Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Harold P. Pruett (April 13, 1969 – February 21, 2002) was an American film and television actor. He appeared in over thirty films and TV series throughout the 1970s to the 1990s.
Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Pruett made his acting debut at age five in the 1976 film Sybil, starring Sally Field. He went on to appear in Summer Camp Nightmare (1987), Embrace of the Vampire (1995) and Precious Find (1996).
During the 1970s and 1980s, Pruett guest starred on numerous television series including Wonder Woman, The New Leave It to Beaver, It's Your Move, Eye to Eye, The Best Times, Hotel and Night Court. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he danced in several music videos including two for pop singer Martika: "More Than You Know" (1989) and "Coloured Kisses" (1992).
In 1990, Pruett landed his first co-starring television role on the NBC musical teen drama Hull High. Due to low ratings, the series was canceled in October 1990 after six episodes.
Later that year, he was cast as "Steve Randle" in the television adaptation of the 1967 S. E. Hinton novel The Outsiders that aired on Fox. That series was also canceled after one season due to low ratings. From 1992 to 1993, Pruett had a recurring role as "Brad Penny" on the teen sitcom Parker Lewis Can't Lose.
In 1995, he co-starred on another short lived Fox series, Medicine Ball. His last television appearance was in a recurring role on the Fox teen drama series Party of Five, in 1996. Pruett's final film appearance was in the independent drama The Right Way (1998), starring Geoff Pierson.
On February 21, 2002, Pruett died of an accidental drug overdose in Los Angeles. His funeral was held at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on March 1 where he is interred. Pruett is survived by his wife, Jennifer Cattell, a son Tannen, his parents, Andrea and Harold, and a brother.
Pruett's mother and friends created the Harold Pruett Drug Abuse Foundation in his memory.
Year Title Role Notes
1936 College Holiday Dancer Uncredited
1981 Pennies from Heaven Minor role Uncredited
1987 Summer Camp Nightmare Chris Wade Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1988 Spellcaster Tom
1995 Embrace of the Vampire Chris Credited as Harrison Pruett
1996 Precious Find Ben Rutherford
1998 The Right Way
Year Title Role Notes
1976 Sybil Danny Miniseries
1978 Wonder Woman Boy Episode: "Stolen Faces"
1979 Mirror, Mirror Joey McLaren Television movie
1982 Crisis Counselor Episode: "Pill Addiction"
1983 ABC Afterschool Special Neighbor boy Episode: "The Woman Who Willed a Miracle"
1985 The New Leave It to Beaver Ron Episode: "Movin' On"
1985 It's Your Move Boy No. 1 Episode: "The Dregs of Humanity" (Part 1) 1985 Eye to Eye Episode: "Dick and Tracey"
Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1985 The Best Times Wally Episode: "Snake Meat"
Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1985 Hotel Rod Episode: "Wins and Losses"
1985 Night Court Joey Episode: "Wheels of Justice" (Part 1)
Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1987 Our House Mike Episode: "The 100 Year Old Weekend"
Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1987 21 Jump Street Elly Episode: "Blindsided"
1988 The Fortunate Pilgrim Gino Miniseries
Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1988 ABC Afterschool Special Gary Watson Episode: "Daddy Can't Read"
1988 Scandal in a Small Town Michael Bishop Television movie
Credited as Harold P. Pruett
1988 Aaron's Way Tony Falcone Episode: "Strong Foundations"
1989 I Know My First Name is Steven Birch Miniseries
1990 Lucky Chances Dario Santangelo Miniseries
1990 Hull High Cody Rome 6 episodes
1990 The Outsiders Steve Randle 13 episodes
1990 Heat Wave John Riggs Television movie
1992-1993 Parker Lewis Can't Lose Brad Penny 8 episodes
1993 Walker, Texas Ranger Ned Buchanon Episode: "Bounty"
1995 Medicine Ball Harley Spencer 8 episodes
1995 Divas Television movie
1996 The Perfect Daughter Ben Rutherford Television movie
1996 Party of Five Cooper Voight 3 episodes
1. Lentz, Harris M., III (2003). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2002: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture. McFarland. p. 246. ISBN 0-786-45207-2.
2. Weinstein, Steve (October 25, 1990). "NBC Pulls Plug on 'Hull High'". Los Angeles Times. latimes.com.
3. "The Outsiders". Television Obscurities. tvobscurtities.com. February 1, 2004.
4. "Cancellations mean Seattle is getting a lot less television exposure these days". Baltimore Sun. baltimoresun.com. June 21, 1995.
5. "Harold Pruett". Variety. variety.com. February 2002.
6. "Harold Pruett". Los Angeles Times. latimes.com. February 27, 2002.
7. Cabe, Matthew (January 2, 2016). "'It's a big deal now'". Daily Press. vvdailypress.com.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Madge Blake (née Cummings; May 31, 1899 – February 19, 1969) was an American character actress best remembered for her roles as Larry Mondello's mother, Margaret Mondello, on the CBS/ABC sitcom Leave it to Beaver, as Flora MacMichael on the ABC/CBS sitcom The Real McCoys, and as Aunt Harriet Cooper in 96 episodes of ABC's Batman.
Gene Kelly had a special affection for her and included her in each of his films following her role in An American in Paris.
Early life Blake was born in Kinsley, Edwards County, south-central Kansas, to Albert Cummings and the former Alice Stone. Her father was a Methodist circuit rider who discouraged her from becoming an actress, thus she did not enter acting until later in life, despite her family's relocation from Kansas to Southern California.
During World War II, her husband, James Lincoln Blake, and she worked in Utah on construction of the detonator for the atomic bomb and performed such jobs as testing equipment destined for the Manhattan Project. The couple received a citation for their work from the U.S. government.
Although five years his senior, Blake was a niece of actor Milburn Stone, who filled the role of Doc Adams on CBS's Gunsmoke Western series. She did not begin to study acting until she was 50 years old, when she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse and took advantage of whatever influence or contacts Milburn Stone had to land acting roles.
"Leave It To Beaver"
In the middle 1950s, Blake appeared on Rod Cameron's City Detective syndicated crime drama and in Ray Milland's sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley, renamed in the second season as The Ray Milland Show. Blake appeared in four episodes of the NBC sitcom It's a Great Life (1954–1956) and twice on CBS's December Bride, with Spring Byington.
Blake portrayed gushy gossip columnist Dora Bailey in Singin' in the Rain (1952) and was a model for one of the fairies in Walt Disney's animated version of Sleeping Beauty (1959). She appeared as Mrs. Porter, a babysitter, in the 1959 pilot of CBS's Dennis the Menace. About this time, she was cast in a guest-starring role in the sitcoms, Guestward, Ho!, with Joanne Dru on ABC, and Angel, with Annie Fargé on CBS. In 1961, she guest-starred in the episode "A View of Murder" of the syndicated crime drama The Brothers Brannagan. Blake's Flora MacMichael was a romantic foil to Walter Brennan's Grandpa Amos McCoy on The Real McCoys, a situation comedy about a West Virginia mountain family that relocated to Southern California.
Prior to her role in Batman, she had a recurring role on The Jack Benny Program as the president of the Jack Benny Fan Club - Pasadena Chapter. She played Millie Brinkerhoff in the episode "Instant Wedding" in the 1963 NBC military drama The Lieutenant starring Gary Lockwood in the title role. Blake appeared in the pilot episode of The Addams Family (broadcast in the U.S in September 1964) as Miss Comstock, an official from the Addams' children's school.
Blake also appeared in a memorable episode of I Love Lucy in 1957 with George Reeves guest-starring as Superman and in an earlier episode in 1954 as store clerk, Mrs. Mulford. She played the mother of Joey Barnes on The Joey Bishop Show from 1961 to 1964.
At one point, the producers of Batman wanted to fire Blake for unknown reasons. Adam West, with whom she had become friends, stood up for her and she kept her job. The next day, he found a freshly baked cake in his dressing room.
Declining health and death
Declining health caused her role as Aunt Harriet to be reduced, and with the introduction of Batgirl in the third and final season of Batman, she appeared in only two episodes that season in a guest role. Shortly before her death, she appeared as Mrs. Hardy in the episode "The Con Man" of the CBS sitcom, The Doris Day Show.
She died in February, 1969 at the age of 69. She is buried at Grand View Memorial Park and Crematory in Glendale, California.
Two Sisters from Boston (1946) as Opera Chorus Member (uncredited)
Adam's Rib (1949) as Mrs. Bonner - Adam's Mother (uncredited)
A Life of Her Own (1950) as Regent Studios' Wardrobe Woman (uncredited)
Between Midnight and Dawn (1950) as Mrs. Mallory
M (1951) as Police Station Witness (uncredited)
The Prowler (1951) as Martha Gilvray
No Questions Asked (1951) as Mrs. Brent - Ellen's Landlady (uncredited)
Queen for a Day (1951) as Mrs. Kimpel, High Diver segment
An American in Paris (1951) as Edna Mae Bestram (uncredited)
Rhubarb (1951) as Mrs. Emily Thompson (uncredited)
Little Egypt (1951)
A Millionaire for Christy (1951) as Mrs. Rapello (scenes deleted)
Finders Keepers (1952) as Undetermined Role
Singin' in the Rain (1952) as Dora Bailey (uncredited)
Skirts Ahoy! (1952) as Mrs. Jane Vance (uncredited)
Washington Story (1952) as Woman Bystander (uncredited)
It Grows on Trees (1952) as Woman (uncredited)
Something for the Birds (1952) as Mrs. J.L. Chadwick
The Iron Mistress (1952) as Mrs. Cuny (uncredited)
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) as Mrs. Rosser (uncredited)
It Happens Every Thursday (1953) as Clubwoman (uncredited)
The Band Wagon (1953) as Investor (uncredited)
Dangerous Crossing (1953) as Ship's Passenger at Purser's Office (uncredited)
The Long, Long Trailer (1953) as Aunt Anastacia
Rhapsody (1954) as Mrs. Cahill
Fireman Save My Child (1954) as Mrs. Spencer - Fire Commissioner's Wife
Brigadoon (1954) as Mrs. McIntosh (uncredited)
Ricochet Romance (1954) as Dowager (uncredited)
Athena (1954) as Mrs. Smith (uncredited)
Ain't Misbehavin' (1955) as Mrs. Hildegarde Grier (uncredited)
The Private War of Major Benson (1955) as Woman at Airport (uncredited)
It's Always Fair Weather (1955) as Mrs. Stamper (uncredited)
The Tender Trap (1955) as Society Reporter (uncredited)
Glory (1956) as Aunt Martha (uncredited)
Please Murder Me (1956) as Jenny (uncredited)
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956) as Commentator on TV (uncredited)
You Can't Run Away from It (1956) as Proprietor's Wife (uncredited)
Kelly and Me (1957) as Stout Woman (uncredited)
All Mine to Give (1957) as Woman who opens door (uncredited)
Designing Woman (1957) as Party Guest (uncredited)
Loving You (1957) as Hired Agitator (uncredited)
The Heart Is a Rebel (1958) as Mrs. Carlson
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) as Mrs. Kilkinny (scenes deleted)
Bells Are Ringing (1960) as Woman on Street (uncredited)
Sergeants 3 (1962) as Mrs. Parent (uncredited)
Looking for Love (1964) as Mrs. Press (uncredited)
Joy in the Morning (1965) as Miss Vi (uncredited)
The Trouble with Angels (1966) as Exasperated Lady on Train (uncredited)
The Last of the Secret Agents? (1966) as Middle-Aged Lady at Topless a Go-Go (uncredited)
Batman (1966) as Aunt Harriet Cooper
Follow Me, Boys! (1966) as Cora Anderson (uncredited)
1. Office of Scientific Research and Development website
2. Beccy Tanner (August 20, 2012). "Madge Blake stood out in small roles". The Wichita Eagle.
Sunday, February 11, 2018
Eleanor Torrey Powell (November 21, 1912 – February 11, 1982) was an American dancer and actress.
Best remembered for her exuberant solo tap numbers in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s, Powell began studying ballet aged six and began dancing at nightclubs in Atlantic City before she was a teenager. From the age of sixteen, she began studying tap and started appearing in musical revues on Broadway, before making her Hollywood debut as a featured dancer in the movie George White's Scandals (1935).
She was known as one of MGM's top dancing stars during the Golden Age of Hollywood in a series of musical vehicles tailored especially for her talents, such as Born to Dance (1936), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937) and Rosalie (1937), believed to be equalled only by Fred Astaire in terms of dancing talent. In 1965, she was named the World’s Greatest Tap Dancer by the Dance Masters of America.
Powell was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. A dancer since childhood, she was discovered at the age of 11 by the head of the Vaudeville Kiddie revue, Gus Edwards. When she was 17, she brought her graceful, athletic style to Broadway, where she starred in various revues and musicals. During this time, she was dubbed "the world's greatest tap dancer" due to her machine-gun footwork, and in the early 1930s appeared as a chorus girl in a couple of early, inconsequential musical films.
Road to Hollywood
In 1935, the leggy, fresh-faced Powell made the move to Hollywood and did a speciality number in her first major film, George White's 1935 Scandals which she later described as a disaster because she was accidentally made up to look like an Egyptian. The experience left her unimpressed with Hollywood and when she was courted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she initially refused their offers of a contract. Reportedly, Powell attempted to dissuade the studio by making what she felt were unreasonable salary demands, but MGM agreed to them and she finally accepted. The studio groomed her for stardom, making minimal changes in her makeup and conduct.
She was well received in her first starring role in 1935 At Home Abroad (in which she was supported by Jack Benny and Frances Langford), and delighted 1930s audiences with her endless energy and enthusiasm, not to mention her stunning dancing. According to dancer Ann Miller, quoted in the "making-of" documentary That's Entertainment! III, MGM was headed for bankruptcy in the late 1930s, but the films of Eleanor Powell, particularly Broadway Melody of 1936, were so popular they made the company profitable again. Miller also credits Powell for inspiring her own dancing career, which would lead her to become an MGM musical star a decade later.
Powell would go on to star opposite many of the decade's top leading men, including James Stewart, Robert Taylor, Fred Astaire, George Murphy, Nelson Eddy, and Robert Young. Among the films she made during the height of her career in the mid-to-late 1930s were Born to Dance (1936), Rosalie (1937), Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), Honolulu (1939), and Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940). All of these movies featured her amazing solo tapping, although her increasingly huge production numbers began to draw criticism. Her characters also sang, but Powell's singing voice was usually (but not always) dubbed. (This would also happen to one of Powell's successors, Cyd Charisse). Broadway Melody of 1940, in which Powell starred opposite Fred Astaire, featured an acclaimed musical score by Cole Porter.
Together, Astaire and Powell danced to Porter's "Begin the Beguine," which is considered by many to be one of the greatest tap sequences in film history. According to accounts of the making of this film, including a documentary included on the DVD release, Astaire was somewhat intimidated by Powell, who was considered the only female dancer ever capable of out-dancing Astaire. In his autobiography Steps in Time, Astaire remarked, "She 'put 'em down like a man,' no ricky-ticky-sissy stuff with Ellie. She really knocked out a tap dance in a class by herself."
Decline in popularity
Following Broadway Melody of 1940 Powell was sidelined for many months following a gall stone operation and things changed somewhat for the worse, at least as far as Powell's movie career was concerned. Lady Be Good (1941) gave Powell top billing and a classic dance routine to "Fascinatin' Rhythm." The same happened with Red Skelton in Ship Ahoy (1942) and I Dood It (1943), although in Ship Ahoy her character nonetheless played a central role in the story, and Powell's dance skills were put to practical use when she manages to tap out a morse code message to a secret agent in the middle of a dance routine.
In a routine from Ship Ahoy, she dances to the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra with Buddy Rich on drums and the two perform a great musical partnership with the number "Tallulah." She was signed to play opposite Dan Dailey in For Me and My Gal in 1942, but the two actors were removed from the picture during rehearsals and replaced by Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. Later, production of a new Broadway Melody film that would have paired Powell with Kelly was also cancelled.
She parted ways with MGM in 1943 after her next film, Thousands Cheer, in which she appeared only for a few minutes to perform a specialty number (as part of an all-star cast), and the same year married actor Glenn Ford. She danced in a giant pinball machine in Sensations of 1945 (1944) for United Artists, but the film was a critical and commercial disappointment. Her performance was overshadowed by what was to be the final film appearance of W. C. Fields. She then retired to concentrate on raising her son, actor Peter Ford, who was born that year (although she did appear in a couple of documentary-style short subjects about celebrities in the late 1940s). Overseas audiences did get to see one additional Powell dance performance in 1946, however, when the compilation The Great Morgan was released, which included a number that had been cut from Honolulu.
In 1950, Powell returned to MGM one last time in Duchess of Idaho, starring Esther Williams. Appearing as herself in a nightclub scene, a hesitant Powell is invited to dance by Van Johnson's character, and she begins with a staid, almost balletic performance until she is chided by Johnson for being lazy. She then strips off her skirt, revealing her famous legs, and proceeds to perform a "boogie-woogie"-style specialty number very similar to the one she performed in Thousands Cheer seven years earlier. Williams, in her autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid, writes of being touched, watching Powell rehearsing until her feet bled, in order to make her brief appearance as perfect as possible.
Later career: TV and stage
After Duchess of Idaho, Powell returned to private life. In May 1952, she emerged as a guest star on an episode of All Star Revue with Danny Thomas and June Havoc. Around this time, she was ordained a minister of the Unity Church and later hosted an Emmy Award-winning Sunday morning TV program for youth entitled The Faith of Our Children (1953–1955). Her son, Peter Ford, was a regular on this show and would later find his own success as a rock and roll singer and as an actor. In 1955, Powell made her last-ever film appearance when she appeared in Have Faith in Our Children, a three-minute short film produced for the Variety Club of Northern California in which Powell asked viewers to donate to the charity. The short, which other than its title had no relation to the TV series, marked the only time Powell appeared on screen with Glenn Ford.
Powell divorced Ford in 1959, and that year, encouraged by Peter, launched a highly publicized nightclub career, including appearances at Lou Walter's Latin Quarter in Boston. She maintained her good figure and looks well into middle age. Her live performances continued well into the 1960s.
During the early 1960s she made several guest appearances on variety TV programs, including The Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace. She made her final public appearance in 1981 at a televised American Film Institute tribute to Fred Astaire, where she received a standing ovation.
Eleanor Powell died February 11, 1982, of cancer, aged 69, and was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood in the Cathedral Mausoleum, Foyer Niche 432, Tier 3.
Powell was reintroduced to audiences in the popular That's Entertainment! documentary in 1974, and its sequels That's Entertainment Part II (1976) and That's Entertainment! III (1994) and the related film That's Dancing! (1985) which spotlight her dancing from films such as Broadway Melody of 1940, Lady Be Good, and Born to Dance. She is one of only a few performers to be the subject of spotlight segments (as opposed to being included in a montage with other performers) in all four films. That's Entertainment! III is notable for including behind-the-scenes footage of her "Fascinatin' Rhythm" routine from Lady Be Good.
Powell's films continue to be broadcast on television regularly by Turner Classic Movies, with most released in the VHS video format in 1980s and 1990s. North American DVD release of her work has been slower in coming. Aside from clips from her films being included in the aforementioned That's Entertainment! trilogy, plus clips that were featured in other releases such as the 2002 special edition DVD release of Singin' in the Rain, it wasn't until the 2003 DVD release of Broadway Melody of 1940 that a complete Powell film was released in the format. In February 2007, Warner Home Video announced plans to release a boxed DVD set of Eleanor Powell's musical films by year end. This did not occur; instead, on April 8, 2008 Warner released a third boxed set in the Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory series, with nine films, four of which star Powell: Broadway Melody of 1936, Born to Dance, Broadway Melody of 1938, and Lady Be Good. The films are expected to be released in individual two film sets (the two Broadway Melody films in one set, Born to Dance/Lady Be Good on the other) later in the year. Since 2007 several other Powell films have emerged on DVD, including Rosalie, I Dood It and Sensations of 1945.
Queen High (1930)
George White's 1935 Scandals (1935)
Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)
Born to Dance (1936)
Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937)
Broadway Melody of 1940 (1940)
Lady Be Good (1941)
Ship Ahoy (1942)
Thousands Cheer (1943)
I Dood It (1943)
Sensations of 1945 (1944)
Duchess of Idaho (1950)
No Contest! (1934)
Screen Shapshots Series 15, No. 12 (1936)
Screen Snapshots: Famous Hollywood Mothers (1947)
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Holiday (1948)
Have Faith in Our Children (1955)
1. Schultz, p. 25
2. "Ellie wins an Emmy", Screen Stories June 1955, p. 66
3. Live Chat with Warner Home Video at the Wayback Machine
Margie Schultz: Eleanor Powell: A Bio-Bibliography, Greenwood Press, 1994, ISBN 0-313-28110-6