Why did June Cleaver always wear high heels & pearls when performing household chores? The heels actually started in the second season – and for a very good reason. Her boys were growing taller and producers wanted June to maintain a height advantage over Wally & the Beaver to reinforce her role as mother.
The pearls were Barbara Billingsley’s idea and for a very good reason. She had a surgical scar at the base of her neck that she didn’t like. The pearls hid the scar.
The popular 1960s cartoon The Flintstones became a hit around the world but was not well received by one of television’s most iconic actors of all time, Jackie Gleason. According to Alan Reed Jr. (son of Alan Reed, who voiced Fred Flintstone), The Flintstones was inspired by The Honeymooners, Fred taking on the short-tempered and overbearing characteristics of Gleason’s vociferous Ralph Kramden while Barney’s rather goofy nature was modeled on Art Carney’s Ed Norton.
Gleason was none too pleased that the modern stone-age family was patterned after his beloved show and contemplated suing the creators of the cartoon. Although Gleason’s lawyers informed the actor that he could have The Flintstones canceled, they cautioned him that he would be known as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air.” Understanding that many children and parents would be saddened, Gleason ultimately decided to let bygones be bygones.
A wild sitcom that lasted only a single season, but should have lasted longer, I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster had a talented cast. John Astin was Harry Dickens while Marty Ingels played Arch Fenster, two borderline incompetent carpenters. Emmaline Henry appeared as Dickens’ wife, Kate.
Other series regulars were the construction crew that joined the title character on jobs: Frank DeVol as Myron Bannister, David Ketchum as Mel Warshaw, Henry Beckman as Bob Mulligan, and Noam Pitlik as Bentley. Notable guest stars who appeared during the show’s brief run included Harvey Korman, Ellen Burstyn, Lee Meriwether and Yvonne Craig.
Is there a Baby Boomer worthy of the name that hasn’t seen Rebel Without a Cause? Doubtful, James Dean in that red jacket has become an everlasting icon of teenage angst and ambivalence.
But here are a few things about that classic film you may not know:
The title comes from a 1944 book – Warner Brothers purchased the rights to a book about a juvenile delinquent named Harold who wound up in the federal pen in Pennsylvania, For years, they tried to work into an acceptable screenplay. In fact, one of the first writers to try was a guy named Theodore Geisel – or as we know him better – Dr. Seuss.
Rock & Roll had only gotten a toe-hold on American television until the debut of Shindig, the first prime-show dedicated solely to rock music and Baby Boomers!
Prior to this, the only time you’d see a rock act in prime time was on The Ed Sullivan Show, but Ed would keep rock quarantined to a single act per show – and always intermingling with opera singers, plate spinners, Borscht Belt comics and singers who appealed to your mom and dad.
Yes, we had American Bandstand, but that aired in the late afternoon along with other “kid shows” like Huckleberry Hound. Shindig was the first time an entire 30-minute block was given over to appealing to the Baby Boom generation on a weekly basis.
Read on to discover more fascinating facts about this ground-breaking TV series!
The very first “rock & roll” film is also one of the best. Rock Around the Clock was rushed into production to capitalize on the success of its title song. That song had been released by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 to almost total apathy. It was forgotten until it became the song that played behind the opening credits of the definitive film about 1950s’ juvenile delinquency, Blackboard Jungle, in 1955. Overnight, rock & roll went from a small following of teenagers in a few cities to a nationwide phenomenon.
Columbia Pictures, always one of Hollywood’s lesser studios, decided to jump on the craze and quickly threw together a film that would showcase the music industry’s newest stars. The film was shot in one month (January, 1956) and rushed into theaters in March. Apparently, the studio was taking no chances that the “fad” for rock would die before they got make some money off of it.
In addition to Haley, the film also featured the Platters (performing what turned out to be their two biggest hits, “Only You” and “The Great Pretender) and a never-was rock ensemble that billed themselves as Freddie Bell and His Bellboys for the kids. The also an act aimed at a little older demographic, Tony Martinez and His Band.
Boston Blackie began life as a jewel thief and safecracker in a series f pulp stories written by Jack Boyle. He reached his greatest fame in a series of mystery movies produced in the 1940s by Columbia Pictures. In the movies, Blackie was now a reformed jewel thief, who nonetheless is always suspected by police inspector Farraday of being the guilty party in the mystery of the moment.
Portrayed on the screen by Chester Morris, Blackie was the engaging, witty rascal, always one step ahead of the police. He was drawn into solving these crimes in order to clear his name and get the cops off his back. A strong undercurrent of comedy ran through the popular series.
On paper, this TV series couldn’t miss. It was created by the two guys (Bill Persky & Sam Denoff) who had been head writers on The Dick Van Dyke Show and had launched Marlo Thomas to stardom by creating That Girl for her just a year earlier. It had TV series geniuses, Sheldon Leonard and Carl Reiner, calling the shots behind the scenes.
Unfortunately, Good Morning, World crashed and burned after only a single season.
The show’s premise was original. It starred Ronnie Schell and Joby Baker as a pair of zany morning DJs named Lewis & Clarke at a struggling L.A. radio station owned by Billy DeWolfe. Baker was married to a cute, sexy wife (Julie Parrish) while Schell was dating a ditzy blonde, played by a newcomer named Goldie Hawn.
All true fans know that 328 Chauncey St., Apartment 3-A is the Brooklyn address that Ralph Kramden and his wife, Alice, lived at in The Honeymooners.
That was bad news for Shurleen Conway. She REALLY lived at 328 Chauncey Street, Apartment 3-A in Brooklyn. Die-hard and somewhat deranged fans of the classic show continued showing up at her residence well into the 1980s hoping to catch a glimpse of Jackie Gleason’s alter ego.
There is no record whether she threatened to send them Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!
Before A Christmas Story, before the Grinch and Charlie Brown, most Baby Boomers’ holiday tradition was watching the movie White Christmas, the 1954 musical starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. We saw it so often, we probably knew almost every line by heart.
But here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the movie:
1. The Danny Kaye part was intended for Fred Astaire. The movie began as a quasi-remake of Holiday Inn, the black & white film that first teamed Bing Crosby and Astaire and the movie debut of the Irving Berlin song, “White Christmas.” But Astaire had announced his retirement (it wouldn’t stick) and turned the part down. It was then offered to Donald O’Connor, who accepted. Then he became ill and had to bow out. So, Kaye was the producers' third choice.
2. The musical number “Sisters” wasn’t in the original script. Crosby and Kaye were horsing around with the girls’ costume on the set. It cracked up director Michael Curtiz so much that he had the number worked up and included in the film.
3. Try and see Vera Ellen’s neck. Throughout the film, Vera is always wearing a turtleneck, scarf or other covering around her neck. No one knows why. Some theorize that there was some flaw in her neck that she was covering up. Others think it was Vera Ellen’s attempt to create a trademark look for herself.
4. While Rosemary Clooney plays Vera Ellen’s older sister, she was actually 7 years younger than her co-star. Also, Bing Crosby was a bit older than Dean Jagger, who plays “the old general” in the film. By the way, Bing was nearly twice Clooney’s age (51 to her 26!).
5. If you look closely, you’ll see future West Side Story star George Chakiris as a chorus boy in the production numbers.
6. The photo of “Benny the Dog-Faced Boy” who was brother to Rosemary & Vera is a photo of a grown-up Alfalfa Switzer of Little Rascals fame.
7. Bob Fosse worked on the film as an uncredited choreographer. It was early in the legendary dancer/choreographer/director’s career and Vera Ellen brought him on to choreograph her numbers, but without screen credit.
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