Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"A Terrific Writer"

I'm honored that Classic Images and reviewer Laura Wagner have named my book on Martha Raye to their "Best Books of the Year" list. Congratulations to the other authors with whom I share this accolade -- Candace Hilligoss, Michael Gregg Michaud, Scott O'Brien, and Tom Weaver. My friend Derek Sculthorpe also received some much-deserved praise for his excellent book on Brian Donlevy.

Here's hoping for more good reading in 2018!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

A December Deal

There's still time to take advantage of my publisher's terrific Holiday Sale. Buy two or more books, use the coupon code HOLIDAY17, and get 30% off your order. You can browse the entire catalog here.

I'll even understand if you buy a book by one of my fellow McFarland authors instead of mine. I think...

Friday, December 1, 2017

Paging Mr. Picerni

Born 95 years ago today, actor Paul Picerni (1922-2011) was one of those journeyman actors who was always working. He needed to -- he and wife Marie had eight kids.

Probably best-known for playing Agent Lee Hobson on The Untouchables, Picerni could be found all over the place -- in movies (House of Wax, Marjorie Morningstar), daytime soaps (The Young Marrieds), and practically every prime time series you could name. When I was researching my book on Gale Storm, darned if he didn't turn up on both of her hit sitcoms of the 1950s.

I never had the privilege of meeting Mr. Picerni, but I feel that I got to know him through his interviews with author Tom Weaver. His startling stories about making House of Wax are captured in I Was a Monster Movie Maker, and he reminisces about his Western films in Wild Wild Westerners. He also collaborated with Weaver on a career memoir, Steps to Stardom, which I haven't yet read. I think I'll remedy that oversight.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Ackerman Anniversary

Ever noticed how many fondly remembered 60s sitcoms sport the credit line, "Executive Producer, Harry Ackerman"? Born 105 years ago, Mr. Ackerman's successful career hit its peak when he served as Vice-President of Production for Screen Gems, the TV subsidiary of Columbia Pictures. During that fertile period, Screen Gems boasted a multitude of hit shows, including Bewitched, Hazel, The Flying Nun, and Bachelor Father. 

Not every Ackerman show rang the ratings bell -- in Lost Laughs of 50s and 60s Television, I covered two that never saw a second season -- Grindl, starring Imogene Coca, and the romantic comedy Love on a Rooftop. But, overall, his batting average was one most other producers would envy. Off-screen, he raised a family during his long marriage to actress Elinor Donahue.

Though he passed away in 1991, Mr. Ackerman left behind an impressive body of work that pays tribute to his taste, intellect, creativity, and tenacity. And whenever you find yourself reading this, you can be pretty sure that, somewhere in the world, a Harry Ackerman show is making someone laugh.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Music to Remember ... and Remember ...

You know how it is when you get a piece of music stuck in your head? For more than a week now, the seemingly unlikely object of my brain's affection has been the theme from the 1970s sitcom The Tony Randall Show, as composed and conducted by Patrick Williams.

Even TV buffs may not remember much about this relatively short-lived series from the prolific folks at MTM. But something about Williams' lovely, graceful music seems to have taken up short-term residence in my mind. If you don't mind risking the same, have a listen in this YouTube clip.

As I learned from a little quick-and-dirty Googling, Dr. Williams (the possessor of at least two honorary doctorates) has racked up multiple Emmy and Grammy awards in a career spanning several decades. His multitudinous accomplishments are fully documented at his official website. That made me feel a little better about my predicament. Turns out my brain has better taste in music than I gave it credit for.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hi, Gale!

I'm delighted to unveil the beautiful cover art for my seventh book, Gale Storm: A Biography and Career Record, due out in early 2018. It's already available for pre-order at Barnes & Noble, and should be up on other sites shortly.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing Gale's story.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: Ludden's Life

As I mentioned awhile back, I greatly enjoyed Adam Nedeff's well-done biography of Match Game star Gene Rayburn. So I'm delighted that the author has now given another top MC his turn in the spotlight with It's More Than 'Password'! The Life (and Wife) of Allen Ludden (BearManor Media).

I was interested to learn from Nedeff's thoroughly researched account that Ludden, who hosted multiple versions of Password over a twenty-year period, didn't necessarily intend to have a career as an on-camera performer. He embraced the opportunity in part to manage the substantial medical bills of his first wife Margaret, who died of cancer at a young age. His second wife, as most readers will already know, was Betty White. Since she also became a fixture on TV game shows, it's fitting that the author gives her quite a bit of space here as well. Nedeff's account of widower Ludden's successful campaign to win White's hand is interesting, and offers details beyond what she recorded in her own books.

Nedeff's book is an absorbing account of Ludden's life and career that also serves as a history of one of TV's smartest and most enduring game shows.