Friday, May 31, 2013

Mickey Mantle's Corked Baseball Bat

Mickey Charles Mantle was a god to multiple generations of baseball fans. Grown men would break down at the mere prospect of meeting him and shaking his hand. Nearly two decades after his death, Mantle still holds a special place in the hearts of many, which makes a new revelation particularly hard to accept. Compelling evidence links Mantle to an altered, “corked” bat.

The bat in question, which is the only corked Mantle bat ever to have surfaced, is featured in Grey Flannel’s June 5, 2013 sports memorabilia auction. It’s a 35-inch long, 32.6-ounce Hillerich & Bradsby Co. ash baseball bat manufactured in 1964 with “a light coat of pine tar at the mid handle,” according to the description on the Grey Flannel Auctions website. Prior to entering it in their auction, the Westhampton, N.Y., company had the Mantle bat examined by the foremost game-used sports equipment authenticators, PSA/DNA. Not only did the firm perform a rigorous visual examination, its expert John Taube also X-rayed the bat. The X-ray image revealed the truth – cork had been inserted into the barrel end of the bat.

Taube’s written analysis said: “During our examination of the bat, we noticed a circular area .75 inches wide in the center of the top barrel. The finish in the area has also been touched up to mask the circular area. Alterations of this nature indicate the barrel has been drilled and filled with cork (so) we had the barrel X-rayed and (it) confirms that the barrel has been drilled and filled with cork...this is the first corked bat of Mantle that we have seen or heard of.”

In his autobiography, then-MLB equipment manager Ray Crump admitted he had corked some bats for Mantle. Until now, however, none of the alleged corked bats had surfaced. There have long been rumors that the Yankee slugger sometimes used a corked bat, but up till now “none of the bats have surfaced,” the site claims. Corking a bat, which supposedly makes it lighter thus enabling the batter to swing faster, is illegal in Major League Baseball. But Mantle, who hit 536 homers before retiring in 1968, isn’t the first hitter to be accused of that. Chicago Cubs star Sammy Sosa was suspended for eight games in 2003 for using a doctored bat. And last month, a cork-filled Pete Rose bat was sold for $8,000 at auction.

“Mickey Mantle remains an icon and a legend. This discovery does not define his career or achievements, but there’s no denying the bat is a remarkable piece of New York Yankees and baseball history,” said Grey Flannel Auctions’ president Richard E. Russek.

The bat will be offered in the Internet and absentee auction together with the X-ray and letter of authenticity from PSA/DNA. Bidding on the bat begins May 20, with a required opening bid of $5,000.

This is an accusation against a man and a player whom aspiring athletes worshiped and baseball junkies enshrine as the gold standard of sluggers. Mantle is a unanimous selection for the Mt. Rushmore of Yankees, which is no small task considering their storied history. Surely, a situation like this calls for reflection upon the accused's career. Granted, this was a bat used in Mantle's age-32 season, so he was on the downswing of his prime. But he still hit .303 with 35 home runs and 111 RBI that season and finished second in the MVP voting.

So make what you will and draw your own conclusions about the seasons (or games, even) prior and beyond. But the suspicion lingers when the proof is there and the numbers are huge. (It's been theorized that cork in a wooden bat doesn't help the ball to go any farther and might actually deaden the impact. But many players who have corked likely did so in order to achieve the use of a lighter, longer bat that allowed them to swing harder and reach more areas of the plate.) Want to buy a potentially historic piece of Baseball Memorabilia? Here's your chance. Auction ends in a few days!

For additional information about the Mickey Mantle bat, visit the Grey Flannel site.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Ed Wynn, Jimmy Stewart Book Reviews

I’m falling behind with my book reviews. Not a week goes by that someone isn’t sending me a book to do a book review and the pile grows faster than I can read them. So today I play catch-up. 

By Ryan Ellett
This is the kind of book old-time radio scholars will be consulting many times over the next decade, proving the Encyclopedia of Black Radio in the United States, 1921-1955 is an essential reference. And why someone hasn’t done a book about this subject until now baffles me. Almost 300 African American (and a few white) performers, organizations and series broadcast during radio’s “Golden Age” is profiled in encyclopedic form. More than half of the radio programs and celebrities documented in this 200 page book cannot be found in any other reference guide. (Hence why I say it is "essential.") From the obscure Layton and Johnstone (BBC, circa 1925) to Jerome Washington (WCBM in Baltimore, Maryland, circa 1932), they are all here.

There are two appendices: a chronology of debuts and notable events, and a week-by-week episode guide of both the pioneering African American radio series The Negro Achievement Hour and The Negro Art Group Hour, both of which debuted in 1928. Yes, the book is indexed. Yes, the book is well-researched. No, it does not have photos. But books like this one doesn't need photos when the text is truly the meat and potatoes. For fans of Duffy’s Tavern (such as myself), looking up the biography of Eddie Green is a treat because Ryan uncovered the names of a couple radio programs Green appeared in that I did not even know exist. And one pleasant surprise was a lengthy write-up of John Henry, Black River Giant, which I have seen ads for in newspapers for years but knew nothing about.

I suspect this won’t be the only book authored by the talented Ryan Ellett, and I look forward to his next one.

PERFECT FOOL: The Life and Career of Ed Wynn
by Garry Berman
To my knowledge (and correct me I am wrong) there are no biographies about Ed Wynn except for this new one from New Jersey resident and author Garry Berman. Yes, I enjoyed Keenan Wynn’s autobiography, Ed Wynn’s Son (1959), but he focuses only on his father for a brief spell. So you can imagine my surprise when this book arrived in my mail box. Ed Wynn proved that “A comedian is not a man who says funny things; a comedian is a man who says things funny.” Having listened to vintage radio recordings, watched Disney’s Babes in Toyland, Wynn’s performances on Desilu, Playhouse 90 and The Twilight Zone, vintage television programs and numerous cartoons spoofing the comedian, I tore into this book one Sunday afternoon and found it difficult to put down.

Where to start? Chapter Six is perhaps the most entertaining because it deals with Ed Wynn’s role as The Fire Chief for the Texaco radio program (a subject I find very enjoyable). Wynn might have been known for his vaudeville work and screen efforts but his radio program at the time was among the most popular. In this book, Wynn’s Broadway career is discussed in great detail, as well as his personal life before he decided to start a career on stage. I was only disappointed in one chapter (Chapter 13), the one covering his television work. It appeared half of the chapter was a description of the plot summaries for shows Ed Wynn appeared as a guest and I would have loved to have known more behind-the-scenes stories about the making of those programs and how television producers lured him in front of the cameras. After all, he didn’t need the money. But he wasn't known for remembering his lines and improv was more his style.

Come to think of it, there's no mention of Ed Wynn’s weekly position on The Big Show (1950-1952) mentioned in the book. Ed performed his "Carmen" routine so many times on the program it was difficult to miss him. He wasn't on the show every week... but he was on the program so often you almost thought he was a regular. I only wish there was more backstage, behind the curtain information than what was included in the book.

The photos, from the author’s personal collection, are wonderful. They help illustrate a biography that has been long overdue. If you want to know more about Ed Wynn in his early years, including Vaudeville and Radio, this is the book you want to buy and read. It is certainly worth the cover price. Garry Berman documented a lot of material about Ed Wynn’s stage work that you won’t find anywhere else.

by Charles and Erna Reinhart
James Stewart’s life embodies professional achievement and service to both community and nation. His illustrious career encompassed theater, film, radio and television from 1930 through 1990 and included important milestones in the histories of those media. He won an Oscar for his role in The Philadelphia Story in 1940 and, in 1985, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Oscar. His military career began with his enlistment as a private in the Army Air Corps in 1941. He flew and commanded 20 combat missions, rose in rank to colonel, received the Distinguished Flying Cross and Croix du Guerre, and attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserves before his military retirement in 1968.

Like most Hollywood celebrities, he appeared before the radio microphone for both professional and publicity purposes. For someone to write a 600 page book documenting his radio career is impressive, especially when you consider the fact that the authors managed to compile a list so long that it took that many pages to finish the job. They document so many details such as plot summaries, script excerpts and so on, that their project is certainly a hefty cockroach killer. The authors managed to listen to two-thirds of the radio programs listed in this book. They also documented audio recordings such as syndicated transcription discs, radio commercials such as the 1988 Campbell’s Soup Company spots, public service announcements, radio drop-ins and much more. 

The only flaw I can find with the book is that while any audio recording featuring Jimmy Stewart can be referenced in a single volume that I can pull off the book shelf any time, and it helps preserve the legacy of the actor through a medium that is not often explored by Hollywood historians, the fifty dollar price tag makes me wonder how valuable the book might be for folks who find the chronological approach a sore for the eyes. You cannot read it from the first page to the last. It would be like reading an encyclopedia. Instead, if you are researching something like The Lux Radio Theatre, you would first turn to the McFarland book about Lux and then turn to this book for additional details about that particular broadcast. If you cannot find any information about an obscurity such as Miracle Over Main Street (1947), this book has some information about the radio program -- that is, if you are aware in advance that Jimmy Stewart appeared on the show so you know that you should consult this book.

It is difficult for me to do a book review for something like this because I have been part of a small operation that, week by week, adds radio credits for Hollywood actors. If we were to print out our database, it would be a multi-volume set. So when I say that Charles and Erna Reinhart did a wonderful job and I cannot see any room for improvement, I mean it. I wish other books like these were done for other Hollywood celebrities, but present-day lists of movie stars and their radio credits are often lacking commonly-known radio broadcasts. I see this time and time again in appendices and various chapters in books and are not often “comprehensive.” I fear copycats will try the same but they need to make sure they consult the probably half dozen radio historians who, day by day, dig into archives such as the Library of Congress and those owned by the advertising agencies. They compile such lists which grow with each passing week. (We just added four more radio credits for Claudette Colbert that no one knew about.) There is nothing wrong with consulting the good folks who specialize in their field and like Charles and Erna Reinhart, manage to succeed on a level that sets the bar for things to come. If Dorothy Lamour did at least 1,200 known radio appearances, I hope someone won't do a quick hack job and produce a book listing 800 appearances. Adding material such as plot summaries for movies they did on the big screen and were adapted for radio is just filler, not behind-the-scenes information. The list itself is what we look at.

Small note: No book like this can be “complete” because new radio credits will always turn up from time to time. But at least this book proves that a little hard work goes a long way and ensures the best job available under one cover and truly is as comprehensive as possible. Good job! 

by Jan Alan Henderson
Just who are the Lydecker Brothers, you might ask? Theodore and Howard Lydecker worked in the Hollywood film industry long before the advent of computer generated special effects. In those days, exciting and realistic action scenes had to be filmed in real time. Known throughout the industry as the “Minature Men,” they were in fact giants in their field of creating detailed scale model ships, planes, automobiles, volcanoes and trains. While these carefully crafted models performed on large-scale landscapes or backlot water tanks, all manner of mayhem and chaos would be inflicted upon them as cameras rolled at carefully calculated film speeds. The Lydeckers produced some of the most thrilling and authentic action sequences on a shoestring budget.

The exploding building in Captain America (1944) and The Black Widow (1948), the escaping gasoline truck at the conclusion of an early chapter of Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940), the mechanical men in Undersea Kingdom (1936) and Zombies of the Stratosphere (1952), the flying sequences in Commando Cody serials, the avalanche sequence in Call of the Yukon (1938), the airplane crash landing on a train in the John Wayne picture, Flying Tigers (1942)… all crafted by Theodore and Howard Lydecker. The Japanese battleship for Remember Pearl Harbor (1942) was their handiwork (and I just watched that Republic motion-picture last week). Blazing infernos and explosions in Johnny Guitar (1954), the exploding spaceship in The Purple Monster Strikes (1945), the flying sub for underwater sequences on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68)… Lydecker again.

As you might guess, they were primarily remembered for their outstanding visual effects in the Republic Pictures cliffhanger serials, as well as their feature films. When the script called for spectacular destruction, the Lydeckers delivered onscreen production value with economy the executives of the other picture studios could only imagine. The Lydecker family helped assist the author with this book, providing a tour of the original workshop, supplying photos and everything else that would help with this monumental task. Jan Alan Henderson did a superb job and my only complaint is the lack of an index and a complete list of all the movies they worked on. The book covers them all among the chapters but a quick pit stop summary would have been nice. The photos really reveal behind-the-scenes productions that warrant revisiting. I just had to do a book review because this was released through a small press (which means you won't find this one on the New York Times bestseller list) and most of you reading this might not even know it exists. So if you love cliffhanger serials, especially Republic Pictures, this is a book worth buying and reading.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Revisiting Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention

For 26 years, Bob Burchett, a resident of Kentucky, hosted the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Last year he announced that the convention was closing doors. An aging fan base and a declined economy all played a toll on the longevity of the event, held annually every April. With the warmer weather creeping in, I find myself with that itch to drive to Cincinnati and hang out with friends I see once or twice a year. The Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention may no longer exist but I cannot help but feel a bit nostalgic for the convention and wish it was still continuing. I was an attendee and vendor for 14 of those years. Thankfully, Mike Wheeler decided to carry on the tradition, now referred to as the Cincinnati Nostalgia Expo. Before closing the doors to a great convention and opening the door to a new one, I decided it would be fun to look back at past years and reminisce about all the fun we used to have.

John Edwards and Ted Davenport were vendors at Cincinnati for many years. Ted has a heart of gold. With his mother and father ailing, he remained home to take care of them and missed the last few conventions. But even when Ted was a no-show, he still took time to pack boxes of donations for the raffle table to help support the convention. His company, Radio Memories, offers a great selection of radio broadcasts from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. We need more people like Ted in the hobby.

I don't know who the guy on the left is. Probably an attendee at the event. But Fred Foy is posing next to him (on the right). Fred Foyis best known as the announcer for radio's The Lone Ranger. Having Foy at the event was a treat and naturally, they did a re-creation of The Lone Ranger that year. Interesting trivia: When Brace Beemer had laryngitis and could not perform the title role, Fred Foy stepped up to bat for the broadcast of March 29, 1954, "Burly Scott's Sacrifice." Brace later told Fred that he would never be sick again. That recording exists so if you want to seek it out and hear Fred in the role of the Masked Man, it's a lot of fun.

All three of these photos feature Parley Baer, best known to radio fans as Chester on Gunsmoke. The other man standing next to Bob in the top photo is Lon Clark, radio's Nick Carter. The photo above and below was the year that Suzanne and Gabor Barabas, authors of a book about Gunsmoke for McFarland publishing, attended the event. Parley is seen looking over the book and admiring what all went into putting such a huge tome together. William Conrad was approached but he did not participate. Parley later told Terry Salomonson that after the book was published, William Conrad received a complimentary copy by mail. Conrad, having looked over the book himself, then admitted to Parley that he should have assisted by consenting to an interview.

The photo below is the hotel where the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention was located. The Windjammer was a cool place with pirate decor and a pirate ship sticking out of the hotel. This is the only photo I have to offer at the moment and if it appears too white in color it's because the snow came down the night before and covered most of the parking lot.

You never know what you'll see at a nostalgia convention. The license plate obviously belonged to someone in the hobby and not a stranger visiting the hotel that day. Transcription discs were always common to find and I remember one year when four men each held the corner of a wooden crate to carry a stack of discs out to the parking lot. The raffle table above was a staple at the event. You paid for a few tickets (as cheap as a buck a piece) and the money went to help the convention. Tons of goodies spread out over two or three tables for people to choose from.

Cincinnati was also an excuse to catch up with some friends I saw once or twice a year. (Thank goodness for e-mail now.) Gordon Payton, pictured above with Karen Hughes, is performing a re-creation on stage. Gordon was known as "The Sci-Fi Guy" and had the largest collection of science-fiction radio and audio dramas in existence. He spent years making contacts with people outside the U.S. to find those rare, elusive radio recordings. Thanks to Gordon's efforts, "lost" radio shows are available today for us to listen to. Gordon lived in New Jersey and, sadly, he got out of the hobby a few years ago.

The photo above is Sonny Raley. Sonny hailed from Western Maryland and sold autographs from celebrities. Looking for an Alfred Hitchcock autograph? Sonny is the man to contact. He suffered from Alzheimer's in his final years and I remember going to his house and driving him to a few conventions so he wouldn't be behind the wheel. Sonny will be missed.

Chris Holm, in the black tee-shirt, hailed from Michigan at the time. He lives in Virginia now. Chris is a very talented radio actor on the stage and it's a wonder why Hollywood hasn't taken notice. (Of course, that's why the vocal talents on reality shows who make it big came from small-town churches.) Chris helps with the efficiency of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention every year. Thank you Chris!

Dan Riedstra and Jim Widner are pictured sitting at the dinner table. They are two of the nicest people you'll meet in the hobby. On the evening of the final night of the convention, there is a dinner with live stage performances and awards. Always a highlight and a great way to close the convention and look forward to the next one. 

The Boogie Woogie Girls, a modern-day version of The Andrews Sisters, supplied "live" stage performances for a few years. They were a hit and Bob made arrangements for them to return year after year. The middle picture above is Harold Ziegler. He helped film many of the events during the convention. He died too soon. Ken Piletic, pictured with the walkie talkie, also filmed most of the events including the final year. A nice guy and some of his photos are used for this blog post.

The photos below are of the re-creations that were performed on stage. Hal Stone is standing in the center. Rosemary Rice is standing to his left. Bob Hastings is on the far right in blue. These three actors all starred on Archie Andrews and naturally, a re-creation of that show was done for a number of years. Hal Stone is featured in the photo below. A nice guy who liked to drink alcohol and tell dirty jokes. When he passed away, the convention was never the same afterwards. He is still missed today as people still mention his name from time to time.

The photo above: (left to right) Terry Salomsonon, Ken Stockinger, Jack French and Lara Jansen. Terry won the Dave Warren Award. Ken is holding his Parley Baer Award proudly. Jack won two awards that year: the Dave Warren and the Stone/Waterman Award. Lara also received the Dave Warren Award. Awards like these are given out every year. The photo below has Bob Burchett (left) introducing Terry Salomonson (right) to give out the next award on stage.

The photo above is Jim Skyrm. A nice man who helped get the Cincinnati Convention up and running and then handed it over to Bob after year one. Jim has been to the show all 26 years and it was great seeing him again last year. Like I mentioned above, I am happy to be going back to Cincinnati again after Bob Burchett's 26 successful years... my only regret is not having gone to the first 12 that I missed.

For anyone curious about the new convention, the Cincinnati Nostalgia Expo, click here:

Special thanks to Stephen Jansen, Steven Thompson, Ken Piletic and Bob Burchett for the photos.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Original 1964-65 Jonny Quest Cartoons and the Rick Brant Novels

Jonny Quest: The Animated Adventures
One of my two favorite animated television programs is Jonny Quest (often mis-spelled as "Johnny Quest"), often referred to as The Adventures of Jonny Quest, a short-run series from 1964-65, produced by Hanna-Barbera. (My other favorite is Rocky and Bullwinkle.) Jonny Quest had everything going for it -- action, adventure, suspense, comedy... and the creators of the program were obviously inspired by radio thrillers such as Jack Armstrong and I Love A Mystery and comics that appealed to juveniles during the 1940s and 1950s. With the central character being a young boy, children could find a common bond -- remember, even Captain America and Captain Midnight had children sidekicks for a reason... heck, the cartoon even looked like a comic book brought to life... Jonny had yellow hair and wore a black tee shirt, Race wore a red shirt and had white hair -- the proper coloring for a comic book.

Jonny Quest was a young boy who went along on scientific travels with his father, a scientist, who lived on a private island off the coast of Florida. The Quest family had a private lab and a hired gun -- a bodyguard named Race Bannon. Jonny's mother was assumed dead before the adventures because she is no where to be found or referenced on the program. Jonny's best friend is Hadji, roughly of the same age, a Hindu who wears a turban and using the magic words "Sim Sala Bim" is able to levitate objects at will. Jonny's father works for the government, but exactly in what capacity is never explained. Tagging along on the adventures is a small bulldog named Bandit, which provides the comic relief.

The Mystery of the Lizard Men
In one episode,"The Mystery of the Lizard Men," Jonny and Race travel to the Sargasso Sea to discover why so many ships have been disappearing. They board an old deserted ship, where they are taken prisoner by The Chief and his men, whose frogmen outfits suggest the appearance of lizards. The Chief tells Race and Johnny that he has developed the laser gun into the ultimate weapon and has blasted the missing ships with it. Listening to The Chief, Jonny realizes he plans to use the laser to blast the first Man to the Moon shot, scheduled for that very day!

The gang battles an assortment of villains such as a mummy in "The Curse of Anubis," a giant robot spider in "The Robot Spy," voodoo in "The Dreadful Doll," and in "Turu the Terrible," the Quest party is sent on an expedition to find Trinanuxite, a metal essential to the space program. Natives lead them into the Land of Turu, a hidden spot guarded by a giant pterodactyl. A wheelchair-bound man named Deen is using the creature to force the natives to mine the valuable ore.

Dr. Zin's henchmen using hovercrafts!
The episode "Werewolf of the Timberland" suggested a real werewolf, until the guilty party was unmasked... a premise and format that would later be repeated for another Hanna-Barbera program, Scooby Doo. "The Invisible Monster" is a classic among fans because there really was an invisible monster, accidentally created in a lab and running amok killing everything it comes into contact. Jonny spills paint on the creature so everyone can see what they are combating. My personal favorite is "Shadow of the Condor," in which the Quest party is forced to make an emergency landing in the Andes and encounters Baron Heinrich Von Froelich, a former World War I flying ace. The Baron offers Race one of his vintage fighting planes, but then follows him up and engages him in aerial combat. Since only Von Froelich has live ammunition, Race's chances of survival appear slim until a giant condor appears and comes to his aid. The WWI ace wants to relive his glory days and has been so isolated in his mountain retreat that shades of Norma Desmond come into play... and subject matter that really wasn't found on children's programs of the time. Adult stuff.

The producers wanted to ensure a good bit of lore was added to the program. Hadji's origin is dramatized in "Calcutta Adventure," Race has a girlfriend named Jade who appears in two episodes, and the gang has an arch nemesis, a rival scientist named Dr. Zin, who appears in four of the 26 episodes.

Two subsequent television series, two movies and three video games have come along, as well as a series of comic books, but nothing beats (or captures) the feel of the original series. And this is a darn shame because each producer of the new versions apparently did not realize what made the original program so hip and cool.

Jonny Quest was originally going to be Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, based on the popular old-time radio program from the 1930s and 40s. Hanna-Barbera even commissioned comic book artist Doug Wildey to create a five minute animated pilot using Popular Mechanics and other scientific magazines "to project what would be happening ten years" in the future, offering a futuristic rendition of the Jack Armstrong series. When Hanna-Barbera could not get permission from General Mills, following a promising screening of the test footage for GM executives, Wildey reworked the concept and created Jonny Quest. According to Wildey, inspiration came from the old Jackie Cooper and Frankie Darrow movies, cliffhanger serials, Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates comic strip and the James Bond movie, Dr. No.

As Wildey described in 1986, producer Joe Barbera had seen that first film about the English superspy "and wanted to get in stuff like [Bond's code-number] '007' — numbers. Which we included, by the way, in the first [episode of] Jonny Quest. It was called 'Jonny Quest File 037' or something. We dropped that later; it didn't work. But that was his father's code name as he worked for the government as a scientist and that kind of thing." (Source, Amazing Heroes #95). Hanna-Barbera refused to give him a "created by" credit, probably for legal purposes so the studio wouldn't owe long-term royalties, so Wildey instead received "Based on an idea created by" credit.

The closing credits of every Jonny Quest episode began with scenes of two young boys escaping from African warriors by hovercraft, dodging deadly spears, escaping into a rocket which promptly closes doors moments before the spears hit the craft and bounce off, and the rocket launching into the air. Pictured above and on the left, these remain the only scenes in the closing credits not borrowed from episodes of Jonny Quest and for years puzzled fans as to their origin -- they were clips from the five minute Jack Armstrong pilot with Jack Armstrong and Billy Fairfield (not Jonny and Hadji).

Jonny Quest TV Series on DVD
I purchased a complete series box set from years ago when I learned that the complete 26 adventures from 1964-65 were being released on DVD. Like many commercial releases, the episodes were partially cut, re-edited and altered. (If anyone believes all commercial DVD releases of TV shows are uncut and unedited, click here to find out more.) Series creator Doug Wildey is not credited on 25 of the 26 episodes because the end credits for "Pursuit of the Po-Ho" are used for the closing of every episode. Why they did this I do not know since all the original masters clearly had their own individual credits. "Double Danger," the one that differs, actually has the closing credits from "The Curse of Anubis." Dialog from "Pursuit of the Po-Ho" and "Monster in the Monastery" was intentionally removed from the DVD set to avoid negative stereotyping. (To add insult to injury, the opening credits, a.k.a. the main titles, are a hybrid of the two versions of the main credits used during the show's original run on ABC.) Shame on Warner Video for doing that! But I do recommend the box set since the adventures are, for the most part, as good as they get.

Jonny Quest became a target of parental watchdog group Action for Children's Television for its multiple onscreen deaths, murder attempts, use of firearms and deadly weapons, depictions of monsters, and tense moments. The Cold War-era fiction and yellow peril adventures add blood and thunder to a great program... which makes fans like me long for more. Jack Armstrong, the radio program, and the Terry and the Pirates newspaper strip, come the closest... until I discovered the Rick Brant Electronic Adventures. (And if you don't know where I'm going with this, stay with me... you'll get a kick out of this.)

In 1947, the publishing house of Grosset & Dunlap released The Rocket's Shadow, the first of what would become 24 adventure/mystery novels by John Blaine, a pseudonym for authors Harold L. Goodwin (all titles) and Peter J. Harkins (co-author of the first three). The final novel would be published in 1968. Best compared to as an imitation to the Hardy Boys novels, the mysteries involved science and the lead character, a young boy named Rick Brant, who was very knowledgeable with electronics. His experimental gadgets often came in handy, hence why the series was referred to as an "Electronic Adventure."

Rick Brant's father, Hartson William Brant, was an engineer, a Master of the Arts, a member of numerous scientific societies, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Atomic Scientists. He worked for the U.S. Government and resided at a private home/laboratory where he conducted many of his experiments. The Brants lived on Spindrift Island, roughly oval shaped, located off the New Jersey Coast. Hartson Brant's scientific projects often required traveling to far off countries and -- you guessed it -- combats international criminals, spies and villains. Rick has a shaggy little dog named Dismal, a friend named Scotty who acted more like a bodyguard than a big brother, a Hindu named Chahda who occasionally traveled with them on their adventures... an arch nemesis named "Scarface" and... well, if this all isn't starting to sound like Jonny Quest... maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way. I have no doubt Wildey was inspired by the novels, but nothing has been found to prove this and Hanna-Barbera wouldn't admit it even if this was brought to their attention. Besides, who cares? To me, it's like reading additional adventures of Jonny Quest and that's all I care about.

In The Rocket's Shadow, the first novel in the series, Scotty was hired as an island guard and helped Rick solve the rocket mystery and trap the Spindrift traitor who was helping Manfred Wessel, a.k.a. "Scarface." who was trying to thwart the Spindrift rocket so he could launch one of his own and thus win the $2 million dollar Stoneridge Grant. After the adventure of The Rocket's Shadow, Scotty, who was an orphan, became an accepted member of the Spindrift Island family. In the second novel, The Lost City (also 1947), the two boys had gone with Professor Hobart Zircon and Professor Julius Weiss to High Tibet, to set up a radar transmitter for sending messages via the moon, courtesy of the controlled rocket launched at the conclusion of the last novel. They had succeeded only after overcoming many obstacles thrown in their way by the unscrupulous adventurer, Hendrick Van Groot, and the lost tribe of Mongols whose city was hidden in the Valley of the Golden Tomb, a.k.a. the tomb of Genghis Khan. At the conclusion of the second novel, Chahda wants to return to America and become a member of their family. Since he was instrumental in their rescue, the team agrees and makes the necessary arrangements. In the third novel, "Sea Gold," Rick and Scotty trap the saboteurs trying to wreck the plant where minerals are being extracted from the sea. The criminal turns out to be their arch nemesis who underwent plastic surgery to masquerade as someone else and avoid the "Scarface" name. In "100 Fathoms Under," the boys start a treasure hunt by Submobile in the depths of the Pacific Ocean, only to find themselves assisting Professor Gordon of the Bishop Museum explore Alta-Yuan, a sunken temple one hundred fathoms down -- at the bottom of the sea.

Illustration from The Lost City (1947)
If you enjoy the Jonny Quest series and long for action and adventure, and books that are difficult to put down because they are fun reads, look no further than the Rick Brant novels listed below. There is a bit of lure in each story so fans can chat about statistics: "No, remember that Scarface's age was mentioned in the third adventure..." You can get them on and other online book stores for about five bucks or less (plus postage) and more if they have their original dust jackets -- at least, that seems to be the average going price for them.

The Rocket's Shadow (1947)
The Lost City (1947)
Sea Gold (1947)
100 Fathoms Under (1947)
The Whispering Box Mystery (1948)
The Phantom Shark (1949)
Smuggler's Reef (1950)
The Caves of Fear (1951)
Stairway to Danger (1952)
The Golden Skull (1954)
The Wailing Octopus (1956)
The Electronic Mind Reader (1957)
The Scarlet Lake Mystery (1958)
The Pirates of Shan (1958)
The Blue Ghost Mystery (1960)
The Egyptian Cat Mystery (1961)
The Flaming Mountain (1962)
The Flying Stingaree (1963)
The Ruby Ray Mystery (1964)
The Veiled Raiders (1965)
Rocket Jumper (1966)
The Deadly Dutchman (1967)
Danger Below! (1968)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Around the World in 90 Minutes

From 1956 to 1961, Playhouse 90 represented the best of live television drama during the "Golden Age of Television." What very few know is that of the 134 telecasts, only one was not a dramatic presentation. It was a special gala affair titled "Around the World in 90 Minutes." For this week only, Playhouse 90 suspended its usual dramatic format to telecast a remote from Madison Square Garden. There, producer Michael Todd threw a big party for some 18,000 guests to celebrate the first anniversary of the New York Rivoli Theater premiere of his film Around the World in 80 Days. Elizabeth Taylor (Mrs. Todd) was the hostess. Many celebrities were invited, and entertainers from all over the country performed. What resulted may have questionably been the worst network telecast of 1957.

Walter Cronkite as the host of Playhouse 90
At the time NBC scheduled “The Green Pastures” for the Hallmark Hall of Fame on Oct. 17, the network didn’t know Mike Todd’s Playhouse 90 party was set for the same night on CBS. Afraid too many newspaper and magazine critics would attend the Todd party and miss its show, NBC invited them all in to review “The Green Pastures” during dress rehearsal in the afternoon. This, of course, was unheard of in the trade. Had NBC had a psychic inclination as to what would become of the Todd broadcast, they would had no worries. Hindsight being clear and effective, no broadcast in the history of Playhouse 90 was so disastrous as “Around the World in 90 Minutes.” It proved a challenge to find a single review that offered any form of praise. One critic remarked: “CBS should not escape censure for denying its viewers the regularly scheduled Playhouse 90 and perpetrating, in its place, the Todd fiasco which in the judgment of some observers was the worst TV show yet.” TV Guide summarized effectively: “It is doubtful that the Columbia Broadcasting System will ever again be prompted to turn its facilities over to as obvious and hoked-up a publicity stunt as Mike Todd’s ‘little party.’ One assumed the network learned its lesson.”

Gary Moore as the host of Playhouse 90
On the first anniversary of the release of his film Around the World in 80 Days, producer Mike Todd and his wife Elizabeth Taylor invited 18,000 of their “close friends” to a Madison Square Garden extravaganza. Boasting a long list of celebrities, an enormous 14-foot tall cake and music from Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, Todd conned the CBS program Playhouse 90 into covering the live spectacle. There was a very simple explanation of why CBS was so willing to accept the bash as part of the Playhouse 90 time slot (and as an entry for the series). As a private investor, the network owned ten percent of Around the World in 80 Days (1955). But when the crowd got out of control, a bland publicity stunt turned into a giant food fight and Walter Cronkite, host for the evening, recalled the entire night as “disastrous.” Cronkite, while serving as the anchor man during the telecast, gave up early in trying to maintain any order, and at one point remarked, “It’s a madhouse down here.”

To help build up the publicity, over 100 actors picked up extras’ pay for their stints on the program. They were all amateur groups on the running track at the Garden oval that evening. Todd also had to become a signatory of the AFTRA code and post a bond for the program. On October 9, he issued a statement to the press, denying reports that he arranged with the Russians to launch their space satellite so that he could have a publicity tie-in with the special CBS show.

Elizabeth Taylor on Playhouse 90
As for the regular evening sponsors for Playhouse 90, they funded the ninety-minute broadcast. Anyone could figure how they were impressed by the publicity that filled the newspapers for weeks before the broadcast. Even Mike Todd seemed not to know what was going on until they were already on the air. “What came over home screens was neither entertainment nor information,” a critic for TV Guide remarked. “It was a potpourri of vulgar confusion, embarrassing to such performers as Walter Cronkite and Garry Moore, who were drafted (under duress, we hope) for the occasion. Todd wasn’t to blame. He had a good idea and it just snowballed to proportions that no one could have controlled. The 18,000 who were present at Madison Square Garden deserved what they got -- sore bottoms, bruised shins and stained dinner clothes. The blame for cluttering up the airwaves, however, can be placed squarely at the door of CBS.”

The sheer size of the preparations gave promise for an elaborate shindig, living up to Todd’s concept of the “colossal.” It also shaped to be the most elaborate giveaway show ever in the history of television. The “Little Party” (as it was billed from the marquee of the Garden) had been in the making for some months and it was, in fact, Todd’s luck that allowed it to fall on the exact anniversary date. The Garden was booked solid for weeks before and after October 17. Nevertheless, with the rodeo bowing out, Todd’s crews could only enter the premises, at 2 a.m. on the same date, giving them precious little time for their extensive preparations.

Elizabeth Taylor cuts the cake on Playhouse 90
The birthday cake was the largest ever baked, and the laboring folks at Swans Down did the job, putting in $15,000 of contributed cake-mix in return for sponsorship at the Garden during the event. The cake was carted into the Garden in sections. There, it was assembled and the icing applied to the surface. As evident when you watch the footage today, Elizabeth Taylor had to walk up a flight of steps in order to reach the top of the cake and make the first cut. What was not evident from viewing was another huge decoration requiring special preparations: the 24-foot Oscar replica which was created out of copper-colored chrysanthemums. It took 100,000 flowers, each dunking in a water-filled vial, to do the job. In addition, the six-foot base was be made up of flowers being flown in by flower dealers all over the world.

Vincent Korda, scenic designer on Don Quixote, was brought in by Todd from London to design the Garden decor. Pat Valdo, a famous circus veteran of Barnum & Ringling, was brought out of retirement to run the behind-the-scenes part of the show. Sally Pernick, formerly of the stagehands union, worked as Todd’s labor relations man. The job became necessary when it turned out that union jurisdictions on the various jobs overlapped. Working on statistics, 9,000 invites were sent out and assuming each person brought a plus one, there was expected to be an overflow crowd. About 1,000 members of the public were being imported from all over the party. Names were being drawn at movie theatres. Todd picked up the tab. A special man was hired to get the required hotel space.

Madison Square Garden certainly looked festive, with flags of all nations waving from the press box, inscribed netting on the ceiling, reminding not only of 80 Days but also of Todd’s upcoming Don Quixote (which was to begin shooting in Spain in April with his wife, Elizabeth Taylor, which was never completed due to the untimely passing of Mike Todd). A balloon replica from Around the World in 80 Days could be seen above the entire spectacle. The main floor was kept free for a continuous show, starting at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) and ending around midnight. The 90 minutes televised by CBS over Playhouse 90 was from 9:30 to 11:00 p.m.. There was to be dancing on the floor to the music of a 100-piece band. Duke Ellington was booked for the dancing. Adding to the attractions was the presence of the Dancing Waters, also as a contribution.

Interviewing Hedda Hopper on Playhouse 90.
A staggering array of items, from gifts, food and transportation were contributed by eager merchants angling for the fat plug. Not that Todd couldn’t afford to splurge. Statistics at the time reported that Around the World in 80 Days reaped a gross of over $17,000,000. It was been seen by some 8,000,000 people. Prizes — Todd called them “gifts” — were awarded via a drawing, using ticket numbers. A partial rundown of the gifts includes a Cessna plane (complete with flying lessons), three or four automobiles, motor scooters, record players, 100 cameras, four mink stoles and other furs contributed by Maximilian, 250 bottles of Vodka, 10,000 imported cigars, 100 pairs of ivory chopsticks, ladies’ hats, six ladies revolvers (in pastel colors!), 75 Swedish telephones (dial base and earpiece combined), 50 elephant bells from India, Austrian toy bears, 100 cases of Scotch chocolate biscuits, a rickshaw from Japan, six Olivetti typewriters, 40 Siamese cats (a gift from Todd’s pal, the King of Siam, who wrote music for Peep Show), and 1,000 Decca albums.

When it was discovered that the Garden had no direct passage from the balcony to the main-floor, this posed a problem. Anyone wanting to come downstairs, would have to go out and come in again. Most people had to eat in their seats. There was no hard liquor served at the shindig; only champagne. Todd was offered 15,000 hotdogs, 15,000 buns, 200 gallons of vichyssoise, a ton of baked beans, 10,000 eggrolls from the Chinese Merchant Association, 15,000 doughnuts from the Doughnut Association, ice cream from Borden, and 4,000 pizza pies.

Amusingly, Todd at one time figured he had more press covering than any political convention in history. Wires went out to 87 towns where 80 Days was playing in theaters, or booked for screening, urging theater owners to bring in their local press people. TWA flew in the press from the West Coast and from London as a gift to Todd. Quantas, the Australian line, did the same from Australia. Practically every foreign broadcasting web was assigning men to the affair, as was the Voice of America.

With such arrangements and mass publicity, one would assume this gala extravaganza would have been a landmark in television history. What ultimately happened was confusion everywhere. The cameras wandered endlessly between breaks in the “marching.” Anchor man Walter Cronkite, looking acutely uncomfortable, had trouble keeping contact with his roving colleagues, Jim McKay and Bill Leonard. (The former repeatedly kept looking at the wrong camera.) Commercials and station breaks cut into interviews that had barely gotten started. If there were celebrities in the Garden, they were well hidden from the CBS men, who finally had to content themselves with such “personalities” as Hedda Hopper and Elsa Maxwell. Elizabeth Taylor, looking beautiful as always, was picked up a couple of times, but once she was interviewed outside camera range and the other time she was busy climbing up the stairs to the top of the cake. Tony Curtis started to get on twice, each time was interrupted by a commercial. Ginger Rogers made it for a brief appearance. Cronkite, apparently supplied with a fact sheet, dutifully repeated the same facts over and over again. It was a prime demonstration that television, with all its technical marvels, was not a spontaneous medium.

Ginger Rogers being interviewed on Playhouse 90.
Walter Cronkite’s opening remark about the event being “totally unrehearsed” was an understatement. Garry Moore, the host of the program, could be seen glancing off camera when he first entered the picture. The first time Elizabeth Taylor appears on the screen, the camera cuts to another shot of the Philadelphia mummers. Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh were completely cut out to make room for long series of network and local spots. Todd could be seen wiping the sweat off his face and waving the camera away.

A series of film shorts designed to biograph Mike Todd’s journey as a producer for the motion-picture was highlighted with such celebrities as James Mason, agent Irving Lazar, Elizabeth Taylor and Charles Boyer -- the latter of whom was in costume for his up-coming motion-picture, The Buccaneer (1958), with the Paramount Pictures logo featured prominently in the center of the screen. It was understood that the film with Taylor was shot without permission of Metro, where she was under exclusive contract, but the studio took no action under the circumstance. Garry Moore introduced the filmed portions, which had Todd gagging it up and “dramatizing” the story of how 80 Days came to be. The sequences with Frank Sinatra and Maurice Chevalier were promised, but were never aired (although the two were listed during the closing credits). The show had its humorous moments, such as when Sir Cedric Hardwicke almost sagged off his elephant (after the first minute this looked more dangerous than funny) and when the black-tied attendants tried to catch up with a runaway dog. Apart from that, there were 240 dancers who didn’t dance, a sad-faced Fernandel who did nothing more than lead his horse around the arena (in a plug for Don Quixote), Sen. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota suddenly calling for international understanding, George Jessel calling Todd “The American Sputnik” (yes, there are laughs there), cowboys and Indians putting on a brief chase act, Broadway Asians presenting themselves as Indians, Burmese, etc., an appearance from the Keystone Kops, plumed knights, strolling players and a couple of jeep loads with food. If one wanted to be critical, watching the telecast today, Art Cohn produced and wrote the show, with little evidence of either activity.

In the October 18, 1957 issue of Variety, a columnist remarked: “The event was disorganized and the disorganization was contagious, spreading to the TV crews. This proved a saving grace, however, due to Todd’s apparent conviction that if much is good, even more is better. As a result, the mishaps caused by disorganization proved a welcome relief from the myriad of dancers, parading extras, bagpipers, horses, elephants, dancers, horses, dancers and horses.”

Variety later criticized in a later issue: “No question that the advance buildup and the promise of a huge star lineup gave the show a big rating. No question, either, that a lot of viewers must have felt badly let down when it was all over, for rarely has Todd produced anything less calculated to keep his public happy. What CBS’ ‘Around the World in 90 Minutes’ added up to was an interminable, frequently clumsy plug for Mike Todd; a show without a show that added up to nothing more than a listless parade around the tanbark. This had been billed as something special, and in the light of Todd’s achievement with Around the World in 80 Days, it seems the more incredible that it turned out something less than ordinary.”

Mike Todd’s Madison Square Garden bash gave CBS its highest rating for Playhouse 90 to date, a 34.5 against NBC’s 12.9 for the Hallmark presentation of “The Green Pastures.” ABC scored a 15.4 Navy Log.

Several of the daily newspapers were viciously rough on Mike Todd. The New York Herald Tribune commented editorially on October 19, comparing Todd’s shindig with the ancient Roman circuses for the masses and Marie Antoinette’s crack to the hungry French, “Let them eat cake.”  Pointing out that the United States “faces enough troubles at the present time, of which the Communist propaganda machine has taken full advantage to advance its course throughout the world, can well imagine how the Soviets will present a picture to the rest of the world of New York fiddling while the country burns.” The New York Tribune, in concluding its observation on Todd’s party, remarked: “In the days of the fabulous banquets which preceded the fall of the Roman Empire, the participants used to gorge themselves, retire to a specially named room and empty their stomachs so that they could return to stuff themselves anew.” The New York Daily News, in a tongue-in-cheek account, said Todd “gave the public bread crumbs and a circus.” George Jessel, who served as emcee, characterized the party most aptly when he said early in the evening: “Such an evening will not happen again. Nobody could stand it.”

One critic expressed his disappointment as “A promotion which was built on the deadheading of nearly everything had about as much dignity as a frat house panty raid on a sorority house at the first stirring of spring. After all the promoting the merchandise and the touted prizes were either baldly hijacked, Chicago style, or broken open and pilfered, waterfront style. This was just one of the many fiascos behind the fa├žade.” Another columnist remarked, “Todd got a $1,000,000 worth of publicity and made 18,000 enemies.”

Todd’s party landed an important and lengthy critique in his home town when the Minneapolis Morning Tribune offered front page coverage. Columnist and staff writer Barbara Flanagan was one of the Twin Cities’ 22 shindig guests chosen to travel in a chartered plane to and from New York at Todd’s expense. Telling about her experience at the party was anything but complimentary. In her opinion, the party was pretty much a bust. “Most of the invited guests went away from the party as bewildered as when they arrived,” according to Flanagan. “Anybody expecting caviar and peacock wings went home hungry from the party. There was beer and hot dogs and pizza and pickles and other good old everyday-type American fare. Todd’s one bow to the chi-chi set was pink champagne, but he served it in paper cups. In fact, pink was the evening’s theme. But whoever made the frosting for the cake slipped. Said one guest on departing, ‘Well, it was big. And it was also dull I’m still trying to figure out what it was all about.’ A New York cab driver pronounced Todd’s party a ‘dud.’ ‘I’ve been hauling people out of that place all night,’ he said. ‘From what I hear ‘em say, you could have a better time watching television.’”

There were no TV monitors available for the in-Garden bunch to know what was being telecast. Celebrities were embarrassingly few, fearing just what happened. One man in the upper perches wished he had “stood in bed.” As the free bonbon wagon rolled by, candies were thrown into the front-row. Then some idiot on the hotdog wagon started throwing the franks-and-buns. Not even a major league pitcher could control a pitch that involved a dog within a roll. Gowns were reportedly stained.

Before the American Federation of Television & Radio Artists would permit Mike Todd to televise his bash at Madison Square Garden, the film producer was compelled to place a $30,000 bond with the union to insure payment to the various actors who appeared on the 90-minute Playhouse 90 version on CBS. He complied, since the union would have pulled all the talent out of the show. This action, while not unheard of, was considered rare. Also part of the deal, enabling him to do the television broadcast, Todd signed the AFTRA code, the same one governing thespian relations with the webs and other television producers. The $30,000 was returned to Todd as he made payments to the actors. One of the reasons AFTRA demanded a bond, in the form of certified checks, was to avoid any squabbles over what constituted a walk-on as differentiated from a regular appearance that demanded union fees. The $30,000 bond was used to cover payments to 160 extras in the parade, 28 horsemen and women, and a group of incidental performers such as clowns. Also included in that bracket was emcee George Jessel and the performers in the film clips used on the show.

Performers, animal act participants, musicians and folk dance groups who were on the main arena, had first grabs at gifts and the free food. People in the balcony and galleries were literally isolated from the VIPs downstairs (the doors lead only to streets) but the latter, even if in Row A, could only lean over for a hotdog or coffee — if lucky. One valiant could be seen throwing hot dogs through the air and members of the crowd standing up to catch the food. The beer wag almost non-existent as the parched performers, musicians, photographers, sundry CBS staff, Madison Square Garden and Todd staffers, who were in the wrestling reach, helped themselves first. There was no entry provided from the ringside and the staff cops, who must have been recruited for the evening, refused exit onto the floor, in case one wanted to get near the free beer, coffee and hot dogs.

Behind the scenes, a number of minor scandals caused brief uproars. Officials at Madison Square Garden defended an accusation, blame-shifting “chiseling waiters” who sold food and drink which had been donated. Another issue was the raffle prizes. There was no raffling of the prizes, as pledged. To settle the issue, lucky stub-holders could read the winning numbers in the daily newspapers, a week after the telecast. Even the 10,000 cigars that were to be handed out were not.

The network’s original intention was to pre-empt Playhouse 90 on that evening, with Bristol-Meyers, the sponsor, shifting its $100,000 budget expenditure to the Mike Todd special. By the end of September, Kimberly-Clark agreed to co-sponsor the entire tab for the October 17 telecast. The scheduled Playhouse 90 for that night was a film, so CBS faced no problems on the production end. But when the American Gas Association and All-State Insurance was approached regarding the program shift, contractual issues rose and the network quickly decided to include the gala affair as part of the Playhouse 90 presentation. Commercial time for Bristol-Myers, Kimberly-Clark, Marlboro Cigarettes, American Gas Association and All-State Insurance made sure that the viewers didn’t lose track of that fact when commentators Walter Cronkite, Bill Leonard and Jim McKay were defeated by the in-studio film cut-ins.

Marlboro Cigarettes performed a slow burn over the way Garry Moore plugged his own Winston brand while helping emcee the telecast, which Marlboro sponsored. The cigarette firm sent a wire of protest to Merle Jones at CBS demanding an explanation. It seems that Moore (whom Winston sponsors on his I’ve Got a Secret) was booked directly by Todd to share the key anchor color commentary duties with Walter Cronkite at Madison Square Garden (with Todd, incidentally, reciprocating by appearing as a guest on Secret the night before). On-camera, Moore pulled out a pack of Winstons, which got a close-up exposure on the show, and several times laced his commentary with plays on the Winston ad slogan, “tastes good, like a cigarette should.” Although Marlboro, had an alternate-week half-hour sponsor of Playhouse 90, and was one of the sponsors on the Todd party telecast, and receive its usual alternate-week cross-plug commercial on the show. Marlboro’s agency, Leo Burnett, fired off a wire of protest immediately to Jones, and while CBS didn’t have a kinescope handy, it set up a screening a couple of days later for a Burnett representative of the West Coast. Marlboro never made any specific demands other than for an explanation, so apparently the matter never went any further than that.

The most incredible part of all this was the fact that the entire bash did not cost Todd more than $13,000 for the rental of Madison Square Garden and of his personal expenses. So many companies donated time, staff and money in return for cross-promotion, product placement and sponsorship (not on Playhouse 90, of course). CBS spent $50,000 on newspaper advertisements to plug the Playhouse 90 telecast.

Initial Telecast: October 17, 1957

Teleplay by Art Cohn.
Directed by Byron Paul.
Animal Supervision: “Buck” Steele
Associate Producer: Leonard Gaines
Director: Byron Paul
Assistant to the Producer: Russell Stoneham
Assistant Directors: Mack Bing and Gray Delmar
Technical Director: Sanford Bell and Charles Grenier
Settings Designed by Robert Rowe Paddock.
Costume Supervisor: Motley
Music Supervisor: Jack Saunders
General Stage Manager: Bernard Gersten
Director of Refreshments: William Forrest
General Production Coordinator: Pat Valdo

Cast: Charles Boyer (as himself); Walter Cronkite (the host); Hedda Hopper (as herself); George Jessel (as himself); Elsa Maxwell (as herself); Garry Moore (the emcee); Ginger Rogers (as herself); Elizabeth Taylor (as herself); and Mike Todd (as himself).