Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet on DVD

For a record-breaking fourteen seasons and 435 episodes, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet aired on ABC-TV from 1952 through 1966, becoming one of the most cherished cultural touchstones of the twentieth century. The gentle humor of the prolific and popular sitcom was brought to the screen by the real-life Nelson family: Ozzie and wife Harriet with their sons, David and Rick, all portraying themselves in a trend-setting blend of fact-meets-fiction comedy decades before Seinfeld and other semi-reality based shows. ​ 

The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet humorously chronicled the daily lives of the Nelson family as David and Ricky grew up before millions of weekly viewers. The band leader and singer began their association on radio as a weekly staple on Red Skelton's radio program, then became the stars of their own radio program. 

Oddly, the weekly half-hour situation comedy began on radio in the middle of a fourth season, the prior seasons known under a different name where Ozzie and Harriet were not the principal players, but rather the supporting players. Many years ago I had the privilege of scanning into PDF files tens of thousands of archival materials including every radio and television script, production notes, inter office memos, and more. It was here that I learned about their early radio history and why everyone in the hobby of old-time radio had an episode guide that started in the middle of the fourth season.  

It was on my slate to one day write a book documenting the history of the radio and television sitcom. Regrettably, time is against me. Too many projects, too little time. 

Flash forward a few years later when David Nelson, who was in the process of having the entire series digitally restored from archival elements, passed away before finishing his project. He had a crowd funding effort, if I recall, and I was a major (if not the largest) financial supporter for the cause. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that the project is indeed completed and thanks to MPI Home Video, the first two seasons are available commercially on DVD. Personally, I prefer the early seasons when the boys were boys and not teenage heartthrobs and the stories were wholesome family entertainment like the early seasons of Leave it to Beaver.

Yes, many of the episodes from the series fell into the public domain and you can easily acquire over 100 episodes on a DVD box set for a bargain price -- but the trade-off is the picture quality. Many are transferred from 16mm strike downs -- others from VHS from those 16mm strike downs. Worse, many of the companies compressed the video files to the lowest without pixelation so prior DVD releases have been below par in terms of picture and sound.

Like many projects, remember the financial support will mean future releases so do yourself a favor and buy Season One and Season Two today. With so many DVD releases in the past, it can be difficult to find the exact sets you want to own so I am providing direct links below for your convenience. (I also posted photos of the DVD covers so you can be sure to get the correct ones.) As for myself, I purchased a dozen of each for gifts to friends who have never seen the series or would not spend the money themselves, to help increase the sales numbers.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

James Buddy Edgerton: The Death of a Lone Ranger

We lost a Lone Ranger last week. James "Buddy"  Edgerton passed away at the age of 92. The link down below provides a photo of what he looked like in recent years. 

Buddy was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. With no political slant and no advertising advantages, the mainstream news media (regrettably) will not cover his untimely passing. So I thought it would be nice to take a moment and revisit his accomplishments.
Throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, the covers of pulp magazines and comic books featured incredible paintings. Many of those illustrators have been forgotten, and their original canvases long ago consigned to garbage bins. The beautiful artwork would ultimately be discarded for cheaper options such as comic illustrations or photographs of the television celebrities in costume. The artwork has since become relished by numerous fans of The Lone Ranger, and of recent years reproduced for the Radio Spirits bookshelf albums containing licensed old-time radio shows.

One of the artists responsible for those oil paintings is Don Spaulding. In the summer of 1950, Norman Rockwell used an empty schoolhouse to create a studio for young promising art students. Among the six students was Spaulding, who was a member of the Art Students League when he had the opportunity to study with the great Norman Rockwell. 

“The entire thing was all gratis,” Spaulding later recalled for Charlie Roberts, “which was typical of the type of person Rockwell was. We had a place to live, but we provided our own food… But there was the feeling that I was imposing on Rockwell because I was living rent free and so forth, so I thought I should go home and get some more of the League under my belt.” After a few months of assignments and studies, Spaulding went back home. We went around to pocketbook (paperback) houses and magazines in the hopes of securing steady income from his talent. “They all smiled, said nice things, and I never heard from them again,” Spaudling concluded. “But then I took my samples to Dell Publishing. They were general illustration sampled. Mostly adventure type stuff. The art director I saw there was Ed Marine. He was art director for the comic books. He liked my work and took a chance on me. That was probably a year or so after art school.”

Spaulding’s first cover was of a cowboy standing in a stream and a Yaqui Indian sneaking up behind him. Marine liked it and Dell assigned him a Lone Ranger comic cover to do. That was the one where he was swinging on a rope, kicking the outlaw in the face.

This would ultimately lead to 16 Lone Ranger comic books, 15 Buck Jones, 18 Tonto, and a few Tarzan comic books. The oil paintings confirmed are listed below for reference:

Buck Jones (6 covers)
Full Color #500, Full Color #546, Full Color #589, Full Color #652, Full Color #773 and Full Color #850

Tonto (18 covers)
Issues #13 through 27, 29, 30 and 31

The Lone Ranger (16 covers)
Issues #62, 63, 64, 71, 74, 76, 79, 83, 86, 88, 89, 91, 97, 98, 110 and 111

For the role of The Lone Ranger, he consulted one of the models frequently used by Norman Rockwell, whom he knew from the schoolhouse summer. Don Spaulding asked Norman Rockwell to get in touch with James “Buddy” Edgerton, to see if he would like to model for the covers. “Being paid to model was easy money and I was a college student, so I jumped at the chance,” Buddy recalled. “I modeled for fifteen Lone Ranger comic book covers for Don. His process was very much like Norman’s – first, he took a photograph, then he worked from the photo to the final piece. It was easy to see Norman’s influence on Don’s work. It was a great experience to be able to model for The Lone Ranger. Though I had handled guns all my life, there sure is something different about holding two pearl-handled revolvers while you’re dressed up like a cowboy – no matter how old you are.”

“I usually wore a uniform of sorts when posing for the oil paintings, sometimes for photographs to be used if I was unable to pose for a few hours. I never wore a mask, tho. Don would add the mask later,” Buddy told me. “I recall being paid $5 per session. He would usually do two or three images each time and pick the best for use as an oil painting.”

The model to pose for Tonto was Don Spaulding himself. A friend would take photographs of Spaulding in pose, which the artist would then consult to produce the oil painting. But Buddy recalls another art student, Don Winslow, posing as Tonto for a number of the sessions.

“I only modeled for The Lone Ranger for twelve of the sixteen paintings,” Buddy explained. But James “Buddy” Edgerton has another claim to fame. In the Spring of 1943, Norman Rockwell, his wife Mary, and their three young sons moved into the farmhouse next door to thirteen-year old Buddy in West Arlington, Vermont. As a result, he found himself as the model for many of Rockwell’s paintings, some of which are featured below for reference. Who would have thought that the proverbial Boy Scout of magazine fame was also The Lone Ranger in the comics?

Buddy since co-wrote a book about Norman Rockwell, providing insight to the artist from a perspective few could ever provide. The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families is available for sale on Amazon.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Lone Ranger Restoration Project

Over the past few years, more than 10,000 documents, inter-office memos, letters, contracts and photographs have been scanned. The culmination of four decades of research between multiple parties and a number of sources including family relatives of those involved with the radio program, everything has been digitized and backed up (with off-site backups).

Over the past few months we have been digitally restoring all of the photographs. Some of these are truly remarkable and will eventually be seen in volumes two through four of the on-going Lone Ranger books.

Screen capture of the restoration project.

Some of these remarkable photographs are reprinted below for your amusement. Every photograph has a story behind it. 

Young Pauline was cured of Polio and The Lone Ranger was
responsible for motivating the girl into taking her first steps
since being cured. Here, she is presented with a framed
photograph of that monumental day.

The Betty Crocker cake being cut with a sword
by The Lone Ranger after the radio ceremony
in Wyoming, summer of 1948.

This Betty Crocker cake was presented to The Lone Ranger
in the summer of 1948 during the famous Wyoming

Brace Beemer, in the costume of The Lone Ranger, in
Washington D.C. in 1950, proving he was an expert
marksman in person. He succeeded with a perfect score
of 150 out of 150.

Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger (Brace Beemer) sharing
the arena at Madison Square Garden in the fall of 1950.

George W. Trendle on the far left. The young boy admiring
the horse named Silver is the grandson of F.D.R.
This photo was taken on the grounds of the White House.

Lobby display promoting The Lone Ranger's appearance at 
the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.

Friday, June 3, 2022

The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention 2022

If you are looking for a destination convention this year, I recommend you check out the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention. The three-day film festival has been bringing fans together for seventeen years, who flock in from all over the country. Hollywood celebrities sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. Over 200 vendor tables provide a wealth of treasures. The event even provides a platform for museum curators, authors and film preservationists to give us slide show presentations on varied subjects. 

This year's event is scheduled September 15 to 17, 2022.

The following photos were taken by Martha Guptill, Bill Guptill, Al Stone, Mark Gross and myself from previous years and a fond look back at some of the event's memorable moments. If you have never been to the event, I hope these photos entice you to attend. 

In the background is Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris from West Side Story.
In the front is Karolyn Grimes, known as little Zuzu in the Christmas
classic, It's a Wonderful Life.

A sample of what can be found on the 200+ vendor tables.

Autograph lines stretch outside the hotel for the most
popular celebrities.

Kristy McNichol posing with a fan at the show.

Kent McCord from television's Adam-12 signing autographs
for fans throughout the weekend.

Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner spend the weekend signing
autographs and posing for photos with fans all weekend. 

The WKRP in Cincinnati cast reunion with Jan Smithers
and Howard Hesseman.

The autograph lines can be long. Sometimes the event has what is
referred to as "time passes." This gives attendees the advantage to
enjoy the show throughout the weekend and not stand in line all day.

Groucho Marx, The Lone Ranger and the Snow Miser.
Fans like to dress in cosplay during the weekend.

Gene Carpenter is one of the many vendors selling vintage
collectibles. His specialty is first issues of old comic books.

The third of only three times the entire cast of The Bionic Woman 
and The Six Million Dollar Man together to meet fans. Most of
the celebrities go up on stage during the weekend and for an hour
they answer questions from the audience. (Left to right)
Richard Anderson, Lindsay Wagner and Lee Majors.

A cinematic movie monster in person. Ricou Browning, who was
The Creature from the Black Lagoon, signing autographs for fans.

Visit the convention website at