Monday, February 18, 2019

You wanted to know . . . about Robert John Pittman (Seymour on Dennis the Menace)


Robert John Pittman as a child actor

I received the following email from a reader named Henry.

Hello, I've a question to submit. I enjoy the original Dennis the Menace with Jay North, and appreciate Seymour's character, as he usually comes off pretty cynical, opportunistic and to the point. I can find very little about him online, except that he died in 1990. Can you tell us anymore about Robert John Pittman, the actor who portrayed Seymour, and his life and death? Thanks.

Robert John Pittman played Dennis Mitchell's pal Seymour on the Dennis the Menace sitcom, which ran from 1959 to 1963.  As you pointed out, Henry, information on the internet about the life and death of this actor is sketchy, especially since he only had a brief career as a child.

Robert John Pittman was born on January 20, 1956 in Los Angeles, California (according to IMDb).  Another source (Find a Grave) states that he was born on September 9, 1956.  Robert was the only child of Montgomery Pittman (1917-1962), a television writer, director and actor,.and his wife, Maurita. Maurita had three children by her fist marriage: Curtis Loys Jackson Jr. and Sherry Jackson (Sherry played the role of Terry Williams on Make Room for Daddy, starring Danny Thomas).

Robert made his acting debut as Ajax in a 1960 episode of the crime drama 77 Sunset Strip, directed by his father.  The episode is entitled "Attic" (Season 3, Episode 1, Air Date September 16, 1960). TRIVIA NOTE:  Rusty Stevens, who played Larry Mondello on Leave it to Beaver, appeared in the same episode as a character named Max.

In 1960, Robert Pittman also made his first appearance on Dennis the Menace, starring Jay North.  It was an uncredited role and he played a "whistling little boy" in an episode entitled "Dennis Learns to Whistle" (Season 2, Episode 10, Air Date: December 4, 1960).  Robert next appeared in a 1961 episode of the show entitled "Dennis' Allowance" (Season 2, Episode 13, Air Date January 1, 1961).  He portrayed "Harold's brother" in the episode and was given a credit.  His third appearance on the show was as a character named Rikki in "Dennis Goes to Camp" (Season 2, Episode 21, Air Date: February 26, 1961).  It wasn't until his fourth appearance, in an episode entitled "The Fortune Cookie" (Season 2, Episode 35, Air Date: June 4, 1961), that Robert portrayed Seymour for the first time.  In total, Robert appeared in 32 of the 146 episode of Dennis the Menace over four seasons.

Robert didn't have much of a career after Dennis the Menace.  He had a role in a 1963 episode of Vacation Playhouse, a summer replacement show that featured pilot programs that had not been aired.  The episode is entitled "Come a-Runnin'" (Season 1, Episode 9, Air Date: September 16, 1963).  Robert's half-sister, Sherry Jackson, appeared in the same episode, as did Rance Howard (brother of Ron), Alan Hale Jr. (the Captain on Gilligan's Island) and Susan Seaforth Hayes of Days of Our Lives fame. 

In 1964, Robert guest-starred in an episode of a short-lived comedy, Grindl, starring Imogene Coca.  He played Clydie Strunk in an episode called "There's No Such Thing as a Bad Barracuda."  That was his last TV credit.  His final acting credit was for his role as Landlord of the Two Trees in Remembrance, a 1982 full length feature film.  He has no acting credits on IMDb between 1965 and 1981.

According to Find a Grave, Robert is buried at St. Johns Catholic Cemetery in Plum City, Pierce County, Wisconson and he died on November 3, 1990 at the age of 34.  According to IMDb, he died in Maui, Hawaii in 1990.  Details of his death have not been revealed, most likely for personal and private reasons.  However, someone who identifies himself as Rufus and claims to have met Robert in 1980, when he was "doing some TV in L.A., wrote the following online.  It is dated October 8, 2009.

I read here that Robert John Pitt may have passed away. I do not believe this.

I did know he was in Hawaii for some time. I wrote the 9/12/2008 blog below “Robert John Pittman – Seymour” … as I stated I met Robert in 1980 when I was doing some plays & TV in LA. We became fast friends and spent a lot of time together for ~ 5 months. Robert used another name as an adult. He showed me his wallet ID information shortly after we met to make the point. He said that although Robert John Pittman was his name he now considered it his performer name. Robert explained it was just easier to do it this way … he said this with the perpetual smile he always wore. Being such I will not disclose this adult name. Robert had a lot of amusing to funny stories about the TV series … some gossipy but all positive and he considered the TV experience good for him … he joked about the “child actor category” he found himself involved with but he considered it natural as his older half-sister had been a child actor also. He did state more than once that during productions Jay North was always roped off from the other kids and that no one was allowed to talk to him. Robert said sometimes, as Robert being a little kid that Robert felt anxious that he could not get close to this other kid except when shooting a scene.

Robert’s immediate family is a story of exceptionally talented persons in both film and particularly television: his half-sister (by the same mother) is actress Sherry Jackson who was the older sister on the TV sitcom “Make Room For Daddy” and she was also one of Ma & Pa Kettle’s kids in the movie series along with countless other TV and movie roles. His mother, unfortunately whom I never met, was a TV screen writer. At the time Robert and I knew each other his mother was involved with the production of a TV movie about Elvis Presley where Shelly Winters played Elvis’ mother. That’s all I remember on that. His dad was the prolific actor/director Montgomery Pittman who started in TV work during what is now known as the Golden Age of Television: the 1950s. His dad directed lots & lots of television productions but I remember him best for Twilight Zone episodes directing great actors like Jack Elam and Lee Marvin. Robert said his dad passed away at the time of the Dennis the Menace series. Robert came to the Dennis the Menace series as an experienced TV child actor having been previously directed by his father on another show. The combined stories in a book of Robert’s fascinating family would make a significant contribution to television history. 

What caused my below 9/12/2008 blog is that by accident I saw, changing TV channels this past year, Dennis the Menace with Robert. I decided to contact Robert. Last year using the adult name I know Robert by and his actor name + Internet search engines + a combination of my other memory items I did locate Robert’s adult-name current address. I confirmed via a college buddy, a postal worker, that it was indeed an active address with that particular name (and the name also matched Robert’s age). This was this last year.

I wrote Robert a letter last year and offered a lunch rendezvous next time I was in his area. I never got a response. [I did not entirely expect a response … mind you my letter was in-part greatly an apology …. our friendship ended on an unpleasant note entirely due to my fault/my poor behavior.] I sent the letter and I believe Robert read it. In turn, the letter never came back from the postal service as ‘undelivered’ for either this particular address or this particular name. 

Reading an email of a good friend’s rumored death caused me to ask a retired police officer friend of mine to verify his death. Marcia found neither obituaries nor death records for the State of Hawaii or the greater Los Angeles area for Robert John Pittman or his other adult name that I know him by.

For bloggers who knew Robert as an adult and therefore to them to verify my blog credibility: Robert and I were in our 20s when we met. As a young adult Robert was handsome ~ 5’10” slender built with curly brown hair ~ 2” long / never parted. Robert, as an adult, also kept the endearing sleepy-eyed looks that little Seymour had. 

Considering Robert’s private nature I will no longer blog on him … it’s just that reporting a death erroneously or “I heard story” of such a superb old acquaintance is far-fetched for me. With a great deal of certainty Robert John Pittman is alive. 

PS My sincere apologies to Robert for my writing all this. Looks like I am full of apologies Robert. I was only considering TV fans in writing this. I wish the best for you Robert..

-  Rufus



Someone who signed himself as "Zoneboy" made the following response to Rufus.

The information I received regarding Mr. Pittman came from Dr. Jeanne Russell who played Margaret Wade on the show (Dennis the Menace). I wrote to her asking her to confirm the passing of Billy Booth (Tommy Anderson) and she did. I asked about Robert John and she said he died years ago and believed he was living in Hawaii at the time. She had no further details on his passing. If you wish to contact her yourself, You can do so at DrRussell@JeanneRussellChiropractic.com I hope that Dr. Russell was in error because I really liked him. He was a gifted actor and was great as Seymour.


Sherry Jackson, Roberts's sister, made some comments on her website in response to the following question:

"Hi Sherry

i'm a big fan of yours and i have a question

i had read that the little boy that played the role of Seymour on Dennis The Menace Robert Pittman is your brother...is this true? i really enjoyed him on that show and was wondering is he still in the business?"



"Dear Maserati,

Welcome to my website! Good question...Robert John Pittman was my half brother from Monty....He made quite a few "Dennis the Menace" playing the part of "Seymour"He was my best friend....I miss him ....He Passed away in Maui, in 1990


Love and Light Sherry"


END NOTES

* Robert's father, Montgomery Pittman, died of cancer on June 26, 1962.  He was only 45 years old at the time of his passing.  His marriage to Robert's mother lasted until his death.

* In 1967, Robert appeared as himself on the Eamonn Andrews Show, a talk show on ITV in the United Kingdom.


- Joanne

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Y&R Report: (February 16, 2019): The Latest on The Young and the Restless


Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.   

Well, it's the February sweeps and the Newman and Rosales families are in turmoil.  It was a miserable Valentine's Day for some of Genoa City's most prominent citizens.  The Gang of Four - Nikki, Phyllis, Sharon and Victoria - were all arrested, although we are still not certain whether J.T. Hellstrom is dead or alive.  He may be alive because all four women are not going to languish in prison.  They are major characters and they are too important.to remain in jail for long.  If J.T. is alive, there will have been no murder and the four female conspirators will be freed.

We all knew it had to happen sometime.  Mia gave herself away.  She blurted out Arturo's name  during an intimate moment with Rey.  Let's face it, though, Rey has wanted Sharon all along.  Mia's misstep has given him the perfect excuse to hook up with Sharon and the opportunity to reveal his true feelings for her.  He admitted that he and Mia had never really been honest with each other since they'd gotten back together.  Sharon then confessed to Rey that she felt the same way about him.  Then, always the detective, he handcuffed her for her part in the presumed murder of J.T.

That was quite an altercation Abby had with Mia on Valentine's day.  Mia was drunk and wild, but Abby wouldn't let up.  Mia's behaviour was predictable. Abby, however. should have walked away from her inebriated nemesis.  In many ways, she was worse than Mia.  Arturo was not impressed by all the insults that the two women hurled at each other.  He was appalled by the open hostility between them.  It was very embarrassing for him. 

In an interview with Soap Central, Jason Canela (Arturo Rosales) made some comments about Arturo's love triangle with Abby and Mia.  Jason, who recently celebrated his one-year anniversary on Y&R, made the following remarks: "Personally I do wish that Arturo an Abby are able to fight through whatever obstacles they go through as a couple and really stay true to each other, because I think it's a message that is needed in today's world . . . They're going to go through their ups and downs, but to show them sticking it out and working it out with each other to make it through to the other side, that would be cool.  But again, that ain't my job!"  As Victor Newman would say, it ain't gonna happen.  Abby and Arturo will not marry and live happily ever after. That's almost impossible on a soap.  It was exceptional that Nick and Sharon stayed together for about ten years, until Cassie died and Phyllis interfered.  Even then, if you remember, Nick cheated on Sharon with her best friend, Grace Turner.

Speaking of Sharon, until she became embroiled in the J.T. mess, she had been doing really well.  She was running the coffeehouse.  She obtained her psychology degree and was counselling at a distress centre.  Now she faces the possibility of  going to prison and she is involved with a married police detective whose wife is unpredictable and desperate.

We have another mystery on Y&R. Who attacked the lovely Lola?  Her only enemy appears to be Summer, but I don't think Snowflake did it.  That would be too obvious and despite all of her escapades, Summer has never shown any inclination to be violent.

CAST NEWS
In Memoriam: R.I.P. Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters)

It is heartbreaking that Kristoff St. John is dead at the age of 52.  He recently returned to Y&R after taking a leave of absence after a breakdown related to his son's suicide.  His death was shocking because he appeared to be getting his life back together.  In September of 2018, he announced his engagement to a Russian-born model named Kseniya Mikehaleva.

To me, Neil Winters was at his best when he was with Drucilla (Victoria Rowell).  They had real on-screen chemistry.  They first met when Neil was an up-and-coming junior executive at Newman Enterprises.  Drucilla was rough around the edges in those days and she worked in the mailroom at Newman.  I remember their first encounter there.  They bumped into each other and Drucilla dropped all her papers.  They were, shall I say, so young and restless back then.

It's unfortunate that Victoria Rowell left Y&R in 2007.  She was written out of the show when her character fell off a cliff, during an argument with Phyllis (who else?).  Drucilla's body was never found and she was presumed dead.  The Winters family, especially Neil, hasn't been the same without her.  In fact, I don't think there has been a really good storyline for Kristoff since Victoria Rowell's departure.

Kristoff (Neil) and Victoria Rowell (Dru) in the early days

During Kristoff's illness, fans wish him well.  They offered him support.  They thought he had dealt with his demons.  They thought he had gotten his life back on track.  Sadly, it was just an illusion.  It was not meant to be.
.
Rest  in peace, Kristoff St. John.  You will be missed.


Is Adam Newman about to return?

Adam Newman supposedly died in a house explosion.  As we all know, characters don't always remain dead on a soap.  Adam is a very popular character and many fans want him to return - but will he?  A new casting call on Y&R has sparked rumours of Adam's return.  The show has sent out a casting call for an actor to play the role of "Jeremy."  Jeremy is described as a stunningly handsome" and "supremely confident" man in his early 30s to early 40s who has "obsessive ambition" and is willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants."  That certainly sounds like Adam, but it could also describe a new character.  Many soap characters have those characteristics.  So, before Adam fans get too excited, remember that nothing is official.  

If Adam does come back to Genoa City, it is virtually certain that a new actor will play the role of Victor Newman's ambitious son.  It seems that there is little chance that any of the three actors who have portrayed the adult Adam - Chris Engen, Michael Muhney and Justin Hartley, will return to the show.

Chris Engen left The Young and the Restless in 2009 because he felt "generally unhappy" about his contribution to the show.  He stated that he had "great and greater difficulty making any sense of the  challenges they were asking me to face."  There were reports that he was uncomfortable with an upcoming homosexual storyline.

The next Adam, Michael Muhney, was fired in 2013 amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving castmate Hunter Kiing (Summer Newman), while the most recent Adam, Justin Hartley, has risen to fame on prime time television with a starring role on This is Us.

If the character of Adam returns, then his wife, Chelsea, will probably also return.  Melissa Claire Egan, who played Chelsea left the show to pursue other opportunities.  Since then, Chelsea has vanished after returning to her con woman ways.  She is on the lam with son Connor and her storline has not been resolved.

Michael Muhney


Justin Hartley


Y&R REPORT READERS' POLL


I don't think the tribute to Kristoff St. John (Neil) was satisfactory.  It wasn't long enough and it was just tacked on to the end of the show.  It didn't do him justice.  They could have devoted an episode to him, with the actors on the show reminiscing about him and sharing memories, as they did with Jeanne Cooper (Mrs. Chancellor).  On February 20th (CBS) and February 19th (Global TV) in Canada), there will be a special episode in honour of Melody Thomas Scott's 40 years on Y&R.  It will be a trip down memory lane with plenty of flashbacks..  If the show can devote entire episodes to Jeanne Cooper and Melody Thomas Scott, why not Kristoff St. John?  Do you agree with me, fans, or do you have another opinion.  Respond to the poll below and let me know.


Do you think the tribute to Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) was good enough?

Yes, they did a very heartfelt tribute to Kristoff.
Maybe. It was okay, but they could have done more.
No, it was not good enough at all. He deserved better.
I don't know.
Other
Please Specify:



NOTE TO READERS


If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 

My email address:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca


That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, March 2, 2019.  The February sweeps will be over by then and the J.T. mystery may even be solved.

- Joanne

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Y&R Report (February 2, 2019): The Latest on The Young and the Restless


Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.   

The  J.T. Hellstrom  mystery continues.  All the evidence points to J.T. being alive.  The Great Victor Newman himself has reached that conclusion.  J.T. would have the most obvious motive to go after Victor and his family.  He despises Victor and would be determined to get revenge on him.  He is a security expert, so he could have easily placed camera surveillance in the Newman home.  He could also be little Katie's "

If not J.T, then whom would it be?  That's the question. Victor has a lot of enemies, but none of them seem likely to be terrorizing Nikki in connection with the J.T. saga.  It seems so simple and so logical to make J.T. the culprit.  Yet, I hesitate.  It's almost too easy.  There must be another twist, another angle . . .but what is it?

One possibility is that Phyllis is involved.  She hates Victor Newman and I have to wonder if she can be believed.  After all, she lied about getting rid of the alleged murder weapon - the infamous poker. If  J.T. is still alive, could Phyllis be conspiring with him to bring Victor and his family down and send Victor to prison  for murder.  She wouldn't hesitate to throw Sharon and all the Newmans under the bus in order to exact revenge on Victor.  It's just a possibility, though.

Summer Newman (Hunter King) is back in town, much  to the delight of some fans and the disappointment of others. I knew she had to return to Genoa City because Snowflakes don't belong in  Dubai.  It's also not surprising that she walked in on her mother frolicking with a man - this time Nick, last time Billy.

Summer seems more sophisticated and she claims to be more mature and focused.  She describes herself as a new and improved  person.  However, she's still the old Snowflake at heart.  She's using Fen to get at Kyle and it's working.  Fen is not the one she wants.  It's definitely Kyle Abbott.  Fen will be only to happy if Summer breaks up Kyle and Lola.  Kyle is Fen's nemesis and chief rival.  Without Kyle in the picture, Fen would get a shot with the lovely Lola, who is the one Fen really wants.

Kyle and Lola won't last. They have too much against them.  Although Kyle cares for Lola, he still has an attraction to Summer and he won't be able to resist.  That's bad news for Lola, who will soon book into the Heartbreak Hotel.  Fen will be only to pleased to wipe away her tears.

Princess Victoria is not happy about having Summer as her new assistant. However, it was Daddy Victor's idea and so it became the law.  Like it or not, the Princess has to work with the Snowflake.  It won't be easy, that's for sure, but "The Moustache" always gets what he wants.

So, Kerry is freezing her eggs so she can have the option of having a child in the future.  Jack and Kerry seem awkward together.  They just don't have any chemistry and they don't seem to be on the same page.  Jack realizes that their relationship is not right.  He is willing to break it off.  However, Kerry just won't let go.  I wonder why.  Is she hiding something else.  I'm not convinced that Kerry has revealed the whole story.  There is speculation that she is a transgender, but I doubt it.

Can't the writers come up with a woman who is a better fit for Jack than Kerry?  He may be a successful businessman, but he has been a loser at love.

Dina hasn't appeared very much lately.  Her Alzheimer's storyline was Mal Young's idea.  I wonder howmuch  longer it will continue once the new head writer (presumably Josh Griffith) takes over.  Will Dina pass away soon?


VIEWER FORUM

If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 

My email address:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca

I received an email from longtime Y&R viewer, Rosie in Richmond Hill, Ontario.  Here are her comments.

Wonder if down the road, Devon and Mia will get together.  She worked him for the wedding reception at the club and he commented that she reminded him of Hilary . . .  He may be drawn to that.  I heard there was potential for him and Abby, which may happen, especially if Arturo strays . . . Then Mia won't like that, so she will have to have Devon too!!!  I want to see the scene where Rae hooks up with Sharon!!!  You know it's coming!!!

Yes Rosie, I can see Devon and Mia getting together sometime "down the road."  It probably won't be for a while because she's too busy with Rae and Arturo right now.  Although Mia doesn't want to give up Rae, she still has feelings for Arturo.  That's why she's so jealous of Abby.  She has even fantasized about chopping off Abby's long blond locks. It's more than just jealousy where Mia is concerned.  She relishes being the centre of attention and she didn't take too kindly to her marriage renewal ceremony being upstaged by Abby and Arturo, especially since she still has feelings for Arturo.

It's interesting that Mia confided in Phyllis because Phyllis doesn't have a great track record with relationships.  How ironic that two-timing Phyllis gave Mia some advice that she has never followed herself.  She told her to keep her distance from Arturo (just like she kept her distance from Billy and Nick).  Nevertheless, the two women made a connection.  As Phyllis noted, she and Mia have a lot in common, although they come from different backgrounds.  It appears that they are going to be good friends.  I guess Mia really is the new Hilary.

I think it's inevitable that Rae will hook up with Sharon.  You're right.  It's coming, but it's going to be messy and I'm sure the timing will be all wrong.  I wouldn't be surprised if it happens just as Mia discovers that she and Rae are expecting a baby and Mia hasn't told Rae yet.

Helen in Scarborough, Ontario remarked to me: "Nothing is as pathetic as Jack Abbott in love.


CAST NEWS
Jessica Collin (ex-Avery Baily Clark) to star in Dolly Parton Netflix series



Jessica Collins, who played attorney Avery Bailey Clark on The Young and the Restless, will appear in an upcoming Nexfkix series.  She will play the part of Monica in the series in which each episode will be based on a Dolly Parton song.  Also appearing in the series will be Scott Reeves, who played Ryan McNeil on Y&R.

Recall that Avery Bailey Clark is Phyllis' sister, although Phyllis never mentions her anymore.

Y&R REPORT READERS' POLL

The Newman family is in turmoil.  They are being terrorized by someone seeking revenge on Victor, possibly J.T.  Their home has been under surveillance by the unknown stalker.  They fear for their lives,  At the same time, the Newmans have engaged in criminal activity themselves.  They can be ruthless and they have a sense of entitlement.  Do you have any sympathy for them?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do vou have sympathy for the Newman family and their current difficulties?

Yes, J.T. or someone else is terrorizing them. They are suffering.
No, they are snobby and immoral. Victor has engaged in criminal activities.
I have some sympathy for them. After all, Nikki was trying to protect her daughter, who was being attacked by J.T.
I have less sympathy for Victor than the others.
I don't know.
Other
Please Specify:




That's all for now.  Please don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday February 16, 2019.  It's time for the February sweeps and I'm looking forward to Valentine's Day on the show.


- Joanne

Whatever happened to Larry Matthews (Richie Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show")

Larry Matthews as a child actor

There are currently only three surviving cast members from the classic Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966).  One of them is the immensely talented Dick Van Dyke, who played Rob Petrie, head writer for The Alan Brady Show.  Dick is 93 years old and recently attended the Golden Globe Awards.  He also appears in the 2018 film Mary Poppins Returns, in which the nonagenarian dances on a desk.

Dick's younger brother, Jerry Van Dyke, guest-starred as Rob's brother Stacey in a few episodes of the show.  Jerry died on on January 5, 2018.  He was 86 years old.  Mary Tyler Moore, who portrayed Rob's wife, Laura, passed away on January 25, 2017 at the age of 80.  Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie, Rob's co-workers, Buddy Sorrell and Sally Rogers, have also passed away.  Morey died on October 27, 1996 at the age of 87.  Rose Marie died on December 28. 2017 at 94.

Jerry Paris, played Rob and Laura's next-door-neighbour, Dr. Jerry Helper, a dentist.  Jerry Paris went on to be a prominent television and film director.  Sadly, he died of a brain tumour on March 31, 1986 at the age of 60.  Anne Morgan Guilbert portrayed Millie Helper, Jerry's wife and Laura's best friend.  Ann passed away on June 14, 2017 at 87 years old.

Another surviving cast member is comedian Carl Reiner, the creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Carl played the egotistical Alan Brady.  Born on March 20, 1922, Carl is 96.  Richard Deacon played the bald and bespectacled Mel Cooley, producer of The Alan Brady Show and Alan's son-in-law.  Richard died on August 8, 1994 at the age of 63.

Larry Matthews, the youngest member of  the The Dick Van Dyke Show cast, is now 64 years old.  Larry was just five years of age when he was chosen for the role of  Ritchie Petrie, the son of Rob and Laura Petrie.  During the course of the Van Dyke show, he only had one other acting credit to his name, a 1962 episode of The Dick Powell Theatre.


Larry with Mary and Dick

Larry was born Larry Mazzeo in Burbank, California on August 15, 1955 (He shares the same birthday as Rose Marie, who was born on August 15, 1923 (They kept in touch and talked to each other on their birthdays every year).  Unlike many child actors, Larry seems to have adjusted well to adulthood.  He regards his time on The Dick Van Dyke Show as a positive experience.and is grateful for having worked with comedy legends such as Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard (the producer of the show), Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam and Rose Marie.  He has described working with them as a "treat," even though as a child, he "didn't grasp it that much."  As he grew, he said it became "very evident what was going on."

When The Dick Van Dyke Show ended in 1966, Larry left acting and completed his education.  After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1976, he worked as an account executive.  He later returned to the television industry and worked behind the scenes.  From 1979 to 1981), he was post-production coordinator for 32 episodes the TV comedy Soap, which parodied soap operas.  From 1980 to 1981, he was also post-production coordinator for two episodes of the comedy It's a Living.

Larry has appeared on a number of television programs to discuss his role on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  In 1993, he reprised his role as Ritchie Petrie in a TV special called Chairman's Choice. The special featured comedy sketches and clips of Dick Van Dyke's favourite episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Larry once again reprised his role as Ritchie in a 2004 TV reunion movie, The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited.

After learning of Mary Tyler Moore's death in 2017, Larry Matthews made the following statement to entertainment analyst Dr. Nancy Berk: "She was like a mother in a lot of ways . . . she was the figure there that I grew up with as a child . . . I'm lucky enough to have two wonderful families and Mary being a huge part of that."

Larry last saw Mary in 2004, when they filmed The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited.  In a conversation with Nancy Berk, he recalled how during a lunch break between filming, she complimented him on his acting and his character.  Then, he described how Mary later approached his mother, who was with him, and told her that she had an amazing son and that she should be proud of him.

Despite Mary Tyler Moore's glowing praise, Larry Matthews did not always receive rave reviews. In a May 23, 1994 article for The Deseret News ("Fondly Remembering Dick Van Dyke"), regarding the Van Dyke reunion movie, Scott D. Pierce wrote "Wisely, little attention is played to the Petrie's son, Richie, because Larry Matthews was one of the worst child actors in television history."  Ouch!

Larry had a strong connection with Morey Amsterdam.  In a 2014 interview with Nancy Berk, he described Morey as "one of the most wonderful people in the world."  "Everything was up.  Everything was positive.  He made you laugh.and he cared about you," Larry told Berk.


END NOTES

* Larry Matthews as been married to his wife, Jennifer, since 1987.

*  Larry sings "Little Drummer Boy" in a Christmas episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show entitled "The Alan Brady Presents" (Season 3, Episode 13, Air Date: December 18, 1963).  The episode was directed by Jerry Paris.

* According to IMDb, Larry owns the desk used as a prop by Carl Reiner on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Also, according to IMDb, Larry had a private tutor during the filming of the show.  He returned to a traditional classroom once filming was completed for the season.

* Larry appeared in a 2011 short film called A Day in the Life of Plain Jen.

Larry Matthews

Larry with Dick Van Dyke in 2009 (image: sulekha.com

SOURCES: Parade.com, "Growing Up with Mary Tyler Moore: The Dick Van Dyke Show's Larry Matthews Shares Memories of His TV Mom," January 25, 2017, by Dr. Nancy Berk; Parade.com, "Showbiz Analysis with The Dick Van Dyke Show's Larry Matthews," June 5, 2014, by Dr. Nancy Berk; The Motion Pictures (themotionpictures.net), "Where did they go?: Larry Matthews aka Ritchie Petrie, by Lindsey; International Movie Data Base (IMDb.com); Wikipedia


- Joanne

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Internet Digest #10

    
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This is the tenth of an occasional feature on TV Banter called Internet TV Digest.  Internet TV Digest contains recent news, information and discussion about online television.

Internet TV Digest

What's new on Nexis in February 2019?

This February, several popular original Netflix productions will return to the streaming giant, including Nailed It!, Chef's Table and Patriot Act and some highly anticipated stand-up comedy specials are coming from Ray Romano, Ken Jeong and Kevin Hart.  Netflix will also air the dark thriller Velvet Buzzsaw as well as Stephen Soderbergh's sports drama High Flying Bird.  

Velvet Buzzsaw is a Dan Gilroy' horror film and it was made for Nexflix.  It is a combination of supernatural and satire and it stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Morf, a respected Los Angeles art critic.  High Flying Bird is the story of an NBA agent who is caught between the players and the league during an NBA lockout and must find a way to salvage his career.  Soderbergh and his team shot the film on iPhone.  It arrives on Netflix on February 8, 2019 and co-stars Zazie Beetz. Zachary Quinto, Kyle Mach;a and Bill Duke.

Scene from High Flying Bird
 
Coming to Nexis

Also coming to Netflix is a new comedy starring Steve Carrell.  The series is co-created by Carrell and director/writer Greg Daniel.  It's called Space Force and is inspired by a military branch of the United States Armed Forces, set up by President Donald Trump.  The goal of the new branch is to "defend satellites from attack and perform other space-related tasks."

News of the series broke on Wednesday, January 16th and not much is known about the show.  Hollywood Reporter stated that Netflix immediately acquired the rights to Space Force since Carrell and Daniel's The Office is so popular.  No release date for the series has been announced.


What's new on Amazon Prime in February 2019?

Amazon Prime will present Agatha Christie's The ABC Murders.  This original series, based on Christie's mystery novel of the same name, features John Malkovich as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, who is on the trail of a serial killer known simply as "A.B.C."

Arriving in February is the first season of four-part Prime original documentary, Lorena, which deals with the infamous 1993 Lorena Bobbitt wife abuse case.  There is also an original movie entitled Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, with Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role.  The film, based on the autobiography of award-winning quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan, stars Jack Black and Jonah Hill in supporting roles.

In addition, Amazon Prime will offer Season 3 of the PBS crime drama The Tunnel, comedy classic Wayne's World and The Matrix trilogy.



Study finds that Netflix has better movies than Amazon, Hulu, HBO combined

According to a new study by the technology site Streaming Observer, Netflix has better quality movies than its rival streaming services.  Streaming Observer made a list of all the movies on Netflix. Amazon, Hulu and HBO Now and cross-referenced these films with their Rotten Tomatoes ratings.  It found that while Amazon had far more movies in its library than the others, it had the least number of movies that were "Certified Fresh" by Rotten Tomatoes (meaning that 75 per cent or more reviews of a film are positive).

Amazon, with 17,461 films in its library, had a mere 232 acclaimed movies, only 1.3 per cent of its library.  Netflix, with 3,839 films, had 596 Certified Fresh titles.  Hulu. with 2,336 movies, had 232, while HBO Now, with 815 movies, had a paltry 38.

Source: Entertainment Weekly, January 28, 2019 (by James Hibbard)



Apple may launch its new streaming service in mid-April

According to The Information, tech giant Apple may launch its long-anticipated streaming service by mid-April  The company is known to be secretive about its direct-to-consumer plans, but The Information reports that Apple is looking to launch its new streaming service in April of this year and has been relaying that launch date to the entertainment companies involved.  However, potential viewers wonder how they'll access all the content that will be coming.

Source: Observer, January 29, 2019 (by Brandon Katz)


Netflix under criticism for its documentary series on serial killer Ted Bundy

Bundy mug shot

Netflix is under fire for its documentary series Conversation with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of Bundy's execution and Netflix has been accused of capitalizing on the anniversary and renewed public interest in the murderer.  The company has been criticized for portraying a man who ruined so many lives as a handsome and attractive to women.

On January 28, 2019, Netflix responded to the controversy surrounding Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.  It posted a statement on its twitter account regarding the online reactions to both its docuseries and a new Bundy film, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, staring Zac Efron in the lead role. The statement read, "I've seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy's alleged hotness and would like to remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service - almost almost all whom are not convicted serial killers."

Sources: Flare, January 2019 (by Alicia Elliot); The Wrap, January 29, 2019 (by Brian Welk)



Here are the links to some interesting or useful articles on Internet television.

Fantastic video-streaming services that are not named Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu




Cutting the cord cutting: How to cancel Netflix, Hulu and other streaming devices



Amazon Gains a Big Win As Rival As Rival Backs Down




- Joanne

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Whatever happened to Peggy Lipton of "The Mod Squad"? Keeping up with Peggy and her family

Peggy Lipton (circa 1968)

Peggy Lipton rose to stardom as Julie Barnes, a hippie undercover cop on The Mod Squad, which aired on the ABC network from 1968 to 1973.  Thin and waifllike, with straight, long blond hair, Peggy wore mini-skirts, bell bottoms, and love beads on the show.  Her vulnerable appearance resonated with television audiences.

Margaret Ann "Peggy" Lipton was born August 30, 1946 in New York City to a Jewish family.  Her father was Harold Lipton (1911-1999), a corporate lawyer, and her mother was Rita Benson (1912-1986), an artist.  Rita was born in Dublin, Ireland to Jewish parents who had emigrated from Eastern Europe.
   
Peggy and her two brothers were raised in Lawrence, New York, on Long Island.  Her older brother, Robert Lipton (born November 20, 1943), is also an actor and her younger brother, Kenneth Joseph.Lipton (born May 27, 1948) was a businessman who died in 1998.

Peggy attended Lawrence Junior High School.  As a child, she was shy and introverted.  She spoke with a nervous stutter, at times having difficulty even saying her own name.  According to her 2005 memoir, Breathing Out, she was sexually abused by an uncle.

Peggy's father arranged her first modelling jobs in New York and her mother encouraged her to take acting lessons.  At the age of 15, she became a Ford Agency model.  In 1964, the Lipton family relocated to Los Angeles, whereupon Peggy signed a contract with Universal.Pictures.  The next year, at the age of 19, she made her first foray into the world of television with guest appearances on four TV series:  She played a secretary in an early episode of Bewitched entitled "Your Witch is Showing" (Season 1, Episode 20, Air Date: February 4, 1965).  She portrayed a character named Selma in the classroom drama Mr. Novak starring James Franciscus ("And Then I Wrote . . .  ," Season 2, Episode 29, Air Date (April 20, 1965).  She also appeared in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as Mary Winters in an episode entitled "Night Fever" (Season 3, Episode 28, Air Date: May 3, 1965) and The John Forsythe Show, an NBC comedy,.in an episode entitled "Super Girl"  (Season 1, Episode 9, Air Date (November 15, 1965).

In 1966, Peggy played the role of Dulcie Colby in an episode of The Virginian.  In 1967, she made appearances in such television series as The Magical World of Disney, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The F.B.I. and The Invaders.  Her big break came when she was cast as flower child Julie Barnes, a hip undercover cop in the hit series The Mod Squad., alongside Michael Cole and Clarence Williams III.  The trio was young and hip and television audiences loved them.

The Mod Squad

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, as detailed in Breathing Out, Peggy Lipton had relationships with a string of abusive, alcoholic or married men.  She also used drugs during this period.  For a time, Peggy lived with Grammy Award-winning record producer Lou Adler,  However, the great love of her life was another award-winning record producer and composer - Quincy Jones/  Quincy was almost 14 years her senior and on their first date, he cooked lamb chops for vegetarian Peggy.

The couple's biracial romance was highly publicized.  Quincy's daughter, Jolie, introduced her father to  Peggy and they wed on September 14, 1974 (her first marriage, his third).  The ceremony took place in the garden of Peggy's parents' Beverly Hills home, the day after Quincy's divorce from his second wife, Swedish model Eula Andersson, became final.

Peggy and Quincy had two daughters, Kidada Ann Jones (born March 22, 1974) and Rashida Leah Jones (born February 25, 1976), but their marriage did not last.  They separated when Rashida was ten years old and officially divorced in 1990.

Peggy, Quincy and Kikada

Quincy Jones had his share of health issues during his years with Peggy.  In 1974, he had two brain aneurysms and underwent two operations that left six steel pins in his head.  After the second aneurysm, he was given a 50-50 chance survival.  He and Peggy were newlyweds at the time and Peggy was breastfeeding their baby daughter, Kidada.

Quincy beat the odds and lived.  However, in he mid-1980s, he suffered from depression, which caused him to have a nervous breakdown (his mother suffered from a debilitating mental illness that could have been controlled by medication today).

In 1982, Quincy achieved great success by producing Michael Jackson's Thriller album.  According to Peggy, her husband's life changed after his success.  "The popularity made demands on his time and his life, and he had to change to meet them," she told People magazine.  "Eventually it just wasn't working as a marriage anymore,"  she said.  "It was a mutual decision based on a lot of things.  By '86, he was doing his own thing, and I was doing mine.  It was over."

When Peggy Lipton was 39 years old, she returned to television after a self-imposed fifteen year exile (The only exception was her appearance in the 1979 TV reunion movie, Return of the Mod Squad, which she made as a favour to producer Aaron Spelling).  During her time away from acting, Peggy raised her two children, lost her mother, with whom she had been close (Rita died of lung cancer in 1986), and ended her marriage to Quincy Jones.  She made her comeback in a TV movie, Addicted to His Love, which aired on ABC on March 28, 1988.  The movie starred Larry Hagman and Polly Bergen and Peggy played an Assistant District Attorney.

When asked by People magazine why she was making a comeback, Peggy replied, "Why not?  I had a great marriage, but it's over, and acting is what I know best how to do.  When I met Quincy in 1973, I was exhausted and burned-out.from Mod Squad.  He never said I should stop working, but there was never a doubt in my mind I was going to.  I wanted children very badly, and I knew I couldn't do both well.  This doesn't mean it would be that way for other mothers, but that's how it was for me,"  She added that when she separated from Quincy in 1986, she thought, "I couldn't just shop all day."  She also stated that her children supported her decision to return to television and that her late mother "always wanted me to go back into acting, and now I'm doing it."

In 1989, Peggy Lipton portrayed Norma Jennings in in the pilot for David Lynch's surreal drama Twin Peaks, a series that chronicles the mysterious happenings in a quaint northwestern American town.  Peggy then appeared as Norma on the show's two seasons on ABC, from 1990 to 1991.  Twin Peaks was cancelled after its second season due to declining ratings, but Peggy resumed her role as Norma Jennings in the 1992 feature film prequel to the television series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.  In 2017, Peggy one again played Norma in new episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, which continued the story of the inhabitants of Twin Peaks, 25 years after their homecoming queen, Laura Palmer, was murdered.

Below is a photo of Peggy in a promo for the first season of Twin Peaks.


In 2002, Peggy and daughter Rashida performed in the play Pitching to the Star, along with Peggy's brother, Robert.  Four months later, 56-year-old Peggy was diagnosed with colon cancer.  She had undergone a routine colonoscopy and her doctors discovered a Stage III tumour.  As a result, she underwent surgery and chemotherapy.


END NOTES

For her role as Julie Barnes on The Mod Squad, Peggy Lipton earned four Emmy nominations and four Golden Globe nominations.  In 1971, she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress a Television Series Drama.

* Peggy Lipton enjoyed some success as a singer.  Three of her singles appeared on the Billboard Charts: "Stoney End" (which became a hit for Barbra Streisand in 1970), "Lu" (1970) and "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" (1970).  "Stoney End" and "Lu" were both written by Laura Nyro and "Wear Your Love Like Heaven" was written by Donovan.

*  Peggy was co-writer (along with Quincy Jones and Alan and Marilyn Bergman) of the song, "L.A. Is My Lady," that Frank Sinatra recorded and released in 1984.

*  In 2007, Peggy guest-starred as a character named Fay in an episode of the TV comedy Rules of Engagement.  The episode is entitled, "A Visit from Fay" (Season 2, Episode 9, Air Date: November 19, 2007).

Peggy with David Spade in Rules of Engagement (2007).


* Robert Lipton's list of television and film credits includes Bullit, Die Hard 2, The X-Files and Melrose Place.  His former wife is actress Marie Masters.

Robert Lipton

*  Peggy's brother, Kenneth died in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1998 at the age of 50.  At the time of his passing, Kenneth had been a Vegas resident for eight years and owned a mortgage company.  According to his September 3, 1998 obituary in the Los Vegas Sun, Kenneth Lipton was "survived by his wife, Brandy, one son, Trevor Baker; two daughters, Justine Lipton Copus and Jennifer Lipton; his father, Harold Lipton, one brother, Robert Lipton; one sister, Peggy Lipton-Jones; and one grandchild."

*  Quincy Jones never remarried after his divorce from Peggy Lipton.  He has seven children with five different women, including daughter Jolie from his first marriage to Jeri Caldwell, two children from his second marriage to Ulla Andersson (a daughter named Martina and a son, Quincy Jones III, who is a music producer and author).  Quincy also has a daughter named Rachel Jones from a brief relationship with Carol Reynolds and a daughter, Kenya Jones (born 1993), with German actress Nastassja Kinski,(they dated and lived together in the 1990s).

* Kidada Jones is an actress, model and fashion designer.  Kidada attended the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.  She left at the age of 19 to work with designer Tommy Hilfiger.  She now works for the Walt Disney Company as a designer and has her own line, known as Disney Couture.

From 1992 to 1994, Kidada Jones' boyfriend was hip hop artist LL Cool. J.  In 1996, she lived with rapper Tupac Shakur for four months until he was fatally shot in Las Vegas on the night of September 7.  He died in hospital of internal bleeding on September 13th.  Kidada described Shakur's killing as "the most horrible thing that ever happened to me."  In 2003, Kidada married actor and writer Jeffrey Nash.  They divorced in 2006.


Kidada Jones

* Rashida Jones is known for her role as Ann Perkins on the NBC comedy series Parks and Recreation.  She also portrayed Karen Filippelli NBC's The Office.  In addition. she portrayed Louisa Fen on the Fox drama series Boston Public.  Since 2016, Rashida has played the lead role n the TBS comedy series Angie Tribeca.  In 2017, Peggy appeared in an episode of Tribeca.



Peggy Lipton's 2005 autobiography, Breathing Out, was co-written by David and Coco Dalton.



SOURCES:  People magazine, March 17, 1975, "Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton: Death Nearly Did Them Part," by Barbara Wilkins; People magazine, April 4, 1988, Can You Dig It?  the Mod Squad's Peggy Lipton, One Marriage and 15 Years Later, Returns to Acting," by David Hutchings; Las Vegas Sun; BlackDoctor.Org, "Quincy Jones Breaks Free from Brain Aneurysm;" Wikipedia, Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb.com)


- Joanne