Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Bridget Redux

The things I learn by reading my blog's statistics! Not only has this little site been visited by people (or at least computers) from all over the world, but it's easy to tell which posts are the most viewed. By popular demand, I hereby present my second tribute to the actress whose birthday greeting last February was not only the most-viewed post of the year, but of my blog's admittedly brief history.

Bridget as Candy Pruitt on Here Come the Brides.

Lucille Ball? Carol Burnett? No, this blog's #1 television actress is Bridget Hanley, known for her roles in the classic TV shows Here Come the Brides and Harper Valley PTA. 

In a 1969 interview with columnist Vernon Scott, Miss Hanley described her own approach to feminine allure. "I refuse to appear in any movie that has a nude scene in it," she said firmly. "I won't even do a role in a bathing suit." The modest, skin-covering costuming of the actresses on Brides "gives a man's imagination something to work with," she declared. "A fully dressed woman has more sex appeal and mystique going for her than one who is romping around in a bikini or lingerie."

Given the number of hits she's received in just a few short months, who are we to argue with her?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Best wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy holiday season! Here's a little reminder of the season, courtesy of Shirley Booth and her Hazel co-star Don DeFore.

Thanks for reading in 2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen...Eunice Quedens!

Now here's an Eve Arden movie I'll bet you've never seen. If you do see Song of Love, though, don't look for the name "Eve Arden" in the credits. In this 1929 film, Eve, then primarily a stage actress, made her motion picture debut under her real name, Eunice Quedens. She was cast in the featured role of Mazie LeRoy, the sexy other woman to whom heroine Anna Gibson (played by vaudeville star Belle Baker) loses her man.

Sound engineer (later screenwriter and director) Edward Bernds remembered Eve well enough years later to write, "In her skimpy chorus-girl costume she was truly gorgeous and drew the admiring -- and perhaps even the lustful -- attention of the crew members." The New York Times reviewer also paid young Miss Quedens a compliment (we think) when he wrote that she made the character of Mazie "quite lifelike."

You can learn more about this film, and the entirety of Eve's filmography, in my book Eve Arden: A Chronicle of All Film, Television, Radio and Stage Performances.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Unexpected Pages

Have I mentioned in this illustrious blog that I am writing my sixth book on show business history for McFarland? Over the past nine years, I have greatly enjoyed the process of researching and writing nonfiction books, and I hope they've done at least a little to pay tribute to the actors and shows they cover. Earlier this year, I signed a contract for book #6, and it's currently about half done.

But in the past few weeks, I've unexpectedly found myself immersed in a completely different type of writing project, one that interrupted my book-in-progress with an urgency that took me by surprise. Before I quite stopped to think about it, I was writing as fervently and eagerly as I have in quite awhile. I'm not quite sure what to make of this new undertaking yet. I'm not even sure that what I've written, in this utterly new (to me) genre, is any good. But it sure makes life interesting these days.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Parish the Thought

If you've read half as much on motion picture and television history as I have over the years, you certainly know the name of author James Robert Parish. He's written so many fine books on show business history that it would be impractical to list them all, and if you added all the books in which other authors used and cited his research, you'd be crushed under the resulting avalanche. That's why I'm happy to see that several of his classic 1970s volumes are newly available in eBook form, as part of a series called "Encore Film Book Classics."

This includes such well-regarded volumes as The Funsters, in which Parish and his co-authors profile a slew of film comedians, The RKO Gals, which introduces you to everyone from Constance Bennett to Lupe Velez, and more. Personally, I treasure my well-worn copy of The Slapstick Queens, and hope it will be reissued as well. Kindle editions of these volumes are amazingly cheap, and well worth the price.

If you haven't yet explored Mr. Parish's books, what are you waiting for? Here's my rule of thumb: If you're browsing a book on classic movies and television, and you can't find Mr. Parish's name in the bibliography, it's probably no good anyway.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Miss Moorehead's Mystique

Agnes Moorehead in The Blue Veil.
Happy birthday to Agnes Moorehead, born December 6, 1900 in Clinton, Massachusetts. Though memorable as Endora in Bewitched, that role was but a small part of a long, versatile career encompassing film, radio, television and a lifelong love for live theater. She was a busy and acclaimed actress for well over 30 years, until the illness that led to her death in 1974.

Though many actors embraced publicity, Moorehead tended to be wary of it. In a 1967 Associated Press article, she wrote, "I think an artist should be kept separated to maintain glamor and a kind of mystery. Otherwise it's like having three meals a day. Pretty dull. I don't believe in the girl-next-door image. What the actor has to sell to the public is fantasy, a magic kind of ingredient that should not be analyzed."

At the risk of ignoring Miss Moorehead's advice, I learned a great deal about this fine actress from my friend Lynn Kear's book Agnes Moorehead: A Bio-Bibliography, published in 1992.  You can also see my review of Axel Nissen's more recent volume, The Films of Agnes Moorehead, here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Page After Page of Gift-Giving Goodness!

Speaking of holiday gifts, are you still seeking the perfect one for the movie or TV buff in your life? Look no further than the Holiday Pop Culture Catalog from McFarland. It's chock-full of wonderful, weird, indispensable books on practically every aspect of pop culture, including comics, horror, music, gaming, and more. Who can resist that cover image of Joan Collins in Empire of the Ants? Plus, there's a book that sounds really interesting on page 15...

Happy holidays!