Happy Birthday Peter Falk

Today is the 87th birthday of Peter Falk.  I have often mentioned that, if left to my own devices, I would have an almost the identical TV watching habit of my grandfather circa 1978-84:  The Rockford Files, Remington Steele, and Columbo.  There is something about Columbo that I find so very comforting.

NAME: Peter Falk
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: September 16, 1927
DEATH DATE: June 23, 2011
EDUCATION: Howard University, Syracuse University, New School for Social Research, University of Wisconsin
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: American actor Peter Falk is best known for his role as the television detective Lieutenant Columbo in the television series Columbo.

Actor. Born Peter Michael Falk on September 16, 1927, in New York City. While he had many roles on stage and on the big screen, Peter Falk is probably best remembered for his portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo on television. He played the rumpled and quirky detective for more than 30 years in numerous television movies.

Growing up in Ossining, New York, Falk lost his right eye to cancer at the age of three. He wore a glass eye in its place, which gave him his trademark squint. After high school and a brief stay at college, Falk became a merchant marine, working as a cook. He later went back to school, eventually earning a master’s degree from Syracuse University in public administration.

Falk discovered acting in his twenties while working in Hartford. At the age of 29, he abandoned public service for the stage. Falk moved to New York City and made his off-Broadway debut in 1956 in a production of Don Juan. In 1958, he made the leap to film, appearing in the drama Wind Across the Everglades with Christopher Plummer and Gypsy Rose Lee. Falk soon became a notable character actor, often playing shady criminals. For Murder Inc. (1960), he picked up an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of notorious thug Abe “Kid Twist” Reles. Falk received another Best Supporting Actor nod the following year for Pocketful of Miracles for his comic turn as a mobster.

In 1967, Falk won his most famous part after Bing Crosby turned down the role. He first appeared as Lieutenant Columbo in the 1968 television movie Prescription: Murder. In 1971, Columbo became a regular feature on the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie. Falk received four Emmy Awards for his work on the television movies. With his disheveled appearance and tattered trenchcoat, Columbo came across as the perennial underdog. “He looks like a flood victim,” Falk once said. “You feel sorry for him. He appears to be seeing nothing, but he’s seeing everything.”

In addition to Columbo, Falk enjoyed some success on the stage and in film. He starred on Broadway in Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue in 1971. Working with director John Cassavetes, Falk played Gina Rowland’s husband in the critically acclaimed A Woman Under the Influence (1976). He also appeared in several popular comedies, including Murder by Death (1977) and The In-Laws in 1981.

Falk continued to work over the next two decades, often in small supporting roles. He made his last appearance as Columbo in a 2003 television movie. In recent years, Falk’s health began to decline. He suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. On the night of June 23, 2011, Falk died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home, according to a statement from his family. No cause of death was released. He was 83 years old.

Falk is survived by his second wife Shera and his two daughters from his first marriage to Alyce Mayo.

Happy Birthday Yvonne DeCarlo

Today is the 92nd birthday of Yvonne DeCarlo.  Reinvention.  I love it.  There are risks and challenges, but also great rewards.  One being the confusion of others.  It is not only in Hollywood that people get typecast.  People love to attach quick descriptors to people, to categorize them for easy processing.  When you do something that appears to be out of character, it messes with people’s heads and is brilliant.  Moses’ mother and Lilly Munster?  What?  That is the same women?

NAME: Yvonne DeCarlo
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Television Actress, Pin-up
BIRTH DATE: September 01, 1922
DEATH DATE: January 08, 2007
PLACE OF BIRTH: Point Gray, Canada
PLACE OF DEATH: Woodland Hills, California

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Yvonne DeCarlo was Moses’ wife in DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, but is better known for playing the matriarch on TV’s The Munsters.

Yvonne De Carlo (September 1, 1922 – January 8, 2007) was a Canadian-born American actress of film and television. During her six-decade career, her most frequent appearances in film came in the 1940s and 1950s and included her best-known film roles, such as of Anna Marie in Salome Where She Danced (1945); Anna in Criss Cross (1949); Sephora the wife of Moses in The Ten Commandments (1956), starring Charlton Heston; and Amantha Starr in Band of Angels (1957) with Clark Gable. In the early 1960s, De Carlo accepted the offer to play Lily Munster for the CBS television series The Munsters, alongside Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Yvonne De Carlo was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6124 Hollywood Blvd. and a second star at 6715 Hollywood Blvd. for her contribution to television.

The year 1964 was a rocky one for De Carlo, as she was deeply in debt. After having worked for over 30 years, her film career came to a sudden end, and she was suffering from depression. She signed a contract with Universal Studios after receiving an offer to perform the female lead role in The Munsters opposite Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster. She was also the producers’ choice to play Lily Munster when Joan Marshall, who played Phoebe, was dropped from consideration for the role. When De Carlo was asked how a glamorous actress could succeed as a ghoulish matriarch of a haunted house, she replied simply, “I follow the directions I received on the first day of shooting: ‘Play her just like Donna Reed.’

In her autobiography, published in 1987, she listed 22 intimate friends, including Prince Aly Khan, Billy Wilder, Burt Lancaster, Howard Hughes, Robert Stack and Robert Taylor.

Happy Birthday Shirley Booth

Today is the 116th birthday of Shirley Booth.  She was an amazing actress, capable of showing unflattering, unpopular, and raw emotions. On the other end of that, she was Hazel, of the same-titled TV show from the 1960s. Her acting on that show was so effortless and invisible, most people thought she was exactly like Hazel in real life.NAME: Shirley Booth
OCCUPATION: Film Actress, Theater Actress, Television Actress
BIRTH DATE: August 30, 1898
DEATH DATE: October 16, 1992
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: North Chatham, Massachusetts
ORIGINALLY: Marjory Ford

BEST KNOWN FOR: Shirley Booth was an American actress who played Lola Delaney in the drama Come Back, Little Sheba, for which she received a Tony Award in 1950.

Shirley Booth (August 30, 1898 – October 16, 1992) was an American actress. Primarily a theatre actress, Booth’s Broadway career began in 1925. Her most significant success was as Lola Delaney, in the drama Come Back, Little Sheba, for which she received a Tony Award in 1950. She made her film debut, reprising her role in the 1952 film version, and won both the Academy Award for Best Actress and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for her performance. Despite her successful entry into films, she preferred stage acting, and made only four more films.

From 1961 until 1966, she played the title role in the sitcom Hazel, for which she won two Emmy Awards, and was acclaimed for her performance in the 1966 television production of The Glass Menagerie. She retired in 1974.

Shirley Booth has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6840 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

Happy Birthday Milton Berle

Today is the 106th birthday of Milton Berle.

NAME:  Milton Berle
OCCUPATION:  Radio Personality, Film Actor, Television Actor, Comedian, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE:  July 12, 1908
DEATH DATE:  March 27, 2002
PLACE OF BIRTH:  New York, New York
PLACE OF DEATH:  Los Angeles, California
AKA:  Milton Berle, Mr. Television, Uncle Miltie
NICKNAME:  The Thief of Bad Gags
ORIGINALLY:  Milton Berlinger

BEST KNOWN FOR: Milton Berle was a Jewish-American comedian who started in vaudeville acts, and was a success in the early days of TV, becoming known as “Uncle Miltie.”

Comedy legend Milton Berle was born as Milton Berlinger in New York City on July 12, 1908. He started his career by impersonating Charlie Chaplin at as a young boy. After winning a Chaplin look-alike contest at the age of 5, he began landing film roles. Berle appeared in numerous silent films, including The Mark of Zorro, with Douglas Fairbanks Sr., and Tillie’s Punctured Romance, with Charlie Chaplin.

Berle also performed on the vaudeville circuit, sometimes landing on the same bill as Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson. Nearly every step of the way, in his early years, Berle was accompanied by his mother, who was both his manager and biggest fan. According to the The Boston Globe, Berle said that his mother sat in the audience “for every show,” adding, “She had a loud laugh. She’d cue the audience, but they never knew it was my mother.”

Berle made his first radio appearance in 1934, but he continued to be more famous for his live acts. By the 1940s, he was one of the highest paid night-club performers. He also developed a reputation for being a joke thief, stealing other people’s material for his routine—an accusation that he embraced. “Like every comedian, if I heard a joke that I thought would work, I used it,” he said in an interview with The New York Times. Journalist Walter Winchell nicknamed Berle “The Thief of Bad Gags.”

In the late 1940s, Berle took a gamble on a then-emerging medium—television. His show Texaco Star Theater debuted in 1948, and he quickly became a huge star. Known as “Mr. Television” and “Uncle Miltie,” Berle became a weekly fixture in the homes of many Americans, and a motivation for some to purchase their first television set. He joked aggressively with his audience, and seemed to have no limits for getting laughs, including dressing up in women’s clothing. The show’s writers included Neil Simon, who later found fame as a playwright.

Berle’s ratings started to ebb in 1953, and he lost Texaco as a sponsor. When the Buick car company jumped aboard for one season, the show was renamed The Buick-Berle Show. In its final year, however, it was titled The Milton Berle Show. After signing off in 1955, Berle made several attempts to recapture his earlier success, but had no luck. He continued to make guest TV appearances on such shows as The Love Boat and Batman—on which he played a recurring role as the villainous “Louie the Lilac.”

Outside of his TV career, Berle continued to thrive as a comedian in Las Vegas, as well as other parts of the country. He performed until December 1998, when he suffered a mild stroke. Rather than go on stage, Berle held court at the Friars Club, a popular haunt for comics in Beverly Hills, California.

A year after being diagnosed with colon cancer, on March 27, 2002, Milton Berle died at his Los Angeles, California home. He was survived by his third wife, Lorna, his two stepchildren, and two children from previous marriages.

Fellow comedian Buddy Hackett remembered Berle as a pioneer. “Whatever you see on television, Milton did it first,” Hackett told The New York Times.

Columbo – Not So Secret Obsession

I have often claimed that if left to my own devices, I would have the exact same TV watching habits as my grandfather in 1978.  It’s true.  I could watch Columbo over and over.  I am have not been able to pinpoint exactly why I enjoy it as much as I do, but I am sure that it has to do with the character being considered an outsider, having his abilities being underestimated, and him using that to his advantage.  I find that entertaining.

Columbo is an American crime fiction television film series, which starred Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo, a homicide detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. The character and television show were created by William Link and Richard Levinson. The show popularized the inverted detective story format. With the exception of a few special episodes, almost every episode began by showing the commission of the crime and its perpetrator. Therefore, there is no “whodunit” element. The plot mainly revolves around how the perpetrator, whose identity is already known to the audience, will finally be caught and exposed by Columbo.

Lt. Columbo is a friendly, verbose, disheveled-looking, American police detective (of Italian descent) who is consistently underestimated by his suspects. Suspects are initially both reassured and distracted by his circumstantial speech and increasingly irritating pestering behavior. Despite his unprepossessing appearance and apparent absentmindedness, he shrewdly solves all of his cases and secures all evidence needed for indictment. His formidable eye for detail and meticulous and dedicated approach become apparent only late in the storyline.

The character first appeared in a 1960 episode of the television-anthology series The Chevy Mystery Show, which was itself partly derived from a short story by Levinson and Link published in an issue of the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine as “Dear Corpus Delicti”. Levinson and Link adapted the TV drama into the stage play Prescription: Murder, and a TV-movie based on the play was broadcast in 1968. The series began on a Wednesday presentation of the “NBC Mystery Movie” rotation: McCloud, McMillan & Wife, and other whodunits. After one season, the series moved as a group to Sundays and were replaced on Wednesdays by a series with a similar format with fare such as The Snoop Sisters, Cool Million, and Banacek. Columbo aired regularly from 1971-78 on NBC, and then less frequently on ABC beginning in 1989. The final episode was broadcast in 2003.

The episodes are all movie-length, between 70 and 100 minutes long. The early episodes ran for an hour, until the decision was made to expand them to full television movie-length. On October 2, 2011, reruns of Columbo began airing Sunday evenings on the classic television network Me-TV.

In 1997, “Murder by the Book” was ranked #16 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. and in 1999, the magazine ranked Lt. Columbo #7 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.

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Happy Birthday Nancy Walker

Today is the 92nd birthday of Nancy Walker.  My natural draw to 70′s mystery detective TV dramas made it natural that I loved her on McMillan & Wife.  Her entire resume reads impressively, the best TV shows of the time, she was on them, iconic TV shows of every decade, she guest starred.  nancy walker 1

NAME: Nancy Walker
OCCUPATION: Theater Actress, Television Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress
BIRTH DATE: May 10, 1922
DEATH DATE: March 25, 1992
PLACE OF BIRTH: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Studio City, California
ORIGINALLY: Anna Myrtle Swoyer

BEST KNOWN FOR: Actress Nancy Walker appeared in films and on stage before playing Ida Morgenstern on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rosie in the Bounty paper towel commercials.

Actress Nancy Walker was born Anna Myrtle Swoyer on May 10, 1922, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Perhaps best known as the overbearing mother Ida Morgenstern on the 1970s comedy series Rhoda, Nancy Walker was an established stage performer for decades before making it in television. The daughter of vaudeville comedian, she landed her first Broadway role at the age of 19, appearing in 1941′s Best Foot Forward. Walker went on to star in the original production of On the Town (1944).

Nancy Walker also landed film roles, including 1943′s Girl Crazy with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, and 1954′s Lucky Me with Doris Day. Largely devoted to stage work, she made several television guest appearances in the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1970s, she had her two most notable television roles. From 1971 to 1976, she played the sharp, outspoken housekeeper Mildred on McMillan & Wife, starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James. Walker’s character, Mrs. Ida Morgenstern, appeared on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off Rhoda.

As Ida Morgenstern, she had audiences laughing at her depiction of the tough, loving and smothering mother as well as identifying with the conflicts between her character and her daughter Rhoda played by Valerie Harper. On Rhoda, Ida harassed two of her children—her youngest daughter Brenda was played by Julie Kavner. She was nominated for an Emmy Award three times for her work on McMillan & Wife and four times for her performance on Rhoda.

A great supporting actress, Nancy Walker’s attempt to have her own series failed. The Nancy Walker Show aired for one season from 1976 to 1977. After its cancellation, she returned to Rhoda for its final season. Throughout the rest of the 1970s and 1980s, Walker mostly appeared on television as a guest star, stopping in on such hit shows, as The Love Boat, Fame, Happy Days and The Golden Girls, which earned her an Emmy Award nomination. In 1990, she returned to series television with True Colors, a comedy about interracial marriage. The show lasted for two years and included Walker’s final performances.

Nancy Walker died on March 25, 1992, in Studio City, California. She was married to David Craig since 1951 and the couple had one child together.

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Holstee Manifesto – Words To Live By

 

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This is your life.  Do what you love, and do it often.  If you don’t like something, change it.  If you don’t like your job, quit.  If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV.  If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing the things you love.  Stop over analyzing, all emotions are beautiful.  Life is simple.  When you eat, appreciate every last bite.  Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences.  Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them.  Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself.  Some opportunities only come once, seize them.  Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them so go out and start creating.  Life is short.  Life your dream and share your passion.

 

**My mother gave me this manifesto in a black frame this past Christmas.  I hung it in the upstairs bathroom and see it every morning.  I try my hardest to remember it, to remind myself of it’s message.  I want to live it.  I need to live it.  We all do.  Copy/re-post/tweet/print this as a reminder to yourself and maybe an inspiration to others.**

Buy your own copy of the Holstee Manifesto here:  Manifesto – HOLSTEE.

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