Monday, October 20, 2014


Recently I was in the mood for just a fun movie musical to watch, so I dug out my copy of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (1967). The film is great late 60s fun, and it is kind of like a musical comedy version of the television series Mad Men. The 1967 musical comedy film was based on the 1961 stage musical of the same name, which in turn was based on Shepherd Mead's book.

The film was produced by United Artists and directed by David Swift, with original staging by Bob Fosse. The cast includes Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee (reprising their original Broadway roles), Michele Lee, Anthony Teague, Tucker Smith (in an uncredited role), and Maureen Arthur. The film marks the debut of Lee, who later appeared in the popular 1980s television series Knots Landing.

J. Pierpont Finch buys a book How to Succeed in Business, describing in step-by-step fashion how to rise in the business world. The ambitious young window cleaner follows its advice carefully. He joins the "World-Wide Wicket Company" and begins work in the mailroom. Soon, thanks to the ethically-questionable advice in the book, he rises to Vice-President in Charge of Advertising, making sure that each person above him gets either fired or moved or transferred within the company. Finch begins to fall in love with Rosemary Pilkington, a secretary at the company. Finch finds out that the president of the company, J. B. Biggley, has made advances towards Hedy LaRue, a beautiful but incompetent woman the company has hired. Finch uses this information to assist his climb on the corporate ladder. Biggley's annoying nephew, Bud Frump, also takes advantage of the situation and tries to get to the top before Finch.

All of Rosemary's songs (including "Happy To Keep His Dinner Warm" and "Paris Original") were cut from the movie version. To make up for this "I Believe In You" was given to her for the movie. In the stage play, she does not sing this to him, and the first time it is heard is during the scene where Finch sings it to himself in the executive washroom, but she does a brief reprise of the song after this scene. In the film, she sings the full version in an earlier scene, making Finch's washroom version the reprise.

The scene featuring Robert Morse skipping & dancing down the street on his way to work (immediately after the "Old Ivy" fight song duet with Rudy Vallee) was filmed on location in New York City using hidden cameras and a small earpiece to cue Morse on his timing. The various amused & astonished passersby were not extras, but rather were New Yorkers reacting genuinely to someone dancing to his own tune.

Tony Curtis, who was over 40 at the time, campaigned to get the Robert Morse role, and Dick Van Dyke was briefly considered, but Robert Morse made the movie. Sure, he was not a wonderful singer or dancer, but he is Finch. I can not really picture anyone else doing the role, although the Broadway show has been revived countless times. Another high point of the movie was Rudy Vallee. Vallee, who was a top crooner in the 1920s and 1930s until Bing Crosby surpassed him in popularity, was perfect as well as the clueless company president. It was really the last important role that Vallee had in his career.

My favorite song in the film is one that is barely ever mentioned: "Brotherhood Of Man" was basically the finale of the film where the whole company joins Robert Morse singing. A song that my son and daughter like is "It's Been A Long Day". I guess they like the repetitiveness of the song lyrics, but it is catchy.  Do yourself a favor and watch How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. It's a harmless 1967 romp, and I guarantee you'll be tapping your feet and almost wishing you worked in an office...


Friday, October 17, 2014


Rita Hayworth, who is my opinion was one of the most beautiful women to ever be captured on film was born Margarita Carmen Cansino on this day - October 17, 1918 in Brooklyn, New York in 1918 as Margarita Carmen Cansino, the oldest child of two dancers. Her father, Eduardo Cansino, Sr., was from Castilleja de la Cuesta, a little town near Seville, Spain. Her mother, Volga Hayworth, was an American of Irish-English descent who had performed with the Ziegfeld Follies. The couple married in 1917. They also had two sons: Eduardo Jr. and Vernon Cansino.

Margarita's father wanted her to become a professional dancer, while her mother hoped she would become an actress. Her paternal grandfather, Antonio Cansino, was renowned as a Spanish classical dancer. He popularized the bolero and his dancing school in Madrid was world famous. Hayworth later recalled, "From the time I was three and a half... as soon as I could stand on my own feet, I was given dance lessons." She noted "I didn't like it very much... but I didn't have the courage to tell my father, so I began taking the lessons. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, that was my girlhood". She attended dance classes every day for a few years in a Carnegie Hall complex, where she was taught by her uncle Angel Cansino. She performed publicly from the age of six. In 1926 at the age of eight, she was featured in La Fiesta, a short film for Warner Bros.

In 1927, her father took the family to Hollywood. He believed that dancing could be featured in the movies and that his family could be part of it. He established his own dance studio, where he taught such Hollywood luminaries as James Cagney and Jean Harlow. During the Great Depression, he lost all his investments as commercial interest in his dancing classes waned. He partnered with his daughter to form "The Dancing Cansinos". Since under California law Margarita was too young to work in nightclubs and bars, her father took her with him to work across the border in Tijuana, Mexico. In the early 1930s, it was a popular tourist spot for people from Los Angeles. Due to her working Cansino never graduated from high school, but she had completed ninth grade at Hamilton High in Los Angeles.

Cansino (Hayworth) took a bit part in the film Cruz Diablo (1934) at age 16, which led to another in In Caliente (1935) with the Mexican actress, Dolores del Río. She danced with her father in such nightspots as the Foreign and the Caliente clubs. Winfield Sheehan, the head of the Fox Film Corporation, saw her dancing at the Caliente Club and quickly arranged for Hayworth to do a screen test a week later. Impressed by her screen persona, Sheehan signed her for a short-term six-month contract at Fox, under the name Rita Cansino, the first of two name changes for her film career.

During her time at Fox, Hayworth appeared in five pictures in non-notable roles. By the end of her six-month contract, Fox had merged into 20th Century Fox, with Darryl F. Zanuck serving as the executive producer. Dismissing Sheehan's interest in Hayworth, Zanuck did not renew her contract. Feeling that she had screen potential, the salesman and promoter, Edward C. Judson, whom she would marry in 1936, got her the lead roles in several independent films and arranged a screen test with Columbia Pictures. The studio head Harry Cohn signed Hayworth to a long-term contract, and cast her in small roles in Columbia features. It was at this time that the Rita Hayworth that we all knew and loved would be born…

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


On October 14, 1977, the world lost its greatest singing legends when Bing Crosby died. Bing was a private man, and he wanted his funeral private as well. When the funeral of his first wife, Dixie Lee Crosby, got mobbed by reporters in 1952, Bing never wanted to have that public nuisance again.

On October 18, 1977 was the private funeral mass for Bing. The early hour (6 a.m. Los Angeles time) eliminated what Crosby did not want -- a clamorous Hollywood funeral. There were no fans on the quiet side street.

The mourners included a few of Crosby's companions from show business -- Bob Hope and his wife, Mrs. Dolores Hope; Rosemary Clooney, who sang with Bing in his final concerts, and her son by Jose Ferrer, Miguel; Phil Harris, comedian and his wife Alice Faye, and Bob Crosby, Bing's singer-brother.

The rest were Crosby's business associates, fishing companions and personal friends, including his secretary, Ms. Nancy Briggs; Richard Bergen, his attorney; Basil Grillo, producer; Buster Collier, former actor, and Alan Fisher, his butler. Crosby's sister, Mrs. Mary Rose Pool, and Mrs. Crosby's sister, Mrs. Frances Meyer, also were present.

Crosby's six sons, including Gary, Dennis, Phillip, and Lindsay, acted as pallbearers. Burial was in Holy Cross Cemetery near the graves of Crosby's parents and first wife, Mrs. Dixie Lee Crosby, who died of cancer in 1952. The grave is on a hillside overlooking the graves of other family members, about 150 yards inside the cemetery's entrance...

Saturday, October 11, 2014


I am not sure if I am correct, but I do believe that singer Harry Prime is one of the last big band singers left. He is a survivor of a forgotten era of popular music that should be remembered and honored for its originality and greatness. At the age of 95, Harry recently performed on September 24, 2014!

Harry Prime doesn’t let anyone pull anything over on him and he doesn’t forget a friend. Both poles of his personality were on display at his dinner show at the Epicure Cafe on September 24th. And, oh yeah, he can still sing.

Some people go to Harry’s shows to hear about Grace Kelly or the picture postcard stories from the good old days. And Harry doesn’t disappoint. He can spin a clean, upbeat tale as well as anyone, evoking the old neighborhood with the same precision as he croons the rolling bass notes of Summer Wind.

But we go to his shows for the scrappier, funny, and sometimes profane stories about growing up in East Falls, living on the road when he was a singer in a big band, and what life is like when you’re pushing 95.

Harry has often said that life on the road in the 40s and 50s was a series of mostly “less drunk and completely drunk” nights, but when he told the story of the gabardine jacket to the Epicure crowd, it offered a peek into the craziness of a crowded touring bus full of “vipers (pot smokers) and drinkers.”

In the late 40s, Harry had begun to earn real money working for the Ralph Flanagan Orchestra and one day rewarded himself with a new gabardine coat. “The coat was beautiful,” he said, “with epaulets on the shoulders.” He hung it at the back of the bus as the orchestra rolled on to its next destination on the tour. When they arrived, he found the coat dripping wet and smelling of urine, with one pocket still brimming.
“It’s always the sax players,” said Harry, as he explained the drunk who’d relieved himself at Harry’s expense. He settled the score shortly afterward, with only one complaint from orchestra leader Ralph Flanagan—“Couldn’t you have hit him in the gut, not the mouth?” Flanagan couldn’t afford a sax player with a banged-up mouth.

The crowd at the Epicure roared with laughter as Harry launched into the next song without a pause.

At another pause, we saw Harry’s softer, more sentimental side as he spoke about “his great friend” Ron Astle, who’d moved away to Florida over a year ago. He remembered how they’d first met years ago, with Ron giving Harry a CD of Harry’s songs.

He also spoke fondly about their partnership at previous Epicure performances, with Ron playing background tracks while Harry sang. We could hear a hint of sorrow in his voice as he told the story about Ron moving away, a slight tremor in that weathered baritone. And he wasn’t the only emotional one there. Not bad for a 95 year old crooner...


Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Here is a terrific tribute to James Garner. It is too well written to be from my pen. It was written by author Patricia Rust...

I should qualify this by saying that I was just a small child and the show Maverick was on television. My late father, William Rust, looked just like Maverick, who was a fabulous, sly, and clever gambler in the Wild West (a role reprised by Mel Gibson), and Maverick turned out to be played by James Garner, not my dad. But you couldn't convince me of that!

My dad would dress as Maverick and shoot his eyebrows straight to the sky and back down to the dry dusty plains of the Ole West, and he had a Maverick hat with pink silk lining. I repeat: pink silk lining! Yes, sir, he was Maverick through and through and even taught us children how to play poker! We would put our silver plastic cowboy guns up on the game table and play "Spit in the Ocean" with Maverick himself... or so we thought!

Both James Garner and my father, William Rust, stood well over six feet of solid muscle and had black curly hair which was de rigeur for a leading man then. They both shared that square-jawed head that could project danger, especially when they worked their eyebrows and bedroom eyes. They were, in a word, drop-dead handsome. They were the very definition of handsome! While they did not look exactly alike, people see what they want to see, and I guess when they saw Dad, they wanted to see Mr. Garner -- so they did!

Who knows whether my father was gracious enough to accept being mistaken for James (Jim) Garner, or James Garner was gracious enough to sometimes be considered to be my father! They were both such gentleman at a time when being a gentleman counted for something!

With the recent passing of James Garner, we lost not only a major television and film talent, but a true gentleman who was warm, winsome and wonderful, and for whom my father was mistaken for, at the very least, once a day but usually more. And sometimes by a whole crowd!

This look alike phenomenon kept life interesting. We lived in Brentwood, a suburb with lots of celebrities and notables, and Mr. Garner could often be seen at the local independent market called Vicente Foods, known for its great produce and farm-fresh eggs. When I saw him there, he was always gracious. Of course, I was always with a parent or grandparent.

I didn't have to say something idiotic such as, "You look just like my daddy," because when I was with my father, the two men would look at each other, smile, then simply start laughing. My father thought laughter was something short of sacred so I must have already comprehended this because the laughter brought me such joy. Also, for men to be shopping was also pretty cool... it showed they were "liberated" men, not bound by the strains of convention. These were cool men!

My father and Mr. Garner were able to joke beyond their looking like brothers... they joked that maybe there was more going on in their families than they knew! They always promised a joint family barbecue but both were busy with their adored families and lives and that never came to pass -- except in my imagination where it happened many times!

Dad's career was not in acting so he was not competing for roles or attention -- he was a businessman... though it was with entertainers. I can't say that I could see much of a difference between the two men and I would happily have taken both home with the fresh eggs and great produce! The only difference was that Dad had blue eyes and Mr. Garner had brown.

As a grown up, I would also see Mr. Garner at industry events. Once with Angela Lansbury, who is equally gracious, he was just as warm then, as though I were still five, even when I was all grown up and a contributing member to the entertainment industry myself! His hair had thinned a bit while my fathers only thickened and whitened, which left my father to look more like our local anchorman, Jerry Dumphy, while Mr. Garner colored his.

That did not stop people, however, and once, when my father fell at a local restaurant, an ambulance was called for James Garner! Mr. Garner and my father shared many common interests and when my father had back surgery for a local bodysurfing injury, Mr. Garner was the first to want to know how it went because he suffered with a bad back. Later, showing off his "new back," my father somersaulted through the entry of the Riviera Country Club and everyone gave James Garner credit! Mr. Garner could never have done what Dad did, but Dad was delighted that people thought it was Mr. Garner.

Mr. Garner was grateful to acting because he never set out to become an actor but was "discovered" when he went with a friend to an audition, I believe. I think he was always slightly astonished by his remarkable success and never took it for granted. He also had some great writers such as Stephen Cannell and some terrific writers for the big screen, too, and got to play cool parts such as Philip Marlowe, Maverick, Rockford, and even his Polaroid commercials with Mariette Hartley were loved. I adored James Garner and I feel like a lost my father's twin brother at his passing. He will be missed for his warm ways and enormous heart and talent...


Friday, October 3, 2014


When it comes to television series, it seems like I always come late to the party. I love The Dean Martin Show, The Twilight Zone, and The Jack Benny Show, but they all aired well before I was born. I am a fan of the comedy series Seinfeld, but I did not watch the show until the final episode aired in May of 1998. My family joked me that in a couple years maybe I will discover I Love Lucy! I have recently discovered a television series that just ended its 4th season. I did not think I would like it, but now I am addicted to the AMC series The Walking Dead. Amazingly the show is still on, and will air its new season in October of 2014. Based on the comic book series of the same name, The Walking Dead tells the story of a small group of survivors living in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. The first season mostly takes place in the Atlanta metropolitan area, and the second through fourth seasons in the surrounding countryside of northern Georgia, as the survivors search for a safe haven away from the shuffling hordes of predatory "walkers" or "biters" (as the zombies are referred to in the show), who devour any living thing they catch, and whose bite is infectious to humans. The plot focuses primarily on the dilemmas the group faces as they struggle to maintain their humanity during the day-to-day challenges of surviving in a hostile world. This includes battling the zombie hordes, coping with casualties, and dealing with predatory human survivors.

The group is led by Rick Grimes, who was a sheriff's deputy  before the zombie outbreak. At every turn they are faced with the horror of the walking zombies, the changing dynamic of their group, and hostility from the scattered remains of a struggling human populace who are focused on their own survival now that society's structures have collapsed.

The Walking Dead premiered on October 31, 2010, on the cable television channel AMC in the United States. It premiered internationally during the first week of November 2010 on Fox International Channels. Based on its reception, AMC renewed the series for a second season of 13 episodes, which premiered on October 16, 2011. Two episodes into the second season, AMC announced that the show would return for a third season of 16 episodes, which began airing on October 14, 2012. On December 21, 2012, AMC renewed The Walking Dead for a fourth season of 16 episodes, which premiered on October 13, 2013. On October 29, 2013, AMC renewed it for a fifth season.
The series has been well received and has been nominated for many awards, including the Writers Guild of America Award and the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama. he series has also attained strong Nielsen ratings, surpassing various records for a cable series, including viewership of 16.1 million for its season four premiere, making it the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history.

I was not sure I would like the series when I first watched it. Next to rats and death, I think I am most afraid of zombies, but it really only took me a few episodes before I realized the show was more than zombies. Its success is due to the character development. The zombies are second to the characters, and in some episodes one can forget about the zombies entirely. I am thankful I discovered this show while it was still on, and I recommend The Walking Dead. It is definitely a modern “classic”…

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


For her first studio album in eight years, Bette Midler is revisiting some of the vocalists who shaped her the most -- girl groups -- on It’s The Girls, due Nov. 4 via Warner Bros. Records (Nov. 17 in the UK via East West Records/Warner Music UK.)
The album spans seven decades of famous girl groups, from ‘30s trios The Boswell Sisters (the title track) and The Andrews Sisters (“Bei Mir Bist Du Schön”) to ‘90s R&B legends TLC (wait til you hear Midler’s cabaret take on “Waterfalls.”)
Midler’s longtime collaborator Marc Shaiman (Hairspray) handles production.
“I have loved the sound of females harmonizing since I was a kid; I always sang along. Didn't we all?” Midler tells Billboard. “I think the idea that you could become part of the group was the thing that endeared me to the girl groups. You weren't just singing along, you were THERE!”
As fashions in music have changed, Midler says, some of the songs had to evolve -- hence the country-fied take on The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love” that appears on It’s The Girls. “Since this is a kind of overview of girl groups, I wanted to re-arrange some of the really popular songs and put a new spin on them; 'Can't Hurry Love" being the most extreme example,” Midler says.
“The Boswell Sisters was the first girl group record I ever owned,” she continues. “A friend of my parents gave it to them, and I played it to death. They killed. They are nearly forgotten today. The '60s were the height of girl-group frenzy, so there were a lot of songs to chose from, but from the '90s on, my favorites were TLC and Destiny's Child. ‘Waterfalls’ was a heartbreaker, especially if you were a mom, and it had a big effect on me. I never thought I would have the nerve to sing it, but we had an idea for it that works, and I am so glad I took the chance.”
Though she’s teased retirement from the road over the years, a new tour is in the works, too, a spokeswoman for Midler teases.
Adds Midler of revisiting the many eras of girl groups, “All in all, there is such a rich and emotional history to this music, it's a joy to dust it off and take another listen...So Bette Midler!”
It’s The Girls Track List: 
Originally performed by The Ronettes
Originally performed by The Chiffons
Originally performed by The Andrews Sisters
All Vocals by Bette Midler
Originally performed by The Shirelles
All Vocals by Bette Midler
Originally performed by The Exciters
6. HE'S SURE THE BOY I LOVE (duet with Darlene Love)
Originally performed by The Crystals
Originally performed by The Chordettes
Originally performed by Martha & The Vandellas
Originally performed by The Marvelettes
Originally performed by The DeCastro Sisters
Originally performed by TLC
Originally performed by The Supremes
Originally performed by The Shangri-Las
Originally performed by The Shirelles
Originally performed by The Boswell Sisters
All Vocals by Bette Midler
The Andrews Sisters