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I felt like a kid, tonight.  In fact, it felt like I had the excitement of all my birthdays and Christmases all combined.

Quintin and I met Brian Pollock at The Greene to watch the movie I’ve waited several years to see.

The theatre, at 6:30pm, was packed for the 7:00pm showing, and we sat down in the lower tier, or as Brian aptly stated, “laying down in front of the TV on the floor.”  I was thrilled to see the theater packed.  At first, when I saw the immense lines of young teen girls, I was hopeful that LINCOLN-fever had reached their generation; however, I soon learned they were there to see the new TWILIGHT movie.

My bottom line reaction:  BRAVO!

I am sure the historians will find fault with this movie.  Naturally, there were items I knew, or believed to be historically inaccurate, but this is not a documentary.  LINCOLN is a fictional account based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin, TEAM OF RIVALS.  Tony Award winning playwright, Tony Kushner, delivered a tight, believable, and emotional script that highlighted some of our country’s greatest individuals set against the backdrop of the Civil War.

Before the movie even hit theaters, folks were complaining about Sally Field being too old, photos of the White House set not being accurate, or a myriad of other picky items.  Folks were concerned the script would not be accurate.  Again, it was a fictional account, based on actual events.  If we were to examine THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE KING AND I, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN, ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, GYPSY, and others, we would be appalled at the truth versus the fictional accounts portrayed on stage.  LINCOLN is no different.

Following a robust applause, the credits scrolled upward.  It was an impressive line-up of names!  I asked Brian if there any actors left in Hollywood to film other movies while this was being filmed.  Incredible performances from some incredible actors.

Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, as President Lincoln & Mary Todd Lincoln, were everything I hoped they would be.  I was not let down.  Hal Holbrook was brilliant, and I did love the fact that a former Lincoln-actor, LINCOLN (television 1974-1975), was included in this list of stars.  There was not one performance that disappointed me.

For me, the most delightful performance was delivered by Tommy Lee Jones, portraying Pennsylvania congressman, Thaddeus Stevens.  Outstanding!  I smell a supporting actor Oscar nomination!

Many have commented on Daniel Day Lewis’ voice in the movie.  I think everyone believes Abraham Lincoln had a booming baritone voice like James Earl Jones; however, Lincoln’s voice was described as “high pitched, thin and reedy.”  It served him well during speeches before thousands of spectators in an era without electronic sound amplification.  I believe Daniel Day Lewis captured Lincoln’s voice.

In the early stages, several colleagues were fearful of Sally Fields being 20 years older than Daniel Day Lewis, and not matching the 9 year age difference between Lincoln and Mary Todd.  I oft reminded the critics that Mrs. Lincoln, at age 44, looked much older, and with the blessings of Max Factor, Sally Field would be right in the ball park.

And, she was!

Sally Field has succeeded a long line of well-known actresses who have portrayed the first lady:

  • Jane Curtin
  • Donna Murphy
  • Sada Thompson (opposite Hal Holbrook)
  • Glenn Close
  • Ellen Burstyn
  • Mary Tyler Moore
  • Julie Harris (in the Broadway play, THE LAST OF MRS. LINCOLN, penned by fellow Ball State University graduate, James Prideaux)
  • Lillian Gish
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald
  • Ruth Gordon
  • and dozens more…

When Gore Vidal’s LINCOLN premiered on television, I was horrified by Mary Tyler Moore’s abrasive portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln.  With the combined script, direction and acting, I felt Tyler-Moore’s particular portrayal was just awful.  Sally Field, for me, personally, was Mary Todd Lincoln.  Ms. Field was terribly believable, capturing Mrs. Lincoln’s fire, intelligence, grace, doubts, feelings and frustrations of being left out of her husband’s White House work, charm, political savvy, tender and protective maternal nature, and a Mary that was very capable of holding her own in a world ruled by men!

Were there items I feel should have been included to better round out the character of Mrs. Lincoln?

Of course.  But this movie was not about Mary Todd Lincoln.  It focused on President Lincoln and those who fought to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.  The writing and directing of this particular character was far better than previous attempts, and Ms. Field’s professional, and personal choices pleased me very much.

There were a few scenes that were historically adjusted, but those moments seemed to strengthen Mary Lincoln’s heartbreak and devastation at the loss of her son, Willie, who died within their first year of residency in the White House, as well as the fire and capacity that Mrs. Lincoln exhibited, much to Abraham’s success.

So… go see LINCOLN.

If you are a historian, take off your historian cap, as I did, and simply rejoice in the truly great work, and the fact that the Lincolns are currently a fairly hot commodity in motion pictures!

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Mock trial finds

Mary Todd Lincoln was not insane

Re-enactment at presidential museum finds former first lady wrongfully committed

By Jason Nevel

Posted Oct 01, 2012 @ 10:44 PM

SPRINGFIELD —

Jurors in 1875 made the wrong choice in committing Mary Todd Lincoln to a mental institution, a retrial of the famous case found Monday.

The re-enactment was held at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, with area judges serving as attorneys arguing for and against the widow of President Lincoln. The audience served as the jury.

In 1875, the nation’s former first lady was judged insane during a trial in Chicago and ordered to a Batavia sanitarium. She obtained an early release, and, one year later, another jury found her sane.

First Lady Mary Lincon

For more than 100 years, historians have debated whether there was enough evidence to ever commit Mrs. Lincoln to an institution. In Monday’s event, actors in period costumes portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln and her son Robert Lincoln, who filed the petition to have his mother involuntarily committed. The retrial lasted more than two hours.

The vote on whether to institutionalize the troubled first lady was 68 for and 159 against. A similar retrial was held Sept. 24 in Chicago. Audience members there also overwhelmingly disagreed with the initial verdict.

Beth Pendergast, a Springfield audience member, said she believed there was enough to prove Mary Todd Lincoln was insane based on her erratic behavior.

Historical accounts describe Mary Todd Lincoln as slowly going insane after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the death of three sons. However, some people argue Robert Lincoln was trying to protect the family’s reputation.

To open up the trial, Robert Lincoln, portrayed by Zach Kenney of Chicago, was questioned by a lawyer portrayed by Ronald Spears, a circuit judge in Christian County.

Robert Lincoln said his mother, for unknown reasons, thought he was ill and traveled from Florida to Chicago to see him. On the train ride there, she said someone tried to poison her coffee and steal her purse, he said.

While staying at a hotel in Chicago, Robert Lincoln further testified that his mother thought the city of Chicago was on fire, she could hear voices through the walls, and his mother thought he was going to kill her. There was also testimony about Mrs. Lincoln’s spending habits.

Having her committed was for her safety, Robert Lincoln said.

“I want to protect her and provide her the treatment she needs,” he said.

Mrs. Lincoln’s defense said she feared for Robert Lincoln’s safety because her three other sons had died of illness. Her actions were motivated by her desire to protect her surviving son, her lawyer said.

Actress Sally Field as First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln

Last night, Quintin and I enjoyed a late dinner at The Noodle Company located in The Greene.  Afterwards, we grabbed some videos since he did not have to be at school Friday until 11:30am due to the on-going OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) for sophomores, only.  We settled down with Adam Sandler’s JACK & JILL, and though I am not a true Adam Sandler fan, I did laugh a good deal.

After the movie, I began the process of preparing my taxes, and remained at the job until 2:30am.  I slept, off and on, until 7:45am, at which time, I rose to get the morning chores completed – feeding dogs, taking my meds, sugar checks, breakfast.  The taxes were completed in less than three hours, thanks to continued preparation throughout the year.

In a few hours I will teach my regular lesson load, as well as some additional make-up lessons. Quintin has percussion rehearsal until 8:00pm, and I should be finishing up teaching.  Hopefully, we can grab another movie.

Saturday morning will bring several more make-up lessons, and then some fun time of hiking in Woodland Cemetery, or Carillon Park, until Quintin’s 5:00pm-9:00pm percussion rehearsal.

Sunday, I believe, is a completely free day… absolutely nothing on the agenda. It would be nice to trip down to Cincy to the zoo, or aquarium, but I’ve not made arrangements for the dogs.

Friday afternoon, I ventured to over to the middle school down the street to watch Fairmont’s PM-Concert Band in the OMEA (Ohio Music Educators Association) perform their contest literature.  They received a II-Division rating.  Quintin worked as a judge’s assistant later in the evening.

Saturday, Quintin worked in the main office from 8:30am-Noon.  I was mentally, and physically, exhausted from a very long week, and remained in my bed/sitting room the remainder of the day, reading, napping and watching some movies.

Saturday night, after a quick bite to eat at Panera, we attended the production, CHILDREN OF EDEN, written by Stephen Schwartz. The production was beautifully sung – when you could hear it. The orchestra, which was very good, over-powered the entire production.  The only time I could hear the lush beauty of the music was during the few moments when the cast sang a capella. Even the dialogue underscoring was drowned.

Sunday morning was a flurry of activity: Quintin was up showered, fed, and at the high school for a 7:00am rehearsal call, preparing for their 11:38am performance at the MEPA contest in Centerville. I rose after Quint was gone – having slept three hours – and hurried to the National Museum of the United States Air Force to secure three tickets for the Presidential Gallery. Unfortunately, all parties needed to be present to present their identification.

At 10:15am, our dear family friend, and member of the god-parent team, Jeffrey Carter, arrived. Jeff, currently a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, judged a show choir competition in Fort Wayne on Saturday, and stopped by for a visit prior to heading on down to Cincinnati to see MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG.

After chatting, and playing with the fury trio, we moved on to Centerville High School to watch Fairmont perform at MEPA. Uncle Jeff finally got to meet Quintin, following the contest, and they hit it off beautifully. We left CHS, and headed immediately to the Air Force Museum where we spent several hours.

Following dinner at Milano’s, we spent some time chatting at The Haasienda before Jeff traveled on to Cincy. It was such a nice visit, and we both look forward to seeing Jeff again this summer.

It was a busy, yet, very relaxing weekend!

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Navi, Chief and Flyer were not about to rouse themselves at 5:00am when The Haasienda began stirring as Quintin showered, and readied himself for a 6:00am rehearsal prior to the MEPA/Bellbrook HS competition.

After Quintin left, Mother and I talked most of the morning away over coffee, and enjoying the antics of the dogs who seemed to enjoy having a new audience for which to perform.

Fairmont’s percussion line did an exceptionally good job this morning, and walked away with a win in their newly elevated class.

Not too long after arriving home, Quintin was back, and we ventured to Hibachi Grill for dinner.

We lounged in my bed/sitting room watching episodes of THE MIDDLE, as well as Jerry Lewis’ WHO’S MINDING THE STORE, another movie, and now the end of The 2012 Academy Awards.

It’s been such a pleasurable weekend, and here are some photos to remember Mother’s visit…

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“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” – Richard Nixon

This morning, while relaxing, I watched the movie, FROST/NIXON (2008), starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, and directed by Ron Howard.  I found the movie superbly crafted, and the lead actors were indefinably believable.  

Ironically, the other night, as I was preparing to fall asleep, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN came on television.

“Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them…       And then you destroy yourself.” – Richard Nixon

I was between the ages of 7 and 9 year when Watergate was hot on the airwaves.  I preferred watching the Watergate hearings on television over baseball practice – but, I had to go to practice.  The drama that engulfed our nation was inescapable, even at my age.  When my grandparents took me to Washington, DC in mid-July 1974, the air was thick with tension, and uncertainty. A few weeks later, my parents and I were vacationing at Myrtle Beach.  Mother called me in from the hotel’s swimming pool, and commanded me to to hurry up to the room. Within a few minutes of settling in front of the television set, President Nixon appeared before the camera, offering to the nation his resignation of the presidency.

President Nixon’s history continues to be researched, and translated, and probably will throughout my life-time. Now, that we have entered the 40-years anniversaries of the events that unfolded during Watergate, we will surely be reminded of the darkest hour of our country’s history that defined the end of the twentieth century, and redefined the presidency.

Before President Nixon died in April 1994, he had already defined his legacy through the many contributions throughout his years as an elder statesman.  I’ve always believed this president’s choices were similar to his predecessors, and those who followed, maybe more, perhaps less. I still believe he served the country with great courage, and tremendous dedication.

“Certainly in the next 50 years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do.”

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

At 5:15am, The Haasienda was ablaze with lights, and much activity, as Quintin got ready to leave with the Fairmont Percussion Ensemble for a major contest in Indianapolis.  The dogs were confused with the activity, as this morning’s routine was slightly different than the typical weekday/weekend morning.  After Quintin left at 5:55am, I settled back in my bed, prepared to sleep; however, I was wide awake until 7:00am. I did manage to doze a bit, but felt the day wasting away.

After getting the dogs through their morning routine, and eating my own breakfast, I began rearranging, and cleaning the living room.  By Noon, CNN was broadcasting Whitney Houston’s funeral.  I listened to the marathon-service while completing my chores.  I spent a good 9o-minutes rearranging, and adding more hanging photographs to the living room wall.  Once that was completed, I swept the entire house, and then deep-cleaned all the carpets and rugs.

By 4:00pm, Whitney’s funeral was finally winding down, and my chores were wrapped up with a thorough kitchen-cleaning.  I showered, and drove to Fox & Hound restaurant near the Fairfield Commons to have a three-hour dinner with my very dear friend, Suzanne Grote.  We had an absolute blast, as we always do.

At 8:00pm, I entered Gabriel Brothers, and found some great deals.  I ventured on to Kroger for a few groceries, and returned home to the enthusiastic greeting from Navi and Chief.  After another 90 minutes of additional tidying-up, I am now settled in bed with Chief and Navi at my feet.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will relax, teach a few lessons, and eagerly greet my son upon his return from Indianapolis.  The ensemble placed 3rd out of 18 exceptionally good drum-lines today, so tomorrow will be an exciting day!

Some will scratch their heads for a second as they try to recognize this lovely lady.  Some will immediately go to the link.

This is the photograph:

If you cannot figure out who she is, go to Mystery Actress

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This morning I happened to view Matt Lauer’s TODAY SHOW interview/reunion with the actors portraying the family from THE WALTONS.  It was refreshing and uplifting to see these familiar, albeit, older faces.  I found myself smiling throughout the interview as though the seven children and Mama Walton were seated right before me.

What a wonderful gift they offered this morning.

As I strolled through my well-rehearsed morning events of letting dogs out to potty, feeding dogs, giving a dog an insulin shot, pouring my coffee, reading my emails, etc., I kept thinking about THE WALTONS.  When I was a child there were two to three television programs on every night that I could not wait to see.  Forty years later, I generally find myself eager to watch ONCE UPON A TIME on Sunday evenings, and THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY on Wednesdays.  That is it.  Nothing else really appeals to me.  Grant it, that allows more time to spend with my son doing homework, or other time-quality items, but I am still a little sad that my son cannot enjoy television the way I did in my youth.

What is more, we watched these television programs as a family.  This is how we do it in The Haasienda, as well.  As noted this morning by Matt Lauer to the WALTONS actors, “You sat down to dinner together.”  And yes, we sit down to dinner together in this house.

My mother did it that way, as did her parents.

Ma & Pa Ingalls did it that way.

Mama & Daddy Walton did it that way.

Mom & Dad Brady did it that way (but, damned if they didn’t have a maid serving their dinners!)

What was good enough for Mother, the Ingalls, the Waltons, the Bradys and countless other TV families is good enough for my family!

The families of the 1970’s had their own share of dysfunction, but it was all about the way they minimaliszed their dysfunction rather than highlighting it.  Grant it, there were those wonderful sitcoms, ALL IN THE FAMILY and THE JEFFERSONS, along with others, that highlighted their dysfunction, but in the end, their values always surfaced.  They also primed their dysfunction to be the comedic focus for each episode.  With the hideous reality programs, which I deplore, there is little resolution but plenty of notification that more sophomoric drama is to come.

I feel blessed to have grown up in an era where television was more value-centered, and less dysfunction-driven.  Those episodes, scenes, characters and theme songs are still with me today.

Why else would I take the time to blog about them when I should be cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, mopping puppy-tracked floors, etc.?

Growing up in the late 1960’s, I was surrounded with many familiar words, or terms…

DMZ (demilitarized zone)

KIA

MIA

Viet Cong

Cambodia

POW

Tet Offensive

Ho Chi Minh Trail

On the evening news there were television images of helicopters and jungles.  I was glued to these images – not by a macabre force – but by the hope of seeing my uncle, Garry Jolliff, in those jungles or riding around in one of those nifty helicopters.  I can remember the thrill of having Uncle Garry’s letters read to me allowed by my parents.  I had a little rubber American GI doll that I called, ‘Uncle Garry.’  I watched the Bob Hope Specials, and sat close to the television set so I could search the crowds for Uncle Garry.

I was sure he would be there to see Bob Hope.

One night during one of the Bob Hope shows, I remember turning to Mother, who was standing behind the ironing board while the sweet smell of Spray Starch filled the air.

“Will I have to go to war?”

Since I was a very small boy, I am sure she was relieved to answer, “I hope not.”  However, there was also an expression on her face that was seared into my mind, and still vivid forty-odd years later.  I know that expression well.  My nineteen year old son is finishing up basic training, and the possibility of going to battle for an uncertain purpose looms in the near future.

Now, it is my turn to say, “I hope not.”

This evening, my sixteen year old son and I sat in my sitting room to watch GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM.  I knew most of the Vietnamese War jargon would be over his head, but I was certain he would enjoy Robin Williams’ portrayal of Adrian Cronauer.  And he did.  He asked how old I was when the movie came out…  twenty-three years old.  Did I like the movie when it came out?  Most certainly!  Robin Williams was a box office draw, and I returned to watch the movie several times while it was still in theaters.

Tonight, the movie was still hilarious, but I truly saw the movie for the first time.  It cried out to me like the musical, MISS SAIGON: ‘those living reminders of all the good we failed to do.’

Sunday, the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I did not post anything on Facebook in regard to the modern day of infamy.  The same rhetoric was appearing over, and over on status updates, and nothing really spoke to me.  I am not saying I was not moved by the heart-breaking scenes that were linked across many of the television channels, I simply chose to remain silent.

Always remember… 

Never forget…

Tonight, when I finished watching the movie I thought back to my early youth when Vietnam was nothing but a very long, drawn-out, agonizing form of 9/11.  The dark foreboding of families fearing “the news” might be delivered seemed to linger, and in our own home, as well.  The nightly news tallied the number of soldiers killed that day.  Images of bombings, fires, tanks, helicopters, wounded soldiers blazed from the television set each night.  News of distant family and friends losing a loved-one in combat stuck in the air like the repetitive-scratchy sound of a record player that has run its course in playing a record.  There were scenes of destruction, scenes of a young spy being executed, scenes of Buddhist monks being engulfed in suicidal flames, scenes of… always, more scenes.  The day of 9/11 I saw the scenes live – much like scenes broadcast during Vietnam.  The days following 9/11, the scenes were repeated with numbness.

During 9/11, and especially this Sunday I heard about one hero after another.  As a young child, I do not recall hearing about heroes of Vietnam.  I remember Uncle Garry’s stories on the battlefield, and the story of the fellow soldier beside him on the helicopter who placed his own St. Christopher’s medal around my seriously wounded uncle’s neck – my uncle survived, but the soldier did not – but I cannot recall ever hearing anyone from that era referred to as a hero.

As I sit here in my study, typing out my thoughts of the movie, a National Geographic documentary on Henry Kissinger is rolling.  That voice, coupled with so many photos and video clips of the Vietnam era seems to be a sign that I will be conducting more soul-searching, more research.  For what purpose, I do not know.  Too many God-winks all in one evening.

The scars of WWII and the Korean War have all but vanished.  The scalding scars of Vietnam are healing, but will probably not be entirely extinguished in my life-time.  Two other wars have occurred since Vietnam.  But these wars talk openly about heroes.  It seems as though the Vietnam war had its own ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy but obviously nothing to do with Gays in the military.

I knew one particular hero who served in the Vietnam War.  He died nine years ago, physically crippled by wounds received in Vietnam, but a spirit that rose far beyond the jungles in which he fought.  When completely crippled veterans were only receiving 10% disability funding, Uncle Garry embarked on a mission far greater, far nobler than the mission he was coerced to serve as a twenty-one year old young man.  The veterans – those oft ignored heroes of ‘that’ war – now have full disability coverage.  However, I am confident they still live with those scars.  May God bless them, and aide them in their continued healing.

“And I think to my self, ‘what a wonderful world.'”

‘1776’ – John Adams: “One useless man is called a disgrace; two are called a law firm; and three or more become a Congress.”

This afternoon, my 16 year old son, Quintin, and I drove 35 miles to Wilmington, Ohio to see Wilmington College Community Summer Theatre‘s production of  ‘1776.’  One of my Ball State University friends, Timothy Larrick, was to perform as Roger Sherman – “the simple cobbler from Connecticut.”

I was slightly hesitant when I read it would be a concert version, that several women would portray the delegates, andthat the director was also performing the role of John Adams.  I am always slightly leery of productions where directors involve themselves in the actual production.  Actually, I find it a tad bit on the tacky side.  Either direct the production, or perform in the production – do not attempt to do both as it seldom works, nor plays well.

The concert version was outstanding!   The focus was on the delightful script and music!  It was refreshing, to say the least.  I did not miss the costuming, the lighting, the scenic designs, etc..  The limited staging was most effective, and kept the show moving.

And the women?  Fantastic!  They blended in with the male ensemble, and carried their male-roles very well.  Stephen Hopkins, portrayed by Claudia Fowler, was not less funny, or growling.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with Steven Haines’ performance, and directing of this production which I found to be even more powerful, and poignant in the staged-concert setting.  Mr. Haines never once let me down for a second in his portrayal of one of my favorite presidents, and musical theatre roles.  As for directors performing in their own productions on purpose, Mr. Haines is a rare exception.

There were so many memorable performances…

Timothy Larrick as Roger Sherman…  Tim Brausch as Benjamin Franklin…  Wayne Dunn as John Dickinson…  Dean Feldmeyer as Richard Henry Lee…  J. Wynn Alexander as Thomas Jefferson…  Jack Filkins as Charles Thomson, secretary…

Bryan S. Wallingford mastered the role of South Carolina’s, Edward Rutlegde, so well, that I was actually despising the character as he attempted to squelch the movement.

Tricia Heys gave Abigail Adams an incredible multi-dimensional quality, and by the time we arrived as “Yours, Yours, Yours,” I was a tad damp around the eyes.  Her voice was lovely, and powerful to match John Adams’ mainstay, and her acting and beauty pulled you even closer to the patriotic-duo that helped lay the foundation of this country.

The last two-quarters of Scene Seven – the ending of the show – were incredible.  When the delegates had abandoned John Adams at the eleventh hour, I was on the edge of my seat with my stomach in a knot.

This is damned good theatre!  It was like seeing TITANIC… I know how the story ends, but if the production does what it should, I am pulled into their moment on the stage while abandoning any knowledge of history.  ‘1776’ certainly did the job!

As we were leaving, I told one of my friends, Aaron Jacobs, that this production had given me a fine dose of Vitamin-T (theatre) that I’d sorely been missing.  I felt rejuvenated, fulfilled, appreciative of the creators, appreciate of the WCCST, and most certainly, grateful for those true founding parents who stepped into treasonous roles knowingly fully well they were merely experimenting with a belief that they could succeed.

Ironically, I recognized a number of similarities between the portrayed Continental Congress, and our current Congress.  Nothing is ever accomplished quickly, and without agendas.

I wish there was a second weekend of WCCST’s “1776” as I would be shooing folks from The Miami Valley down to Wilmington this coming weekend.  And I would be returning, myself, to enjoy this production – again!

The company is listed as a community theatre; however, they were quite a notch above typical community theatre.   This was not community theatre.

This was DAMNED GOOD THEATRE!

Please be sure to check out Wilmington College Theatre Department and WCCST on Facebook.

What an incredible evening!

Dinner at UNO’s with Quintin was loaded with good humor, and great food.  I love eating at UNO’s prior to a show at The Victoria Theatre, or The Schuster Center, because there is that familiar electricity in the air that is not only energizing, but comforting, as well.  I absolutely love that feeling I get before a production begins.

Quintin’s eyes devoured the expansive, imposing lobby of the Schuster Center.  While at the ticket center, I personally met someone who had just written me that morning about my posts on Facebook.  It was such a nice surprise.

We took our seats – four apart – and the families began pouring into the auditorium.  Yes, it looked like a sea of young sprouts ready to watch Disney On Ice, but I love seeing the little peeps at the theatre, or in concerts.  Seated next to me was a plump little thing not older than 8 years, who had no control over her body, whatsoever.  Within a few minutes I had dubbed her Princess Bounce A Lot!

We were up in the upper balcony, and could not see the incredible dome which, to me, is one of the most gorgeous memorials to The Wright Brothers.  The dome is the constellation’s configuration above Dayton the night before the Wright Brother’s first flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.  Every time I see it I am quite touched.

I don’t believe I have ever attended a production where giraffes simply walking across the stage received an ovation; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen giraffes on stage… well, perhaps in some productions of Children of Eden.  The opening number continued to build, and build, and build until there was this enormous wall of sound, and a scenic moment of set, costumes, lighting that was breathtaking.  I kept thinking how famous scenic & lighting designer, Jo Mielziner would have reacted to this moment – and the many more that were to follow.

I had thoroughly enjoyed the animated motion picture, The Lion King, when it first appeared on the scene years ago, tonight the story’s line came to life in a much richer expanse.  I love the themes where the protagonist has no idea when it is his time to step up the role for which he is truly intended.  I saw some Hamlet peek through, but more of Moses and Lincoln.  Good always triumphs over evil.

Several times I looked down the row to see how Quintin was taking in this epic experience.  I know I probably teared up a little as I watched him bounce to the music, his head toss back with laughter, and a smile remain on his face.   Following intermission, Princess Bounce A Lot and her mother were escorted to different seats, so Quintin joined me.  I could tell he was loving every minute.  After the show we walked over to Riverscape, and he cheerfully pointed out his favorite moments.

As I sit here, several hours following the production’s close, I cannot decide if I watched true musical theatre, or something beyond legitimate musical theatre.  At times, the beauty on stage seemed to be living scenery choreographed to music.  And, it truly does not matter.  All that matters is that I was fortunate to share this experience with a new son.

This has been an amusing several days for news.

  • Lindsay Lohan is sentenced to jail and rehab…
  • Mel Gibson has been acting up, again…
  • Touch Down Jesus will be rebuilt – full body from Indiana limestone…
  • The Barefoot Bandit has alluded authorities several times this past week…
  • And the big item this week… Lebron James…

Hmmm….

First off, I had no idea who Miss Lohan was. In fact, I almost thought they were talking about J-Lo (Jennifer Lopez). I did a quick search and found out she was a supermodel, an actress and a singer. OK… cool.

For several days I read, or heard about this mysterious announcement to be made by Lebron James. Since I do not follow sports, and only half listen to television news I figured someone was getting ready to announce their candidacy for the 2012 Presidential Election. I mean, isn’t it about time for the campaigning to begin?

The comments on Facebook, and Twitter, are downright hilarious to me! You would have thought this young guy was discovered to be one of the ten spies returned to Russia yesterday. It reminded me of the night the Baltimore Colts were whisked away in a bus to Indianapolis – fans appeared furious that a sports team leaving their community! You would have thought Michigan and Ohio State University had switched fight songs (if you are from Ohio, you would understand the blasphemy, and severity of such an action!).

The Barefoot Bandit, whose real name is Colton Harris-Moore, now has his own Wikipedia site, and has 55,587 followers (as of this Saturday afternoon) on Facebook. Darling Facebook fan, Eddie Smith of England, who could probably stand to gain from a basic grammar class, writes, “Man your a legend, your story is everywhere in England… Everyone thinks your great!….. Keep going man never let them catch you!!!”

These items seem to be plastering the media landscape, and I have to scratch my head, and ask, “Why the hell should any of this really, and truly matter?”

People are furious with Lebron James for switching to tennis, or marrying Tiger Woods future ex-wife, or trying to steal Morgan Freeman’s contract for the upcoming Broadway production, DRIVING MISS DAISY, or whatever it is he does (yes, I know he is a basketball star from Ohio).

I don’t know why THE TODAY SHOW was so concerned with talking to doctor’s, psychologists, lawyers, and fellow celebrities to dissect Ms. Lohan’s ordeal. Are ya serious, Meredith Viero? An Oregon boy is missing, we have a major oil spill, people are suffering from the heat wave hitting the East Coast, and so many other items of greater importance – and yet the focus is on a celebrity’s legal battles. So what else is new?

When it was announced in The Dayton Daily News that Touchdown Jesus would be rebuilt with Indiana limestone, the critical, even cruel, comments began pouring in! People are furious that Solid Rock Church is spending their OWN money for a blasphemous structure (like cathedrals throughout Europe and here) to glorify God.  “But we don’t even know what Jesus looks like?” wrote one complaining comment. Well, neither did Leonardo da Vinci nor Michaelangelo, or so many other great artists. Should we paint over their masterpieces, or chisel away at the sculptures? I am certain the complainers have

  1. attended, or still attend churches with Christian icons, or set dressing
  2. never attempted to do as much for charity as the parishioners of Solid Rock Church
  3. have no church affiliation, or
  4. a new GPS so they no longer need TDJ as a landmark to tell them when they are closer to Traders World or Kings Island

Why are these particular topics so valued by the masses?

Why is the nineteen year old Barefoot Bandit more an international focus and Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda groupies are not?

While waiting to put some groceries on the conveyor belt at Kroger last night, I glanced over at the Rag Mags, and learned:

  • Laura Bush is divorcing George W. Bush because he is having an affair with Joan Rivers
  • Justin Bieber really has begun puberty
  • Billy Ray Cyrus is a much better actor than many believe, and will be cast in the title role of HAMLET in a command performance for Queen Elizabeth
  • Will Prince Charles have to pin back his ears to wear the royal crown when he becomes king?
  • Television’s Sister Angelica is secretly carrying Pope Benedict’s love child
  • Donna Summer has been cast to play Michael Jackson in the television rock-u-drama about his life?
  • Broadway’s newest production of LES MISERABLES welcomes Great Britain’s star, Susan Doyle, to play Young Cosette

OK, those were actually headlines I made up, but we all know that those do seem to be genuine from the Rag Mags on shopping store racks.

I wonder how many readers will read the above items and take them to be true?

This morning had me hopping – doctor appointments, pick up prescriptions, and rush back home to teach a 10:30am lesson! Began the day with tons of energy, and by Noon, I was alternating between reading and napping.

The heat, even at 7:30am, was unbearable. Walking from my car into the doctor’s office had me drenched. Around 5:00pm the signs of a rain shower spread across the Miami Valley, and I stepped onto the deck to feel a cool breeze. I opened all the windows (finally), and let the curtains bounce. The rain showers came, and were over by 8:00pm. I hurried off to Kroger, and upon leaving the store was smacked with steam!

Back at home, I waited for Jose to finish marching band percussion practice at 9:00pm. We walked to Speedway for a slushy, and laughed in the kitchen for a while.

Tomorrow is a double dentist appointment – Jose and myself – at our new dentist. Jose aged out of his pediatrician dentist, and mine moved.

Jose has finished the first coat of paint on his room. I have not checked it yet.

This afternoon I looked through You Tube to find videos of Bess Truman, Senator Dole speaking at President Nixon’s funeral, and some other historical tidbits.

Now, I am sitting up in bed with my lap top, researching new diabetic medication I will be starting in a few weeks.

Other than that, it has been a somewhat calm day at the Haasienda.

It is Monday, 1:00pm. The end of the restful, and enjoyable holiday weekend is creeping upon us.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were the most perfect days we’ve had in weeks. Saturday was a bit steamy, but not too hateful. Sunday, however, returned with the higher temperatures, and humidity. Today is becoming its evil twin with highs expected to be in the lower 90’s. Tuesday through Thursday we are supposed to be in the mid-90’s.

Friday and Saturday were somewhat peaceful, and relaxing. Jose and I went to see ROBIN HOOD – quite good, and Saturday, Kelley, our delightful neighbor boy next door, joined us for the downtown Dayton fireworks. Several years ago we took a city bus down to watch the fireworks – and it was so simple! We walked out our front door, hopped on the bus, got off the bus downtown, walked several blocks to the river, watched fireworks, walked back to the bus, got off the bus right in front of our house. No traffic. No parking issues.

In 2001, I found a nifty parking place behind the United Methodist headquarters (commonly known as The God Box) next to the Masonic Temple. We were the only ones to park there! I could not believe it. Most years we have been on vacation over this holiday, and I figured our secret parking area would have been discovered by countless others. Nope! We arrived around 9:30pm, parked, walked a few hundred yards to the Masonic Temple’s hill (I always feel as though I am at the Custis-Lee Mansion at Arlington Cemetery), and watched a splended firework display over the river.

Sunday morning, Jose was out the door for work until 3:00pm. I made a cake, and chatted with Mother on the phone.

Cake: yellow cake mix with some lemon extract. Poured some of the batter into the pan and then scattered thinly sliced strawberries; added the remainder of the batter; backed; more strawberry slices, a packet of white icing mix with some almond extract added, along with some liquefied strawberry jam.

At 2:00pm, the cake and I headed next door for a cookout.

As always, the hours escaped me, and it was nearly 6:00pm when I returned home. I love spending time with my neighbors, who have become more like family. Since the crowd was not as large this time, I actually got to spend time chatting with Don who is usually kept busy at the grill, non-stop.

I came home, and began watching some television programs. At 9:00pm, The American Experience on PBS aired the conclusion of HARRY TRUMAN.

Ahhh…. what a unique politician, a giant of a man, and an incredible American was Harry S. Truman. He, along with President Lincoln, is one of my heroes.

This morning I was wide awake, as usual, around 4:00am. By 6:00am, I was retreating back to some sort of sleep, and lingered in bed to watch a great movie, WHITE SQUALL, based on a true story. Great movie!

Now, I am settled on the deck with my laptop. Flyer rests under my chair, and Logan is stretched out under another table across the deck. Jose is swimming with Brandon Tener.

What a great weekend….

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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I discovered this incredible video by one of Dayton’s own young celebrities – Ryan Vallo.

I am adding Ryan’s text for those who may not have Facebook accounts.

“It’s 2010 and change is EVERYWHERE: our government, our environment, our economy, our culture. I’m Ryan Vallo, a 24 year-old from Dayton, Ohio. Join me as we travel around the globe to see how these changes affect our lives, our families, our communities, our nations, and our world. Welcome to…WE THE PEOPLE!”

Recently, Oprah opened a competition in search of a host with a concept for a new television show she will produce on her new network, the OWN Network. Now, I never send out these vote online for this that and the other email requests, however, I firmly believe in this television show concept. If you find yourself with a free moment, please follow the link below to view and vote for my video that explains my concept.

My apologies in advance for the poor image quality – it appears Oprah’s techs were unable to translate the web video file I sent, but the audio is at the least somewhat intact. Hope you are all well, and I SINCERELY thank you for your time and support as it is greatly appreciated!!! Vote for my video online at by 11:59PM on July 3rd!!!

OPRAH LINK:
http://myown.oprah.com/audition/index.html?request=video_details&response_id=17418&promo_id=1

To view a better quality of the video, please visit YOUTUBE, but don’t forget to vote on Oprah’s website: COMING SOON!!!

Many Thanks,
Ryan Vallo

* A special thanks to my good friend David Sherman – without his assistance this video would not be possible!

As TOY STORY 3 neared its premiere, I chuckled at the Facebook group, started by older teens, “get out of my way little kids… I’ve waited 11 years to see this movie.”

The first two movies were incredible, and I could watch them over and over. I remember taking children of friends to see the movie a number of times so that I could see each release repeatedly. The animation was incredible, and the story plots were entertaining, and captivating – even to a grown kid.

I have to admit that I was ager to see this movie, as well. I grew up in an era where imagination still ruled our play time, and the main toy-technology seemed to be our race car tracks, train tracks, and my portable Snoopy record player. Or was it Pluto?

My favorite toys were King Arthur’s Castle (a huge monstrosity), Johnny West Best of The West dolls (the cowboy version of GI Joe), my Magic Disney Castle (complete with a magnitude of hand-painted characters), my North & South Civil War set, and The White House – a plastic molded structure with 37 statues of presidents (Nixon was president). They required no batteries, no electricity, no television… just my imagination.

The TOY STORY series always delighted me because the main character, the boy Andy, had these incredible toys that were so much like mine… OK, so he did not have the nerdy Civil War or White House sets, but he had the toys that required imagination!

Jose and I went to see TOY STORY 3 Friday afternoon, and I was thoroughly delighted, and moved. Hearing actors Tim Allen and Tom Hanks reunited as Woody and Buzz was music to my ears, as were the talents of Don Rickles, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Estelle Harris, Laurie Metcalf, Timothy Dalton, and Bonnie Hunt.

The end of the movie is Andy leaving for college. I must admit, I was slightly choked up as mother and son had a few moments together. I remember how difficult it was for my mother when I, the eldest child, left home for Ball State University, and I was always contemplating next June when Jose graduates and leaves for basic training. I soon realized that I was one of the few in the crowded theater not sniffling, blowing his nose, or crying.

As we crossed the parking lot, Jose said, “I am not gonna lie; I was kind of choked up at the end of the movie thinking about having to say ‘good bye’ to you next summer when I leave for training.

Jose and I just returned from seeing CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010). A very good movie, indeed.

I can remember seeing the original in 1981 when I was a sophomore in high school. I recall very little of that movie, but seemed to be fairly accurate when leaning over to Jose and sharing upcoming moments. So much of what I remembered came directly from my high school Latin teacher, Diana Garner. Mrs. Garner was one of the most fascinating teachers I have known, and I cannot believe how much of her teachings are still with me in my professional life, as well as in every day life. Generally, I tend to rely on so many skills taught by Mrs. Garner, and my advanced composition teacher, Darren Paquin.

On the drive home, Jose and I discussed the many connections between mythology, and Christianity, and even some of the connectedness to STAR WARS. We discussed some of the similarities between the birth of Christ, and how it was very similar to various aspects of mythologies preceding his birth. Very interesting conversation, and good reading material for comparisons.

I thought the movie was well cast with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Flemyng, Gemma Arterton, and Alexa Davalos. However, accompanying Harry Hamlin in the 1981 version was a plethora of screen giants, some who were near the end of their careers, and lives, with the exception of Maggie Smith and Claire Bloom who are both still active in their profession, Flora Robson, Burgess Meredith, and Sir Laurence Olivier gave the movie a LOVE BOAT quality since the cheerful television show revisited so many aging stars.

The movie was good, predictable (naturally), and epic in many ways. I am always impressed, and amazed at how quickly technology has changed from my teen years to the generation of my son’s. I now liken my self to my great-grandfather on whose lap I sat as we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. Grandpa Garrett was only 6 years old when the Wrights first flew at Kitty Hawk, and at age 16 he bought his first horse and buggy. When he began farming, it was with a horse and plow. When Grandpa Garrett retired from farming in 1966, he sold his tractors, combines, tillers, and all other farm machinery. When he was born, the first telephone was installed in the White House. When he died in his 100th year, I received an email telling me he had passed away in the night.

One day, I hope to marvel with my grandchildren, and great-grandchildren in the continued advancement of technology, reminding them that when I was a teen we did not have computers, cell phones, internet, IPods… hell, by the time my great-grandchildren are born, these current technological thrills will be extinct!

“Beam me up, Scotty!”

Today was the start of my summer teaching schedule. It had been delayed a week since a number of schools were not yet dismissed for the summer.

The morning began with the Bane children – Ellie and Jacob – who played the two children in last summer’s production, SOUTH PACIFIC. Ellie has been a piano student for two years, and Jacob began his saxophone lessons today.

It was nice to meet three new students today, and I am looking forward to meeting several more new students Tuesday, and again on Wednesday.

The day ended with Sophie Lockhart’s lesson. Sophie walked over from next door’s Miami Valley Jazz Camp carrying three saxophones – her alto, a tenor, and a baritone.  She is such a good worker, and a smart musician, making her lessons are always such fun.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, kept Jose company as he cleaned out the car, and washed it. I will be taking it to a body shop to get an estimate on the damage from where someone backed into it.

Supper was brief, and I laid down for a nap which was not brief. Fortunately, I woke at 9:00pm in time to watch a PBS documentary on Andrew Jackson, narrated by my favorite actor, Martin Sheen.

All in all, it was a great day!

There is some tennis event on NBC. The skies above the Miami Valley have resembled a tennis match all morning… for a few minutes the sun shines, and shortly, the dark clouds hover… back and forth.

The storms for the past two nights have woke me, and the pounding rains lulled me back to sleep each time. Yesterday afternoon, and evening, the heat and humidity were unbearable. This afternoon, a cool breeze keeps the curtains in my bedroom dancing back and forth from the screen windows while the shadows of trees moves across the kitchen cabinets and floor. The wind chimes on the deck create a continues song.

I know my week was not nearly as busy as so many others, but for me, it was extremely busy. The past few days of relaxation, after nearly nine straight days of continuous activity, were most welcome.

Friday, after teaching, I ran a few errands with Jose, and then we settled on a meal from Steak N Shake. Neither of us were interested in doing anything, so we each settled on our own movies. I had received It’s Complicated from Netflix, but it just did not interest me; so, I settled on several on-line movies:

  • The George Burns & Gracie Allen Collection
  • HH Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer
  • The Bible According To Hollywood

Saturday morning alternated between rain and sunshine, so I settled at my laptop in my bedroom with several books, and my Netflix movies running:

  • Cold Case Files: Killer In The Country
  • The Jewish People: A Story of Survival

A little after Noon, I completed some household tasks, and started several loads of laundry. Rain storms hit pretty hard for a while, so I returned to my room and watched portions of several movies, occasionally chatting with Jose as he passed back and forth from the kitchen to the basement.

I drove Jose to work since the storms were striking intermittently, and ran errands to Dollar General and Kroger. Back at home I worked at my desk a little, keeping an eye on the sky and the clock should Jose need me to pick him up.

I decided to research a little more on Cornelius Vanderbilt, a minor character in the Wright Brother’s musical.

Jose arrived home from One Lincoln Park, and offered me a tray of beef and noodles, mashed potatoes, and stewed tomatoes. As always, the chef created a triumph!

Jose descended to the basement to XBox360 world, and I turned on more Netflix as Flyer and Logan snuggled next to me. I know my selections would boar most, but I thoroughly enjoyed learning about these historical figures.

The story of the Kellogg brothers of Battle Creek, Michigan, was extremely interesting, as was the story of hotel giant, Conrad Hilton.  The Kellogg brothers, and Conrad Hilton, were all incredible entrepreneurs, well ahead of their times.

Conrad Hilton was married to Zsa Zsa Gabor – who, to my surprise, is still living! Her sister, Ava had died, but I figured this other Gabor sister was also deceased. If you get a chance to Google Ms. Gabor’s more recent photos, please do. I will post them. Despite being in her 90’s, she still grabs some of the glamour… barely. I had not made the connection of this gentlemen to Paris Hilton!

I received an email from a student’s parent that she was watching Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. I knew of the play, but had never seen the movie. She grew up near Katharine Hepburn in Connecticut, and watches all Ms. Hepburn’s movies. I decided to research it, and then pull up the movie on Netflix.

The movie, which includes Ms. Hepburn, also stars Ralph Richardson, Jason Robards (who starred in the original stage play), and a very young Dean Stockwell who is more popularly known from his roles in Quantum Leap and Battlestar Gallactica. I read a good deal about the 1962 movie’s director, Sidney Lumet (1924- ), and his style of directing. What a fascinating director.

I have a feeling I am being “encouraged” to study this director. I was introduced to Mr. Lumet’s work last night. This morning I was watching a morning news program Anderson Cooper, and Googled him. I had no idea he was the 3rd great grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt – who I had researched Saturday evening – and the son of Gloria Vanderbilt – a wife of Sidney Lumet!

Coincidence?

I was so moved by this movie that I could not turn it off to go to sleep. At 2:45am, I finally decided that I must. I should have continued watching it as it was less than an hour that the newly arrived storms were waking me.

Having gone to bed at 3:00am Sunday morning, I was up, and moving right along by 7:ooam.

12:30pm, Jose and I headed to Delco Park in Kettering for the first event – Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party. It was great to see her parents, Mike & Joan Cordonnier, as well as Jill’s boyfriends, one of my favorite theatre tech geniuses,  Jackson “Jack” Gallagher.

After approximately thirty minutes, we departed for our next event and arrived home by 1:45pm to head next door for the cookout.

As always, it was an absolute thrill to be in the company of some of the most wonderful neighbors in the world. I was blessed with wonderful neighbors (Herndons, Fortners and others) while growing up in Elwood, Indiana, and I have been more than blessed with the kindest, most hilarious neighbors here in Kettering. Kay Moore, and her family Don, Laura, Jozi and Kelley Parker, and the Stephensons – Bob, Chris, Henry and Frank and I sat around the table and howled.

Jose left with Branden Witten to go to a grad party while I remained next door. Due to crossed-wires, we got off to a late start for Old River Park and Carillon Park; therefore, we postponed the canoeing, and went straight to Carillon Park for the concert and fireworks.

Man, oh man! I was not prepared for the enormous line of cars!

I got to see a ton of people, and had a nice, long conversation with Myra Michaels. The Pollocks arrived, missing the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s SOUTH PACIFIC medley. We sat behind the Kress family, and enjoyed the fireworks, and the light show and bell music from the carillon.

SPECTACULAR!

You really should read this Dayton Daily News article: Carillon’s Heritage Festival makes history by featuring new bell system.

When the fireworks ended, I chatted a bit with Amy Kress, and her parents. The Pollocks, Brandon, Jose and I walked all the way back to the NCR parking lot where we stood talking for a good thirty minutes.

Now, I sitting up in bed with my laptop, cooled off from the refreshing shower. Jose is spending the night with Brandon.

I am finally ready to sleep!

But what a WONDERFUL day this was! Many thanks to all those wonderful friends who contributed to making this a fantastic day!

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The day seemed to drag… I felt drained, and exhausted for no apparent reason. I accomplished little until it was time to teach – and that perked me up, greatly.

Jackson Lockhart came to pick up Sophie from her lesson, and we shared some great laughs.

After teaching, Jose and I ran to Lowes to check out stone for some border work in front of the house, then to Walmart and Meijer, and Chinese for supper. We picked out some movies at Family Video and returned home by 9:00pm.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, joined us for the remainder of the evening, and is spending the night with Jose. I retreated to my bedroom with my three DVD set of HBO’s mini-series, JOHN ADAMS. I finished the first two parts (at 2:00am), and I cannot wait to finish the remaining four parts. What an incredible man, and even more, what an incredible lady – Abigail Adams! Wow!

Tomorrow I will accomplish some items around the house, then see HELLO DOLLY at Wright State University @ 2:00pm, and then hit two high school graduation parties – Megan Weyrauch and Ryan Crouch.

The weather has been unpredictable in the Miami Valley. Yes, we have been drenched for days, but the forecast is never quite “right on.” Some days we were told to expect storms, or rain showers, and nothing. And then there were times when no precipitation was predicted and we got drenched.

Today, I thought about hitting the Cincinnati Zoo, one of our favorite haunts. However, the skies, starting out dull, and cloudy, turned to bright and sunny. Within moments, they were cloudy once again and looking as though they would overflow at any moment.

So, I did some reading, watched a Netflix documentary on In Search of Beethoven (was not that interesting), a documentary on China’s Forbidden City, and some episodes on America’s Turning Points in the 19th Century.

Jose and I are getting ready to head down to Old River Park, and then maybe trek over to Deed’s Point and the park area. I have not been there since the 2003 Centennial of Flight, and that was just before Jose arrived.

Other than that, a relaxing, peaceful day with fresh air coming through the windows and birds singing.

Tonight, as I crawled into bed, I discovered one of my favorite movies, PLEASE DONT EAT THE DAISIES is on. This is just a delightful romp with Doris Day, David Niven, and Richard Haydn – best known as “Her Max Detweiller” in THE SOUND OF MUSIC.

As I located the channel, Doris Day was having dinner with her husband, Niven, just moments before she began singing a few lines of “Que Serra, Serra.”

As a child I can remember watching THE DORIS DAY SHOW, and loving the opening credits where Ms. Day sang “Que Serra, Serra.”

I could not find the version from PLEASE, DON’T EAT THE DAISIES, but did find one from the television show.

Agnes Mooreheard!

Correctly, and quickly guessed by my friend, Sue Branson.

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Agnes Robertson Moorehead (December 6, 1900 – April 30, 1974) was an American actress. Although she began with the Mercury Theatre, appeared in more than seventy films beginning with Citizen Kane and on dozens of television shows during a career that spanned more than thirty years, Moorehead is most widely known to modern audiences for her role as the witchEndora in the series Bewitched.

While rarely playing leads in films, Moorehead’s skill at character development and range earned her one Emmy Award and two Golden Globe awards in addition to four Academy Awardand six Emmy Award nominations. Moorehead’s transition to television won acclaim for drama and comedy. She could play many different types, but often portrayed haughty, arrogant characters.

Moorehead was born in 1900 in ClintonMassachusetts, and later shaved six years off her age by claiming to have been born in 1906.

In 1923, Moorehead earned a bachelor’s degree, with a major in biology, from Muskingum Collegein New ConcordOhio, and while there she also appeared in college stage plays. She later received an honorary doctorate in literature from Muskingum, and served for a year on its board of trustees. She then pursued post-graduate studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, from which she graduated with honors in 1929.

Moorehead died at the age of seventy-three in 1974.  She is entombed at Dayton Memorial Park in Dayton, Ohio.

Moorehead bequeathed her 1967 Emmy Award statue for The Wild Wild West, her private papers, and her home in Rix Mills, Ohio, to heralma mater Muskingum College. She left her family’s Ohio estate and farmlands, Moorehead Manor, to Bob Jones University in Greenville,South Carolina, as well as some biblical studies books from her personal library. Her will stipulated that BJU should use the farm for retreats and special meetings “with a Christian emphasis,” but the distance of the estate from the South Carolina campus rendered it mostly useless. In May 1976, BJU traded the Moorehead farmlands with an Ohio college for $25,000 and a collection of her library books. Moorehead also left her professional papers, scripts, Christmas cards and scrapbooks to the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

In 1994, Moorehead was posthumously inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.

Guess who...

Sunday, May 17th, we held auditions for SOUTH PACIFIC.

I was so impressed with so many of the teenagers, and there were a few that blew me away – I had not seen that level of performance from them.

I have been tearing into all the preparation on the schedule, and all the fun things that accompany it. I have also been doing the customary research that makes me happier than anything else in the world.

I wake around 5:30am, read; at 7:00am I sleep until Jose comes in at 7:45am to leave for school; I feed the animals, water plants, take sugar count, eat my breakfast (on the deck in nice weather), check email, and then generally do house work or yard work… today I mowed, trimmed, and planted flowers… then, I am seated at my desk at 9:00am to work until Noon when I take lunch on the deck; at 1:00, I lounge in my bed, reading and researching; at 2:00pm, I break for an hour of BEWITCHED, and then get ready to teach lessons. Somewhere in this time, I also manage a 20 minute walk, and play time with Flyer. After teaching, Jose and I often run errands, and then I am in bed with my laptop at 10:00pm until after midnight…

I love this life!

The music of Rodgers & Hammerstein is always with me. I seldom need to turn it on because it is always going through my brain.

This week has also been filled with concerts, breakfast with dear friends, and more concerts. Friday, if Jose goes to play sand volleyball with some friends, I will elect to have dinner with some of my friends. I also plan on taking Jose to see NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM which comes out this week. Last week we saw th 12:01am showing of ANGELS & DEMONS, and it was incredible. It did make for an extra long Friday since we had the Fairmont choral concert, but it was so worth it!

I would also like to try to see TITANIC this weekend.

My neighbors always have a Memorial Day cookout, but I have not heard anything about it, yet. If it is still on, it is one of my all time favorite gatherings… I love this cookout!

Well, last night the production team officially met for the first time to prep SOUTH PACIFIC for Beavercreek High School’s new summer stock production company, Summer On Stage. This production team is on fire, and over the past three weeks, has done an enormous job of planning, and most of all -visioneering.

This Sunday, May 17, we hold auditions, and the response from students has been great. My goal is to have tons of men for the Seabee numbers. “Nothin’ Like A Dame” will rock!

Unfortunately, we have little fires to constantly put out due to stagnating issues from the past, and this has infiltrated down to a handfull of students. One particular student, who will be attending a podunk school that has a very mediocre musical theatre (but she clams it is the best in the Midwest even when she could not get into the schools of her choice… [insert laugh here]), has been saying SOUTH PACIFIC will fail because I am a bad vocalist. However, she is all smoke… no substance. A few others have been on the attack, but again, no substance.

It’s sad that some of the students have basically been “bought” with empty promises. In some ways, I do not blame them for their attacks on the previous production, THE PAJAMA GAME, nor now with SOUTH PACIFIC. The students have had these insidious thoughts planted in their minds, and in the minds of some of their parents. How sad they have been used for unethical reasons.

But their small-mindedness shall not chip away at what we will produce this summer. The tidal wave is rolling.

An announcement for orchestra members went out this morning, and a ton of other items were accomplished by the team!

Next week we will interview potential technical directors.

There are so many neat plans for this production, and I cannot wait until we start rehearsals.

Sunday afternoon, the production of THE PAJAMA GAME at Beavercreek High School ended.

I am generally a little teary-eyed following a production, but this time I was relieved.

April 14th, the orchestra conductor was fired and I was handed the position, along with the current duties of vocal director.

Suzanne, the director, and I had so many storms to weather throughout this production – Suzanne more so than myself. Mine was very confined to a week or so, where hers was on-going. My predecessor had 57 students sign up for the orchestra – students thinking I was to conduct (I thought I was to do it, originally, as well). Within 30 minutes, over 30 students had walked out on his first meeting.

Monday morning I had not orchestra. Thanks to the band director, and several of my music friends, I had one of the best orchestras BHS has had – and was told so by MANY faculty and parents, and those who have known the program for many years. I heard the video the other evening and I was so proud of the sound coming from the pit.

We had 3 rehearsals, a sitz probe, and two tech rehearsals before the shows began – and those orchestra members plowed through the difficult score as though they were each born to play a musical theatre score.

I spent most of Monday and Tuesday trying to bring as much normalcy back to life as I could. I had a yard to mow, flowers to plant, yard to clean up, laundry, and tons of other things. Jose had done a tremendous job of helping me while I was in production, but there were so many things that I prefer to do – and all was waiting for me.

Monday and Tuesday nights were heavy with teaching – and a number of make-up lessons. Wednesday night was the cast party, and Thursday was a four hour class for part of my teaching licensure.

While wading through all the above, I was also launching the production of SOUTH PACIFIC for this summer.

Auditions are May 17th @ 5:00pm.

The audition announcements are out, and I am swamped in preparation. I think this is when I am happiest – preparing for, and directing a show. The performances are always somewhat dull for me – my heaven, and haven is being in a rehearsal.

I am hoping to write more on preparations for SOUTH PACIFIC… I am in heaven, despite some of the garbage already pouring from some of the preceding issues at the school.

This afternoon, Mother will arrive to spend the weekend with us. At 5:15pm we will head to Beavercreek High School to watch the Friend’s Show Choir’s FINALE – a very moving evening to celebrate the end of the year.

This morning, while working at my desk on LOVE IS ETERNAL, a musical about Mary Todd and Abraham Lincoln, I watched and listened to my all time favorite television program, THE WEST WING. This morning offered two episodes: the first ending with the tragic death of President Bartlett’s secretary, Mrs. Landingham; the second, perhaps my most favorite episode, Mrs. Landingham’s funeral.

Wow!

Great writing, and Martin Sheen, a native of Kettering, Ohio, offered one of the greatest acting moments I have ever seen.

Watch \”Two Cathedrals\” Episode from THE WEST WING

If you have a moment, enjoy the artistry of some clips from this episode.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day – one of my favorite holidays (and I do not even drink).

050120a

Eleanor Roosevet on her wedding day.

Tomorrow is also the 105th anniversary of Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt, the 25th Anniversary of my friends, Valerie & Mike Lockhart.

Tomorrow I will have mint green shakes for the students and parents (and siblings who tag along), and THE QUIET MAN will be on the television during the teaching hours.

thequietman

Here is a nice link about the movie: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.users.qwest.net/~aknot/quiet3x.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.users.qwest.net/~aknot/quietman.htm&usg=__yHDvVgCnX9Q3P-89iWuQwxk8uIc=&h=262&w=350&sz=23&hl=en&start=10&um=1&tbnid=DdgLwqSkMMKTfM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=120&prev=/images%3Fq%3DThe%2BQuiet%2BMan%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1%26newwindow%3D1

And here is one of the more beautiful scenes in the movie – featuring one of the most beautifully, haunting songs, “The Isles Of Innisfree.” This is, perhaps, my most favorite melody of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jreYChl7k10&feature=PlayList&p=5ABA67393EE5BB3E&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7

If you ever get a chance to watch this movie, please do… Barry Fitzgerald is hilarious, and one of the many reasons I love this film.

And to my Irish ancestry, I salute the Clarys, Daughertys, Bannons and Barnetts!

ORIGINAL LYRICS TO THE SONG:
(by Dick Farrelly)

I’ve met some folks who say that I’m a dreamer,
And I’ve no doubt there’s truth in what they say,
But sure a body’s bound to be a dreamer
When all the things he loves are far away.
And precious things are dreams unto an exile.
They take him o’er the land across the sea —
Especially when it happens he’s an exile
From that dear lovely Isle of Inisfree.

And when the moonlight peeps across the rooftops
Of this great city, wondrous though it be,
I scarcely feel its wonder or its laughter.
I’m once again back home in Inisfree.

I wander o’er green hills through dreamy valleys
And find a peace no other land could know.
I hear the birds make music fit for angels
And watch the rivers laughing as they flow.
And then into a humble shack I wander —
My dear old home — and tenderly behold
The folks I love around the turf fire gathered.
On bended knees ,their rosary is told.

But dreams don’t last —
Though dreams are not forgotten —
And soon I’m back to stern reality.
But though they pave the footways here with gold dust,
I still would choose the Isle of Inisfree.

* Gaelic words meaning “love of my heart”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xn7rjlOxfc

Several weeks ago I watched a brilliant movie, Imitation of Life, starring Lana Turner.

I can remember my grandfather, a police officer, saying that he would sit in the police department watching audiences leave the movie theatre, and there was never a dry eye.

I can understand why… very moving.

In 1947, Lora Meredith (Lana Turner), a struggling white widow with plans to become a famous Broadway actress, l18_lana2oses track of her young daughter Suzie (portrayed as a child by Terry Burnham), and requests the help of a stranger named Steve Archer (John Gavin) to help her find the girl. Suzie is found and looked after by Annie Johnson (Juanita Moore), a black widow with a daughter, Sarah Jane (portrayed as a child by Karin Dicker), who is about Suzie’s age and, unlike her mother, is very light-skinned to the point of appearing Caucasian. In return for her kindness, Lora takes Annie in temporarily. Despite the fact that Lora cannot afford a nanny, Annie persuades Lora to let her stay and take care of Suzie, so that Lora can pursue an acting career.

With struggles along the way, Meredith becomes a successful star of stage comedies, with Alan Loomis (Robert Alda) as her agent and David Edwards (Dan O’Herlihy) as her chief playwright. Although Lora had begun a romantic relationship with Steve Archer, the stranger she met at the beach, their courtship falls apart because of Lora’s ambition to be a star. Lora’s tight focus on her career also prevents her from spending time with her daughter, who sees more of Annie than she does her own mother. Annie and Sarah Jane have their own struggles, as the light-skinned Sarah Jane is in a constant state of turmoil over her identity and steadfastly wants to pass for white. Sarah Jane’s anger at being black translates into animosity towards her long-suffering mother.

The film progresses to 1958, finding Lora as a highly regarded Broadway star living in a luxurious home in upstate New York. After rejecting David’s latest script (and his marriage proposal), Lora takes a role in a dramatic play. At the show’s after-party, she meets Steven, whom she hasn’t seen in a decade. The two slowly begin rekindling their relationship, and Steve is reintroduced to Annie and the now-teenaged Suzie (Sandra Dee) and Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner). When Lora is signed to star in an Italian motion picture, she leaves Steve to watch after Suzie, and the teenager develops an unrequited crush on her mother’s boyfriend.

imitation_turnerAdolescence has not stopped Sarah Jane from attempting to pass for white: she begins dating a white boy (Troy Donohue), who severely beats her after learning she is black. Some time later, Sarah Jane passes in order to get a job performing at a seedy nightclub, and lies to Annie and tells her she is working at the library. When Annie learns the truth and appears to claim her daughter, Sarah Jane is fired, and Sarah Jane’s subsequent dismissal of her mother’s care begins taking a physical toll on Annie. Lora returns from her trip to Italy to find that Sarah Jane has run away from home, and has Steve hire a detective to find her. The detective locates Sarah Jane in California, living as a white woman under an assumed name and working as a chorus girl. Annie, becoming weaker and more depressed by the day, flies out to California to see her daughter one last time and say goodbye.

Annie is bedridden upon her return to New York, and Lora and Suzie both look after her. The issue of Suzie’s crush on Steve becomes a serious issue when Suzie learns that Steve and Lora are to be married, and Lora learns from Annie of Suzie’s crush on her fiancé. After a confrontation with her mother, Suzie decides to go away to school in Denver, Colorado to forget about Steve. Not long after Suzie leaves, however, the now gravely ill Annie passes away, presumably “of a broken heart”.

As per her last wishes, Annie is given a lavish funeral in a large church, complete with a gospel choir (and a solo by gospel star Mahalia Jackson) and a parade-like procession with a horse-drawn hearse. Just before the procession begins, however, a remorseful Sarah Jane tears through the crowd of mourners and throws herself upon her mother’s casket, begging forgiveness. Lora takes Sarah Jane to their limousine to join her, Suzie, and Steve as the procession slowly travels through the city.

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Juanita Moore, and her on-screen daughter, Susan Kohner, 2008.

Another busy week behind us…

Beginning last Monday I was not feeling well, and my temperature hovered around 100-101 degrees. My sister-in-law, Stacia, had been taken ill with strep last weekend, and then my brother, Destin, got it this week. Their boys, Parker and Fred, have been up and down with this winter’s crud.

Some of my activities:

  1. finishing touches on ACTION Adoption’s display board for adoption fair
  2. taught lessons
  3. helped Jose with homework (he particularly asks me to help him study for history because, “Dad gives me a ton more information and makes it fun.”)
  4. helped Beavercreek show choir on Tuesday
  5. got cable installed Thursday (ugh… I hate addictions)

bewitched

Friday morning, I woke to discover the television still on The History Channel. So, at 6:00am, I watched MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, followed by a great History Channel documentary on The Declaration of Independence. I ran a few errands and got my hair cut, returning to my desk by 10:00am where I worked on the Wright Brothers’ musical for five hours while watching THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, BEWITCHED, and THE WEST WING.

westwing-cast-2001-2002

Ahhh….  

Friday night, after I taught lessons, we drove to ACTION where Jose gave a remarkable presentation about his birth family’s experiences, foster care life, and being adopted. I am so proud of my son, and especially, his public speaking skills. Although it was somewhat informal, he was stellar! One family had been in a private meeting and entered about five minutes late; Jose paused while they got situated, smiling at the family the entire time. Then, he briefly introduced himself, and explained his topic. Brilliant, and so very considerate.

Upon our return, Jose hit his XBox, and I hit The History Channel for “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” and “Stealing Lincoln’s Body.” By 3:00am, I was asleep.

At 6:30am Saturday I was wide awake watching CNN… yes!

8:30am I was at the adoption fair setting up the display.

percussion

At 10:30am I left the adoption fair and hurried to Fairmont’s Trent Arena where I worked the admission’s table for the WGI percussion competition. I got to work with Steve & Lorie Lamb, again, and a new couple that I also a new couple whose daughter will be a freshman next year. That certainly made my scheduled time of 11:00am- 7:00pm o fast.

While the contest was starting, bad weather had begun moving in from the north. Many parents from Toledo and Michigan had rough drives down to Kettering. When I left at 7:00pm, the driveway was iced, as were my car’s windows.

Jose and I went to supper at a Chinese buffet. I was still feeling uncomfortable, still. I returned to my bedroom with NOW, VOYAGER (1942) with Bette Davis. My grandmother always loved Bette Davis, and I remembered her telling me this was one of her favorite movies. It was very good, and of course, it was scored by one of my two favorite film composers, Max Steiner, who scored GONE WITH THE WIND (my other favorite is John Williams).

This morning I woke with CNN, and waited for a telephone call to see if I would be needed for the finals round of the percussion competition. While fixing an egg white omelet, Jose came downstairs, feeling miserable. I took his temperature and he had a 102 fever. He retreated to the basement with a half gallon of orange juice, after taking some meds. I had him call his manager at One Lincoln Park, and instructed him to drink the OJ and tons of water.

My head is congested, but the Mucinex is keeping it flowing… yuk!

I am propped up in bed, listening to Robert Schuller, ready to work on the Wright Brothers’ musical. Flyer is snuggled next to me (she pulls down the sham and pillows on the passenger side, and props her head up to watch television), and Logan is on my lap, curled up under the hospital table on which my laptop is situated… this hospital table was one of my best purchases – allowing me to work from my bed late at night or early in the morning – or on lazy Sunday mornings.

 I have three students this afternoon beginning at 4:00pm. And I hope to spend the evening resting with… well, cable.

 

Last night I told my son that I was officially a part of the Twentieth Century.

“But, Dad, this is the Twenty-first Century.”

Yes. That is true. But, I finally did a very Twentieth Century thing – I finally got cable television.

With the digital transition, I figured this was the time to investigate. I could have gone with just the converter boxes, but decided to give cable a shot. So, I set up Dish with AT&T. I paid them $99 for set-up and they sent the worker out. When he saw the line of trees bordering the easement between my yard and the high school’s property, he quickly assessed there was no way we could do satellite. The worker made a call into the company, and assured me there would be a supervisor coming shortly to validate this worker’s assessment. Three days later, there was still no visit from a supervisor.

On top of this, $40 was reapplied to my banking account. $59 was not returned from AT&T. This only tops the list of numerous grievances I have with this company.

So, I contacted Time-Warner. My God! Sales people can be vultures!

This cable – dish – anything fairly technical stuff – is very foreign to me. In fact, when I was investigating it a month ago, I sent a note to four different friends (and my brother) because I knew they would address my questions in layman’s terms, and in a manner I could comprehend. The vultures at Time-Warner, though not outwardly pushy, just could not seem to hone in on my needs, and could not assist me thinking through the process. It was always, “With what you described, you should probably go with this….” – always something that I knew was not what I wanted as I had the information pulled up in front of me on the computer screen.

My neighbor lady’s niece is in the customer service department at Time-Warner, and we set it up so she could contact me. Trying to get to Joyce through Time-Warner was more difficult than walking into the White House from off the street with no appointment. Finally, it was accomplished, and Joyce was wonderful.

So, last night, my home entered the Twentieth Century.

I never felt the need for cable, especially since I work so much from home. I did not want to become addicted to television. Now that WEST WING is no longer a weekly ritual, I stick mostly to TWO AND A HALF MEN, FAMILY GUY, and documentaries on PBS. That is pretty much my television line-up, aside from my Netflix documentaries and biographies. When I visit Mother in Indiana, I will stay up most of the night watching The History Channel – always returning to Ohio exhausted.

The cable guy had an easy installment since the house was already set up for cable, and the lines ran to every room but the kitchen.
 
After he left, I realized there was no menu indicating the new channels/stations. I heard Jose in the basement playing XBox, so I knew that he would not know the channels. I searched on line, and could find nothing. About 20 minutes into my search, Jose comes upstairs and says, “I bet you are loving channel 52.”  I asked what was on 52… “The History Channel.”  He then proceeded to identify me about 15-20 channels from memory! I asked how he knew them considering he was on XBox, and he said he just ran through the channels and memorized them.
 
Now, if he could only memorize his German, items from English and biology….
I decided I needed to get some work accomplished and I turned back to my monitor… within a few minutes I was channel surfing. Ugh… too many sports channels and why in the heck are there shopping channels?
I decided to delete some of unnecessary channels. It was rather easy to navigate. The televisions in my study and bedroom (from where I often work, as well) are identical, so they were simply. The living room’s television had the cable entering into the television; however, I placed it into the DVD/video machine so that the entire stereo system would also be connected. Wonderful!
I returned to my study, pleased with myself.
At age 44, I had adjusted the cable channels on three televisions, reattached the living room cable into the DVD/video machine… all without the assistance of my teenage son!

Hmmm… interesting.

I just finished watching the movie, THE FIVE PEOPLE WE MEET IN HEAVEN. I have always believed we each have a place in one another’s lives – affecting one another in ways beyond our awareness, even beyond our grasp.

“The world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.”

Incredible.

I thought I would be more moved as the credits rolled up, but I just feel satisfied. There are days when I feel as Eddie did in the movie – “a non-contributor to life, and those around me.” Some days, I feel as though the purpose to my existence has somehow been a joke. However, I know, deep down, that I have contributed much to life, and those who have been in my life, or crossed paths, even for a moment.

The concept seems to mirror, in some ways, the movie IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. I always hope that I have touched lives, just as lives have touched mine.

I agree with the author of the book, I just don’t believe life is without a purpose, and that we merely become “worm food.” I like the concept that death is not the end of all things, but the beginning of all things. There must be so much more to what we endure in this life, and I don’t technically buy into the “mansion on the hilltop with streets paved in gold.”

The main germ of this movie is that we are all somebody… no one is a nobody. The main character, Eddie, feels insignificant, but he learns he has touched many lives throughout his earthly journey.

“No man is a failure who has friends.” IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

I BELIEVE from ALTAR BOYZ

One beam of light, is enough to see where you’re going
One wrong turn, is enough to loose your way
One choice, is all you have to make
One ounce of faith could save the day
I believe, that I came to know you for a reason
I believe, that the things that you say will come true
I believe that with you in my life I’ll make it
I believe in you .stlyrics

One Mistake, doesn’t have to mean that it’s over
One bad day, only means there’s work to do
One night, is sometimes all it takes

To realize one thing is true
I believe, that I came to know you for a reason
I believe, that the things that you say will come true
I believe that with you in my life I’ll make it
I believe in you

Take a picture of me now, take a look at who I am
Yesterday I wasn’t half as strong
Take a picture of us all, what we’ve been and what we are
Look at that, and tell me I’m wrong

I BELIEVE!

That I came to know you for a reason
I believe, that the things that you say will come true
I believe that with you in my life I’ll make it
I believe in you
I believe in You

The long week is over, and the weekend is upon us.

Most of the week was spent in writing on the Wright Brothers’ musical, teaching, helping Jose with homework, prepping students for college auditions, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, building a display unit for ACTION Adoption, and assisting Sharon Busch with the Beavercreek High School show choir.

It was a good week, and one that was very productive and energized.

Thursday, the 200th birthday of President Abraham Lincoln, I received many “birthday wishes” on behalf of the president. One student’s family even called to see if there would be birthday cake… of course!

Thursday night Jose and I watched SCHINDLER’S LIST since he is studying WWII in history. Beautifully written, directed, acted and filmed… but man, so depressing. But, it made me appreciate so many things I have in my life, and raised my awareness of the atrocities endured by millions just 65 years ago.

At 1:00am Jose went to the basement with his XBox360, and I crawled into bed, tired from the week. I began watching the DVD, THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, and fell asleep. Right now, I am watching the rest of it this morning, sitting up in bed at my laptop with Flyer snuggled beside me.

It is an interesting, and deep movie. The description of the book reads:

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a novel by Mitch Albom. It recounts the life and death of a simple yet dignified old man, Eddie. After dying in a freak accident, Eddie finds himself in heaven where he encounters five people who have significantly affected his life, whether he realized it at the time or not. Each imparts a divine piece of wisdom unto him, instilling a deeper comprehension regarding the most intimate facets of life. In the beginning he dedicates the book to his uncleEdward Beitchman. He says that he wants people like his uncle who felt unimportant here on earth to realize, finally, how much they mattered and how they were loved.

Albom’s first novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven was published in 2003 by Hyperion, and remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for 95 weeks. It was the bestselling first time novel ever written.

For lunch, Jose and I will head to our favorite Chinese buffet downtown, and run some errands. I will write until it is time to head to ACTION Adoption.

The weekend? Well, I will finish the display frame for ACTION, write, grab some movies with Jose, and maybe doing something fun. I am sure Jose will want to spend as much time with his XBox. Since he has displayed so much effort, and hard work towards his grades, he deserves a relaxing weekend.

 

I cannot believe Friday is upon us, yet, I am so thrilled it is here.
 
Last Friday I had breakfast/lunch with Bill Hetzer, and taught the remainder of the afternoon. After teaching, I went in to watch TWO AND A HALF MEN, and the next thing I know Jose was waking me for a telephone call.
 
Saturday and Sunday were relaxing days with DVD’s, some errands, a movie (GRAND TORINO – which I strongly recommend!), dinner at Roosters, and more DVD’s.
 
This week has been swamped with slipping students in to every available slot – auditions for high school musicals, and college music/musical theatre programs. I have taught early, and very late.
 
There were several students, not in audition mode, who graciously traded with seniors, or gave up fifteen minutes of their own lesson time so another auditioning student could spend 15 minutes with me. It was so neat to see the studio working together. I have several saxophone students who received scholarships from Bowling Green State University, as well as two voice students at the same school. One of my top dogs received a full ride academic scholarship at Miami University, as well as a fantastic music scholarship.
 
Jose was accepted into the digital design program – a three hour class – for next year. It is a pretty competitive class, and I have had a number of students go through that program. It is really a great opportunity.
 
Friday evening I will meet with some good friends from Beavercreek at Mama DiSalvos. It has become a favorite haunt for the four of us. .
 
Saturday and Sunday I will be living at the high school’s Trent Arena for the percussion ensemble contest. I will be working the admissions table, and the hours I work will go towards Jose’s marching band fees. I will be there Saturday from 9:00am-9:00pm, and Sunday from 7:00am-6:00pm. The lady in charge of assembling the work crew is a parent of one of my students, and she is so much fun… she asked if I would work the entire weekend. If Jose also comes over to work, we might have close to $200 of his band fees paid off. I believe I am scheduled to work another weekend, as well. It will be a LONG weekend, but the end result of band fees being paid off is wonderful.
 
The coming week holds more college auditions. So, more late nights, and more days running to one or two schools to grab extra time with students during their choir or band classes.
 
Thursday, February 12th, is President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration. I would give anything to be in Springfield, Illinois, or even in Hodgenville, Kentucky where he was born. I will hopefully have time to make cupcakes for students on that day. Some already have it figured out that Mr. Haas will probably have good stuff that day and have asked to reschedule!
 
Jose is preparing for a speaking engagement. Several months ago, I brought him in for a few minutes to speak to one of my adoption training classes at ACTION, and he brought the house down. The parents loved him. He was asked to speak to the on-going training in the larger room. I know it pays between $75 and $150 to the guest speakers we bring in, and ACTION will pay him for this. He will have approximately 2 hours to speak and answer questions. Jose does a remarkable job when speaking on adoption issues – birth family, foster family, and the transition into adoptive life. I think they will probably tape it, and I may take my video recorder to take him. One of the neatest things was last summer, after he had spent a month with Destin & Stacia, and their sons, in Fowler, Indiana… one of the parents in my training class asked him, “What can we do to make sure we are good parents?” Jose, without missing a beat, said, “Well, if you could be like my Aunt Stacia, you would be perfect.” And he proceeded to describe some of her parenting techniques. I am excited that he has this opportunity to keep sharing his story.
 
Right now, I am going to watch a movie with Jose. I had an hour break this evening, so we grabbed our bowls of spaghetti and watched some movies on German concentration camps. Jose is studying WWII, and we have been doing extra movies and Internet research – he really digs this era. Tonight, we are watching SCHINDLER’S LIST – a movie I have not seen.

Last night I saw the stage musical, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and began wondering if the Sherman Brothers had penned some of the new songs. Yes, indeed! They are still living, and still writing music!

Sherman Brothers are Academy Award-winning American songwriters who specialize in musical films. They are Robert B. Sherman (born December 19, 1925) and Richard M. Sherman (born June 12, 1928).

sherman_brothers_the_1_500

The Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical song scores than any other songwriting team in film history,[1] working for Walt Disney during the last six years of his life. Film scores of the Sherman Brothers include Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats.

Robert and Richard Sherman began writing songs together in 1951 on a challenge from their father, Tin Pan Alley songwriter Al Sherman. The brothers wrote together and with different songwriting partners throughout the rest of the decade.

In 1958, Robert founded the music publishing company Music World Corporation, which later enjoyed a landmark relationship with Disney’s BMI-affiliated publishing arm, Wonderland Music Company. That same year, the Sherman Brothers had their first top-ten hit with “Tall Paul,” sung by Mouseketeer Judy Harriet on the Surf Records label and then covered by Mouseketeer Annette Funicello. The success of this song yielded the attention of Walt Disney, who eventually hired the Sherman Brothers as Staff Songwriters for Walt Disney Studios. The first song they wrote on personal assignment by Walt Disney was “Strummin’ Song” in 1961. It was used in the Annette Funicello made-for-television movie called The Horsemasters.

While at Disney, the Sherman Brothers wrote more motion-picture musical scores than any other songwriters in the history of film. They also wrote what is perhaps their best-known song, “It’s a Small World (after all)” for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Since then, some have claimed that this has become the most translated and performed song on Earth, although this is largely justified by the fact that it is played continuously at Disney’s leisure park rides of the same name.[2]

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In 1965, the Sherman Brothers won two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins, which includes the songs “Feed The Birds,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and the Oscar-winning “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” Since Mary Poppins’ premiere, the Shermans have subsequently earned nine Academy Award nominations, two Grammy Awards, four Grammy Award nominations, and an incredible 23 gold- and platinum-certified albums.

Robert and Richard Sherman worked directly for Walt Disney, completing the scores for the live-action musical films The Happiest Millionaire and The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band until Disney’s death in 1966. Since leaving the company, the brothers have worked freelance as songwriters on scores of motion pictures, television shows, theme-park exhibits, and stage musicals.

Their first non-Disney assignment came with Albert R. Broccoli‘s motion picture production Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in 1968, which garnered the brothers their third Academy Award Nomination.

In 1970, the Shermans returned to Disney for a brief stint where they completed work on The Aristocats and Bedknobs & Broomsticks. The latter film garnered the brothers their fourth and fifth Oscar Nominations, respectively. 1972 saw the release of Snoopy Come Home, for which the brothers received a Grammy nomination.

In 1973, the Sherman Brothers also made history by becoming the only Americans ever to win First Prize at the Moscow Film Festival for Tom Sawyer, for which they also authored the screenplay.

In 1976, “The Slipper and the Rose” was picked to be the Royal Command Performance of the year. The performance was attended by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. A modern musical adaptation of the classic Cinderella story, “Slipper”, also featured songs, score, and screenplay by the Sherman Brothers. Two further Academy Award nominations were garnered by the brothers for the film. That same year the Sherman Brothers received their star on the Hollywood “Walk of Fame” directly across from Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

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The Sherman Brothers’ numerous other Disney and non-Disney top box office film credits include The Jungle Book (1967), The Aristocats (1970), The Parent Trap (1961), The Parent Trap (1998), Charlotte’s Web (1973) , The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh (1977), Snoopy, Come Home (1972), Bedknobs & Broomsticks (1971), and Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland (1992).

Outside the motion-picture realm, their Tony Award-nominated smash hit Over Here! (1974) was the biggest-grossing original Broadway musical of that year. The Sherman Brothers have also written numerous top selling songs including “You’re Sixteen,” which holds the distinction of reaching Billboard’s #1 spot twice: first with Johnny Burnette in 1960 and then with Ringo Starr fourteen years later. Other top-ten hits include “Pineapple Princess,” “Let’s Get Together,” and more.

In 2000, the Sherman Brothers wrote the song score for the Disney film The Tigger Movie. This film marked the brothers’ first major motion picture for the Disney company in over 28t years.

In 2002, Chitty hit the London stage, receiving rave revues. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is currently the most successful stage show ever produced at the London Palladium, boasting the longest run in that century-old theater’s history. On April 28, 2005, a second Chitty company premiered on Broadway (New York City) at the Hilton Theatre. The Sherman Brothers wrote an additional six songs specifically for the new stage productions. A successful third company of Chitty is currently touring throughout the United Kingdom.

In 2003, four Sherman Brothers’ musicals ranked in the Top 10 Favorite Children’s Films of All Time in a British nationwide poll reported by the BBC. The Jungle Book (1967) ranked at #7, Mary Poppins (1964) ranked at #8, The Aristocats (1970) ranked at #9, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) topped the list at #1.

In recent years, with Robert’s move to London, England, United Kingdom, the brothers have written many new songs for the stage musical presentations of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, produced collaboratively by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh.

For their contributions to the motion picture industry, the Sherman brothers have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6918 Hollywood Blvd. and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 9, 2005. On November 16, 2006, Mary Poppins premiered at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway.

tom-sawyer

On Saturday, October 4, 2008, Richard Sherman appeared as a surprise guest on stage at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles during The Swell Season‘s’ sold-out concert and performed “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” with the band.

The Sherman Brothers receive the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor bestowed upon artists from the United States Government. (left to right Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and U.S. President George W. Bush at The White House, November 17, 2008.

  • In 2000, the Sherman Brothers wrote the award winning score to The Tigger Movie which achieved number-one status in both theatrical box office and video sales.
  • The Sherman Brothers’ classic motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was adapted into a London West End Musical in 2002 and premiered at the London Palladium on April 16, 2002, featuring many new songs and a reworked score by both Sherman Brothers. It was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best New Musical. The Sherman Brothers each received the Musical Theatre Award from the Variety Club of Great Britain that year as well for Chitty, which finished a record breaking three-and-a-half-year run at the Palladium, becoming the longest running show in the theater’s century long history. In 2004, the premiere of Mary Poppins arrived on the stage. In 2005, Poppins was nominated for nine Olivier Awards. In 2005, Chitty went to Broadway and was nominated for nine Tonys and also began its nationwide (UK) tour.

Since 2002, Robert Sherman has lived in London, England. He moved from Beverly Hills, while Richard Sherman remained in California. Surprisingly, however, the separation did not impede the brothers’ collaborative process; they have credited this to the technological advents of fax machines, e-mail and low-cost international telephone service. Also, both brothers travel between Los Angeles, New York, and London frequently, which also facilitates their work. Since Robert’s move, the brothers have continued to collaborate on various musical plays as well as a feature-length animated film musical that incorporates an original story, song score and screenplay[4].

small-world 

 

IT WAS TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS!

chittychitty

“It was more than spectacular – to use the vernacular – it’s wizard, it’s smashing, it’s keen.”

Forty years ago, I opened a Christmas present, and to my delight was a cast iron model of the car from the newest musical motion picture, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG starring Dick Van Dyke.

Tonight, my dear friends, Bill & Ann Impson, and I went to see the musical stage version of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Dayton’s Schuster Center of the Performing Arts. This production was “phantasmagorical!” The new songs were blended well, and though the story’s plot was slightly different than the beloved movie, it was still “uncategorical.”

It was fun!

chitty_400x300

It was not a heady, deep thinking show – but one that returned me to the age of four or five, when life was so innocent and splendid. Though the car was barely warmed up by the time I returned home from the seven minute drive, it made no difference because my mind and mouth were focused on the music of the title song – not the temperature of 14 degrees!

The songs are still whirling through my head. 

And the car lifted into the air, turned, tilted toward the audience, and landed… although I figured out the mechanics of the hydraulic wench, it was still magical.

chittycarfly

I had the best time with Bill & Ann, and am so glad I could share a moment of one of my favorite musicals, and cherished childhood memories.

“You’re sleek as a thoroughbred.
Your seats are a feather bed.
You’ll turn everybody’s head today.
We’ll glide on our motor trip
With pride in our ownership
The envy of all we survey.

It’s uncategorical,

A fuel burning oracle,

A phantasmagorical machine.

It’s more than spectacular,

To use the vernacular,

It’s wizard, it’s smashing, it’s keen.”

 

beverlyhillbillies

I got the first season DVD of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and watched at least three epsiodes last night. First off, the familiar theme song that opens the sitcom was not written yet. The opening montage  –  Jed shootin’ food, seein’ the bubblin’ brood, grabbin’ Granny in the cabin and headin’ for Beverly – Hills, that is – is underscored with guitars and a fiddle. About episode three, the main theme is introduced.

I laughed out loud, and heartily, a number of times per episode. They were hilarious.

My favorite part is every time they hear the door chimes, they look around trying to find out from where the music is coming – and then, there is always a knock at the door. Too funny.

If you get a chance, grab the first season DVD of THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES – truly a 1960’s classic!

beverly-hillbillies-dvd3

Wednesday morning I drove to Columbus to attend the funeral mass of a friend’s father. I met Katie Pfister-Musick in the late 1980’s and absolutely fell in love with this incredible actress. Despite the various moves between the two of us, and me losing my address book, I managed to reconnect with Katie, and her husband, Mike, via Internet research. I found them living in the Kansas City, Kansas area, and have enjoyed communicating with them the past several years – and that includes a hiatus where my email addresses were wiped out.

friends-musick-katie

Last summer, I received a note that Katie’s mother had suddenly passed away. Katie had been sharing with me that her father was seriously ill with cancer and was not expected to live much longer. Her mother’s death was quite a surprise.

I attended her mother’s funeral and was overjoyed to see Katie and Mike, again. She is still just as beautiful as she was when she was a girl (and you know what, Lincoln said that about his wife when they were living in the White House! “My wife is just as lovely as she was when she was young. I fell in love with her then, and what is more, I have never fallen out.”)

Christmas night, I received message from Mike that Katie’s father had left in time to spend Christmas with his wife. 

Wednesday morning, December 31st., the last day of 2008, I drove to Columbus to share in the fond farewell with Katie and her family. I arrived at St. Christopher’s and was struck by the beauty and warmth of the church, decorated for the Christmas season. The candles, the nativity, the poinsettias and greenery was absolutely beautiful. As I was washing my hands in the rest room, I stopped… my chest began swelling with excitement.

I could hear Katie singing!

I walked back into the sanctuary, and immediately teared up… Katie was singing a responsive psalmody.  Her voice is still as beautiful as I remember it from when I heard her in the role of Anna Leonowens in THE KING & I.

I found a seat, and just absorbed the beauty, and the passion of each note she offered up – a musician offering up glorious beauty, a daughter bidding farewell to her father in song.

The service was beautiful. The violinist provided a beautiful prelude with “Amazing Grace,” and it set the mood – touching, but with great rejoicing for a life lived fully by this particular Irishman. The description of Don’s life, by both the priest and family, made me proud of my Clary & Daugherty clans! What truly touched me was that his children each offered something, and I can think of no greater tribute than to hear words and music from one’s own children at their funeral.

The closing hymn that accompanied the pall covered casket down the aisle was “Silent Night.” When I read prepped my hymnal before the service (that’s my German-Irish grandfather in me!), I first thought the final hymn to be too mild to send off this larger than life Irishman that I had never actually met. However, by the time the gentle strains of the introduction began, I knew just how fitting this tune was. It seemed to pull together not only the love for Don from his  family and friends, but it reminded me how much I missed, and still loved so many of my own family members who are no longer with us – especially my grandparents.

As the casket was wheeled past me, an elderly gentleman across the aisle saluted, the tears streaming down his face. I don’t know the relationship this gentleman had to Don, but for me, it was one of the most touching moments from the service. A tribute. A farewell. A salute. Only a soldier and a former drum-major can know the sanctity of a salute.

As the second verse of “Silent Night” began, the church bells began pealing. And throughout the song, they continued.

Bells have always held a special place for me. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE has one of the most tender scenes when the bell on the tree rings at the end – an angel received its wings. Also, my grandmother collected bells, and I now possess all the bells I gave her, some from Greece, Cyprus, Crete, Germany, Austria, and of course, New York City. And the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day,” also one of my favorite carols, has always been a favorite.

And here, on the last day of 2008, while singing “Silent Night,” the world resonated with the ringing of bells.

I bid farewell to Katie and Mike, and walked outside into the brisk December morning. The bells were much louder outside. One elderly lady covered her ears and looked up towards the sound of the bells. I stood for a moment, watching my breath swirl away from me, and hearing the bells.

Don had probably just received his wings…

My grandmother told me that she was still with me…

And the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminded me that “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep…”

I got into my car. I could still hear the muffled bells. I rolled down the window and listened, thinking they would not ring much longer. As I drove away, I could still hear the bells. I turned on to Grandview Avenue, moving away from the church. Finally, around 3rd Street, the bells began to fade – but only in sound.

Those bells were not pealing “farewell.”

The ringing of the bells were an announcement, and reminder of God’s love.

The ringing of the bells were a fanfare of the blessings to come for 2009.

The ringing of the bells were a reminder that it is, indeed, a most wonderful life!

I watched this documentary a few months ago, and then watched it again.

http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/tomb.html

From Wikopedia…

The Lost Tomb of Jesus is a documentary co-produced and first broadcast on the Discovery Channel and Vision TV in Canada on March 4, 2007 covering the discovery of the Talpiot Tomb. It was directed by Canadian documentary and film maker Simcha Jacobovici and produced by Felix Golubev and Ric Esther Bienstock, while James Cameron served as executive producer. The film has been released in conjunction with a book about the same subject, The Jesus Family Tomb, issued in late February 2007 and co-authored by Jacobovici and Charles R. Pellegrino. The documentary and book’s claims are currently the subject of controversy within the archaeological and theological fields, as well as among linguistic and biblical scholars.

The tomb was discovered in 1980 during a housing construction project. Ten ossuaries were found in the cave, including the six that are the subject of Jacobovici’s film. However, one of the ten ossuaries went missing years ago, presumably stolen.

“In their movie they are billing it as ‘never before reported information,’ but it is not new. I published all the details in the Antiqot journal in 1996, and I didn’t say it was the tomb of Jesus’ family,” said Amos Kloner, now professor of archaeology at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and author of the original excavation report for the predecessor of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

“I think it is very unserious work. I do scholarly work…,” Kloner said. “[This film] is all nonsense.”

Six of the nine remaining ossuaries have inscriptions. The other three ossuaries have no inscriptions. The Lost Tomb of Jesus posits that three of the ossuaries with inscriptions bear the names of figures from the New Testament.  The actual meanings of the epigraphs are disputed.  The makers of the documentary claim that four leading epigraphers have corroborated their interpretation of the inscriptions. As translated in The Lost Tomb of Jesus and The Jesus Family Tomb, they read as follows:

  • Yeshua bar Yehosef, Aramaic for “Jesus son of Joseph”
  • Maria, written in Aramaic script, but a Latin form of the Hebrew name “Miriam” (“Mary”)
  • Yose, a diminutive of “Joseph” mentioned (in its Greek form ιωσης “Joses”) as the name of one of Jesus’s brothers in the New Testament (Mark 6:3)
  • Yehuda bar Yeshua, Possibly Aramaic for “Judah son of Jesus”
  • Mariamene e Mara. According to the filmmakers this is Greek for “Mary known as the master.” The similar name “Mariamne” is found in the Acts of Philip: Francois Bovon, professor of the history of religion at Harvard University has suggested based on his study of that work that Mariamene, or Mariamne, was the actual name of Mary Magdalene
  • Matya, Hebrew for ‘Matthew’—not claimed to be Matthew the Evangelist but “possibly a husband of one of the women in an unmarked ossuary.” The filmmakers claim that there is evidence that Mary mother of Jesus had many relatives named Matthew

Four leading epigraphers have corroborated the ossuary inscriptions for The Lost Tomb of Jesus, according to the Discovery Channel.  William G. Dever, a retired professor of archaeology at the University of Arizona who has been excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years, said that some of the inscriptions on the Talpiot ossuaries are unclear, but that all of the names are common.

The film further claims that the tenth ossuary, which went missing years ago, is the James Ossuary purported to contain the body of James, the brother of Jesus.

In The Jesus Family Tomb, Simcha Jacobovici claims the James Ossuary would have been a part of this tomb, but was removed by artifact dealers, and thus discovered separately.  The James Ossuary’s authenticity has been called into question, and one of its past owners has been charged with fraud in connection to the artifact.

Ben Witherington III, who worked with Jacobovici on a Discovery Channel documentary on the James Ossuary, denies this connection on two grounds:

  • “The James ossuary, according to the report of the antiquities dealer that Oded Golan got the ossuary from, said that the ossuary came from Silwan, not Talpiot, and had dirt in it that matched up with the soil in that particular spot in Jerusalem.”
  • “Furthermore, Eusebius reports that the tomb marker for James’s burial was close to where James was martyred near the temple mount, indeed near the famous tombs in the Kidron Valley such as the so-called Tomb of Absalom. Talpiot is nowhere near this locale.”

Another consideration was that the measurements of the James Ossuary did not match the measurements listed for the tenth ossuary, which is no longer stored with the rest of the collection. The James Ossuary was listed as being approximately 50 centimeters long by 30 centimeters wide on one end, and 25.5 centimeters on the other end.  The tenth ossuary in the Talpiot collection is listed as 60 centimeters long by 26 centimeters by 30 centimeters.[15] Furthermore, Amos Kloner has stated that the tenth ossuary had no inscription. And Joe Zias, former curator of the Rockefeller Museum who received and catalogued the ossuaries, has also refuted this claim on his personal site.

New information has now shown that the discrepancy in the measurements had to do with measuring the base of the ossuary, which is indeed 50 centimeters, rather than the length. The top length of the James ossuary, not the base, which is trapezoid in shape, according to the latest remeasurement carried out by the Israel Antiquities Authority, is 57.5 centimeters. However, this does not in any way prove that the James ossuary is the missing tenth Talpiot ossuary.

A central question has regarded the probability that a tomb might contain the specific group of names as the Talpiot Tomb. Experts such as Richard Bauckham, David Mavorah  and Amos Kloner have asserted the commonness of archaeological inscriptions bearing the name “Jesus.” Paul Maier, professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, notes that there were at least 21 “Yeshuas” or Jesuses famous enough to be included in the histories of Josephus.  For their part, the filmmakers present a statistical study conducted by Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics and mathematics at the University of Toronto, which concluded that while the names are not uncommon, the conservative odds that such names would be found together in any one tomb around are (depending on variables) from 600 to 1 to a million to 1 in favor of it being authentic.

However, Dr. Feuerverger later said, “It is not in the purview of statistics to conclude whether or not this tombsite is that of the New Testament family. Any such conclusion much more rightfully belongs to the purview of biblical historical scholars who are in a much better position to assess the assumptions entering into the computations. The role of statistics here is primarily to attempt to assess the odds of an equally (or more) ‘compelling’ cluster of names arising purely by chance under certain random sampling assumptions and under certain historical assumptions. In this respect I now believe that I should not assert any conclusions connecting this tomb with any hypothetical one of the NT family.” Dr. Feuerverger’s assessment was based on several assumptions:

  • that the Maria on one of the ossuaries is the mother of the Jesus found on another box,
  • that Mariamne is his wife
  • that Joseph (inscribed as the nickname Jose) is his brother

Support for these assumptions comes, according to the documentary, from the following claims:

  • Mariamne is the Greek form of Mary.
  • Mary Magdelene is believed to have spoken and preached in Greek.
  • Jose was the nickname used for Jesus’ little brother.
  • The Talpiot Tomb is the only place where ossuaries have ever been found with the names Mariamne and Jose, even though the root forms of the name were very popular and thousands of ossuaries have been unearthed.

Further information regarding the methodology of this study is due to be published soon.

On February 25, 2007, Andrey Feuerverger, professor of statistics and mathematics at the University of Toronto conducted a statistical calculation on the name cluster as part of The Lost Tomb of Jesus. He concluded that the odds are at least 600 to 1 that the combination of names appeared in the tomb by chance. The methodology of this study has been submitted to a journal, but in the meantime a summary can be found on the Discovery Channel  and documentary websites. A more detailed explanation of the statistical approach can be found also on Prof. Andrey Feuerverger‘s website as well as in a recent interview given to Scientific American.  The frequency distribution for names prevalent during the period of time during which ossuary burials took place was inferred by studying two key sources:

  • Rahmani’s Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel.
  • Tal Ilan’s Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity.

According to Prof. Feuerverger, the goal of the statistical analysis is to assess the probability level of a null hypothesis, I quote:

A ‘null hypothesis’ can be thought of here as asserting that this cluster of names arose purely by chance under random sampling from the onomasticon. The alternative hypothesis is the opposite of this, in some sense. It is not in the purview of statistics to conclude whether or not this tombsite is that of the New Testament family.

Feuerverger multiplied the instances that each name appeared during the tomb’s time period with the instances of every other name. He initially found “Jesus Son of Joseph” appeared once out of 190 times, Mariamne appeared once out of 160 times and so on:

Jesus son of Joseph Mariamne Yosah Maria Product
1/190 1/160 1/20 1/4 date=1/2,432,000
0.53% 0.625% 5% 25%

He next divided 2,432,000 by 4 to account for bias in the historical record and further divided that result (608,000) by 1,000 to attempt to account for the number of explored tombs from first century Jerusalem.

Feuerverger’s conclusions have been called into question:

  • According to some multiplying the individual names’ probabilities is wrong because many permutations of the same names are possible.
  • The inclusion of Mariamne in the calculation is based on two assumptions:
    • Mary Magdelene in NT was Jesus’ wife. (There is no historical evidence for this.)
    • Mary Magdelene’s real name was Mariamne. (This assumption is disputed by some experts.)
  • The calculation adjusts only for the 1,000 tombs found in Jerusalem instead of the whole Jewish populace that lived in the area. This effectively assumes that Jesus family in NT did indeed have a family tomb and it was among the 1000 tombs found in Jerusalem area.  There is no historical evidence for this assumption. Some experts, including archaeologist Amos Kloner (the one who excavated the tombs) do not accept that the poor family from Nazareth had a family tomb in Jerusalem.
  • The inscription “Judah son of Jesus” is ignored in the calculation. Since there is no historical evidence that Jesus had any children, some people believe this inscription should be included in the calculation to reduce the probability that the tomb belongs to the Jesus family.

Randy Ingermanson and Jay Cost did their own statistical analysis in which they looked at the probabilities given various assumptions.

  • What they called a ‘typical historian’, they calculate, would odds of about 1 in 19,000 that this is the real tomb of Jesus.
  • A historian who wanted it to be the real tomb very badly would make assumptions that would change the odds to about 1 in 18.
  • A historian leaning towards it being the real tomb but “staying within the bounds of historical reasonableness” would make assumptions that would make the odds about 1 in 1,100.
  • Another historian leaning against it being the real tomb, but also working within the same bounds, would estimate odds of about 1 in five million.
  • And of course a Christian who insisted that Jesus ascended to Heaven would say it is impossible for this to be his tomb.

Stephan Pfann (president of Jerusalem’s University of the Holy Land) points out that the commonality of these names suggests that the probability is much lower. “Remarkably, a mere 16 of the 72 personal names [found on ossuaries] account for 75% of the inscribed names.” Among these “top 16” names are Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Matthew, and Judas.

Richard Bauckham (Professor of New Testament Studies and Bishop Wardlaw Professor at St Andrews) compiled the following data to show just how common the names on these ossuaries are:

“Out of a total number of 2625 males, these are the figures for the ten most popular male names among Palestinian Jews. The first figure is the total number of occurrences (from this number, with 2625 as the total for all names, you could calculate percentages), while the second is the number of occurrences specifically on ossuaries.”
Rank Name Total References Found on Ossuaries Percent of Total References (2625)
1 Simon/Simeon 243 59 9.3%
2 Joseph 218 45 8.3%
3 Eleazar 166 29 6.3%
4 Judah 164 44 6.2%
5 John/Yohanan 122 25 4.6%
6 Jesus 99 22 3.8%
7 Hananiah 82 18 3.1%
8 Jonathan 71 14 2.7%
9 Matthew 62 17 2.4%
10 Manaen/Menahem 42 4 1.6%
“For women, we have a total of 328 occurrences (women’s names are much less often recorded than men’s), and figures for the 4 most popular names are thus:”
Rank Name Total References Found on Ossuaries Percent of Total References (328)
1 Mary/Mariamne 70 42 21.3%
2 Salome 58 41 17.7%
3 Shelamzion 24 19 7.3%
4 Martha 20 17 6.1%

Colin Aitken, a professor of forensic statistics at Edinburgh University, stated that the study is based on a number of assumptions, and that, “even if we accept the assumptions, 600 to one is certainly not the odds in favour of this tomb being Jesus.” meaning that even if it were true that to find this cluster of names is very unlikely it does not follow that therefore this is probably the tomb of the family of Jesus. According to the Discovery Channel documentary Feuerverger’s statistical model concludes that there is only a 1/600 chance that the Talpiot tomb is not the Jesus family tomb if Mariamne can be linked to Mary Magdalene. In his personal website Feuerverger has distanced himself from this claim, explaining: “I now believe that I should not assert any conclusions connecting this tomb with any hypothetical one of the NT family.” Also, the Discovery Channel website has removed all previous associations of Feuerverger’s name with the 1/600 estimate of the Talpiot tomb not belonging to Jesus family.

Following the March 4, 2007 airing of The Lost Tomb of Jesus on the Discovery Channel, American journalist Ted Koppel aired a program entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus—A Critical Look, whose guests included the director Simcha Jacobovici, James Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte who served as a consultant and advisor on the documentary, Jonathan Reed, Professor of Religion at the University of LaVerne and co-author of Excavating Jesus Beneath the Stones, Behind the Text, and William Dever, an archaeologist with over 50 years experience in Middle Eastern archaeological digs.

The Washington Post in an article of 2/28/07 cites Dever as being “widely considered the dean of biblical archaeology among U.S. scholars” and quotes him as saying, “I just think it’s a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated” and “all of the names [contained in the tomb] are common.”

Alan Cooperman, writer of The Washington Post article also states this: “Similar assessments came yesterday from two Israeli scholars, Amos Kloner, who originally excavated the tomb, and Joe Zias, former curator of archaeology at the Israeli Antiquities Authority. Kloner told the Jerusalem Post that the documentary is “nonsense.” Zias described it in an e-mail to The Washington Post as a “hyped up film which is intellectually and scientifically dishonest.”

Israeli archaeologist Amos Kloner, who was among the first to examine the tomb when it was first discovered, said the names marked on the coffins were very common at the time. “I don’t accept the news that it was used by Jesus or his family,” and “The documentary filmmakers are using it to sell their film.” he told the BBC News website.

During the documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus, various professionals had claimed:

  1. concerning the ossuaries marked Yeshua` (“Jesus”) and the one believed to be that of Mary Magdalene: because “the DNA did not match, the forensic archaeologist concluded that they must be husband and wife”;
  2. that testing showed that there was a match between the patina on the James and Yeshua` ossuaries and referred to the James ossuary as the “missing link” from the tomb of Yeshua` (Jesus);
  3. and that an ossuary that became missing from the tomb of Yeshua` had actually been the infamous James ossuary believed to contain the remains of the brother of Yeshua`.

During Ted Koppel’s critique, The Lost Tomb of Jesus—a Critical Look, Koppel revealed he had denials from these three people Simcha Jacobovici had misquoted in the documentary.

  1. Koppel had a written denial from the forensic archaeologist asserting that he had NOT concluded that the remains of Yeshua` and Miriamne showed they were husband and wife. In fact, he had logically stated, “you cannot genetically test for marriage.”
  2. Koppel had a written denial from the Suffolk Crime Lab Director (Robert Genna) asserting that he had NOT stated the James ossuary patina matched that of the Yeshua` ossuary. He denied ever saying they were a match, and said he’d have to do much more comparison testing of other tombs before he could draw any conclusions.
  3. Koppel had a verbal denial from Professor Amos Kloner, the archaeologist who had supervised the initial 1980 dig of the tomb of Yeshua`, with whom he spoke on 3/4/07, asserting that the ossuary that later turned up missing from the alleged Tomb of ‘Jesus’ could not have been what is now known as the James ossuary. In fact he indicated there was evidence that it was not the same by saying that the now missing ossuary he had seen and photographed and catalogued in 1980 had been totally unmarked, whereas the James ossuary is marked with the name of James and a rosette.

The archaeologist William Dever summed it up when he stated on Koppel’s critical analysis, The Lost Tomb of Jesus—A Critical Look, that Jacobovici’s and Cameron’s “conclusions were already drawn in the beginning” of the inquiry and that their “argument goes far beyond any reasonable interpretation.”

Although the film’s premise questions theological renderings of the Bible’s account of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (which are central tenets of Christianity, affirmed also in the Nicene Creed), the filmmakers exclusively reject this claim.  Speaking at the news conference held at the New York Public Library, film’s religious consultant James Tabor stated that the fact that Jesus’ tomb was discovered does not put in doubt biblical accounts of his resurrection, which he said could have actually been spiritual.

With regards to the ascension, however, the documentary’s website suggests that while the tomb’s discovery does not render impossible the notion of a spiritual ascension, it does do so for those who believe that Jesus physically ascended to heaven.

Later in an interview, Simcha Jacobovici said that the film can be seen as a proof for those who question Jesus’ existence, and stressed on the idea the film being about science, truth and facts. But it’s worth mentioning that only the few lines of theological considerations drawn on the film’s website, (resurrecting from a second tomb after being moved or the spiritual only ascent to Heaven) are directly contradicting the majority of Christian views, which make this confirmation of Jesus historicity at least of no use from this perspective, if not tearing apart the belief.

Asked what he believes about the resemblance with The Da Vinci Code, executive producer James Cameron said he looked “at it as paving the way for some of these ideas that some people may consider to be quite radical, but were rather well researched in that movie” and, although the documentary team was working for a year when it was released, they decided to wait for another year “to let these ideas marinate.”

The film proposes new interpretations of the events regarding Jesus depicted in the New Testament, as seen by mainstream Christianity. The film’s suggestions contradict the basis of the faith in the majority’s view, if considering only Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy by number of members (other denominations‘ teachings being contradicted at least partially), and may be considered blasphemies[64][65][66] by the Church:

The claim that Jesus was married also undermines the theological metaphor of the Church being the “Bride of Christ” (found in the writings of the New Testament). Jimmy Akin, director of Apologetics and Evangelization at Catholic Answers, wrote: “This image would never have arisen if there was a Mrs. Jesus living right there in Jerusalem…. We know about [the wives of religion founders] because they were honored figures as wives of The Founder, and if Jesus had a wife then (a) we would know about it and (b) the whole Church-as-the-Bride-of-Christ metaphor would never have come into existence.” As for a possible “son of Jesus,” he noted: “We tend to know about even the daughters of religious founders. Muhammad’s daughter Fatima comes to mind. It would be much harder to sneak a forgotten son by the eyes of history…. It’s not just hard to sneak sons past because patriarchal cultures focus more on sons; it’s also because of this: In traditional societies, the son is looked on as the father’s natural successor.”

Conforming or Contradicting Islamic views?

Finding someone’s remains (other than Jesus) in Jesus’ tomb conforms the Muslim belief that a substitute for him was crucified, while he was raised bodily to heaven. The Islamic view of his disappearance, as mentioned in the Qur’an, states: That they said (in boast), “We killed Al-Masih ‘Isa the son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah”; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. The general Muslim interpretation of the verse is that God, to revenge from Judas’ betrayal to Jesus (the fatherless prophet), made his face similar to that of Jesus, while Jesus ascended into heaven and is to return near the end of time and kill the anti-Christ. Accordingly, the discovered remains in his tomb would then actually belong to Judas, a Roman guard, or a volunteering disciple.

On the other hand, the documentary itself contradicts Islamic views beacause it specifies that it was presumebly Jesus who was buried there, and its website states that “If Jesus’ mortal remains have indeed been found, this would contradict only the idea of a physical ascension”, which Muslims endorse.

Early Christianity scholar R. Joseph Hoffmann, chair of the skeptically minded Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, says the film alerts the public to the fact that there are no secure conclusions when it comes to the foundational history of a religious tradition. But he charges that the film “is all about bad assumptions,” beginning with the assumption that the boxes contain Jesus of Nazareth and his family. From his view as an historian specializing in the social history of earliest Christianity, he found it “amazing how evidence falls into place when you begin with the conclusion—and a hammer.”

When interviewed about the upcoming documentary, Amos Kloner, who oversaw the original archaeological dig of this tomb in 1980 said:

“It makes a great story for a TV film, but it’s completely impossible. It’s nonsense.”

Newsweek reports that the archaeologist who personally numbered the ossuaries dismissed any potential connection:

“Simcha has no credibility whatsoever,” says Joe Zias, who was the curator for anthropology and archeology at the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997 and personally numbered the Talpiot ossuaries. “He’s pimping off the Bible … He got this guy Cameron, who made ‘Titanic’ or something like that—what does this guy know about archeology? I am an archeologist, but if I were to write a book about brain surgery, you would say, ‘Who is this guy?’ People want signs and wonders. Projects like these make a mockery of the archeological profession.”

The aforementioned Joe Zias has published in his own site a “viewers’ guide” to the Talpiot Tomb documentary, in which he systematically rebuts the film’s argumentation and gives much background information about the people involved in it.

Stephen Pfann, president of Jerusalem’s University of the Holy Land and an expert in Semitic languages, who was interviewed in the documentary, also said the film’s hypothesis holds little weight:

“How possible is it?” Pfann said. “On a scale of one through 10—10 being completely possible—it’s probably a one, maybe a one and a half.”

Pfann also thinks the inscription read as “Jesus” has been misread and suggests that the name “Hanun” might be a more accurate rendering.

The Washington Post reports that William G. Dever (mentioned above as excavating ancient sites in Israel for 50 years) offered the following:

“I’ve known about these ossuaries for many years and so have many other archaeologists, and none of us thought it was much of a story, because these are rather common Jewish names from that period. It’s a publicity stunt, and it will make these guys very rich, and it will upset millions of innocent people because they don’t know enough to separate fact from fiction.”

Asbury Theological Seminary‘s Ben Witherington III points out some other circumstantial problems with linking this tomb to Christ:

  • “So far as we can tell, the earliest followers of Jesus never called Jesus ‘son of Joseph’. It was outsiders who mistakenly called him that.”
  • “The ancestral home of Joseph was Bethlehem, and his adult home was Nazareth. The family was still in Nazareth after he [Joseph] was apparently dead and gone. Why in the world would he be buried (alone at this point) in Jerusalem?”
  • “One of the ossuaries has the name Jude son of Jesus. We have no historical evidence of such a son of Jesus, indeed we have no historical evidence he was ever married.”
  • “The Mary ossuaries (there are two) do not mention anyone from Migdal. It simply has the name Mary—and that’s about the most common of all ancient Jewish female names.”
  • “We have names like Matthew on another ossuary, which don’t match up with the list of [Jesus’s] brothers’ names.”

The Archaeological Institute of America, self-described on their website as “North America’s oldest and largest organization devoted to the world of archeology,” has published online their own criticism of the “Jesus tomb” claim:

“The identification of the Talpiyot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family is based on a string of problematic and unsubstantiated claims […] [It] contradicts the canonical Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus and the earliest Christian traditions about Jesus. This claim is also inconsistent with all of the available information—historical and archaeological—about how Jews in the time of Jesus buried their dead, and specifically the evidence we have about poor, non-Judean families like that of Jesus. It is a sensationalistic claim without any scientific basis or support.”

David Mavorah, a curator of the Israel museum in Jerusalem, points out that the names on the ossuaries were extremely common. “We know that Joseph, Jesus and Mariamne were all among the most common names of the period. To start with all these names being together in a single tomb and leap from there to say this is the tomb of Jesus is a little far-fetched, to put it politely.” David Mavorah is an expert of Israeli Antiquity, and (presumably) not an expert of statistics. However, Dr. Andrey Feuerverger, the statistician cited by the makers of the documentary, has said that determination of the identity of those in the tomb was the purview of biblical historians, and not statisticians. For another interpretation of the statistics see the statistics section above.

Professor Amos Kloner, former Jerusalem district archaeologist of the Israel Antiquities Authority and the first archaeologist to examine the tomb in 1980, told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the name Jesus had been found 71 times in burial caves at around that time.  Furthermore, he said that the inscription on the ossuary is not clear enough to ascertain, and although the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards it makes for profitable television. Quote: “The new evidence is not serious, and I do not accept that it is connected to the family of Jesus…. They just want to get money for it.”

Dr. Richard Bauckham, professor at the University of St Andrews, catalogued ossuary names from that region since 1980. He records that based on the catalogue, “Jesus” was the 6th most popular name of Jewish men, and “Mary/Mariamne” was the single most popular name of Jewish women at that time. Therefore, finding two ossuaries containing the names “Jesus” and “Mary/Mariamne” is not significant at all, and the chances of it being the ossuaries of Jesus and Mary Magdalene are “very small indeed.”

Concerning the inscription attributed to Jesus son of Joseph, Steve Caruso, a professional Aramaic translator using a computer to visualize different interpretations, claims that although it is possible to read it as “Yeshua” that “overall it is a very strong possibility that this inscription is not ‘Yeshua` bar Yehosef.'”

Name “Mary” and derivative of it may have been used by 25% of Jewish women at that time.

[edit] Publicity

Lawrence E. Stager, the Dorot professor of archaeology of Israel at Harvard, said the documentary was “exploiting the whole trend that caught on with The Da Vinci Code. One of the problems is there are so many biblically illiterate people around the world that they don’t know what is real judicious assessment and what is what some of us in the field call ‘fantastic archaeology.'”

William G. Dever said, “I’m not a Christian. I’m not a believer. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I just think it’s a shame the way this story is being hyped and manipulated.

Jodi Magness criticized the decision of the documentary makers to make their claims at a news conference rather than in a peer-reviewed scientific article. By going directly to the media, she said, the filmmakers “have set it up as if it’s a legitimate academic debate, when the vast majority of scholars who specialize in archeology of this period have flatly rejected this.”

Joe Zias, former curator of archeology at the Israeli Antiquities Authority, described it in an e-mail to The Washington Post as a “hyped-up film which is intellectually and scientifically dishonest.” He also wrote an extended Viewers Guide to Understanding the Talpiot Tomb documentary, published on his web site.

François Bovon has also written to say that his comments were misused. In a letter to the Society of Biblical Literature, he wrote:

As I was interviewed for the Discovery Channel’s program The Lost Tomb of Jesus, I would like to express my opinion here.
First, I have now seen the program and am not convinced of its main thesis. When I was questioned by Simcha Jacobovici and his team the questions were directed toward the Acts of Philip and the role of Mariamne in this text. I was not informed of the whole program and the orientation of the script.
Second, having watched the film, in listening to it, I hear two voices, a kind of double discourse. On one hand there is the wish to open a scholarly discussion; on the other there is the wish to push a personal agenda. I must say that the reconstructions of Jesus’ marriage with Mary Magdalene and the birth of a child belong for me to science fiction.
Third, to be more credible, the program should deal with the very ancient tradition of the Holy Sepulcher, since the emperor Constantine in the fourth century C.E. built this monument on the spot at which the emperor Hadrian in the second century C.E. erected the forum of Aelia Capitolina and built on it a temple to Aphrodite at the place where Jesus’ tomb was venerated.
Fourth, I do not believe that Mariamne is the real name of Mary of Magdalene. Mariamne is, besides Maria or Mariam, a possible Greek equivalent, attested by Josephus, Origen, and the Acts of Philip, for the Semitic Myriam.
Fifth, the Mariamne of the Acts of Philip is part of the apostolic team with Philip and Bartholomew; she teaches and baptizes. In the beginning, her faith is stronger than Philip’s faith. This portrayal of Mariamne fits very well with the portrayal of Mary of Magdala in the Manichean Psalms, the Gospel of Mary, and Pistis Sophia. My interest is not historical, but on the level of literary traditions. I have suggested this identification in 1984 already in an article of New Testament Studies.
François Bovon, Harvard Divinity School

cleavers

I have been laid up this past week with a terrible sinus infection, including a dreadful sore throat. While convelescing, I have been enjoying Netflix instant viewing, and got caught up in episodes of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

The main cast included:

ward

Hugh Beaumont, born in 1909, Lawrence, Kansas, died in 1992 at the age of 73. Once BEAVER ceased production, his career was pretty lousing and he was forced into community theatre productions.

mathers

Jerry Mathers is no longer in television, but has remained a familiar face on talk shows throughout the years. Jerry is also very involved in a number of issues:

Psoriasis

Mathers is a spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation to raise awareness of psoriasis, educate the public about new biologic therapies, and generate hope for people with this serious, lifelong disease.

Diabetes

Mathers was diagnosed with diabetes in 1996. He took preventative action, lost 45 pounds and became one of the leading lecturers on living with and dealing with diabetes. Mathers has partnered with diverse organizations to bring awareness of this epidemic to the public and is currently the national spokesperson for Johnson and Johnson’s OneTouch Ultra2 System blood glucose monitoring system.

Other careers

Current

  • Frank Bank, who played Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford on the Beaver show, is now Mathers’s investment adviser.
  • Mathers, who is an FCC licensed broadcaster, often guest hosts on national talk-radio programs and is trained in radio satellite broadcasting.
  • Mathers has also had recurring spots on The Tonight Show with host Jay Leno.
  • He is currently a speaker at business conventions, where he addresses the emotional state of the American family and the effects of television on society today, using the fabled Cleavers from his early television career.

tony-dow-1-sized

Tony Dow, born 1945, has remained active in television and motion pictures.

Dow was born to John Stevens, a designer and general contractor, and Muriel Virginia Dow (nee Montrose), a stunt woman in early westerns and Clara Bow‘s movie double in Hollywood, California. In his youth, Dow was a Junior Olympics diving champion.  He won the role of Wally Cleaver in a casting call with almost no previous acting experience.

Dow remained on the series until it ended in 1963. After the run of Leave It to Beaver, he appeared on My Three Sons, Dr. Kildare, Mr. Novak, and Never Too Young. In 1965, Dow briefly stopped acting and joined the National Guard. Dow left the National Guard in 1968[4] and returned to acting with guest starring roles in Adam-12, Love, American Style, The Mod Squad, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Hardy Boys, and Emergency!.

During the 1970s, he continued acting while working in the construction business and studying journalism and filmmaking. Dow’s most recent onscreen appearance was in the 2003 film Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Dow also served as the visual effects supervisor for Babylon 5. In 1996, he provided visual effects for the FOX TVM Doctor Who.

In the 1990s, Dow revealed that he has struggled and was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression. He has since starred in self-help videos chronicling his battle with depression.  He has been quite open about discussing it, even appearing in videos discussing his personal battle with depression, including Beating the Blues (1998), which Dow hosted and in which he talked about his personal struggle with depression.

Dow has become a serious, respected amateur sculptor, creating abstract bronze sculptures. In his artist statement, he says the following about his work: “The figures are abstract and not meant to represent reality but rather the truth of the interactions as I see and feel them. I find the wood in the hills of Topanga Canyon and each piece evolves from my subconscious. I produce limited editions of nine bronzes using the lost wax process from molds of the original burl sculpture.” One of his bronze pieces is on display in the backyard garden of Barbara Billingsley, who played his mother in Leave It to Beaver. Dow was chosen as one of three sculptors to show at the Societe Nationale Des Beaux Arts exhibition in the Louvre in Paris in December of 2008, representing the United States delegation comprising artists from the Karen Lynne Gallery. The sculpture that will be shown at the Louvre is titled “Unarmed Warrior,” which is a bronze figure of a woman holding a shield.

barbara-billingsley

Barbara Billingsley, born in 1915, has also kept an active career in motion pictures and television, often portraying her “June Cleaver” personna.

With a year at Los Angeles Junior College behind her, Billingsley traveled to Broadway when Straw Hat, a revue in which she was appearing, attracted enough attention to send it to New York. When, after five days, the show closed, she took an apartment on 57th Street and went to work as a $60-a-week fashion model.

As an actress on the silver screen, she had usually uncredited roles in major motion picture productions in the 1940s. These roles continued into the first half of the 1950s with The Bad and the Beautiful as well as the sci-fi story Invaders from Mars (1953). Her film experience led to roles on the sitcoms Professional Father and The Brothers and an appearance with David Niven on his anthology series Four Star Playhouse.

Billingsley became best known for her role in the 1950s and 1960s television series Leave It to Beaver as June Cleaver, wife of Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) and the mother of Wally (Tony Dow) and Beaver Cleaver (Jerry Mathers). The Cleaver household became iconic in its representation of an archetypal suburban lifestyle associated with 1950s America. In the show, Billingsley often could be seen doing household chores wearing pearls and earrings. The pearls were her idea. The actress had an unsightly surgical scar on her neck and thought that wearing a strand of pearls could cover it up for the cameras. In later seasons of the show she also started wearing high heels to compensate for the fact that the actors who played her sons were getting taller than her. [1] The sitcom show ran from 1957 to 1963 and proved to be very lucrative for Billingsley.

When production of the show ended in 1963, Billingsley became typecast as saccharine sweet and had trouble obtaining acting jobs for years. She traveled extensively abroad until the late 1970s. After an absence of 17 years from the public eye (other than appearing in two episodes of The F.B.I. in 1971), Billingsley spoofed her wholesome image with a brief appearance in the comedy Airplane! (1980), as a passenger who could “speak jive.”

She became the voice of “Nanny” and “The Little Train” on Muppet Babies from 1984 to 1991.

Billingsley appeared in a Leave It to Beaver reunion television movie entitled Still the Beaver in 1983, a year after her on-screen husband during the six-year original run of the series, Hugh Beaumont, died of a heart attack. She also appeared in the subsequent revival television series, The New Leave It to Beaver (1985-1989). In the 1997 film version of Leave It to Beaver, Billingsley played the character “Aunt Martha”.

Now in her 90s, Billingsley recently completed a role on NBC’s sitcom My Name Is Earl.

On May 6, 2008, she was one of the panelists at the Academy Leonard Goldenson Theatre in North Hollywood, California, where the Academy of Television Arts & Science presented, “A Salute to TV Moms.” Besides Billingsley, other TV moms attended the party, such as: Marjorie Lord, Bonnie Franklin, Vicki Lawrence, Cloris Leachman, Doris Roberts, Diahann Carroll, Catherine Hicks and Meredith Baxter.

Billingsley was born Barbara Lillian Combes in Los Angeles, California. She and her first husband, Glenn Billingsley, a successful restaurateur, had two sons, Drew and Glenn, Jr. Since 1974, Drew and Glenn have owned and operated Billingsley’s Restaurant in West Los Angeles, in the tradition of their father, and their great uncle, Sherman Billingsley, founder of New York City‘s very fashionable 1940s-era nightclub, The Stork Club. Billingsley divorced Glenn Billingsley, but kept his surname professionally, and later married Roy Kellino, a director. After Kellino’s death, she married Dr. William Mortenson, who died in 1981.

Billingsley is related by marriage to actor/producer Peter Billingsley, known for his starring role as Ralphie in the seasonal classic A Christmas Story. First husband Glenn’s cousin is Peter’s mother, Gail Billingsley.

Film roles (credited)

  • The Argyle Secrets (1948)
  • Valiant Hombre (1948)
  • Prejudice (1949)
  • I Cheated the Law (1949)
  • Air Hostess (1949)
  • Shadow on the Wall (1950)
  • Trial Without Jury (1950)
  • Pretty Baby (1950)
  • Three Guys Named Mike (1951)
  • Inside Straight (1951)
  • Two Dollar Bettor (1951)
  • The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
  • Young Man with Ideas (1952)
  • Woman in the Dark (1952)
  • The Lady Wants Mink (1953)
  • The Careless Years (1957)
  • Airplane! (1980)
  • Still the Beaver (1983) (TV)
  • Leave It to Beaver (1997)
  • Secret Santa (2003) (TV)

Television shows

And here are the Cleavers today. Barbara Billingsley is seated between her on-screen sons, Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow. Standing behind them are Frank Banks “Lumpy Rutherford” and Ken Osmond “Eddie Haskell”.

cleavers-today1

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Neal Hefti, a Big Band trumpeter, arranger and composer of themes for the movie “The Odd Couple” and the “Batman” television series, has died. He was 85.

Hefti died Saturday at his home, said his son Paul Hefti.

Neal Hefti’s notable achievements include the iconic theme of the 1960s superhero series “Batman,” which became a Top 40 hit and won a Grammy Award in 1966 for best instrumental theme. He also composed music for “The Odd Couple,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “Harlow,” which featured his classic track “Girl Talk.”

His son said the “Batman” theme was Neal Hefti’s most difficult piece, taking him at least one month to compose the driving bass and explosive trumpet bursts.

“He threw away more music paper on this thing than any other song,” Paul Hefti told The Associated Press. “It got down to the blues with a funny guitar hook, the lowest common denominator and a fun groove.”

Neal Hefti was born October 29, 1922, in Hastings, Nebraska, and played trumpet with local bands as a teenager to earn money.

As an adult, he worked with and arranged music for the greats of the Big Band era, including Count Basie, Woody Herman, Charlie Spivak and Harry James.

“He was one of the really great arrangers and composers of all time,” radio and television personality Gary Owens, a longtime friend, told the Los Angeles Times.

Thank you for smoking

davis.jpgThis stamp honoring Bette Davis was issued by the U. S. Postal Service on Sept. 18. The portrait by Michael Deas was inspired by a still photo from “All About Eve.” Notice anything missing? Before you even read this far, you were thinking, Where’s her cigarette? Yes reader, the cigarette in the original photo has been eliminated. We are all familiar, I am sure, with the countless children and teenagers who have been lured into the clutches of tobacco by stamp collecting, which seems so innocent, yet can have such tragic outcomes. But isn’t this is carrying the anti-smoking campaign one step over the line?
Depriving Bette Davis of her cigarette reminds me of Soviet revisionism, when disgraced party officials disappeared from official photographs. Might as well strip away the toupees of Fred Astaire and Jimmy Stewart. I was first alerted to this travesty by a reader, Wendell Openshaw of San Diego, who wrote me: “Do you share my revulsion for this attempt to revise history and distort a great screen persona for political purposes? It is political correctness and revisionist history run amok. Next it will be John Wayne holding a bouquet instead of a Winchester!”

portrait_2.jpgThe great Chicago photographer Victor Skrebneski took one of the most famous portraits of Davis. I showed him the stamp. His response: “I have been with Bette for years and I have never seen her without a cigarette! No cigarette! Who is this impostor?” I imagine Davis might not object to a portrait of her without a cigarette, because she posed for many. But to have a cigarette removed from one of her most famous poses! What she did to Joan Crawford in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” wouldn’t even compare to what ever would have happened to the artist Michael Deas.

Look, I hate smoking. It took my parents from me, my father with lung cancer, my mother with emphysema. They both liked Luckies. When my dad’s cancer was diagnosed, they played it safe and switched to Winstons. When my mother was breathing oxygen through a tube, she’d take out the tube, turn off the oxygen, and light up. I avoid smokers. It isn’t allowed in our house. When I see someone smoking, it feels like I’m watching them bleed themselves, one drip at a time.

So we’ve got that established. On the other hand, I have never objected to smoking in the movies, especially when it is necessary to establish a period or a personality. I simply ask the movies to observe that, these days, you rarely see someone smoking except standing outside a building, on a battleground, in a cops’ hangout, in a crack house, in rehab, places like that. In an ordinary context, giving a character a cigarette is saying either (1) this is a moron, or (2) this person will die. Smoking no longer even works to add a touch of color to an action hero. Does Jason Bourne smoke? I haven’t seen James Bond with a cigarette since Pierce Brosnan took over the role in 1995. Daniel Craig smoked cigars in “Casino Royale” (2006), but the producers cut them out. (Craig: “I can blow someone’s head off but I can’t light a good cigar.”)

Two of the most wonderful props in film noir were cigarettes and hats. They added interest to a close up or a two-shot. “Casablanca” without cigarettes would seem to be standing around looking for something to do. These days men don’t smoke and don’t wear hats. When they lower their heads, their eyes aren’t shaded. Cinematographers have lost invaluable compositional tools. The coil of smoke rising around the face of a beautiful women added allure and mystery. Remember Marlene Dietrich. She was smoking when she said, “It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.”

ronny-chesterfield-2.jpgEverybody smoked cigarettes in the movies. Even Katharine Hepburn. Even Loretta Young. Ronald Reagan posed for Chesterfield ads. On the radio, it wasn’t “The Jack Benny Program,” it was “The Lucky Strike Program with Jack Benny,” although in that PBS documentary you only see him smoking cigars. Robert Mitchum smoked so much, he told me, that when the camera was rolling on “Out of the Past,” Kirk Douglas offered him a pack and asked, “Cigarette?” And Mitchum, realizing he’d carried a cigarette into the scene, held up his fingers and replied, “Smoking.” His improvisation saved the take. They kept it in the movie.
If virtually all actresses smoked, Bette Davis smoked more than virtually all actresses. When she appeared on the Tonight Show the night after she co-hosted the Oscars, she walked onstage, shook Johnny’s hand, sat down, pulled out her Vantages, and lit up. Tumultuous applause. I would guess it is impossible for an impressionist to do Bette Davis without using a cigarette. Remember Paul Henried lighting two cigarettes and giving her one? Read this quote from the first paragraph of Wiki’s entry on Davis: Her forthright manner, clipped vocal style and ubiquitous cigarette contributed to a public persona which has often been imitated and satirized. Ubiquitous.

I think some smoking is okay even in contemporary stories, if only to acknowledge it exists. Movies can’t rewrite reality. The MPAA cautiously mentions smoking in their descriptions of movie ratings (even if it’s Alice’s caterpillar and his hookah). If, by the time you’re old enough to sit through a movie, you haven’t heard that smoking is bad for you, you don’t need a movie rating, you need a foster home.

And yet, and yet…I could not do without that moment in “Sweet Smell of Success,” where Burt Lancaster plays the big-shot Broadway columnist T. J. Hunsaker, and Tony Curtis is the desperate press agent Sidney Falco, trying to get an item into T.J.’s column. Hunsaker holds a cigarette in his fingers and, without looking, says “Match me, Sidney.” A relationship defined in two words. That still leaves “Cigarette me.” I predict it will turn up as dialog within 12 months.

robertjohnson.jpg
Blues legend Robert Johnson’s cigarette vanished on a 1994 stamp.

 

Today is the 100th birthday of my hero in directing, Joshua Logan.

Joshua Lockwood Logan III (October 5, 1908July 12, 1988) was an American stage and film director and writer.

Logan was born in Texarkana, Texas. His father died when Logan was only three, and his mother remarried six years later. He was reared in Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish and the largest city in north Louisiana. He attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, where his stepfather served on the staff. At school, he experienced his first drama class and felt at home. After his high school graduation he attended Princeton University.

At Princeton, he was involved with the intercollegiate summer stock company, known as the University Players, with fellow student James Stewart and also non-student Henry Fonda. In fact, James Stewart was an architect major when Logan recruited him for a bit part in a production he was directing. Stewart became hooked on acting and the two remained life time friends. During his senior year he served as president of the Princeton Triangle Club. Before his graduation he won a scholarship to study in Moscow with Constantin Stanislavsky, and Logan left school without a diploma.

Logan began his Broadway career as an actor in Carry Nation in 1932. He then spent time in London, where he “stag[ed] two productions … and direct[ed] a touring revival of Camille“. He also worked as an assistant stage manager. After a short time in Hollywood, Logan directed On Borrowed Time on Broadway. The play ran for a year, but his first major success came in 1938, when he directed I Married an Angel. Over the next few years he directed Knickerbocker Holiday, Morning’s at Seven, Charlie’s Aunt, and By Jupiter.

In 1942 Logan was drafted by the US Army. During his service in World War II, he acted as a public-relations and intelligence officer. When the war concluded he was discharged as a captain, and returned to Broadway. He married his second wife, actress Nedda Harrigan (daughter of Ned Harrigan), in 1945; Logan’s previous marriage, to actress Barbara O’Neil, who is most remembered as Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in GONE WITH THE WIND, a colleague of his at the University Players in the 1930s, had ended in divorce.

After the war, Logan directed the Broadway productions Annie Get Your Gun, John Loves Mary, Mister Roberts, South Pacific, and Fanny. He shared the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for co-writing South Pacific. The show also earned him a Tony Award for Best Director. Despite his contributions to the musical, in their review the New York Times originally omitted his name as co-author, and the Pulitzer Prize committee initially awarded the prize to only Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although the mistakes were corrected, in his autobiography Logan wrote “I knew then why people fight so hard to have their names in proper type. It’s not just ego or ‘the principle of the thing,’ it’s possibly another job or a better salary. It’s reassurance. My name had been so minimized that I lived through years of having people praise ‘South Pacific’ in my presence without knowing I had had anything to do with.”

Logan cowrote, coproduced, and directed the 1952 musical Wish You Were Here. After the show was not initially successful, Logan quickly wrote 54 new pages of material, and by the ninth performance the show looked new. In its fourth week of release, the show sold out, and continued to offer sell-out performance for the next two years.

When director John Ford became sick, Logan reluctantly returned to Hollywood to complete the filming of Mister Roberts (1955). Logan’s other hit films included Picnic (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Sayonara (1957), and South Pacific (1958). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Directing for Picnic and Sayonara.

His later Broadway musicals All-American (1962) and Mr. President (1962) and the films of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot (1967), and Paint Your Wagon (1969) were less acclaimed. Logan’s 1976 autobiography Josh: My Up-and-Down, In-and-Out Life talks frankly about his bipolar disorder. He appeared with his wife in the 1977 nightclub revue Musical Moments, featuring Logan’s most popular Broadway numbers. He published Movie Stars, Real People, and Me in 1978. From 1983-1986, he taught theater at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He was also responsible for bringing Carol Channing to Broadway in Lend an Ear!.

At his best, Logan’s direction was distinguished by a deep insight into character and a remarkable fluidity, the latter especially evident in his staging of often cumbersome musicals. He was sometimes criticized in his later shows and films, however, for too heavy a touch. Autobiography: Josh: My Up and Down, In and Out Life, 1976.

Logan died in 1988 in New York of supranuclear palsy.

JOSHUA LOGAN’S OBITUARY…

Published: July 13, 1988

Joshua L. Logan, the director of some of Broadway’s most enduring and prestigious hits, among them ”South Pacific,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, and ”Mister Roberts,” died yesterday afternoon at his Manhattan home. He was 79 years old and had suffered for many years from supranuclear palsy, a debilitating disease.

Joshua L. Logan, the director of some of Broadway’s most enduring and prestigious hits, among them ”South Pacific,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, and ”Mister Roberts,” died yesterday afternoon at his Manhattan home. He was 79 years old and had suffered for many years from supranuclear palsy, a debilitating disease.

Mr. Logan frequently served as co-author and producer or co-producer as well as director of plays. He was also that uncommon phenomenon, the theater director who was also successful in films – with such hits as ”Sayonara” and ”Paint Your Wagon.”

While he attempted the classics only once, with ”The Wisteria Trees” – his own version of Chekhov’s ”Cherry Orchard” – and did not seek out innovative or avant-garde drama, he was a consummate theatrical craftsman, possessing great emotional force that he was able to transmit to the actors he directed.

His long string of successes really began with the musical ”I Married an Angel” (1938) and included ”Knickerbocker Holiday” with Walter Huston the same year, ”Annie Get Your Gun” (1946), ”Picnic” (1953), ”Fanny” (1954), ”The World of Suzie Wong” (1958) and the movie of ”Camelot” (1967). Some Failures, Too

He did have his failures, notably ”Miss Moffat,” a musical version of ”The Corn Is Green,” starring Bette Davis. It closed in Philadelphia before reaching New York, when Miss Davis withdrew from the cast. Another was ”Rip van Winkle,” a 1976 musical for which he wrote both book and lyrics as well as provided the direction. It closed before its New York opening. ”Ensign Pulver,” a 1964 film, was not a success, nor was ”Look to the Lilies,” in 1970.

Mr. Logan was notable for his candor in discussing manic depression, the mental illness in which manic elation alternates with profound depression. He had the condition for many years before it was discovered that it could be controlled by the drug lithium carbonate.

It had been rumored for years that Mr. Logan’s ups and downs of mood were occasionally excessive, and that he required hospitalization for extended periods, which in fact he did on two occasions.

After January 1969, when he learned of lithium and began taking it as a preventive, Mr. Logan decided, he wrote in ”Movie Stars, Real People, and Me,” that he would talk about it. Telling What He Knew ”I had been ignorant all my life about such things,” he said, ”at least I could tell others so they would never be as ignorant as I was.”

He took part in medical seminars, appeared on television and talked and wrote about his illness. But he also made it clear that he felt its manic phase contributed to his creativity: ”Without my illness, active or dormant, I’m sure I would have lived only half of the life I’ve lived and that would be as unexciting as a safe and sane Fourth of July. I would have missed the sharpest, the rarest and, yes, the sweetest moments of my existence.”

Joshua Lockwood Logan was born Oct. 5, 1908, in Texarkana, Tex. His father died when he was 3 years old; six years later, his mother married an Army officer who was later on the staff of the Culver (Ind.) Military Academy.

It was when he was 8 years old that Joshua saw his first professional play, ”Everywoman,” in Shreveport, La. It was, he wrote in his autobiography, ”Josh,” a case of ”love at first sight.” It was during his five years at Culver, Mr. Logan wrote, that he entered his first dramatics class and ”felt my life swerve and suddenly steady itself.” Studied With Stanislavsky.

He chose to go to Princeton because of its Triangle Club show that toured the country, and he entered the university in 1927. The previous year, he recalled, he saw his first Broadway play, ”What Price Glory?”

TRIVIA…

  • Won seven Tony Awards:
  • two in 1948 for “Mister Roberts,” with collaborator Thomas Heggen as Best Authors and as writers of the Best Play winner
  • four in 1950 for “South Pacific,” as Best Director, Best Authors (Musical) with Oscar Hammerstein II, Best Producers (Musical) wirh Richard Rodgers, Hammerstein and Leland Hayward, and as writers, along with Rodgers and Hammerstein, of the Best Musical winner
  • and one in 1953, as Best Director for William Inge‘s “Picnic.”
  • He was also Tony-nominated on two other occasions:
  • in 1959, as co-producer of Best Play nominee “Epitaph for George Dillon,”
  • in 1962 as Best Director (Musical) for “All American.”

One of my favorite songs from the movie, SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR…

Hello, I don’t even know your name, but I’m hopin’ all the same
This is more than just a simple hello.
Hello, do I smile and look away? No, I think I’ll smile and stay
To see where this might go.

‘Cause the last time I felt like this, I was falling in love,
Falling and feeling, I’d never fall in love again.
Yes, the last time I felt like this, was long before I knew
What I’m feeling now with you.

Hello, I can’t wait till we’re alone, somewhere quiet on our own
So that we can fall the rest of the way.
I know that before the night is thru, I’ll be talking love to you,
Meaning every word I say.

‘Cause the last time I felt like this I was falling in love,
Falling and feeling, I’d never fall in love again.
Yes, the last time I felt like this, was long before I knew
What I’m feeling now with you.

Oh, the last time I felt like this I was falling in love,
Falling and feeling, I’d never fall in love again.
Yes, the last time I felt like this, was long before I knew
What I’m feeling now with you.

Words by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman
Music by Marvin Hamlisch

I am watching a delightful A&E documentary on Shirley Temple. What a fascinating lady! And the wonderful child star of the 1930’s turned 80 this year!

Shirley Jane Temple (born April 23, 1928) is an Academy Award-winning actress and tap dancer, most famous for being an iconic American child actress of the 1930s, who enjoyed a notable career as a diplomat as an adult. After rising to fame at the age of six with her breakthrough performance in Bright Eyes in 1934, she starred in a series of highly successful films which won her widespread public adulation and saw her become the top grossing star at the American box-office during the height of the Great Depression. She went on to star in films as a young adult in the 1940s. In later life, she became a United States ambassador and diplomat.

Family

Temple was born to George Francis Temple (1888–1980), a businessman and banker, and Gertrude Amelia Krieger (1893–1977) in Santa Monica, California. She has two brothers, Jack (b. 1915) and George, Jr. (b. 1919). Her mother loved dancing and this directed Temple towards performing. Gertrude was a constant presence on the lot during Temple’s childhood acting years, helping her learn her lines, and controlled her wardrobe. Biographer Anne Edwards said Temple’s famous hair style, known as the “Shirley Temple Curls,” was also under the control of Gertrude, who ensured there were exactly 52 ringlets in her hair for each take.

At the age of 17, Temple was married to soldier-turned-actor John Agar (1921–2002) on September 19, 1945. They had one daughter, Linda Susan Agar (later known as Susan Falaschi), born on January 30, 1948. Temple filed for divorce in late 1949, with the divorce becoming final on December 5, 1950. In early 1950, while vacationing in Hawaii, Temple met and fell in love with California businessman Charles Alden Black (1919–2005). They married on December 16 that year. Together, they had two children: Charles Alden Black Jr., born April 29, 1952, and Lori Black, born April 9, 1954. They remained married until Charles’s death from myelodysplastic syndrome (a bone marrow disease), at age 86, on August 4, 2005.

Temple has one granddaughter, Teresa Caltabiano (b. 1980), Susan’s daughter. She also has one great granddaughter, Lily Jane Caltabiano.

Movie career

In Temple’s earliest films, she danced and was able to handle complex tap choreography. She was teamed with famed dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson in The Little Colonel, The Littlest Rebel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Just Around the Corner. Robinson coached and developed her choreography for many of her other films. Because Robinson was African-American, the scenes of him holding hands with Temple were cut in many cities in the South, as a consequence of the segregationism common at the time. Shirley Temple once tap danced all the way down a staircase singing a line of her song on every single one of the 45 steps.

Temple made pictures with Carole Lombard, Gary Cooper, Adolphe Menjou and many others. Arthur Treacher appeared as a kindly butler in several of Temple’s films.

At the age of three, Temple began dance classes at Meglin’s Dance School in Los Angeles California. Her film career began when Charles Lamont, a casting director from Educational Pictures, visited her class. Although Temple hid behind a piano in the studio, she was chosen by Lamont, invited to audition, and eventually signed to a contract with Educational.

Temple worked at Educational from 1931 to 1934,[2] [1] and appeared in two series of short subjects for the studio. Her first series, Baby Burlesks, satirized recent motion pictures and politics. In the series, Temple would dress up in a diaper, but would otherwise wear adult clothes. Because of its depiction of young children in adult situations the series was considered controversial by some viewers. Her second series at Educational, Frolics of Youth, was a bit more acceptable, and cast her as a bratty younger sister in a contemporary suburban family.

While working for Educational Pictures, Temple performed many walk-on and bit player roles in various films at other studios. She was reported to have auditioned for a lead role in Hal Roach‘s Our Gang comedies (later known as The Little Rascals) in the early 1930s, although various reasons are given for her not having been cast in the role. Roach stated that Temple and her mother were unable to make it through the red tape of the audition process, while Our Gang producer/director Robert F. McGowan recalls the studio wanted to cast Temple, but they refused to give in to Temple’s mother’s demands that Temple receive special star billing. Temple, in her autobiography Child Star, denies auditioning for Our Gang at all.[

20th Century Fox

After appearing in Stand Up and Cheer! with James Dunn, Temple was signed to Fox Film Corporation (which later merged with 20th Century Pictures to become 20th Century Fox) in late 1933. Later, she was paired with Dunn in several films, notably her breakthrough film Bright Eyes, produced by Sol M. Wurtzel. This was the film that saved Fox from near bankruptcy in 1934 at the height of the Great Depression. It was in Bright Eyes that Temple first performed the song that would become one of her trademarks, “On the Good Ship Lollipop“. This was closely followed by the film Curly Top, in which she first sang another trademarked song, “Animal Crackers in My Soup“. In 1936, Temple was paid an unprecedented amount of money for her work on Poor Little Rich Girl: $15,000 per week. It was during this period, in the depth of the Depression, when her films were seen as bringing hope and optimism, that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is reported to have proclaimed that “as long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right.”

In 16 of the 20 films Temple made for Fox, she played characters with at least one dead parent. This was part of the formula for her films, which encouraged the adults in the audience to take on the role of her parent.

Temple became Fox’s most lucrative player. Her contract was amended several times between 1933 and 1935, and she was loaned to Paramount for a pair of successful films in 1934. For four years, she was the top-grossing box-office star in America. Shirley’s birth certificate was altered to prolong her babyhood; her birth year was advanced from 1928 to 1929. She was not told her real age until her “twelfth” (actually her thirteenth) birthday.

Temple’s films were not always seen in a positive light. The novelist Graham Greene wrote in a review for the magazine Night and Day of her appearance in Wee Willie Winkie:

Her admirers – middle-aged men and clergymen – respond to her dubious coquetry, to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality, only because the safety curtain of story and dialogue drops between their intelligence and their desire.

Temple, via her studio, was the successful plaintiff in a British libel case in 1938 against Greene’s review. The damages awarded were enough to close the magazine.

In 1940, Temple left Fox. Working steadily, she juggled classes at Westlake School for Girls with films for various other studios, including MGM and Paramount. Her most successful pictures of the time included Since You Went Away with Claudette Colbert, The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer with Cary Grant, and Fort Apache with John Wayne. She retired from motion pictures in 1949.

Film career highlights

Temple was the first recipient of the special Juvenile Performer Academy Award in 1935 for recognition of her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment in 1934. Six-year-old Temple was and is the youngest performer ever to receive this honor, or any Oscar. She is also the youngest actress to add foot and hand prints to the forecourt at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. The role of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz was originally meant for Judy Garland. However, MGM executives were concerned with Garland’s box office appeal. Temple was considered for the role, although she was unable to appear in the film when a trade between Fox and MGM fell through. However, Terry, who played Temple’s beloved dog Rags in Bright Eyes, was cast in The Wizard of Oz as Toto. In 1940, Temple starred in The Blue Bird, another fairy story with plot similarities to The Wizard of Oz. It was her first box-office flop. Temple was also rumored to be the inspiration for Bonnie Blue Butler in Gone with the Wind and was one of the early contenders for the role in the motion picture, but was too old by the time the film went into production.

Temple appeared in her first Technicolor film, The Little Princess, produced by Fox in 1939, near the end of her contract with them.

Temple returned to show business with the television series Shirley Temple’s Storybook, which premiered on NBC on January 12, 1958 and last aired December 1, 1959. Shirley Temple Theatre (also known as The Shirley Temple Show) premiered on NBC on September 11, 1960 and last aired September 10, 1961. Both shows featured adaptations of fairy tales and other family oriented stories. Shirley Temple was the hostess and occasional narrator/actress in both series.

In later years, Temple made occasional appearances on television talk shows, especially when she promoted her memoirs.

Political, business and diplomatic career

Temple ran unsuccessfully for Congress against retired Korean War veteran Pete McCloskey in 1967. She ran on a platform supporting America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

Temple went on to hold several diplomatic posts, serving as the U.S. delegate to many international conferences and summits. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She was appointed United States Ambassador to Ghana (1974–76). She became the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States in 1976, which put in her charge of all State Department ceremonies, visits, gifts to foreign leaders and co-ordination of protocol issues with all U.S. embassies and consulates. She was United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia (1989–92) and witnessed the Velvet Revolution. She commented, about her Ambassadorship, “That was the best job I ever had.” She was designated the first Honorary Foreign Service Officer in U.S. history by then U.S. Secretary of State, George Shultz in 1987.

Temple served on the board of directors of some large enterprises including The Walt Disney Company (1974–75), Del Monte, Bancal Tri-State, and Fireman’s Fund Insurance. Her non-profit board appointments included the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Council of American Ambassadors, the World Affairs Council, the United States Commission for UNESCO, the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, the United Nations Association, and the U.S. Citizen’s Space TaskForce.

Temple received honorary doctorates from Santa Clara University and Lehigh University, a Fellowship from College of Notre Dame, and a Chubb Fellowship from Yale University. Temple now lives in Woodside, California.

Breast cancer

Temple is often remembered as the first celebrity to publicly discuss her involvement with this form of cancer. In an interview published on the web page of the American Cancer Society, actress Barbara Barrie is quoted as saying:

Shirley Temple Black was the first person who said, on national television, ‘I have breast cancer.’ It wasn’t Betty Ford, it was Shirley Temple, child star. One of the greatest stars of the world ever. And, she was so brave to say that, because first of all, people never said “cancer” and they never said “breast”, not in public. She said it and she set the whole ball rolling. People don’t remember that, but she did it.[8]

Temple appeared on the cover of People magazine in 1999 with the title “Picture Perfect” and again later that year as part of their special report, “Surviving Breast Cancer”. She appeared at the 70th Academy Awards and also in that same year received Kennedy Center Honors.

[edit] Recent activity

In 1999, Temple hosted the AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Stars awards show on CBS, a special list from the American Film Institute and part of the AFI 100 Years… series. She was also ranked #18 in the list.

In 2001, Temple served as a consultant on the ABC Television Network production of Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story, based on part one of her autobiography.

In 2004, Temple teamed with Legend Films to restore, colorize and release her earliest black and white films, as well as episodes of her 1960 television series (originally shot on color videotape), The Shirley Temple Storybook Collection.

On September 12, 2005, Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert announced that Temple would receive the Guild’s most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award. Gilbert said:

I can think of no one more deserving of this year’s SAG Life Achievement award than Shirley Temple Black. Her contributions to the entertainment industry are without precedent; her contributions to the world are nothing short of inspirational. She has lived the most remarkable life, as the brilliant performer the world came to know when she was just a child, to the dedicated public servant who has served her country both at home and abroad for 30 years. In everything she has done and accomplished, Shirley Temple Black has demonstrated uncommon grace, talent and determination, not to mention compassion and courage. As a child, I was thrilled to dance and sing to her films and more recently as Guild president I have been proud to work alongside her, as her friend and colleague, in service to our union. She has been an indelible influence on my life. She was my idol when I was a girl and remains my idol today.

In April 2008, Shirley Temple Black broke her arm just before her 80th birthday in a fall at her suburban San Francisco home of Woodside.

References in popular culture

  • In 1965-1966, a popular main character named Curley Dimples (Gael Dixon), was a regular in the Australian children’s TV show, Magic Circle Club. Curley’s appearance and voice spoofed the iconic young Shirley Temple.
  • On The Jacksons Variety Show, Janet Jackson did a skit with brother Randy to “On the Good Ship Lollipop“.
  • New York band Interpol mention Temple by name in their song ‘The Specialist’ with the line, “put a lid on Shirley Temple.”
  • Temple was mentioned in Weird Al Yankovic‘s song “Confessions Part III”, in which the singer/comedian states that “in private, I really like to dress up as Shirley Temple and spank myself with a hockey stick.”
  • Carol Burnett occasionally performed an impression of “On the Good Ship Lollipop”, exaggerating the concentration in Temple’s face to look angry or scowling.
  • Towards the end of the Phish song “The Wolfman’s Brother,” the name “Shirley Temple” can be heard numerous times.
  • In the episode, “Last Tap Dance in Springfield,” of the animated television series, The Simpsons, a former child-star turned tap-instructor, ‘Little’ Vicki Valentine, is featured. This former-child star appears to be modeled after Temple. Also in another episode of The Simpsons entitled, “Treehouse of Horror III,” King Kong (portrayed by Homer Simpson) eats a child actress similar to Temple.
  • On the animated television show Family Guy, Stewie Griffin sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to get the attention of airport security when his backpack full of concealed weapons goes through the x-ray.
  • When Temple first ran for public office, a poster was published showing her in one of her earliest movies; a caption read, “Vote for Me or I’ll Hold My Breath.”
  • “Shirl” has been the nickname of two famous blond, curly-headed Australian males: Mike Williams, the (often on-screen) floor manager of the The Mike Walsh Show daytime television variety program, and rock singer Graeme Strachan of the band Skyhooks, who later became the TV host of the children’s TV show Shirl’s Neighbourhood.
  • In the animated feature film Shrek the Third, the Gingerbread Man sings “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to himself after seeing his life flash before his eyes.
  • Temple is the only person, besides The Beatles themselves, who appears more than once on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. She appears as a cut-out in the last row and a Shirley Temple doll is featured on the right side, wearing a shirt saying “Welcome The Rolling Stones“.
  • The African-American stereotypes in some of Temple’s films has been parodied on MADtv; specifically the scene from The Littlest Rebel when Bill Robinson teaches her to dance up and down the steps.
  • There is a non-alcoholic drink named after Temple. It consists of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda with grenadine (pomegranate syrup) and a whole cherry added. Consequently, a similar drink substituting cola for the ginger ale (usually referred to as a Roy Rogers) is known as a “Shirley Temple Black” in some regions.
  • In the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation entitled The Arsenal of Freedom, Riker says during his interrogation that he serves aboard the USS Lollipop, stating that “it’s a good ship.”
  • Temple is one of the celebrities caricatured in Donald Duck‘s The Autograph Hound.
  • Temple is mentioned on the song “(The legend of) Miss Baltimore Crabs” from the musical Hairspray, on the line “Childhood dreams/for me were cracked/ when that damn Shirley Temple/ stole my frickin’ act.”
  • In the 1997 movie Cats Don’t Dance, Darla Dimple is a spoof of Temple; her name was also taken from another child star of the thirties, Darla Hood.
  • In the 1997 movie Tower of Terror, Sally Shine, a child movie star, is killed in the elevator in 1939 along with four others. With her curly blonde mop, sweet demeanor, and short, flouncy dress, (and her own doll modeled after her), she appears to be modeled after Temple.
  • In the Gilmore Girls Episode Rory’s Birthday Parties, Lorelai is drinking a Shirley Temple Black and references the Good Ship Lollipop
Lorelai: (sighs, hands Rory a drink) Here.
Rory: What is it?
Lorelai: A Shirley Temple.
Rory: What are you drinking?
Lorelai: A Shirley Temple Black.
Rory: (sniffs at it) Wow.
Lorelai: I got your Good Ship Lollipop right here, mister.
  • In an episode of the hit TV show Full House, Jesse and Joey dress up as, what appears to be, Shirley Temple, and they sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” together at the end of the episode.
  • In the episode called the snooper star from the Brady Bunch Cindy believes that she is going to become the next Shirley Temple and sings one of her songs in front of one of Mikes clients.
  • In the Pilot Episode of Mork&Mindy, Mork temporarily performs an impersonation of Shirley Temple, using “Good Ship Lollipop” as an example.
  • In Toni Morrison’s famous book (set in Lorain, Ohio, 1941), The Bluest Eye, Shirley temple was the primary evidence used to show that the ideal beauty was a blue eyed white girl.
  • In an episode of That 70s Show, Hyde, Jackie, Eric, and Donna sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” to cover the sound of Fez peeing in a mobile home bathroom.

By Andrew Gans
24 Jul 2008

Performances have yet to begin, but box-office demand is so high that the Guthrie has extended its upcoming world premiere of the musical version of Little House on the Prairie.

Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder on NBC’s long-running “Little House on the Prairie” series, will play Ma in the musical version of Prairie, which begins previews at the Minneapolis venue July 26. The Little Mermaid‘s Francesca Zambello directs.

Originally scheduled to run through Oct. 5, the production will now play an additional two weeks through Oct. 19. Opening night remains Aug. 15.

The cast will also feature Steve Blanchard (Beauty and the Beast, Frankenstein) as Pa, Carnegie Mellon graduate Kara Lindsay as Laura, Jenn Gambatese (Tarzan, Is He Dead?) as Mary, Sara Jean Ford (The Phantom of the Opera) as Nellie and Kevin Massey (Big River, Tarzan) as Almanzo Wilder.

The ensemble will comprise Tori Adams, Mathias Anderson, Lexy Armour, Robert O. Berdahl, Kurt Engh, Shawn Hamilton, Caroline Innerbichler, Norah Long, Ryan McCartan, Addi McDaniel, Mary Jo Mecca, Patricia Noonan, Prince Michael Okolie, James Ramlet, David L. Ruffin, Gayle Samuels, Amy Schroeder, Tony Vierling and Jordan Young.

It was producer Ben Sprecher, who is attached to the project, who contacted Gilbert about appearing in the musical. Gilbert told Variety, “I’m very careful about the way the legacy is handled. My primary concern was that the material was done the right way.”

The new musical features a book by Rachel Sheinkin, music by Rachel Portman and lyrics by Donna DiNovelli.

The Guthrie describes Little House as such: “Though their DeSmet, South Dakota, farmstead comes with many new challenges, the Ingalls family perseveres through the hardships of pioneer life to find hope, love and the promise of a new beginning in a land of endless sky and open prairie. As Laura struggles to overcome a lifelong loathing of school and frequent battles with a town rival, her older sister’s sudden blindness and a harsh winter blizzard test the independent spirit of this young pioneer. Forced to grow up quickly, she follows an unexpected calling, becoming a teacher and finding love on the prairie.”

The creative team for Little House also includes set designer Adrianne Lobel, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, sound designer Scott W. Edwards, choreographer Michele Lynch and musical director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

Little House on the Prairie is being produced at the Guthrie by special arrangement with Global Prairie Productions, Inc.

The Guthrie is located at 818 South 2nd Street in downtown Minneapolis.

“Somehow I can’t believe there are any heights that can’t be scaled by a man who knows the secret of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C’s. They are Curiosity, Confidence, Courage, and Constancy and the greatest of these is Confidence. When you believe a thing, believe it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”

This is the second time I have seen this documentary, and it is one of my favorites: WALT: THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH. I just feel happy when I watch this documentary as it is delightful, uplifting and inspiring as any Disney movie.

The neat thing is, it was produced by his eldest grandson, Walter Elias Disney Miller, and his younger grandson, Christopher Disney Miller.  These two artists have also had their hand in many different motion picture projects… neat stuff!

Quotes by Walt Disney…

“We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public.”

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

“When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do. And one thing it takes to accomplish something is courage.”

“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.”

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

“Laughter is America’s most important export.”

“Why do we have to grow up? I know more adults who have the children’s approach to life. They’re people who don’t give a hang what the Joneses do. You see them at Disneyland every time you go there. They are not afraid to be delighted with simple pleasures, and they have a degree of contentment with what life has brought – sometimes it isn’t much, either.”

“The era we are living in today is a dream of coming true.”

“There is more treasure n books than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main … and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.”

“Or heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.”
  

“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.”       

“Mickey Mouse is, to me, a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end.”

“To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America… with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.”

 

 

Evelyn Keyes, left, in 2002 with two of her “Gone With the Wind” co-stars, Ann Rutherford and Rand Brooks.

 

Published: July 12, 2008

Evelyn Keyes, one of the last surviving co-stars of “Gone With the Wind” and a popular film actress in the 1940s, died on July 4 at an assisted-living home in Montecito, Calif. She was 91.

Ms. Keyes died of cancer, said the producer Allan Glaser, a friend, who told The Associated Press that the announcement had been delayed until the death certificate was filed.

Ms. Keyes played the pouty Suellen O’Hara, whose sister Scarlett steals her longtime boyfriend and marries him just to pay the taxes on the plantation, in the Academy Award-winning 1939 movie classic. But in later years she became almost as well known for her first memoir, “Scarlett O’Hara’s Younger Sister,” as for any of her movie roles. The book, published in 1977, concentrated on her numerous marriages and love affairs with the mostly rich and famous.

She was quoted as saying, “I always took up with the man of the moment and there were many such moments.”

Her first husband (1938-40) was Barton Bainbridge, a businessman. After she left him, for the Budapest-born director Charles Vidor, he committed suicide. She and Mr. Vidor married in 1944, but divorced the next year. Her third husband was John Huston, the director, writer, producer and actor.

After her 1950 divorce from Huston, Ms. Keyes was the constant companion of the producer Mike Todd. He left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1956. The next year Ms. Keyes married the bandleader Artie Shaw (whose ex-wives included Ava Gardner and Lana Turner). They separated in the 1970s, but did not divorce until 1985. After his death in 2004 she sued his estate and was awarded $1.42 million.

Ms. Keyes also had romances with Anthony Quinn, David Niven and Kirk Douglas, according to her book.

She made other notable films as well. In the heaven-and-earth fantasy “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” (1941), she played the love interest of Robert Montgomery. In “The Jolson Story” (1946), she played a character based on Ruby Keeler, opposite Larry Parks as Al Jolson.

Evelyn Keyes was born on Nov. 20, 1916, in Port Arthur, Tex. Her father died when she was 2, and she grew up living with her mother and her grandmother in Atlanta, where she took voice and dance lessons. Weekend dancing jobs paid for her train fare to Hollywood.

Ms. Keyes made her film debut in Cecil B. DeMille’s pirate picture “The Buccaneer” (1938), starring Fredric March. After six more movie roles, four of them uncredited, she was cast in “Gone With the Wind.”

After that she made two pictures, “The Lady in Question” and “Ladies in Retirement,” directed by Mr. Vidor. She starred in at least six with Glenn Ford, beginning with “The Adventures of Martin Eden” and ending with “Mr. Soft Touch.” “Mrs. Mike” (1949), a Canadian Mounties drama, was said to be one of her favorites.

Her last notable movie role was as the wife whose out-of-town trip makes it possible for Tom Ewell to flirt with Marilyn Monroe in Billy Wilder’s “Seven Year Itch” (1955). Her final film role was in “Wicked Stepmother” (1989), a horror fantasy with Bette Davis. Her final screen appearance was in a 1993 episode of the CBS series “Murder, She Wrote.”

The actor Tab Hunter, a close friend, has talked about making a film based on her autobiographical 1971 novel, “I Am a Billboard.” The tentative title is “Georgia Peach,” but Ms. Keyes did not identify with the South.

“I have no roots,” she told The New York Times in 1977. “I deliberately set out to destroy them, and I did. If there’s any such thing as a hometown for me, it’s Hollywood. I was formed here as an adult.”

Estelle Getty was a very good mother.

The actress, whose knack for being cast as a maternal unit paid off handsomely when she was cast as Beatrice Arthur‘s no-holds-barred mother on the long-running TV hit The Golden Girls, died early today at her Los Angeles home, her son Carl Gettleman said.

Getty, who was three days shy of her 85th birthday, succumbed to Lewy Body Dementia, a disease with symptoms that mimic Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

A perennial award nominee for The Golden Girls, which ran for seven seasons, from 1985 to 1992, Getty won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work as Sophia Petrillo, the shuffling octogenarian with the muted self-censor button who was never without her handbag—or a wisecrack.

Arthur said today she will miss her former costar.

“Our mother-daughter relationship was one of the greatest comic duos ever,” Arthur said in a statement.

The onscreen relationship worked so well, in fact, that the casual viewer never suspected the offscreen truth that was masked by Getty’s granny wig and glasses: The TV daughter was older than the TV mother. (Arthur was born, depending on the source, in either May 1923 or May 1922.)

Cast as the most senior of the show’s Miami women of a certain age, Getty wasn’t even the second oldest cheesecake-eating Golden Girl. Betty White, who played naive Rose, also was older than Getty.

Age 62 at the time of the show’s premiere, Getty was the least-well-known member of the gang of four, which was rounded out by Rue McClanahan as the hot ‘n’ steamy Blanche. While her costars had all been prime-time fixtures on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (White) and Maude (Arthur and McClanahan), Getty had been but a bit player whose screen career had begun seven years prior.

Theater audiences, at least, were familiar with her work. In 1982, Getty earned a Drama Desk nomination for Torch Song Trilogy, the groundbreaking Harvey Fierstein play that put the middle-aged Getty on the road to “overnight” success.

In Torch Song, Getty played Fierstein’s in-denial mother. Getty, by her own account, played the mother to “everyone but Attila the Hun,” including Cher (Mask) and Sylvester Stallone (Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot).

More than anything, Getty played Sophia.

NBC deployed her and her character seemingly whenever one of its shows needed a little Golden Girls ratings magic. In all, Getty showed up in Sophia guise on Blossom, Empty Nest and Nurses.

In the fall of 1992, months after The Golden Girls finally expired, Getty, White and McClanahan reteamed for the spinoff, The Golden Palace, which moved the franchise from NBC to CBS and their characters from Blanche’s home to a hotel. It lasted only one season.

Getty continued to work until 2000, when her dementia became more pronounced. Her illness forced her to miss more than one reunion with her signature costars, including the 2003 TV special, The Golden Girls: Their Greatest Moments.

Born Estelle Scher on July 25, 1923, Getty set aside early acting ambitions to become a “housewife in Bayshore, Queens,” as the New York Times put it in a 1982 article.

Getty, then 58, told the newspaper she thought she was too old for Broadway. But given a chance meeting with Fierstein at a party in the 1970s, the novice turned positively Sophia-esque .

“I said to him, ‘If you’re such a hotshot playwright, why don’t you write a play with a mother in it—so I can play it,'” Getty said. “A year later he sent me this play to read. He had never seen my work, but decided I could do it.”

And she could.

This afternoon, I watched a DVD about The Duke of Windsor, followed by one of my favorite books/movies, All The President’s Men.  What an incredible movie, and book. Woodward and Bernstein are two of my favorite writers. The movie is packed with great stars – aside from Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford – there’s Polly Holliday, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Jane Alexander (while she was also filming her role as Eleanor Roosevelt), Merideth Baxter, Ned Beatty, Stephen Collins, F. Murray Abraham, and others… wow! What a fantastic movie.

May 31st, 2005, I can remember the breaking news coming across my computer and television… “Deep Throat is revealed…”  Mark Felt, former assistant director of the FBI, admitted to being the mystery man known as “Deep Throat.” There had been speculation, but Felt always denied it.

The story below is amazing….

By DEAN E. MURPHY

Published: June 5, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO, June 4 – Nicholas T. Jones (left) and Jarett A. Nixon (right), law school classmates have met at an intersection of history.

They have practiced speaking Spanish together, and at one point last year, Mr. Nixon, 28, tried to recruit Mr. Jones, 23, to work on a law journal at the school, the Hastings College of the Law.”

He’s a good guy,” Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Jones. “We’ve had a friendly relationship.”

What neither man knew until the identity of Deep Throat was revealed this week, however, was that they come from opposite sides of one of the most profound divides in modern American political history.

Mr. Nixon’s great-uncle, whom he recalls fondly as Uncle Dick, was President Richard M. Nixon, a relationship he had never shared with Mr. Jones. His grandfather, Donald Nixon, was the president’s brother.

Mr. Jones’s grandfather is W. Mark Felt, the F.B.I. source for The Washington Post who helped bring a premature end to the Nixon presidency. It was Mr. Jones who read a statement on Tuesday on behalf of Mr. Felt outside the family’s home in Santa Rosa, Calif., the first time Mr. Felt publicly acknowledged he was Deep Throat.

“When I found out who it was, it kind of put a smile on my face,” Mr. Nixon said in an interview. “It was like, ‘Hey, wait a minute, I know this guy,’ ” he said of Mr. Jones, “and he’s a good guy.'”

Since the intersection of their family histories came to light, the two men have not had the chance to speak to each other. Classes at Hastings have ended, and Mr. Nixon, who graduated two weeks ago, has been studying around the clock for the bar examination. Mr. Jones has been equally consumed by his grandfather’s newfound fame, politely keeping the news media and curiosity seekers at a distance in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles north of San Francisco.

Separately, though, the two men have also been trying the same difficult balancing act, staunchly defending their opposing family legacies while insisting in interviews that the past would not poison their own relationship.

“What he did was the right thing to do, heroic,” Mr. Jones said of his grandfather, in one of several brief exchanges with reporters. “He’s an honorable guy. He has always been guided by a real strong conscience. We stand behind him and what he did.”

Mr. Nixon, who grew up in Orange County and now lives in San Francisco, said he had been taunted and teased since elementary school about his great-uncle, the only president to resign from office.

But his parents, he said, had taught him and his brother to “look for the good in Uncle Dick,” and the family visited the former president during summer vacations when Jarett Nixon was young. He said he last saw his great-uncle in 1993 at the funeral of Patricia Nixon, the former first lady. President Nixon died in 1994 when Jarett Nixon was in high school.

“I definitely stand by my uncle, and I’m proud of him for all the good things he did with this life,” Mr. Nixon said. “He was able to accomplish a lot more than most people out there.”

Until this week, Mr. Jones said he never made the connection between his law school classmate and the former president, describing it in an interview in his driveway as “kind of fun” and a “cool and interesting factoid.”

“I still see him the same,” he said of Mr. Nixon. “I think he’s a cool guy. He seems like the kind of guy who’s going to be pretty successful in whatever he chooses to do.”

Even with the pivotal role his grandfather played in the Watergate story, Mr. Jones said he was unwilling to criticize President Nixon. He said that this is a time when “almost everyone is jumping to conclusions,” and that he did not want to do the same. “I think it’s folly, quite frankly,” he said.

Similarly, Mr. Nixon refused to pass judgment on Mr. Felt’s role as Deep Throat. He said he would have preferred if Mr. Felt had pursued his concerns about Watergate “through a more legal route,” but he had no interest in joining the debate raging on talk radio and elsewhere as to whether Mr. Felt was a hero or a traitor. He said that he had never heard of Mr. Felt until Tuesday; his family, he said, had always speculated that Deep Throat was one of his great-uncle’s secretaries.

“He made a decision and he went with it,” Mr. Nixon said of Mr. Felt. “I’m not the person to say that was something that was essentially wrong. And God knows, Uncle Dick made his mistakes too.”

Both Mr. Nixon and Mr. Jones said it was perhaps easier for them to step back from their families’ Watergate-era passions because they were generations removed from those events. As a bearer of the former president’s name, Mr. Nixon also said he had long ago learned that it was unfair to make judgments about people based on their family history.

“Everybody is here in the world to make their own way, and be their own person,” Mr. Nixon said. In that regard, he said, “I expect the same from Nick as I do from myself.”

Mr. Jones said he hoped the renewed attention on the Nixon presidency and the role his grandfather played in Watergate would make that period in history more real to Americans of his generation.

“A lot of people my age, a lot of people younger than me, don’t really know what it is all about,” he said. “It is good for us to kind of hear all about this, and learn about it, and get the lessons out of it, get the values.”

One such value, he said, had nothing to do with politics. He said he was immensely proud that as cameras around the world captured his grandfather this week, the scene depicted was the home Mr. Felt, who is 91, shared with his family.

“Our grandfather lives with us, he is happy here, he is close to his family and we get to interact every day,” Mr. Jones said. “We think that is a cool lesson.”

When asked about the connection between Mr. Jones and Mr. Nixon, Amy DerBedrosian, a spokeswoman for Hastings College, said there was a further link. Among the graduates last year was Matthew McGovern-Rowen, the grandson of former Senator George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee.

This morning, I rose late (7:45am) having spent a late night watching DVD’s on the history of New York City. I chatted with Mother and ventured into the front yard to trim, edge the walk, trim the shrubs, and blow away the debris.

Jose is with the neighbors to visit their family in Xenia and fish. I am taking the opportunity to write on the Wright Brothers musical, and watch (as I write) Wallis & Edward, a 2005 British motion picture about the romance between American born Wallis Warfield Simpson and Britain’s King Edward VIII. Edward, the son of King George and Queen Mary, was the uncle of the current queen, Elizabeth II. In 1936, Edward abdicated the throne due to opposition from his ministers that he could not marry Wallis, finally divorced.

Video:  Duke of Windsor reads his 1936 abdication speech in 1968

King Edward, known as “David” to the family, was adored by his two nieces, Elizabeth and Margaret Rose, daughters of The Duke & Duchess of York, the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mum). Despite the adoration of the nieces, Elizabeth of York despised Wallis Simpson.

I can remember mentioning this to my grandfather one night as we were eating at Jim Dandy in Elwood, and he remembered their romance vividly. Grandpa said the newspaper banners read for weeks, “What Will The King Do?” He said that the night of the abdication, the entire family, and neighbors and friends, piled around the radio to listen to King Edward’s speech. I learned later that the rest of the world knew about the romance more than the citizens of Great Britain where the media had been silenced.

After the abdication, Edward left England for France, with the title HRH Duke of Windsor. Even after their marriage the following June, the new king, George VI, Edward’s brother (Queen Elizabeth’s father) refused Wallace the title of HRH, though she was referred to as Duchess of Windsor.

The story following the abdication was just as delicious as the romance leading up to it. One of my favorite books is Royal Feud by Michael Thornton – a fantastic book:

Although they were contemporaries with only six years between them, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Wallis Warfield were totally unlike in personality and seemed destined to lead very different roles. Elizabeth was the daughter of a Scottish earl and married the Duke of York, second son of King George V. Wallis had emerged from a childhood of financial security in America and had already been through one divorce by the time she met Edward, Prince of Wales, heir to the throne.

The Duchess of York never trusted Wallis, who became Mrs Simpson on her second marriage, and like the rest of the family she resented her for her increasing domination of Prince Edward. He became King in 1936 on the death of George V, but his refusal to give Mrs Simpson up after her second divorce resulted in his abdication and the succession of the Duke of York as George VI.

Edward and Mrs Simpson were made Duke and Duchess of Windsor, but she was denied the style of Royal Highness – something for which she and the Duke always blamed Queen Elizabeth. The latter always refused to receive the Duchess, and when George VI died at a comparatively early age, the widowed Queen Mother referred to her as “the woman who killed my husband’. It was a feud between two determined women which continued until they came face to face in 1967, for the first time in over thirty years.

The first meeting of the Royal Feuders – Elizabeth the Queen Mother and the Windsors. In this photo: (L-R) Prince Phillip, Queen Elizabeth, Duke of Glouchester, Duchess of Glouchester, Duke of Windsor, Duchess of Windsor. This particular cast was gathered for the dedication of a plaque commemorating the centennial of Queen Mary’s birth.

One of my favorite stories: In 1972, the dying HRH Duke of Windsor, living in France, was visited several times by his great-nephew, Prince Charles of Wales. Several weeks before succumbing to stomach cancer, the dying former monarch was visited by his niece, Queen Elizabeth. Doctors and nurses spent hours dressing the Duke so that curtains and clothing would conceal the tubes and machines. The Duke insisted on sitting in a chair to greet The Queen, but was under strict orders to not rise. He agreed. Wallis greeted the Queen, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles on the front steps, bowing to the royals – something she refused to do for Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Upstairs, the doors opened and The Queen entered. HRH The Duke of Windsor rose from his chair, unaided, and bowed to his niece – something reported to have touched Elizabeth greatly – her dying uncle, once The King of England, rose painfully, yet steadily, to acknowledge his monarch.

During this meeting, Queen Elizabeth shared with her beloved uncle that she was granting him permission to be buried in the gardens of Frogmore House, near Windsor Castle, and near his family. This infuriated The Queen Mother who could never let go of her animosity for Wallis.

When The Duke died, The Royal Air Force brought home his remains from France, and some 60,000 people filed past his coffin at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor over two days. The Duke was buried at Frogmore, and The Duchess was invited to stay in a suite at Buckingham Palace, and was appreciative of the many kindnesses shown her by The Queen. During the Trooping of the Colors, Wallis watched The Queen – her niece – pay tribute to The Duke of Windsor.

Wallis watching the Trooping of the Colours from her Buckingham Palace suite.

In 1986, Buckingham Palace put on a low-key ceremony for the Duchess of Windsor, the former Wallis Simpson, the American divorcee for whom King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry in 1937.

While she had been ostracized by the royal family in life, after her death the duchess’ body was brought back to England by the Royal Air Force for interment beside her husband at Windsor Castle. The funeral was marked by a period of formal royal mourning. In attendance was HRH Diana, Princess of Wales.

He was buried at Frogmore, the private family cemetery at Windsor, but some of the trappings were absent. For example, there was no gun carriage processional, as is planned for Diana funeral.

Once the Wright Brothers’ musical is completed, I would like to finish Love Is Eternal: Abraham & Mary Todd Lincoln, and then consider writing a musical on Wallis & Edward.

Over the past month or so, I have watched all three series of the movie based on John Jakes’ novels, NORTH AND SOUTH… ahhh…

The writing, the directing, the cinematography, the costuming, the set design, and THE MUSIC… as if all this is not enough, the assembled cast is one of the most talented ever assembled for any one movie…

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • Elizabeth Taylor
  • Patrick Swayzee
  • James Read
  • Leslie-Ann Downs
  • Jean Simmons
  • Kirstie Alley
  • Teri Garber (Luke & Larua)
  • Genie Francis
  • Wendy Kilbourne (married to James Read)
  • David Carradine
  • Inga Swenson (from BENSON)
  • Morgan Fairchild
  • Robert Mitchum
  • Hal Holbrook (ahh… the best!)
  • Robert Guilluame (BENSON)
  • Johnny Cash (too good!)
  • Gene Kelly
  • David Ogden Stiers
  • Wendy Fulton
  • Jonathan Frakes
  • Mary Crosby (Bing’s daughter)
  • Lloyd Bridges
  • Olivia De  Havilland (Melanie in GONE WITH THE WIND)
  • Wayne Newton
  • Forrest Whitaker
  • Jerry Biggs
  • Cathy Lee Crosby
  • Cliff DeYoung
  • Mariette Hartley
  • Peter O’Toole
  • Brandon Smith
  • Rip Torn
  • Robert Wagner
  • Billy Dee Williams
  • Gregory Zaragoza
  • Kyle Chandler (EARLY EDITION, KING KONG, GREY’S ANATOMY, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS)
  • Philip Casnoff

And these are only the ones I recognize! What a tremendous cast, and a great movie.

I was in college when the movie came out, and I remember watching it in its entirety. The music, however, moved me more than anything… I can remember going to the piano and playing it. Here is a clip from the opening credits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mh9LW_19wb8

From IMB:

1842, a special summer day at the huge plantation of Mont Royal. A South Carolinian young man, Orry Maine, leaves his rich home for West Point Academy. On his way northwards, in very strange circumstances, he meets two people who will play a decisive role in his life: beautiful lady Madeleine Fabray whom Orryhelps and with whom he falls in love and a “Yankee” George Hazard by whom Orry is helped and who is also on his way to West Point Academy. From that time, Orry and George are best friends and help each other at every moment, they fight for the USA in the Mexican War at Churubusco where George saves Orry’s life. A few years later, the friendship of Orry and George spread to the friendship of their families, the Maines from South Carolina and the Hazards from Pennsylvania. Yet, the love of Orry’s life, Madeleine gets married to Justin LaMotte, a rich cruel owner of nearby plantation in South Carolina. Their love cannot be fulfilled and they only meet in secret. Years pass by and the relations between north and south are not that calm as in the past. Northern abolitionists demand the end of slavery while the south demands secession and separation from the “damn Yankees.” Although George and Orry badly want peace between north and south, there is no escape from the inescapable fate. April, the 12th, 1861 and the attack on the northern fortress Fort Sumter done by the southerners means the beginning of war. These who fought together at Churubusco will have to fight against each other. Friends will have to become enemies. Will war be stronger than peace of mind? May the storm and noise of canons, rifles and bullets destroy honor, respect and true friendship? Written by Marcin Kukuczka

Based on John Jakes best selling novel this is the story of the friendship between two boys – George Hazard and Orry Main – that meet at West Point. George is from a wealthy Pennsylvania steel family and Orry is from a Southern plantation where his family keep slaves. In the years leading up to the Civil War their friendship is tested as their families interact and hostilities between the North and South increase. Notes: In the book Orry loses an arm during the Mexican war where he and George fight together but the in the TV version his injury is re-written as a limp. Written by Susan Southall {stobchatay@aol.com}

This sweeping, star-studded epic about two powerful families before and during the Civil War is based on John Jakes’ popular novels. The show tells the saga of the Hazards of Pennsylvania and the Mains of South Carolina and their loves, hatreds, jealousies, and robust rivalry. Book II opens in 1861 and continues the families story against the dramatic backdrop of the war. The carefully filmed battle scenes are sure to please Civil War buffs. Written by Anonymous

Two teenage boys; Orry Main from South Carolina and George Hazard from Pennsylvania, meet on their ways to military academy in West Point. Very soon, they become the best friends ever. In the Academy they spend lots of time together and together make the biggest enemy; ElkanahBent. After graduation, they go for a war with Mexico, where Orry gets hurt really bad, but is saved by George. When they return homes, they don’t give up on their friendship – their families spend summer together, their siblings falls in love, they become business-partners etc. But the situation in the country is not getting better, also not all the family members and neighbours like the idea of people from North and South being friends. In December 1860, South Carolina leaves Union. The war is much closer then it has ever been. It starts at a spring, 1861. George and Orry must fight against each other …

 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The last of Walt Disney‘s original team of animators, known as the Nine Old Men, has died at the age of 95, a Walt Disney Co spokesman said on Tuesday.

Ollie Johnston worked for Disney for 43 years, drawing characters for animated Mickey Mouse short films before contributing to such classics such as “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Pinocchio,” “Peter Pan” and “The Jungle Book.”

Johnston died of natural causes in a long-term care facility in Sequim, Washington on Monday.

Born in Palo Alto, California in 1912, Johnston showed early artistic promise and attended Chouinart Art Institute in Los Angeles. During his final year of college in 1935, Disney approached Johnston to join his fledgling animation studio.

Starting with “Song of the South” in 1946, Johnston became directing animator and served in that capacity in nearly every subsequent film. He retired in 1978 after completing some work on his final film, “The Fox and the Hound.”

Johnston devoted his retirement to writing, lecturing and consulting and to model trains, of which he was considered one of the world’s foremost experts.

In 2005, he became the first animator awarded a National Medal of the Arts, and he and his lifelong friend and fellow Disney animator, Frank Thomas, were profiled in the 1995 documentary “Frank and Ollie.”

Disney Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, who pioneered computer animated films such as “Toy Story” and “Cars,” considered Johnston and Thomas as mentors.

“He taught me to always be aware of what a character is thinking, and we continue to make sure that every character we create at Pixar and Disney has a thought process and emotion that makes them come alive,” Lasseter said in a statement.

Johnston is survived by two sons.

 

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