Friday, December 30, 2011


Two of the sure things in life are taxes and death, and sadly with each passing year we seem to lose talented and gifted entertainers. These great people in front of and behind the scenes have all left lasting imprints in our lives and should not be forgotten. Here are some (not all) of the great people in entertainment that we lost in 2011...

Elizabeth Taylor

Actress Elizabeth Taylor died of heart failure at the age of 79. In the 1940s, she became one of MGM's leading child stars. By the 1950s she graduated into more mature roles and eventually became a leading sex symbol. Her personal life was often more exciting that her movies.

Actress Susannah York died at the age of 72. She was a gifted actress that appeared in such films as Tom Jones and Superman. She died after a long battle with bone marrow cancer.

Singer Georgia Carroll died at the age of 91. She was the widow of bandleader Kay Kyser, whom she met when she was a vocalist with the band. She also was a model and socialite.

Actor David Nelson died of colon cancer at the age of 74. He was the son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson who appeared on the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which was a television fixture in the 1950s and 1960s.

Singer Margaret Whiting died at the age of 86. She was one of the most successful girl singers of the 1940s. The daughter of songwriter Richard Whiting, she had numerous record hits such as "A Tree In The Meadow" and "Moonlight In Vermont".

Actress Anne Francis died at the age of 80. She was a huge television actress, who starred in the series Honey West. She also made her mark on such television shows as The Twilight Zone and movies like The Forbidden Planet.

Actress Jane Russell died at the age of 89. Discovered by Howard Hughes, she was one of the leading sex symbols of the 1940s and 1950s. She appeared in such great films as The Outlaw, The Paleface, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She died of resipatory illnesses.

Betty Garrett

Actress Betty Garrett died at the age of 91 from an aneurysm. She started out in MGM musicals of the 1940s like Words And Music with Mickey Rooney and On The Town with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Married to black listed actor Larry Parks, she emerged as a television star in the 1970s on All In The Family and Laverne & Shirley.

Actor Farley Granger died at the age of 84. He was a well respected actor in such films as Strangers On The Train and The Rope. Granger came out as a homosexual after the studio system of Hollywood ended.

Songwriter Hugh Martin died at the age of 96. Probably he most beloved song was Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas which he wrote for Judy Garland in the MGM musical Meet Me In St. Louis (1944).

Screenwriter Madelyn Pugh died at the age of 90. She was the writer for all three of Lucille Ball's television series - I Love Lucy, The Lucy Show, and Here's Lucy. She was was the producer on the series Alice.

Bandleader Orrin Tucker died at the age of 100. He was one of the last surviving big band leaders of the big band era (1936-1945). His famous hit was Oh Johnny, which he recorded with vocalist Wee Bonnie Baker in 1939.

Jackie Cooper

Actor Jackie Cooper died at the age of 88. He was a child star who appeared in classic movies such as The Champ (1931) and the Our Gang series of shorts. He also acted into adulthood, appearing as the newspaper editor in the Superman movie series with Christopher Reeves.

Actress Edith Fellows died at the age of 88. She started out as a child star appearing with Bing Crosby in Pennies From Heaven (1936). She was one of the first child stars to fight for independent rights against her mother.

Actor Peter Falk died at the age of 83, after a long battle with dementia. He was most known for his television role in the Columbo series. However, he was a gifted actor who appeared in such films as A Pocketful Of Miracles, Robin And The Seven Hoods, and The Princess Bride.

Actor James Arness died at the age of 88. He was the brother of actor Peter Graves, who passed away in 2010. Arness was best known from the television series Gunsmoke, which he starred in for twenty years.

Singer Ross Barbour died at the age of 82 of lung cancer. He was one of the founding members of the Four Freshmen. He was also the last original surviving member.

Actor Francesco Quinn died of a heart attack at the age of 48. He was an Italian born American actor in films such as Platoon. Francesco was also the son of actor Anthony Quinn.

Actor Jack Garner died at the age of 84. He was the older brother of James Garner. While Jack did not receive the fame his brother did, he appeared with his brother on television in The Rockford Files, and on the screen in My Fellow Americans (1995).

Cliff Robertson

Actor Cliff Robertson died at the age of 88. He won wide acclaim for playing President John F. Kennedy in the film PT 109 (1963), and in later years he played the uncle in the Spiderman movie series.

Actress Mary Fickett died at the age of 83 of dementia. She had a long career on the soap opera All My Children. In films she played Bing Crosby's ex-wife in the tense drama Man On Fire (1957).

Silent screen actress Barbara Kent died at the age of 103. She was one of the last adult actresses in silent films. She left movies in 1935 and refused to give interviews later in life.

Actress and author Judy Lewis died at the age of 76. She acted on television on the soap opera General Hospital. Judy also was the secret love child of Loretta Young and Clark Gable. Young kept the secret of who her father was for years. Judy later wrote a book about her life which exposed the truth.

Musician Tony Martin Jr died at the age of 60. He was the only child of dancer Cyd Charisse and singer Tony Martin. Tony Jr had been in increasing poor health due to a car accident. His mother Cyd Charisse died in 2008.

Actor Harry Morgan died at the age of 96. He was a legendary television actor whose career spanned decades. Morgan was best known for his television roles on Dragnet and Mash, but he also appeared on radio during its golden age and movies as well.

Singer Russ Carlyle died at the age of 96. He never became a famous vocalist like other band singers of the day, but he was a dependable vocalist who sang with the Blue Barron Orchestra from 1936 to 1941.

Dolores Hope (with Bob Hope)

Singer Dolores Hope died at the age of 102. She was the widow of Bob Hope. They met while she was a young vocalist and were married from 1934 until Bob's death in 2003. Dolores resumed her singing career in the 1980s and 1990s.

Child star Sybil Jason died at the age of 84. She was a child actress in the early days of the talkies and appeared alongside some of the greats like: Kay Francis in I Found Stella Parish (1935), Al Jolson in The Singing Kid (1936), and Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart in The Great O'Malley (1937).

Author Arthur Marx died at the age of 89. He was the son of Groucho Marx, and Arthur was very controversial and open in his books he wrote on the actors he knew, including his father as well as Bob Hope and Mickey Rooney.

Singer Lucy Ann Polk died at the 84. She was a big band singer that was famous for replacing Doris Day in the Les Brown Orchestra. Polk stayed with Les Brown through the mid 1950s. Polk had a great jazz style but only made three solo records before retiring from the music industry.

These entertainers, personalities, and icons in their respective fields are gone now, but hopefully they will never be forgotten...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Cheetah, a chimpanzee who starred alongside Tarzan in the franchise films of the early 1930s, died Saturday. He had experienced kidney failure earlier that week, and was thought to be 80 years old.

Cheetah, also known as Cheetah-Mike, acted as Tarzan's comic sidekick "Cheeta" and was one of several chimpanzees who appeared in the films of 1932 to 1934, with Johnny Weissmuller in the starring role.

Around 1960, after living on Weissmuller's estate, Cheetah retired to Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Fla.

"It is with great sadness that the community has lost a dear friend and family member," the sanctuary announced this week on its website. Chimpanzees live an average of 45 years in the wild, and captive chimps have an average lifespan of 60 years.

While at the sanctuary, Cheetah enjoyed watching sports on television, listening to nondenominational Christian music, and occasionally throwing poop when he was feeling disgruntled.

"He was very outgoing," outreach director Debbie Cobb tells PEOPLE. "He always loved to laugh and to make other people laugh. He was the first chimp I've ever seen shed a tear when another animal died."

Cobb, who has been affiliated with the sanctuary since she was a child, has known Cheetah for 51 years, and says she will miss "not being around him everyday." The sanctuary has been raising funds to construct a medical building dedicated to Cheetah. "We're going to make sure that Cheetah's memory lives on forever," Cobb says.

Actress Mia Farrow, whose mother, Maureen O'Sullivan, starred as Jane in the Tarzan films, took to Twitter to remember the animal.

"Cheetah the chimp in Tarzan movies died this week at 80," she wrote. "My mom, who played Jane, invariably referred to Cheetah as 'that bastard.'"

"He loved women," Cobb says. "He loved life, everything about it."


Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the screenplay for the classic film "Roman Holiday," starring Audrey Hepburn, had his credit restored by a Hollywood writers group on Monday, reversing history 58 years after the film's release. Trumbo, the writer behind the original story for the 1953 film starring Hepburn and Gregory Peck, was part of the Hollywood Ten, a group of industry writers and directors who were accused of being Communist sympathisers by the US House of Representatives' Committee on un-American Activities.

The Ten and others were blacklisted in the late 1940s and '50s by Hollywood film studios concerned that hiring them would be bad for business. The blacklist ruined many careers and some writers, like Trumbo, used surrogates for their work.

"It is not in our power to erase the mistakes or the suffering of the past," Writers Guild of America West President Chris Keyser in a statement. "But we can make amends, we can pledge not to fall prey again to the dangerous power of fear or to the impulse to censor, even if that pledge is really only a hope. And, in the end, we can give credit where credit is due."

The WGA is a trade organisation that represents film, TV and other writers, and it regularly decides issues on screenwriting credit when, and if, disputes arise.

Following his blacklisting, Trumbo moved to Mexico to work anonymously and used fellow screenwriter Ian McClellan Hunter as a frontman for his writing in Hollywood. Hunter, whose name appears on the credits for "Roman Holiday," submitted Trumbo's script and collected the studio's payment on his behalf.

Chris Trumbo and Tim Hunter, sons of both screenwriters, approached the WGA in 2010 to propose that Dalton Trumbo be recognised as the original writer of "Roman Holiday."

The WGA found evidence supporting their claims and although the credited writers of the film are no longer alive, the guild made an attempt to reverse history.

"The WGA has not undone the hurt, but it has, at last and at least, told the truth. That fact is a tribute to the friendship of two fathers and then two sons and to a thing we can hold on to, which is that the friendship was stronger than and outlived the hate," said Keyser.


Sunday, December 25, 2011


For as long as I have been watching classic movies, I am amazed at the amount of movies I still haven't seen. Turner Classic Movies is one of the most prized things in my life (next to my wife and child), and the channel is constantly introducing me to new classic movies that I have never seen before. Here are the best classic movies I saw in 2011:

5. HERE IN MY HEART (1934)
For the longest time, this Bing Crosby movie was the Holy Grail of his movies. It was nearly impossible to get a copy of the film - other than than a fifth generation or so video copy. MCA/Universal recently released the elusive film as part as a five film release of Bing's movie. The movie is not great, but Bing is in fine voice and this was the second time Crosby was paired up with opera singer Kitty Carlisle. All of Bing's films in the early 1930s were light on plot but still enjoyable to watch.

4. BIG BOY (1930)

It is rare to see an Al Jolson movie on television, for the most part they are not even readily available on DVD. However, TCM surprised me when they showed this film in 2011. The movie is 81 years old but it looks about 100 years old. Jolson appeared in the whole movie in blackface. He plays a farm hand who becomes a jockey. The film may be offensive to some people because of the blackface, but to see Jolson perform even on film is to see a real genius work. He was one of the greatest entertainers of all time.

3. SHIP OF FOOLS (1965)
This movie I caught on TCM one day when I was home sick. I am not a huge Vivien Leigh fan, but I could not stop watching the film. Directed by the great Stanley Kramer, he weaves the stories of the passengers that all on this boat together very effortlessly. Joining Leigh on this voyage was the great Jose Ferrer and almost equally talented Lee Marvin. The movie would mark the last screen appearance of Viven Leigh, and she died two years after the film was made. This is the perfect movie to watch on a lazy afternoon. The movie starts slow, but it is engrossing until the end.

This film I caught by accident when I set my DVD recorder to the wrong time. Even though the film is over 80 years old, it was really an interesting movie to watch. The stars of the film were forgotten stars Grant Withers and Evalyn Knapp but the true stars of the film were young actors by the name of James Cagney and Joan Blondell. The story goes that Al Jolson saw the broadway show of this film and immediately bought the rights. He sold the rights back to Warner Brothers - only if they cast Cagney and Blondell in the roles they originated on broadway. The rest they say is history.

Here is another movie I caught on TCM by accident. I am a huge fan of Van Johnson, but I always shied away from this movie thinking it was a typical 1950s soap opera film. However, the movie caught my attention, and even though it was like a soap opera at some parts, there were some definite surprises that I did not see coming. In addition to Van Johnson the cast boasted some great stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Donna Reed, Eva Gabor, and a young Roger Moore in his film debut. I never expected to pick this film as my personal find of 2011, but it is a great movie that I would love to see again.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Any fellow blogger knows that there is only so much space to write your thoughts and ideas. With my series on the sex symbols of the cinema, I was only picking four actresses for each decade. That is not a lot, and there were stars that I missed and did not profile that I should have. Here are some of the great sex symbols that did not get recognized:

JEAN HARLOW (1911-1937)
Not putting Jean Harlow on the original list was the biggest mistake of the series. Harlow was sex on film in the 1930s. Unfortunately, Jean died way too young. She was more than a sex symbol though. Harlow was amazing to see in "Dinner At Eight" (1934), and every role she was in, she made the movie that much better. She not only had great sex appeal, she had great comedic timing.

CAROLE LOMBARD (1908-1942)
I always considered Carole Lombard a great comedic actress more than a sex symbol, but like Harlow I think she was both. Also like Jean Harlow, Carole died too young. Lombard made some great movies like "Made For Each Other" (1939) and "To Be Or Not To Be"(1942) - and even in corny movies like "We're Not Dressing" (1934), Lombard was funny and sexy as well.

JANE RUSSELL (1921-2011)
Jane Russell was basically the brunette answer to Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe. Russell made the bustline famous in movies, but despite being a sex symbol she was talented as well. Russell was a good singer as well and as an actress she easily could act alongside the likes of Bob Hope, Robert Mitchum, and Clark Gable.

Even though I pride myself a movie fan, I have never seen a Brigitte Bardot movie. I only know her from seeing her animal activism in recent years, but she was a great beauty. She left the entertainment industry in 1973, but Bardot made over 40 films that really revolutionized how sex symbols were looked at. She took sex in the industry to a whole new level.

Sophia Loren is one of the few women who can make being in her 70s sexy. Loren, like Bardot, started out at the beginning of the new sexual revolution in the film industry. Her first film was "Aida" (1953) and she went on to seduce audiences and co-stars like Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, and Cary Grant. She remains one of the most beautiful active working classic actresses in the business.

Do you have any other sex symbols that we should have profiled? Who else did we miss? I would love to keep revisiting this topic from time to time on my blog. I want to thank everyone who read and commented on this series, and thank you to all of the movie sex symbols who made writing this series so easy...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The big band era is just a distant memory now. The bandleaders of that era are all gone, as well as a good bit of the singers. One singer that was pretty much different than all the rest was Wee Bonnie Baker. Bonnie Baker was an American jazz and popular music singer, often credited as Wee Bonnie Baker. Her biggest hit was "Oh Johnny, Oh!" which she recorded with the Orrin Tucker Orchestra in 1939.

She was born in Orange, Texas on April 1, 1917; most sources give her birth name as Evelyn Nelson although, at the time of her death, her family gave it as Evelyn Underhill. She joined Orrin Tucker's band as a vocalist in 1936, after Louis Armstrong suggested that Tucker recruit her. Tucker gave her the stage name "Wee" Bonnie Baker on account of her height, about 4 foot 11 inches; she later changed her name legally to Bonnie Baker. Her girlish voice, described as "like a tiny silver bell, soft but tonally true", was used on a version of the 1917 song "Oh Johnny, Oh!", written by Abe Olman and Ed Rose. Released on Columbia Records, it became hugely popular in 1940, reaching no. 2 on the pop chart, and reportedly selling over a million copies. She also had success with the songs "You'd Be Surprised", "Billy", "Would Ja Mind", and "Especially For You".

After leaving the Tucker orchestra in 1942, she continued with a solo career, singing with the USO (United Service Organizations) during World War II, and appearing regularly on the radio show Your Hit Parade. She also sang with other bands, and married jazz guitarist Bill Gailey. In 1948, she recorded a novelty song, "That's All Folks!", as a duet with Mel Blanc playing the character Daffy Duck. She also voiced the cartoon character Chilly Willy in the 1950s. She released an album, Oh Johnny!, with orchestra conducted by Wilbur Hatch, on Warner Bros. Records in 1956. After moving to Florida in 1958, she continued to sing in clubs with her husband, until she suffered a heart attack in 1965.

She died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in August 11, 1990 at the age of 73. Band leader Orrin Tucker outlived his famous vocalists by over 20 years. Tucker died on April 9, 2011 at the age of 100...

Monday, December 19, 2011


Now my favorite Bing Crosby holiday movie is "Holiday Inn" (1942), there is no doubt about that. However, it seems every year I watch 1954's "White Christmas" more. It is a good movie, but in my opinion not the greatest movie for Bing or its songwriter Irving Berlin. Whereas "Holiday Inn" starred Bing and Fred Astaire, "White Christmas" had Bing teamed with comedian Danny Kaye. Kaye was a third choice actually. The producers originally sought Astaire for the role to be reunited with Bing, but Fred turned down the role because of the death of his wife. The second choice was Donald O'Connor, but he broke his ankle before shooting took place. Despite the casting changes and the corny plot "White Christmas" is a fun movie to watch. Unfortunately, I watched the version this year on AMC - with a ton of commercial interruptions.

The story is about two World War II U.S. Army buddies, one a former Broadway entertainer, Bob Wallace (Crosby), the other a would-be entertainer, Phil Davis (Kaye). It begins on Christmas Eve, 1944, somewhere in Europe. In a forward area, Captain Wallace is giving a show to the troops of the 151st Division with the help of Private Davis ("White Christmas"). Major General Thomas F. Waverly (Dean Jagger) arrives for the end of the show and has a field inspection prior to being relieved of command of the 151st by Brigadier General Harold G. Coughlan (Gavin Gordon). The men give him a rousing send-off ("The Old Man"). During an enemy artillery barrage, Davis saves Wallace's life by pushing him out of the way of a toppling wall, wounding his own arm slightly in the process. Using his "wounded" arm and telling Bob he doesn't expect any "special obligation", Phil convinces Bob to join forces as an entertainment duo when the war is over. Phil using his wound to get Bob to do what he wants becomes a running gag throughout the movie.

After the war, the pair make it big in nightclubs, radio, and then on Broadway. They become the hottest act around and eventually become producers. They subsequently have a big hit with their New York musical, Playing Around. In mid-December, after 2 years on Broadway, the show is in Florida. While at the Florida Theatre, they receive a letter from "Freckle-Faced Haynes, the dog-faced boy", a mess sergeant they knew in the war, asking them to audition his two sisters. When they go to the club to audition the act ("Sisters"), Betty (Rosemary Clooney) reveals that her sister, Judy (Vera-Ellen), sent the letter. Phil and Judy leave the table to dance ("The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing") so that Bob and Betty can get to know each other, though there is also an attraction between them. Bob and Phil help Betty and Judy escape their landlord and the local sheriff (the landlord claimed that the sisters had burned a $200 rug). The boys perform the girls' signature song "Sisters" from a record as the girls escape to the train. Phil gives Betty and Judy the train tickets that he and Bob were intending to use.

When Bob and Phil arrive on the train, they have no tickets. Using "his arm" again, Phil gets Bob to agree to travel with the girls to Vermont for the holidays ("Snow"). They discover that the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, is run by their former commanding officer, Major General Tom Waverly, and it's about to go bankrupt because of the lack of snow and consequent lack of patrons. The general has invested all his savings and pension into the lodge.

Deciding to help out and bring business to the inn, Wallace and Davis bring Playing Around with their entire Broadway cast up and add Betty and Judy where they can. Bob discovers the General's rejected attempt at rejoining the army, and decides to prove to the General that he isn't forgotten.

Bob calls Ed Harrison (Johnny Grant), an old army friend, now host of a successful variety show (intentionally similar to Ed Sullivan's). When Bob wants to make a pitch on the show to all the men under the command of the General in the war, Harrison suggests they go all out and put the show on television, playing up the "schmaltz" factor of the General's situation and generating lots of free advertising for Wallace and Davis. Overhearing only this, the housekeeper, Emma Allen (Mary Wickes), tells Betty. Bob tells Ed that isn't the idea and that he only wishes to make a pitch to get as many people from their division to Pine Tree for the show on Christmas Eve. The misunderstanding causes Betty to leave for a job at the Carousel Club in New York, after Phil and Judy fake their engagement in the hope of bringing Betty and Bob closer together.

On the Ed Harrison Show, Bob asks all the veterans of the 151st Division to come to Pine Tree, Vermont on Christmas Eve ("What Can You Do With A General"). All is set right when Betty sees Bob's pitch on the Ed Harrison show. She returns to Pine Tree just in time for the show on Christmas Eve. Believing all of his suits had been sent to the cleaners, General Waverly concludes that he'll have to appear in his old uniform. When the General enters the lodge where the show is to take place, he is greeted by his former division to a rousing chorus of "The Old Man", and moments later is notified that snow is falling.

In a memorable finale, Bob and Betty declare their love, as do Phil and Judy. The background of the set is removed to show the snow falling in Pine Tree. Everyone raises a glass, toasting, "May your days be merry and bright; and may all your Christmases be white"...


Saturday, December 17, 2011


For our last look at the sex symbols of a decade we fast foward to the 1950s. The decade of the 1950s was the era of the middle class, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and a prosperity this country has not felt in years. Television was stealing away the movie going audience, so Hollywood had to try all sort of things to fill their seats. From 3D to cinemascope, they tried everything. Another thing that the movie studios realized was sex sells. By the 1950s movies were starting to show more skin and the sex symbols were more overtly sexual than ever before. Here are some of the popular sex symbols of that decade:

MARILYN MONROE (1926-1962)
No other actress has had more of an impact on the screen as much as Marilyn Monroe. She was only a movie star a relatively short time, but almost fifty years after her death, her legend lives on. She was more than just a pretty face in my opinion. Her singing was actually pretty good in movies like "There's No Business Like Show Business" (1954), and her comic timing was great in the classic "Some Like It Hot" (1959). Probably the appeal of Monroe is she died so young. Audiences never saw her age. Forever, she will be remembered as the Marilyn Monroe on the screen. The final years of Monroe's life were marked by illness, personal problems, and a reputation for being unreliable and difficult to work with. The circumstances of her death, from an overdose of barbiturates, have been the subject of conjecture. Though officially classified as a "probable suicide", the possibility of an accidental overdose, as well as the possibility of homicide, have not been ruled out. In 1999, Monroe was ranked as the sixth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.

Like Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield died tragically young as well. Mansfield is well remembered for her starring roles in the 20th Century Fox comedy films The Girl Can't Help It (1956) and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). She also tackled a rare straight role in The Wayward Bus (1957), a film noted for being her best on-screen dramatic performance. As the demand for blonde bombshells declined in the 1960s, Mansfield remained a popular celebrity, continuing to attract large crowds outside the U.S. and in lucrative and successful nightclub tours. Her film career continued in lower budget melodramas and comedies, many filmed in the United Kingdom and Europe, including the independent film, Promises! Promises! (1963), in which she became the first American actress to appear nude, in a starring role, in a Hollywood motion-picture.

Elizabeth Taylor was a part of Hollywood all her life. A British import in the 1940s, she grew into quite a sex symbol in the 1950s. Taylor had a major role in sparking the sexual revolution of the 1960s, as she pushed the envelope on sexuality: She was one of the first major stars to pose (mostly) nude in Playboy, and among the first to remove her clothes onscreen. "In A Place in the Sun", filmed when she was 17, her surprising maturity shocked Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper, who wrote of her precocious sexuality. Film historian Andrew Sarris describes her love scenes in the film with Montgomery Clift as "unnerving—sybaritic—like gorging on chocolate sundaes." In real life, she was considered "a star without airs," notes Mann. Writer Gloria Steinem likewise described her as a "movie queen with no ego . . . expert at what she does, uncatty in her work relationships with other actresses."

Mamie Van Doren rose to popularity as Universal Pictures's version of 20th Century Fox's Marilyn Monroe. She starred in several cult classic Hollywood films including Untamed Youth (1957); High School Confidential (1958); Born Reckless (1958); Guns, Girls, and Gangsters (1959); Girls Town (1959); Vice Raid (1960); and, College Confidential (1960). These films earned Van Doren two nicknames: "Hollywood's Bad Girl" and one of "The Three M's". The other two were, Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.Many of Van Doren's film roles showcased her ample curves, and her onscreen wardrobe usually consisted of tight sweaters, low-cut blouses, form-fitting dresses, and daring (for the era) swimsuits. She did not attain the same level of superstar status as Marilyn Monroe. While Monroe and Mansfield had break out roles, Mamie Van Doren became a caricature of herself. Now at 80 and still trying to show sex appeal, she is more like an over the hill Mae West than a beauty goddess from the 1950s.

As they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the sixteen sex symbols we spotlighted over the last few weeks are no a complete list at all. In an upcoming article we will spotlight some of the stars we missed, so please feel free to send in suggestions...

Friday, December 16, 2011


Vintage Rolls Royce presented to Marlene Dietrich as a gift from her studio bosses expected to fetch £350,000 at auction
By Daily Mail Reporter

A vintage Rolls Royce that was given to screen goddess Marlene Dietrich by her Paramount studio bosses is set to fetch £350,000 at auction. The Phantom I sedan was given to the actress and singer to help her settle in to Hollywood life when she moved there in 1930 from her native Germany.
Dietrich was often photographed being chauffeur-driven around Los Angeles in it and the car even went on to feature in her first Hollywood film Morocco in 1930.

The stunning car was given to the German-born actress and singer to help her settle in to Hollywood life when she moved there in 1930 from her native Germany. The blonde siren sold the 1929 Rolls Royce Phantom I Convertible Sedan in 1945 to a millionaire - and it has been in private ownership ever since. It is now come to public light again after its current owner, a classic car collector, died recently and his family decided to sell it at auction.

Dietrich reportedly fell in love with the car and it went on to be used in her first Hollywood movie, Morocco, in which she starred opposite Gary Cooper.

When the late vendor bought the Rolls Royce it was in a decrepit condition with its original green paintwork being stripped back to its shell. He spent tens of thousands of pounds on restoring the motor to its former glory before his death. It is likely to be highly sought-after not only because of its association with the screen legend but it is also unique.

Before giving it to Dietrich, Paramount Studios commissioned a custom car body builder to turn it into a stylish convertible. The finished product cost £17,000 and was one of the most expensive cars in the world at the time. The car comes complete with a small shelf in the back that still houses Dietrich's compact mirror for make-up and two bottles of perfume.

Eric Minoff, of auctioneers Bonhams which is selling the car, said: 'It was given to Marlene Dietrich as new in 1930 by Josef von Sternberg, a movie director at Paramount Studios.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Larry Rickles, an Emmy Award-winning producer and the son of comedian Don Rickles, died Saturday in Los Angeles of respiratory failure due to pneumonia. He was 41.

The younger Rickles earned an Emmy in 2008 as a producer on HBO’s Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, which was named the outstanding variety, music or comedy special of the year. The documentary, which was directed by John Landis and included home movies, also earned his father an Emmy for outstanding individual performance in a variety or music program. Born in Los Angeles on May 12, 1970, Larry Rickles worked in production on a number of network sitcoms early in his career. In 1996, he was accepted into the writers workshop program at Warner Bros., and the following year he became a writer on the CBS hit sitcom Murphy Brown.

In addition to his father, Rickles is survived by his mother Barbara and his sister Mindy. The family has asked that donations be made to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Don Rickles, 85, is still active in show business...



When Al Jolson died in 1950 Harry Truman was president. No one had heard of Elvis Presley yet, and television was just overtaking radio as the most popular medium. Jolson has been gone a long long time. Most people do not know who he is. He is associated with blackface, an entertainment genre that was cosidered passe as soon as the early 1950s. So why should Al Jolson be remembered? Why should someone raised on reality television and American Idol should even be aware who Al Jolson is. Here are some of the reasons:

Perhaps no other performer had so much influence on the development and performance of American popular song as Al Jolson. A man of intensity, with a huge ego, he called himself the worlds greatest performer. Few at that time argued with him, and few since have denied his claim. Al Jolson was born as Asa Yoelson, in Srednike Lithuania May 26, 1886. He was was brought to the USA as a young boy, probably in 1894 and was raised in Washington DC. As a youngster, he always seemed to be interested in show business and at one time, ran away to join a troupe but was soon returned back to his parents. His father was a cantor in a Washington synagogue. Rather than following in his father's footsteps Al teamed up with his brother and with the comedian Joe Palmer to tour the vaudeville shows. He later adopted a black face and specialized in singing in minstrel shows. Does that story sound at all familiar? Film buffs will see its similarity to the 1927 film The Jazz Singer, and the 1984 remake of the same name starring Neil Diamond. In many respects, art imitated life with respect to the life and career of the great Al Jolson.

As with any superstar, the truth gets expanded and lore develops to create a life story that is larger than life. In Jolson's case, his actual career and ego were in fact, larger than life but still we have elements of urban legend to deal with. It is said that young Asa's first taste of performance took place when he had found his way into the Bijou theater in Washington where a performer/ songwriter named Eddie Leonard was appearing. It is said that Leonard was singing his favorite song, Ida, Sweet as Apple Cider (1903, music by Leonard, words by Eddie Munson). Leonard invited the audience to sing along with him in the chorus. While the audience mumbled and stumbled through the chorus, Asa's sweet voice lofted over the cacophony and soon the entire theater was listening and spontaneously burst into applause.

Smitten by the adulation of the audience, Al Jolson was born that night and began a love affair with performance that would last his lifetime. However, we do know that this really may not have been his first experience for as early as 1899, he appeared in a production, The Children of The Ghetto as an extra and by 1900 was being paid for performing in various small time burlesque and vaudeville theaters. In 1909, Jolson joined Lew Dockstader's Minstrels (at left) and performed a number of solo works. It was with Dockstader that we first see the Blackface Jolson that later became so intertwined with Jolson's persona and by which he was most often remembered. It was also here that Jolson had his first try at a "mammy" song, singing It's A Long Way Back To Dear Old Mammy's Knees. Though associated later with such songs, his trademark kneeling position (seen at the top of the page) had not yet been introduced. That would come much much later, and quite by accident.

Jolson's popularity with audiences resulted in practices by him that would consternate and befuddle fellow performers, stage managers and writers of shows. In essence, if he saw fit he would often completely dispense with the show's plan or script and perform as he pleased. Often he would make impromptu remarks to the audience or completely take over a show. It was with extreme bravado and consummate confidence that Jolson would strike out on his own. Invariably, his actions met with success so no matter how annoying it may have been to his costars and show writers, it brought in the crowds and ticket sales so not much, if anything was done to "correct" him. Later in life, this "my way or the highway" attitude would work to Jolson's disadvantage and place him in disfavor among many producers and fellow performers. In 1909, at a performance at the Victoria, he stopped the show in progress and called for the houselights. He walked stage front and addressed the audience and began talking to the audience. He supposedly said; You know folks, this is the happiest day of my life, I just want to sing and sing. Ya wanna listen?" The audience enthusiastically responded and Jolson sang song after song for hours.

The famous show production brothers, Lee and J.J. Schubert took notice of Jolson and engaged Jolson to appear in the Premiere of the stage production, La Belle Paree at the opening of their Wintergarden Theater on March 20, 1911. Unfortunately, the show itself was a bomb from the beginning and the audience was becoming restless and many bolted from the theater as the show was in progress. Even Jolson's blackface performance of Jerome Kern's Paris is a Paradise for Coons failed to hold the audience's interest and people left in droves. Reviews the next day were withering in their attack of the show. On the next performance Jolson decided to dispense with the show as written and interrupted the production to talk about the critics reviews. Incredibly, Jolson then asked the audience if they would rather hear him sing rather than the rest of the show and of course, the audience agreed. Jolson then launched into his own performance and dismissed the entire production in one huge egotistical act of personal aggrandizement. The reviews encouraged this behavior by praising his actions and thus was started a pattern of audience adulation and solo performance that would go on for years. Crowds overflowed the Wintergarden and it became Jolson's personal venue for many years to follow.

To accommodate Jolson's popularity, in 1912 the Schuberts established weekly concerts at the Winter Garden where Jolson was allowed to perform at liberty. These performances always were well attended and he always performed without the blackface characterization. Robert Benchly wrote about these concerts in Life magazine where he said:

"As Jolson enters the stage it as if an electric current has been run along the wires under the seats where hats are stuck. The house comes to a tumultuous attention. He speaks, rolls his eyes, compresses his lips, and it is all over. You are a member of the Al Jolson Association. He trembles his lip and your heart breaks with a snap. He sings a song and you totter out to send a letter to your mother...while singing would run up and down his runway addressing members of the audience making them each feel that Jolson was singing to them alone."

It was in 1918 that Jolson's famous line developed; "you ain't heard nothin' yet," a line that would be made famous in his first talking film, The Jazz Singer, still 14 years in the future. The great operatic tenor Enrico Caruso was on a benefit show bill with Jolson. After Caruso's grand performance, Jolson and his ego stepped onto the stage and he uttered that famous line. What an insult but as we've already seen, Jolson seemed to care not one iota about how his actions affected others and seemed oblivious to his fellow performer's and their skills. The kneeling pose, which also became a signature of Jolson's performance also seems to have developed without forethought. Often attributed to his desire to get close to his audience, in fact, it originated not through some performing brilliance but because of an ingrown toenail. One night, Jolson was suffering great pain from the toenail and during his performance, he kneeled down to relieve the pressure on the foot and gesticulated wildly to make it appear as a part of the show. As with everything Jolson did, it clicked with the audience and from then on, the kneeling mammy singer pose was used constantly by Jolson.

According to Donald Clarke in The Rise and Fall of Popular Music (see our bibliography), from the period of 1912 to 1930, Jolson recorded eighty five songs. Of that total, 23 reached what we would consider number one hit status. Among the great hits of that era, many are remembered today as Jolson's alone even though other performers recorded or performed them. California Here I Come, Swanee, Toot, Toot Tootsie (Goo' Bye) and April Showers are among the many hits he performed. See our December, 2002 feature on Jolson songs for performances, cover images and other commentary on these songs and others he made famous. One of his most famous songs, My Mammy, was originally introduced in vaudeville by none other than William Frawley ( Lucille Ball's neighbor Fred Mertz, in I Love Lucy). Jolson liked the song so much, he had it included in his 1918 Broadway hit show, Sinbad. From that moment on, My Mammy belonged to Jolson and Frawley was relegated to obscurity till he joined Lucy. Jolson depended heavily on some of the periods greatest songwriters, especially Bud De Sylva, Sam Lewis, Joe Young and Jean Schwartz. However, around 1918, Jolson began writing lyrics and trying his hand at writing melodies. A number of songs he co-wrote also appear in the above mentioned December, 2002 feature.

Through the teens and into the late twenties, Jolson continued to appear in stage shows that featured him and his style. He continued to perform many roles in blackface, long after it was generally popular and most other performers had dispensed with it. Among the shows he appeared in were Dancing Around, (1914); Robinson Crusoe Jr., (1916); Sinbad, (1918); Bombo, (1921); and Big Boy, (1921). In 1927, the motion picture industry was trying to perfect sound and Jolson was approached to star in a film titled, The Jazz Singer. The film was not the first film with sound as many believe, nor did it have continuous sound and dialogue, but because of Jolson's popularity and personality, the movie sparked interest in sound films and was instrumental in getting public acceptance of "talkies".

Jolson became enamored with films as a way to spread his fame and style and stayed in Hollywood for many years and appeared in a number of other films including The Singing Fool, (1928), Say It With Songs, (1929) and Hallelujah, I'm A Bum, (1933), neither of which are as remembered as The Jazz Singer. However, The Singing Fool was the first movie to play at the Winter Garden, the place where Jolson had his greatest performance success. It also was the first movie to go over $3.00 for admission and to exceed $4 million dollars in gross receipts. In that film, Jolson sang some of his best songs including, I'm Sittin' On Top Of The World, It All Depends on You and Sonny Boy. (sorry, MIDI or Scorch not available for Sonny Boy due to copyright restrictions. See our publishing policy for more information.)

Jolson stayed in Hollywood and became a producer in 1944. He was virtually forgotten till 1946 when the film, The Jolson Story was released. Starry Larry Parks, the actual singing was done by Jolson. In 1949, Parks again starred as Jolson in Jolson Sings Again and Jolson enjoyed a resurgence in sales of his records as a result of these two films. Interestingly, much of the sales of his records were attributed to young girls' who were enamored more with the handsome young Parks than Jolson. In 1950, Jolson went to Korea to entertain troops there and a month later, he died.

Without question, Al Jolson changed the nature of performance style for the crooner/singer in the early 20th century. His panache, exuberance and ego conspired to create one of America's most legendary performers. A vain and self centered man, we cannot deny his talent and his ability to touch an audience and deliver great performances that were on target. In many cases, huge egos end up self deflating or prove to be unfounded. In Jolson;s case, his self proclaimed status as "the world's greatest entertainer" is probably deserved. Had he not said it himself, it is likely that he would have been crowned as the king of singers and earned the title without having claimed it himself.

Jolson should not be remembered for his Mammy singing or blackface entertainment. He was one of the first mega superstars who had a commanding voice in every medium of the time. He might have died before my mother was even born, but Jolson is a name that always will be remembered in my household. He should not be forgotten...

Monday, December 12, 2011


It is hard to believe that it is the Christmas season once again. There is nothing better to do at this season than to snuggle in with a good classic movie. Here are some unusual and different pictures of your favorite classic stars during the holidays...







Saturday, December 10, 2011


Even though the 1940s saw horrific suffering with World War II, the movies tried to remaine wholesome and innocent. Soldiers were seeing lost limbs and blood and carnage, but they were not allowed to see much of a sexual nature in films. It was too shocking for them to see Jane Russell's cleavage or Betty Grable's stocking clad legs. Many of the films of the early 1940s had a patriotic tone to them, and what better way to show your patriotism than by showing off beautiful girls. The sex symbols of the 1940s, in my opinion were drop dead beautiful. During World War II, these sex symbols made the soldiers have something to fight for, and after the war it gave them something to come home to. There were countless beauties in the movies during the 1940s, but here are a few of the most popular:

RITA HAYWORTH (1918-1987)
My personal favorite beauty of classic Hollywood, Rita Hayworth started as a teenage dancer, whose partner was her father. In the 1930s, they were billed as a couple - which in itself is creepy, but it did get her noticed by studio executives. A complete make-over including plastic surgery, changed her from Margarita Cansino to Rita Hayworth. Her beauty was literally breath taking, and she became a favorite of soldiers during World War II. When her most famous movie, Gilda, came out in 1946 the movie poster was censored due to a slight hint of her cleavage in the picture. It is amazing what was censored then as compared to now. Rita's life was a difficult one - from failed marriages to genius Orson Welles and singer Dick Haymes to suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Hayworth did not have it easy. She deserved better.

BETTY GRABLE (1916-1973)
She herself said she could not sing and was not particularly beautiful, but Betty Grable was the ultimate pin up girl for soldiers during World War II. Her seductive picture looking over her soldier was one of the most popular images of the war years. Yes, she was not the best singer or dancer, but from 1943 to 1950 she was one of the most popular female box office draws. She not only had a beauty about her, but she also seemed like an average girl that you could take to a dance or have a beer with. I think that was more sexy than anything to the soldiers during the war and after when they were coming home. Betty Grable was America to these soldiers who were giving their lives for their country.

AVA GARDNER (1922-1990)
If Betty Grable was the girl next door, then Ava Gardner was the girl from the other side of the tracks. She started in movies for MGM in the early 1940s, but I feel she really made her mark in film noir movies of the late 1940s. Her come hither look heated up the screen as never before. Like Rita Hayworth though, she did not have a very happy life. She was married to such famous men as bandleader Artie Shaw and singer Frank Sinatra, and her later years were filled with many health problems. When she died in 1990, she was reportedly penniless, so ex husband Frank Sinatra paid for her whole funeral. However, to see Ava Gardner in a movie is to experience pure sexuality as never before.

LANA TURNER (1921-1995)
Another MGM alumni, Lana Turner was called "The Sweater Girl" because obviously she could fill a sweater better than anyone! During World War II, Turner became a popular pin-up girl due to her popularity in such films such as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), Johnny Eager (1942), and four films with Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer's "king of the lot", Clark Gable. The Turner-Gable films' successes were only heightened by gossip-column rumors about a relationship between the two. In 1957, Turner's daughter was accused of murdering Lana Turner's boyfriend, and it was actually believed that Turner was the one that killed him. Despite the scandal, Turner remained a huge star throughout the 1960s.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Hedy Lamarr ,an old Hollywood beauty, had a brain. It's a fact that may be nearly as overlooked as the inventor's wartime creation: landmark technology that was a precursor to Bluetooth.

It's not surprising that she's known best for her sultry persona, given her film role that made everyone sit up and take notice. In 1933's "Ecstasy," a Czech film, she raised eyebrows and drew condemnation around the globe when she appeared nude in one part of the film and simulated an orgasm in another. Lamarr is seen going skinny-dipping and, still without a stitch on, chasing a runaway horse. The orgasm scene comes later, and, yes, she does smoke a cigarette afterward. "Ecstasy" is considered the first theatrically released movie to feature an actress simulating an orgasm on screen.

Take that, Meg Ryan.

Now, Richard Rhodes has revealed the nerdy side of this legendary beauty and superstar.

His new book, "Hedy's Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World," tells about the invention and how her role in its creation was long ignored.

In a recent interview on NPR's "All Things Considered," Rhodes said Lamarr was the type of person who "was constantly looking at the world and wondering how can that be fixed, how can that be improved."

During an early, unhappy marriage to an Austrian arms dealer (!), Rhodes said, Lamarr would sit at dinner parties given by her husband for Nazi generals, listening to them talk about weapons. With her interest in science, he said, she listened closely to the weapons talk.

Lamarr later escaped that marriage — although not by dressing up as one of her maids and jumping out a window. That story was a fabrication by Lamarr, the author said. She did, however, book passage on a ship with Louis Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and by the time the ship reached its destination, she had a seven-year, $3,000-a-week contract with the film studio.

"Algiers" (1938), with Charles Boyer, followed soon after, and Lamarr became a huge star.

Lamarr's invention came about, Rhodes said, because "she was keenly aware of the coming war. She was glued to the newspaper, reading the stories. ... When German submarines began torpedoing passenger liners, she felt at that point, 'I've got to invent something that will put a stop to that.' "

Her idea involved making a radio signal "hop around from radio frequency to radio frequency," Rhodes said, to interfere with signal jamming. Thus, a torpedo could be radio guided with less fear of having the signal jammed.

She and a partner obtained a patent, then gave it free of charge to the U.S. Navy. Brilliant, yes?

The Navy "basically threw it into the file," Rhodes said. Later, however, the idea of frequency-hopping was resuscitated by the Navy, and "then the whole system spread like wildfire. The most well-known application today is Bluetooth."

So why isn't Hedy Lamarr the Inventor a famous name?

The patent had expired, Rhodes said, plus, during most of the device's life it was a military secret. By the time it came out, it had gone through many permutations with input from various sources.

"She was simply lost in the noise."


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Harry Morgan, Colonel Potter on ‘M*A*S*H,’ Dies at 96

Harry Morgan, the prolific character actor best known for playing the acerbic but kindly Colonel Potter in the long-running television series “M*A*S*H,” died Wednesday morning at his home in Los Angeles. He was 96. His son Charles confirmed his death, saying Mr. Morgan had been treated for pneumonia recently.

In more than 100 movies, Mr. Morgan played Western bad guys, characters with names like Rocky and Shorty, loyal sidekicks, judges, sheriffs, soldiers, thugs and police chiefs.

On television, he played Officer Bill Gannon with a phlegmatic but light touch to Jack Webb’s always-by-the-book Sgt. Joe Friday in the updated “Dragnet,” from 1967 to 1970. He starred as Pete Porter, a harried husband, in the situation comedy “Pete and Gladys” (1960-62), reprising a role he had played on “December Bride” (1954-59). He was also a regular on “The Richard Boone Show” (1963-64), “Kentucky Jones” (1964-65), “The D.A.” (1971-72), “Hec Ramsey” (1972-74) and “Blacke’s Magic” (1986).But to many fans he was first and foremost Col. Sherman T. Potter, commander of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in Korea. With a wry smile, flat voice and sharp humor, Mr. Morgan played Colonel Potter from 1975 to 1983, when “M*A*S*H” went off the air. He replaced McLean Stevenson, who had quit the series, moving into the role on the strength of his performance as a crazed major general in an early episode.

In an interview for the Archive of American Television, Mr. Morgan said of his “M*A*S*H” character: “He was firm. He was a good officer and he had a good sense of humor. I think it’s the best part I ever had.” Colonel Potter’s office had several personal touches. The picture on his desk was of Mr. Morgan’s wife, Eileen Detchon. To relax, the colonel liked to paint and look after his horse, Sophie — a sort of inside joke, since the real Harry Morgan raised quarter horses on a ranch in Santa Rosa. Sophie, to whom Colonel Potter says goodbye in the final episode, was Mr. Morgan’s own horse.

In 1980 his Colonel Potter earned him an Emmy Award as best supporting actor in a comedy series. During the shooting of the series’ final episode, he was asked about his feelings. “Sadness and an aching heart,” he replied

Harry Morgan was born Harry Bratsburg on April 10, 1915, in Detroit. His parents were Norwegian immigrants. After graduating from Muskegon High School, where he played varsity football and was senior class president, he intended to become a lawyer, but debating classes in his pre-law major at the University of Chicago stimulated his interest in the theater. He made his professional acting debut in a summer stock production of “At Mrs. Beam’s” in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and his Broadway debut in 1937 in the original production of “Golden Boy,” starring Luther Adler, in a cast that also included Karl Malden and Lee J. Cobb.

After moving to California in 1942, he was spotted by a talent scout in a Santa Barbara stock company’s production of William Saroyan’s one-act play “Hello Out There.” Signing a contract with 20th Century Fox, he originally used the screen name Henry Morgan, but changed Henry to Harry in the 1950s to avoid confusion with the radio and television humorist Henry Morgan.

Mr. Morgan attracted attention almost immediately. In “The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943), which starred Henry Fonda, he was praised for his portrayal of a drifter caught up in a lynching in a Western town. Reviewing “A Bell for Adano” (1945), based on John Hersey’s novel about the Army in a liberated Italian town, Bosley Crowther wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Morgan was “crude and amusing as the captain of M.P.’s.”

He went on to appear in “All My Sons” (1948), based on the Arthur Miller play, with Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster; “The Big Clock” (1948), in which he played a silent, menacing bodyguard to Charles Laughton; “Yellow Sky” (1949), with Gregory Peck and Anne Baxter; and the critically praised western “High Noon” (1952), with Gary Cooper. Among his other notable films were “The Teahouse of the August Moon” (1956), with Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford, and “Inherit the Wind” (1960), with Spencer Tracy and Fredric March, in which he played a small-town Tennessee judge hearing arguments about evolution in the fictionalized version of the Scopes “monkey trial.” In “How the West Was Won” (1962), he played Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

After a personable performance as Glenn Miller’s pianist, Chummy MacGregor, in “The Glenn Miller Story” (1954), starring James Stewart, he often played softer characters as well as his trademark hard-bitten tough guys. There were eventually a number of comedies on his résumé, among them “John Goldfarb, Please Come Home” (1965), with Shirley MacLaine and Peter Ustinov; “The Flim-Flam Man” (1967), with George C. Scott; “Support Your Local Sheriff!” (1969), with James Garner and Walter Brennan; and “The Apple Dumpling Gang” (1975), a Disney movie with Tim Conway and Don Knotts.

He returned as Bill Gannon, by now promoted to captain, in the 1987 movie “Dragnet,” a comedy remake of the series starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks.

Mr. Morgan’s television credits were prodigious. He once estimated that in one show or another, he was seen in prime time for 35 straight years. Regarded as one of the busiest actors in the medium, he had continuing roles in at least 10 series, which, combined with his guest appearances, amounted to hundreds of episodes. He reprised the role of Sherman Potter in “AfterMASH” (1983-85), a short-lived spinoff.

Among the later shows on which he appeared as a guest star were “The Love Boat, “ “3rd Rock From the Sun,” “You Can’t Take It With You,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Jeff Foxworthy Show.”

Mr. Morgan’s first wife, Eileen Detchon, died in 1985 after 45 years of marriage. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Bushman, whom he married in 1986; three sons from his first marriage, Christopher, Charles and Paul; and eight grandchildren. A fourth son, Daniel, died in 1989. Mr. Morgan lived in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles.

His son Charles, a lawyer in Los Angeles, said in a telephone interview that he would marvel at his father’s photographic memory. “My dad would read a script the way somebody else would read Time magazine and put it down and be on the set the next day,” he said.

But Harry Morgan never sat as a guest on a talk show, Charles Morgan said ; it did not seem appropriate or necessary. “Appearing on a talk show to focus on himself because he was Harry Morgan,” he said, “was not nearly as natural as appearing in a role as Pete Porter or Bill Gannon or Colonel Potter, or as the cowboy drifter who wandered into town with Henry Fonda and got wrapped up in a vigilante brigade in ‘Ox-Bow Incident.’ ”