Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today is the last day of January and the birthday of several famous people now passed away, save one. The one is Carol Channing who turns eighty-nine today. What an amazing performer! It also would have been the birthday of Eddie Cantor. For those of us old enough to remember, Eddie was that wide-eyed, vaudevillian performer whose career transcended into radio, television and movies. He made songs like "Toot Toot Tootsie" "Making Whoopie" and "Ida ("sweet as Apple Cider) absolute hits! His dear wife's name was Ida and he had five daughters, the heartbreak from the death of one of them (Marjorie) at the age of forty-four was the cause of the early demise of them both. But here are two Eddie Cantor stories I bet no one has heard of, One involves downright prejudice refused and the other is censorship battled but ultimately lost.In the 1950s, Eddie Cantor was one of the alternating hosts of the television show The Colgate Comedy Hour, in which he would introduce variety acts and play comic characters like "Maxie the Taxi." However, the show landed Cantor in an unlikely controversy when a young Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared as a guest performer. Cantor embraced Davis and mopped Davis's brow with his handkerchief after his performance. Worried sponsors led NBC to threaten the cancellation of the show; Cantor's response was to book Davis for two more weeks. On May 25, 1944, pioneer television station WPTZ (now KYW-TV) in Philadelphia presented a special telecast featuring Eddie Cantor, which was also fed to the NBC television station in New York City, WNBT (now WNBC). Cantor, one of the first major stars to agree to appear on television, was to sing "We're Havin' A Baby, My Baby And Me". Arriving shortly before airtime at the Philadelphia studios, Cantor was reportedly told to cut the song because the NBC New York censors considered some of the lyrics too risqué. Cantor refused, claiming no time to prepare an alternative number. NBC relented, but the sound was cut and the picture blurred on certain lines in the song. This is considered the first instance of television censorship. Today also would have been the birthday of Mario Lanza. There is no sadder story than of this dear talented man. Mere months after succumbing to a fatal heart attack at the tender age of thirty-nine, in October of 1959 in Rome, his wife moved back to Hollywood and died herself just five months later of a pulmonary embolism. All of Mario Lanza's children died before the age of fifty-eight. His eldest died of a heart attack at age thirty-eight, his daughter was killed in a car crash and his oldest son died of a heart attack at fifty-seven. Did anyone notice the full moon on Friday night the 29th of this month? It was the brightest full moon of the year (30% brighter) , a blue moon-- the second in a month and the widest moon (by fifteen percent. that we will see all year. It was also called a "wolf" moon" Well, I passed my Ford Motor Company certification tests. There are fourteen different vehicles that Ford makes. So now, I am an official car salesman! Go figure! At least here at Sunrise Ford i have a decent chance of making a decent living! If you had told me just last December that my new job would be a car salesman, I would have looked at you as if you were certified crazy! God draws straight with crooked lines-- again! Tomorrow, February first is my first official day as one!

Friday, January 29, 2010


It's been a very strange and very difficult two months for me. I worked two jobs just to catch up at two places at opposite ends of each other's geography and there were times that I thought there was no way that I was going to make it. I drove on bad tires and had a check engine light glowing. I made rent by the skin of my teeth--two months in a row! But God has me in his hand s and He just demonstrated it to me again last night and this morning when a financial problem resolved itself and while I am not out of the woods, at least the trees aren't crashing in on me. Sometimes I get so frightened that like Saint Peter, I lose my faith. I had a great roommate once when I lived in Hacienda Heights for about six and a half years. This was where I met my amazing friend Tim Doran. I simply would not be a songwriter without this amazing and wonderful composer.What a blessing and a miracle he has been for all of these many years! But it was here also where I met Jaimie. We roomed together in a big five bedroom house! I really loved this guy a lot-- he was so helpful to me over the years! I haven't seen in almost eleven years. What challenges that poor man endured. He was once robbed in his church's parking lot-- on his way to the service. That didn't stop him. He worked harder than any individual I have ever met. Challenging debts? This poor man who was a painter before he found his great job with the railroad had to hide and park his car around the corner from where we lived to avoid having his car repossessed. What a trooper! I panic far too often and I shouldn't. I need to realize that my Sweet Lord, Jesus and our heavenly father always have me in their hands. Like Saint Peter crossing the turbulent sea, I need to focus on the Lord and don't be distracted by troubles. Every time I panicked, dear Jaimie used to say to me "You're looking at the waves again!" How many of us do? I need to get my faith polished and realize that the Good Lord is always going to be there for me, if I ask Him to be. I continue the certification process on my way to becoming a car salesman --this time only six miles from my apartment. It is really tough learning about all of these Ford cars, but then, I''ve been driving Fords almost all of my life-- well at least since 1980. And that's thirty years. I am so happy I did not land at a Toyota dealership. This is not the time to be one of those. God is the center of my life and I simply need to trust Him more and more!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Jimmy Van Heusen was an amazing songwriter who wrote some of the best known tunes in songwriting history. Everyone knows many of his standards especially the Bing Crosby hit "Swinging On A Star" Collaborating with lyricist Eddie DeLange, on songs such as "Heaven Can Wait", "So Help Me", and "Darn That Dream", his work became more prolific, writing over 60 songs in 1940 alone. It was in 1940 that he teamed up with the lyricist Johnny Burke. Burke and Van Heusen moved to Hollywood writing for stage musicals and films throughout the '40s and early '50s, winning an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the aforementioned huge hit "Swinging on a Star" (1944). Their songs were also featured in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949). He was also also a pilot of some accomplishment; he worked, using his birth name, as a part-time test pilot for Lockheed Corporation in World War II. Jimmy then teamed up with lyricist Sammy Cahn. Their three Academy Awards for Best Song were won for "All the Way" (1957) from The Joker Is Wild, "High Hopes" (1959) from A Hole in the Head, and "Call Me Irresponsible" (1963) from Papa's Delicate Condition. Their songs were also featured in Rear Window (1954) and Ocean's Eleven (1960). Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen also wrote "Love and Marriage" (1955), -- yes the song that made their widows rich when "Married With Children a good fifty percent of the song as its opening theme. There was also the song"To Love and Be Loved", "Come Fly with Me", "Only the Lonely", and "Come Dance with Me" with many of their compositions being the title songs for Frank Sinatra's albums of the late 50's. Jimmy Van Heusen wrote the music for two Broadway musicals: Skyscraper (1965) and Walking Happy (1966). These shows were not successful and the songwriter did not try again. He became an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1971. Jimmy composed over 800 plus songs of which 50 songs became standards. His songs are featured in over one hundred eighty films. Jimmy retired in the late 1970s, and died in Rancho Mirage, California in 1990, at the age of 77. He was close friends throughout life with Frank Sinatra. So close that he is buried in the Sinatra family burial plot in Desert Memorial Park. His amazing grave marker reads Swinging On A Star. Well another day as a car salesman and trying to make ends meet. Dear God, watch over me!

Monday, January 25, 2010


This is my 500th posting to my blog. This all started back in June of 2006. I've received a number of nice comments and compliments. What I don't appreciate is people with business agendas who post an anonymous note that promotes their own own online business. It's been fun writing these articles and it gives a bit of background of my own life and a bit on personalities and history.For example dear old Henry VIII secretly married Anne Boleyn and In 1915, on this date Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated cross country telephone service. Imagine how much technology for telephones has grown in only ninety-five years. Today, Dean Jones turns seventy-nine years young. Dear Dean (whom I met once at Hooper's Camera and had a very pleasant conversation) starred in the NBC television sitcom Ensign O'Toole from 1962-63, produced by Four Star Television, portraying an easy-going naval officer aboard a destroyer. I loved this show. Dean was perfect for it! His co-stars included Jack Mullaney, Jack Albertson, Jay C. Flippen, Harvey Lembeck, and oh yes dear Beau Bridges. Previously, he had appeared in a number of films. Jones played disc jockey Teddy Talbot in the 1957 Elvis Presley smash hit, Jailhouse Rock. He portrayed soldiers in 1957's Imitation General with Glenn Ford and 1959's Never So Few with Frank Sinatra. He became best known for a string of Walt Disney films he made in the 1960s and 1970s, starting with That Darn Cat! (actress Hayley Mills' last film at Disney). Jones' performance was so well-received that Disney continued to utilize him for such future movies as The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard's Ghost and Snowball Express. Jones' signature Disney role would be that of race car driver "Jim Douglas" in the highly successful Love Bug series. Jones appeared in two feature films (The Love Bug and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo) and in a short-lived television series produced in 1982 and a made-for-TV movie in 1997. In 1991, Jones co-starred with Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito as the president of Peck's wire-and-cable company, fighting a hostile takeover from DeVito, in the film Other People's Money. He finally got to do a villain's role appearing as the evil veterinarian, "Herman Varnick," in the family film Beethoven in 1992. Later, he did the voice of "George Newton" in TV series version of Beethoven. Dean was one of the last actors to see Walt Disney alive in 1966. He was filming "Blackbeard's Ghost" when Walt (looking so pale and tired) walked onto the set at his Burbank studios. Interesting note: Walt had wanted to utilize Blackbeard's film star Peter Ustinov to star as Nikita Khruschev in a comedy called "Khruschev in Disneyland". Now that would have been funny. John and I are planning a new recording session on February 7th and hope to record a few more songs for the web site.

Friday, January 22, 2010


This was a big day in History. For on this date, the Supreme Court handed down its amazingly controversial Roe vs Wade decision which declared abortion was legal for the first three months. How much controversy did this one decision create? Probably the most of just about them all including the Dred Scott Decision the century before. And on this date, Lyndon Johnson, the 36th president of our country died of a massive heart attack. Can you imagine if he had decided to run for office in 1968? Had Johnson been nominated (and historians are dead sure he would have been) won that election I think that heart attack would have come a lot sooner and Hubert Humphrey president. That would have been interesting. On this day in 1944, Allied forces began landing at Anzio, Italy during World War II in our first big entry into that troubled country. Also on this date, in 1995, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy , the mother President John F. Kennedy died in Hyannis Port at the ripe old age of one hundred and four. Madeline Albright became the first female Secretary of State in 1997. In the entertainment world, in 2008, this was the day that Hollywood lost gifted actor Heath Ledger who died at twenty-eight from an accidental drug overdose. How very sad! And today in 1968 was the premiere of Rowan and Martin's TV classic "Laugh-In". Subsequently, I got to meet Arte Johnson while I was working at Hooper Camera in Sherman Oaks and he became a great friend. His autographed pictures grace the walls of my living room. Today would have been the birthday of film making giant D.W. Griffith. If you have not seen "Birth of a Nation" and you love great movie history, I strongly urge you to find a copy and watch it. My nephew continues to mend from his broken leg ever. He never did so as a child. Now he's in his mid-30's. Well another day at Sunrise Ford and I need to sign off here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today is the birthday of legendary singer and conductor Placido Domingo. I was introduced to him years ago by a guy named Steve Hunt whom I haven't seen in almost fourteen years. Steve was my landlord in a house I rented a room from. It was through Steve Hunt that I met the greatest gift of all -my dear friend Tim Doran. Steve Hunt was a really strange guy and was always trying to re-invent himself. I only hope that he is okay and is able to survive as a singing teacher. After a few days of working at Sunrise Ford, I met the son of Soupy Sales -- Tony. He looks just like his dad and is a very sweet man. His father Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman, in Franklinton in Franklin County, North Carolina to Irving and Sadie Supman. His father, a dry goods merchant, had emigrated to America from Hungary in 1894. Sales had two siblings, Leonard Supman (deceased) and Jack Supman (born 1921). His was the only Jewish family in the town; Sales joked the local Ku Klux Klan bought the sheets used for their costumes from his father. Doupy Sales got his nickname from his family. His older brothers had been nicknamed "Hambone" and "Chicken Bone". Milton was dubbed "Soup Bone," which was later shortened to "Soupy". When he became a disc jockey, he began using the stage name Soupy Hines. After he became established, it was decided that "Hines" was too close to the Heinz soup company, so he chose the Sales, in part after comedian Chic Sale. Sales graduated from Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia in 1944. He then enlisted in the United States Navy and served on the USS Randall (APA-224) in the South Pacific during the latter part of World War II. He sometimes entertained his shipmates by telling jokes and playing crazy characters over the ship's public address system. One of the characters he created was "White Fang," a large dog that played outrageous practical jokes on the seamen. The sounds for "White Fang" came from a recording of "The Hound of the Baskervilles". He took the record with him when he left the Navy Dear Soupy then enrolled in Marshall College, where he earned a Master's Degree in Journalism. While attending Marshall, he performed in nightclubs as a comedian, singer, and dancer. After graduating, he began working as a scriptwriter and disc jockey at radio station WHTN in Huntington. He moved to Cincinnati in 1949, where he worked as a morning radio DJ and performed in nightclubs. He began his television career on WKRC-TV with Soupy's Soda Shop, TV's first teen dance program, and Club Nothing!, a late-night comedy/variety program. When WKRC canceled his TV shows, Sales moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he hosted another radio and TV series and continued his nightclub act. It was in a skit on his late night comedy/variety TV series Soupy's On! that he got his first pie in the face. Sales claimed he left the Cleveland station "for health reasons: they got sick of me."He moved to Detroit in 1953 and worked for WXYZ-TV (Channel 7), ABC's O&O station. Lunch with Soupy Sales My dear friend Soupy is best known for his daily children's television show, Lunch with Soupy Sales. The show was originally called 12 O'Clock Comics, and was later known as The Soupy Sales Show. Improvised and slapstick in nature, Lunch with Soupy Sales was a rapid-fire stream of comedy sketches, gags, and puns, almost all of which resulted in Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark. Sales developed pie-throwing into an art form: straight to the face, on top of the head, a pie to both ears from behind, moving into a stationary pie, and countless other variations. He claimed that he and his visitors had been hit by more than 20,000 pies during his career. He recounted a time when a young fan mistakenly threw a frozen pie at his neck and he "dropped like a pile of shoes"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Today would have been the birthday of one of the greatest figures of American History. His name is Robert E. Lee. He was born in 1807. Abraham Lincoln had depended on him to lead the Union Army in the Civil War. Had he done so the war might have been cut in half. Lee, however was loyal to his beloved state of Virginia.
Lee was at all times a gentleman and a scholar and actually became a college professor after the end of the War. Now interestingly enough, Robert E. Lee privately ridiculed the Confederacy in letters in early 1861, denouncing secession as "revolution" and a betrayal of the efforts of the Founders. The commanding general of the Union army, Winfield Scott, told Lincoln he wanted Lee for a top command. Lee accepted a promotion to colonel on March 28. Lee had earlier been asked by one of his lieutenants if he intended to fight for the Confederacy or the Union, to which he replied, "I shall never bear arms against the Union, but it may be necessary for me to carry a musket in the defense of my native state, Virginia, in which case I shall not prove recreant to my duty." Meanwhile, Lee ignored an offer of command from the CSA. After Lincoln's call for troops to put down the rebellion, it was obvious that Virginia would quickly secede and so Lee turned down an April 18 offer to become a major general in the U.S. Army, resigned on April 20, and took up command of the Virginia state forces on April 23. At the outbreak of war, Lee was appointed to command all of Virginia's forces, but upon the formation of the Confederate States Army, he was named one of its first five full generals. Lee did not wear the insignia of a Confederate general, but only the three stars of a Confederate colonel, equivalent to his last U.S. Army rank; he did not intend to wear a generals insignia until the Civil War had been won and he could be promoted, in peacetime, to general in the Confederate Army.
Lee's first field assignment was commanding Confederate forces in western Virginia, where he was defeated at the Battle of Cheat Mountain and was widely blamed for Confederate setbacks. He was then sent to organize the coastal defenses along the Carolina and Georgia seaboard, where he was hampered by the lack of an effective Confederate navy. Once again blamed by the press, he became military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, former U.S. Secretary of War. While in Richmond , Virginia, Lee was ridiculed as the 'King of Spades' for his excessive digging of trenches around the capitol. These trenches would later play an important role in battles near the end of the war. Today is also Dolly Parton's 64th birthday and believe or not Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers turns seventy one. Well off again to sell cars at my new job. All my training should be this week before I take my final position in the "Special Finance" department. That means financing for people with bad credit. After this recession do many people really have "great" credit? Maybe not.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Christmas came and went while I busily was doing two jobs-- selling cars at Alhambra Nissan and working at Disneyland throughout the busy holiday season. I must say that the whole Disneyland experience overall was really wonderful. Everybody on the staff were tremendously friendly and helpful and waiting on our guests there was really super fun and exciting. I got to work on New Years Eve and I was simply flabbergasted as to how many happy people were there in attendance. The wait for rides was really ridiculous (Dumbo took two hours) but nobody cared. Everybody was there to greet the new decade in. It just had to better than poor old 2009. The midnight fireworks show was spectacular and mind blowing. I worked at the Candy Palace that night. The amount of candy apples and brownies and gingerbread cookies were staggering. I had a great family re-union with my entire family that was held at my sister's house on December 26th. We all brought Chinese food and made up a giant buffet. In that way, my poor eldest sister didn't have to do all the cooking again. John Nugent continue to try and finish our deadlines for the Vermont Theatre competition. Financially things are very strapped and survival is a daily challenge for me, but with God's amazing help, I just feel that somehow things will be okay. My nephew, Kevin broke his leg last week skating and that sidelined him from work and bowling for at least a week. He has gone back to work on crutches. The weather will be rainy this week and the dear old weatherman predicts eight inches of rain. That sucks! But I know that we need the rain. My new job doesn't require much driving. I know work at Sunrise Ford in North Hollywood about six miles away where I actually will have many great opportunities to sell cars-- this time Ford-- exclusively and of course the great gamete of used cars that an ordinary dealership takes in. I was surprised to find that the oldest son of Soupy Sales (Tony is fifty-eight years old) ) works here as a salesman too. It was nice shaking hands with him and telling him how much I loved his dear father. I happened to mention to him one of Soupy's old "Words of Wisdom" boards on the really old television show. Those words said "Be True To Your Teeth and they won't be false to you!" He smiled and said that those were the very words that summed up his tribute to his dad who had passed away last November. I am still hoping that i can balance two jobs--selling cars and Disneyland. We shall see what we shall see about that. After all, it takes a full hour to drive to Anaheim and only ten or eleven minutes to drive to North Hollywood. Yesterday, I went to a lovely memorial service for my dear friend's friend, Carol who passed away at ninety years old on December 26th. Tim Doran had cared for her over thirty years. He did everything he could for her and showed me what being a true Christian is all about! The ceremony was one of the best. I was finally able to see Betty Price (another of Tim's friends) play the bells. Tim calls her "The Bell Lady" and she certainly is an incredible one. She had actually memorized all of the songs that she played yesterday afternoon including a fifteen minute pre-show, a solo and an exit concert. What an amazing tribute! No one could have had a nicer sendoff. The soloist was amazing! The performance by the choir was fantastic and my Tim's playing of "Over The Rainbow" brought me to tears. It has taught me a valuable lesson. "The honest of heart are sometimes the most difficult to understand" Carol was very honest, one thousand percent and maybe the most difficult thing to grasp in our lives is a stark one hundred percent honesty by any one individual. Many of us can not be that honest and that direct. Today is Martin Luther King's day. It's the 16th anniversary of the great Los Angeles earthquake. And now our thoughts are on dear Hatti. She suffers so much and we need to pray for her dear sweet people who are suffering greatly. I will try to be a little more frequent on here than I have been. Happy 2010 to everyone who may read this. I do appreciate the nice comments that i do receive from my readers out there. Let's hope we can all survive this big promised week long rain storm.