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Monday, March 2, 2015

You Wanted to Know . . . about William Katt and Connie Selleca of The Greatest American Hero




A reader requested that I write about William Katt and Connie Sellecca of The Greatest American Hero.  TV Banter is pleased to honour the request.


Look at what's happened to me,
I can't believe it myself.
Suddenly I'm up on top of the world,
It should've been somebody else.

Believe it or not,
I'm walking on air.
I never thought I could feel so free-.
Flying away on a wing and a prayer.
Who could it be?
Believe it or not it's just me. 


- Lyrics to "Believe it Not," the theme song from The Greatest American Hero, Composed by Mike Post (music) and Stephen Geyer (lyrics)


Do you remember that catchy tune?  If so, then you probably recall a TV series about a young man with curly blond hair, a cherubic face and a red superhero suit? The man was William Katt and the series was The Greatest American Hero.  It ran on the ABC Network from 1981 until 1983 and featured Katt as Los Angeles high school teacher Ralph Hinkley and Connie Sellecca as his girlfriend, attorney Pam Davidson.  Veteran actor Robert Culp played FBI agent Bill Maxwell.

While on a field trip, Ralph Hinkley and his special education students became stranded on a desert road when their bus broke down.  As Ralph walked along the road to get help, he was almost run over by a car driven by FBI agent Bill Maxwell. A spaceship suddenly appeared and Ralph was accosted by aliens. The extraterrestrials presented him with a red suit which endowed him with superhuman powers. Ralph, of course, didn't relish wearing the silly suit (with cape) and he was a most reluctant superhero.  He soon lost the instruction manual for the suit and myriad comic situations arose when he was forced to experiment with his newly found powers.  However, FBI agent Maxwell persuaded him to use his powers to combat crime.

Meanwhile, Ralph had to learn how to use the suit by trial and error.  In his attempts to fly, he flailed about, crashed into walls and fell into bushes.  He also discovered new powers, such as the ability to become invisible, at inappropriate or inconvenient times, .  Pam, whom he eventually married, and Maxwell, were the only adults who knew of Ralph's powers.


L to R: Connie Selleca, William Katt and Robert Culp

The Greatest American Hero premiered on March 18, 1981 and the show was forced to deal with some immediate problems.  It was threatened with a lawsuit by the owners of the Superman copyright. Then, on March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot outside the Washington Hilton Hotel. The name of Reagan's attempted assassin was John Hinckley, Jr., too close for comfort to "Hinkley," the last name William Katt's character.  As a results, Ralph was called "Mr. H." (sometimes "Mr. Hanley") for a time.


WILLIAM KATT 





When I play a good guy, I try to explore them and figure out what shapes them and makes them interesting. When I'm playing a bad guy, I try to explore everything that makes them good. No one ever really thinks that they're a bad guy.

- William Katt

William Theodore Katt was born on February 16, 1951 in Los Angeles, California, the son of prominent actors.  His father, the late Bill Williams, played the lead role in the classic 1950s Western series, The Adventures of Kit Carson.  His mother, Barbara Hale, is best known for her portrayal of secretary Della Street on Perry Mason.  Known as "Billy" or "Bill," Katt was raised in the San Fernando Valley and began his acting career as a teenager.  Prior to his role on The Greatest American Hero, he was best known for his portrayal of Tommy Ross, the doomed prom date of Carrie White in the film version of Stephen King's Carrie.

In the 1970s, Katt made appearances on TV series as Emergency (1972), M*A*S*H (1972), Kung Fu (1973), Police Woman (1974), Gunsmoke (1974), The Rookies (1974), Kojak (1975), He also had guest roles on Ironside in 1972 and 1975.  In addition, he portrayed Jack Barlow in a 1978 coming-of-age movie about surfers titled Big Wednesday.  Big Wednesday featured a young Jan Michael Vincent and a a young Gary Busey. Katt's mother, Barbara, had a role in the film too.

Katt later played Paul Drake Jr. in a series of Perry Mason TV movies from 1985 until 1988 (Paul Drake Sr.was Perry Mason's private investigator in the classic 1960s series.  William Hopper, who portrayed the elder Drake, died in 1970.  He was the son of Hollywood gossip columnist Hedda Hopper).  Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale reprised their roles as Perry Mason and Della Street.in the television movies, the first of which was Perry Mason Returns (1985).

In 1991, Willaim Katt had a recurring role in the short-lived comedy, Good Sports, starring Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal as sports anchors.  He played the part of Nick Calder in five episodes. In 1991 and 1992, he guest-starred as Jeffrey Teller in two episodes of the one-hour drama Sisters.  The fist episode is entitled "Portrait of the Artists" (Season 3, Episode 11, Air Date: December 12, 1992). The second episode is "Moving Pictures" (Season 3, Episode 17, Air Date: February 13, 1993).

In 1993, Katt appeared in Murder, She Wrote, with Angela Lansbury, in an episode called "Love's Deadly Desire" (Season 9, Episode 22, Air Date: May 16, 1993).  He portrayed Derek Hartman, husband of a romance novelist.  In 1994, Katt had roles in Burke's Law ("Who Killed the Fashion King?," Season 1, Episode 2, Air Date: January 14, 1994) and Diagnosis Murder ("Flashdance with Death," Season 1, Episode 11 (Air date: January 28, 1994).

In 1994, Katt was also cast as Paul Carson in eight episodes of Model Inc., a spin-off of the prme time soap Melrose Place.  In the late 1990s, he appeared in episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger (1998), and The Net (1998).  His 21st century credits include TV series such as The Hunger (2000), Dark Realm (2001) and JAG (2001) (2004) and House of Payne (2010).  He continues to remain active as an actor and director.




William Katt has been married twice.  He wed Deborah Kahane in 1979 and the marriage produced two sons, Clayton and Emerson.  However, the couple divorced in 1986.  Katt remarried in 1993, this time to Danielle Hirsch.  They have a daughter named Dakota together and Katt also has a stepson, Andrew.

In a July 12, 2012 interview with Branscombe Richmond at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, William Katt was asked about about his reaction to wearing red tights as part of his costume on The Greatest American Hero.  He told Richmond that he originally feared it would be the ruination of his career. He now regards his time on the show as a "seminal moment" in his life and in his career. Katt also said that he had remained friends with the Robert Culp until Culp's death and that he has maintained a friendship with Connie Sellecca.


CONNIE SELLECCA





Connie Sellecca was born on May 25, 1955 in the Bronx, New York to Italian immigrant parents. Her birth name was Concetta Sellecchia.  When she was 12, her family moved to the town of Pomona, in upstate New York.  She attended nearby Ramapo High School where she became involved in student theatre productions. She then enrolled at Boston College, but left to signed with an New York agent and pursue an acting career.

In order to support her drama studies, Connie became a lingerie and fashion model. It wasn't longer before the aspiring actress began winning fashion and commercial assignments.   She finally made her acting debut in a 1978 fantasy film called Bermuda Depths a Japanese/American co-production that originally aired as a television movie. It starred Leigh McCloskey, Carl Weathers and Burl Ives.

From 1978 to 1979, Connie Sellecca had her first regular role in a TV series.  She played Lisa Benton, a flight attendant in the short-lived series Flying High.  She also appeared in Captain America II: Death Too Soon, a 1979 TV film based on the Marvel Comics superhero Captain America.  Her big break came when she was cast in the role of Pam Davidson, in the superhero parody The Greatest American Hero.

After The Greatest American Hero was cancelled, Connie appeared in another successful series. From 1983 until 1988, she portrayed Christine Francis in the TV drama Hotel opposite co-stars James Brolin and Shari Belafonte.  The show centred around the happenings at the lavish St. Gregory Hotel in San Francisco.


Connie and James Brolin in their Hotel days

In the 1990s, Connie appeared in slew of television movies: A House of Secrets and Lies (1992), Passport to Murder (1993), She Led Two Lives (1994), A Dangerous Affair (1995)The Surrogate (1995), A Holiday to Remember (1995), While My Pretty One Sleeps (1997), Something Borrowed, Something Blue 997)Doomsday Rock (1997) and Dangerous Waters (1999).  She also starred in two short-live-lived series: P.S. I Luv U (1991-1992) and Second Chances (1993-1994).

In P.S.I. Luv U, she portrayed a con woman turned informant opposite Greg Evigan. In Second Chances, she played Dianne Benedict, an aspiring judge in a small California town.  Her co-stars were Jennifer Lopez. Megan Follows and Michelle Phillips.  On January 17. 1994, the Northridge earthquake in California;s San Fernando Valley damaged the show's sets and CBS cancelled the series.




In the 2000s. Connie has continued to appear in television movies: Annie's Dream (2002), All About Christmas Eve (2012).

Connie has been married twice.  Her first husband was American actor Gil Gerard, whom she wed on October 28, 1979.  They had a son, Gilbert Vincent "Gib" Gerard, and divorced in 1987.  According to an April 20, 1992 People magazine article, "Oh, What a Night!." by Jeannie Park, the  breakup was acrimonious and there was a custody battle over young Gib.

On April 4, 1992, she married for second time, to pianist and composer John Tesh, a popular radio and television personality.  The wedding took place at a Beverly Hills mansion that Connie had rented.  Connie's sister, Rosann Mack was her maid of honour and her mother, Ann, accompanied her to the altar.  The ceremony was conducted by Pastor Louis Lapides.

John Tesh, a native of Garden City, New York, is the former co-host of Entertainment Tonight (ET) and he he currently hosts a syndicated radio program, The John Tesh, Radio Show: Intelligence for Your Life. John and Connie are born-again Christians and John has written and performed sacred music.

According to an April 20, 1992 People magazine article, "Oh, What a Night!." by Jeannie Park, Connie first became acquainted with Tesh in Palm Springs, California. She was there to film the pilot for P.S.I. Luv U and he was hosting an IBM awards programs.  After their meeting, he gifted her with a tape of his first album, Tour de France.  When they returned to  Los Angeles, a smitten Tesh perused Connie's ET library file, then interviewed her by phone from her Beverly Hills home for a radio show.  After the show, she accepted his invitation for dinner and the romance took flight.


John Tesh

Connie Sellecca and John Tesh are the parents of a daughter, Prima (born June 2, 1994), who was named after Connie's father, Primo Sellecchia, a building contractor who died in 1987.


2008 photo of John and Connie with daughter Prima


Photo attribution: Luke Ford  http://www.lukeford.net/Images/photos4/photos/080204.htm



END NOTES

* Robert Culp, is best known for his portrayal of Kelly Robinson on the 1960s espionage series I Spy, co-starring Bill Cosby.  Culp collapsed and died of a heart attack on March 24, 2010.  He was 79 years old at the time of his passing.

* During the summer of 1981, the song "The Greatest American Hero (Believe it or Not)," was a major hit for American singer Joey Scarbury.

* William Katt's mother, Barbara Hale, was born in 1922 and will celebrate her 93rd birthday on April 18, 2015.


William Katt with his mother, Barbara Hale


- Joanne

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Y&R Report (February 28, 2015): 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.


My motto in daytime has always been make every day a Friday, so that our audience has to watch each and every day. That means more twists, cliffhangers and that prime time feel of 'What the heck are they going to do next?'  If you stay within character, and keep the stories coming from character, and throw everything but the kitchen sink at them, an audience will start to identify with them and relate to them both as friends, and as people they want to see succeed or find love or survive unthinkable tragedies.

- Charles "Chuck" Pratt
Co-Executive Producer and Head Writer of The Young and the Restless


Wow!!!!  What a wild roller coaster ride Y&R has been on lately and it's more than just the February sweeps.  It's undoubtedly the influence of new head writer Charles Pratt. No one can accuse him of dishing up dull plots with nothing happening.  In fact (I never thought I'd say this), there are times when too much seems to be  happening at once.  On Valentine's Day, it appeared as if the Apocalypse had hit Genoa City.  There was one catastrophe after another.  It was almost surreal.  I wanted to say, WHOA!  SLOW DOWN!  WHAT'S GOING ON HERE?   Some viewers told me they suspected it was all some kind of dream.  It wasn't a dream, though, and it wasn't an alternate universe. Genoa City's Valentine's Day 0f Disaster was so bizarre that it captured the attention of fans and it got people talking, which is undoubtedly what Mr. Pratt intended to do - but at what cost?


Charles Pratt

Here's my concern about the direction Chuck Pratt is taking the show.  I believe that he is willing to make characters behave in a way that is too far out of character in order to create cliffhangers and plot twists.  Soap star Susan Lucci, who is renowned for her portrayal of Erica Kane on All My Children, was highly critical of Pratt in her 2011 memoir.  She wrote: "It was during one of our first meetings together that Chuck told the entire cast that he didn't believe in character-driven story lines, and he didn't care about characters. He said he was there to shake things up."

Cliffhangers and plot twists are definitely exciting for viewers, but the storylines have to ring true. They have to have some sense of authenticity.  Shock value for the sake of shock value doesn't work in the long run.  At some point, viewers become immune to shocks if the plot is too convoluted and unbelievable. Unfortunately, some of the Valentine Day disasters didn't pass the test, especially the Austin storyline.

It just seems that the Austin story thrown together haphazardly, especially his cheating with Abby. There was no indication of any connection or relationship between Abby and Austin in the past. Also, Austin began to displaying a dark side without reason or explanation.  He didn't tell Nick about the building inspector's phone call and he became mean and impatient toward Supergirl Summer.

What do you think of the new Kyle?  I'm going to reserve judgment.  I need to see more of him.  He sure looks young with that baby face of his.  I wonder, though, how he could be considered a suspect in Austin's murder.  He may be in love with Supergirl, but he's not a murderous maniac.  Just because Summer married someone else, a man Kyle never even knew, does not mean that he would suddenly go off the deep end and kill his romantic rival.

It was really quite hilarious to see Jack Abbott and Victor Newman share the same hospital room. The two bitter rivals have reached an understanding.  They are not going bury the hatchet.  Oh no! They are going to be "friendly enemies."  I smiled when Victor declared, "Reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated - again."  As usual, Jack will end up being duped by The Black Knight again.

Christine's rantings against Phyllis have become terribly tiresome.  The Bug has a one-track mind. All she seems to think about is punishing her redheaded nemesis.  It's become a total obsession and I don't know if her husband, the clueless police chief, can stand it much longer.  Put a lid on it, Cricket, before you become such a pest (pun intended) that you drive poor Paul to drink along with Nikki and Neil.  I wonder if anyone has some Raid.


VIEWER FORUM 

Here are some comments from regular commentator CC from Etobicoke, Ontario:

If you saw today's Y&R, you are probably still wondering if Hilary were seeking revenge or not.  At the beginning she was so nasty that I felt she was playing with them to wreak her vengeance.  Then I got caught up in the whole romanticism of the moment.  And now we are back to square one.  Is it revenge or just her way of sparing them from heartache and offsetting possible estrangement?  

I was totally bored by the Victor/Jack roommate nonsense.  Nurse said they were swamped by the storm patients and didn't have any private rooms available.  Now Jack and Victor will be on the same side working to get Phyllis off.
Should be interesting.
I wonder who spiked Jack's drink? . . . Kelly, Victor, both of them, Phyllis or someone unknown?

I suspected Austin had ulterior motives for marrying Summer from the beginning.  Is it a whodunnit or a deliberate disappearance?

Stay tuned.

Well, CC, from the expression on Hilary's face in that last scene, it certainly appears that she's faking after all.  Her claim that she was determined to get revenge on the Winters family is most likely an act to, as you put it, spare both Neil and Devon heartache and to offset possible estrangement.  She looked sad and wistful as she recalled the moment Devon gave her a ring to keep until they could be together.

It had better be an act or Y&R will lose credibility.  Hilary's insistence that she was after revenge did not ring true.  It seemed contrived for shock value.  This supposed wrinkle in the Hilary storyline did not seem authentic because it was far too late for her to suddenly deny her feelings for Devon.  I don't think viewers would have bought into it. Although Hilary came to Genoa City as a vengeful "bad girl," she truly reformed when Jack and Neil took a chance on her and forgave her transgressions. There was no indication to believe otherwise.  Y&R viewer Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario pointed out to me how jealous Hilary was of Devon and Gwen.  Why would she be hurt and jealous if she didn't have feelings for Devon?  Just before Christmas, I attended a Young and Restless fundraiser in aid of the March of Dimes.  The actress who plays Hilary, Mishael Morgan, was there.  She looked at castmate Bryton James (Devon) and stated that Devon was Hilary's true love.

I have to admit, given head writer Pratt's penchant for shocks and plot twists (even at the expense of a character's integrity), I believed that Hilary was really out for revenge.  If, as I strongly suspect, that is not the cast, I will be most pleased.

I was not bored by Jack and Victor sharing a hospital room.  I thought it was quite funny.  As for the deal between Jack and Victor to help Phyllis, Jackie Boy is going to regret it.  Victor is untrustworthy.  He is already double dealing with Kelly to make sure that Jack and Phyllis are kept apart.  If were Kelly, I wouldn't make any deals with someone as devious as Victor.  He is far too ruthless to give away favours without demanding something in return.  You can be certain that he is going to ask for his pound of flesh from Kelly.  Kelly is not naive.  She know this but she is so lovestruck that she is willing to pay almost any price to win Jack over.

As for who spiked Kelly's drink, I suspect it was Kelly herself.  I still think she's the unbalanced one. Although she claims that no man  is worth poisoning herself for, she is morbidly desperate for Jack's love.  Speaking of Jack, his behaviour has been quite weird too.  What was that little escapade with with Kelly all about if he is as loyal to Phyllis as he professes to be?  Kelly did not make that up. Jack admitted it himself.  I keep scratching my head over that one.

I think that the Austin storyline is intended to be a whodunnit.  For all we know, he may not even be dead.  His body hasn't been identified yet.  However, he most likely did die. I once predicted that Summer would be divorced by the time she was 20.  Ironically, it now appears that she is a 20-year-old widow.  Will there now be a triangle between Summer, Kyle and Fen?


Another regular contributor, Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario, wrote:

Not sure what this new writer is doing.  I guess he is operating on "shock value" and in doing so, making things up as they go along.

The "great" Victor Newman has the power and money over the years to bring in the best "doctors" from around the world whenever someone needs medical attention but he doesn't have the power or money to get a private room at the hospital.  Albeit, the scenes with Jack were humorous, this made no sense at all!
This whole Austin thing is so unrealistic!  Not that Soaps are meant to be real, but the dialogue is so unnatural.

There is no absolutely no reason why the great and powerful Victor Newman couldn't secure a private room. The nurses may have said there were no private rooms available due to the storm, but I'm sure Mr. Moneybags could have pulled some strings.  Even if Victor couldn't get a private room, what are the odds that he'd end up being Jack's roommate?  However, as we both pointed out, Fifi, the scenes with Victor and Jack in the hospital room were quite amusing.  It seems that the writers opted for humour over realism.


Y&R REPORT READER'S POLL


Did you enjoy all the Y&R disasters on Valentine's Day?

Yes, I loved watching the Valentine's Day diasters. It was fun and I liked the fact that everything was so fast-paced.
No, I think Y&R went overboard. Have the writers not heard of moderation?
Yes, I enjoyed watching, but the writers should have toned it down.
No, the storylines were confusing. unbelievable and ridiculous.
Don't know
Poll Maker


That's all for now.  Don't forget to check out the next edition of Y&R Report on Saturday, March 14, 2015.

- Joanne

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Keeping up with Linda Evans




We’ve got a long life to live and don’t count us out. There are 77 million war baby boomers. We’ve got lives ahead of us, things to do. I want us not to think of ending, I want us to think of beginning. I think we should be called the wise ones because that’s what happens as you get older, you get wiser. I wouldn’t give up being wiser for a young face and a tight body for anything. 

- Linda Evans
October 2011 interview with Fox411


From 1981 to 1989, Linda Evans was one of the hottest stars on television in her role as Krystle Jennings Carrington on Aaron Spelling's prime time soap Dynasty. Television audiences were intrigued by the saga of the oil-rich Carrington family of Denver, Colorado.  Never mind that many of the show's plotlines were ridiculous, overdone and convoluted.   Reagan era audiences couldn't get enough of the series. They feasted on its grandeur and its opulence, and they adored Linda.
   
Linda Evans was born Linda Evenstad on November 18, 1942 in Hartford, Connecticut.  Her parents were professional dancers and her father was of Norwegian lineage. She was the second of three daughters and her family moved to North Hollywood, California when she was just six months old.

Linda attended Hollywood High School with Stefanie Powers.  They were both member of the class of 1960.  Linda was a shy student and very reticent.  At 14, she was urged to study drama in order to overcome her timidity.  According to her New York Times biography, she accompanied a classmate to an audition for a Canada Dry ginger ale commercial.  The director of the ad agency was so impressed by Linda's fresh-faced appearance that he invited her to audition too. She got the part and this led to spots on other television commercials.
     
In 1960, Linda was cast in her first speaking role on a television series, appearing in an episode of Bachelor Father,  a comedy starring John Forsythe as Bentley Gregg, an unmarried attorney raising his orphaned niece.  In that episode, entitled "A Crush on Bentley" (Season 4, Episode 5, Air Date: October 13, 1960), Linda portrayed Liz McGavin, the teenage daughter of one of Bentley's clients. When Liz develops a crush on Bentley, he finds himself in a delicate situation.

In a 2012 interview with Halli Casser Jayne, Linda said that after her appearance on the Bachelor Father episode, Forsythe signed the script and wrote "Linda, you're going to be somebody someday." Twenty years later, their paths would cross again and Forsythe would play her husband, oil tycoon Blake Carrington, on Dynasty. Linda found the script, brought it to the set and said, "See John, you were psychic. You knew this was going to happen."


Linda Evans with John Forsythe on Bachelor Father

Linda on Bachelor Father

From 1960 until 1962, Linda appeared in five episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett.  She also guest-starred on The Untouchables (1962) and The 11th Hour (1963) and My Favorite Martian (1965). After dropping the "stad" from her last name and dying her hair blond, she made her first notable film appearance in the 1965 comedy Beach Blanket Bingo with Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. She portrayed a pop singer named Sugar Kane whose manager, played by comedian Paul Lynde, gets her involved in publicity stunts.


Bill Bixby and Linda Evans in an episode of My Favorite Martian

From 1965 to 1969. Linda co-starred on the popular Western series. The Big Valley. She portrayed California cowgirl Audra Barkley opposite Hollywood great Barbara Stanwyck, who played her mother, Victoria Barkley.   Lee Majors played her half-brother, Heath Barkley. Stanwyck was a mother figure to Linda, whom she always referred to as "Audra." The two were reunited years later when Stanwyck appeared on Dynasty to introduce its spin-off, The Colbys, on which Barbara had a starring role for one season.

In 1983, Linda and Lee Majors filmed an episode of The Love Boat in China. Although John Forsythe appeared in the same episode, he and Linda were given separate storylines.  It was Lee who was Linda's love interest in the episode, while John was paired with Ursula Andress.




Linda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Big Valley


Linda and Lee Majors in The Big Valley in the 1960s


Linda and Lee Majors in 1983 Love Boat episode

During the 1970s, Linda appeared in numerous guest-starring roles in such series as McCloud (1973), Mannix (1974), Harry O (1974), The Rockford Files (1975), McCoy (1975) and McMillan & Wife (1975).  In 1977, she starred opposite the late James Franciscus as Marty Shaw and James Hunter respectively, in the short-lived spy drama Hunter. Linda and James played United States Government agents, but the series only lasted for 13 episodes.




Linda's career fortunes changed dramatically In 1980, when she was cast in a major role in a new prime time soap opera called Dynasty (originally titled Oil). Dynasty was the ABC Network's answer to CBS's monster hit Dallas.  It was filled with glamour, champagne and caviar, designer clothes and shoulder pads, There were cat fights between Blake Carrington's devious first wife, Alexis, played by British actress Joan Collins and his blue-eyed angelic second wife, Linda's character.


Joan Collins, John Forsythe and Linda on Dynasty
.

In a 1984, Rock Hudson joined the cast of  Dynasty as a wealth horse trainer named Daniel Reese. Reese tried to win Krystle away from husband Blake and, in one well-known, scene, the two shared a kiss. When it was later disclosed that Hudson had been infected with AIDS at the time, there was a media frenzy and much speculation about whether Linda was at risk of contracting the disease.


Linda and Rock Hudson on Dynasty

By the late 1980s, however, Dynasty's popularity was plummeting and Ronald Reagan's presidency was coming to a close.  Linda left the show in 1989, only months before the series ended (her character went into a coma).  She then relocated to the state of Washington in order to escape the pressures of Hollywood.

In the 1990s, Linda did not make many screen appearances, except for a few television movies.such as The Stepsister, a thriller in which a young woman, played by Reena Sofer, suspects that her new stepmother (Linda Evans) and her new stepsister (Bridgette Wilson) murdered her wealthy father (Alan Rachins).  It premiered on the USA cable network in 1997.


Linda Evans wtih Bridgette Wilson in The Stepsister

In 1991, Linda reprised the role of Krystle Carrington for the miniseries Dynasty:The Reunion, which was meant to resolve all the cliffhangers of the final season. In 2006, she joined the Dynasty cast for a non-fiction reunion special titled Dynasty: Catfights and Caviar

Linda Evans has been married twice and has no children.  Her first husband was actor and film producer John Derek, whom she married in 1968.  They divorced in 1974.  Derek, who died of cardiovascular disease in 1998 at age 71, left Linda for a teenage Los Angeles high school student named Mary Cathleen Collins (better known as actress Bo Derek).  Of their marriage breakup, Linda had this to say in a May 10, 2013 article by Lina Das on the Britain's Daily Mail online: "When he left me for Bo, I was devastated.but he actually did me the favour of my life because I'd have never done Dynasty otherwise."  She also said that she became friends with Bo and with Derek's other ex-wife, Ursula Andress.

In her interview with Fox411, Linda described John Derek in this way:  "He was a fascinating character, a beautiful man.  When you were married to him he made you everything.  Few men say you are the moon and the stars and live 24/7 as if you were.  He was a man worth keeping in your life."

Linda and John Derek

Linda's second husband was Los Angeles real estate tycoon Stan Herman.  The two wed on July 4, 1975 and divorced in 1981.  During their marriage, Herman was always buying and renovating homes.   He rented them to celebrities such as Linda's Dynasty co-star Joan Collins, singer Kenny Rogers and actor Burt Reynolds. He frequently lived in these homes while they were being renovated, which meant that he constantly moved moved from place to place.  According to a March 7, 1988 article in People magazine by Eric Levin, Linda said that when she and Herman were married, "they changed dwellings so often that one night they came home from a party and went to the wrong house"


Linda and Stan Herman

From about 1989 until 1998, Linda had a relationship with a new age musician named Yanni.  Of her attraction to the Greek-born pianist and composer, she told interviewer Larry King ; "I just fell in love with his music.  I didn't have any idea what a Yanni was.  I just thought I was in love with a Japanese man who wrote beautiful music."  For his part, Yanni told King that "Linda was a great woman when I met her, she's terrific, she remained a great woman for the whole nine-year relationship and she was great the day we said we were going to separate.  We will remain friends. I'm certain of that.  We're very close and very connected."


Linda and Yanni

Linda loves to cook.  She told Fox411 that her culinary inspiration is Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  She said, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking was the first cookbook I ever got.  When I could make a hollandaise sauce and could put it on things I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

In 2009 Linda won the UK celebrity edition of Hell's Kitchen.  The cooking competition was held on the British television network ITV and Linda trained for 16 days under Michelin star chef Marco Pierre White.

In 2011 she published a book entitled Recipes for Life: My Memories.  The book is part memoir and part cookbook. At a book signing at the Santa Monica Library, she declared, "Over time, I found, the things I cared about most in life were the moments I shared with friends over food,





END NOTES

* Linda Evans and John Forsythe became good friends and they kept in contact with each other until Forsythe's death in 2010 at the age of 92.

* In her book, Recipes for Life, Linda remembers her famous kiss with Rock Hudson.on Dynasty.  "Instead of passionately kissing me," she writes, "Rock just barely brushed his lips over mine and then backed away."

*  During the 1990s, Linda launched a chain of women-only gyms in California called Linda Evans Fitness Centers.

* Linda, along with fellow actress Shirley MacLaine, has been a devotee of controversial New Age mystic and author JZ Knight.of Yelm, Washington.

* On her official website, in her 2015 New Year's bog, Linda recently revealed that she is recovering from back surgery


 - Joanne

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bobby Buntrock: The tragic death of Hazel's Harold


   


Were he still alive, Bobby Buntrock would be be 62 year old.  He died tragically, however, over 40 years ago, at the age of 21,  The child actor, who played Harold Baxter on the popular 1960s Hazel comedy series, lost his life in an automobile accident on a bridge in Keystone, South Dakota on April 7, 1974.  According to the World Heritage Encyclopedia, the bridge had been severely damaged two years previously in the South Dakota Flood of 1972.  There was a large hole in the middle of the bridge with at least 3.1 to 4.6 metres (10 to 15 feet) of water in the hole from the creek. Unfortunately, there were no warning signs or barricades to call attention to the danger.  Bobby was en route to visit a friend when his car slid of the side of the road and flipped over into the water.

The accident was reported and divers arrived at the scene.  They eventually reached the car and discovered Bobby's body.  The young man had tried to escape, but he had been unable to pry the door open far enough due to the mud and the sheer force of the water.  His death was horribly heartbreaking and could have been prevented.

Robert W, "Bobby" Buntrock was born in Denver, Colorado on August 4, 1952, the son of Robert Edward Buntrock, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, and his wife Maxine.  Bobby had a younger sister named Stella.  When he was three years old, the family moved to Whittier, California where neighbours urged Bobby's parents to get their son into acting. and encouraged them to send photographs of the child to the studios.  The neighbours were so persistent, according to an October 14, 1961 item in the Lewiston Evening Journal, that they sent a photographer to have Bobby's picture taken specifically for that purpose.

When the photos were received, The Buntrocks agreed, under pressure, to submit them to an agent, Marcella Bell, who auditioned young Bobby and signed him on as client..  He made made his acting debut n 1959, appearing with Hollywood great Bette Davis on NBC's Wagon Train.  In the episode, "The Ella Lindstrom Story" (Season 2, Episode 18, Air Date (February 4, 1959). he played Bo Lindstom, one of Ella's (Davis) children.

In 1960 Bobby appeared as Buddy on an episode of Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse called "Dr. Kate."  In 1961, he had cameo roles on two of the biggest hit comedies on American television, Mr. Ed and The Donna Reed Show.  In an early episode of Mr. Ed, "Kiddy Park," he played a small boy in the park where Ed, the talking horse, was giving pony rides.  (Season 1, Episode 4, Air Date: January 26, 1961).  On The Donna Reed Show, Bobby played a crying child in an episode entitled "Mary's Little Lamb" (Season 3, Episode 38, Air Date: June 8, 1961).  In the episode, Mary Stone (Shelly Faberes) is permitted to open the house to a baby-sitting service while her mother is out of town.

In  1961, Bobby was cast as eight-year-old Harold Baxter on the sitcom Hazel, starring Oscar-winner Shirley Booth (In 1953, she won an Academy award for her role in Come Back, Little Sheba).  The series, based on Ted Key's cartoon in the Saturday Evening Post about a busybody maid, became a huge hit with viewers.  Don Defore and Whitney Blake played Hazel's employers, George and Dorothy Baxter, and Bobby played their blond-haired son.

The first five seasons of the show (1961-1965) were broadcast on NBC.  After the fourth season, both DeFore and Blake left the series.  When the show moved to CBS for its fifth and final season, it was completely revamped.  George and Dorothy were transferred to Saudi Arabia on business for a lengthy period and Hazel and Harold moved in with George's bother, real estate agent Steve Baxter (Ray Fulmer) and his wife, Barbara (Lynn Borden).  Their daughter Susie, Harold's younger cousin, was played by child actress Julia Benjamin.

Below is a photo (circa 1965) of Bobby with Shirley Booth and Julia Benjamin.




While starring in Hazel, Bobby Buntrock made appearances on other television series.  In 1963 he took on the role of Andrew in an episode of the popular TV Western The Virginian ("Brother Thaddeus," Season 2, Episode 7, Air Date: (October 30, 1963).  That same year, he played a character named Scout Hendricks in an episode of the crime series Burke's Law entitled "Who Killed Eleanora Davis?" (Season 1, Episode 13, Air Date: December 20,1963).  In 1965 he portrayed Peter, a Cub Scout, on the Inger Stevens comedy, The Farmer's Daughter in an episode entitled "Ja, Ja, a Thousand Times Ja" (Season 2, Episode 32, Air Date (May 7, 1965).

After Hazel went off the air in 1966, the teenage Bobby, made two more guest appearances on The Virginian and then retired from acting.  The Virginian episodes, which aired in 1967, are "Doctor Pat" (Season 5, Episode 23, Air Date: March 1, 1967) and "The Masquerade" (Season 6, Episode 6, Air Date: October 18, 1967).


WHAT HAPPENED TO THE REST OF THE CAST OF HAZEL?

Shirley Booth (Hazel),retired from acting in 1974.  The Brooklyn-born actress died on October 16, 1992 at her home in North Chatham, Massachusetts after suffering from health problems such as blindness and a broken hip.  Shirley was 94 years old at the time of her passing.

Don DeFore, who played Hazel's employer, attorney George Baxter, died of a cardiac arrest on December 22, 1993 in Santa Monica, California.  He was 80 years old.  Prior to his role as George Baxer, Don played Erskin "Thorny" Thornberry, the Nelson family's neighbour on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

Whitney Blake, who portrayed Dorothy Baxter, died of cancer of the esophagus on September 28, 2002.  She passed away in Edgartown, Massachusetts at the age of 76.  Whitney was the mother of actress Meredith Baxter of Family Ties fame (Coincidentally, Blake's first husband was named Tom Baxter).

Hazel (Booth) with Mr. and Mrs. Baxter (DaFore and Blake)


Julia Benjamin (Susie Baxter) will turn 58 years old on February 21, 2015 and is retired from acting.  After Hazel was cancelled by CBS in 1966, Julia was only able to land a few guest-starring roles on television.

Ray Fulmer (Steve Baxter) celebrates his 82nd birthday today.  After Hazel left the air, Ray played the role of Lee Gantry on the CBS daytime soap The Guiding Light.  He later portrayed Martin Nell Dillard on another soap, Somerset, a spin-off of Another World.

Lynn Borden (Barbara Baxter) is now 75 years old   She has made guest appearances on such television series as My Three Sons (1967), The F.B.I.(1968), Family Affair (1967) (1968 - twice), Get Smart (1967) (1969),  The Mod Squad (1969), McMiillan & Wife (1975), Petrocelli (1976). Starsky and Hutch (1977), Fantasy Island (1978), The Fall Guy (1982) and CSI: NY (2006). In most recent years, Lynn has worked in television commercials and on stage.

Lynn Borden (right) with Shirley Booth and Ray Fulmer


END NOTES

* Bobby Buntock's sister Stella appeared in some television commercials as a child.

* When Bobby starred in Hazel, he was required by law to have a tutor on the set. When the show was on hiatus, he attended Lake Marie Public School in Whittier, California.

* A false story has been circulating that Bobby Buntrock's mother died a year before her son in a car accident at the same bridge in South Dakota where he perished.  However, Maxine Buntrock died on June 20, 1972 of cardiac arrest at the family home.

* Bobby's father, Robert Edward Buntrock, remarried in 1979.  He wed a widow named Margaret R. (Champion) McClure.who became stepmother to Bobby's sister Stella (Buntrock) Watson.  Robert, who was born on September 3, 1915, passed away on March 21, 1996.  Margaret, originally from Keystone, South Dakota, died on March 14, 2011 at the age of 92 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

* According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Bobby was a member of the National Guard in Rapid City, South Dakota.

* Below is a photo of Bobby Buntrock's grave.  He is buried at Keystone Cemetery, Keystone, Pennington Country, South Dakota, U.S.A.







- Joanne

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Y&R Report (February 14, 2015): 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 fans, there is a great deal happening in Genoa City right now and I must say that the writing has improved under new head scribe Charles Pratt.  Let's see. Where do I start?  How about the custody case concerning the minor, Faith Newman?  As regular readers know, I am firmly on Sharon's side of the dispute. However, I do think she was way out of line to expect Mariah and Noah to commit perjury in order to help her gain custody of her daughter.  Mariah is to be commended for telling the truth on the witness stand.  As for Noah, he is the Son in the Middle.  It seems he's always trying to help his parents clean up their messy lives.  He's more mature than they are.

Does any character on the show have a thicker skull than Nicholas Newman.  Faith is obviously distraught over the custody battle and prefers to live with her mother. Meanwhile, Nick repeatedly states that his intention is not to punish Sharon.  I don't believe that any more than I believed his constant assertions that he would stand by Sharon no matter what.

By the way, have you noticed that Sharon and Dylan have been in quite a few scenes together lately? I wouldn't be surprised if he becomes romantically involved with her, a least for awhile, once he breaks up with Avery.  From the way Avery's been daydreaming about her past with Joe Clark, that's going to happen soon.  No, I don't believe Joe's statement to Avery that he's decided to leave town. He'll stick around to cause trouble.

Now that Maureen (Meridith Baxter) has left Genoa City, Nikki has a new drinking buddy - namely Neil Winters.  The two have good reason to feel wronged by their respective spouses and are both very bitter.  I can't blame Nikki for not wanting Phyllis to be a house guest for an unspecified amount of time, especially since Victor did not even have the decency to consult with her about the mercurial redhead taking up residence at the Newman ranch.

This Valentine's Day, there is plenty of intrigue in Genoa City.  Victor has made alliances with both Phyllis and Kelly.  He's playing his cards carefully and his ultimate goal is to bring down Jack Abbott and Jabot.  Phyllis doesn't trust the Black Knight.  She's well aware that he's using her for his own purposes,  However, she feels it's to her advantage to align herself with The Moustache right now.  

Abby sent mysterious Valentine invitations to many of the younger residents of GC, including Mariah, Supergirl Summer, Austin, Fen and Noah.  They all gathered at the Abbott cabin and played a game called "Never Have I Ever . . .and Austin reacted strangely to "never have I ever committed murder. "  He became upset and walked away.  When he returned he explained that the subject of murder reminded him of the murder of his mother.  In the next scene, a male hand was shown spiking the punch and everyone fell asleep for a time - except Austin.  He was later shown outside on the ground in the cold. Strange happenings . . .

The Winters family's Valentines Day vacation turned into a disaster.  An angry Neil revealed to everyone on board the plane that he had regained his eyesight and he exposed Devon and Hilary's treachery.  According to online spoilers, their plane will go down and they will be faced with a life or death situation.  Regular reader Fifi from Collingwood thinks that Neil will have to save his son Devon's life despite Devon's betrayal of him.

Another online scoop has revealed that someone in Genoa City will not survive Valentine's Day. Whom will it be?  It has to be a character who is expendable, someone Y&R can do without or someone who is leaving the show.  Could it be someone aboard the Winters' plane?  Hilary perhaps? Will she be needed much longer now that Neil knows her secret?

One of the few happy couples on Y&R seems destined for trouble.  I'm  referring to Lily and Cane. Candy Cane just couldn't bring himself to tell Lily about Devon and Hilary. He tried to tell her but kept getting interrupted.  That's a soap tactic to prevent a secret from coming out.  Now that Lily knows the truth, will the Aussie charmer find himself in the doghouse?   Will there be trouble in paradise. Why didn't  he just tell her anyway? The answer is that there wouldn't be any conflict if he had told her.

Valentine's Day is also poor Delia's birthday.  Although I'm not a huge fan of Burgess Jenkins, the actor currently portraying Billy Boy Abbott, I've got to give him credit for his touching performance in the scene at his late daughter's roadside memorial.  He really conveyed a father's grief in a most poignant manner.


VIEWER FORUM

CC from Etobicoke, Ontario wrote:


I like your analysis of Y & R situations.  But what makes you so sure Kelly is the one behind Delia's hit and run?  She does appear to be a plausible candidate after the fact of course which is how it is expected to be.
Since Phyllis is a longstanding key character it seems quite credible that she would not be the crazy one even though she seems to have the gift and smarts head over heels above Kelly.
From the beginning I thought Kelly had the makings of a future Sheila.
Now Kelly looks better and acts sweeter than Phyllis. 
If this all pans out to be true then Phyllis will never let Jack forget it.
No matter what though they will never be able to rise above the major bungle of killing Delia off. With the personality they gave her she was destined to become a major player character unlike Abby who turned out to be a dud, and Faith who has the potential to be a clone of Sharon.

The next week or so should reveal more to us.

Actually, CC, I am not so sure Kelly is the one behind Delia's hit and run.  I wrote that she "may" have been the one behind Delia's hit and run.  It's a definite possibility and I wouldn't rule it out.  I still think that Kelly will turn out to be the one who is mentally unbalanced.  It's certainly true that right now. as you put it, Kelly "looks better and acts sweeter than Phyllis."  However, I think it's all a ruse on Kelly's part to confuse Jack and to gain his sympathy.  She recently let her guard down when she pointed a table knife at Avery during a heated argument between the two women.  I also suspect that Kelly poisoned herself to set Phyllis up.  She only drank a tiny bit of the tea so that she would survive.

I think Delia was killed off in order to create friction between Billy and Victoria and break up their marriage.  However, I think they could have found another way rather than having Delia die.


Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario wrote:

Some Y and R comments for you.
I thought Victoria looked lovely in the pink dress at the baptism.
Jill is also looking mighty fine.
Does Victor really have a good side?
I thought that maybe Phyllis was one up on everyone and is setting her own plan into action, testing Jack to go back with Kelly and testing Kelly to slip up.  Or maybe Police Commissioner Paul will realize he has the wrong person in jail when it is discovered that Kelly killed Delia.
February sweeps this week.  Should be good!

Yes Fifi, Victoria radiant in the pink dress and I agree that Jill is also looking good.

Victor is a very complex man.  Yes, he is domineering, controlling, overbearing and ruthless.  He is certainly a villain, but not a cartoonish villain.  There are shades of grey in The Big Man's makeup. In his mind, he truly loves his family and he loves Nikki.  He can also be surprising and unpredictable. He is capable of terrible cruelty and has no qualms about breaking the law if it gets in his way.  It's all part of doing business for him.  At the same time, he has tender side to him which he displays occasionally.  For example, he sincerely respected and admired the late Katherine Chancellor.  He valued her friendship and misses her deeply.

Newman's personality has been shaped by his childhood years.  He was an orphan, felt rejected and clawed his way to success in business.


CAST NEWS

The Daytime Emmys will take place on April 26, 2015 and 22 Y&R cast members have earned pre-nominations, leading all the other soaps.  Remember that the final nominees will be announced on March 26, 2015. Unfortunately, no plans have been announced yet to televise the event.  I hope that will change, but if not, the show will likely be available online.  Below are the Y&R pre-nominations.

LEAD ACTRESS

Tracy E. Bregman (Lauren Fenmore)
Jessica Collins (Avery Bailey Clark)
Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea Lawson Newman)
Gina Tognoni (Phyllis Newman)

LEAD ACTOR

Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott)
Eric Braeden (Victor Newman)
Doug Davidson (Paul Williams)
Justin Hartley (Adam Newman)
Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin)
Billy Miller (ex-Billy Abbott)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amelia Heinle (Victoria Newman)
Elizabeth Hendrickson (ex-Chloe Mitchell)
Cady McClain (Kelly Andrews)
Kelly Sullivan (Sage Warner)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR

Steve Burton (Dylan McAvoy)
Steve Carrigan (Dr Ben "Stitch" Russell)
Bryton James (Devon Hamilton)
Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters)

OUTSTANDING YOUNGER ACTRESS

Camryn Grimes (Mariah Copeland)
Hunter King (Summer Newman)

OUTSTANDING YOUNGER ACTOR

Max Elrich (Fenmore Baldwin)
Max Page (Reed Hellstrom)

Some comments:
There must be a lack of younger actors on daytime soaps.  No offense against Max Page (Reed), but he is rarely ever appears on the show - three times a year at most.

I would consider Kristoff St. John  (Neil Winters) to be a lead actor.

If Billy Miller (ex-Billy Abbott) is regarded as a lead actor why isn't Amelia Heinle regarded as a lead actress rather than a supporting actress?  Also, if Jessica Collins (Avery) is in the lead actress category, why isn't Dylan in the lead actor category rather than supporting actor?


BEST LINES

A best line goes to Mariah for her comment to Sharon as Supergirl Summer entered the courtroom at Faith's custody trial.

MARIAH (referring to Summer): Great!  Princess Whiny Pants.  Get ready for some waterworks when she takes the stand.

Add "Princess Whiny Pants" to "Snowflake," Mariah's other sobriquet for Summer.  If she keeps this up, she'll have as many nicknames for Summer as Jack has for Victor.


Another best line goes to Phyllis.  It comes from a scene where she and her lawyer sister, Avery, were discussing the charge that she attempted to poison Kelly.

PHYLLIS: Cricket hates me.  She shouldn't be anywhere near my case.  I mean, seriously, isn't that your job as my lawyer?  "Bug" removal?


Y&R REPORT READER'S POLL

Redhead versus Blonde


Gina Tognoni (Phyllis)


Cady McClain (Kelly)



Do you think Phyllis or Kelly is unbalanced?

I think Phyllis is mentally unbalanced due to her coma.
Kelly is definitely off kilter.
They are both unbalanced.
Don't know.
Poll Maker




That's all for now.  Happy Valentine's Day!  Don't forget to check the next edition of Y&R Report on Saturday, February 28, 2015.


- Joanne