Sunday, September 13, 2009


They say that all good things must come to an end and tonight after the 7pm performance in New York City at the John Golden Theatre, Avenue Q will close on Broadway after a run of over six years. The show grossed 117 million dollars and every one of its songs are so well known by now.To be precise for the bean counters and sharp pencil boys the show was fully capitalized at $3.5 million and recouped its full investment in ten months on Broadway. As of June 21, the musical had grossed $117,009,852 and had returned $23,500,000 to its investors to date. Major productions have also played Las Vegas, London, Australia and the road. Avenue Q features music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, whom John and I got to meet at an ASCAP workshop at the Disney Studios two years ago. It has a libretto by Jeff Whitty and direction by Jason Moore. Puppets were conceived and designed by original cast member Rick Lyon.
Today is also the birthday of dear sweet Mae Questel, the voice of Betty Boop (in a rendition of Helen Kane meag hit)) and Olive Oyl of Popeye fame.She was seen by animator Max Fleischer, who was looking for an actress to provide the voice for his Betty Boop character. Mae did that "Boop-boop-a-doop" routine, in a style similar to that of the song's originator, Helen Kane, while at the same time evoking something of the naughty allure of film star Clara Bow, was exactly what Fleischer wanted. From 1931 until 1939, Questel provided the voice of Betty Boop in more than 150 animated shorts. During the 1930s she released a recording of "On the Good Ship Lollipop" which sold more than two million copies. From the mid 1930s Questel also provided the voice for Olive Oyl in the Popeye animated shorts. She based Olive's nasal vocal style, and expressions like "Oh, dear!" on the persona of the legendary character actress ZaSu Pitts, and ultimately played the role for more than 20 years. Questel refused to move to Miami, Florida when Fleischer Studios relocated there in 1938. Margie Hines was the voice of Olive Oyl during the Miami years. Questel returned as the voice of Olive Oyl when Paramount Pictures moved the former Fleischer Studios which became Famous Studios back to New York City. She filled Jack Mercer's shoes as Popeye when Mercer was temporarily drawn into war service. When Hanna-Barbera began making new Popeye cartoons for television in 1978, Questel had to audition for the role of Olive Oyl, and lost out to another voice-over actress.
In addition to her signature voice of Olive Oyl, Questel also provided the voice of Felix the Cat (three shorts produced by Van Beuren Studios), Little Lulu, Little Audrey in their respective animated shorts. In the 1950s, she was the voice to the title character of the interactive, and pioneering Saturday-morning cartoon series Winky Dink and You. A fabulously funny story is told when she appeared onscreen in the 1930s as herself, the most noted being in a 1933 "Hollywood on Parade" short. After she finishes a musical number Bela Lugosi enters in his full Dracula costume and says to her in that wonderful accent he had "You have Booped your Last Boop!" before carrying her off. The job possibility and a second interview fizzled yesterday. It was a commission only position. Who the hell can depend on that? John and I had to drive ina new rental (while my beast was being repaired) all the way to Malibu to see a product tested in a filthy Union Service Station. We saw so many multi-million dollar homes along the way, but can you imagine pu;;ing up to this eyesore in the middle of the most expensive real estate in the world. The restrooms were ungodly. This poor company was trying to sell a car cleaning product at a gas station. They couldn't take credit cards. Now I ask you: how many people have $30.00 cash beyond what they plan to spends on gas? It is a great product, however. And speaking of Malibu did you hear about the bank executive who was using a foreclosed twelve million dollar home that she supervised for Wells Fargo Bank as her personal weekend retreat, even holding a lavish party there. Some people are pure pieces of work. I no longer do business with Wells Fargo and now happy that I don't.
Well, Church is on soon and I need to get ready.

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