Friday, October 24, 2014
Stephen Lee (November 11, 1955 – August 14, 2014) was an American actor from Englewood, New Jersey. This video includes his appearance in: "Hart to Hart," DOLLS, "Roseanne," "Star Trek: The Next Generation," "Babylon 5," "Roseanne and Tom: Behind the Scenes," "Everyone Loves Raymond," 'Cybill," "Seinfeld," "Becker," "Chicago Hope," "Nip/Tuck," and "Fear Itself."
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Al Jolson (May 26, 1886 – October 23, 1950) was an American singer, comedian, and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer."
His performing style was brash and extroverted, and he popularized a large number of songs that benefited from his "shamelessly sentimental, melodramatic approach." Numerous well-known singers were influenced by his music, including Bing Crosby Judy Garland, rock and country entertainer Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bob Dylan, who once referred to him as "somebody whose life I can feel." Broadway critic Gilbert Seldes compared him to "the Greek God Pan," claiming that Jolson represented "the concentration of our national health and gaiety."
In the 1930s, he was America's most famous and highest-paid entertainer. Between 1911 and 1928, Jolson had nine sell-out Winter Garden shows in a row, more than 80 hit records, and 16 national and international tours. Although he's best remembered today as the star in the first (full length) talking movie, The Jazz Singer in 1927, he later starred in a series of successful musical films throughout the 1930s. After a period of inactivity, his stardom returned with the 1946 Oscar-winning biographical film, The Jolson Story. Larry Parks played Jolson with the songs dubbed in with Jolson’s real voice. A sequel, Jolson Sings Again, was released in 1949, and was nominated for three Oscars. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jolson became the first star to entertain troops overseas during World War II, and again in 1950 became the first star to perform for G.I.s in Korea, doing 42 shows in 16 days. He died just weeks after returning to the U.S., partly due to the physical exertion of performing. Defense Secretary George Marshall afterward awarded the Medal of Merit to Jolson's family.
According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, "Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock 'n' roll." Being the first popular singer to make a spectacular "event" out of singing a song, he became a “rock star” before the dawn of rock music. His specialty was building stage runways extending out into the audience. He would run up and down the runway and across the stage, "teasing, cajoling, and thrilling the audience", often stopping to sing to individual members, all the while the "perspiration would be pouring from his face, and the entire audience would get caught up in the ecstasy of his performance". According to music historian Larry Stempel, "No one had heard anything quite like it before on Broadway." Author Stephen Banfield agrees, writing that Jolson's style was "arguably the single most important factor in defining the modern musical…"
He enjoyed performing in blackface makeup—a theatrical convention since the mid-19th century. With his unique and dynamic style of singing black music, like jazz and blues, he was later credited with single-handedly introducing African-American music to white audiences. As early as 1911 he became known for fighting against anti-black discrimination on Broadway. Jolson's well-known theatrics and his promotion of equality on Broadway helped pave the way for many black performers, playwrights, and songwriters, including Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Ethel Waters.
In 1906, while living in San Francisco, Jolson met dancer Henrietta Keller, and the two engaged in a year-long relationship before marrying in September 1907. In 1918, however, Henrietta—tired of what she reputedly considered his womanizing and refusal to come home after shows—filed for divorce. In 1920, Jolson began a relationship with Broadway actress Alma Osbourne (known professionally as Ethel Delmar); the two were married in August 1922.:256 Alma divorced Jolson in 1928.
In the summer of 1928, Jolson met tap dancer, and later successful actress, Ruby Keeler at Texas Guinan's night club and was dazzled by her on sight; at the club, the two danced together. Three weeks later, Jolson saw a production of George M. Cohan's Rise of Rosie O'Reilly, and noticed she was in the show's cast. Now knowing she was going about her Broadway career, Jolson attended another one of her shows, Show Girl, and rose from the audience and engaged in her duet of "Liza". After this moment, the show's producer, Florenz Ziegfeld, asked Jolson to join the cast and continue to sing duets with Keeler. Jolson accepted Ziegfeld's offer and during their tour with Ziegfeld, the two started dating and were married on September 21, 1928. In 1935, Al and Ruby adopted a son, whom they named "Al Jolson Jr." In 1939, however—despite a marriage that was considered to be more successful than his previous ones—Keeler left Jolson, and later married John Homer Lowe, with whom she would have four children and remain married until his death in 1969.:223-259
In 1944, while giving a show at a military hospital in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Jolson met a young X-ray technologist, Erle Galbraith. Jolson became fascinated by her and—over a year after meeting—was able to track her down and hired her as an actress while he served as a producer at Columbia Pictures. After Jolson, whose health was still scarred from his previous battle with malaria, was hospitalized in the winter of 1945, Erle visited him and the two quickly began a relationship. They were married on March 22, 1945. During their marriage, the Jolsons adopted two children, Asa Jr. (born 1948) and Alicia (born 1949), and remained married until his death in 1950.:293-298
After a year and a half of marriage, his new wife had actually never seen him perform in front of an audience, and the first occasion came unplanned. As told by actor comedian Alan King, it happened during a dinner by the New York Friars' Club at the Waldorf Astoria in 1946, honoring the career of Sophie Tucker. Jolson and his wife were in the audience along with a thousand others, and George Jessel was emcee. He asked Al, privately, to perform at least one song. Jolson replied, "No, I just want to sit here." Then later, without warning, during the middle of the show, Jessel says, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the easiest introduction I ever had to make. The world's greatest entertainer, Al Jolson." King recalls what happened next:
"The place is going wild. Jolson gets up, takes a bow, sits down. . . people start banging with their feet, and he gets up, takes another bow, sits down again. It's chaos, and slowly, he seems to relent. He walks up onto the stage . . . kids around with Sophie and gets a few laughs, but the people are yelling, 'Sing! Sing! Sing!' . . . Then he says, 'I'd like to introduce you to my bride,' and this lovely young thing gets up and takes a bow. The audience doesn't care about the bride, they don't even care about Sophie Tucker. 'Sing! Sing! Sing!' they're screaming again. My wife has never seen me entertain, Jolson says, and looks over toward Lester Lanin, the orchestra leader: 'Maestro, Is it True What They Say About Dixie?'"
Closeness with his brother Harry
Despite their close relationship growing up, Harry did show some disdain for Al's success over the years. Even during their time with Jack Palmer, Al was rising in popularity while Harry was fading. After separating from Al and Jack, Harry's career in show business, however, sank greatly. On one occasion—which was another factor in his on-off relationship with Al—Harry offered to be Al's agent, but Al rejected the offer, worried about the pressure that he would have faced from his producers for hiring his brother as his agent. Shortly after Harry's wife Lillian died in 1948, Harry and Al became close once again.:318-324
Death and commemoration
The dust and dirt of the Korean front, from where he had returned a few weeks earlier, had settled in his right lung and he was close to exhaustion. While playing cards in his suite at the St. Francis Hotel at 335 Powell Street in San Francisco, Jolson collapsed and died of a massive heart attack on October 23, 1950. His last words were said to be "Boys, I'm going."  He was 64.
After his wife received the news of his death by phone, she went into shock, and required family members to stay with her. At the funeral, police estimated upwards of 20,000 people showed up, despite threatened rain. It became one of the biggest funerals in show business history.:300 Celebrities paid tribute: Bob Hope, speaking from Korea via short wave radio, said the world had lost "not only a great entertainer, but also a great citizen." Larry Parks said that the world had "lost not only its greatest entertainer, but a great American as well. He was a casualty of the [Korean] war." Scripps-Howard newspapers drew a pair of white gloves on a black background. The caption read, "The Song Is Ended.":300
Newspaper columnist and radio reporter Walter Winchell said,
"He was the first to entertain troops in World War Two, contracted malaria and lost a lung. Then in his upper sixties he was again the first to offer his singing gifts for bringing solace to the wounded and weary in Korea. "Today we know the exertion of his journey to Korea took a greater toll of his strength than perhaps even he realized. But he considered it his duty as an American to be there, and that was all that mattered to him. Jolson died in a San Francisco hotel. Yet he was as much a battle casualty as any American soldier who has fallen on the rocky slopes of Korea … A star for more than 40 years, he earned his most glorious star rating at the end—a gold star."
Friend George Jessel said during part of his eulogy,
"The history of the world does not say enough about how important the song and the singer have been. But history must record the name Jolson, who in the twilight of his life sang his heart out in a foreign land, to the wounded and to the valiant. I am proud to have basked in the sunlight of his greatness, to have been part of his time." 
He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. According to Cemetery Guide, Jolson’s widow purchased a plot at Hillside and commissioned his mausoleum to be designed by well-known black architect Paul Williams. The six-pillar marble structure is topped by a dome, next to a three-quarter-size bronze statue of Jolson, eternally resting on one knee, arms outstretched, apparently ready to break into another verse of “Mammy”. The inside of the dome features a huge mosaic of Moses holding the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, and identifies Jolson as “The Sweet Singer of Israel” and “The Man Raised Up High.”
On the day he died, Broadway dimmed its lights in Jolson's honor, and radio stations all over the world were paying tributes. Soon after his death, the BBC presented a special program entitled Jolson Sings On. His death unleashed tributes from all over the world, including a number of eulogies from friends, including George Jessel, Walter Winchell, and Eddie Cantor. He contributed millions to Jewish and other charities in his will.
In October, 2008, a new documentary film, Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer, premiered at the 50th Lübeck Nordic Film Days, Lübeck, Germany, and won 1st Prize at an annual film competition in Kiel a few weeks later. In November, 2007, a similar documentary, A Look at Al Jolson, was winner at the same festival. Jolson's music remains very popular today both in America and abroad with numerous CDs in print.
Jolson has three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
6622 Hollywood Blvd. for his contribution to motion pictures
1716 Vine St. for his mark on the recording industry
6750 Hollywood Blvd. for his achievements in radio
In 2000, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars was dedicated to him.
Forty-four years after Jolson's death, the United States Postal Service honored him by issuing a postage stamp. The 29-cent stamp was unveiled by Erle Jolson Krasna, Jolson's fourth wife, at a ceremony in New York City's Lincoln Center on September 1, 1994. This stamp was one of a series honoring popular American singers, which included Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Ethel Merman, and Ethel Waters. And in 2006, Jolson had a street in New York named after him with the help of the Al Jolson Society.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Baby Face Nelson is a 1957 crime film noir based on the real-life 1930s gangster, directed by Don Siegel, co-written by Daniel Mainwaring—who also wrote Siegel's 1956 sci-fi thriller Invasion of the Body Snatchers—and starring Mickey Rooney as Baby Face Nelson, and featuring Leo Gordon as John Dillinger and Carolyn Jones as Nelson's wife Sue.
When the film was released film critic Bosley Crowther panned the film writing, "Baby Face Nelson, heading the double bill on the Loew's circuit, is a thoroughly standard, pointless and even old-fashioned gangster picture, the kind that began going out along with the oldtime sedans. As a matter of fact, one of the few absorbing sights in this United Artists release, starring Mickey Rooney, is a continual procession of vintage jaloppys, chugging in and out of the proceedings ... The other distinction, also mild, is Sir Cedric Hardwicke's professional portrait of a seedy, lecherous and alcoholic physician who consorts with criminals."
More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote a somewhat positive review of the film, writing, "Don Siegel's (Charley Varrick/Riot in Cell Block 11/Dirty Harry) raw and twitchy gangster biopic about a thirties public enemy Number No. 1 is typical bang-bang stuff but is fluidly shot. This low-budget crime story was made in 17 days and is an ugly portrayal of a violent self-destructive sociopath; it's a revisionist and fragmentary presentation of Lester Gillis, known as Baby Face Nelson (Mickey Rooney). Rooney's flowery performance as the trigger-happy hood with the inferiority complex over being short and the wall-to-wall action, give this Prohibition-era set B-film its pulse."
Mickey Rooney as Lester M. 'Baby Face Nelson' Gillis
Carolyn Jones as Sue
Cedric Hardwicke as Doc Saunders
Leo Gordon as John Dillinger
Anthony Caruso as John Hamilton
Jack Elam as Fatso Nagel
John Hoyt as Samuel Parker
Ted de Corsia as Rocca
Elisha Cook, Jr. as Homer van Meter
Stefan Gierasch (February 5, 1926 – September 6, 2014) was an American film and television actor. Gierasch made over 100 screen appearances, mostly in American television, beginning in 1951. In the mid-60s, he performed with the Trinity Square Players in Providence, Rhode Island. He appeared in dozens of films including in The Hustler, Jeremiah Johnson, What's Up Doc? High Plains Drifter, and Carrie. In 1994 he appeared in the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito film Junior as 'Edward Sawyer,' and in 1995's Murder in the First as Warden James Humson.' Gierasch made many TV appearances, as on Starsky and Hutch, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and ER.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Dick Crawford (May 15, 1915 - October 21, 1990) is buried at Westwood Village Cemetery.