Thursday, January 31, 2013



The very last of the Andrew Sisters left us yesterday at age 94 of natural causes. The Andrew Sisters, bar none, were perhaps the most famous of all the girl singer groups and the ones who were the fiercest at each other's throat fighting over money instead of continuing the amazing harmony and gift of music that God had given each of them. Patty was the Andrews in the middle, the lead singer and chief clown, whose raucous jitterbugging delighted American servicemen abroad and audiences at home. She could also deliver sentimental ballads like "I'll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time" with a sincerity that caused hardened GIs far from home to weep. From the late 1930s through the 1940s, the Andrews Sisters produced one hit record after another, beginning with "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen" in 1937 and continuing with "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," ''Rum and Coca- Cola"  (written by my dear friend  Morey Amsterdam of "dick Van Dyke" fame) and more. They recorded more than 400 songs and sold over 80 million records, several of them gold (over a million copies) Other sisters, notably the Boswells, had become famous as singing acts, but mostly they huddled before a microphone in close harmony. The Andrews Sisters - LaVerne, Maxene and Patty - added a new dimension. During breaks in their singing, they cavorted about the stage in rhythm to the music.
Their voices combined with perfect synergy. As Patty remarked in 1971: "There were just three girls in the family. LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene's was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts."The Andrews's rise coincided with the advent of swing music, and their style fit perfectly into the new craze. They aimed at reproducing the sound of three harmonizing trumpets."I was listening to Benny Goodman and to all the bands," Patty once remarked. "I was into the feel, so that would go in to my own musical ability. I was into swing. I loved the brass section.Unlike other singing acts, the sisters recorded with popular bands of the '40s, fitting neatly into the styles of Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Bob Crosby, Woody Herman, Guy Lombardo, Desi Arnaz and Russ Morgan. They sang dozens of songs on records with Bing Crosby, including the million-seller "Don't Fence Me In." They also recorded with Dick Haymes, Carmen Miranda, Danny Kaye, Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante and Red Foley. The two sisters Patty and Maxene joined forces in 1974 for the Sherman Brother musical "Over Here", The show wa sa hit but money again raised its  ugly head first with the producers themselves and then Patty's husband wanted a percentage of the show after giving suggestions to songwriters Bob and Dick Sherman, who had accepted and incorporated these suggestions into the show as a genuine show helping gesture. There are no show helping gestures that don't cost us, dear readers.  Today is the 91st birthday of Carol Channing and it would have been Eddie Cantor's who was born in 1892. I loved Eddie Cantor. It would also would have been Mario Lanza's birthday who was born in 1921 and dear Suzanne Pleshette who was born in 1937.

Suzanne of course starred in the last movie that Walt Disney was alive for called "Blackbeard's Ghost." She was the perfect partner for Bob Newhart in the six years of their show together on CBS.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


It seems even the Pope can have a bad day. Pope Benedict the IV was preparing a blessing in remembrance of the Hallocaust  for the Catholic Youth Council releasing a dove of peace out his Papal Window in Rome. This of course was complicated by an angry seagull who attacked the poor defenseless dove. Look how many forms the devil takes these days! The dove was eventually able to escape the attacking sea gull. Apparently, the pope has had trouble with this particular bird for years! In 2012, he flew back into the papal apartment after being released causing the Pope to exclaim "Mama Mia!" The same thing happened the year before and the year before that! Gee, it's a good thing this Pope wasn't Noah-- we'd still be floating on tree trunks! But seing one of the symbolic birds of peace seems to be a new complication. Well, nobody says the devil isn't persistent. If only the Pope had Randy Johnson on his team! What's even funnier that even the pope says "Mama Mia!" Well, at least the sun was out and it was a beautiful day! Ah yes, the old saying is true "Into each life, some rain must fall! Even if the sun is out at the time. Lord only knows that I ave my own battles with "the pitchforked wonder."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



The Golden Horseshoe Revue was a classic and beloved daily stage show at Anahiem, California's original Disneyland from 1955 until 1986 when it was cancelled. It still holds the record for the most performed stage show (over ten thousand performances) Disneyland is holding a tribute show in the original theatre of this beloved old show minus of course the late Wally Boaag, the late great Betty Taylor and all the original stars. I got to see the tribute show which was pleasant and all but so scaled down it was simply a glance of the greatness that this show once was. It was indeed Walt Disney's favorite entertainment at the park. While I commend Disneyland for trying, I truly think that they need to bring it back in its full glory, maybe includ ethe Dapper Dans in the show and find an Irish tenor who can render "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" and "Clancy Lowered The Boom."  The tribute show runs Wednesday through Thursday, six times a day including a dinner show at 6:30pm each night for pass holders through February 4th. My friend David Holmes played Sam the Bartender in a later ncarnation of the classic old show. Get there early, however. Make your reaservation when you first get into the park.

Monday, January 28, 2013


On this day in 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded in the first seventy-three seconds of it's flight. I remember that day very well. I was living in Rowland Heights and I was watching it all on the television in my living room. It was a day of disaster and pain for all Americans.  Millions of television viewers were horrified to witness the live broadcast of the space shuttle Challenger exploding 73 seconds into flight, ending the lives of the seven astronauts on board. And they were equally horrified to learn in the aftermath of the disaster that the faulty design had been chosen by NASA to satisfy powerful politicians who had demanded the mission be launched, even under unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, a major factor in the disaster was that NASA had been ordered to use a weaker sealant for environmental reasons. Finally, NASA consoled itself and the nation with the realization that all frontiers are dangerous and to a certain extent, such a disaster should be accepted as inevitable.

At least, that seems to be how many people remember it, in whole or in part. That’s how the story of the Challenger is often retold, in oral tradition and broadcast news, in public speeches and in private conversations and all around the Internet. But spaceflight historians believe that each element of the opening paragraph is factually untrue or at best extremely dubious. They are myths, undeserving of popular belief and unworthy of being repeated at every anniversary of the disaster.

The flight, and the lost crew members, deserve proper recognition and authentic commemoration. Historians, reporters, and every citizen need to take the time this week to remember what really happened, and especially to make sure their memories are as close as humanly possible to what really did happen.

If that happens, here's the way the mission may be remembered:

  1. Few people actually saw the Challenger tragedy unfold live on television.
  2. The shuttle did not explode in the common definition of that word.
  3. The flight, and the astronauts’ lives, did not end at that point, 73 seconds after launch.
    The capsule went hurtling towards the ocean at two hundred miles an hour at 200 G. They lost consciousness certainly, but they were still alive until the hit the water.
  4. The design of the booster, while possessing flaws subject to improvement, was neither especially dangerous if operated properly, nor the result of political interference.
  5. Replacement of the original asbestos-bearing putty in the booster seals was unrelated to the failure.
  6. There were pressures on the flight schedule, but none of any recognizable political origin.
  7. Claims that the disaster was the unavoidable price to be paid for pioneering a new frontier were self-serving rationalizations on the part of those responsible for incompetent engineering management — the disaster should have been avoidable.
We lost much on this day. But we will always remember our friends. I hear also that the Boy Scouts of America may  by next week be ending its ban on gay leaders and gay scouts. Thank God. Equality is finally taking it's turn in our lives.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I thought I would share these pictures with all of you because it is most unusual sight. It's two views of a Disney Theme Park covered in snow. This is of course Disneyland Paris which opened almost twenty-one years ago and is really quite a beautiful park. The first picture is Captain Hook's ship which was once a landmark in the Anahiem, California park for many years before the new Fantasyland was built there. The second picture is the King Arthur carousel that is in every Disney park so far. What a beautiful sight Disney in the snow can be and this is certainly no exception. Remember at one point, this poor park was doing so poorly financially, that the Disney folks actually considered closing it down entirely. Thanks to a rich prince who invested heavily into in the late 90's, the park has come into it's own. This really is a very beutiful park. I think Walt would have loved it, very much. The park was pretty mch empty when these shots were taken and very very cold, but the Disney magic kind of made up for that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Congratulations are in order on this date. And kudos also to composer Andrew  Lyold Webber, A milestone previously unthinkable in American theatre becomes a reality on Jan. 26 when a Broadway show, The Phantom of the Opera, celebrates its 25th anniversary. A special curtain-call event at the Majestic Theatre will be followed by an after-party at the New York Public Library.

The black-tie and glamorous-garb crowd will include producer Cameron Mackintosh, director Harold Prince original star Sarah Brightman, current stars Hugh Panaro (The Phantom), Sierra Boggess (Christine), Kyle Barisich (Raoul) and Phantom cast alumni from 25 years on Broadway.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the international smash with Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, drawing on the popular 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux, is not able to attend due to a medical issue.

Harold Prince the director said "Did I ever dream [a 25-year run] would happen? No, of course not. I knew [from staging the London production] we had a hit, but, in the theatre that I was raised in, a long run was 1,000 performances. That was a big, big hit. Then, My Fair Lady ran five years. But [a 25th anniversary] is another world, and I'm happy to have been part of it."

Boggess, who originated the role of Christine in London's Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, joined the Broadway company of Phantom Jan. 21 for a limited engagement. Boggess' history with Phantom began when she originated the role of Christine in the revised Las Vegas production in 2006. She also played Christine for the London production's 25th anniversary, which was marked by a special staging at The Royal Albert Hall in October 2011.

The actress recently starred in Cameron Mackintosh's record-breaking London production of Les Misérables as Fantine. She starred as Broadway's The Little Mermaid and appeared in the Broadway revival of Master Class.

Panaro has a history of playing the Tony Award-winning show's rivals — both The Phantom and Raoul. He was first cast in December 1990 as Raoul, a role he played for more than two years and over 900 performances. In February 1999 he took over the title role, becoming the 10th of 12 men to be cast as The Phantom on Broadway.

To date, Panaro has played The Phantom with the New York Company over 1,800 times in three different engagements, including his most recent return that began in September 2010. Combined, he has performed (as both The Phantom and Raoul) in over 2,800 performances of the Broadway production.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Think of what you'd wish for if you found Alladan's magic lamp and was able to make just one wish.  Well, back on this date, it was sort of like finding something that was as valuable as that single solitary wish from the all powerful genie. And after the discovery, its doubtful that you would ever in your life need anything else again.
We go back over one hundred years ago, back January 25, 1905, at the Premier Mine in Pretoria, South Africa, (Remember that old song "We're Marching to Pretoria?") Well, at any rate at Pretoria, a 3,106-carat diamond is discovered during a routine inspection by the mine's superintendent. Now get this: it weighed 1.33 pounds, (Holey Moley!) and it was  christened the "Cullinan,"and good friends and gentle readers, it was the largest diamond ever found. The gem was discovered by a Mister Frederick Wells and he was eigteen feet below the earth's surface, when he spotted a flash of starlight embedded in the wall, just above him.
 His discovery was presented that very afternoon to Sir Thomas Cullnan who owned the mine. Sir Thomas  then sold the diamond to the Transvaal provincial government, which presented the stone to Britain's King Edward VII as a birthday gift. Did you get that? A birthday present! Oh my stars! Sir Thomas was worried that the diamond might be stolen in transit from Africa to London, and so the young man who found the diamond, (Edward) arranged to send a phony diamond aboard a steamer ship loaded with detectives as a diversionary tactic. While the decoy slowly made its way from Africa on the ship, the Cullinan was sent to England in a plain box.
Edward entrusted the cutting of the Cullinan to Joseph Asscher, head of the Asscher Diamond Company of Amsterdam. Asscher, who had cut the famous Excelsior Diamond, a 971-carat diamond found in 1893, studied the stone for six months before attempting the cut. On his first attempt, the steel blade broke, with no effect on the diamond. On the second attempt, the diamond shattered exactly as planned; Asscher then fainted from nervous exhaustion.
The Cullinan Diamond was later cut into nine large stones and about 100 smaller ones, valued at millions of dollars all told. The largest stone is called the "Star of Africa I," )of which you might have heard of) or "Cullinan I," and at 530 carats, it is the largest-cut fine-quality colorless diamond in the world. The second largest stone, the "Star of Africa II" or "Cullinan II," is 317 carats.
Both of these stones, as well as the "Cullinan III," are on display in the Tower of London with Britain's other crown jewels; the Cullinan I is mounted in the British Sovereign's Royal Scepter, while the Cullinan II sits in the Imperial State Crown. Mkes you want to go out and explore something,huh?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Last Sunday morning, my writing partner and I (John Nugent) went to Hillside Memorial Cemetary for the uncovering of the memorial grave marker for my hero, Robert B. Sherman. Bob, of course was one half of the absolutely amazing Sherman Brothers who wrote countless songs from 1952 to 2012, a sixty year partnership. I don't think I would ever be a songwriter today without the influence of these two amazing men. I don't really think that they ever wrote a bad song together. All of their songs were simple, singable and sincere. They all told a wonderful story. Sometimes they actually made up words to convey an idea! Who can forget "Fortuosity" "Fantasmagorical" and "Friendability." Besides of course that amazing "Supercalifragilistic" word we all know so well. The service was very simple and so lovely. I got to see Bob's son, Robbie for the first time in seventeen years. I met his other brother, Jeff who gave us that fabulous documentary "The Boys" and I got to say hello to Richard Sherman whom I so admire and have for years. Bob Sherman and I had always connected and we made a friendship at our very first meeting at his home way back in November of 1993. The performance of the Sherman song "Mother Earth and Father Time" from Charolette's Web was especially lovely. I will always try to write songs as the Shermans always did. To me, there just isn't any better songwriters. The respect and love that "The Boys" had for Walt Disney was absolutely incredible and Richard continues his respect to this very day by attending all the big Disney events and re-launches of the classic animated films. John Nugent and I were very much in awe of the entire ceremony. I am certainly happy that we got there about forty-five minutes early for it was well attended and there were many other services going on all around it. Believe it or not the song count between myself and John is at nine hundred and eighty-six songs, just fourteen shy of one thousand songs. This is our 6th year of our partnership together. I only wish that my family were more aware of the music I've created with partners over the last thirty-two years.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


We wait now for some developments to occur. Lainie Kazan is reading our screenplay version of "First Mother" and we have a number of investors lined up who are really into investing into new properties for movies. Meanwhiile we've completed new screenplays of "Amusingly Yours" about a single successful writer about to marry the wrong girl and is saved by his "muse", Maxine. There's also "Professor Chutzpah" about the youngest full time con man who discovers quite suddenly that he has a nine and a half year old son-- and this kid is not only a better con man than his father, he's PT Barnum, four foot eight. We are also putting finishing touches to our musical  "The Wild Swans" which is based on the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. That too some real adapting because the original story was only five pages. Today also marks the 19th anniversary of the Northridge Quake-- boy, do I remembe rthat fateful morning. John Nugent celebrates his 40th birthday on Sunday, February 3rd and we all look forward to that, but more than that will be the big pow wow meeting that will take place in Hollywood, Florida on January 25th with the investors and the creative team that my manager Jimmy Chapel has assembled. This Sunday they will reveal the head stone for Robert B. Sherman in Culver City. John and I are determined to be there to honor our hero's memory. And on January 28thm I will discover if I get any money from my Disney Workman's comp lawsuit. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Can you imagine that on this date way back in 1919, Prohibition came into effect. Indeed it did. Big mistake. But government tends to do that a lot sometimes. So yes, on January 16th, 1919, ninety-four years ago, The 18th Amendment to the United  States  Constitution, prohibiting the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes," is ratified on this day in 1919 and became" the law of the land."
The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for total national abstinence. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, also known as the Prohibition Amendment, was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.Prohibition took effect in January 1919. Nine months later, Congress passed the Volstead Act, or National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. Good old Al Capone became the best known man in the country.  His life at the end was very sad and he actually embraced religion in his jail cell at Alcatraz.  In 1933, the 21st AmendmentThis is my first blog entry for 2013. And I, for one toasted the new year with great fan fare and tears. 2013 just has to be a better year than 2012.  We have a really hard working manager by the name of Jimmy Chapel who is really working so hard for my writing partner, John Nugent and myself.  We have at this moment twenty sit com pilots and twelve screenplays ready for sale this year. One thing about retirement, it really alows you to write. I invite my readers to visit Jimmy Chapel's web site at  It shows all of our many projects we are currently developing.  This is also my seventh year keeping a blog. It's been very interesting all of these many years. So take up your glass of wine and toast to a bad idea eventually repealed.