Thursday, November 12, 2009

Grace McDonald

Grace McDonald was an actress/singer/dancer. She appeared in a couple of dozen features in the early to mid-1940s, but I remember her as 'Kitty' in Abbott & Costello's 1943 feature "It Ain't Hay".

She retired rather abruptly when she got married, and moved to Minnesota, where she and her husband raised their family.

I was given an address for her, by another autograph collector, in the early 1980s, and sent her a photo to sign. She did, but she used a ballpoint pen, resulting in a barely legible signature. If you look very closely, you may see the very light image of a signature on the lower right of this photo.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

James Ellison

James Ellison was an actor who appeared in many movies from the 1930s right into the early 1950s. While he played a variety of roles, he is remembered for his roles in many B-Westerns, though he did have a major role in Cecil B. DeMille's epic 1936 feature, "The Plainsman", in which he played the real-life 'Buffalo Bill Cody'.

Mr. Ellison had his own short-lived series of Westerns in the 1950s, in which his character was 'Shamrock Ellison'. Some of those titles are "Hostile Country", "Crooked River", and "Fast on the Draw".

But I knew him for only one role - that of 'Wesley Rand', in the 1943 horror classic "I Walked With a Zombie".

When I was looking for a photo to send to him for signing, I was only able to find one of him in a western costume. I sent it to him in the early 1980s, to his residence in Montecito, and he promptly signed and returned it. The photo can be seen here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Heather Angel

Heather Angel was an English actress whose film appearances were primarily in the 1930s and 1940s. She appeared in movies in England and the United States.

Some of her most memorable roles were in "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (1932), "Mystery of Edwin Drood" (1935), "It Happened in New York" (1935), "The Last of the Mohicans" (1936), and in a few entries of the "Bulldog Drummond" series. Later she did voice work for Walt Disney animated features, most notably "Alice in Wonderland" (1951) and "Peter Pan" (1953). In the 1960s she appeared on several tv shows, including "Peyton Place" and "Family Affair".

In the early 1980s, I sent a vintage portrait photo to Miss Angel, to her residence in Santa Barbara, California, and she signed and returned it within two weeks. It can be viewed here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Gary Owens

Gary Owens is a well-known voice actor who's had an extensive career on radio and television. His baritone voice is immediately recognizable. His career began in the 1950s, and continues to this day.

Mr. Owens has voiced several cartoon characters, many during the 1960s, such as "Roger Ramjet" and "Space Cadet", but is best remembered for appearing as the announcer on "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" tv ensemble comedy series in the late 1960s. Further details about his lengthy career can be found on various websites.

In 1974, while I was living in North Hollywood, California, Gary Owens had a radio show on KMPC Los Angeles, on which he'd perform brief comedy skits and monologues, as well as play records. I wrote to him, requesting an autographed photo, and he kindly obliged with this one.

In 2004, Mr. Owens wrote a book, How to Make a Million Dollars With Your Voice, which not only gives advice on how to get into the business, but also has anecdotes about the many people with whom he worked over the years.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tippi Hedren

The fifth person I wanted to meet at the Chiller Expo was Tippi Hedren. Ms. Hedren has been acting for more than 50 years, but is best remembered for her roles in two Alfred Hitchcock films, "The Birds" (1963) and "Marnie" (1964).

While Ms. Hedren has appeared in many features and also guest-starred on tv shows, she has devoted much of her personal time to The Roar Foundation and The Shambala Preserve, which cares for endangered exotic big 'cats' such as African lions, Bengal tigers, leopards, mountain lions, and others.

I bought this photo from Ms. Hedren, which she signed with a silver marker. Her fee was $25. She was one of the few celebrities who was also charging a fee to have a picture taken with her, and because of limited funds, I had to pass on it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gary Conway

Continuing with the celebrities I met at the Chiller Theatre Expo in April, next is Gary Conway. Mr. Conway first became known to me on the late 1960s tv science fiction show "Land of the Giants", on which he played the character 'Capt. Steve Burton'.

Mr. Conway had been an actor since the late 1950s, appearing in several feature films, as well as guest-starring on various tv shows. One of his earliest starring tv roles was as 'Detective Tim Tilson' on the mid-1960s series "Burke's Law" which starred Gene Barry as the title character 'Amos Burke'. I have belatedly become a fan of this series as it has recently been released on dvd.

Mr. Conway was another cordial person at the Chiller Expo, and he, too, was situated in the tent behind the hotel. We talked briefly about his time on "Burke's Law", of which he had fond memories.

Here is a photo of him and me.

And here is a vintage portrait photo he signed, for $20.