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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Happy Birthday Fred Rogers

Fred Rogers would be 86 today.  He was the kindest, most gentle adult that most kids my age every knew.  He spoke to us as people and inspired us to think about our feelings.  He taught us empathy and compassion.  He changed our lives and the world is a better place because of him.  Ladies and gentlemen, Fred Rogers.  Style Icon.

NAME: Fred McFeely Rogers
OCCUPATION: Minister, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: March 20, 1928
DEATH DATE: February 27, 2003
EDUCATION: Rollins College, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
PLACE OF BIRTH: Latrobe, Pennsylvania
PLACE OF DEATH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
AKA: Mister Rogers

BEST KNOWN FOR: The much-loved host of the public television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran on PBS from 1968 to 2001.

Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American educator, Presbyterian minister, songwriter, author, and television host. Rogers was most famous for creating and hosting Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), that featured his gentle, soft-spoken personality and directness to his audiences.

Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. The Public Broadcasting System developed his own nationally-aired show in 1968 and, over the course of three decades on television, he became an indelible American icon of children’s entertainment and education, as well as a symbol of compassion, patience, and morality. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. His testimony before a lower court in favor of time shifting was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children’s television.

Rogers was honored extensively for his life work in children’s education. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor; a Peabody Award for his career; and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. Two resolutions recognizing his work were unanimously passed by U.S. Congress, one of his trademark sweaters was acquired and is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, and several buildings and works of art in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory.

In 1996, Mister Fred Rogers was ranked #35 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.

I’m not that interested in ‘mass’ communications. I’m much more interested in what happens between this person and the one person watching. The space between the television set and that person who’s watching is very holy ground.

These two clips will remind you of his power and vision and stay with you the whole day:

In 1997, Fred Rogers was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmys. His acceptance speech is one of the most gentle, moving, humble, and powerful statements I’ve seen in a long time. Even the way he accepts the award from Tim Robbins — in a gentle, curious manner, just standing back and calmly smiling at the crowd — it’s amazing. As the clip ends, his standing ovation begins.

His speech that he made before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He passionately argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in media and in popular culture.

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Happy Birthday Robert Wagner

Today is the 84th birthday of Robert Wagner.  I am a big fan of Hart to Hart and It Takes a Thief and not coincidentally, Robert Wagner’s swagger.  He turns in great performances, so much so I am sure that most people confuse him as being those characters.  I still think I should get some gold medallions like Jonathan Hart…
robert wagner3

NAME: Robert Wagner
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Television Actor, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: February 10, 1930
PLACE OF BIRTH: Detroit, Michigan

BEST KNOWN FOR: Robert Wagner is an American film and television actor known for his popularity in numerous television series and most recently, in the Austin Powers films.

Robert John Wagner (born February 10, 1930) is an American actor of stage, screen, and television.
A veteran of many films in the 1950s and ’60s, Wagner gained prominence in three American television series that spanned three decades: It Takes a Thief (1968–70), Switch (1975–78), and Hart to Hart (1979–84). In movies, Wagner is known for his role as Number Two in the Austin Powers films (1997, 1999, 2002). He also had a recurring role as Teddy Leopold on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men.

Wagner’s autobiography, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, written with author Scott Eyman, was published on September 23, 2008.

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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 George Burns

Two days ago was the 118th birthday of George Burns.  We all keep track or at least know a few people that we share a birthday with and am please to share one with him as well as David Lynch and Federico Fellini.  I admire George’s longevity, career-wise and life in general.  I have quite a few of his radio shows on my computer and listen to them from time to time and always stop flipping channels when I come across his TV show he did with his wife Gracie Allen.  Absolutely brilliant.

NAME: George Burns
OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Comedian, Radio Personality, Television Personality
BIRTH DATE: January 20, 1896
DEATH DATE: March 09, 1996
PLACE OF BIRTH: New York City, New York
PLACE OF DEATH: Beverly Hills, California
ORIGINALLY: Nathan Birnbaum

BEST KNOWN FOR: George Burns was a comedian who worked in vaudeville, radio, film and television. His long-time performance partner and wife was comedienne Gracie Allen. Burns lived until age 100.

George Burns was born on January 20, 1896 in New York City. He got his show business start at age 7, singing for pennies in a candy shop. While working the vaudeville circuit, Burns met Gracie Allen and the pair formed a successful comic duo, marrying in 1926. The Burns and Allen partnership continued on radio, television and film until Allen’s death in 1964. Forced to redefine himself as a solo act, Burns continued to perform well into his 90s. He died in 1996 at age 100.

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My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel – Not So Secret Obsession

My_Dad_Lives

My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel (28 Nov. 1973)

Based on the book by Peggy Mann.  Convinced that his parents’ separation is somehow his fault, a young boy tries to persuade his father to come home.

Stars:  Beau Bridges, Ike Eisenmann, Margaret Blye

What is not to like about Ike?  Anyone who watched After School Specials or any 70’s era Disney film knows Ike.  As a child of divorced parents and a “latch key kid,” I remember thinking that this movie-ette was not helpful or accurate.  I remember thinking that it did not really help me, even though I could tell that it was supposed to be.  But I loved it all the same.  I adored all the After School Specials.  That’s how I learned about teen prostitution, underage drinking, stealing, and Angel Dust.  No one speaks of Angel Dust anymore…  Don’t get me wrong, those shows did not make me want to do or try anything they were cautionary tales against, I just had never heard of those subjects and probably wouldn’t have for many years until I read about them in a Newsweek at the dentist’s office or something.  Plus, who is going to pass up a chance to see Jan Brady get slapped around by her pimp?  I’d like a show of hands.

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This Is Your Life

In an effort to combat the vacant consumerism that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is a movement to make today Giving Tuesday.  I have written about various charities and non profits I personally support and everyone has their favorite, but I want to broaden the definition to include giving inspiration to loved ones.  Download/Print/Save/Buy this Manifesto.  Put it in a place that you see often to remind yourself.  I have it on my phone and changed my facebook banner to the first two lines.  Send this manifesto to people you love to remind them.manifesto_white_iphone4

This is our life.  Do what you love, and do it often.  If you don’t like something, change it.  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 things you love.  Stop over analyzing, life is simple.  All emotions are beautiful.  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 com once, seize them.  Life is about the people you meet, and the thing you create with them so go out and start creating.  Life is short.   Live your dream and share your passion.

There are some great gifts over at Holstee.com, gifts that will inspire someone and be meaningful to them long after the griftwrap has been recycled.  Consider giving inspiration this holiday season.

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