Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

This time of year everybody gets busy with many things, especially preparing for the upcoming holidays, so I'm going to take a break from blogging.

At this time, I wish Everyone a Happy Healthy Safe Fun Holiday Season, and a Healthy Safe Prosperous 2009!

Thanks for reading, and hope you'll all return when I do, sometime in 2009.

I'll close with some Christmas-themed paintings by my favorite contemporary artist, Thomas Kinkade. I've included his comments under each painting.

Home for the Evening - The title for this tiny painting was originally Cookies Baking. As I worked on the piece, I could almost smell the sweet aroma of homemade cookies coming from inside the snow covered cottage. By the way, the number "5282" that appears on the mailbox in front of the cottage is a tribute to one of my favorite dates, May 2, 1982 — the day my wife, Nanette, and I were married. — Thomas Kinkade

Silent Night - I was so taken with the simple message of the classic Christmas carol, Silent Night, with its images of sleeping villages and the coming of the Christ child, that I decided to give the annual Christmas release the same title and evoke a bit of the song's mood. I hope this image will remind each of us of the message of hope and peace that is the true meaning of Christmas as illustrated in the Savior's birth. — Thomas Kinkade

Home for the Holidays - is an example of memory and imagination blending together to create an idyllic vision. Who hasn't daydreamed about taking a frosty sleigh ride to visit friends for a bit of Christmas Eve cheer? Presents will be exchanged, prayers offered, and perhaps a mug of steaming cider will send you on your way. By the way, my three year old daughter, Merritt, is a wonderful model for paintings like this, and in tribute to her efforts, her name adorns the mailbox to the right of the sleigh. — Thomas Kinkade

And here is my favorite - I have a signed framed print hanging above the sofa in my living room.

New York, Snow On Seventh Avenue, 1932 - For the most part, I paint places I can see and experience first hand, though occasionally I enjoy the challenge of creating a romantic vision of another era. I have tried to capture the bustling activity of New York in the twenties and early thirties in New York, Snow on Seventh Avenue. — Thomas Kinkade

And just for some nostalgic fun, here's Alvin, Simon, and Theodore singing "The Chipmunk Song".

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Della Lind - "Swiss Miss"

Della Lind was a Viennese musical star who was brought to Hollywood in the 1930s to appear in several movies. She'd previously appeared on stage and in musical comedy movies in her native Austria, under her birth name Grete Natzler.

Her best-remembered Hollywood movie is 1938's "Swiss Miss", in which she co-starred with Laurel and Hardy.

Al Kilgore, one of the founding members of the Sons of the Desert (the International Laurel and Hardy Society), asked me if I could locate her. This was in 1978. Researching the clippings files at the New York City Performing Arts Collection at Lincoln Center, I'd found reference to Ms. Lind being married to composer Franz Steininger. Further research found an obituary - he died in 1974, and was survived by Ms. Lind. Mr. Steininger was affiliated with the Turnabout Theatre in Hollywood founded by fellow composer/songwriter Forman Brown. I called the theatre and spoke to Mr. Brown, who was still in contact with Ms. Lind. He gave me her phone number and contact was made.

It was a few years before I found a nice portrait of Ms. Lind. I sent it to her in 1982, and she returned it within two weeks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tommy Steele

Tommy Steele is an English-born entertainer - actor, singer, and musician. He is considered to be Britain's first teen idol and rock 'n' roll star, in the 1950s, with his recording of "Singing the Blues" reaching #1 on the charts.

Mr. Steele's musical talent led to his performing in stage and film musicals. Of the latter, he starred in "Half a Sixpence" (1967), "The Happiest Millionaire" (1967), and "Finian's Rainbow" (1968).

I sent this photo to Mr. Steele in 1980, to his residence in England, and he returned it within one month.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dennis Quaid

Dennis Quaid is an actor who became known after starring in several movies in the 1980s. Among his features are "The Seniors" (1978), "Breaking Away" (1979), "The Right Stuff" (1983), "The Big Easy" (1987), "Great Balls of Fire!" (1989), "Wyatt Earp" (1994), and "Frequency" (2000).

I sent this photo to Mr. Quaid in 1982, and he returned it about two months later.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Elke Sommer

Elke Sommer is a German-born actress who became a popular 'sex symbol' in movies of the 1950s and 1960s. She was featured in movies of all genres, such as "Don't Bother to Knock" (1962), "A Shot in the Dark" (1964), "The Money Trap" (1965), and "The Oscar" (1966). She also guest starred on several tv shows in the 1970s and 1980s.

While she still acts on occasion, she has concentrated on painting in recent years. She has held several one-woman art shows, featuring her works.

In 1982 I sent this photo to Ms. Sommer, and she returned it within two weeks.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don Knotts - "Barney Fife"

Don Knotts was a comedic actor who is best remembered for his role of 'Deputy Barney Fife' on the 1960s tv sitcom "The Andy Griffith Show". His second most popular role was as the landlord 'Ralph Furley' on the 1980s sitcom "Three's Company".

Mr. Knotts also starred in several comedy feature movies, such as "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" (1964), "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken" (1966), and "The Shakiest Gun in the West" (1968). He also appeared in several Disney movies including "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975) and "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" (1977).

In 1984, I wrote to Mr. Knotts and requested a photo, and he complied within one month, with this autographed photo.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dorothy Revier

Dorothy Revier was an actress in many silent movies in the 1920s, and in several sound movies of the 1930s, mostly 'B' features.

Some of her silent movies are "The Broadway Madonna" (1922), "The Wild Party" (1923), and "The False Alarm" (1926). Among her sound features are "Hold Everything" (1930), "Sally of the Subway" (1932), "The Fighting Ranger" (1934), and "The Cowboy and the Kid" (1936).

Today Ms. Revier is mostly remembered by fans of B-Westerns for her roles in a few, as leading lady to Buck Jones, with the latter movie above being her final feature.

I sent this photo to Ms. Revier in 1982, and she returned it within two weeks.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Gilbert Roland

Gilbert Roland was a Mexican-born actor who had a lengthy career in American movies. His career began in silent movies in the 1920s and continued into features and tv shows through the 1980s.

Among his better known roles were those in "We Were Strangers" (1949), "The Bad and the Beautiful" (1952), "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima" (1952), and "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef" (1953). He also guest-starred in episodes of many popular tv shows of the 1950s and 1960s, such as "Wagon Train", "Frontier Circus", "Gunsmoke", "Combat" and "Bonanza".

In 1984 I sent him this photo, and he returned it within one month.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Anne Gwynne

Anne Gwynne was an actress primarily in feature movies of the 1930s and 1940s. She appeared in several horror movies, and became known as a "scream queen" because of her roles in which she expressed her terrors by screaming. Among some of her horror features are "Black Friday" (1940), "The Black Cat" (1941), "The Strange case of Doctor Rx" (1942), and "House of Frankenstein" (1944).

In 1982, I sent this photo to her, to her California residence, and she signed and returned it within two weeks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Kim Novak

Kim Novak is an actress who began her career in the 1950s. Her first few roles were uncredited, but she became known shortly after, for her roles in movies such as "Pushover" (1954) co-starring with Fred MacMurray, "Phffft!" (1954) opposite Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon, and "Picnic" (1955) co-starring with William Holden.

Ms. Novak starred in Hitchcock's "Vertigo" (1958), with James Stewart. That same year, another movie for which she may be remembered is "Bell, Book and Candle" which co-starred James Stewart again as well as Jack Lemmon. She continued starring in several other feature movies, as well as many guest appearances on tv shows, into the 1990s.

In 1985, I sent Ms. Novak this photo. She returned it within two weeks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Joan Woodbury

Joan Woodbury was an actress in many movies from the 1930s into the 1960s. She appeared mostly in 'B' movies, including some Westerns, in which she played the heroine opposite 'cowboy' stars such as Tex Ritter and Roy Rogers.

I sent her this photo in 1983, and she signed and returned it within two weeks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sandy Duncan

Sandy Duncan is an actress and singer who was very active on tv from the 1960s into the 1990s. I remember her many guest appearances on tv shows. She has pixie-like qualities in her appearance and voice mannerisms.

She also had her own tv show, "The Hogan Family", in the late 1980s. This show was a continuation of actress Valerie Harper's sitcom, "Valerie", which was discontinued after Harper had some kind of dispute with the producers. Ms. Duncan's character became the star of the show and it was renamed.

It was in the late 1980s I sent her this photo, and she signed and returned it within one month.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dennis Christopher

Dennis Christopher first came to recognition in the 1979 coming-of-age movie "Breaking Away". I liked his portrayal of the character 'Dave' and looked forward to seeing him in other movies. Some of his other prominent roles were in 1980's "Fade to Black" and 1981's "Chariots of Fire". Since that time, he has been in many other movies and tv shows.

I wrote to him in 1981, sending him two photos. He signed each and returned them promptly, within two weeks. The photos can be seen here and here. The latter he signed to me with only his first name, as if we were friends.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

William Windom

William Windom is an Emmy-winning actor who's had an extensive career in movies and television.
One of his finest roles was in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird". A few years later, he had his own tv series, "My World and Welcome To It", for which he won his Emmy.

I'd never requested a photo from Mr. Windom during my active years of collecting, mainly because I never obtained an address for him. But in 1998, I had the pleasure of meeting him at the same banquet at which I met Gale Storm (see blog from November 18). He signed this photo for me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gale Storm

Gale Storm is one of Hollywood's most versatile performers. In addition to her work in movies and television, she's a successful recording artist.

In the 1940s, she appeared in many features for RKO Pictures and Monogram Pictures. She also sang in several "Soundies", 3-minute musical shorts that were shown on "movie jukeboxes".

In the 1950s, Miss Storm had a recording career, and hit the music charts with a couple of hits, "I Hear You Knockin' " and "Dark Moon". At the same time, she starred in two consecutive tv sitcoms, "My Little Margie" and "The Gale Storm Show" (the latter was also known as "Oh! Susanna").

In 1985, I sent Miss Storm this photo, to her residence in California. She signed and returned it within two weeks.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gale in 1998. She was a guest of honor at The Two Tars Tent of The Sons of the Desert Banquet on November 28th, at the Cherry Hill Holiday Inn. Here is a photo of us taken during the autograph session.

Here is a YouTube slideshow of her singing "Dark Moon".

Saturday, November 15, 2008

David Seville - "Father" of "The Chipmunks"

David Seville was the stage name of Ross Bagdasarian, who was an actor, singer/songwriter and record producer. He is best remembered today for creating "The Chipmunks" - Alvin, Simon and Theodore.

The voices of the "Chipmunks" were performed by recording voices at 'normal' speed, and then speeded up on a tape recorder. Mr. Bagdasarian had used this effect on a hit record he had in 1958, "The Witch Doctor", which was also his first experiment with speeding an audio track to get the distinctive, comical, squeaky, high-pitched voices.

The 'big hit' for "David Seville and The Chipmunks" came in 1958, with the seasonal song "Christmas Don't Be Late" (also known simply as "The Chipmunk Song").

Mr. Bagdasarian died in 1972, at the young age of 52, long before I became very active in acquiring autographed photos. Over the years, I always had him on my list of 'desired autographs', and in 1995, was fortunate to buy this photo of him from a reliable autograph dealer. I recall paying about $10 for it.

Here is a link to a YouTube video of "The Chipmunk Song" from the 1960s animated tv series "The Alvin Show".

And here is a video slideshow with the original recording of "The Witch Doctor".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hayden Rorke

Hayden Rorke was an actor whose career began on stage in the 1930s and in movies in the 1940s. He was adept at playing various characters. In the 1950s, he began an extensive career guest-starring on many tv shows.

In 1965, he played his most well-known role: 'Dr. Bellows' on the tv sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie", costarring with Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman. He continued in this role for the entire series, through 1970.

I wrote to Mr. Rorke in 1980, to his residence in Studio City, California. I requested a signed photo, and he sent this one, in character as 'Dr. Bellows'.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sylvia Sidney

Sylvia Sidney was a leading actress in many movies of the 1930s and 1940s, and then transitioned to tv in guest-starring roles on dozens of shows from the 1950s through the 1970s. Among her memorable feature roles: 'Winnie Verloc' in Alfred Hitchcock's "Sabotage" (1936) and 'Joan Taylor' in Fritz Lang's "You Only Live Once" (1937).

I sent this photo to Ms. Sidney in 1981, to her Connecticut residence, and she returned it within one week.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Walter Pidgeon

Walter Pidgeon was an actor in many movies in the 1930s through the 1950s, in which he received top billing. Also, he guest-starred on many tv shows from the 1950s into the early 1970s. He played various roles throughout his career.

In 1981, I sent him this photo, to his residence in Los Angeles, which he signed and returned within two weeks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Lloyd Nolan

Lloyd Nolan was an actor who appeared in many dozens of movies from the 1930s through the 1980s, and on many tv shows from the 1950s through the 1980s. He played various characters in supporting roles, such as police officers, doctors, judges, detectives, etc.

I sent this photo to Mr. Nolan in late 1981, to his residence in Los Angeles, and he returned it within one month, in early 1982.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Frank Nelson - "Yeeesssssss???????"

Frank Nelson was a veteran comedic character on radio and television, beginning his career in the 1930s.

Mr. Nelson found fame during the 1940s appearing on Jack Benny's radio show. He typically portrayed a sales clerk or customer service worker. For example, needing airline tickets, Benny would call the ticket agent, "Oh Mister? Mister?" Nelson's appearance began with his catchphrase, a bellowed "Ye-e-e-e-s?". The two men would banter, with Nelson gleefully delivering one-liners such as "Is that a hairpiece or did someone plant moss on your head?" and sarcastic responses like "Do I work at this airport? No, I'm a DC-4 with a mustache."

Mr. Nelson continued his association with Jack Benny into the 1950s and 1960s appearing on many of the latter's television shows. He also provided voices for many tv and movie characters into the 1980s. One of his last performances was as a spokesperson for McDonald's, appearing in a series of tv commercials.

I wrote to Mr. Nelson in 1985, requesting a photo, because I couldn't find one through the usual sources. He sent this one, of himself in character for McDonald's.

Here he is in a scene from a Jack Benny Christmas Show in 1960.

And here he is in a 1981 McDonald's commercial.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ethel Merman

Ethel Merman was a star entertainer of the musical stage for many years, beginning in the 1930s. She is known for her powerfully loud voice, whether singing or talking.

Miss Merman appeared in many Broadway shows and movies, as well as guest starring on many tv shows, during her lengthy career. Among her memorable movies are "Kid Millions" (1934), co-starring with Eddie Cantor and Ann Sothern; "Anything Goes" (1936) co-starring with Bing Crosby; and "Call Me Madam" (1953), co-starring with Donald O'Connor.

In 1963, she did a very good comedy turn in Stanley Kramer's "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World". Her character, Mrs. Marcus, was the overbearing mother to Dick Shawn's character.

In 1980, I sent this photo to Miss Merman, to her residence in NYC, and she returned it within two weeks.

Here's a video of La Merman singing "There's No Business Like Show Business".

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Captain Haggerty

'Captain' Arthur Haggerty was a well-known and popular dog trainer whose "students" went on to careers as attack dogs, guard dogs, rescue dogs, bomb sniffers, and even actors and actresses.

He was an Army K-9 Unit commander, and when he left the service, he established the Captain Haggerty School for Dogs in NYC. It was there where he became known as dog-trainer to many Hollywood and Broadway stars. He also provided dogs for advertisements as well as movies and tv shows.

Capt. Haggerty was a hulking figure, 6-feet 3-inches and over 300 pounds. He did some acting himself, appearing in "Shamus" (1973) with Burt Reynolds, "Home Movies" (1980), and "Married to the Mob (1988), as well as a few others.

In early 1983, Capt. Haggerty appeared on David Letterman's tv show, talking about his career as a dog trainer, and I recall he had some dogs with him to show how they followed his training techniques. The very next day, I wrote to him, in care of the tv show, and requested a photo.
He replied more than three months later, with this letter and signed photo.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams was an English comic actor who is best remembered for his acting in the series of "Carry On..." movies, beginning in 1958. The "Carry On..." movies are a particular favorite of mine, because of their absurd and double entendre-filled humor. Some of my favorites are "Carry On Sergeant" (1958), "Carry On Nurse" (1958), "Carry On Cleo" (1964), "Carry On Cowboy" (1965), "Carry On Camping" (1968), and "Carry On At Your Convenience" (1971).

Mr. Williams was very active on British tv and stage in between his movie roles. He also had a brief recording career as a folk singer character named 'Rambling Syd Rumpo'.

I wrote to Mr. Williams 1982, requesting a photo. I sent the letter to his residence in England. He replied within one month, sending this post-card size photo.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bill Mumy

One of my favorite tv shows in the 1960s was the sci-fi series "Lost in Space". The show starred June Lockhart and Guy Williams, and among the cast playing their children were Angela Cartwright, Marta Kristen, and Billy Mumy.

Billy Mumy played the role of the youngest child, 'Will Robinson', who was seen usually in the company of the nefarious 'Dr. Zachary Smith' (played by Jonathan Harris) and the 'Robot' as they explored the environs of the uncharted planet on which they'd landed.

A few years earlier, Mr. Mumy came to prominence on an episode of "The Twilight Zone" ("It's a Good Life") in which he played an all-powerful evil child.

In subsequent years, in addition to acting, he has been a musician, instrumentalist, and voice-over artist.

I sent this photo to Mr. Mumy in 1980, to his Los Angeles residence, and he returned it within two weeks.

Billy Mumy has his own website, and it can be viewed here for lots more info about his career and what he's doing today.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gilda Radner

Gilda Radner was an actress/comedienne who is best remembered for her five years as a member of the original cast of performers on tv's "Saturday Night Live" beginning in 1975. Among her memorable characters in the sketches are the nasal-voiced broadcaster 'Roseanne Roseannadanna' and a parody of tv interviewer Barbara Walters, 'Baba Wawa'. She appeared in several feature comedies, too, her last being "Haunted Honeymoon" (1986) in which she co-starred with her husband, Gene Wilder.

I sent this photo to Ms. Radner in 1982, and she returned it within two weeks.

Ms. Radner died at the too young age of 42, after a battle with ovarian cancer for several years.

A support group for cancer patients and their families, was founded in Ms. Radner's name. It's called "Gilda's Club" and the website can be visited here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Robby Benson

Robby Benson was one of my favorite young actors of the 1970s. He appeared in many memorable roles in cinema and tv feature movies. Among his early best are: title character in "Jeremy" (1973), 'Johnny Gunther' in "Death Be Not Proud" (1975), 'Billy Joe McAllister in "Ode to Billy Joe" (1976), and 'Henry Steele' in "One on One" (1977). For the latter, he co-wrote the screenplay with his father, Jerry Segal.

I sent Mr. Benson this photo in 1980, to his Los Angeles residence, and he returned it within one month.

Robby Benson has his own website which is updated regularly and has many more details of his extensive career.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jeanie Roberts - Lost and Found!

This is a guest posting by fellow people-finder, Frank Reighter.
Jeanie Roberts, the giggling/hiccuping nurse in 1934's Academy Award nominated Three Stooges short "Men in Black", has been searched for by Ed Shifres, Bill Cappello and myself, for many years. We have found out what happened to her!

Jeanie (Jeanne) Roberts

She was born in California as Muriel J. Roberts, June 3, 1913, to Cyrus E. Roberts and Muriel Fulcher Roberts. She made 13 films (according to IMDB), beginning with "Men in Black" in 1934, and ending with "Dangerous Holiday" in 1937.

In December, 1936, she married Henry Moeller, Jr., a mortician. According to IMDB, she "Drove from Santa Monica to San Bernardino in an undertaker's ambulance to wed Henry...". She never appeared publicly as Jeanie Roberts again. It was always as Mrs. Henry Moeller. Nothing is known about what happened to the marriage, but when Henry G. Moeller died Feb. 4, 1988, his wife at that time, was Bonnie Ray Moeller.

Through researching various public documents and finding a newspaper death notice for Jeanie's father Cyrus, who died in 1958, it was discovered that Jeanie had a daughter, Barbara Siracusa, who was the informant on both Jeanie's and Jeanie's mother, Muriel Fulcher Roberts (died in 1982), death certificates. She has not, as yet, been located, and we will try to locate her because she should be able to "fill in the blanks" on Jeanie's life.

Muriel J. (Jeanie) Roberts was last married to W. Gordon Garnett, a successful surgeon, sometime around 1960. As Gini Roberts Garnett, she died April 12, 1971 at St. Vincent's Hospital in Los Angeles. She had lived at 2210 Marino Place, in San Marino, CA. She died at age 57, of bronchopneumonia, with conditions of fatty cirrhosis of the liver and subacute and chronic pancreatitis. She was buried April 16, 1971 at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA. According to a family member, only 6 people attended the burial.

Eventually an article with more details of her life may be published.

Below is a video clip of two scenes of Jeanie with The Three Stooges in "Men in Black".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jimmy Durante

Jimmy Durante was an all-around entertainer, from the early 1900s right into the 1970s. He performed on stage, in movies, on radio, and on tv during his very long career.

Mr. Durante was one of my earliest autographed photo requests. I wrote him in 1968, sending the letter to his residence in Beverly Hills, and he responded with this letter and this 5x7 photo.

For a few years following, I sent him a Christmas card. He always sent one in return, always with a theme of 'Santa playing a piano'. Below is one from 1970.

Here's a video clip from 1960 of Jimmy Durante joking and singing along with Steve Allen.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Marjorie White bio now available

This is being posted as a courtesy to Gary Olszewski, who has completed his thoroughly researched biography of 1930s actress Marjorie White, and is now making it available on CD.

Click here for my original blog posting about Gary's research.
Here are a few sample images from the CD, followed by purchasing information:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mary Wickes

Mary Wickes was an actress who began her movie career in the 1930s, and in tv shows from the 1960s into the 1990s. She is known for her supporting and character roles.

Ms. Wickes is probably best remembered for two characters - 'Marie Murkin' in the 1980s tv series "Father Dowling Mysteries" which starred Tom Bosley and Tracy Nelson, and as 'Sister Mary Lazarus' in two comedy feature movies, "Sister Act" (1992) and its sequel "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993), both starring Whoopi Goldberg.

I wrote to Ms. Wickes in 1985, to her Los Angeles residence, requesting a photo, and she sent this photo within two weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wynne Gibson

Wynne Gibson was a beautiful blonde actress who appeared in a few dozen movies of the 1930s. The movies were B-features and she played leading and supporting roles. She left the on-screen part of the movie business to become an agent.

I sent her this photo in 1981, to her residence in Laguna Niguel, California, and she returned it within two weeks.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Lowell Thomas

Lowell Thomas was a renowned broadcaster who was a well-traveled person. He broadcast his radio shows from all around the world, wherever he happened to travel. Additionally, he narrated dozens of movie travelogues in the 1930s, as well as wrote many books about his travels.

I'd heard some of his early radio broadcasts when I was collecting 'old-time radio shows' in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He always made everything so very interesting.

In 1980, I wrote to him at his residence in Pawling, New York, sending him two photos I requested he sign. He did, and returned them within one week. They can be seen here and here.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lois January

Lois January was an actress who played leading and supporting roles in many B-movies of the 1930s. She's probably best remembered today, though, for being the leading lady in several B-westerns, co-starring with 'cowboy' actors Johnny Mack Brown, Fred Scott, Bob Steele, and others. I liked her in those features, as she was very pretty and certainly a sight to see among all those rough and tumble cowboys and horses. I'd also seen her in one or two non-westerns.

In 1982, I sent her this vintage portrait, which she signed and returned within two weeks, including two 'contemporary' photos which can be seen here and here.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Virginia Sale

Virginia Sale was a character actress who appeared in nearly a couple hundred movies and several tv shows from the late 1920s until she retired in the 1970s. She was adept at playing both dramatic and comedic roles, but it's latter for which she is remembered by fans of old movies.

When I wrote to Miss Sale in 1981, she was a resident of the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California. I sent her this character pose, which she signed and returned within two weeks.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Couple of 'Paul Newman' Anecdotes

In noting the recent passing of legendary film star Paul Newman, I thought I'd relate a couple of relevant anecdotes.

Sometime in the late 1970s (could have been earlier, I really don't remember), Paul Newman's chauffeur-driven limo got a flat tire while passing through here (Mount Vernon, NY) on the northbound Hutchinson River Parkway. The driver managed to get off the highway and to a service station to have the flat changed. While waiting, Newman went to a nearby deli and bought a 6-pack of beer. Someone in the store told him he "looked like Paul Newman", and he replied, "Yeah, I get that a lot". Then he returned to his car, and he and the driver drove back onto the highway to Connecticut. This was reported in the newspaper the next day after the deli clerk called the newspaper to tell them he thought he had Paul Newman as a customer. A few phone calls from the press to Newman's public relations office, confirmed that he was, indeed, in Mount Vernon the previous day.

Another story: In my early days with DHL (mid-1980s), for the first four years my delivery route was in Fairfield County, Connecticut. One of the cities I delivered was Westport (partially, not the entire city), and two or three times, I had letters addressed to Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. I believe their house/farm was on Coleytown Road. Neither was home when I delivered, or if they were, they didn't come to the door. Instead, their housekeeper accepted and signed for the letters. She had a bit of an attitude too, sort of like "I work for the Newmans, what do YOU want from them?". Perhaps she thought I was there to ask for an autograph?

During my active years of collecting autographs, I sent photos to Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, to their home in Westport, asking them to sign them. The photos were never returned. A few years later I read an article in which was mentioned Mr. Newman did not sign autographs. The article stated that he said he always signed for people in his early days of acting, but one time, when he was in a restaurant, he got up to go to the men's room, and while standing at the urinal, somebody approached him and asked for his autograph. At that point, he decided to turn down all such requests. Some autograph seekers are overanxious and ruin it for everybody!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Glenda Jackson

Glenda Jackson is a British stage and movie actress who has been acting since the 1950s. In addition to movies, she has appeared on many tv shows and made-for-tv movies.

I enjoyed her performances in 1973's "A Touch of Class" and 1977's "Nasty Habits".

In 1981, I wrote to her, at her residence in England, requesting a photo, and she replied within one month. She sent this letter as well as this post-card size photo.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mel Blanc - 'Man of a Thousand Voices'

Mel Blanc was a comic actor who was very adept at creating voices for all types of characters, which he played on Jack Benny's radio show in the 1940s. He also had his own radio show for several years. But he is best known for the voices he created for various cartoon characters in Warner Brothers cartoons - Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Yosemite Sam - the list goes on and on.

In 1980 I wrote to Mr. Blanc and requested a photo, and he sent this one within two weeks. This is a great photo, showing him surrounded by some of the animated characters for which he provided voices. The inscription: "Eh - what's up Bill? 'Bugs Bunny & Gang' - Mel Blanc".

Here's Mr. Blanc in a well-known routine he did with Jack Benny.

And here he tells how he created the voices for the Warner Brothers cartoon characters.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

David Tomlinson

David Tomlinson was an English actor who was in movies from the 1940s into the 1970s. He had many memorable appearances, but is best remembered for his role of 'George Banks' in the 1964 Disney movie "Mary Poppins". I also remember him in "The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu", the 1980 comedy starring Peter Sellers.

In 1980, I wrote to him, at his residence in England, and requested a photo. He sent this vintage post-card size photo within one month.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ruth Donnelly

Ruth Donnelly was an actress on stage and in movies. She began her career as a teenager in about 1915, on Broadway. About the same time, she appeared in some movies. She continued to perform in plays and musicals until she went to Hollywood in the 1930s and played supporting roles in dozens of features until she retired in the 1960s.

In 1971, I read a newspaper interview which mentioned she was living in New York City. I looked up her number in the phone directory and called. She was very friendly and happy to be appreciated for her movies, especially by a person of my young age (at the time, I was 19). I asked for an autographed photo, and she sent this photo which I received within one week. The photo is a 'contemporary' portrait, as she did not have any photos from her earlier years.

Here is a vintage photo of how I remember her, as she appeared in movies of the 1930s and '40s.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dennis Patrick

Dennis Patrick was a well-known and recognizable character actor whose career began in the early 1950s. While he appeared in several feature movies, he was more prolific in tv shows, and was seen on many dozens of shows right into the 1990s.

When I first saw him in a movie, it was as the wealthy businessman character 'Bill Compton', in 1972's "Joe", which starred Peter Boyle. The movie was very controversial at the time, but by today's societal standards, it wouldn't be so.

Mr. Patrick was a New York City resident in the 1970s, and his phone number was published in the Manhattan directory. I called him shortly after seeing "Joe", to tell him I appreciated his performance. He may have been receiving crank calls about his role, because when he answered the phone and I asked, "Is this Dennis Patrick the actor?", he cautiously and slowly replied "Y-e-e-e-s-s". When I explained why I was calling, he became at ease, and after a few minutes of light conversation, I asked for an autographed photo. He took down my name and address and in a few days, I received this photo in the mail. His brief inscription: "Thanks for asking".

In 2002, Mr. Patrick died tragically, in a house fire in Los Angeles, at the age of 84.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Rhonda Fleming

Rhonda Fleming was a popular movie actress in the 1940s and '50s, and on many tv shows in the 1960s and '70s. Some of her most well-known feature roles are in "Spellbound" (1945), "Out of the Past" (1947), "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (1949), and "While the City Sleeps" (1956).

Miss Fleming was one of the most beautiful actresses in the '40s and '50s, and was nicknamed the "Queen of Technicolor" because complexion and red hair photographed exceptionally well in Technicolor films.

I sent Miss Fleming this photo in 1981, to her Los Angeles residence, and she returned it within two weeks.

While she has been retired from movies for several years, she is still very much active in humanitarian circles. She maintains her own website which can be seen here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Anna Lee

Anna Lee was an English-born actress who became popular in American movies when she moved to Hollywood in the 1940s. She appeared in several of director John Ford's movies, including "How Green Was My Valley" (1941) and "Fort Apache" (1948). She appeared in many movies during the 1940s and 1950s, and eventually worked mostly on various tv shows.

Miss Lee is probably best remembered for her character 'Lila Quartermaine' on the tv 'soap opera' "General Hospital", a role she played for many years until 2003. She died the following year.

She is yet another actress I remembered from many movies but neglected to write. In 1990, a signed post card photo (seen below) was part of a small collection I'd purchased. The post card was never mailed, as it is postage-free on the back, and was published by an English company. Since it isn't dated, I'm assuming it to be from the late 1930s-early 1940s.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Leon Askin - 'General Burkhalter'

Leon Askin was an Austrian-born veteran actor of the stage and movies for many years before he entered tv in the 1950s. He appeared on many shows in a variety of roles, both dramatic and comedic. Mr. Askin was adept at playing foreign characters who'd speak English but with a strong accent.

While I'd seen him in various movie and tv roles, it is as the character 'General Burkhalter' in the 1960s tv sitcom "Hogan's Heroes" for which I'll remember him.

In early February 1982, I sent Mr. Askin this photo, in character as 'General Burkhalter', to his residence in Beverly Hills, California. He returned it within two weeks.

Some years later, Mr. Askin returned to his native Austria where he continued to act and direct. He even had/has his personal website. The website is still online, and apparently is being maintained by somebody since Mr. Askin's death in Vienna in 2005, at age 97.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mary Treen

Mary Treen was a character actress who began her career on the vaudeville stage, and from there continued on to theater and movie and tv. Her movie career began in the 1930s in many uncredited roles. As audiences continued to recognize her, she eventually was given screen credit for whichever roles she played.

Ms. Treen was seen on many tv shows during the 1960s, '70s and '80s and was always fun to watch.

I wrote to Ms. Treen, at her Newport Beach, California residence, in 1982, requesting a photo. She sent this photo, within two weeks. It's signed on the upper left, in the dark portion of the photo.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Butterfly McQueen - 'Prissy' in "Gone With the Wind"

Butterfly McQueen was an actress who is best remembered for her role in 1939's "Gone With the Wind", as the young maid Prissy. She went on to appear in a handful of movies and several tv shows over the years.

In 1982, a friend who'd been collecting autographed photos for many years provided me with Miss McQueen's address, which was on West 144th Street in New York City's Harlem. I sent her this photo as 'Prissy', and she returned it to me within two weeks.

I'd heard from people who'd met her and/or talked to her by phone, that Miss McQueen was a very sweet lady who enjoyed being remembered for her movie role of many years earlier. This dear lady had a tragic end. In 1995, while living in Augusta, Georgia where she maintained a home during winter months, she attempted to light a kerosene heater, and it malfunctioned and burst into flames. She received burns over most of her body, and died a few days later. Her body was donated to medical science.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Henry Jones

Henry Jones was an actor best known for his character roles. He was active in movies from the 1940s, and tv shows from the 1950s into the 1990s. He is probably best remembered for his role as the father-in-law on the 1970s sitcom "Phyllis" which starred Cloris Leachman.

I wrote to Mr. Jones in 1982, to his residence in Los Angeles, requesting a photo. He sent this photo within one month.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Frances McCoy.....Search Ended

Welcome Back! I took a much-needed break from blogging, during the month of August, and now I'm back, with a new posting three times a week - Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I appreciate the comments people have made about my blog, and about my autographed photo collection in general, and I hope every reader will find future postings as informative and entertaining too.
On Thursday evening, August 21, 2008, the nearly 20-year search for actress Frances McCoy ended. Fellow 'Three Stooges supporting players' researcher Frank Reighter sent me a scan of a news article in a 1943 issue of the military publication, The Stars and Stripes. He found it in a section of the genealogy website The article was about a USO entertainment troupe touring Europe to entertain U.S. armed services personnel. One of the entertainers was "singer Frances McCoy, of New York". Reference was made to Miss McCoy looking for her brother, T/Sgt. Harry Popper, who was in the Air Corps. A photograph of Frances with some other people was included in the article.
With this new information, that her family name was "Popper", I proceeded to research the vast resources at and found her family in the 1930 US Census, living in New York City. With an approximate birth year for Harry, I then was able to locate his date of death and an obituary. The obit mentioned several survivors, but Frances was not one of them. There were a few children of Harry's, though, and I located his daughter Victoria, living in California. I called, and she confirmed that her aunt was indeed Frances McCoy, the actress who appeared in 1930's "Soup to Nuts", the first screen appearance of a group of comics who would later be known as The Three Stooges. Victoria was pleasantly surprised that people are interested in her aunt's career, and we had a lengthy conversation during which she told me some vital family history.

Frances was born in Poland, on December 25, 1910 (some sources give the year as 1912), as Franya Popowsky. Her parents were Sam and Yetta Popowsky (this name was later 'Americanized' to 'Popper'). Her family emigrated to the U.S. in about 1913-1914 and lived in New York City, until they moved to Los Angeles in 1930. Frances, who'd become a stage actress in NYC, was offered movie roles. While her movie career never took off as hoped, she continued performing in a few movie musical shorts and nightclub revues, until she married and left the business.

As Frances Katchen, she died on June 20, 1976, a resident of River Edge, New Jersey.

Frank will continue communicating with Frances' niece to obtain more information about her career, photos, etc.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Joan Crawford" Fashion Doll

This announcement is being provided as a courtesy to my friend Michelle Vogel.
Fashion doll innovator Robert Tonner, CEO of the TONNER DOLL COMPANY, returns one of Hollywood’s greatest treasures to her ardent fans! Named one of the top ten ‘Greatest Female Stars of All Time’ by the American Film Institute, Joan Crawford is sure to be named the Greatest Fashion Doll of All Time by fans and collectors everywhere.

The new Joan Crawford Fashion Doll is accurately sculpted in an amazing likeness of the Academy Award® winner herself, in cooperation with her family. "I am very pleased to work with The Tonner Doll Company in creating the first ever, authorized Joan Crawford doll collection,” said Casey LaLonde, grandson of Ms. Crawford. “Joan Crawford fans and doll collectors worldwide will be equally delighted with this high quality, life-like and collectible doll line. Tonner's attention to detail and features will make this a much sought after collection."

The approximately 16” tall starlet is crafted of fine quality vinyl and hard plastic with 13 points of articulation (neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, bustline, waist, hips, and knees), so she can recreate all of her most glamorous poses before the camera. She features high end details such hand painted facial features and hand styled, rooted saran hair.

TONNER’S Joan Crawford collection will hit specialty retail store shelves later this year. Pre-order today from any of the following authorized TONNER retailers listed below or contact us directly at the Tonner Company Store at 845-339-2960.
Angelic Dreamz (Canandaigua, NY) – Toll Free (800) 860-9934 or (585) 394-5450
Bearzabout (Duvall, WA) – Toll Free (800) 595-1050 or (425) 844-9100
Cherished Friends (Laureldale, PA) – (610) 921-9141
My Doll Shop (Mt. Dora, FL) – Toll Free 800-731-3090 or (352)735-3090
Two Day Dreamers (El Granada, CA) – Toll Free (888) 688-DOLL (3655) or (650) 563-9258


Joan Crawford Collection Product Descriptions
The Joan Crawford Collection showcases an exceptional assortment of original fashions inspired by some of her most well-known scenes.

Joan prepares herself for her next dramatic scene, in Ready for Wardrobe. These simple yet elegant undergarments include lustrous aquamarine charmeuse slip with delicate lace trim, the ‘ever important’ pantyhose with attached knit panties, and classy faux leather Mary Jane heels.

Inspired by one of her most famous roles, comes Hollywood Starlet. Joan is swathed in a frothy concoction composed of an intricately detailed white organza top and trumpet skirt with contrast black waist tie. She comes complete with a perfectly matching ribbon headband, beaded bracelet, pantyhose, and faux leather high heels.

Joan Crawford lights up the screen as Cinema Siren! This dazzling vision consists of a finely tailored suit set which includes a long, straight cut skirt and a matching jacket accented with glamorous, plush faux fur trim. Her equally striking accessories include a chic black cap, knit gloves, pantyhose, and faux leather ankle strap high heels.

“I am just too much.” In Mad About the Hat, Joan is just that. This stunning creation includes an exquisitely detailed suit set composed of a smart, fitted jacket with lavish ruffled organza collar and faux leather belt with dazzling rhinestone buckle, and matching pencil skirt. Not to be forgotten are her sophisticated portrait hat, faux suede gloves with matching ruffled organza trim, pantyhose, and faux leather peep-toe Mary Jane heels.

“I have always known what I wanted, and that was beauty... in every form.” Jungle Red is a perfect example of beauty in the form of high quality fashion. Included in this truly glamorous ensemble is a full length, pleated chiffon dress with intricate shirred detail and striking red and white contrast, paired with a perfectly coordinated beaded bracelet and faux leather strappy heels.

To face the trials and tribulations of Hollywood, one must be dressed for success. In Publicity Shoot, Joan is ready for anything in navy blue chiffon day dress featuring meticulous details including tiny buttons, contrast organza cuffs and wide collar trimmed with ruffles, matching belt, circular flounce at the hem. A stylish cloche hat with ribbon trim, faux pearl necklace, and faux leather pumps with intricate cut-out detailing complete this handsome ensemble.

Taking a 'Blog Break"

I appreciate all of the comments about my blog, and website in general, and I know this may be disappointing news to many readers, but I'm going to take a break from posting new entries to this blog for the month of August. Sort of a 'summer vacation'.

I expect to be back to posting right after Labor Day, on September 2nd, and then the postings will be three times a week, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Thanks for reading up to this point and please return when I do.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer is a singer-songwriter who accompanies himself on piano. He is primarily a satirist whose songs are very humorous and were topical during the height of his popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. I became familiar with his songs when I lived in California in 1974-76. I heard several of them on the "Dr. Demento Show" on radio Sunday evenings.

I collected his albums which were not difficult to find because they had been re-issued several times over the years, and now they're all available on cd.

In 1979, I called Mr. Lehrer, who was living in Santa Cruz, California. We had a brief conversation, during which I told him of my enjoyment and interest in his music and songs. I did ask him why he wasn't still performing, and he told me he thought that current events in the past few years were too serious to satirize. I asked if he'd send me an autographed photo, and he said he had a small snap-shot-type photo he sent to people, but asked me to write to him.

I went to my public library and found a book of his songs in sheet-music format, and copied the first page of a couple of them. I sent him the copies, and within two weeks, I received this photo from him. He also signed the copies of sheet music, which can be seen here and here.

Here are some videos of Mr. Lehrer performing some of my favorites:
"National Brotherhood Week"

"Wernher Von Braun"

"We Will All Go Together When We Go"

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Billy Halop

Billy Halop began his career as a juvenile as a juvenile actor in the Broadway production of "Dead End" in 1935. He went to Hollywood to appear in the movie version in 1937, and was known as one of the "Dead End Kids", a group which also included Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall. Future roles generally typecast him as a street-wise character who'd be on the wrong side of the law.

He continued acting on many tv shows into the 1970s. One of his last roles was as 'Bert Munson', a taxi-driving friend of 'Archie Bunker' on the 1970s sitcom "All in the Family".

Mr. Halop died in 1976, and I'd never written to him for a photo.

In 1989, through the same reliable dealer from whom I'd purchased autographs previously, I bought the photo shown below. It's a post card photo, postmarked on the back "Los Angeles, Calif. - June 8, 1940". The postage stamp was 1 cent, but the photo cost me $3.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Una Merkel

Una Merkel was a popular supporting actress in many movies of the 1930s and 1940s. She continued her acting on tv shows right into the 1970s.

I never got around to writing to her while she was still alive, and regretted it, as I wanted to tell her of my enjoyment of her portrayals of various characters, both comedic and dramatic.

In 1989, I purchased the photo seen below from an autograph dealer. It's a post card photo, and the postmark on the back is "Los Angeles, Calif. - April 12, 1937".

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ted Lewis - "Is Everybody Happy?"

Ted Lewis was a bandleader-musician-singer-entertainer from about 1915 right through the 1950s. He was famous for introducing himself and his band with the direct question to the audience, "Is everybody happy?". Another of his famous trademarks was wearing a battered top hat.

During my early years of collecting 78rpm records, I'd acquired some of his records, including one of his most popular songs, "When My Baby Smiles at Me". I liked his band's style and his pleasant singing voice.

I wrote to Mr. Lewis in the late 1960s, requesting an autographed photo. He, or his secretary, misunderstood my request apparently, because I received an unsigned photo. I didn't write again, and Mr. Lewis died a few years later, in 1971.

Many years later, in 1989, I'd made contact with a reliable autograph dealer, who was selling pieces from collections. One that was offered, for a mere $3, was a signed album page, shown below.

Here is a clip of Ted Lewis and His Band:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Binnie Barnes

Binnie Barnes was an English-born actress who appeared mostly in American-made movies when she moved to the U.S. in the 1930s. She was very prolific in supporting roles.

In 1981, I sent her this photo, to her residence in Los Angeles, and she signed and returned it within two weeks.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Elsa Lanchester

Elsa Lanchester was an English character actress who worked for many years in both the UK and US from the 1920s into the 1980s. She is best remembered for her role as the title character character in 1935's "Bride of Frankenstein", playing opposite Boris Karloff.

Miss Lanchester was married for more than thirty years to actor Charles Laughton until his death in 1962.

I remember Miss Lanchester not only for that role, but for her many appearances on tv shows in the 1960s and '70s. Her roles were varied, but usually of the comedic variety and it was always an enjoyment to see her.

In 1982 I sent Miss Lanchester this photo to her residence in Los Angeles, and she signed and returned it within two weeks.

Here she is in her first scene in "Bride of Frankenstein".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kent Smith and Edith Atwater

Kent Smith was an actor with a very long career on stage, and in movies and tv shows. He began his Broadway career in the early 1930s, and soon after, went to Hollywood and appeared in many movies over the next forty years.

Mr. Smith is best remembered in movies by me for his roles in two Val Lewton horror/suspense movies, "The Cat People" (1942), and "The Curse of the Cat People" (1944), in which he played the same character 'Oliver Reed', who was married to a woman who believed she was a victim of an ancient curse.

Mr. Smith appeared in many tv shows during the 1960s, but the one for which I best remember him, is his role as 'Edgar Scoville' in the 1967 sci-fi series "The Invaders".

He was married to an actress, Edith Atwater, since the early 1960s. In 1982, I sent a photo of each to their Los Angeles residence, and they signed and returned them within two weeks. Kent's photo can be seen here and Edith's photo can be seen here, the latter being signed on a dark portion as it was the only portrait I could find).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lauren Bacall

Lauren Bacall is an actress whose career began in the theater in the 1940s and continued into movies. She is known for her husky voice and sultry looks, which she used to advantage in many movies. Her first feature was 1944's "To Have and Have Not", in which she costarred with Humphrey Bogart, who would become her husband the following year and they would remain married until his death in 1957.

In 1980, I sent Ms. Bacall two photos, to her residence at the famed New York City Dakota Apartments. She signed both and returned them to me within one week. The photos can be seen here and here. It appears to me that she may have signed the photos hastily, as on the first one, she incorrectly spelled my last name, though it's a common error. On the second, while she spelled it correctly, her pen must have been running out of ink and she wrote over her own signature with a 'new' pen.

Here's a video of clips from "To Have and Have Not".

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Jack Wild - 'The Artful Dodger'

Jack Wild was an actor in England in the 1960s and 1970s. As a teen, he played the role of 'The Artful Dodger' in both the stage and screen versions of "Oliver!", the latter in 1968 in which he sung "Consider Yourself". He co-starred with Mark Lester, who played the title character.

In the early 1980s, I wrote to Mr. Wild, sending this photo to his residence in England. He signed and returned it within two weeks.

Mr. Wild made several other movies besides "Oliver!" and also starred in the tv series "H.R. Pufnstuf" as the character Jimmy. He also starred in the feature movie "Pufnstuf" in 1970.

In 2006, Jack Wild died at the too young age of 53. He was a victim of oral cancer, which he attributed to his use of alcohol and tobacco for many years.

Here is the lengthy musical number "Consider Yourself" from the 1968 movie "Oliver!".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Helen Kane - 'Boop Boop A Do'

Helen Kane was a popular singer of the 1920s and 1930s, first appearing in Vaudeville, then continuing on to revues, Broadway shows, and movies.

She had large eyes and black curly hair, and she sang in a cutesy squeaky voice, punctuating several of her songs with a 'boop-boop-a-do'. Her most famous song is "I Wanna Be Loved By You", but she also had hits with "Button Up Your Overcoat", "He's So Unusual", "That's My Weakness Now", and "Get Out and Get Under the Moon", among others.

Miss Kane's image and voice-likeness were used as Max Fleischer's "Betty Boop" cartoon character, but the voice was actually done by Mae Questel.

Miss Kane died in 1966, and I remember reading of her passing in the newspaper. I was familiar with her songs because I had some of them on 78rpm records.

Her husband was Dan Healy, a well-known 'Master of Ceremonies' on Broadway, as well as an owner of a popular restaurant, Healy's Grill. In 1969, during the early years of my autograph collecting, I found a phone number for Mr. Healy, who was still living in the same residence he shared with Helen, in Jackson Heights, NY. With the intention of asking if he had any photos of her, I called him, but he was not in a good mood. I asked if he was the husband of Helen Kane, and he said "Yeah yeah", and when I started to ask a few other questions and explain why I called, he said, "Look kid, will you leave me alone?". I asked what was the matter and he said he had a terrible head cold, and I'd woken him from a sound sleep. I apologized and told him I'd write a letter, and he said, "Yeah, do that!" and hung up the phone.

I did write to him, but never received a reply. Later that year, he died.

In 1990, I purchased Helen Kane's signature on an autograph album page, from a reliable autograph dealer. (The original owner presumably wrote the date "6/34" on the page).

Here's a song from a 1929 movie, with Helen Kane singing and dancing with Skeets Gallagher.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Florian ZaBach

Florian ZaBach was a musician, mastering the violin at an early age. He played popular tunes as well as classical arrangements. His most popular melody was "The Hot Canary" and a recording sold more than one million copies.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, another of my hobbies was collecting 16mm movies. I never could afford to buy feature films, so my small collection consisted mostly of comedy shorts, cartoons, and a handful of tv shows. One of the latter I purchased, as part of a collection of miscellaneous shorts, was a "Florian ZaBach Show" from 1954. I found it to be very entertaining - Mr. ZaBach had a pleasant personality as he introduced and played each melody.

I wanted to contact Mr. ZaBach to tell him how much I enjoyed the one tv show of his I'd seen. I don't remember how I found his address, but it turned out he was living in Pound Ridge, New York, about 40 minutes north of me. His phone number was listed, and I called. His wife answered, and she said he was not home at the moment. I explained my interest in Mr. ZaBach's music, and said I'd like an autographed photo. She was very cordial and appreciated my interest. She took down my address and a few days later, I received this letter from Mr. ZaBach, in which he asked me how to obtain the catalog from which I purchased his tv show. He also included this vintage photo.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Connee Boswell

Connee Boswell was a popular and successful vocalist of the late 1930s through the 1970s. In the early 1930s, she and her sisters, Martha and Vet, formed a singing group, appropriately known as The Boswell Sisters. They were known for their harmonizing and jazz vocals.

When Connee's sisters retired in the mid-1930s, Connee continued on her own. However, I still prefer her and her sisters singing together.

In the late 1980s, I purchased the autograph shown below, for about $3. It's on an autograph album page, to which the original owner attached a tiny newspaper photo of Connee.
Here's a much nicer photo of Connee.

There is a group of devotees of The Boswell Sisters, and they have a website which I recommend visiting.

Here's a tv movie from 1952 of Connee singing in her New York City apartment.

Here's a video of The Boswell Sisters from a 1932 movie, with Connee on the left.