Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Anne's Day

Happy birthday to talented and lovely Anne Jeffreys, who turns 93 today. Her career as an actress has encompassed everything from Broadway to daytime soap operas. But she may be best known as Marion Kerby, "the ghostess with the mostest," on the 1950s television classic Topper.

She's featured, alongside nine other pioneering sitcom stars, in my book The Women Who Made Television Funny.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Anti-Binge Watcher

Star Judi Dench (center) is flanked by (l-r): Philip Bretherton, Geoffrey Palmer, Jenny Funnell, and Moira Brooker.
Although "binge watching" of favorite TV shows seems to be the norm these days, I wonder if anyone's coined a term to describe its opposite -- the deliberate, leisurely savoring of each episode. That's where I am these days with As Time Goes By, the charming, low-key BBC sitcom that, much to my regret, I've almost finished watching. I don't really want to look at the DVD box and see how many episodes I have left, but I think it's only nine or ten.

For me, this series, written by Bob Larbey, has the rare capacity to make its characters seem so real and relatable that you begin to think them almost as friends. And although I probably have more in common with Geoffrey Palmer's Lionel than I might care to admit, I enjoy all the actors and their characters. I find myself thinking about Jean and Lionel, Judith, Alistair, and Sandy between episodes, wondering what lies ahead for them in life.

So while I'd love to watch an episode (or two) today, I might just hold off just a bit longer.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Look! It's Frank Aletter -- Again

Someone at CBS in the 1960s really liked actor Frank Aletter -- a lot. Born 90 years ago today, Aletter (1926-2009) never had a starring role in a hit sitcom -- but it wasn't for lack of trying. In Bringing Up Buddy (1960-61), he played a young man being "raised" by his two elderly aunts. When that one didn't catch on, he returned with The Cara Williams Show (1964-65), unfortunately another flop, and reportedly an extremely tense set on which to work. The third time wasn't the charm when he was cast as a time-traveling astronaut in Sherwood Schwartz's It's About Time, which didn't make it beyond the 1966-67 season.

Though his lead roles in sitcoms didn't pay off big for him, Aletter was still one of the busiest actors in TV for years afterward. A very incomplete checklist of shows in which he appeared would include Perry Mason, M*A*S*H, The Fugitive, The Mod Squad, Medical Center, Ironside ... seemingly every popular show of the 1960s and 1970s. In 1985, he was a guest star in the pilot episode of The Golden Girls, playing Harry, the man Blanche thought she wanted to marry, who despite his outwardly charming and elegant demeanor is memorably (and correctly) assessed by Sophia as "a scuzzball."

For more information on Aletter, and his role in It's About Time, check out my book Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Stuff to Read

This just-released catalog from my publisher features nearly 200 books to be published this spring and summer, including several tantalizing items in the Pop Culture section. Take a look!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Buster's Book

Made any resolutions as we venture forth into 2016? Looks like Buster Keaton has at least a few. I don't think I'll need a journal quite as hefty as The Great Stone Face has chosen, but I can probably think of a few things I could try to do differently.

Like update my blog more than once a week, perhaps? Happy New Year!