Friday, July 28, 2023


As a fan of the 1967 television series, The Prisoner, I was pleased to have discovered there were a number of books written and published with additional stories that provided continuation after the events that took place in the final episode. For anyone not familiar with The Prisoner, this was a British television series about an unnamed British intelligence agent who is abducted and imprisoned in a mysterious coastal village, where his captors designate him as Number Six and try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. The viewers never find out who operates The Village, which country or nationality, but it was quickly evident that the permanent residents of the village were also spies who are now forced to live a life of peace and contentment. 

The plots are intricate and clever, making the television series one of my five favorites of all time. Naturally, novels that incorporate the same premise but with additional adventures intrigued me. In 1969, the first of three officially licensed novels were published. Thomas M. Disch wrote the novel and a number of people recommended the book with rave reviews. Sadly, after reading it, I found myself on the fence. The 1969 novel seems to combine elements from several Prisoner television episodes (like the dream visualization technique and the female doctor from the episode “A, B & C”) to no great advantage. Apart from those elements, the story has no great premise or narrative drive, and even the conclusion was confusing. 


Thankfully, the second book in this series was written by a different writer (David McDaniel) and plays more like an additional episode of the TV series versus a re-invention of the wheel. The first book was republished multiple times so it is easy to find a copy but if you are a fan of the television series and want to enjoy additional adventures, I recommend the second in the series. And if you never saw the television program, do yourself a favor and seek it out. They are the most intriguing 17 hours you will enjoy.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

An Amazing Autograph Collection for Sale

For those who collect autographed photos from celebrities, here is a tip that you will not find among high-profile news outlets...

Back in 2018, a friend of mine named Kevin Flynn was diagnosed with Parkinson's. At first the disease was not troublesome but earlier this year it became apparent that he needed further assistance beyond a walker. Kevin is now living in a home where assisted living is available 24-7. His apartment is being cleaned out and his autograph collection is now available for sale. And, wow, what a collection!

John Astin poses with Kevin

Kevin was among the volunteer staff for the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention, Monster Bash, Chiller, Monster Mania and other conventions. The perk to being a volunteer staff was free autographs from the weekend celebrities. After thirty plus years of volunteer work, Kevin amassed quite a collection. Among those notable are Cyd Charisse, Selma Hayek, Cameron Diaz, Van Williams, Linda Hamilton, among others. Naturally, celebrities like Mark Goddard, Kane Hodder and Conrad Brooks are somewhat common because those celebrities attended multiple conventions and, in some cases, returned to the same conventions multiple years. Others like Robert Conrad, Robert Wagner and Roy Thinnes did very few conventions so those autographs are less common. Celebrities who attended our convention over the years, from Lee Majors, Louis Gossett, Jr., Dawn Wells and Julie Newmar come as no surprise. Kevin was good friends with Hammer horror actress Veronica Carlson, so he had a dozen autographs from her. Among his favorite was Linda Blair, who signed one of every photo she ever got her hands on -- he has an entire binder of nothing but Linda Blair autographs!

Kevin poses with Lindsay Wagner

If you collect autographs, you know that the primary concern is the validity of the signature. (Sadly, there are people who fake autographs for huge profits.) More importantly, knowing the source of the autographs is essential in collecting. This is one of those collections that will make your jaw drop and, most important, all of the autographs were acquired in person! Kevin had an impressive collection. So here is that tip I promised you...

2. Click "Autographs"
3. Click "Date, New to Old" where you can refine the search.

The latest autographs added to the site are from Kevin and you can scroll through the site, page by page, and enjoy window shopping. Prior to the recent acquisition, Fred, Toni, Ed and Packy's collection was listed on the site as well but most of those are cowboy stars but Kevin's collection was diverse. Looking for a chance to get that rarely-available autograph and one you can be certain is legit? This is your chance. Most importantly, your purchase will help two good causes, including helping Kevin with his medical bills.

Julie Adams from Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Friday, July 7, 2023

FIVE BOOK REVIEWS: From Betty White to Carol Lynley

Bear Manor Media recently sent me a huge box of books to review and I spent the good part of the last month reading a few. Five of these books were focused on television and motion-picture actresses who cemented a legacy that is often talked about but rarely documented. Here are a few of them that might be of interest to you.


BETTY WHITE ON TV: From Video Vanguard to Golden Girl

She made her TV debut in 1939 and was still on the medium eighty years later. Betty White earned her first Emmy nomination in 1951 and her last nomination 63 years later. Her longevity in television earned her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Betty White’s incredible career encompasses seventeen regular roles, including The Mary Tyler Moore ShowThe Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland. She also did thousands of guest shots on everything from The Tonight Show to Password and Match Game to SpongeBob SquarePants. This book not only documents her extensive career but includes interviews with many who worked with her.


CAROL LYNLEY: Her Film & TV Career in Thrillers, Fantasy & Suspense 


Since she was a child, the beautiful Carol Lynley graced television and movie screens from 1956 until 2002. She successfully progressed from child model, to teenage idol, to ingĂ©nue in such hit films as Disney’s The Light in the ForestBlue DenimReturn to Peyton Place, and Under the Yum Yum Tree. Then her cool beauty was put to perfect use as the bewildered blank-faced mother searching for a missing daughter who may or may not exist in the cult mystery thriller Bunny Lake Is Missing. (That movie is recommended viewing, by the way.) This propelled Lynley to adult leads where she excelled playing the lady in peril culminating with her most famous role as terrified pop singer Nonnie in The Poseidon Adventure


Carol Lynley: Her Film & TV Career in Thrillers, Fantasy and Suspense highlights Carol’s appearances in the titled genres. She has been terrorized on screen by everything from psychotic relatives to werewolves and the Blob, from murderous convicts to rampaging beasts and sinking upside down ocean liners. Most fans of these genres do not realize how prolific Carol was, going from theatrical features (The Shuttered RoomThe Cat and the CanaryBlackout), to made-for-TV movies (The ImmortalThe Night Stalker, and Death Stalk), to television guest appearances (Alfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Man from U.N.C.L.E., The InvadersNight GalleryFantasy IslandTales of the Unexpected) and back again for over thirty years. 


Peppered with comments from Carol Lynley herself, specifically for this book, and from past published sources, it also features fascinating behind-the-scenes tales from her co-workers including Arledge Armenaki, Stephan Chase, Matt Dotson, John Goff, Howard Kazanjian, Harry Langdon, Jr., Alan J. Levi, and Tina Sinatra. Author Tom Lisanti goes beyond The Poseidon Adventure to shine a light on Carol Lynley’s underrated work in the thriller/fantasy/suspense/horror genres with this meticulously researched and well-illustrated tribute book. I am not aware of any biography about her career other than this one, and found it well-written.




Jeanne Eagels, the legendary Broadway actress (as Sadie Thompson in Somerset Maugham’s Rain) and film star (as Leslie Crosbie in The Letter), lived a life of renown, yet her rocky path to fame—with its many struggles and triumphs—propelled her into increasingly erratic behavior, culminating in a shocking ending that stunned the entire world. I have seen what I believe are the only two movies known to exist with her in the lead, which only added more fascination about the character. 


This fully revised and updated edition includes new revelations and details from Eagels herself and family and friends about her Midwestern childhood; her chaotic personal life; her uncompromising artistry; and her lifelong battle with inner demons. Illustrated with a refreshed collection of 150 rarely seen images. 




Even with all the movies and television films I have seen over the past decades, I know Barbara Nichols more for her role in the classic Twilight Zone episode, “Number 22.” She was known as the “dame with the shapely frame,” who changed her reddish-brown hair to platinum blonde, drew whistles as a semi-nude post-World War Two pin-up model, and was named Miss Long Island. Broadway beckoned and she drew attention in the Pal Joey musical. When Hollywood called, she filled a dubious niche in small, wisecracking roles, wringing both comedy and tragedy from cheesy, dim-witted stereotypical strippers, gold-diggers, barflies, gun molls, and floozies. It was there that she was considered in Hollywood the next Judy Holliday.


Nichols scored great reviews in films, such as Pal Joey (1957), Sweet Smell of Success (1957) and The Pajama Game (1957). Her later work on television cemented her archetypical characterizations on The Bob Cummings ShowThe Jack Benny ProgramThe Red Skelton HourThe Beverly HillbilliesThe Untouchables and Batman.


Always the life of the party and smiling before the public, her private life spiraled down into a whirlpool of troubled relationships and heartbreaking decline. Forever haunted by her unbreakable image as “that kind of woman,” the actress ultimately fell victim to the perilous price of fame, yet her sunny character and the hilarious anecdotes recalled by co-workers, directors, and relatives live on as a testament to her enduring appeal. The author has drawn from extensive interviews with Tab Hunter, Michael Dante, Marvin Kaplan, Paula Stewart, Barbara Luna, Mamie Van Doren, Shirley Knight, director William Byron Hillman, Barbara’s psychic, two of her relatives, fellow high school students, and friends.


Illustrated with more than 200 photographs from her personal archives, this is probably the best book on the subject.




From before Fritz Lang’s Fury (1936) through Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage (1936), William Wyler’s Dead End (1937), and Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice (1988), Sylvia Sydney walked a difficult path to stardom.


Abandoned by her father as a child, and a high school dropout, she emerged from her shell at age sixteen to a lead role on Broadway, and by age twenty, to a Paramount contract and the amorous attentions of producer B.P. Schulberg. Her appearance with Gary Cooper in City Streets (1931) prompted other studios to clamor for her services. Moviegoers wept watching Josef von Sternberg’s An American Tragedy (1931) and King Vidor’s Street Scene (1931), establishing her as the screen's foremost Depression heroine. Hollywood “paid me by the tear,” she often lamented. Sylvia acquired an impressive list of Hollywood leading men: Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, and James Cagney.


On a personal note, I have seen each and every one of these films mentioned above so I was eager to dig into this book. I was not disappointed.


Scott O’Brien’s exhaustive research work reveals a fascinating insider's look into Sylvia’s salty, opinionated, and funny personal life. Illustrated with a treasure trove of 134 photos from Sylvia’s personal life and career.