Friday, July 27, 2012

THE HOWDY DOODY RADIO SHOW

Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob
From 1947 to 1960, The Howdy Doody Show entertained young children across the country, often credited by historians as one of the leading reasons why television became a staple in American living rooms. The television series certainly demonstrated the potential of the new medium to advertisers, which competed against the already established medium of radio. Each week the television viewers to exposed to the antics of Clarabelle the Clown, watched silent slapstick comedies, and watched as Howdy Doody joined Buffalo Bob in attempts to foil the schemes of Mr. Bluster. Princess Summerfall-Winterspring a beautiful Indian Princess, sang and told stories. Howdy Doody had red hair, 48 freckles (one for each State of the Union) and was voiced by Bob Smith himself. (Which also explained why Howdy Doody never put in a public appearance when Buffalo Bob and Clarabelle appeared on stage for various functions.) 

The Howdy Doody Show was a program of historic firsts. It was Howdy Doody’s face that appeared on the NBC color test pattern beginning in 1954, was the first children’s program telecast in color on NBC, and was the first children’s program to be broadcast five days a week.

On the afternoon of February 12, 1952, The Howdy Doody Show reached a milestone, celebrating its 1,000th telecast. To mark the first TV network show to reach 1,000 performances, the Howdy Doody telecast a gala on-the-air celebration with celebrity guests Milton Berle, Ed Wynn, Jack Carson, Danny Thomas, Dave Garroway, Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney, and Kukla, Fran and Ollie.

Rehearsals of The Howdy Doody Show
As a result of all the publicity and popularity of the children’s program, and with Bob Smith’s experience on the radio, it wasn’t difficult to convince the network to grant Bob Smith a Saturday morning radio program of the same name.

Bob Smith got his start in broadcasting on WBEN radio in Buffalo, NY, after being discovered by singer Kate Smith. He later moved to WNBC in New York City. The character of “Howdy Doody” really began on Bob Smith’s radio program, Triple B Ranch, in 1947. At that time, Bob Smith was voicing a character named Elmer who always greeted the children in the audience with “Howdy Doody, Kids!” Soon the children were calling Elmer by the name of “Howdy Doody.” Later in 1947, Howdy Doody made his television debut and the show rose to popularity. In 1950, Smith gave up his radio show to devote full time to The Howdy Doody Show on television.

Bob Smith and his famous puppet, Howdy Doody, were joined by their television friends and other cast members – Mr. Bluster, Flubadud, Princess Summerfall-Winterspring (played by the beautiful Judy Tyler), Dilly Dally, and Clarabell the Clown and his All-Clown Orchestra. The format was the same as the television program as a comedy-variety show staged strictly for a children’s audience, with children in the “Peanut Gallery” being invited to sing with Howdy, to say “Howdy-Doody,” etc. from time to time, thus getting the children into the act. (Screening silent comedies was not done on the radio program like it was on the television counterpart.) The audience was composed of children invited from various public schools in the New York area, plus other children who requested tickets in advance if such an offer was made available from time to time. Adults accompanied the children, but did not sit in the “Peanut Gallery.”

The Saturday (later Sunday) morning radio program was produced and directed by Simon Rady, a package production of the Kagren Corporation. The entire radio program originated from New York City. Every episode was taped in advance sometime during the week, so once a week a large handful of the kids that appeared on the television program as members of the Peanut Gallery were treated to a radio broadcast after the live television show went off the air. The script writers were Bob Cone and Eddie Keane. Eddie Keane was also the musical director. He wrote the music Howdy Doody sang. Celebrity guests paid visits from time to time. Bob Smith himself played the piano in novelty numbers. In short, the radio program was pretty much the same as the televisions series, without the visuals and added sound effects.

Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob
In the minds of the juvenile listeners, the “All-Clown Band” probably consisted of a dozen face-painted clowns – the kind you would see in a traveling circus. In reality, the magic of radio proved a disappointment to the kids sitting in the Peanut Gallery. The “All-Clown Band” was really one person, Buffalo Bob Smith, playing whistles, washboard, bells, spoons, horns, frying pans, and more. Clarabell, initially played by Bob Keeshan (who would later gain fame as Captain Kangaroo) never spoke on the television series. For radio, he honked a horn instead of talking. Some might believe a sound man was responsible but Keeshan was present in the studio, in complete clown makeup. (Remember, young kids were still present.) Keeshan also supplied the voice of Zabby, the “man from Mars,” and Flubadub, “the only talking animal in radio.” Whenever the role of The Inspector was needed, Keeshan also voiced The Inspector.

Bill Le Cornec was the voice of Dilly Dally. Dayton Allen supplied the voice for Mr. Bluster, Phineas P. Bluster, Flubadub and on rare occasions he doubled for the voice of Howdy Doody. Allen’s last broadcast was November 29, 1952. Bob Keeshan’s last broadcast was also November 29, 1952. Effective with the broadcast of December 6, 1952, Bob Nicholson played the role of Clarabelle as well as all the other roles Keeshan played. (Nicholson later went on to more success as co-producer of television’s The Newlywed Game.)

Broadcast Breakdown
December 15, 1951 to September 5, 1953
East Coast Broadcast: Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.
West Coast Broadcast: Saturday from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. *

* In the Los Angeles area, Howdy Doody aired only twice on the radio and at a different time slot from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. on September 6 and 13, 1952, hoping to attract a local sponsor. Also, for the June 21, 1952 broadcast, only the second half was heard on the repeat West Coast show (12:30 to 1:00 p.m.).

September 6, 1953 to April 18, 1954
East Coast Broadcast: Sunday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
West Coast Broadcast: Sunday from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. (times also varied in different areas)

Sponsors
-- December 15, 1951 to March 15, 1952, sustained
-- March 22, 1952 to June 14, 1952, the 9:00 to 9:15 a.m. portion was sponsored by International Shoe. (West Coast Repeat was 12:30 to 12:45 p.m., obviously) One exception: Over WNBC in NYC, International Shoe was not the sponsor.
-- June 21 to August 9, 1952, sustained. (International Shoe took a summer hiatus)
-- August 16, 1952 to March 14, 1953, the 9:00 to 9:15 am segment sponsored by International Shoe on a portion of the network only. (Other stations sustaining or co-op).
-- From March 21, 1953 to April 18, 1954, the entire hour was under co-op, part of the network’s Minute Man Plan.

The beautiful Judy Tyler.
Today, very few people know that The Howdy Doody Show was also broadcast on radio. And a popular assumption was that the radio program was nothing more than an audio track from the television series, but the radio series did consist of original material created and produced for the radio. Jay Hickerson of Leesburg, Florida, has been the official record keeper for more than two decades when it comes to all existing and available circulating radio programs. His publication is updated every four years with annual supplements in between. According to Hickerson, a total number of 17 radio broadcasts exist in recorded form. Only ten have been assigned broadcast dates. The remaining seven have not been verified and dates assigned by collectors are apparently inaccurate (citing Wednesday and Thursday dates, not Saturday or Sunday). The exact dates of the remaining recordings still need to be determined. Verified dates include December 15, December 22 and December 29, 1951. February 23, March 1, May 3, June 28 and August 16, 1952. January 3 and April 4, 1954.

Among the highlights of the radio program was the premiere broadcast of December 15, 1951. Milton Berle, the popular television personality, and his little daughter, Vicki, are guests. All of the kids in the Peanut Gallery referred to the comedian as “Uncle Miltie.” Western star Gabby Hayes, who appeared in a number of Howdy Doody television broadcasts, made his first of many appearances on the program, telling tales of stagecoach times and about his uncle who drove a reindeer stage one Christmas.*

* Gabby Hayes would make his second visit to the radio program on February 16, 1952.

Gabby Hayes
For the broadcast of December 22, 1951, Bob Smith told the story of “The Little Branch,” a Christmas story about the little branch on a big pine tree that became a Christmas tree. The broadcast of January 12, 1952, featured a dramatization of “Hopalong Riding Hood,” spoofing the Western cowboy hero and the Little Red Riding Hood story. The February 23, 1952 broadcast of Howdy Doody was a special George Washington program. All of the stories and songs were about the first President of the United States.

Beginning with the broadcast of August 23, 1952, an announcement was made during the International Shoe-sponsored segment about a Poll Parrot Shoe write-in gimmick. Every youngster who wrote in to tell what he liked about Poll Parrot Shoes would get a membership card in the “Howdy Doody Thinker-Upper Club,” which had just been organized. The two best letters received each week would be read over the air and the writers would receive a special gift such as a Howdy Doody doll or a Clarabelle doll, or a Howdy Doody Phonograph. Kids simply needed to visit the nearest Poll Parrot dealer; take a look at all the Poll Parrot shows and then go home and write their letter.

As a result of the troubles behind-the-scenes with Bob Keeshan and the producers, Clarabelle the Clown was written out of the series more than once, only to return to the program soon after. During the broadcast of August 30, 1952, and beginning the week after, youngsters had to enjoy the show without the consistent horn-hinking. Clarabelle would return a few weeks later. Bob Keeshan made his final appearance as Clarabelle on the broadcast of November 29, 1952, and the clown was written out of the series. Young children were led to believe that Clarabelle would not return for a few weeks, but the fan letters poured in and the week after, December 6, Bob Nicholson began playing the role. Clarabelle never left the program as it was dramatized the week prior, and tens of thousands of young children were no doubt relieved.

Clarabell, Howdy Doody and Buffalo Bob Smith

The Presidential election of 1952 received major television coverage, much more than the 1948 election since most Americans did not have a television set. As a result, Howdy Doody ran for office. Free campaign buttons were distributed to any child who wrote to the network. Young children all over the nation had been encouraged to send in their votes. This was not just a publicity stunt for the television and radio program, but an attempt to convince the executives at International Shoe to continue sponsorship of the radio program since they expressed a desire to option a clause in their contract to cease sponsorship. They reportedly received over 60,000 requests, statistically representing one-third of the American homes with television sets. Within the first two weeks, other potential advertisers were convinced and the Howdy Doody radio program was successfully profitable for NBC-Radio. Among the new sponsors was the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. During the radio broadcast of November 8, 1952, an announcement was made that “Howdy Doody” had been elected “President of all the kids in the United States,” due to the overwhelming response.

Tape Problems
On television, Buffalo Bob Smith encountered the usual errors that result in “live” broadcasting. During one broadcast, while showing a silent slapstick comedy, one of the children exited the Peanut Gallery and walked up to Buffalo Bob and sat on his lap. Loud enough for the microphone to pick up Smith’s narration of the film, the young lad remarked, “I have to go to the bathroom.”

For radio, you would think taping the show in advance for later playback was not without its flaws. Not so. In the start of the broadcast of January 5, 1952, there were three seconds of dead air due to tape machine failure. The content lost was “It’s Howdy Doody Time,” the answer the children gave to the opening. The June 7, 1952 broadcast suffered another setback. Trouble with the taping resulted in dead air from 9:16 to 9:20, at which time the tape resumed. NBC filled the four minutes with Electrical Transcription music. (It only took the network 25 seconds to start the music from the moment the show went to dead air.) The broadcast of September 20, 1952, began a little late (10 seconds of dead air time to be exact) because of the tape machine being “frozen.”

Judy Tyler, a.k.a. Princess SummerFall-WinterSpring
In Conclusion
In September of 1954, months after the radio series concluded, Buffalo Bob Smith, at age 36, was stricken in his home with a heart attack. NBC Television used some film previously made by Smith himself, beginning September 6. The reruns gave Smith a chance to recover, and Smith never returned to the program until January of 1955. No doubt the radio program would have also been affected had the series continued beyond April of 1954.

After she left the Howdy Doody Show, Judy Tyler became a night-club singer and got rave reviews for her opener at Mocambo’s in Hollywood. Bob Keeshan began a long and successful career as Captain Kangaroo.

His love of radio was clearly evident after the Howdy Doody television show concluded, when Bob Smith purchased a radio station in Maine and continued his career in broadcasting as an announcer and emcee for numerous radio programs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The 2011 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention Recap

The 2011 Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention was a big success. Everyone weighs the success of a convention in various forms. The way my wife and I look at it, the larger the attendance, the bigger the success. And MANC had the largest crowd ever in September of 2011. (Yes, I'm a little behind with this blog posting.) All of the photos in this blog post are courtesy of Al Stone (unless mentioned), who recently handed me a CD of photos he took at last year's event. Thank you, Al!

Fans line up to get Patty Duke's autograph. (Photo courtesy of Mark Gross.)
Celebrity guests included Jimmy Hunt from the 1954 classic, Invaders From Mars, Lauren Chapin and Billy Gray from Father Knows Best, Davy Jones (who passed away a few months later), Patty Duke, Tony Dow (Wally from Leave it to Beaver), Karen Valentine (from Room 222), Michael Constantine (also from Room 222), and Charles Herbert (The Fly and The Twilight Zone).

Tony Dow, Lauren Chapin and Billy Gray on the Q&A panel.

All of the guests were remarkable. Davy Jones was not even charging for his autograph and posed for photos with his fans. No one left the table disappointed. Patty Duke was a sweetheart. When she participated in the Q&A session on stage, the event room was standing-room only. On one particular afternoon, a woman brought her daughter to the show to meet Patty Duke. It seems the daughter recently watched The Miracle Worker in high school and wanted to meet the woman who played Helen Keller. Having discovered she forgot her DVD at home, which she wanted to get autographed, Patty Duke graciously picked up a DVD copy off her table, tore the plastic wrap off and signed the insert for the young girl. No charge. Talk about class.

Patty Duke chats with the audience during the Q&A Session.

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention (or MANC as many people refer to it) offers more than 150 vendor tables and nine or ten celebrities. MANC offers slide show seminars every hour. Among the highlights this year was a salute to Buck Rogers. The interplanetary hero appeared in comic strips, pulps, movies, radio and television and became an important part of American pop culture. The phenomenon paralleled the development of space technology in the 20th century and introduced Americans to outer space as a familiar environment for swashbuckling adventure. Not only were attendees treated to a superb slide show presentation by Maury Cagle, but a special display was put on by the Solar Guard Fan Club and the Radio & Television Museum in Bowie, Maryland.

Karen Valentine, Michael Constantine and Davy Jones.

Norman Cavey and Bruce Barrett put together a great slide show about The Enchanted Forest, an amusement park in Maryland that once rivaled Walt Disney World in Florida. The park has been closed for two decades and the restoration and preservation of The Enchanted Forest has become a volunteer project. Thanks to Norman and Bruce, attendees were treated to a documentary approach (with tons of rare photographs) of what the theme park was like during its heydey. A scale model of the entire park was also on display.

Larry Storch from F-Troop stopped by.
The convention also features a movie room which screens rare films 24 hours a day, for three and a half days. Among the highlights was a 1954 wrestling grudge match as it aired on television, World War II cartoons, the "lost" 1932 movie Beauty Parlor, the 1912 Queen Elizabeth movie starring the great Sarah Bernhardt.... well, you get the idea.

Old-Time Radio shows are also re-created on stage. Don Ramlow and his wife Mary put on two masterful re-creations and shares the MANC vision of producing "lost" radio plays. That is, radio scripts from the 1930s, 40s and 50s are used for the stage performances but the scripts chosen are for episodes collectors have never heard. Radio broadcasts not known to exist in recorded form. This way attendees get to enjoy a new adventure.

There is also a charity auction designed to benefit the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Elizabeth Taylor's autograph went for almost $300! Of course, we have a story behind that one. Last year we wrote to a number of celebrities asking them to donate an autographed photo for the auction. The day after the 2010 convention, a signed photo from Elizabeth Taylor arrived in the mail box. So we figured to wait and hold on to it for next year. Well, Taylor passed away since then so we were not concerned about including the envelope the photo came in, with the auction prize. After all, it's not like they could write to her. This might have been the last time anyone could buy a legit Elizabeth Taylor autograph. And the bidding went high!

Fans even come in costume!
Among the vendors are Bear Manor Media Publishing, VCI Entertainment, Scarlet: The Film Magazine, and many other national labels as well as locals and private collectors. Movie posters, books, DVDs, and much more are offered for sale and many times at rock bottom prices.

Personally, I attend a dozen conventions a year. Every event has their own flavor and decor. The crowds are always friendly. But at a time where an aging fanbase and a declined economy are taking their toll, MANC is proud to have an increase in attendance every year. Last year MANC almost hit 1,500 attendees. This is something very few conventions can brag about. It shows future stability for an event designed to bring everyone together for three days and share a common interest.

The 2012 MANC will be held three weeks from now. If you ever considered attending, make your plans now. I also encourage you to check out the web-site. Even if you do not plan to attend this year, the web-site has tons of fascinating articles worthy of checking out. From Batman, Terry and the Pirates, Howdy Doody, Celeste Holm, Andy Griffith and many others. It will keep you busy reading more nostalgic goodies for an hour or two.
http://midatlanticnostalgiaconvention.com/the-2011-nostalgia-convention/

Friday, July 13, 2012

Veronica Lake: A Biography in Pictures


“I will have one of the cleanest obits of any actress. I never did cheesecake like Ann Sheridan or Betty Grable. I just used my hair.”  –Veronica Lake

Veronica Lake
Veronica Lake never received her due of sex appeal like her Hollywood competition. Her legs were not insured for $1 million dollars like Betty Grable and her two biggest assets were not being promoted like Jane Russell. When she stood to attention in So Proudly We Hail! (1943), uniformed Veronica Lake stood 4 feet, 11 inches tall. She weighed 90 pounds. She was teamed with Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels (1942), who stood 6 feet, 3 inches. While filming I Married A Witch  in 1942, Veronica Lake and co-star Fredric March did not like one another, due in part to some disparaging remarks March made about her. During filming, Lake delighted in playing pranks on March, such as hiding a 40-pound weight under her costume when March had to carry her in his arms. In another scene in which the two were photographed only from the waist up, Lake stuck her foot in March’s groin.

Veronica Lake
But in front of the camera, Veronica Lake deftly filled the lens with more sex appeal in her one eye than most beauties wearing half as much, and trying twice as hard. An icy blonde whose trademark hairstyle - a cascade of golden tresses that obscured one heavy-lidded eye - remained among the enduring images of Hollywood glamour… and Veronica Lake was for a time, one of the most popular and sought-after actresses in motion pictures. Her hair style motivated a generation of women to imitate her cool persona with the peak-a-boo hair style. (This wasn’t the first time a Hollywood actress influenced the way Americans lived. Actresses Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn were often photographed in trousers during the 1930s, which helped make trousers acceptable for women to wear in public.)

Veronica Lake
Composers feted her in song, with famed composers Rogers and Hart citing her look in 1943's The Girl I Love to Leave Behind and Lake even singing a tune about herself in the 1942 wartime morale booster film, Star-Spangled Rhythm. When the G.I.s overseas displayed pin-ups to remind themselves what they were fighting for, Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth had competition. Her impact on society was so dramatic, that during the war, she was forced by the United States government to temporarily change her peek-a-boo hair-do after numerous women in munitions factories were becoming injured when their long locks of hair were catching in assembly-line machinery. Veronica Lake’s hair style, popularized on the silver screen, became a safety hazard and in 1943, she began appearing on the screen without the trademark hair.

Veronica Lake
Movie historians debate whether or not this dramatic change in her appearance had a negative effect on Lake's screen career, but in reality, there were a number of factors that contributed to the decline of her star status. Lake had a reputation for being difficult on the set, and many of her co-stars were open in their dislike of her; Fredric March refused to speak about her in interviews, and even the genial Eddie Bracken (her co-star in Star-Spangled Rhythm) had nothing but caustic words about her. In 1942, she divorced John Detlie, and the following year she stumbled over a cable during the making of The Hour Before Dawn (1944), which led to the premature birth of her son, William. The movie studio has to quickly reschedule filming (and additional cost to do so). To make matters worse, critics savaged her performance as a Nazi sympathizer in Dawn. Some claimed she could not act – only look pretty. Some historians today make the same claim. Lake also reportedly began drinking during this period, with rumors of mental instability - which had plagued her since childhood.

Veronica Lake
Born Constance Ockelman in Brooklyn, New York, on Nov. 14, 1919, Veronica Lake was only 12 years old when she lost her father, oil company employee Harry Ockelman, due to a work-related accident. Her mother, also named Constance, married Anthony Keane a year later, causing the family to move several times over the next few years. After gaining some fame in beauty pageants in Florida, she and her parents re-located to Beverly Hills, CA, enrolling Lake in the Bliss Hayden School of Acting in Hollywood. Her big break happened almost immediately. After signing with RKO, she made her film debut in John Farrow’s romantic drama, Sorority House (1939), in which she was initially billed as Constance Keane. Bit roles in other features followed, including a Leon Errol comedy film short (being screened this up-coming weekend at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, her second screen appearance.

“Hollywood gives a young girl the aura of one giant, self-contained orgy farm, its inhabitants dedicated to crawling into every pair of pants they can find.” 
 –Veronica Lake

I Married A Witch (1941)
Lake worked her way up in Hollywood, proudly and publicly admitting that she was capable of getting roles in movies without the need of a casting couch tryout. She signed with Paramount in 1941, and while there, famed producer Arthur Hornblow redubbed her Veronica Lake – “Lake” being inspired by the blueness of her eyes, and according to Hornblow, the name Veronica suggesting beauty.

For the next three years she appeared in a string of box office hits, all financially successful for the studio. She made a major impact as William Holden’s smoldering love interest in the military drama, I Wanted Wings (1941), a 17th-century sorceress who falls for the ancestor of the man who condemned her to death in Rene Clair’s I Married A Witch (1941), and showed considerable comic talent as a struggling actress who accompanies Joel McCrea on his cross-country trip in Preston Sturges’ cutting social commentary, Sullivan’s Travels (1942). Why this latter film has not been hailed as one of the 100 best movies ever made is subject to debate, but it was one of the five best films I saw last calendar year, both old and new movies. It’s one of those films you will admit, after the closing credits, “they don’t make movies like that anymore.”

This Gun for Hire (1942)
In late 1942, she was cast opposite screen newcomer Alan Ladd in the brutish noir thriller, This Gun for Hire (1942), with Ladd as a killer and Lake who sympathizes for the gunman. The movie studio had found a solution to Alan Ladd’s 5 foot, 5 inch height. They paired him up with Veronica Lake. They would appear together in a total of seven films, including The Glass Key (1942), Duffy’s Tavern (1945) and The Blue Dahlia (1946).

In 1944, she married film director Andre De Toth, reportedly violent behind the camera. De Toth would later be responsible for directing House of Wax (1953), considered one of the greatest 3-D movies ever made. Ironic when you consider the fact that De Toth had a glass eye – you need two eyes to see the 3-D process. Perhaps she needed a man who was dominant in her life. Perhaps she felt sorry for the director. Whatever the reason, her marriage never lasted a decade and her drinking continued behind the camera. Business-minded Alan Ladd, soft-spoken, meek and insecure, publicly criticized her for showing up late on the set of The Blue Dahlia.

This Gun For Hire (1942)
20th Century Fox picked up her contract in 1948 and she initially assumed this was a change for the better since she did not feel welcome at Paramount anymore. Fox wasn’t known for putting out quality movies, with more misses than hits. Lake was among the statistics. Not that Fox tried their best. Whenever possible, movie producers gave her top billing. In February of 1952, she played the role of Mary Stevens, a young American girl, who goes to Mexico with her mother, to escape the strife of the American Civil War. Once there, she gets caught up in love and politics as Don Migeul Navarro (Zachary Scott), a follower of Maximillian, battles Dom Pedro Alvarez, a follower of the exiled Juarez, vie for her hand. The romance paralleled the success of the Juarez movement. Stronghold was released in theaters and the film was such a flop that she went to New York to try the stage and a number of television appearances (mostly to pay off a debt to the IRS). She never returned to Hollywood for more than a decade.

Even though Lake took advantage of her down time and earned her pilot's license; in 1946, eventually flying solo from Los Angeles to New York, her personal life after Hollywood involved alcoholism. She only made the news when she was picked up by the police for disorderly conduct. Lake moved to Hollywood, Florida, avoiding the West Coast, where she penned a well-received autobiography, Veronica, which detailed her many struggles with temperament, mental illness and alcoholism. With one last ditch effort for her long-past-its-prime career, Lake managed to co-finance her final film, a dreary, Florida-lensed horror movie called Flesh Feast (1970), in which she played a doctor experimenting with a youth formula involving maggots. The film was not a box office success.

Veronica Lake
In 1973, she was hospitalized with declining health brought on by hepatitis and renal failure -- both complications of her alcohol addiction. Her mental facilities were also in sharp decline. Lake had suffered from steadily increasing paranoia since the mid-‘60s. Estranged from her children, Lake died alone on July 7, 1973. Rumor had it that it took days for someone to identify her body. Some of her ashes were scattered in the Virgin Islands three years later, but in 2004, it was discovered that another portion had reportedly remained in possession of a friend and that it had made its way to an antique store in the Catskills.

References to Lake’s peek-a-boo style and ice queen demeanor were seen in everything from the neo-noir flick, L.A. Confidential (1997) with Kim Basinger as Lynn Bracken, to the animated femme fatale, Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988). Even the comics’ Archie Andrews of The Archies had a longtime love, brunette vixen Veronica Rogers, mirrored closely with the actress.

Veronica Lake Screen Saver (for those who can't stop looking at her)

After her Hollywood career came to a close, her one-time lover Marlon Brando heard she was working as a barmaid and promptly had his people deliver her a check for $1,000. Too proud to cash it, Lake instead chose to have it framed as a memory of days gone by, and a not-so-subtle notice to others that she was once Hollywood’s reigning sex symbol.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Time Tunnel: Proposed Second Season Television Series

James Darren and Robert Colbert, stars of The Time Tunnel.
“We were doing our last or next-to-last Season One episode, we were about to go on hiatus, and Irwin telephoned me on the set,” recalled actor James Darren. “Like I said, we had a pretty special relationship. I don’t think he and Bob did, to be honest with you, not that it meant anything, but Irwin and I just got on well. And so he called me on the set and told me that Time Tunnel had been picked up for another season. And he said, ‘You can tell Bob and whoever else you wanna tell.’ I was thrilled. I told Colbert, I said, ‘Irwin just called me and told me that we were picked up’ and blah, blah, blah. But then later, [it was announced that] Time Tunnel was being taken off the air.”

In late June 1967, tabloids began reporting on television actors with an itch to get involved on a larger scale. Robert Vaughn, for example, had a hankering to direct an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for the up-coming season, while James Darren (according to a news blurb in TV Guide and Tom McIntyre of the Weekend TV Editor) wrote a plot synopsis for a second season episode, centering on Doug and Tony’s encounter with Jack the Ripper.

The Lodger movie poster
“As I think about it, I may have suggested that to Irwin, but I really can’t swear to it,” recalled Darren. “I didn’t write a script because I don’t consider myself a writer. It might have been just something that I talked about to him about, because that was a fascinating thing, the story of Jack the Ripper. I saw the original Laird Cregar movie [The Lodger, 1944], I saw the Jack Palance movie [Man in the Attic, 1953], and even though in a sense it’s kind of sick to find him fascinating, because he was a horrible person, it is an interesting story.”

“Had The Time Tunnel gone a second season, the possibilities would have been expanded,” Darren added. “We could have gone into a parallel world. We could have bumped into ourselves from another travel. The possibilities were limitless. Writers often run out of ideas but with Time Tunnel, we would have still come up with ideas.”

“I believe, had the series ran longer, by the third season there would have been more control over where we would have gone and we probably would have been in contact with the Time Tunnel [personnel] more often,” remarked Robert Colbert. “There probably would have been a couple recurring characters, arch nemesis and maybe even meet up with other time travelers.”

In the September 9, 1967, issue of TV Guide, a letter to the editor from William Cook of Orange, California, expressed his disappointment over the summer reruns. Knowing the series was not going to be renewed for a second season, pondered why the producers did not chose to film a special closer for the final telecast. “Why can’t more television shows follow the fine example set by The Fugitive? Instead of just ending the season with another rerun, why couldn’t shows like The Time Tunnel film a special episode and save it for the end of the season with the scientists coming out of the tunnel?” The answer was simple. If the series had closure, the networks feared people would not tune in to watch the syndicated reruns.


Second Season Proposals
Over 30 plot proposals were drawn up for consideration for the second season, many involving far out plots including the destruction of the human race and major holocausts. The possibility of the stories becoming darker in nature (compared to the first season entries) is evident in the brief summaries reprinted below, reprinted from a custom made "pitch" book for Irwin Allen. Allen commissioned an artist to create original art to accompany the brief plot proposals, and I personally had the rare opportunity to hold this collectible gem in my hands for a short time and review the contents. There appears some evidence, however, that two "pitch" books were created and the second in a private collector's hands. That collector, however, has remained elusive when answering my e-mails. That said, what I am about to present are a few (not all) of the more intriguing plot summary proposals for the second season that was never put before the cameras.

Lost Civilization
Tony and Doug land in the primordial ooze of a prehistoric swamp out of which come charging antediluvian dinosaurs. Running from the threat, they are stunned when they come upon the ruins of metropolitan skyscrapers. In taking refuge here from the dinosaurs, they come upon a cultivated and cultured man and woman who are under attack by the retrogressive semi-humans of this degenerate era. The man and woman are also time travelers. They are from 10,000 A.D. Tony and Doug help these two sympathetic people escape from their attackers back into the future, and themselves escape back into the limbo of time.

Note: William Welch wrote the plot titled “Prehistoric Future” as a first season episode. Contracted on April 11, 1966, this was Welch’s first assignment for The Time Tunnel, pre-dating his other contributions to the series. This was the only teleplay written and not produced as a first-season entry. Re-titled “Lost Civilization,” it appears Irwin Allen planned to produce the teleplay as the premiere of the second season.

Atlantis (1961) movie poster
Atlantis
In the year 6,000 B.C., Tony and Doug are drowning in the black waters of the Atlantic. With the help of the staff back at the Time Tunnel Complex, they manage to reach the island shores of a fabulous civilization. Suspected of causing strange Earth movements, they are threatened with death but are saved by Tau and Rana, a young husband and wife. In return, Tony and Doug succeed in rescuing their benefactors from the awful fate which now overtakes Atlantis. The fabled civilization explodes in volcanic fury and sinks to the bottom of the sea.

Note: It was suggested that stock footage from George Pal’s Atlantis: The Lost Continent (1961) be used should this episode be put to film.

Inferno of Terror
In the year 2,150 A.D., Tony and Doug find themselves aboard an Alien earth-boring vehicle, plunging at nightmare speed toward the molten core of the Earth. In addition to the danger ahead, they face instant death from the Aliens aboard whose mission is to extract life-forces from our world. The scientists back at the Time Tunnel Complex vainly combat the Alien control under which the vehicle is operating, but it is Tony and Doug who finally succeed in defeating the Aliens and save the planet.

Hannibal (1959) movie poster
Hannibal
Tony and Doug, in a narrow Alpine defile in the year 216 B.C., are helplessly trapped in the path of a trumpeting charge of Hannibal’s armored elephants. They are about to be executed as spies sent by the Roman enemy. Advised by the Time Tunnel, Tony and Doug make an apparently miraculous military prediction to Hannibal. Because of both ego and curiosity, he allows them to prove their innocence and good will by infiltrating the Roman lines and rescuing Hannibal’s daughter, Genevre, from the brutal Roman General, Scipio. Tony and Doug accomplish the rescue during the climactic battle between Hannibal’s elephant troops and the Roman legions.

Note: The plot was no doubt conceived after reviewing stock footage from the 1959 motion picture Hannibal, starring Victor Mature, which Irwin Allen had access to courtesy of the Liber Film Company. In the movie, after making his historic crossing of the Alps with elephants transporting supplies and troops, Hannibal marches on Rome in a war of revenge. During his advance, he captures Sylvia, the niece of Roman Senator Fabius Maximus but, instead of holding her prisoner, he shows her his powerful army and herds of elephants, then sets her free. He is sure she will report what she has seen to his Roman enemies. Hannibal defeats the Romans at the battle of Trebbia and sends a message to Sylvia that he is marching on Rome. Sylvia succumbs to her love of Hannibal and the great war lord discovers that, in war, there can be no room for romance.

When Worlds Collide
Tony and Doug find themselves on a strange planet which is disintegrating all around them; great chunks of matter are being torn from its surface by the increasing, incredible magnetic attraction exerted by the approach of an immense fiery star which is steadily increasing in force. The surface of the planet splits in mile-deep fissures, mountains crack apart with their tops exploding off into space. Only the counter-magnetic force of the Time Tunnel, zeroed in on Tony and Doug, enable them to survive in order to rescue two astonishingly human-like inhabitants.

Original art from the Press Kit.
Return of the Ice Age
Tony and Doug find themselves a hundred years in the future in New York City which, together with the whole Temperate Zone, is in the deadly grip of a new Ice Age. A permutation of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun has resulted in immense icebergs crushing New York harbor from the sea, and in glaciers descending on the City from the North. The Time Tunnel’s computer system predicts that the glaciation has reached its maximum advance and within a few days will begin to recede. Tony and Doug, inside the City’s subway system, help the civic leaders fight off the attacks of roaming polar animals and to bring destructive panic under control so that the City can survive these last critical hours before the ice will begin to return to the North.

The Thing in the Web
Tony and Doug are thrown back in time to 100,000 B.C., landing amid the monstrous forms of prehistoric life in the Great American Desert. Captured by the aborigines and threatened with death, they will be spared if they can destroy the Thing in the Web, which is about to destroy the local tribe. Using the power of the Time Tunnel to distract the Thing, Tony and Doug manage to reach its underground lair, but then suddenly find themselves enmeshed by the gigantic, unbreakable metallic web spun by the spider-like creature.

Note: As a cost-cutting measure, it was proposed to reuse some of the webbing and giant spider props/footage for this episode as well as “The Weird World,” an episode of Land of the Giants put before the cameras early in the season.

Original art from the Press Kit.
Beast of Evil
In the year 3,000 B.C., Tony and Doug find themselves in Ancient Greece, their lives in jeopardy. They have been thrust into the public arena to face death by sacrifice to a monster – half-man, half-bull – on orders of a pagan High Priest who has reserved the same fate for Ariadne, the daughter of a political enemy. The Time Tunnel helps turn the tables on the pagan High Priest by enabling Tony and Doug to work a few miracles. Ultimately, they have to slay the monster in order to rescue Ariadne and themselves.

Plunge to the End of Time
In December of 1969, Tony and Doug are magnetically attracted aboard an immense space vehicle whose control room alone is as big as the Time Tunnel Complex. Commanding this strange vehicle from the Andromeda Galaxy is Marek, whose purpose is to penetrate creation to the end of time. Also captured by Marek are three other strange scientist-beings, each from other Star Systems, one from Wolf 359; and a woman from Lalande 21185. Tony and Doug win the confidence of these strange beings, and organize a mutiny against Marek. They succeed in turning the space vehicle around before it runs off the end of time, and in sending their fellow prisoners and themselves back home to safety.

Note: It remains unknown who wrote the plot synopsis for this story, but “Wolf 359” was an episode of The Outer Limits, based on a story by Richard Landau, who was also involved with story proposals for television’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Moby Dick (1956) movie poster
Graveyard in the Sea
Tony and Doug discover themselves alongside a dozen other 18th Century sailors in a small whaling boat, eye to eye with the greatest whale of them all – Moby Dick. A mighty flail of the giant’s flukes smashes the boat and sends them all into the heaving ocean. Saving themselves from the whale only puts Tony and Doug at the mercy of the maniacal Captain Ahab, against whose cruelty Tony and Doug try to protect the weaker members of the crew. It takes the death of Ahab, dragged down to the bottom of the sea by the great white whale, to release Tony and Doug from their nightmare at sea.

Note: Stock footage from John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956), starring Gregory Peck, was going to be used should this episode go before the cameras. Irwin Allen had access to stock footage courtesy of Moulin Productions, Inc.


Original art from the Second Season Press Kit.
The Golden Fleece
Tony and Doug are thrown back into legendary times and find themselves between Jason’s fierce Argonauts, who believe the time travelers to be hostile, and the dragon which is guarding the Golden Fleece. Tony is forced to fight Hercules who defeats but spares him. Doug engages the dragon which is finally vanquished by lethal electrical bolts sent through time by the staff at the Time Tunnel. In return for Hercules’ generous act, Tony and Doug fight a rear-guard action against King Aeetes so that Jason and his Argonauts can escape with the Golden Fleece.

Note: Stock footage from Jason and the Argonauts (1963) was going to be used should this episode go before the cameras. Irwin Allen had access to stock footage courtesy of Columbia Pictures Corporation and Morningside Productions.

Missile From Centauri VI
In the year 2320 A.D., a ballistic missile launched from some distant galaxy strikes a lonely desert area of Arizona, not too far from the Time Tunnel complex. A second missile comes in on target. The Earth is under a probing attack from the unknown. Using a newly-developed technique, the staff at the Time Tunnel Complex succeeds in locating the site of the launch and transfers Tony and Doug instantaneously to that point. There they succeed in spiking the hostile fire-control apparatus until Centauri’s galactic orbit swings it out of Earth’s range. Centauri will not come within striking distance again for a million years.

Battle of the Galaxies
In the year 4750 A.D., Tony and Doug are whirled out of their time vortex into a spaceship outward bound from Earth on a reconnaissance mission. They are the only humans aboard the automated vehicle. But suddenly they see, emerging from the swirling galaxies around them, a hostile fleet heading toward Earth. Beings from the invading fleet enter their space vehicle and jam the automatic devices designed to warn the Earth. Tony and Doug overcome the invaders and succeed in sending the warning which will give the world time to turn back the invasion.

Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) movie poster
The Hell Ship
Tony and Doug find themselves in the year 1790 in the midst of the conspiracy of mutiny on the Bounty. Tony is keel-hauled and Doug is trying to help him earn Bligh’s enmity. Both are sentenced to be hanged from the yardarm but are saved at the last moment by the outbreak of the mutiny. They save Christian, and help the Bounty start on its voyage to Tahiti.

Note: Stock footage from Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), starring Marlon Brando, was going to be used should this episode go before the cameras. Irwin Allen had access to stock footage courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Arcola Pictures.

Note about the source material:
All of the information above can be found in Martin Grams' latest book, The Time Tunnel: A History of the Television Series, now available from Bear Manor Media. Excerpts above reprinted with permission.