodore Lukas who had been my father's art teacher. I told it had been damaged and needed serious restoration. He offered to trade me the damaged painting and to restore it, give me a computer enhanced copy so that I could have a new portrait made from our company's Rembrandt lab. The painting would require over a thousand dollars in repair and since I have never had the extra money to have it done, I thought I would do this to honor my father in a great way. That painting adorned the walls of my boyhood home all of my young life and to let it waste away unrepaired and unnoticed still after all these years was simply not right. I loved my dad. He was a most special man. His great heart was the most amazing ever. He was the kindest most loving father I could have ever had. This year he would have been one hundred years old-- my goodness, does that make me feel old!
Friday, February 23, 2007
He died on this day February 23, 1965 several days after suffering a heart attack. A comedian until the very last, Stan Laurel, just minutes away from death, told to his nurse he would not mind going skiing right at that very moment. Somewhat taken aback, the nurse replied that she was not aware that he was a skier. "I'm not," said Stan, "I'd rather be doing that than have all these needles stuck into me!". A few minutes later the nurse looked in on him again and found that Stan Laurel had quietly slipped away.Dick Van Dyke a friend and protege of Laurel's during his later years, gave the eulogy at his funeral; the great silent screen comedian Buster Keaton was overheard at Laurel's funeral giving his assessment of the comedian's considerable talents: "Chaplin wasn't the funniest, I wasn't the funniest, this man was the funniest".Stan Laurel even wrote his own epitaph; "If anyone at my funeral has a long face, I'll never speak to him again." He was buried at Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery in Los Angeles.
In 1989 a statue of Laurel was erected in Dockwray Square, North Shields , where he lived at No. 8 from 1897 to 1902 , and where the steps down from the Square to the North Shields Fish Quay were said to have inspired the piano-moving scene in The Music Box!
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Monday, February 19, 2007
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
TODAY IS ASCAP'S BIRTHDAY AND AS A SONGWRITER. I AM VERY PROUD TO BE ONE OF ITS MEMBERS. THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR ME. AMAZING ORGANIZATION! THIS ORGANIZATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE FOR ME. IT WAS FOUNDED BY THE GREATEST SONGWRITER OF ALL TIME- IRVING BERLIN.
ASCAP was established in New York City on February 13th 1914 to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members, then mostly writers and publishers associated with New York’s Tin Pan Alley ASCAP’s earliest members included the era’s most active songwriters – Irving Berlin, James Weldon Johnson, Jerome Kern and John Philip Sousa. Not long after, prominent songwriters such as W.C. Handy Richard Rodgers Oscar Hammerstein II and George and Ira Gershwin became members. As of early 2007, ASCAP claims 275,000 songwriter, composer and music publishers as members.In 1919, ASCAP and the Performing Right Society of Great Britain signed the first reciprocal agreement for the representation of each other’s members’ works in their respective territories. Today, ASCAP has reciprocal agreements all over the world and licenses the U.S. performances of hundreds of thousands of international music creators.The advent of radio in the 1920s brought an important new source of income for ASCAP. Radio stations originally only broadcast performers live, the performers working for free. Later, performers wanted to be paid and recorded performances became more prevalent. Many composers didn't want their music performed or played for free, but some radio broadcasters grew reluctant to honor ASCAP license fees, and in 1940, during negotations with ASCAP over rates, radio broadcasters formed Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) in an effort to drive down licensing fees. Eventually, public demand forced the radio broadcasters to agree to new rates. Today, over 11,500 local commercial radio stations and 2000 non-commercial radio broadcasters are ASCAP licensees.ASCAP was the first U.S. performing rights organization to distribute royalties for performances on the Internet, and continues to pursue and secure licenses for websites, digital music providers and other new media.ASCAP honors its top members in a series of annual awards shows in seven different music categories: Pop, Rhythm and Soul, Film and Television, Latin, Country , Christian and Concert Music In addition, ASCAP inducts jazz greats to its Jazz Wall of Fame in an annual ceremony held at the society’s New York offices.Through its ASCAPlus Awards Program, ASCAP compensates those writers whose works are substantially performed in venues and media outside of its surveys. An independent panel reviews the applications and makes cash awards to deserving members as well as writers whose works have a unique prestige value. ASCAP is the only performing rights organization with a cash awards program of this kind.In April of 2006, ASCAP inaugurated its annual ASCAP “I Create Music” EXPO, the first national conference fully dedicated to songwriting and composing. The first EXPO featured workshops, panels, mentor sessions and performances with hundreds of notable figures from all music genres and sectors of the music industry, including an interview and Q&A session with Tom Petty. The second EXPO is scheduled for April 19 through 21, 2007.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Saturday, February 10, 2007
He began appearing in motion pictures at about the same time, beginning with a comedy series pairing him with silent film legend Buster Keaton and continuing with such offerings as The Wet Parade (1932), The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942, playing a character based on Harpo Marx), Ziegfeld Follies (1946), Billy Rose's Jumbo (based on the 1935 musical) and It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963). Jimmy's famous catch phrases were "Stop the music! Stop the music" and "Everybody wants to get into the act!" He paired in early radio with later TV personality Gary Moore. Who can forget Jimmy's opening scene in "Mad Mad World" in which he "kicks the bucket"-- Mad Mad World was his final motion picture! He even had Mickery Mouse appear in one picture called "Hollywood Party"
Friday, February 09, 2007
I THOUGHT OF WHAT I COULD DO TO COMMEMORATE THE PASSING OF THIS POOR GIRL. I DECIDED TO WRITE A SONG ABOUT HER. THIS IS THE VERY FIRST TIME I HAVE PUT ONE OF MY LYRICS IN THIS BLOG-- MAYBE THAT WILL HONOR HER IN SOME STRANGE AND FITTING WAY*;
THE BALLAD OF ANNA NICOLE
Music and lyrics by MIKE RICCIARDI
Just a dreaming girl from a Texas Town
Who sought the moon and the world she found
She had so many dreams why they were all a blur
What happened to her? Unfortunate soul.—Poor Anna Nicole
Her mama dear called her “wild and free”
Lived on the edge; how she strove to be
But Being everything at once you can’t endure What happened to her? She lost control Poor Anna Nicole
She wanted her name to be famous of course
Putting every carriage in front of that horse
Be careful what you wish for wise souls infer
What happened to her? Sold heart and soul. Poor Anna Nicole
Going ninety miles an hour being everything to all of her fans
But life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans
A beautiful train wreck who crashed on every track
And surviving she lacked and the odds were stacked
Sold heart and soul______ Poor Anna Nicole
And now she’s there where she will find
That now there is no borrowed time
She can rest forever, there is more to prove
Love from afar. Lives like a star. With Danny too
God loves you dear. No more to fear.
You’re finally home, you’re finally home________
Dear Anna Nicole________________________
Dear Anna Nicole__________ Dear Anna Nicole
©Copyright 2007 All rights reserved
Their Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th was spoiled the next morning when practically every newspaper had comments that The Beatles were nothing more than a "fad", and "could not carry a tune across the Atlantic. Oh well-- who said critics knew what the hell they were talking about anyway?After The Beatles' huge success in 1964, Vee-Jay Records and Swan Records took advantage of their previously secured rights to The Beatles' early recordings and reissued the songs, all of which reached the top ten the second time around. (MGM and Atco also secured rights to The Beatles' early Tony Sheridan-era recordings and had minor hits with "My Bonnie" and "Ain't She Sweet".)
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Today is JOHN WILLIAMS 75th birthday. What an incredible composer and what an incredible life! Can anyone name a more famous composer. With the exception of perhaps Leonard Bernstein, I would say that answer is "No". The only person who has earned more Academy Awards nominations than he was WALT DISNEY. He actually shared a nomination once with my old friends the Sherman Brothers on their movie musical TOM SAWYER back in 1973. John Williams was born in Floral Park, New York In 1948, he moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he attended North Hollywood High School. He later attended the University of California, Los Angeles and Los Angeles City College and studied privately with composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. In 1952, Williams was drafted into the United States Air Force where he conducted and arranged music for the Air Force Band as part of his duties. After his service ended in 1954, Williams returned to New York City and entered Juilliard School, where he studied piano with Rosina Lhévinne. During this time he also worked as a jazz pianist at New York's many studios and clubs. He had played with composer Henry Mancini, and performed on the recording of the Peter Gunn theme. He was known as "Johnny" Williams in the early 1960s, and served as arranger and bandleader on a series of popular albums with the late great singer Frankie Laine. After his studies at Juilliard, Williams returned to Los Angeles and began working as an orchestrator in film studios. Among others, he had worked with composers Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Newman. He was also a studio pianist, performing in scores by composers such as the late Jerry Goldsmith and the late Elmer Bernstein. Williams began to compose scores for television series in the late 1950s, eventually leading to Lost in Space and The Time Tunnel-- two ofmy all time favorite television shows. Of course Bernard Herrmann was very famous for the music he created for the classic TWILIGHT ZONE show.Williams's first major film composition was for the B-movie Daddy-O in 1958, and his first screen credit came two years later in Because They're Young. He soon gained notice in Hollywood for his versatility in composing jazz, piano and symphonic music. He received his first Academy Award nomination for his score to the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls and was nominated again in 1969 for Goodbye, Mr. Chips. He won his first Academy Award for his adapted score to the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof. By the early 1970s, Williams had established himself as a composer for large-scale disaster films, with scores for The Poseidon Adventure Earthquake and The Towering InfernoIn 1974, Williams was approached by Steven Spielberg to write the music for his feature directoral debut, The Sugarland Express. The young director was impressed by Williams's score to the 1969 film The Reivers, and was convinced the composer could provide the sound he desired for his films. They re-teamed a year later for the director's second film, Jaws. Widely considered a classic suspense piece, the score's ominous two-note motif has become nearly synonymous with sharks and approaching danger. The score earned Williams a second Acadamy Award, his first for an original composition.Shortly afterwards, Williams and Spielberg began preparing for their next feature film, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Unusual for a Hollywood production, Spielberg's script and Williams's musical concepts were developed at the same time and were closely linked. During the two-year creative collaboration, they settled on a distinctive five-note motif that functioned both as background music and the communication signal of the film's alien mothership. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released in 1977.
In the same period, Spielberg recommended Williams to his friend and fellow director George Lucas, who needed a composer to score his ambitious space epic, Star Wars. Williams produced a grand symphonic score in the fashion of Richard Strauss and Golden Age Hollywood composers Erich Wolfgan Korngold and Max Steiner. Its main theme is among the most widely-recognized in motion picture history, and the Force Theme and Princess Leia's Themeare also well-known examples of leitmotif. The film and its soundtrack were both immensely successful, and Williams won another Academy Award for Best Original Score. In 1980, Williams returned to score The Empire Strikes Back, where he famously introduces The Imperial March as the theme for Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire. The original Star Wars trilogy concluded with the 1983 film Return of the Jedi, for which Williams's score provides the Emperor's ThemeWilliams worked with director Richard Donner to score the 1978 film Superman. The score's heroic and romantic themes, particularly the main march, the Superman fanfare and the love theme (known as "Can You Read My Mind"), would appear in the four subsequent sequel films.For the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark Williams wrote a rousing main theme known as The Raiders' March to accompany the film's hero, Indiana Jones. He also composed separate themes to represent the Ark of the Covenant, the character Marion and the Nazi villains of the story. Additional themes were featured in his scores to the sequel films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.Williams composed an emotional and sensitive score to Spielberg's 1982 fantasy film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The music conveys the film's benign, child-like sense of innocence, particularly with a spirited theme for the freedom of flight, and a soft string-based theme for the friendship between characters E.T. and Elliot. The film's final chase and farewell sequence marks a rare instance in film history, in which the on-screen action is edited to conform to the composer's musical interpretation. Williams was awarded a fourth Academy Award for this score. Today is also the birthday of the great author JULES VERNE. How many times have I read TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, IN SEARCH OF THE CASTAWAYS and of course MASTER OF THE WORLD. And believe it or not Gary Coleman is 39 years old today. My sister goes in for a test on Friday that has me concerned, but I am praying that all will be well with her. Perhaps it is only IBS (Irritated Bowel Syndrome) Well, that's it for today!
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
In a 1993 autobiography, “That Lucky Old Son” (written with Joseph F. Laredo), he talked of traveling from city to city, broke, auditioning for jazz clubs and working where he could. He was eventually hired as a $5-a-week sometime singer at the radio station WINS in New York City and dropped the name LoVecchio, replacing it with Laine.The country was awash with great crooners like Russ Columbo and Bing Crosby when Mr. Laine was making his start. He listened closely to Crosby and liked his style but, he said, he had no intention of singing that way himself. Nor did he try to emulate the phrasing of Frank Sinatra another contemporary, as so many other balladeers did.Instead he developed an intense delivery and a quick vibrato, a style that the songwriter Hoagy Carmichael heard one night in Hollywood when he dropped into Billy Berg’s Vine Street club. Hire him, Mr. Carmichael urged Mr. Berg.“What for?” Mr. Berg was quoted as saying in a 1954 Saturday Evening Post article. “He comes in here every night and sings for nothing.”Mr. Carmichael persisted, and Mr. Berg agreed to pay Mr. Laine $75 a week.His salary level jumped exponentially in 1946, after he recorded “That’s My Desire,” which made the charts, as did many of his early recordings. By the late 1940s, Frankie Laine fan clubs had sprung up in cities across the United States and all over the world: in Britain, Australia, Egypt, Malta and Iceland, among other places. With his burly physique and beaklike nose, Mr. Laine hardly had movie-star looks. But in the 1950s, riding his popularity, he was invited to make a handful of films, among them the musicals “When You’re Smiling,” “Rainbow Round My Shoulder,” “Sunny Side of the Street” and “Bring Your Smile Along.” His first marriage, of 40 years, was to Nan Grey, an actress; she died in 1993. He is survived by his wife, the former Marcia Ann Kline, whom he married 1999. Mr. Laine remained an active performer well into old age, though he twice underwent coronary bypass surgery. He said he was afraid to stop working. He wasn’t used to being rich, he said, and feared that if he didn’t work, he might come down “like a cement balloon." I started a new musical at the urging of a friend by the way. I wrote with McLean Witter over twenty three years ago. This one is called "The Runaway Heart" and is based on the story of the girl who ran off from her latest wedding (she had done this four or five times before) and staged her own kidnapping. I'm just doing the lyrics and the book this time-- I'll let McClean do all the hard work. I did an outline and the first scene and sent it to him. He's now living in Kansas. Funny, I started writing about a girl who runs away from Kansas and finds the land of OZ and now I'm writing with a guy who left California and found Kansas. Bizzare-- but then so is the story of that lady astronaut! Go figure!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
I never could figure out just what made Zsa Zsa Gabor tick. This lady has got to be the luckiest woman on the planet. She doesn't act (well, not well) She doesn't dance! And she certainly doesn't posses the class that her dear sister, the late Eva Gabor did. Today is her 91st birthday. She is the only Gabor sister to have borne a child -- by Conrad Hilton-- and that she claimed was rape. I thought I would share with you some of her many quotes over the years-- who knows, you just might get a laugh out of one or two of them:
"To be loved is a strength. To love is a weakness."
"A man in love is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished."
"As a woman, you have to choose between your fanny or your face. I chose my face."
"I have never hated a man enough to give his diamonds back."
When asked how many husbands she'd had, Zsa Zsa replied: "You mean, other than my own?"
"To a smart girl men are no problem - they're the answer."
"Macho does not prove mucho."
"Husbands are like fires. They go out if unattended."
"I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man I keep his house."
"Getting divorced just because you don't love a man is almost as silly as getting married just because you do."
"Conrad Hilton was very generous to me in the divorce settlement. He gave me 5,000 Gideon Bibles."
"A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it."
"Never complain, never explain."
"I want a man who's kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?"
"I always said marriage should be a fifty-fifty proposition. He should be at least fifty years old, and have at least fifty-million dollars."
"When in trouble, take a bath and wash your hair."
"Milton (Berle), you really think we have million dollar figures?" Milton replied, "Yes, and in the right places too!"
Saturday, February 03, 2007
Brief entry today but I must take time to wish three of the funniest men on the planet HAPPY BIRTHDAY. The first is SHELLY BERMAN. Eighty-one years young and still performing!Shelley Berman started as a straight actor, receiving his training at the Goodman Theater in Chicago, honing his acting skills in stock companies in and around Chicago and New York. In the mid-fifties he became a member of Chicago's Compass Players, the group today known as The Second City. It was here that he developed his skill as an improvisationist.
In 1957, Berman landed his first job as a comedian at Mr. Kelly's in Chicago. His comedy albums would earn him three gold records and he'd win the first GRAMMY for a non-musical recording. He was the first standup comedian to appear in Carnegie Hall. He continues throughout America internationally with his one-man comedy show. With the release of his 1995 CD recording "SHELLEY BERMAN - LIVE AGAIN!" he crossed another career milestone. In 2000, honored at the Chicago Festival of Comedy doing "Shelley Berman, A Body of Work". These days Shelley headlines in Las Vegas twice a year. Shelly starred in the Broadway musical "A Family Affair" and in the incredible one-man show "Insideoutsideandallaround Shelley Berman". He starred in a national tour of musical "Two By Two in which he played Noah (I would have paid double to see that!) Neil Simon's "The Prisoner Of Second Avenue". His work in the Chicago production of "I'm Not Rappaport" earned him a best actor nomination for the Jefferson Award. Winner of two LA Dramalogue Best Actor Awards.
Early in Berman's career, he appeared regularly on the Ed Sullivan Show, The Jack Paar Show, major variety shows. TV guest star credits include NIGHTCOURT; MACGYVER; recurring character Ben Flicker on L.A. LAW. FRIENDS, ARLISS, "PROVIDENCE" in Spring of 2000. Fall 2000: "WALKER, TEXAS RANGER"; in 2003, guest star, KING OF QUEENS. Currently he is appearing as Larry David's father in HBO's CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.
Films include THE BEST MAN with Henry Fonda; EVERY HOME SHOULD HAVE ONE co-star with Marty Feldman; DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE; RENTED LIPS; TEEN WITCH; ELLIOT FAUMAN PHD; After School Special THE KID WHO WOULDN'T QUIT; Burt Reynolds' THE LAST PRODUCER in 1999.
He has authored three books: CLEANS AND DIRTYS; A HOTEL IS A FUNNY PLACE; UP IN THE AIR WITH SHELLEY BERMAN. Written two plays: FIRST IS SUPPER, first produced in Chicago in 1990; SILVER SONATA performed in San Diego, 1996. He has written TV pilots for CBS, Screen Gems, Desilu and NBC.
Shelley is in his nineteenth year of teaching at USC in the Master of Professional Writing program. His subject is Writing Humor, Literary and Dramatic. But it is also the 81st birthday of Joey Bishop and the fifty-ninth birthday of Nathan Lane!
Friday, February 02, 2007
In 2005 Kelly's widow gave permission for car maker Volkswagen to use his likeness to promote the Golf GTi car. The advertisement used CGI to mix footage of Gene Kelly, from Singin' in the Rain, with footage of professional breakdancers (including David Bernal). Despite Mrs. Kelly's urging, the German automaker refused to show the commercial in the U.S. The tagline was, "The original, updated." In 1993, pop singer Madonna met with Gene Kelly who convinced her to include an homage to Marlene Dietrich in her Girlie Show Tour, which turned out to be her cabaret version of "Like a Virgin." Interesting note: Gene was voted the 42nd Greatest Movie Star of all time by EntertainmenWeekly
and is one of the many stars mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue" American Idol judge Paula Abdul starred opposite an animated cat in her "Opposites Attract" video, and did so as to mirror Gene Kelly with Jerry (of Tom and Jerry) in the movie " Anchors Aweigh" Gene Kelly, her childhood idol, noticed, and wanted to meet her. They met for tea every week until he died. Here's a hoot:
Ray Bradbury's novel "Something Wicked This Way Comes" was dedicated to him. In 1994, just two years before his demise the Three Tenors honored him by singing Singin' in the Rain in front of him during a concert at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles A frail-looking Kelly was helped to his feet for a brief salute to stand up for the ovation. John pointed out tyo me that Gene Kelly made a posthumous performance on the Family Guy episode "Road to Rupert" , where the live footage segments and audio from a musical number in "Anchors Aweigh "are reused to show Gene dancing with Stewie Griffin . Stewie's dance moves almost entirely mirrored those of Jerry , the mouse :Gene's original partner in the movie. Gene also said some pretty amazing and funny things in his lifetime including"
"If Fred Astaire is the Cary Grant of dance, I'm the Marlon Brando ."
"Fred Astaire represented the aristocracy, I represented the proletariat."
"I [was] twenty pounds overweight in the MGM days and as strong as an ox. But if I put on a white tails and tux like Astaire, I still looked like a truck driver... I looked better in a sweatshirt and loafers anyway. It wasn't elegant, but it was me." "I didn't want to be a dancer... I just did it to work my way through college. But I was always an athlete and gymnast, so it came naturally." And then my tweo favorites since I do write musicals "The way I look at a musical, you are commenting on the human condition no matter what you do. A musical may be light and frivolous, but by its very nature, it makes some kind of social comment."
"At 14, I discovered girls. At that time, dancing was the only way you could put your arm around the girl. Dancing was courtship. Only later did I discover that you dance joy. You dance love. You dance dreams." Well that's it for today.