Monday, November 30, 2015

Write Your Own Caption...

Here's a publicity still from "The Paul Lynde Show," which aired on ABC in the 1972-73 season. As suburban attorney Paul Simms, Paul just found out that his daughter and son-in-law (Jane Actman, John Calvin) are SAPs. Sure, you could do an online search for an episode synopsis, or find the episode on YouTube, but wouldn't it be more fun to just make up your own dialogue? Have at it!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review: The Perils of Pamela

No one writes more knowledgeably or pleasurably about the beautiful starlets of 1960s movies than Tom Lisanti, as he proves once again with his newest book, Pamela Tiffin: Hollywood to Rome, 1961-1974 (McFarland, $39.95).

Tiffin had an odd career trajectory. A successful fashion model before she ever considered acting, she made her film debut with a bang in 1961. Stunningly beautiful but a completely unschooled actress, she was handed two prestigious assignments for which more established performers would have killed: a key role in Summer and Smoke, based on the acclaimed Tennessee Williams play, and the young female lead in One, Two, Three, where she would be directed by none other than Billy Wilder, and act opposite the great James Cagney. Yet despite acquitting herself well in both roles, she then began a frustrating struggle to avoid being shoved into films of lesser stature -- roles where fitting into a bikini was as important, if not more so, than her dramatic or comedic chops. Only five years after launching her motion picture career, she would walk away from Hollywood with few regrets, leaving unanswered the question of how successful she could have become with the right parts, and more careful career handling.

Lisanti, as his regular readers know, loves groovy 60s flicks like The Pleasure Seekers, and those who fell in love with Tiffin in these escapist escapades will find their fond appreciation shared by the author. Thanks to the author's valuable interviews with costars and colleagues, they'll also enjoy a revealing look behind the scenes. In later years, Tiffin began a second career in Italian films, and Lisanti's research into this aspect of her work is impressively detailed. He makes a convincing case for his argument that Tiffin, at her best, was "prettier than Raquel Welch, funnier than Jane Fonda, and more appealing than Ann-Margret." And who could resist that?

NOTE: I was provided a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Hot Ticket

Imagine that it's December 1970, and you've been offered free tickets to watch the taping of a new sitcom. You don't know much, if anything, about this show, called All in the Family, because it hasn't yet debuted on TV. Maybe you expect something similar to other popular CBS sitcoms of the day, such as My Three Sons, The Beverly Hillbillies, or Here's Lucy. Chances are, none of those quite prepared you for Norman Lear's show, which would soon make TV history.

I'd love to hop into a time machine, and be a fly on the wall of that studio. Were viewers intrigued? Shocked? Impressed? Appalled? One thing's for sure. This show was unlike anything most of them had ever seen on network television.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ready for Close-Ups

Well, this is good news. One of my favorite TV history books of the past few years, Eddie Lucas' Close-Ups: Conversations with our TV Favorites, is now available as an eBook. Lucas' engaging book features lengthy, thorough interviews with some of the best-remembered stars from classic TV shows of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.

Among the shows represented are Leave it to Beaver, Hazel, The Waltons, and The Mothers-in-Law, just to name a few. The book has become even more valuable in the years since its original publication because several of the stars featured -- Peter Breck, Alice Ghostley, Lynn Borden -- have since passed away. I for one am glad their memories were captured by such a skilled and caring interviewer before the opportunity was lost.

Give it a look. I think you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Holiday Sale!

Check out this new catalog from McFarland, which comes with a 30% off coupon. Of course, to get the discount, you have to buy 2 books. But I've written five, so what's the problem? Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Remembering Emmaline

Marty Ingels and John Astin, flanking Emmaline.
Even on a show never overburdened with subtlety, Amanda Bellows was hardly a low-key character. But that was part of what made her appearances on I Dream of Jeannie so much fun.

Actress Emmaline Henry, born on this date in 1928, first came to public attention playing John Astin's wife in the short-lived ABC sitcom I'm Dickens...He's Fenster (which I covered in Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television). She played another sitcom spouse on Mickey Rooney's show in 1964. But it was the forceful, slightly spoiled, and comically frustrated Mrs. Bellows that would provide her most memorable TV role. She was cast in that recurring gig in Jeannie's second season, after playing an unrelated guest part in a previous episode.

Emmaline's television success was cut short when she died of cancer in 1979, only 50 years old. She had recently played Chrissy's boss on Three's Company, and it could have easily become another popular recurring role for the talented actress. But we weren't that fortunate, nor was she. It's nice to know that we can still enjoy her comic chops in reruns.