Tag Archives: Richard Dawson

Who Needs Kevin Bacon?

5 Oct

I have been sitting here trying to figure out what to write about, and I finally decided to write about what is on television. Encore is showing The Longest Day, a 1962 movie about the invasion of Normandy on D-Day. Obviously, this is an important historic event, and numerous movies have been made about it. What amazes me about this movie is the ensemble cast of huge actors from that time in Hollywood history. All this time, people have been playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” when they could have been playing “One Degree of The Longest Day“.

It stars John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter six years after they were in The Searchers.

It stars John Wayne and Robert Mitchum four years before they made El Dorado.

Sean Connery and Gert Frobe appeared in this film two years before Connery, as James Bond, heard Frobe, as Auric Goldfinger, say, “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.”

It has Richard Todd, who was Ian Fleming’s first choice to play James Bond in Dr. No. Interestingly. Dr. No came out in 1962, as well.

I mean, this thing has everybody in it, and there are connections all over the place. To prevent having a post that drags out, I’ll just list a bunch of the actors and my favorite film of theirs.

Eddie Albert – The Longest Yard (although he was also good in Green Acres)

Richard Burton – Cleopatra (which I think was being filmed at the same time)

Red Buttons – Hatari! (which also starred John Wayne)

Sean Connery – Goldfinger (the best James Bond movie ever)

Henry Fonda – Once Upon a Time in the West (a great Spaghetti Western)

Gert Frobe – Goldfinger (the title character in the only James Bond movie to show a Kentucky Fried Chicken)

Jeffrey Hunter – The Searchers (which also starred John Wayne)

Peter Lawford – Ocean’s Eleven (a member of the Rat Pack who married into the Kennedy clan)

Roddy McDowall – Planet of the Apes (also in Cleopatra with Richard Burton)

Sal Mineo – Giant (appeared with Elizabeth Taylor, who was also in Cleopatra)

Robert Mitchum – Five Card Stud (starred with Dean Martin, who was also in Ocean’s Eleven and was a member of the Rat Pack)

Edmond O’Brien – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (which also starred John Wayne)

Leslie Phillips – Harry Potter Series (as the voice of the Sorting Hat)

Robert Ryan – The Wild Bunch (a movie that’s bloodier than The Longest Day)

Rod Steiger – The Amityville Horror (there was a horror in that house but not the one they show in the movie)

Robert Wagner – Broken Lance (married to Natalie Wood, who starred in The Searchers with John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter)

Stuart Whitman – The Day the Earth Stood Still (also starred in The Commancheros with John Wayne in 1961)

John Wayne – The Searchers (my favorite actor of all time)

Richard Dawson – The Running Man (but he was better on The Match Game and Family Feud)

Bernard Fox – Big Jake (which also starred John Wayne, but he was also in my favorite television show, The Andy Griffith Show)

So, I present the game, “One Degree of The Longest Day“.

The Name of the Game

6 Mar

My parents watch The Wheel of Fortune every night, and I will tune in with them on occasion. Tonight was one of those nights, as we spent some quality family time with Pat, Vanna and the Big Wheel. I have always been a big fan of game shows, and Wheel is one of my favorites. I was even lucky enough once to spin the wheel and have my picture made with Pat and Vanna (although it was better with Chuck Woolery). I usually try to guess the puzzles as fast as possible, but this time I began thinking about a potential blog post (What does that say about me?)

What are my all-time favorite game shows? There are a bunch to choose from, but I have narrowed it down to five.

At the top of the list stands Press Your Luck.

Man, I loved this show. Airing in the mid-80s, it was hosted by Peter Tomarken and announced by Rod Roddy, who apparently did every game show. There were three contestants who answered two rounds of questions. Correct answers would give each person a number of spins. The questions were usually easy, but that wasn’t the point of the game. Everything hinged on the Big Board, which had prize squares mixed in with Whammies, cartoon creatures that would take all of your money. I was fascinated by two things.

One, the platform for the contestants moved when it was time to face the board.

Second, I just knew there had to be a pattern to movements of the squares. It turns out that I wasn’t the only one who thought that. Michael Larson, pictured above, reached game show infamy when he figured out the pattern and constantly hit the prize squares. He spun 45 times without hitting a Whammy and won a record $110,000. His turn lasted so long that they made two episodes out of it.


The Match Game is next on the list.

There are several versions of this one, but the best came in the 70s and was hosted by Gene Rayburn, who would read a line with a blank. Six “celebrities” wrote down the word they thought fit best in the blank, and the contestants would try to match them. However, the game was secondary to the entertainment. The “celebrities” would make jokes and the lines were designed for double entendre answers. My favorite ones were about Dumb Donald.

Many guest “celebrities” played the games, but some seemed to always be there. Brett Somers. Charles Nelson Reilly. Nipsy Russell. Richard Dawson. Fannie Flagg. Jaye P. Morgan.

Never forget, when someone says, “Dumb Donald was so dumb…” the correct response is “How dumb was he?”

Ranking third is Tic Tac Dough.

Wink Martindale, a native of Jackson, Tennessee, hosted my favorite version of this show in the 70s and 80s. The game was played like tic-tac-toe with questions. Each square had a category that affected the strategy. Contestants not only picked the appropriate square to win but also the category they knew best. Between each question the categories were mixed along with squares with special rules. When a contestant won a game, they went to the bonus round where they tried to win money and avoid the dragon.

Looking back, the questions were simple, and there were a lot of tie games. When this happened, the same two people kept playing until someone won. Each time, the money built up, and the stakes got higher.

Blockbusters comes in next.

Bill Cullen, the greatest game show host ever, reigned over the best incarnation of this game. Different from other shows, this one pitted a team of two people against an individual. They would try to make their way through letter-filled hexagons to make a line across the board. The answer to each space started with the letter involved. The bonus round involved getting across the board in a minute.

The questions were easy, but Cullen was the highlight of the show. He was a host and a guest on numerous shows despite the damaging effects of polio and the need for thick glasses. He was the perfect example of someone who could triumph over obstacles placed in front of him.

Card Sharks is last on the list.

Hosted best by Jim Perry, the game saw two contestants compete in a super-sized game of War. A question based on “100 People Surveyed” would be asked, and a player guessed the number who answered it. Their opponent would then guess higher or lower. The winner would then try to predict a series of giant cards by saying “higher” or “lower”. If they missed, then the other player took a turn.

I liked this show because of the giant cards and the models that placed them in position. Surprisingly, this is the only show on the list with models. I have shocked myself. It seems that the kid version of me was more interested in trying to win the games from home than checking out the women presenting the prizes.

With a list like this, it is obvious that I spent a lot of time watching television – game shows in particular. In a future post I will list the five game shows that I hated.