Thursday, August 27, 2015

Raye Day

Martha Raye (1916-1994) was born 99 years ago today. What better way to spend the day than putting the finishing touches on my book about her life and career?

It's been a privilege to learn about her storied life and career, and I'm looking forward to sharing the results with readers in 2016. Now, back to the manuscript!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Movie Mashup Idea

Rock Hudson and Barbara Stanwyck in "Sorry, Wrong Pillow."

I get these odd ideas sometimes...Did I mention that I'm doing final revisions on my new book, and that my brain is slightly fried?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Revise, Review, Rewrite

Ah, the joys of revision - how I hate them! I am on my (approximately) 93rd review of the manuscript for my Martha Raye book, due out next year. It used to be that I'd kill at least a couple of trees per book, printing out pages, making edits and corrections, rinse and repeat. Now I send those drafts to my Kindle, where I spend time looking for typos, missing data, and anything else that falls short of the perfection I hope to achieve. As I go, I scribble notes to myself (see above), and then take to the word processor yet again.

There is probably no such thing as a perfect book, and mine are certainly no exception to that rule. But rest assured I am chasing those imperfections with all my might, doing my best to deliver a book readers will enjoy. Wish me luck!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Rosy Prospects

Recognize our birthday girl there? Granted, it's a slightly out-of-date photo, but it just serves to illustrate how long Rose Marie (born August 15, 1923) has been entertaining audiences. Many fans, of course, think of her first and foremost as wisecracking Sally Rogers from The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS, 1961-66). But her first show business success came in the late 1920s, when her fine singing voice won her a radio contract at the age of five. After that came nightclub engagements, movies, appearances on The Hollywood Squares and The Doris Day Show, and her happy marriage to trumpeter Bobby Guy, cut short by his death in 1964.

If you haven't done so, you should definitely read her fine autobiography Hold the Roses, published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2002. It's a great way to get better acquainted with this show business veteran who has given us all so many hours of pleasure. Happy birthday, Rose Marie!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Book Review: The Case of the Recommended Reading

It won't come as any surprise to readers of this blog that I'm an avid fan of the classic Perry Mason series, which aired on CBS from 1957 to 1966. So how could I resist Jim Davidson's The Perry Mason Book: A Comprehensive Guide to America's Favorite Defender of Justice? Published as an eBook, this is a massively comprehensive, detailed, and fascinating guide not only to Erle Stanley Gardner's books, but the television shows, movies, radio programs, comic books, and other incarnations of his acclaimed lawyer-detective.

Davidson could easily have filled a sizable tome with his own observations, critiques, and reviews of Perry's escapades, and it would have been well worth reading. But he has gone far beyond that, drawing on original interviews with many of the people associated with Perry Mason behind the scenes. His history of the series (and its follow-ups) draws on information gathered from producers, writers, actors, and others who were directly involved in its creation, resulting in details that could have been gathered no other way. Though Perry's creator passed away many years ago, Davidson has also drawn on Gardner's papers held at the University of Texas, as well as records kept by Paisano Productions, which brought Mason to TV.

I am perhaps breaking one of the cardinal rules of the professional book reviewer when I say I am publishing this blog entry before I have finished reading Davidson's book. But that is actually a compliment to its author. Not only is it so comprehensive (without being bloated) that it requires a substantial investment of time to fully appreciate, but it is exactly the type of TV history book that cries out to be read slowly, ideally in conjunction with viewing the series episodes. I've been gradually watching Perry Mason on DVD for quite some time now, at the rate of about one episode per week, and I'm sadly reaching the point where I soon will have seen the entire series. In recent weeks, my viewing has been greatly enhanced by snatching up Davidson's guide shortly after turning off the TV, enjoying all the behind-the-scenes stories that accompany his episode guide. Once I've seen The Case of the Final Fadeout, I might well start over again at Season One, with Jim Davidson's book at my side.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cold Comfort

Ugh. It's early August, and I am tired of being hot. Fall is my favorite season, and right now it seems too far away. So to help myself, and others, "think cool," here's the coldest classic TV picture I could find. This is, of course, from "The Freezer," a popular first-season episode of I Love Lucy, first telecast on April 28, 1952. Think I'll go watch it now, in hopes of picking up just a little of the chill from the Ricardos' new walk-in freezer.

Popsicle, anyone?