Tuesday, January 31, 2017

AUDIO ASPIRIN: I'M A FOOL TO CARE

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BING AND SPARK PLUGS

Like I have said before, Bing was so popular that he could sell ice to an Eskimo. Here is an advertisement Bing did selling spark plugs. This was from 1950 and also has a pitch for the newest Crosby film Mr. Music. Do these cars today even contain spark plugs?



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

SPOTLIGHT ON LEON ERROL

Anyone who knows me, knows that my love of classic movies basically started with watching Bing Crosby movies. Years ago I was watching the Bing Crosby-Carole Lombard film We're Not Dressing from 1934, and what I liked about the film, (next to Bing's singing) was the comedic appearance of character actor Leon Errol. His bits were sort of corny, but I found myself laughing at some of them! Errol was born Leonce Errol Sims in Sydney in 1891, Errol had toured Australia, New Zealand and the UK in a variety of theatrical settings, including circuses, operettas, and Shakespeare, by the time he arrived on the west coast of the U.S. in 1905. In Portland, Oregon he managed a touring vaudeville company troupe, giving an early boost to the career of a young comedian named Roscoe Arbuckle.

By 1911 Errol had graduated to the New York big time in the 1911 Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway, notably in two skits with the legendary Bert Williams. Errol's sister, Leda Errol (née Sims) was a personal friend of Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice, and she appeared with him in the Ziegfeld Follies doing one and two act plays. He appeared every year in the Follies through 1915, when he is also credited as director of the show that included W.C. Fields, Ed Wynn, as well as Marion Davies as one of the Ziegfeld Girls.


Errol made his first film, a comic short subject called Nearly Spliced, in 1916 (it was not released before 1921), for pioneering east-coast producer George Kleine. By 1930 he'd left Broadway and turned his full attention to movies, third-billed for Samuel Goldwyn's One Heavenly Night in 1931. The box-office for that film was disappointing, but overall Errol made a smooth transition to films in a variety of comedy roles. His comic trademark was a wobbly, unsteady walk, moving as though on rubber legs; this bit served him well in drunk routines.


Errol starred in a long string of two-reel comedy shorts, which began at Columbia Pictures in 1933. He also starred in two early three-strip Technicolor shorts made at Warner Brothers, Service With a Smile (released 28 July 1934) and Good Morning, Eve! (released August 5), just beating the RKO Radio Pictures release La Cucaracha (31 August) as the first live action, wholly Technicolor release.

Moving to RKO Radio Pictures in 1934, he continued to make six shorts per year until his death in 1951. Most of these were marital farces in which Leon would get mixed up with a pretty girl or an involved business proposition, and face the wrath of his wife (usually Dorothy Granger); the theme tune to the series was the nursery rhyme, London Bridge Is Falling Down.


Leon Errol is well remembered for his energetic performances in the Mexican Spitfire movies opposite Lupe Vélez (1939–43), in which Errol had the recurring dual role of affable Uncle Matt and foggy British nobleman Lord Epping. Monogram signed Errol to appear as fight manager Knobby Walsh in the eight entries of their "Joe Palooka" sports comedies (1946–50). Leon Errol's most famous non-series appearance is in the nonsensical comedy feature Never Give a Sucker an Even Break (1941), starring fellow vaudeville and Ziegfeld alumnus W. C. Fields. Errol's next-to-last film, Lord Epping Returns in 1951, reprised his famous characterization (and some of the gags) from Mexican Spitfire.

Footage from Errol's short subjects was incorporated into RKO's compilation features Variety Time, Make Mine Laughs, Footlight Varieties, and Merry Mirthquakes. RKO kept Leon Errol in the public eye by reissuing his older comedies through the mid-1950s. His RKO shorts soon became a staple of syndicated television.

Errol married Stella Chatelaine in Denver, Colorado in 1906. She died on November 7, 1946 in Los Angeles. Five years later Errol suffered a fatal heart attack, on October 12, 1951, aged 70. They had no children. Leon Errol never received the fame of some character actors did, but his comedic timing highlighted many great films of the 1930s....


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

REST IN PEACE: BUDDY BREGMAN

Buddy Bregman, the talented orchestra leader who was a driving force on many great LPs of the 1950s and 1960s has died. Bregman backed Bing on his excellent album "Bing Sings Whilst Bregman Swings" in 1956...







Sunday, January 8, 2017

BARRY FITZGERALD - 1945

Here is a charming article that appeared in the New York Times on  January 14, 1945. It detailed actor Barry Fitzgerald's rise in fame and how he dealt with it...



Fitzgerald Meets Fame — and He Frowns
By FRED STANLEY

HOLLYWOOD — In Hollywood these days everyone, it seems, is excited about Barry Fitzgerald - except Barry Fitzgerald. On the basis of his performance as the whimsical, petulant old parish priest in Paramount's ''Going My Way,'' the New York critics have just given him their award for the best film acting of the year.

Today Barry Fitzgerald is in greater demand by the studios than any character has ever been in the history of the film city. One conservative estimate, by people who figure such things out, has it that if the 56-year-old Irish actor accepted all of the parts that have been offered to him in the past four months he would be working in front of the cameras, night and day, for the next two years. Film producers calculate that Fitzgerald's name in the cast of one of their products now means increased returns at the box office. That fact explains an increase in his ''per picture'' pay to $75,000 more than three times his pre-''Going My Way'' rate.

To all of which Barry Fitzgerald says: ''I am now just another Hollywood celebrity and that's downright boring.'' He doesn't understand why being a successful actor should mean that he can, per se, set the general public an example by smoking so and so's cigarettes or wearing this or that brand of underwear.


Gone are the days, he will regretfully tell you, when he could walk down the street unrecognized and just watch people go by. Now the people watch Barry Fitzgerald go by. In Hollywood he is too easily recognized, pointed out, stared at and besieged by that curious American phenomenon, the autograph seeker.

He finds it all rather bewildering. He resents the disruption of his previously inconspicuous private life. He can't even browse in Los Angeles book shops or join in a discussion with strangers at some out-of-the-way barroom or drug store without being tagged as Father Fitzgibbon. His old clothes and cloth cap, which once kept him inconspicuous, now make him a marked man.

And along with fame have come obligations - obligations which are particularly distressing to Mr. Fitzgerald, who cheerfully admits to being a ''very lazy man.'' Fame has brought sacks full of fan mail to be answered. It has resulted in invitations to parties and social events - for he is now being recognized, even by some of the town's so-called ''greats.''


Sunday, January 1, 2017

BING AND JERRY LEWIS

I usually do not trash a fellow artist and talent - especially on this blog but there is something wrong with Jerry Lewis. At this time of the year we get to hear the timeless Christmas recordings that Bing sang, which is great. However, the abuse stories and negative articles come out about Bing's personality and demeanor as well. I usually take these with a grain of salt, but I want to respond to an interview that Jerry Lewis recently gave.

Jerry Lewis, who recently appeared in the news for an extremely awkward seven-minute interview with the Hollywood Reporter in which he gives short one-word answers and antagonizes his younger interviewer, gave a more engaging talk to WTF Podcast host Marc Maron in September of this year.

Maron sat on the interview until recently because, while entertaining and informative, the interview ends abruptly when Lewis decides he’s tired of answering questions.

Maron managed to get more out of Lewis than THR, though, and one juicy part came at the end when Jerry discussed Bing Crosby.

“Bing Crosby was an independent son of a b***h,” Lewis says with a tinge of disgust in his voice.” When Maron asked if that meant Bing was “not a nice guy,” Lewis responded, “I didn’t say that. I can only say that I did not enjoy his company.”

Lewis speculated Crosby didn’t like him because “he thought I would take his toop (toupee) off.”

“We went and did a telethon for needy children. I walk on stage and Bing, he walked the other way. Never did talk to him again,” Lewis said, adding that “he did it out of fear.”

“He feared that I would do something nuts to him. He had five sons, who thought he was a schmuck, too,” Lewis said.


I take what Jerry Lewis as the ramblings of a frail and bitter entertainer. Mickey Rooney was the same way. Rooney even at one point said "Bing never even entertained the troops". As for Lewis, Bing did not have five children, and even after the supposed telethon mishap, Bing did talk to Jerry. Jerry obviously has a selective memory as he has forgotten the times he subsequently golfed with Bing, had dinner with him in London and was invited to play in the Crosby Pro-Am. Bing and Dean Martin also gatecrashed the Eddie Fisher show on which Jerry was guesting in 1958. In my opinion, Bing did  not run in the same crowd as Jerry. Lewis, who stopped being even remotely funny after Dean Martin dumped him sixty years ago. Lewis is one of the most notorious miserable people in Hollywood to this day.

It's sad when an aging star has to resort to spreading gossip about a fellow star who has been dead nearly 40 years. What is next - Jerry Lewis to say that Al Jolson beat him? Even though Bing died too young in 1977 at the age of 74, we did not see Bing because truly elderly. We have the misfortune now of seeing Jerry Lewis now as a faded star and an obviously miserable and angry man...