Sunday, January 04, 2009

Today, marks my 400th blog entry since June of 2006. I would like to write something every day, but things don't happen to me as much as others. If I lived in NYC like my great friend, Tony Westbrook, I am certain that just walking up and down the streets could provide a daily detailed observation. Today marks my favorite voice actor's birthday: the one and only Sterling Holloway.In 1926, the 5-foot-9-inch (1.75 m), 124-pound (56 kg) Holloway moved to Hollywood to a movie career of almost 50 years. He worked with Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Lon Chaney Jr, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, David Carradine. Though he was a busy movie character actor and an athletic dancer, he soon found his niche as a voice actor. What an amazing voice actor he was! Holloway served in World War II as a member of the Army's Special Services unit. He produced a show for servicemen and toured with it near the front lines in North Africa and Italy.In 1941, he was heard in Dumbo, as the voice of "Mr. Stork." Here is something that I did not know about him: It was the fact that Walt Disney earlier considered Holloway for the role of Sleepy in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but story man Pinto Colvig (Pinto was the voice of Goofy later on) ended up getting the job. Of course, I would have never guessed that Goofy's voice could somehow be Sleepy's, but such is the way with voice talent. Sterling was the voice of the adult "Flower" in Bambi, the narrator of the Antarctic penguin sequence in The Three Caballeros, the narrator in the Peter and the Wolf (my all time favorite) sequence of Make Mine Music. He voiced Kaa in The Jungle Book, The narrator in Goliath II, and the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland. His Disney Winnie-the-Pooh featurettes are well known. Disney honored him as a Disney legend in 1991. His last narrating credit was the Moonlighting episode Atomic Shakespeare. His last film credit was for the movie Thunder and Lightning. Holloway played the role of Hobe Carpenter, a friendly moonshiner who gets help from Harley Thomas (David Carradine). Wouldn't you know that the last credit a great actor gets to play is something called "Thunder and Lightning"? Today is also significant on Broadway as perhaps the day that more Broadway musicals close on a single day than on any day in Broadway. Scheduled for their last performances today are "Young Frankenstein", "13", "Grease", "Hairspray", "Boeing Boeing", -- a lot biting the dust at once. Of course dear Mel Brooks got a little lofty about "Young Frankenstein" deciding not to report its grosses-- a long held Broadway tradition and trying at one point to get $450.00 a ticket. As my dad used to say "Nothing is colder than the shadow of your last success-- you're bowing and you've forgotten to bring your coat and end up with a nasty cold only ego can provide." Today on this date we lost the great T.S. Elliot, the author of Murder In The Cathedral in 1935, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (my all time favorite poem) and of course as best known today the author of Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats--- or "Cats" for short. Today was infamous for the opening and closing in one day (a matinee no less-- not even an evening performance of Mitch Leigh's ("Man of La Mancha") classic flop "Home Sweet Homer"-- what a stinker! How does a guy who writes one of the most classical musicals of all time write a dud like this. The story is quite funny-- not the play ==the behind the scenes. It seems that the producers had attached Yul Brynner to the show under the condition that the show was guaranteed to appear on Broadway. The key word here-- note this carefully contract makers and writers was the word "appear" and not the word "run". The musical opened in Los Angeles and was handed disastrous reviews. But Yul Brynner being a very stubborn man threatened to sue the pants off of every producer and would obtain a cease and desist order from these individuals from producing anything again until the case had been resolved. Oh oh. Now what? Yul Bryner was represented by Irving "Swifty " Lazar and Melvin Belli-- two forces you never messed with in Hollywood. The suit was for sixty-eight million dollars-- a hug sum in 1976-- not so bad today, even. The solution? It "appeared" on Broadway for one Sunday afternoon performance on this very date. Yul Brynner was so angry at seeing the closing notice that he vowed never to appear in a Broadway or other musical ever again and to disavow any knowledge of the composer and of course the producers . In reality does nothing more at all until his death in 1985 of lung cancer. In 1981 another one performance flop opens and closes in one day: That poor musical was Victor Gialanella's,"Frankenstein". Today we lost Barry Fitzgerald in 1961 and today would have been the birthday of one of my all time favorite actors: Mr. William ("What A Revolting Development, this is") Bendex. John and I received our first published copy of our musical "Broadway Angels"-- boy, does it look slick! All bound and ready for the public!

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