Tag Archives: Jackie Gleason

Of Old Boxers and Old Movies

12 Dec

My friends and I have some weird text conversations. We talk about all sorts of things, but we mostly try to stump each other on trivia. We consider ourselves experts in all knowledge that will only lead to fortune on a game show. The other night we had one such conversation. Hopefully, you can tell that the conversations can go in any direction.

It went, with slight edits, as follows. to help guide you through this high level conversation, my friend’s comments are in bold.

85 years ago the old Southern Conference became the SEC. There were 13 original members. Did you know Sewanee was one of them?

I knew that.

So was Tulane.

Georgia Tech also. I believe they dropped out in 64… when did Sewanee get out?

1940

John Lennon was killed 37 years ago today.

That was yesterday.

Although, Archie Moore died on this day in 1998.

Correct. My bad. The Ole Mongoose was cornerman for Foreman when Ali stopped him in Zaire. Moore’s last fight was against a young Cassius Clay in 62.

He also played Jedediah in The Carpetbaggers, one of the all time great movies.

Yes, and was in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Sugar Ray Robinson was in a couple of Sinatra movies. Archie Moore also worked with James “Quick” Tillis, a Tulsa heavyweight who was a great boxer but not much heart. Tillis played in The Color Purple with Oprah. I flew in 81 to Chicago on a junket to see Tillis fight Mike “Hercules” Weaver for the WBA title. Tillis was named Sprint Tillis after the fight. He ran all night long. I saw better fights in the halls of high school.

Which boxer was in the Tony Rome movies?

Tillis’ daughter was an outstanding basketball player at Duke. Iciss Tillis.

I remember her.

Cassius Clay in 62 was in Requiem for a Heavyweight with Jackie Gleason and Anthony Quinn.

I didn’t know that.

Rocky Graziano was in Tony Rome.

I thought somebody else was in those movies.

Sugar Ray Robinson was in The Detective with Sinatra. LaMotta had a bit part in Graziano’s bio played by Paul Newman…

Sinatra got Joe Louis a job as a greeter at Caesar’s Palace.

Max Schmeling paid for his funeral.

 

 

 

Melancholy Serenade

26 Sep

Yesterday, a feeling of melancholy washed over me. I was sitting in a chair and watching the rain through the window.

The rain could have been the reason. The garage sale could also had been the reason. I have always had a hard time getting rid of stuff. I can remember thinking as a kid that when I threw away the bubblegum wrapper I would never see it again. Yep, I was a strange child and am probably a strange adult. When the sale was over, I walked into the closed garage and looked at the remaining items. It was quiet, and I was alone. That was when the wave hit me, and my staring at the rain was the result.

While watching the rain, I knew that a blog post had entered my brain. However, the title hit stronger than the content. From somewhere in the back of my mind, the words “Melancholy Serenade” shot to the front. Usually, titles come to me while writing the post. Something in the text will lead me to it. This was completely different, and I knew that these words came from something that I had read or heard. It was something that I knew but forgot that I knew.

To figure it out, I went to Google. What did we do before Google? I guess we had to go to the library and look up stuff. Anyway, there it was. “Melancholy Serenade” was the theme song for The Jackie Gleason Show.Gleason

I have read about Gleason’s life and career, and I guess that something about those words stuck. Of course, I may have realized that those words matched well, and I could not have been creative enough to think up a title like that on my own.

Oh yeah, there is also “Melancholy Serenade” by Tchaikovsky. However, he was nowhere near the music man who Jackie Gleason was.

If These Movies Are On Television, Then I Will Watch Them

30 Jul

The other day, I wrote a post about the BBC and its list of the 100 best American films, and a commenter said that I should provide my own list of top movies. Unfortunately, I am not a movie critic and cannot delve into the intricacies of acting and directing. I only know what movies I like and do not like.

With that in mind, I decided to take this challenge into a different direction. When I am scrolling through the guide, there are some things that I will automatically click on and watch for a while. This includes a few movies with different levels of quality. If I cannot make a list of the greatest movies of all time, then I can make a list of the 10 movies I will always watch if I see them on the television guide.

They are coming at you in the order that I thought of them.

Manhunter (1986) – This was on last night and led me to write this post. It is the first movie about Hannibal Lecter and is directed by Michael Mann. In other words, it is Silence of the Lambs meets Miami Vice. You may have seen its remake, Red Dragon, but this one is a lot more entertaining.

Flash Gordon (1980) – Let Dino de Laurentiis try to capitalize on the Star Wars phenomenon, and this is what you get. It has some great actors and some not-so-great actors, but they are all having a good time. It would have been awesome to been in the room when Flash attacked Ming’s guards by playing football. On top of that, Ornella Muti is there in all her glory.Ornella

Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man (1991) – Two stars of the 1980s, Don Johnson and Mickey Rourke, try to make their transition into the next decade. They ride motorcycles. They go after drug dealers. They act cool. Well, acting might be too strong of a word. I have already written about this one and will move on down the line.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) – When I become king, a new law will make its way across the land. As a testament to its greatness, everyone must watch this movie. Clint Eastwood is awesome, and it is filled with awesome quotes. I should know because I have them all memorized. In the early days of this blog, I wrote an extensive post about this one.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) – As with the previous movies, I have already written about this one. Burt Reynolds is at his peak. Jackie Gleason is hilarious. I saw it five times when it was in release and can never watch it too many times. The only problem is that television cleans up the language and, in the process, destroys a lot of the laughs.

El Dorado (1966) – I could have listed a ton of John Wayne movies, but I think I click on this one more than any other. It could be because this one is on regularly. Anyway, it is a script that was filmed several times, but it never gets old. Oh yeah, there is one other thing. As I have written before, it is a poetic movie.

The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981) – This is a terrible movie. Klinton Spilsbury never made another movie. Heck, he did not really make this one. James Keach was brought in to dub his lines. However, it has some redeeming qualities. Merle Haggard sings the theme song, and part of it was filmed in Monument Valley.

Logan’s Run (1976) – I am a big fan of dystopian movies, and this is one of my favorites. How can post-apocalyptic life be bad with scantily clad women everywhere? On top of that, a push of a button can make one of the scantily clad women appear instantly in your apartment. The only thing that could go wrong is that Carrousel ride at the age of 30. On second thought, it would probably be better to live with a bunch of cats in a destroyed Washington, D.C.Cats

For Love of the Game (1999) – This is a movie that used to hit me on a deep emotional level. As the years pass, it does not have the same effect. Despite that, it is still a good movie. Kevin Costner has made a bunch of sports movies, but this is my favorite one. It could be because Vin Scully is calling the game.

Legends of the Fall (1994) – This is another movie that reaches me on an emotional level, but it is also interesting in a historical sense. Obviously, it is about a family that goes through years of heartache. However, it is also about rum-running during Prohibition. They talk about the Volstead Act and smuggling alcohol across the Canadian border. I could go deeper into a historical analysis, but I may need that for another post.

Now, let us analyze the list by decade.

1960s – 1

1970s – 3

1980s – 3

1990s – 3

Interestingly, nothing made in the past 16 years has knocked a movie off this list. I wonder what that means.

Then, there is this. Over half of the list was filmed between 1976 and 1986. Those must have been formative movie years for me.

Anyway, those are the movies that I will always watch if I find them on television. What are a few of the movies that would make your list?

Those Oldies But Baddies

25 Sep

I picked up another magazine. This one was put out by the good people at Globe and is called Shocking Secrets of America’s Favorite TV Shows of the 50s and 60s. Short title. I figured it would be filled with juicy tidbits about the television stars of yesteryear, but it was actually filled with stuff that I already knew. For example, Andy Griffith was difficult to work with. As an ardent fan of his show, I knew that. Heck, he even wore a cast in a few episodes after he put his fist through a wall.

I found out that one actor on Gunsmoke walked with a fake limp while another one had to hide a real limp. Of course, everyone knows that Dennis Weaver was faking it as Chester, but I had no idea that James Arness couldn’t walk that well.

I also found out that three of the Cartwright’s wore hair pieces, and the other one wore stacked shoes. Bonanza will never be viewed the same.

Anyway, I thought that I would share some other “secrets” of the oldies. I’ll narrow it down to the shows that I have seen more than once.

The Honeymooners – A lot of drinking went on. Hey, it was Jackie Gleason. He liked a good time.

You Bet Your Life – Here’s a shocker. Groucho Marx liked women as well as the Secret Word.

I Love Lucy – Fred and Ethel hated each other.

The Munsters – In real life, Herman Munster went to Harvard.

The Addams Family – Uncle Fester was married to Betty Grable. Think about that for a second. This guy…Uncle Fester

was married to this woman.Betty Grable

My Little Margie – I had to watch these reruns because it was my mom’s favorite show. It turns out that Margie liked the sauce.

Davy Crockett – Walt Disney wouldn’t let Fess Parker play a role in The Searchers. This is one that I actually found interesting.

Gunsmoke – Here is where a scandal really hits. While everyone was waiting for Miss Kitty to hook up with Matt, she was hooking up with Doc behind the scenes.Gunsmoke

Have Gun, Will Travel – Paladin was one of television’s coolest characters, and Richard Boone was pretty cool, too. Unfortunately, that cool lifestyle of drinking killed him.

The Andy Griffith Show – This is one thing that I didn’t know about my favorite show. It was pre-empted by the debate between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.

Hogan’s Heroes – Everybody knows about Bob Crane.

The Monkees – Charles Manson auditioned to be a Monkee.

There is a lot more, but you’ll have to buy the magazine for that. It’s the least I could do for the good people at Globe.

Deadaroo

18 Jun

Last weekend, my state hosted Bonnaro, the music festival that has become a destination for those looking for a good time and good music. They have a wide variety of acts, and I have often said that I would like to go if I could fly in on a helicopter for a few hours. Listening to music would be awesome, but I am too well into my years to be hanging out in a field without a hot shower.

After reading a lot of blogs and tweets about Bonaroo, I began to think about what performers I would like to see at a festival. Then, I took it a little further. What performers have I never seen live but would like to see? Then, with an idea string going, I began to think about the performers I would like to see live but never will because they are, well, not live. They are dead.

After coming up with a list of dead performers that I wished I had seen, I came up with my own music festival fantasy -Deadaroo. These are not zombie versions of famous people. This is a collection of people in their primes. This is a music festival of some of my favorites at the top of their game.

The following is a list of acts; the stage where they will perform; and, the thing I would most want to see them do (with links).

Appearing on the “Knockin’ ‘Em Dead” Comedy Stage:

Jerry Clower, the Mouth of the South, telling his greatest stories, including A Coon Huntin’ Story.

Rodney Dangerfield with his self-deprecating routine and trademark line, “I get no respect.”

Jackie Gleason, famous for television and movies, was also great at stand up comedy and was known for the signature line,”How sweet it is.” The video is from The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (begin watching at 5:03).

The Rat Pack, consisting of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others, brings their Vegas act to the stage.

Scheduled for the “Dead Zone” Music Stage:

Big Joe Turner, early R&B and Rock and Roll pioneer, performing his hits, including “Shake, Rattle and Roll“.

Jim Croce, folk singer extraordinaire, singing “I Got a Name” and the rest of his classics.

Waylon Jennings, one of the original Outlaws of country music, with a passel of hits including “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys“.

Johnny Cash – the Man in Black, the legend, and someone I actually met – singing songs that span decades but ending with one of the early ones, “Folsom Prison Blues“.

Sam Cooke, paragon of R&B and Soul, bringing his best and “Bring It On Home to Me“.

As the finale, THE country legend known to many as Luke the Drifter, Hank Williams singing “Hey Good Lookin’” and many more classic songs.

At “Rock in Pieces”, the main stage, Deadaroo brings you:

Isaac Hayes, Black Moses of 70s Soul, with his Academy Award winning theme, “Shaft“.

James Brown, the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, performs all of his hits, including “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag“.

Stevie Ray Vaughan, one of the greatest bluesmen ever, breaks out his guitar and plays “Mary Had a Little Lamb“.

The Reggae man himself, Bob Marley, straight from Jamaica with songs such as “No Woman No Cry“.

Ray Charles, genius and master of all musical genres, performs songs known to all and promises to stoke the crowd with “What’d I Say“.

Who could top those legends? Who is worthy to close the show of such greatness? Jimi Hendrix, the greatest guitar player of them all, as he electrifies Deadaroo with “Purple Haze” and other songs of psychedelic form.

That’s Deadaroo. The End