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Thursday, January 22, 2015

June Lockhart: Looking back at her career as she approaches her 90th birthday

I'm not really affected whether or not the phone rings asking me to do a job.  When you're working, you're very professional and you do the work. You know your lines and you hit your marks and your collar's clean. There is a wonderful world out there besides what you do on screen.

- June Lockhart

June Lockhart should know about professionalism.  After all, her show business career has spanned more than eight decades.  June, who will turn 90 years old this year, has the perfect pedigree,for an actress. She was born on June 25, 1925 in New York City, the daughter of Eugene "Gene" Lockhart, a Canadian-born actor, singer and playwright, and Kathleen Lockhart (nee Arthur), an English-born stage actress and musician.  Gene, a native of London, Ontario, passed away on March 31, 1957 at the age of 65. Kathleen died in in 1978 at the age of 83.  June, the couple's only child, displayed her talent at an early age.  When she was eight years old, she made her professional debut in a Metropolitan Opera production of Peter Ibbetson.  She played Mimsey in the dream sequence.

Meanwhile, Gene Lockhart gained prominence on Broadway in 1933 after after appearing as Uncle Sid in Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wildesness!, alongside his wife, Kathleen. In the mid-1930s, however, the Lockharts left New York and headed westward to California where Gene enjoyed a successful career as a Hollywood character actor.

Young June made her screen debut in the 1938 film version of A Christmas Carol starring British character Reginald Owen.  Her parents, Gene and Kathleen, portrayed the Cratchits, while 13-year-old June portrayed one of their children, Belinda Cratchit.

June (far (left) with her parents in A Christmas Carol

Gene Lockhart in the 1939 film Bridal Suite

June Lockhart's parents made sure that their daughter performed in quality films. A list of her early movies includes appearances in All This, and Heaven Too (1940), Sergeant York (1941), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).  Before graduating from high school, June had already worked alongside such Hollywood legends as Gary Cooper (Sergeant York), Bette Davis (All This, and Heaven Too, and Ingrid Bergman (Adam Had Four Sons).

June made her Broadway debut in 1947 in the comedy For Love or Money opposite British-born actor John Loder.  She took New York by storm, winning a Tony Award in 1948 in the category of "Outstanding Performance by a Newcomer" (a category that no longer exists) for her role as the ingenue.

In the early 1950s, June began establishing a career on television with dramatic roles on The Prudential Family Playhouse (1951), and Pulitzer Prize Playhouse (1951) and as Dolly Madison in the TV movie Mistress of the White House (1952). From 1954 to 1956, she appeared three times on the legal series Justice.  By the late 1950s, she was guest starring in a string of popular TV Westerns such as Wagon Train (1958) (1960), Cimarron City (1958), Gunsmoke (1958), Have Gun - Will Travel (1957) (1958) and Rawhide (1959).

From 1958 until 1964, June portrayed Ruth Martin on the classic TV show Lassie. She joined the cast as a replacement for Cloris Leachman who had originally played the role of Ruth, a devoted farm wife and the adoptive mother of an orphaned boy named Timmy.  Leachman had been unhappy and producer Jack Wrather replaced her as soon as the show's fourth season drew to a close. In his online memoir, "Recollections," Jon Provost, who portrayed Timmy Martin, wrote: "Cloris did not feel particularly challenged by the role.  Basically, when she realized that all she'd be doing was baking cookies, she wanted out."

June Lockhart took over the part of Ruth Martin at the beginning of Lassie's fifth season and remained with the show for six years.  In 1959, she earned an Emmy nomination for her performance in the role.  June's first appearance on the show was in an episode called "The Storm" (Season 5, Episode 1, Air Date: September 7, 1958). She played Ruth Martin in 207 episodes of Lassie, until the beginning of the show's 11th season in 1964.  (Prior to the 1964-1965 season, the series was completely revamped with the Martin family moving to Australia without Lassie. The loyal collie began working with the U.S. Forest Service workers instead, and the show the show continued until 1974).  Below are photos of June with Lassie.

In the 1950s, June was a panelist on a TV game show called Who Said That?, along with some renowned White House correspondents, including broadcaster H.V. Kaltenborn. She held them in such high esteem that she requested permission to travel with them  Her request was approved by President Dwight D. Eisenhower's press secretary.

In 1964, June guest-starred in an episode of Perry Mason entitled "The Case of the Scandalous Sculptor" (Season 8, Episode 3, Air Date: October 8, 1964).  She played the role of Mona Stanton Harvey, a wealthy woman whose husband tries to obtain $10,000 to pay a blackmailer.  He devises his own blackmail scheme involving a model.  When the model is murdered, however, Mona is charged.

That same year, June also appeared in episodes of such popular TV shows as Bewitched, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Man from Uncle.  In the Bewitched episode, entitled "Little Pitchers Have Big Fears" (Season 1, Episode 6, Air Date: October 22, 1964), she played Mrs. Burns, the widowed mother of a young boy who wants to try out for the baseball team despite the fears of his overprotective mom.

From 1965 to 1968, June co-starred in the popular science fiction television series Lost in Space.  She played the role of Dr. Maureen Robinson, a biochemist, and the wife of Dr. John Robinson (Guy Williams),  Professor Robinson is an astrophysicist specializing in applied planetary geology and he is the commander of the spaceship Jupiter 2.  The Jupiter 2 is part of a historic American mission to colonize deep space, which includes the couple's three children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Carttwright) and Will (Billy Mumy) and Major Don West (Mark Goddard).  There is a stowaway too, the cowardly enemy agent, Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris). Oh yes, The Robot is also aboard, he of the famous catchphrase "Danger, Will Robinson!  Danger!

The Jupiter 2 goes off course and the Space Family Robinson, becomes . . . well, lost in space. However, the space travellers experience weekly adventures on various planets as they try to find their way to their destination.  The show displayed an interesting array of special effects, especially once it began filming in colour.  It's interesting to note that only the first season was shot in black and white.

June as Dr. Maureen Robinson in Lost in Space

When Lost in Space ended its run, June joined the cast of Petticoat Junction.  From 1968 until 1970, she played the role of Dr. Janet Craig on the hit CBS sitcom.  Dr. Janet arrived in the tiny rural town of Hooterville and rented a room at the Shady Rest Hotel, which had been run by Joe Carson (Edgar Buchanan) since the departure of his niece, Kate Bradley (Kate had been played by Bea Benaderet, who died in 1968). By 1970, the popularity of the rural-based sitcoms on CBS was waning and Petticoat Junction was cancelled.

June as Dr. Janet Craig on Petticoat Junction

In 1974, June guest starred on Marcus Welby, M.D. and Adam-12.  In 1975, she played the role of Mrs. Bowman in an episode of Police Story.  In 1976, she made an appearance on Happy Days in an episode called "Two Angry Men" (Season 3, Episode 20, Air Date: February 3, 1976), playing Judge MacBride (Howard Cunningham ends up in a small claims court after Fonzi's pigeon coup crashes down into his apartment).

June as a judge on Happy Days in 1976

In 1981, June played Diane Westmore Pauley in an episode of the detective series Magnum, P.I., starring Tom Selleck - "Lest We Forget" (Season 1, Episode 10, Air Date: February 12, 1981).  Anne Lockhart, June's real-life daughter, portrayed her mother's character at the time of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.  In addition, Miguel Ferrer, Jose Ferrer's son, played his father's character, Judge Robert Caine, at a younger age.

From 1976 to 1983, June appeared three times on Quincy, M.E., a drama starring Jack Klugman as a coroner who investigates suspicious deaths.  She played Mrs. Clara Rhodes in "A Star is Dead" (Season 1, Episode 3, Air Date: November 28, 1976), Dr. Blair in "Physician, Heal Thyself" (Season 4, Episode 18, Air Date: February 22, 1979) and Mrs. Hanover in "Quincy's Wedding - Part 2" (Season 8, Episode 18, Air Date: February 23, 1983).

In 1982, June made guest appearances on two prime time soaps, Falcon Crest and Knots Landing. She played Mara Wingate in a Falcon Crest episode entitled "Dark Journey" (Season 1, Episode 9, Air Date: January 29, 1982) and Hilda Grant in a Knots Landing episode called "Encounter" (Season 4. Episode 3, Air Date: October 14, 1982).

In 1985, June played a character named Beryl Hayward in an episode of Murder, She Wrote, the long-running Angela Lansbury murder mystery series.  She appeared in an episode entitled "School for Scandal" (Season 2, Episode 4, Air Date: October 25, 1985).  Polly Bergen, Roddy McDowell and John Vernon also appeared in the same episode.  What a stellar cast!

In 1986, June portrayed Dr, Sylvia Heywood in yet another prime time soap, The Colbys, a spin-off of Dynasty featuring Charlton Heston and Katharine Ross in starring roles.  June appeared in two successive episodes of the series: "The Turning Point" (Season 1, Episode 10, Air Date: January 16, 1986) and "Thursday's Child" (Season 1, Episode 11, Air Date: January 30, 1986).

In 1991, the sitcom Full House kicked off its fifth season with June guest starring in two consecutive episodes as Miss Without, Michelle Tanner's (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen) kindergarten teacher. The first episode, is entitled "Double Trouble" (Season 5, Episode 1, Air Date: September  17. 1991). The second episode, in which Michelle schemes to match up her father, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), with Miss Without, is called "Matchmaker Michelle"  (Season 5, Episode 2, Air Date: September 24, 1991).

In the first photo below, June poses for a publicity shot with Bob Saget and Ashley Olsen.  The second photo is a scene from the episode "Matchmaker Michelle."

In 1995, June appeared in an episode of Rosanne entitled "December Bride" (Season 8, Episode 11, Air Date: December 12, 1995).  She played the mother of a gay man named Leon.  In the episode, Roseanne holds a same-sex wedding for Leon.  From 1997 to 1998, June had a recurring role as Celia Martin  on Beverly Hills, 90210.  She appeared in four episodes of the series.

In the 21st century, June Lockhart has continued to be active.  In 2002, she appeared in two successive episodes of The Drew Carey Show as Misty Kiniski, the mother Louis Kinski (Ryan Stiles).  In 2004, she played Betty Deline in an episode of Las Vegas entitled "You Can't Take it With You." (Season 1, Episode 17, Air Date: March 1, 2004).  She also portrayed Agnes in a 2006 episode of Grey's Anatomy entitled "Break on Through" (Season 2, Episode 15, Air Date: January 29, 2006). That same year, she guest starred as Muriel Bartleby on Cold Case ("Beatutiful Little Fool," Season 3, Episode 19, Air Date: April 9, 2006).  In February of 2013, she began filming for a video game with 3-D graphics called Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure.

June Lockhart has been twice married and twice divorced.  On January 17, 1951, she wed Dr. John F. Maloney and they had two daughters.  Their first daughter, Anne Kathleen Mahoney, was born on September 6, 1953.  Anne became an actress and her professional name is Anne Lockhart.  A second daughter, June Elizabeth "Lizabeth" was born on November 21, 1955.  Lizabeth has also goes by the name "Lockhart."

Anne Lockhart

June and Dr. Maloney divorced in 1959,  Later that same year, the actress married John C. Lindsay, a prominent architect.  She and Lindsay divorced circa 1970. Below is a photo of June and John with June's two daughters.  The family is about to board the inaugural flight of Western Airlines "Champagne Flights."


June Lockhart

* June has always had a keen interest in aviation and the space industry.  She has spent a great deal of time with astronauts and NASA officials and has witnessed space shuttle launches.  In an April, 2004 interview with Bob Edwards on National Public Radio (NPR), June described herself as an avid watcher of C-SPAN and a NASA groupie.  She said that astronauts have told her that Lost in Space inspired them.  "I did Lassie for six years and I never had anybody come up to me and say, 'It made me want to be a farmer," she quipped.

* In 1984, June began appearing intermittently in the role of Maria Ramirez on the popular daytime soap General Hospital.

* In an interview with KAOS2000 magazine at the the Comic Con International in San Diego in July, 2000, June was asked if she had a favourite role.  She replied, "Each for their own reasons.  I certainly enjoyed Lassie.  I'd be with it yet if they hadn't changed the format.  I loved Lost in Space. It was like going out in the sand. being in kindergarten, and playing space.  Petticoat Junction was wonderful.  It was a privilege to work with those great character actors and I did that the last years it was on, as you know . . ."

- Joanne

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Y&R Report (January 17, 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.

Y&R fans were the recipients of some sad news to start 2015.  Beau Kazer, who portrayed Brock Reynolds on a recurring basis for about 30 years, passed away in Thousand Oaks, California on December 30, 2014.  He was 63 years old.  His wife, photographer Sharon Alkus, said the actor died in his sleep "after two years of health issues."  As of this writing, no details have been provided regarding the nature of those issues.

Beau was a Canadian, born in Toronto, Ontario on May 22, 1951, and he studied acting at the Stella Adler School.  In 1974, he joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as Katherine Chancellor's son, Brock,  Brock would always refer to his mother as "the Duchess."  Since Beau was a good singer his Y&R character would often play the guitar during his earlier years on the show.  Longtime viewers will recall a song Brock wrote about Jill.

Beau was very tall and he had quite a distinctive voice.  It was deep and booming. He appeared in the first scene of the first episode  of Y&R that I ever viewed.. I heard that baritone voice and I just had to look at the television screen.  I saw Brock arguing with his mother, Mrs. Chancellor, about her drinking.  That's when I first began to watch the show; so it's fair to say that Beau Kazer's voice attracted me to The Young and the Restless.

Daniel Goddard, who plays Cane Ashby, wrote the following tribute to Beau on Facebook. "I remember the first time I heard your voice and thought wow!  This guy should have been in radio! Then I watched you act and was blown away with how natural and honest your performances always were.  God Bless."  Doug Davidson, who plays Paul Williams, said, “He was such a loving, sweet man who loved life and the show. I will miss him.”

At the time of his death, Beau had been working on a book, Adventures in Honkersville.  His wife, Sharon, has promised to type up the remaining chapters and she wants fans to know what an important part Y&R played in his life.  His final appearance on the show was in 2013 for Katherine's funeral.

Beau Kazer

Watch out Supergirl Summer.  Mariah planted a kiss on your hubby Austin's lips and I'm sure that's not the end of it.  Although Kevin seems to be falling for the volatile Mariah, I don't think that will prevent her from pursuing Austin.  When Kyle returns to Genoa City, as expected. Austin will not be a happy camper.  He will be jealous and resentful of Kyle's relationship with Supergirl and vulnerable to Mariah's advances.

Well, well, well!  Spoiled heiress Abby Newman plans to have lots of fun with her mother Ashley's love potion perfume.  As I mentioned in the last edition of Y&R Report, I think Abby will go after Dr. Stitch.  Regular reader, Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario, pointed out to me that Abby kissed Detective Mark Harding at midnight on New Year's Eve and walked away.  That's very true, but I think that the outspoken Ms. Newman will test the love motion on more than one man.  The former Naked Heiress is on the loose and she is bound to stir things up.  As for Detective Harding, he's not my cup of tea.  I just can't warm up to his character.  At least he's single, though.

Could this be the end of the long-time romance between Victor and Nikk?  Now that Nikki is aware of Victor's nefarious deeds, will she ever forgive him again?  We shall see.  At the moment she is alienated from him and disgusted with his behaviour.  Although she has tried hard to resist, Victor has driven her to drink again.  Nikki can't help but be tempted when bottles of liquor and glasses are readily available right in front of her eyes at the Newman ranch.  Only on a soap would an alcoholic have liquor in prominent display at home.

Nikki will become increasingly dependent on Clueless Paul Williams who is always prepared to go to the ends of the earth to help her.  This will not sit well, of course, with their respective spouses. Victor will be angry that Nikki has confided in the feckless police chief about her drinking, rather than her own husband.  Paul's pregnant wife, the lovely Cricketmeister, will not be too pleased either.

Princess Victoria Newman is with Dr. Stitch now, but she still hasn't gotten over Billy Boy Abbott. Although she tried to cover up her feelings, she was very sad and wistful when she learned that Billy had removed his wedding ring tattoo.  I think the two will eventually reconnect, much to the dismay of Daddy Victor.  Billy is becoming increasingly irritated with Chelsea;s closeness to Gabriel/Adam and Victoria is not going to be pleased when she finds out about Stitch'em up and Ashley Abbott.

By the way,what an acting performance by little Connor when he called Gabriel/Adam his daddy! That kid has talent, doesn't he?


Regular contributor, CC from Etobicoke, Ontario, has some comments.

Melody Thomas Scott is looking better since her recent illness.
Things seem to be in a lull at the moment but we can feel the explosion coming.
It is beyond me how Victor rationalizes his good in doing all the evil things he does.
How he and Nikki can even dream that their marriage and relationship is a good one is beyond me.

Do you think Dylan and Avery will make it to the altar?

Hilary is on the edge as Devon's game heats up.
Neil is in lala land about his marriage. It won't be long now.

I can do without the Michael/Lauren/cancer storyline.

Phyllis and Kelly will be going at it with hair pulling etc. soon. Poor Jack!

I guess things will come to a head during the Feb. sweeps which will be here soon.

Yes, CC, it is good to see Melody Thomas Scott looking healthier since her recent illness.  I think that Nikki loves Victor in spite of his ruthlessness and his despicable behaviour.  She is aware of his wickedness, but she also sees another side of her husband.  The question is whether she has reached the saturation point with him.  Will her ability to forgive The Big Man have limits, or is this just another breakup in their long history of makeups and breakups?

No, i do not think that Dylan and Avery will make it to the altar any time soon.  It is becoming increasingly clear that Avery is still attracted to her ex, Joe Clark. She is trying very hard to suppress her feelings for Joe, but since Y&R is a soap, I do not think she will succeed. Dylan has a terrible temper and he suffers from post-traumatic syndrome due to his wartime experiences in Afghanistan.  He is bound to do something that will cause Avery to turn to her smooth-talking ex.

I do not think that the Hilary and Devon affair will end happily for anyone.  Neil is about to regain his sight and he is getting closer and closer to the truth.  I can't wait to see what happens when he finally unmasks the duplicitous duo.  The fallout is not going to be pretty. Neil will be devastated, but I really hope he doesn't hit the bottle again (although he may join Nikki as they fall off the proverbial wagon together).  Lily will also display a strong reaction. To put it bluntly, she'll blow a gasket.

I too can do without the Michael/Lauren cancer storyline.  Many people watch the show as a distraction or as pure escapism.  Some viewers are dealing with cancer in their own lives and they don't want to be reminded of it when they watch television.

Yes, CC, Phyllis and Kelly are really at odds, but a new wrinkle in the plot is that Kelly is slowing revealing herself to be a very unbalanced individual.  For a while, Jack will fall prey to Kelly's scheming and trickery, leaving Phyllis very frustrated.  Jack has often proven to be an easy mark and will be duped by Kelly without much difficulty. It's "Blondie" versus "Red" in the battle for Jack's heart, and "Blondie"  is already succeeding with her plan to turn Jack against Phyllis.

The February sweeps should be exciting, CC.  I think the show has improved recently.  

Here is an email I received from Fifi in Collingwood, Ontario.

I enjoyed seeing the flashback of Camryn Grimes as Cassie years ago.  She has been an excellent actress all along and is doing a terrific job as Mariah.  I loved when she called Summer "Snowflake."

I enjoyed the flashbacks too, Fifi, and I also think Camryn Grimes is a good actress.  She's a prefect foil for Supergirl Summer.  Her "snowflake line" was great and I had planned to used it as a "best line."  Summer was not too thrilled when Mariah turned up at The Underground restaurant and interrupted her romantic rendezvous with Austin.  Supergirl demanded to know why Mariah was there when she wasn't even scheduled to work.  Mariah's response was priceless. "Can I see your I.D., Snowflake?" she asked, since Summer isn't even of legal drinking age.


Fans of Tristan Rogers (Colin Atkinson) will be pleased to know that the Australian actor will remain on Y&R for another year.  He was scheduled to return to work on January 6th after a trip Down Under.  He says his storyline will heat up.


I enjoyed Jill's descriptions of Joe Clark.  They were quite apt.  She referred to the sleazy real estate developer as  "tall, dark and oily."  She also called him "a snake in an Armani suit."

That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear on Saturday, January 31, 2015, just before the February sweeps.

- Joanne

Monday, January 12, 2015

You Wanted to Know . . . about Chuck Woolery and his family

I recently received an email from a reader who is interested in American game show host Chuck Woolery and his family.  The reader asked for some background on Woolery and his family.  TV Banter is always happy to oblige reasonable requests from readers.

"Chuck ranks up there with the all-time masters of game-show hosting, the Tom Kennedys and Bill Cullens." 

- David Schwartz, coauthor of The Encyclopedia of Game Shows.

"A guy called my smarmy once.  I had to call him up and ask him what it meant."

- Chuck Woolery
Philadelphia Inquirer, posted online June 15, 2003
From an article by David Hiltbrand  

Charles Herbert "Chuck Woolery" Chuck Woolery was born on March 16 1941 in Ashland, Kentuky. His father. Dan, who died in 1969, was the owner of a fountain-supplies company and his mother, Katherine, was a homemaker.  The family also included Chuck's older sister, Sue, who is described as a nursing assistant in an October 28, 1991 People magazine article by Tim Allis.

Chuck Woolery aspired to a career in the music industry, but enlisted in the United States Navy instead.  After completing two years of military service, the young man returned to his home state of Kentucky and attended Morehead State University where he studied economics and sociology,  In the early 1960s, he worked as a sales representative for Pillsbury and as a consultant for Wasserstrom Wine in Columbus, Ohio.

Music was still in his blood, however, and he headed for Nashville, Tennessee where, in 1967, along with Elkin "Bubba" Fowler, he formed a psychedelic pop duo called The Avant-Garde.  Backed by different session musicians, Woolery and Fowler released three singles for Columbia Records: "Yellow Beads," "Naturally Stoned" and "Fly With Me."  In mid-1968, their recording of "Naturally Stoned," reached Number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  The group disbanded after "Fly With Me:" and never released a full album.  Elkin "Bubba" Fowler went on to a career as a folksinger and played bass for Leonard Cohen.

Meanwhile, Chuck Woolery struggled in his attempts to establish himself as a country singer in Nashville.  His fortunes did not change until he move to Los Angeles at the urging of comedian Jonathan Winters.  Winters, who had been impressed with one of Woolery's solo recordings, offered him a spot on The Tonight Show . . . with Johnny Carson, which finally took place in 1974.

In the 1970s, Chuck Woolery dabbled in acting.  In 1973 he appeared in an episode of Love American Style, portraying Mr. Thompson in a segment called "Love and the Crazy Comrades" (Season 5, Episode 6, Air Date: October 19, 1973).  He played the role of a tennis pro in the 1978 television move A Guide for the Married Woman, starring Cybill Shepherd.  He also appeared in two big screen movies as pilot Rogers in the 1974 film Sonic Boom and as a detective in the 1975 film The Treasure of Jamaica Reef (also known as Evil in the Deep).

In March of 1974, while co-starring as Mr. Dingle on New Zoo Revue, a children's television show, Chuck Woolery appeared on the TV game show Tattletales with his then-wife, Jo Ann Pflug.  In the summer of 1974, he was was featured as a vocalist on a short-lived revival of Your Hit Parade.  His big break, however, came when he caught the eye of television host and media mogul, Merv Griffin, due to his performance on the The Tonight Show.

When Woolery sang "Delta Dawn" on Griffin's talk show, it seemed as if his career as a vocalist had finally taken flight. Griffin, however, was interested in Woolery as the host of a new game show he was developing called Shopper's Bazaar. Although Shopper's Bazaar never got off the ground, it was given a makeover and a new title, Wheel of Fortune.  On January 6, 1975, Wheel of Fortune debuted on NBC with Chuck Woolery as host and Susan Stafford as his assistant (a role later performed by Vanna White).

Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford

The word puzzle game soon became one of daytime television's greatest hits.  It was so successful that Woolery asked for salary parity with Richard Dawson, the host of Family Feud.  When NBC offered to pay Woolery the extra salary, Merv Griffin became so upset that he threatened to move Wheel of Fortune to CBS.  No compromise could be reached and Griffin decided to fire Woolery. His last show was televised on Christmas Day, 1981.

Chuck Woolery went on to host several other game shows, most notably Love Connection from 1983 to 1994.  Love Connection was a variant of The Dating Game in which singles attempted to find a compatible match or "connection."  Love Connection was one of the biggest game show hits of its era and it boosted Woolery's career.  While hosting the show, he began using his trademark phrase, "two and two," meaning that the program would return after a commercial break of two minutes and two seconds, the regular length of of a break back then.

Woolery also hosted such game shows as The Big Spin (1985), Scrabble (1984-1990), The Dating Game (1997-1999), Greed (1999-2000) and Lingo (2002-2007). In 1991, he had his own daytime talk show, The Chuck Woolery Show, which only lasted a few months.  It was broadcast at 9 o'clock in the morning and faced stiff competition from Live With Regis and Kathie Lee.

The father of six children, Chuck Woolery  has been married four times and divorced thrice.   In 1961, at the age of 20, he wed a woman named Margaret Hayes.  The couple raised three children: adopted son Cary, who is now about 56 or 57 years old; daughter Katherine (known as Kitty), who is now about 48 or 49 years old, and another son, Chad,, who is deceased.  In January of 1986, 19-year-old Chad was killed in a motorcycle accident in Brentwood, California when his vehicle crashed into a median.  He died instantly.

Woolery told People magazine that his son "liked to sing and play the guitar. He wanted to be an actor. He loved girls and all sports. He loved me and I loved him. When Chad  died, I was crushed. Something died with me that could never be replaced."  On the day he picked out his son's casket, the grieving father went to work hosting Scrabble in order to keep his mind off the tragedy.

Chuck Woolery's second wife was actress Jo Ann Pflug, with whom he shares a daughter, Melissa. Pflug, who is now 74 years old, is best known for her role as Samantha "Big Jack" Jack in the hit 1980s TV series The Fall Guy, starring Lee Majors.  She and Woolery married in 1972. They announced their plans to divorce in early 1982.  In May of 1982, Pflug told ThPittsburgh Press that "Chuck and I are happier being divorced friends than married enemies."  Melissa, who was six when her parents' marriage ended, is now about 38 or 39 years old.

Jo Ann Pflug

Chuck Woolery's third wife was Teri Nelson, the stepdaughter of the late actor/producer/director David Nelson, son of famed television stars Ozzie and Harriet.  Woolery and Teri Nelson were married from 1985 until 2004.  They had two sons, Michael (who is now about 25 years old) and Sean (who is now about 21 years old).

On July 17, 2006, Woolery wed his current wife, hair stylist Kim Barnes, a native of Michigan.  The marriage took place at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  It was a private ceremony for family and friends.


* Chuck Woolery was raised a Presbyterian and is now a born-again Christian.

* Woolery is politically active in support of right-wing conservative causes.  He is a staunch Republican and a gun rights activist.  In a 2012 interview with journalist B. Christopher Agee, founder of The Informed Conservative, Woolery described himself as a "constitutional conservative libertarian" and he declared that he thinks "Conservatives are right, and Liberals are wrong."

* Woolery has been an avid fisherman since childhood when he accompanied his father, Dan, an outdoor enthusiast, on fishing trips.    

- Joanne

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Y&R Report (January 3, 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, the residents of Genoa City have celebrated Christmas and they have ushered in the New Year. An ice storm from the north caused a Yuletide blackout in GC, but there was a Christmas miracle. The only place that did not experience a power outage was Crimson Lights, Dylan's coffee house. Does that mean that Dylan is on the side of the angels and that Joe Clark is the bad guy for trying to redevelop the warehouse district.

Avery is very wishy-washy and fickle.  For a woman who is supposed to be blissfully happy with Dylan, she was quite upset to see her ex, Joe Clark, with Ashley Abbott as his New Year's date. Jealousy was written all over her face. Although she tried to cover up, she couldn't hide it.  I see big trouble ahead for the crusading defence lawyer and her fiancĂ©.  I doubt that they'll even make it to the altar.

Two other couples are headed for trouble: NIkki and Victor and Paul and the Cricketmeister.  Nikki will be far from pleased when she discovers that hubby Victor has been up to his old tricks.  She'll be quite upset that The Big Man is using his influence with the mayor to help push Joe Clark's plan to demolish her son Dylan's business.  Nikki is sober for now, but I think Victor's shenanigans will drive her back to the bottle.  I also think she's also going to turn to Paul for help and Cricket won't like that.  She may even lose the baby she's having with Clueless Paul.

Victor Newman is up to his moustache in dirt (although it's not much of a moustache anymore).  The Black Knight, as we all know, has been spying on Ashley's lab, trying to uncover the secret of A.A.'s new fragrance.  Victor realizes that Ashley has discovered that her lab assistant, Tobias. is a spy

At the moment,  the Great Victor Newman has the advantage.  Nevertheless, I hope he is thwarted.  It's about time for him to lose.  Is there no end to the man's treachery?

What a coincidence!  Ashley just happened to be acquainted with Joe Clark in New York.  She dated him and then just disappeared.  Of all the towns in all the wold, the real estate developer showed up Genoa City City, Ashley's hometown.  Oh yes, "Candy" Cane Ashby just happened to know Joe Clark from business dealing.

Speaking of Joe Clark and Ashley, how do you like them together, fans?  Should Joe stick with Ashley or should he continue to pursue his ex, Avery?  What about Ashley?  Do you prefer her with Stitch or Joe?

It's about time Noah Newman had an interesting storyline and there have been hints that it is going to happen soon.  It seems his girlfriend, Courtney, is growing impatient with him.  The way she looked at her ringless finger spoke volumes.  The hard-edged policewoman obviously wants a commitment.from Noah, but there would be no conflict if he were prepared to marry her.  Therefore, I expect some serious problems and complications in their relationship.  One or both may become involved in romantic triangles

It's starting to look as if Kelly is mentally unbalanced.  I think Phyllis is right about Kelly causing her car to run out of gas on the way to the New Year's Eve party.  As I mentioned in my last Y&R Report, viewer Rosie from Richmond Hill, Ontario thinks Kelly was the one who ran down Delia.

As expected, Neil is regaining his sight.  It won't be much longer before he finally clues into Hilary's infidelity and Devon's betrayal.  It's difficult to believe that Neil would be so oblivious to what has been going on before his sightless eyes.  As for Lily, it's even harder to believe that she would not have figured it out.

Hilary is gambling that will eventually be with Devon.  However, she may be the big loser in the "quadrangle" that involves her and Neil and Devon and Gwen.  Neil is going to dump her when he finds out what she's done and Devon may end up with Gwen.

The whole story about Adam having plastic surgery to look like Gabriel Bingham is too unrealistic, even for a soap.  Now there is a new twist in the convoluted plot. Contanse Bingham (Sally Kellerman), the real Gabriel's grandmother, has died.  Not only that, but Sage has revealed that she is Gabriel's widow and that she is entitled to half of Constance's estate.

It's obvious that Kyle is going to return to Genoa City soon.  The signs are there. He phoned on New Year's Eve and spoke with Supergirl Summer.  The Supergirl and Austin are headed for choppy waters.  Austin will not be a happy camper when Kyle returns.

I predict that Abby Newman will go after Dr. Stitch'em up.  Here's why.  Abby does not have a man in her life right now.  Her second-rate romance with Tyler has come to a merciful end..  She's restless and on the prowl.  Now that her mother, Ashley, appears to have something going with Joe Clark, Abby will feel free to pursue Stitch 'em up.  She won't be concerned about Princess Victoria either. After all, she much prefers her Uncle Billy with Aunt/Sister Vicky.  The spoiled Newman heiress is clearly after someone.  She has taken some of Ashley's "love potion" from the Jabot lab. My guess is that she is planning to test it on Dr. Romeo Rayburn . . . Oops . . . his last name is actually Russell. Will he be able to resist.  I highly doubt it.


Ravi Kapoor, an English actor of Indian heritage, debuts as Dr. Jain on January 8, 2015 (CBS) and January 7, 2015 (Global TV in Canada).  Dr. Jain will be helping Michael Baldwin with his battle against prostate cancer.\

Ravi Kapoor


Do you remember this exchange between Victor Newman and Tobias, the spy Victor has planted as assistant in Ashley Abbot's lab at Jabot?

VICTOR NEWMAN:  Just pretend to be an idiot.

TOBIAS: I can do that.

VICTOR NEWMAN: Oh, I'm sure you can.


Whom should Nick Newman be with?
Don't know
Poll Maker

- Joanne

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Are you looking for old and rare DVDs and Videos?

Hi Readers

Here is some good news for television fans and historians. If you are looking to obtain old and rare videos and DVDs, I have a suggestion for you.  Yesterday I received an email from a gentleman named Sydney P. Bloomberg.  Mr. Bloomberg worked at Fox/20th Century Fox and has a movie/theatre background.  He tells me he deals mainly with "rare, obscure, hard-to-find Foreign, 'Black,' Operfa, Theatre, TV Material, Silents-1965 Films,"  His clients include actors, film students, scholars, societies, librarians, archivists, seniors and authors doing research on worldwide cinema. He has a great deal of TV material on DVD and VHS such as U.S. Steel Hour, Playhouse 90, Climax! and more.

If you are interested in contacting Mr. Bloomberg regarding his videos and DVDs, you can email him with your "want list."  His email  address is   He "ships worldwide at N/Chg."

- Joanne

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Y&R Report (December 20, 2014): 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.

Christmas and the New Year are approaching and many of Geona City's citizens are in deep crisis. Nikki and Neil are both fighting the temptation to drink.  Faith has gone missing due to her father's stupidity and Michael is facing cancer.

As usual, the town is rife with secrets and lies.  Take Dr Stitch'em-Up, for instance. He wants to start fresh with Princess Victoria Newman, but he won't tell her about his little tryst with Ashley Abbott. Of course, we all know what that means.  Victoria will eventually discover the truth and suffer more heartbreak.

There are more secrets and lies too.  Queen Nikki is hiding her drinking from her family and King Victor is spying on Jabot.  Hillary is cheating on Neil . . . and the beat goes on!

Adam had multiple surgeries to make him resemble the dear, departed Gabriel.  Did he also have surgery to give him a new voice?  OOOPS!  We're not supposed to mention that.  If friends and family recognized his voice, they'd know his identity. If Chelsea recognized him, the storyline would be ruined.  I keep telling myself that soaps are not supposed to be logical and realistic.  Still, it's fun to point out all the unrealistic situations and the flaws in the plots.  Here's another one.  Can anyone tell me how Adam was able to enter the Abbott home and Chelsea's penthouse?  Are we to believe he had keys to both places?  Woops!

I have some sympathy for Adam because he never meant to harm Delia.  He didn't intentionally kill her.  It was an accident.  Yet everyone is treating him as if he were a cold-blooded murderer.  It's really driving him crazy to see Chelsea with Billy.  I don't think he'll be able to hold back much longer.  He's already revealed himself to Jack.  Jack won't tell Billy just yet because he doesn't want to interfere with Billy's attempts to put his life back together.  However, there will come a time when all of Genoa City will know the truth.

Sharon is in danger of losing custody of her daughter Faith.  Now Phyllis has made sure she has lost her job at Jabot too.  Nick Newman swears that he is not trying to get even with her.  He's about as believable as he was when he declared over and over that no secret would change his feelings about Sharon or destroy their relationship.  The man won't listen to reason.  Noah and Mariah have told him how wrong his is to provoke a nasty custody battle over Faith, especially at Christmastime, but he refuses to listen.  He continues to be a jerk.  As they said of the Grinch, your're a mean man, Mr. Newman!

Faith is missing due to Nick's childish behaviour, but never fear fans!  According to an Internet spoiler, Adam will locate the missing child and return her to her parents - just in time for Christmas. You didn't think Clueless police chief Paul Williams would be able to find her, did you?  Speaking of the Clueless One, I have to say he really made a pretty good Santa Claus.  He`s also going to be a daddy as Christine (aka the Cricketmeister) is going to have a baby.  However, I expect that there will be some complications in that storyline.  By the way, I enjoy watching Cricket`s facial expressions whenever Nikki is around.  She attempts to be cordial to Nikki, but inside she wishes that Paul`s old flame would stay out of their lives.  As for Clueless, he doesn`t help matters.  He`s always running to Nikki`s assistance and now he and Nikki are planning to co-host an engagement party for Dylan and Avery. Cricket is just thrilled about that!


Our astute observer, Patsy from Sarasota, Florida, has written me with some of her observations.  She notices everything!

Talking about architectural details of house, we've all noticed that Young and Restless is using outdoor shots of downtown and cast homes.
The exterior of Victoria's house does not match the interior front door pictures. It shows a trellis to the side of the door. Such details!!
Jack's exterior home shot also does not match his front door. Just saying.

Rosie from Richmond Hill, Ontario isn't convinced that Adam was the one who ran down Delia.  She thinks Kelly may have done the deed.  I think that may be a possibility because there is much we still don't know about Dr. Stitch's sister.  She was pretty torn up about losing her own son, Sam, and she may have lost it.


Y&R has sent out a casting call for a 20-something male named "Matt Wilkins."  "Matt" may be a cover for the character of Kyle Abbott.  I wouldn't be surprised at all if that turns out to be the case. Now that it has been determined that Kyle and Supergirl Summer are not brother and sister, I expect Kyle to return from New York.  Oh yes, and I wouldn't be surprised if he still hasn't gotten over the Supergirl.  There will likely be a new Kyle in the New Year.

Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki Newman) has been ill due to a reaction to some medication.


On Sunday, December 7, I attended a Young and Restless high tea and auction at Toronto's Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.  The annual event is in support of the March of Dimes, a very worthy charity. It is sponsored by Global TV and the driving force behind it is Kate Linder, Genoa City's favourite maid, Esther Valentine.

Leslie Roberts of Global News hosted and other Y&R stars in attendance were Sean Carrigan (Dr. Stitch), Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) and Mishael Morgan (Hilary Curtis).  There was a silent auction to raise money for March of Dimes.  In addition, some of the clothing worn by Y&R actors on the show was auctioned off.  There was a shirt worn by Dr. Stitch, the dress worn by Esther at Mrs. Chancellor`s funeral, sweaters worn by Devon Hamilton and Nick Newman, and a dress worn by Hilary.  A trip to Los Angeles to visit the set of Y&R was also auctioned off.

Kate Linder is warm and wonderful.  She does so much to support the March of Dimes. She said her character, Esther, was only scheduled to make one appearance on Y&R.  She was referred to as `the maid`in the script.  Viewers responded well to her and she remained on the show.  She was given the name "Esther" and then fans chose the name "Valentine" as her last name.

Kate strongly emphasized that if you have any comments and suggestions about the show you should go the CBS website.  She said the powers that be listen to the fans and she encouraged people to write in with their opinions.

Sean Carrigan was constantly joking around, so I was not surprised to learn that he is a stand-up comedian (He's also a former professional boxer).  I also got the impression that, like his Dr. Stitch character, Sean is a ladies' man.

Mishael Morgan, I discovered, is Canadian.  Although born in Trinidad, she was raised in Mississauga, Ontario and attended York University in Toronto.  Mishael was able to come home for the event and her husband was in attendance.

During the autograph session, I spoke briefly with Kate, Bryton and Mishael.  I asked Mishael why Tyler and Leslie have not appeared on the show regularly for quite a while.  She replied that their status is still unclear.  A decision has not been made yet about them.  Then I talked to Bryton about the possibility that Neil would regain his sight without HIlary and Devon knowing and catch them together.  He said that that could still happen.  He also revealed to me that there is going to be an upheaval in the Winters family in the New Year.

Sean Carrigan - Stitch

Autograph Signings

Kate Linder - Esther

Bryton James - Devon

Bryton James - Devon

Bryton James - Devon

That's all for now.  It's always fun to watch Y&R during the holiday season.  A very Merry Christmas to my readers and I hope you have a happy and healthy New Year. The next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, January 3, 2015.  See you next year.

- Joanne

Friday, December 19, 2014

50th Anniversary of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas Special

This Christmas marks 50 years since Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was first broadcast on television.  The classic Yuletide special originally aired on the NBC network on Sunday, December 6, 1964.  It was sponsored by the General Electric and produced by a New York-based animation company called Rankin/Bass.  Arthur Rankin, Jr., the producer and director behind the Rudolph Christmas special, passed away on January 30, 2014 at the age of 89.  The New York-born Rankin partnered with Jules Bass to form an organization  known for its use of stop-motion animation and celebrity voices.

Rudolph is the longest-running Christmas special on television  (A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted in 1965, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas originally aired in 1966).  The beloved holiday tale is based on the song composed by American songwriter, Johnny Marks. Marks took his inspiration from the story of an outcast reindeer, created by his brother-in-law, Chicago retail employee Robert L. May in 1939 as a department store promotion.  The song was recorded by cowboy singer Gene Autry and became a huge hit in December of 1949.

The 1964 television special added several new aspects to the story of Rudolph and also characters that do not appear in either Robert L. May's poem or the song by Marks.  For example, in the TV movie, it is established that Donner is Rudolph's father and that Comet is the coach of the Reindeer Games.  In the special, there are new characters such as prospector Yukon Cornelius, Clarice, the doe who is sweet on Rudolph, Bumble, the Abominable Snowman and Hermy, the elf who yearns to be a dentist. Another addition to the original story is the Island of Misfit Toys, a place of refuge for unwanted toys.  Among the misfit playthings are Charlie-In-The-Box, a misnamed jack-in-the -box, King Moonracer, the winged lion who rules the island, Spotted Elephant, the polka-dotted elephant who the footman in King Moonracer's castle, a train with square wheels, and a bird who swims instead of flies.

Here are the opening lines of the Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer special, as spoken by its narrator, banjo-playing Sam the Snowman.

If I live to be 100, I'll never forget that big snow storm a couple of years ago. The weather closed in and, well you might not believe it, but the world almost missed Christmas. Oh, excuse me, call me Sam. What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a talking snowman before?

Sam the Snowman was voiced by and strongly resembled American folk singer Burl Ives.  Ives, who died in 1995 at the age of 85, sang one of the most popular songs from the special, "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas," That song, also written by Johnny Marks, has become a perennial holiday standard in its own right.

Burl Ives with Sam the Snowman puppet

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has a decidedly Canadian flavour about it. Although the stop motion animation was filmed in Japan, the complete soundtrack was recorded at the RCA studios in Toronto.  Most of the singing and speaking was provided by the voices of Canadians, under the stewardship of Canadian actor Bernard Cowan.  Vancouver-born Cowan, who died in 1990, was an announcer on many CBC TV series such as Front Page Challenge and Wayne and Shuster.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was voiced by a woman, Toronto-born voice artist Billie Mae Richards.  Richards died of a stroke in Burlington, Ontario on September 10, 2010.  She was 88 at the time of her passing.  Billie Mae was the mother of Canadian pop singer and songwriter Judi Richards.

Billie Mae Richards, 

Toronto-born Paul Soles, now 84 years old, provided the voice of Hermey, the misfit elf who wants to be a dentist.  In an article that appeared on the CBC News website on December 5, 2014, Soles gives interviewer Janet Davison his opinion as to why the popularity of the Rudolph TV special has endured in this age of computer-generated animation.  Soles believes the main reason for the special's timeless appeal is that "Everybody's been to some degree separated out, found wanting, not quite fully fitting in.  Either you're too tall, you didn't make the team, or you were too short or something like that. That's one of the universal elements of the show."  Soles himself did not feel completely accepted growing up Jewish in Toronto.

In her December 11, 2014 piece in the Toronto Star ("Rudolph's Toronto connection"), reporter Barbara Turnbull quotes Paul Soles on the reason why so many of the major voices for Rudolph were recorded in Toronto.  "In Toronto, explained Soles, we had the very best pool of English-speaking radio actors in the world. They came here because we were great and we worked cheap.  We had no union protection."  It's not surprising that Rankin/Bass took note of the Toronto talent pool.

Hermey the Elf

Paul Soled - the voice of Hermey

Canadian actor Larry D. Mann provided the voice for Yukon Cornelius, the high-spirited prospector in search of silver and gold.  Mann died earlier this year, on January 6, 2014, at the age of 91.   Mann started out as a disc jockey at CHUM Radio, a then-popular station in Toronto,

Yukon Cornelius

Larry Mann

Carl Banas, a longtime Toronto radio personality and actor, voiced the Elf Foreman and various misfit toys.  Banas also co-starred alongside John Vernon, as police detective Byron James on the Canadian television drama Wojeck.  Wojeck aired on the CBC from 1966 to 1968.

The unnamed Elf Foreman is the chubby and leader at Santa's Workshop.  He conducts the elves in their rendition of "We are Santa's Elves" and his goatee makes him resemble conductor and recording artist Mitch Miller of "Sing Along with Mitch" fame.

Elf Foreman

Carl Banas

The Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special was released in the VHS format by Sony Wonder in 1998 and on DVD in 2000.  Classic Media released a 50th anniversary edition on Blu-ray in November of 2014.


* Television viewers were so touched by the plight of the unfortunate misfit toys that they complained that Santa Claus had not been shown to keep his promise to deliver the misfits in his yearly Christmas sleigh ride.  As a result, a new scene was added to subsequent broadcasts in which Santa makes his first stop at the Island of Misfits to pick up the toys.

* Whatever happened to the original puppets from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special?  In 2006, Kevin Kriess, the owner of the Time and Space Toys store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, purchased the original Santa Claus and one of the Rudolph puppets from the TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and had them restored.  Kriess obtained the the puppets from a private seller whose aunt had been Arthur Rankin's secretary for many years.  The original puppets were not considered valuable at the time and were eventually discarded.  The secretary, who has remained anonymous, was granted permission to take them home.  They were stored in the attic of the her home and were damaged by her children..  Only Santa and one the three Rudolph puppets survived all the wear and tear.  According to Rankin/Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt, the Yukon Cornelius figure melted.

The puppets are not large and they are made of wood, wool and wire.  The restored Santa puppet is only about 5.7 centimetres (5 inches).in height.

Kevin Kreiss, who agreed not to disclose what he paid for the puppets as part of the deal, had this to say about the appeal of the Rudolph special:in a 2006 article by Phil Kloef in the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "It goes back to a time before there were a lot of entertainment options, [before] you could watch anything you wanted on DVD.  The airing of a Christmas special was an event you looked forward to. You marked your calendar, and the whole family sat down together and it became a Christmas ritual."

- Joanne