Monday, December 24, 2012

Grinch TV Special Quiz


With all due respect to Jim Carrey, I much prefer the animated television version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.  Dr. Seuss' story is better suited to television than a full length feature film.  How can you improve on the words of Theodore Geisel (also known as Dr. Seuss) and the animation of the great Chuck Jones of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies fame?   They just can't be beat.  If you are an ardent fan of this wonderful seasonal special, as I am, try TV Banter's How the Grinch Stole Christmas TV special quiz below.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! TV Special Quiz

1.  In what year was How the Grinch Stole Christmas! originally shown on television?

A. 1967

B. 1965

C. 1963

D. 1966

E.  1964

2,  Who provided the voice of the Grinch and narrated the story?

A,  James Earl Jones

B.  Vincent Price

C.  Boris Karloff

D.  Allastair Sim

E.  Albert Finney

3.  What is the name of the Grinch's dog?

A.  Max

B.  Mort

C.  Milt

D.  Myron

E.  Mack

4.  The Grinch lives in a cave above a fictional mountain atop Who-ville.  What is the name of the fictional mountain where the Grinch resides?

A.  Mount Rumple

B.  Mount Whoople

C.  Mount Crumble

D.  Mount Rumble

E.  Mount Crumpit

5.  What was the name of the little 2-year-old Who child who caught the Grinch stealing the Christmas items?

A.   Jenny Lou Who

B.  Maggie Sue Who

C.  Cindy Lou Who

D.  Mary Lou Who

E. Emma Sue Who

6. What song did the Who Village Choir sing?

A.  Silver Bells

B. Christmastime

C.  The Bells of Christmas

D.  Welcome Christmas

E.  Christmas Morn

7.  How small is the Grinch's heart at the beginning of the story?

A.  Four sizes too small

B.  Two sizes too small

C.  Three sizes too small

D.  As small as an an ant

E.  Barely visible

8.  How is the Grinch's heart described at the end of the story?

A.  The Grinch's heart grew three sizes on Christmas Day.

B.  The Grinch's heart increased five-fold that day.

C.  The Grinch's heart became as large as a lion's that day.

D.  The Grinch's heart grew two sizes that day.

E.  The Grinch's heart kept on growing that day.

9.  In what year was the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! published?

A.  1952

B.  1954

C.  1955

D.  1951

E.  1957

10.  What did the Grinch dislike the most about Christmas?

A.  The ornaments on the Christmas trees.

B.  The laughing of the children

C.  The singing of the Whos down in Who-ville

D.  The children's toys.

E.  The Christmas stockings.


1.  D

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! first aired on December 18, 1966 on the CBS network.

2.  C

Boris Karloff

British horror film star, Boris Karloff, provided the voice of the Grinch.  Karloff, whose real name was William Henry Pratt, died on February 2, 1969 after contracting peneumonia.  He was 81 years old at the time of his death.  Karloff won a Grammy Award for his recording of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.

3.  A

The name of the Grinch's dog is Max.  Max is a dachshund mix.  The poor dog remains loyal to his dastardly owner and reluctantly becomes the Green One's partner in crime.  The Grinch humiliates Max by forcing him to wear false antlers and to pull an overloaded sleigh.  Yet Max never rebels.

4.  E

The Grinch lives atop Mount Crumpit., a mountain just north of Who-ville.  He's a strange, slimey, green creature.  He is part human and part animal.

5.  C

Cindy Lou Who

The 2-year-old girl is Cindy Lou Who.  Veteran voice artist June Foray provided the voice of Cindy Lou Who. Foray, now 95 years old, was also the voice behind Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha Fatale (from Rocky and His Friends and Bulwinkle cartoons) and Jokey Smurf (from The Smurfs), among others.

6.  D

The Who Choir sings "Welcome Christmas."  To watch a video of the Whos singing "Welcome Christmas," click on the link below.

7.  B

At the beginning of the story, the Grinch's heart is two sizes too small.

8.  A.

The Grinch's heart grows three sizes on Christmas Day.

9.  E

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was published as a book in 1957 by Random House.

10.  C

At Christmas, The Grinch disliked the singing of the Whos down in Who-ville most of all.


The performance of the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is often falsely attributed to Boris Karloff.  It was actually sung by American voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft who was uncredited for his work on How the Grinch Stole Christmas!.  By the way, Ravenscroft was the voice of Tony the Tiger in all those "Thery're grrreat!" Frosted Flakes commercials.  He died in 2005.

- Joanne

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kate Jackson: The Smart Angel

During the 1970s, when Kate Jackson starred as Sabrina Duncan on Charlie's Angels, the future looked rosy for the spunky, dark-haired actress.  The ensuing years, however, have not been easy ones for Kate.  She has faced three divorces, severe health problems, the 2009 death of her friend, Farrah Faawcett, and serious financial difficulties.

Lucy Kate Jackson (also known as Catherine Elise Jackson) was born in Birmingham, Alabama on October 29, 1948 to Ruth (nee Shepherd), a homemaker, and Hogan Jackson, a wholesaler of building material.  She has a younger sister named Jenny Jackson.  In 1968, Kate left home to study at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.  Her big break came when she was cast as a Daphne Harridge, a silent "ghost" in the popular gothic daytime drama Dark Shadows.  

Kate as Daphne in Dark Shadows

Kate then moved to Hollywood where she began to establish a name for herself. After a guest spot on Bonanza and appearances on the short-lived NBC series, The Jimmy Stewart Show, Kate eventually won a recurring role in a popular television series.  From 1972 until 1978, she portrayed nurse Jill Danko on ABC's crime drama The Rookies.   Produced by Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg, The Rookies 
chronicled the exploits of three novice police officers in an unspecified Southern California city.  Kate's character was the concerned wife of Officer Mike Danko, an ex-marine (played by Sam Melville).

Jackson as nurse Jill Danko on The Rookies

Kate Jackson's portrayal of Jill Danko made her very popular with television audiences and she received more fan mail than her male castmates.  Due to Kate's popularity with viewers, Spelling and Goldberg signed her to co-star with Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett and Farrah Fawcett-Majors as Jill Munroe in their new  series, Charlie's Angels. The series centred around the adventures of three glamorous undercover detectives who worked for Charles Townsend's private investigation agency. Charlie's face was never shown, but veteran actor John Forsythe provided his voice.

Charle's Angels aired on the ABC network for five seasons, from 1976 until 1981. Although not warmly received by critics who dismissed it as lightweight "jiggle TV," the show was a huge hit with TV audiences.  Kate Jackson and her co-Angels soon became household names.  With her feathered blonde tresses and megawatt smile and swimsuit poster, Farrah garnered the most most attention.  Kate was considered the brainiest of the trio and she was dubbed "the smart Angel."  Unlike her co-stars, she did not prance around in bikinis and skimpy outfits.

Flushed with adulation and fame, Farrah Fawcett-Majors decided to leave Charlie's Angels after only one season to pursue a career in feature films.  She was replaced by Cheryl Ladd. who took on the role of Jill Munroe's younger sister, Kris Munroe. Kate Jackson remained with show until the finish of the 1978-79 season. By that time, she had had enough of Charlie's Angels and was eager to move on. Shelley Hack joined the cast as the newest Angel at the beginning of Season Four and it was explained that Sabrina Duncan had left the Townsend Agency to get married and raise a family.

Due to scheduling conflicts with Charlie's Angels, Kate had been forced to turn down the Meryl Streep role in the 1979 hit film Kramer vs. Kramer.  Streep was later awarded an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the movie. Kate's disappointment at giving up that plum role was one of the factors that prompted her to leave Charlie's Angels.  During her last season on the show, Kate was extremely unhappy and frustrated.  She described the series as a bit of fluff  "so light it would take a week to get to the floor if you dropped it from the ceiling."

On  August 23, 1978, Kate married Andrew Stevens, an actor and the son of actress Stella Stevens.  The couple eloped after a whirlwind romance.  In 1979, they starred in a television movie version of Topper. based on characters created by fantasy writer Thorne Smith (Smith's work was made into a series of popular feature films and was turned into a 1950s television series starring British actor Leo G. Carroll in the title role).

In their Topper TV movie (a pilot for a television series that was never made), Kate and Andrew played Marion and George Kirby, a couple who die in an accident.  The deceased Kirbys return to their former home as a pair of fun-loving ghosts who shake up the lives of its current occupants, a stodgy banker named Cosmo Topper (Jack Warden) and his wife, Clara (Rue McLanahan).  Working together, however, did not save Kate and Andrew's marriage.  They divorced in 1980 and Stevens, now 57 years old,  is a successful film producer and director.

Left to right: Kate Jackson, Jack Warden and Andrew Stevens in Topper

On May 1, 1982, Kate married  New York City businessman David Greenwald  in a poolside ceremony.  The pair formed a production company called Shoot the Moon and Kate returned to television in 1983.  Her new series, a spy-comedy called Scarecrow and Mrs. King, was produced by Shoot the Moon and it was very successful.  The show aired for four seasons, from 1983 to 1087, on CBS.  Kate played the role of Amanda King, a divorced mother of two young children who lived with her mother, Dotty (Beverly Garland) in suburban Washington D.C.  Her male co-star was Bruce Boxleitner who portrayed the mysterious Lee Stetson "Scarecrow," an agent for a secret government government organization called "The Agency."

Although Scarecrow and Mrs. King had become hit series, Kate struggled with some daunting personal problems off screen.  During the 1980s  she was plagued with both marital discard and ill health.  In 1984, her marriage to second husband David Greenwald ended in divorce.  She would later tell People magazine that her first two marriages failed because "Both times I was looking for real commitment in all the wrong places."

Kate Jackson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987.  After undergoing a lumpectomy at a Los Angeles hospital (under an assumed name), she returned to the set of Sscarecrow and Mrs. King.  Unfortunately, the cancer returned in 1989 and Kate had a partial mastectomy and reconstructive plastic surgery.  Her former Charlie's Angels colleague, Jaclyn Smith, came to her support during that difficult time.

From 1988 to 1989, after Scarecrow and Mrs. King had finished its run, Kate starred in a comedy called Baby Boom, based on the Diane Keaton film of the same name. Kate played J.C.Wiatt, a single Harvard-educated corporate executive who became an instant mother when a  recently deceased English relative left a baby named Elizabeth in her care.  The show flopped with viewers and only 13 episodes were produced before it was cancelled.

Kate met her third husband, Tom Hart, while on vacation in Aspen, Colorado in 1989. Hart, the owner of  a Utah ski lodge business, and Jackson wed in 1991 at their rented Brentwood, California home.  The ring bearer was Tom's 8-year-old son, Sean, who became Kate's stepson.  The marriage, however, did not survive and the couple divorced in 1993.

In 1994, Kate underwent open-heart surgery after discovering that she had been born with ASD, an Atrial Septal Defect or hole in her heart that had not been detected earlier.  In September of 1995, with the assistance of Rosie O'Donnell, Kate adopted a son, Charles Taylor Jackson.  The adoption took place just two hours after the baby's birth.

As 1998 drew to a close, Kate, disenchanted with Hollywood politics and gossip, decided it was time to leave Tinseltown and return to her Southern roots.  She put her Brentwood Canyon estate on the market and purchased a 19th century country home in Keswick, Virginia.

In 2006, Kate reunited with Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith at the Emmy Awards to pay tribute to Aarron Spelling who had died of a stroke on June 23rd of that year. To watch a video of their tribute to Spelling, click on the link below.

In May of 2010, Kate Jackson declared that she was in "financial ruin at the hands of the very person she entrusted with her finances." reported that the actress had filed a $3 million lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court against her former business manager, Richard B.Francis, who was also the financial advisor to the late Farrah Fawcett.  The website revealed that Kate had accused Francis of misleading her as to the health of her finances..

In court documents, Kate claimed that Francis was aware of her "extremely close" relationship with Fawcett and had used that information to snare her as a client. She also claimed that Francis told her that her net worth was $5.4 million when it was actually about $3 million.  She alleged that he pressured her into purchasing an over-priced home in Santa Monica which she could not afford, assuring her that the property would never decrease in worth.

Richard Francis defended his work with celebrity clients, describing his record as "impeccable."  He predicted that the case would "end at the deposition stage" and that it would never go to court.  As it tuned out,  Francis' prediction was correct.  In December of 2010, Jackson settled her lawsuit with him and reported that they had reached an undisclosed settlement.  Lawyers for both sides expressed their satisfaction with the agreement.

Now 64 years old, Kate Jackson  has been working on a memoir.  Titled The Smart One, it is to be published by Gallery Books.  Its original release date of October 11, 2011 has been delayed until April 1, 2014.  Her most recent acting role was in an episode of the crime drama series Criminal Minds.  The episode, entitled "Honour Among Thieves," aired on April 11, 2007 and Kate played Ambassador Elizabeth Prentiss.

- Joanne

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Larry Hagman: So long, J.R.Ewing!

It was truly an honour to share the screen with Mr. Larry Hagman. With piercing wit and undeniable charm, he brought to life one of the most legendary television characters of all time.  But to know the man, however briefly, was to know a passion and dedication for life and acting that was profoundly inspirational.
- Jesse Metcalfe
Christopher Ewing on TNT's Dallas

Larry Hagman passed away on November 23, 2012 at the age of 81.  The actor, who underwent a life-saving liver transplant in 1995, reportedly died of complications from stage 2 throat cancer.  Larry's friend, writer Harry Hurt III, has claimed, however, that Hagman was also battling leukemia.  According to Hurt, leukemia was the actual cause of his death.  Yet, no matter how ill he was, Larry was loathe to miss an opportunity to continue his role on Dallas.  During the show's original run from 1978 to 1991, he was the only actor to appear  in all 357 episodes.

Larry Hagman's role as the ruthless oilman, J.R. Ewing, won him worldwide recognition and many accolades.   He became one of television's most unforgettable villains and Dallas fans couldn't wait to tune in every Friday night to watch J.R's. dirty schemes unfold.  With his trademark Stetson hat and devilish smile, Hagman seemed to relish playing the conniving cowboy.

Just like his character on Dallas, Larry was a true son of the Lone Star State..  He was born Larry Martin Hagman on September 21, 1931 in Fort Worth, Texas and, fittingly, he passed away at the Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas.  His family and close friends had joined him there for the American Thanksgiving holiday.  According to the Dallas Morining News, his co-stars, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray, were at his side when he passed away.

Larry Hagman was the son of Broadway star Mary Martin and Benjamin Jackson Hagman, a lawyer and district attorney of Swedish descent.  Larry's parents divorced when he was only 5 years old.  After the breakup, Larry moved to Los Angeles to live with grandmother while his mother struggled to achieve a show business career.  She went to so many auditions that she earned the nickname "Audition Mary."  Meanwhile, Larry's grandmother took care of him most of the time.

When Hagman was 12 years old, his grandmother passed away and he was reunited with his mother in New York.  By that time, Mary Martin had made a name for herself on Broadway.  She had also married for the second time, to Richard Halliday.  Larry was then sent to boarding schools until he returned to Texas to live with he father in a small town called Weatherford  After graduating from Weatherford High School, he spent a year a year at Bard College in Anandale-on-Hudson, New York.  It was during that time that he decided to follow in his mother's footsteps.

In 1950, Larry Hagman launched his professional stage career by appearing in small roles with Margo Jones Theatre-in-the-Round in Dallas.  He then performed in the New York City Center's production of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew.  After a year of regional theatre, he moved to England and joined the cast of his mother's hit musical, South Pacific. In 1952, during the Korean War, Larry enlisted in the United States Air Force.  Stationed in London, he produced and directed several shows for U.S. troops based in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe.

Larry remained in England for five years, returning to New York City  in 1956 after completing his military service.  He then resumed his theatrical career, appearing in several Off-Broadway and Broadway productions.  He also began appearing in many television programs, mostly live.  At the age of 25, he made his  TV debut in a 1957 episode of Decoy, a crime drama about an New York City policewoman.  The episode was entitled "Saturday Lost" (Season One, Episode 24).

In 1957, Larry also appeared in the daytime soap opera The Edge of Night as Curt Williams.  In 1958, he performed guest roles in three episodes of Sea Hunt , an adventure series starring Lloyd Bridges as scuba diver Mike Nelson.  The episodes were  "The Hero," "Legend of the Mermaid" and "The Sponge Divers." From 1961 until 1963, Larry had a role in another daytime drama, Search for Tomorrow, in which he played Ed Gibson / Johnny Collins.

After eight years in New York, Larry relocated to Hollywood where his television career really took off.  He first rose to stardom when he was cast as astronaut Anthony "Tony" Nelson" opposite Barbara Eden in the popular NBC television comedy I Dream of Jeannie.  The highly successful series ran from 1965 until 1970 and featured Eden as a 2,000 year genie and Hagman as her "master."  (a very sexist premise but it was a 1960s show).  Upon learning of Larry's death, Barbara Eden posted an open letter on Facebook.  Here's an excerpt from her letter:

He was such a key element in my life for so long and even, years after I Dream of Jeannie; our paths crossed so many times.  Throughout various productions I had the pleasure of watching the Texas Tornado that was Larry Hagman.  Amidst a whirlwind of big laughs, big smiles and unrestrained personality Larry was always, simply Larry.  You couldn't fault him for it, it was just who he was.  I am so thankful that in this past year I was able to spend time with him and experience yet again 'Larry' in all his Big Texas bravado.

Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden n I Dream of Jeannie

During the early 1970s, there was a lull in Larry's career.  He was a guest star on numerous TV series such as Dan August (1971), Medical Center (1973), Police Woman and McCloud (1974), Marcus Welby, M.D. (1970, 1975), The Streets of San Francisco (1975) and McMillan & Wife and The Rockford Files (1977).  He also starred in two short-lived comedy series, The Good Life (1971-1972) and Here We Go Again (1973),

In The Good Life, Larry and Donna Mills (who later starred in Dallas spinoff Knott's Landing) played Albert and Jane Miller, a bored middle-class couple who pose as a butler and cook for a wealthy industrialist.  In Here We Go Again, Larry and Diane Baker portrayed Richard and Susan Evans in a comedy about newlyweds who move into a house located near the homes of their former spouses.   Both series failed to make waves and Hagman's career remained in the duldrums until the opportunity to play J.R.on Dallas came along in 1977.  He credited his real life spouse for persuading him to take the role.

Larry Hagman met Swedish-born designer named Maj Axelsson (her first name is pronounced "My") while he was stationed in England during his service with the United States Air Force.  The couple married on on December 18, 1954.and they had two children, a daughter named  Heidi Kristina (born February 17, 1958) and a son, Preston (born May 2, 1962).  In 2008, Maj was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.  Sadly, she is now in the advanced stages of the disease and is attended by live-in nurses.  Larry never had the opportunity to say goodbye to his wife of almost 58 years because Maj's assisted living facility is located in California.

Years of hard drinking damaged Larry Hagman's health.  In 1992, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.  A cancerous tumour later developed and on August 23, 1995, he had a liver transplant.  The 16-hour operation saved his life and Larry was gifted with several more years to enjoy.  In a statement released on October 14, 2011, he announced that that had a form of cancer, but did not elaborate.  , "As J.R., I could get away with anything - bribery, blackmail and adultery.  But I got caught by cancer.  I do want everyone to know that it is a very common and treatable form of cancer.  I will be receiving treatment while working on the new Dallas series.  I could not think of a better place to be than working on a show I love, with people I love."

Despite the cancer diagnosis, Larry was determined to play J.R. on the new Dallas series.  His 50-year-old son, Preston Hagman, said, "Doing Dallas is what kept him alive as long as he did."  Preston told ET that his father just loved coming to work every single day . . . It wasn't about the money, it wasn't about the fame, it was about him acting.  That's what he did."

What does Larry Hagman's death mean for the future of the revamped Dallas.  Its second season is set to begin on January 28 and Hagman had already filmed six of its scheduled 15 episodes at the time of his passing.  During the first season, :Larry appeared in 10 episodes while undergoing treatment for cancer.  It was obvious from his appearance that he was quite ill.  He was gaunt and frail-looking but the spark was still there.  Dallas producers will now have to work hard to create a worthy send-off for a character of such impact.  J.R.'s exit should be as memorable as the character himself.

Dallas will certainly continue but it cam never be the same without Larry Hagman and his portrayal of the wily J.R. Ewing.  Josh Henderson, who plays J.R.'s son John Ross in the current series, described his television father as "the most famous villain in TV history."  As for the man who brought the dastardly oil baron to life, Dallas co-star Linda Gray put it best when she wrote that "Larry Hagman was one of a kind and will be with us all forever."


* Mary Martin, Larry Hagman's mother, died of colon cancer on November 3, 1990 at the age of  76. She passed away at her home in Rancho Mirage, California.

* Larry Hagman quit drinking, smoking and became a vegan for health reasons.

*  Larry remained silent for one day a week in order to discipline himself.

*  Larry's final guest-starring role was on Desperate Housewives in 2004.

*  Hagman liked motorcyles and owned a Harley.

*  Larry Hagman published a 2001 memoir titled Hello Darlin: Tall (and Absolutely True) Tales About My Life.

- Joanne

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Rowan Atkinson: No more Mr. Bean?

As a fan of British comedian Rowan Atkinson and his portrayal of the comical Mr. Bean, I was disappointed to read that the character may soon be put to rest.  In an interview with the  U.K.'s Daily Telegraph last weekend, Atkinson stated, "The stuff that has been most  commercially successful for me. - basically quite physical, quite childish - I increasingly feel I'm going to do a lot less of."  The actor is 57 years old now and he feels that he is becoming too old for the part.  He said, "Apart from the fact that your physical ability starts to decline, I also think someone in their fifties being childlike becomes a little sad.  You've got to be careful."

Rowan first rose to prominence on the BBC satirical sketch comedy Not the Nine O'Clock News.  He did not achieve worldwide fame, however, until he began playing the role of Mr. Bean.  Mr. Bean, the television series, aired from 1990 to 1995 on Britain's ITV network. There were 14 episodes and they were 25 minutes in length.

Mr. Bean is based on a character created by Atkinson while he was studying for his master's degree in Electrical Engineering at Queen's College, Oxford University.  Mr. Bean is usually attired in his trademark tweed jacket and thin, red tie.  He is self-cemtred, socially awkward and seldom speaks.  His best friend is Teddy, his beloved button-eyed teddy bear.  He lives alone in a tiny flat in Highbury, a district in the London borough of Islington and he drives a keylime British Leyland Mini 1000.  As for a first name, Mr. Bean doesn't really have one.  In the first film adaptation of the character, the first name on his passport reads "Mr."  In the second Mr. Bean film, he name is listed as "Rowan."

Mr. Bean with Teddy

Bean has zero finesse with women.  In several episodes of the television series, he has a girlfriend named Imma Gobb, portrayed by Matilda Ziegler.  Bean, of course, does not treat Imma graciously nor with much regard.  In a 1990 episode entitled "Mr. Bean Goes to Town," he takes her to a nightclub and the date turns out to be a disaster.  Bean ruins a magician's show and then loses Imma to another man on the dance floor.  To view a video of Mr. Bean's disastrous date, click on the link below.

I'm partial to Mr. Bean's hilarious 1992 Christmas episode, "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean."  It was Episode 7 of the television series and it marked the final appearance of Matilda Ziegler as Imma. I love the scene where a turkey is stuck on Bean's head.   "Merry Christmas, Mr. Bean," was viewed by 18.48 million Britons.  The highest rated Bean episode, however, was Episode 5, "The Trouble with Mr. Bean." (originally aired on January 1, 1991).  It attracted an audience of 18.74 million viewers.

Rowan Atkinson has also starred in two Mr. Bean feature films, Bean: The Movie (1997) and Mr. Bean's Holiday (2007).  In Bean: The Movie, the buffoonish Bean travels to American where he is given the responsibility of delivering a highly valuable work of art to a Los Angeles museum.  In Mr. Bean's Holiday, Bean wins a trip to Cannes where he unintentionally separates a young boy from his father while discovering the joys of France, bicycling and romance.

A true innocent, Bean's humour comes from his lack of savvy, and his humour is physical.  It is the kind of universal slapstick comedy that can be enjoyed by all backgrounds and cultures.  Because so few words are spoken, one doesn't even have to speak English to understand and appreciate the Mr. Bean's humour. His comedic style is reminiscent of Charlie Chaplin's "Little Tramp."

Last summer, Rowan Atkinson did his Mr. Bean routine at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. In a memborable skit, he joined the orchestra playing one note on a synthesizer as they performed the theme from Chariots of Fire.  Feigning boredom, he snapped a photo with his phone, sneezed and then daydreamed.  The audience was then treated to a back-slapping parody of the opening sequence from Chariots of Fire in which Mr. Bean dreams of running along the beach with the Olympians in the film. With the assistance of a car, he crosses the finish line first.  Atkinson's performance at he Olympics sparked a barrage of tweets on Twitter.

To watch a video of the Chariots of Fire skit, click on the link below.

I can't really fault Rowan Atkinson for his desire to stop playing the Mr. Bean character even though Bean remains extremely popular.  He probably wants new challenges and he doesn't relish the thought of being constantly typecast as a bumbling boy-man.  Rowan is clearly tired of playing Mr. Bean and he obviously can't do it forever.  He is now more interested in performing in live theatre and will soon play the title role in Quartermaine's Terms in London's West End.  Rowan Atkinson has to do what's right for him, even if his fans aren't happy about it.  He's got to follow his own instincts.

Note to Canadians: One of Mr. Bean's earliest appearances took place in 1987 when Rowan Atkinson performed at the Just for Laughs (Juste Pour Rire) Festival in Montreal.  He purposely performed in front of a French-speaking audience to see how his character would go over in front of a non-English-speaking crowd.

- Joanne

Friday, November 9, 2012

Looking back at Captain Kangaroo

Bob Keeshan as Captain Kangaroo

Captain Kangaroo, a round-faced, pleasant mustachioed man possessed of an unshakable calm . . . Captain Kangaroo was one of the most enduring characters television ever produced.
- From Bob Keeshan's obituary in The New York Times, January 24, 2004

Before Sesame Street, there was Captain Kangaroo. When I was a child here in Toronto, I always watched Captain Kangaroo on CBS's Buffalo affiliate.  The popular children's morning show was hosted by Bob Keeshan who played the role of the grandfatherly Captain Kangaroo.  With his wig of long grey hair and bangs (he sported a Beatles hairdo well before The Beatles came on the scene) and his trademark walrus moustache, Keeshan was a familiar figure to children for decades. His character was called Captain Kangaroo because of the large pockets in the oversized red jacket he always wore.

Robert James "Bob" Keeshan was born in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York on June 27, 1927.  He attended Forest Hills High School in Queens, New York. During World War II, at the age of 17, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves.  He never engaged in combat, having joined too late, and when Japan surrendered in 1945, Bob was still in the United States.  After leaving the service, he attended Fordham University in New York City.

Soon after the war, network programming began on a brand new medium called television.  Young Keeshan worked as a page at the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).   In 1947, he commenced his on-screen career as the original Clarabell the Clown on NBC Puppet Playhouse, later known as The Howdy Doody Show.  Keeshan was fired as Clarabell on Christmas Eve of 1952 due to his strained relationship with the show's host, "Buffalo" Bob Smith.

In August of the same year, Bob was hired to develop Time for Fun, a lunchtime clown show on the ABC network's New York affiliated station.  Keeshan portrayed a gentle, quiet clown named Corny on the one-man show.. He later hosted a morning program, Tinker's Workshop, in which he played a toymaker.

When asked to create a children's show for a network, Bob Keeshan jumped at the opportunity and he came up with the idea for Captain Kangaroo.  On October 3, 1955, Captain Kangaroo began its extraordinary run of almost 30 years on the CBS television network.  In addition to playing the Captain, Keeshan performed as the Town Clown on the program.

In his review of Captain Kangaroo for the The New York Times, John P. Shanley wrote glowingly of the show..  He described it as "civilized and absorbing fun."  Shanley opined that parents were discovering that their weekday mornings were "more bearable because of the delightful artistry of Bob Keeshan."  He stated that Keeshan charmed the toddlers.

The program.was loosely structured and it took place in the "Treasure House."  At the show's opening,  Captain Kangaroo would unlock the Treasure House and he would wake up the snoring Grandfather Clock.  He would tell stories, meet guests and participate in stunts with both human characters and puppets.such as Bunny Rabbit, Mr. Moose and Dancing Bear.  Bunny Rabbit, a bespectacled hare, was always ready to snatch the Captain's carrots.  Mr. Moose would trick the Captain with a knock-knock joke and scores of  ping pong balls would fall on the Captain's head.

Click on the link below to watch the opening of the show in black and white episodes.

Watch this video clip from a later colour episode of the show in which the ping pong balls fall on Captain Kangaroo.

Captain Kangaroo's sidekick was Mr. Green Jeans, a handyman who helped at the Treasure House.and who often showed the Captain the latest addition to his menagerie of zoo animals. As portrayed by Hugh "Lumpy" Brannum, Mr. Green Jeans always wore a straw hat was dressed in green farmer's overalls.  His moniker was derived from his distinctive outfit.  (He later dressed in jeans and a green denim jacket.)  Although the show was broadcast in black and white until 1966, most viewers were well aware of the colour of his attire.

In an interview with L. Wayne Hicks on the TVparty! website, Bob Keeshan praised Hugh Brannum and pointed out how Brannum was ahead of his time and that Mr. Green Jeans was really green in more ways than one.  When asked what Brannum brought to Captain Kangaroo, Keeshan replied, "He was talking about the environment in 1955 . . . .Nobody talked about the environment in those days, not certainly on a general program and certainly not one for children  . . . "He was a protester when they were building dams and rivers that would destroy homes and properties.  He was for clean water.  He was for clean air.  He was for non-fossil fuels . . .  His reverence for life was there.  It was for growing things, the vegetables and the plants he would literally bring from his farm in Pennsylvania."

The jeans were really green.

In addition to Mr. Green Jeans, the talented Hugh Brannum played the roles of several other minor characters such as The Professor, Greeno The Clown, The Old Folk Singer and Mr. Bainter the Painter.  Brannum died on April 19. 1987.  He was 77 years old at the time of this death.  Below is a 1960 photo of Brannum as Mr. Green Jeans celebrating the fifth anniversary of Captain Kangaroo with Dancing Bear (Cosmo Allegretto).

On December 8, 1984, Captain Kangaroo ended its run on CBS.  In 1986, however, the American Program Service (now American Public Television, Boston) combined some newly-made segments of the show with reruns of old episodes.  This new version of Captain Kangaroo aired until 1993.

Through the years, the show received many awards and accolades including six Emmy awards and three Peabodys.  It was innovative in many ways and it changed the complexion of children's television.  Bob Keeshan had a way of interacting with children.  He spoke directly into the camera, as if he were addressing each child individually.  He was an excellent communicator and he was able to educate his young audience in a fun way though the use of puppets and pranks. His message to children was to feel comfortable about themselves and he delivered that message calmly and in a soft-spoken manner.

In July of 1981, Bob Keeshan suffered a heart attack soon after arriving at Toronto's international airport.  He was then 54 years old and had come to the city to receive an award for his service to children.  He underwent triple-bypass surgery and was bombarded with thousands of get-well messages from his fans.

After Captain Kangaroo, Bob hosted CBS Storybreak in 1985.  The program featured animated versions of children's literature.  During his lengthy career, Keeshan never ventured into programming for adults.

Bob Keeshan in April, 1999

For many years, Bob Keeshan lived in Babylon Village, Long Island.  He spent the last 14 years of his life, however, in Norwich. Vermont, near the New Hampshire border.  He devoted his time to advocating for the welfare of children and he strongly opposed video game violence.  Keeshan was also an outspoken critic of corporal punishment and he served on the U.S. National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse.  In 1995, he published  his memoirs, Good Morning, Captain: 50 Wonderful Years with Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo.

Bob Keeshan died in Hartford, Vermont on January 23, 2004 at the age of 76.  He was predeceased by his wife of 45 years, Anne Jeanne Laurie Keeshan, who died on February 25, 1996.  The couple had three children: Michael Derek, Laurie Margaret and Maeve Jeanne.

- Joanne

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Munsters Quiz


It's Halloween and what could be more appropriate than a quiz about The Munsters, a television series about a family of benign monsters?  How much do you know about this cult hit?  Test your knowledge by answering the 13 questions below.

1.  What was the name of Eddie Munsters' fire-breathing pet dinosaur?

A.  Fido

B.  Rover

C.  Drake

D. Spot

E.  Fluff

2.  Identify this character from The Munsters.

A.  Uncle Gilbert

B.  Cousin Drake

C.  Larry Lizard

D   Uncle Ralph

E.  Cousin Leonard

3.  For how many seasons did The Munsters run?

A.  Four

B.  Three

C.  Two

D.  Five

E.  Six

4.  What was Marilyn Munster's relationship to Herman and Lily Munster.

A.  She was the biological daughter of Herman and Lily Munster.

B.  She was their niece, the daughter of Lily's sister.

C.  Marilyn was an orphan and Lily and Herman adopted her.

D. She was the daughter of Herman's cousin, Boris.

E.  She was the daughter of a friend of the family.  Herman and Lily provided a home for her after her parents died in a car accident.

5.  What was Eddie Munster's full name?

Butch Patrick as Eddie Munster

A.  Edward Fang Munster

B.  Edgar Igor Munster

C.  Edwin Karloff Munster

D.  Edgar Hyde Munster

E.  Edward Wolfgang Munster.

6.  Where did the Munster's pet raven, Charlie, live?

A.  Charlie lived in a cage in the Munsters' kitchen.

B.  Charlie lived in the Munsters' cuckoo clock.

C.  Charlie was always perched in the Munsters' living room.

D.  Charlie lived in the Munsters' attic.

E.  Charlie lived in the Munsters' garage.

7.  There were two musical instruments in the Munsters' living room.  What were they?

A.  An accordion and a bongo drum

B.  A piano and a banjo

C.  An organ and a harp

D.  A saxophone and a guitar

E.  A xylophone and a harmonica

8.  Where did Herman Munster do for a living?

Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster

A.  He worked at a funeral home.

B.  He was employed as a grave digger.

C.  He worked at a morgue.

D.  He designed gravestones.

E.  He was a tombstone engraver.

9.  What was the name of Herman's boss?

A.  Mr. Garvey

B.  Mr.  Graves

C.  Mr. Ghostly

D.  Mr.  Gateman

E.  Mr. Greene

10.  Which legendary major league baseball manager appeared in a 1965 episode of The Munsters entitled "Herman the Rookie?"

A. Tommy Lasorda

B.  Leo Durocher

C.  Casey Stengel

D.  Sparky Anderson

E.  Yogi Berra

11.  What was the Munsters' address?

A.  13 Ghost Road

B.  1313 Grimly Crescent

C.  13 Thunder Lane

D.  13 Creepy Crescent

E.  1313 Mockingbird Lane

12.  Lily Munster wore a certain kind of jewellery.  What was it?

A.  It was a necklace shaped like a bat.

B.  I was a skull ring and it was her wedding ring.

C.  It was a a black brooch with her initials, "LM."

D.  A bracelet of skeleton bones.

E.  A Number 13 pendant.

13.  What was the name of the actor who portrayed Grandpa Munster?

Grandpa Munster

A.  Jackie Coogan

B.  Albert Crane

C.  Al Lewis

D.  John Meister

E.  Alexander Crane


1.  D


The name of Eddie Munsters' fire-breathing pet dinosaur was Spot.  Spot, a T-Rex, lived under a staircase in the Munster home.  Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster) and Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster) concocted Spot by modelling him after the Tyranosaurus Rex  from the film One Million B.C.

2.  A

This character with the hat and scarf is Uncle Gilbert.  Uncle Gilbert, portrayed by Richard Hale, was a favourite relative on the Munster side of the family.  He resembled Gill-man from the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon

3.  C

The Munsters was not a long-running series.  It ran for only two seasons on CBS, from 1964 until 1966.  It was also broadcast weekly on BBC One in the United Kingdom.  70 episodes of the series were produced, all in black and white.  The first version of the pilot episode, "My Fair Munster," was filmed in colour, but was never aired.  A second version of the pilot also never aired, but the pilot story became the second episode of the first season.  It aired on October 1, 1964 and was entitled "My Fair Munster."  The plot involved Grandpa Munster's concern over Marilyn's inability to keep boyfriends.  In an effort to help her, he concocts a love potion and puts it in her oatmeal.  Someone else, of course, ends up eating the oatmeal.

Ratings for The Munsters plunged after Batman, starring Adam West,  premiered on the ABC network in January of 1966.  Batman was new and fresh and it was in full colour.  After its cancellation, The Munsters went into syndication and became a cult hit.

A full length Munster film, entitled Munster Go Home!, was released in 1966.  The plot revolved around Herman's discovery that he was the new lord of Munster Hall in England.  On October 26, 2012,  NBC broadcasted a modern version of The Munsters called Mockingbird a Halloween special.  The network has the option of developing it into a full series.

4.  B

Beverley Owen as Marilyn Munster in 1964

Marilyn Munster was the nice of Lilly and Herman Munster, the daughter of Lily's sister.  Beverley Owen, who originated the role of Marilyn, left the show in late 1964 after only appearing in the first 13 episodes.  She left to marry her then-boyfriend. writer/producer/director Jon Stone who was living in New York.  They had two daughters, Polly and Kate, but divorced in 1974 after a decade together.  Stone directed Sesame Street form 1969 until 1994.  He died in New York of ALS on March 13, 1997.  As  for Owen, beginning in 1971, she had a two-year stint on the daytime drama Another World as Dr. Paula McCrea after which she left television to concentrate on live theatre.  She is now 75 years old.

After Beverley Owen's departure, Pat Priest assumed the role of Marilyn  for the remainder of the series.  Pat Priest, whose full name is Patricia Ann Priest, was born and raised in Bountiful, Utah.  she was born on August 15, 1936 and is now 76 years old.  Her mother, Ivy Baker Priest, was the United States Treasurer from 1953 to 1961.

Marilyn Munster, a beautiful young blonde, was the only member of the family who didn't have a ghoulish appearance.  The rest of the family considered her unattractive and she considered herself homely.  Potential boyfriends were frightened away by her family.  Although Marilyn was the daughter of Lilly's sister, she took on the name "Munster."

5.  E

Eddie and Wolf-Wolf doll

Eddie Munster's full name was Edward Wolfgang Munster. He resembled a werewolf and had a little werewolf doll called Wolf-Wolf.  Eddie was portrayed by former child actor Butch Patrick.  Born Patrick Alan Lilley in Los Angeles on August 2, 1953, he is now 59 years old.  In November of 2010, it was reported that Butch Patrick had entered a drug rehabilitation facility in New Jersey.  In 2011, he was diagnosed with prostrate cancer.

6.  B

Charlie the raven in cuckoo clock

The Munsters' pet raven, Charlie, lived in a cuckoo clock.  Charlie favourite expression was, "Never more"  as in the famous poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.  He had a habit of making sarcastic comments whenever one of the Munsters acted foolishly.  It is interesting to note that famed voice actor Mel Blanc (and
occasionally actor Bob Hastings) voiced Charlie.

7.  C

The two musical instruments in the Munsters' living room were an organ and a harp.  Herman played the organ in several episodes and Lily played the harp.

8.  A

Herman Munster was employed in a menial capacity at the funeral home.of Gateman, Goodbury & Graves but he was always searching for a better job.  Fred Gwynne, who portrayed, Herman, is also remembered for his role as Officer Francis Muldoon in Car 54, Where Are You? which ran from 1961 to 1963.  Gwynne had a baritone voice and he was 6 ft., 5 in.(1.96 m) tall.  Despite his height, he still wore elevator shoes when he played Herman Munster,  Fred Gwynne died of pancreatic cancer on July 2, 1993 at the age of 66.  He was survived by his second wife, Deborah Flater, whom he married in 1988, and his children from his first marriage to Jean "Foxy" Reynard.

9.  D

The name of Herman's boss at the funeral home was Mr. Gateman, whose first name was never given.  Although the name Gateman, Goodbury & Graves indicates three owners, Gateman appeared to be the sole proprietor of the company and he was never shocked by Herman's Frankenstein-like appearance.  John Carradine played the role of Mr. Gateman.

10.  B

Leo Durocher appeared as himself in "Herman the Rookie" (Season One, Episode 29, Air Date: April 8, 1965).  In the episode, Herman Munster hits a baseball with such force that it hits Durocher, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on the head from about seven blocks away.  Leo is so impressed by Herman's hitting power that he tracks him down and signs him up with the team.

11.  E

The Munsters lived in a spooky mansion at 1313 Mockingbird Lane in the town of Mockingbird Heights.  The location of Mockingbird Heights was never specified.

12.  A.

Lily Munster always wore a necklace shaped like a bat.  Canadian-born actress Yvonne De Carlo (a native of Vancouver, British Columbia) portrayed Lily Munster. De Carlo's long film career included roles in Criss Cross (1949) and The Ten Commandments (1956)  She married stuntman Robert Morgan in 1955 and
they had two sons, Bruce (born 1956) and Michael (born 1957, died 1997).  The marriage ended in divorce in 1974.  Yvonne De Carlo died of natural causes on January 8, 2007. in Woodland Hills, California.  She was 84 years old.

13.  C

Al Lewis portrayed Grandpa Munster, a vampire-like mad scientist.  Al was born in New York and his  birthdate is thought to be April 30, 1923.  From 1961 to 1963, Lewis was Fred Gwynne's castmate on Car 54, Where Are You?"  He played Officer Leo Schnauser on the show.

Al was married twice.  He wed Marge Domowitz in 1956 and they had three sons, Dave, Ted and Paul.  Al and Marge divorced in 1977.  In 1984, he married actress Karen Imgenthron and they remained together until Al's death.

From 1987 to 1993, Al Lewis operated an Italian restaurant in Greenich Village called Grampa's Bella Gente.  He died in a New York hospital of natural causes on February 3, 2006.  At the time of his death, he was a resident of Roosevelt Island, a narrow island in New York's East River.

Note: Grandpa Munster was Lily's father, although he was referred to as a Munster.

- Josnne

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Peter Bergman: Smiling Jack Abbott

Peter Michael Bergman was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on June 11, 1953, the son of Walter Bergman, a United States Navy Officer.  He studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. His first notable television role was that of Dr. Cliff Warner on the daytime soap All My Children.  He portrayed Dr. Warner from 1979 until 1987 and from 1988 until 1989.

In 1986, Peter Bergman appeared in a Vicks Formula cough syrup commercial in which he declared, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV.  To watch Peter's Vicks commercial, click on the link below.

In 1989, Bergman joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as wealthy businessman Jack Abbott.  He replaced Terry Lester who originated the role of Jack Abbott back in 1980.  Lester had quit the show in frustration because he felt that his role was diminishing.  He died in 2003 at the age of 53 after suffering more than one heart attack.

Last Saturday, I saw Peter Bergman when he appeared at the National Women's Show here in Toronto at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  I found him to be warm, personable and very funny. He has an excellent rapport with his fans.

It was one long, fast-paced question and answer session.  Peter said he likes Q & A sessions because they provide him with some input from the fans.  He is unhappy about Eileen Davidson's departure from The Young and the Restless and promised to do everything he can to bring her back to Geona City, the fictional town where The Young and the Restless takes place.  Eileen, who played Jack's sibling, Ashley Abbott, left because she was needed on Days of Our Lives (both soaps are produced by Sony Pictures).  Peter is also disappointed that Marcy Rylan, who portrays Jack Abbott's niece, Abby, has been cut from the show.

Peter joked about his highly publicized "feud" with Eric Braeden who plays his nemesis, Victor Newman, on the show.  In late December of 1991, Bergman and Braeden had a physical altercation backstage. They have since resolved their differences and learned to work together.  Peter, however, could not resist taking humorous potshots at Braeden's character, Victor Newman.  For instance, Newman has had a prominent portrait of himself on the wall in his office for many years.  Peter asked the audience, "What kind of person, does that?"

As for Jack Abbott's love life, Peter agreed that Phyllis (Michelle Stafford) is probably the best match for his character. He also doesn't like what the writers have done to the character of Jack's ex-wife, Sharon (Sharon Case).  He hopes that will be rectified soon.

Peter wants the show to return to its core families and storylines.  He opined that it was a mistake to have the character of John Abbott (Jack's father) die.  It may have been dramatic, but it removed the heart and soul of the Abbott family from the show.  Jerry Douglas, who played the Abbot patriarch, still appears on the show occasionally as the ghost of John Abbott or as Peter put it, "Jack's conscience."

The 59-year-old Bergman has been married twice.  He wed Tony Award-winning actress Christine Ebersole in 1976 and they divorced in 1981.  In 1985, he married Mariellen with whom he has two children, Clare and Connor. Peter proudly informed his audience at the National Women's Show that son Connor has just been called to the bar and will be an attorney.  His daughter Clare works for the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association.

I had the final question of the session and I asked Peter if he had any big scoops for Y&R fans.  He thought for a moment and seemed genuinely disappointed that he did not have one.

Here are some photos I snapped at the National Women's Show in Toronto.

- Joanne

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lorne Greene: From Bonanza to Battlestar Galactica

For 14 seasons, Lorne Greene played all-American cowboy Ben Cartwright on the television Western, Bonanza.  Greene, however, was actually a Canadian boy.  He was born in Ottawa, Ontario, on February 12, 1915, the only child of Daniel and Doris Green, Russian Jewish immigrants whose original name was Grinovsky.  Lorne's birth name was Lyon Himan Green but his mother referred to him as "Chaim."  At some point, he began calling himself Lorne and added an "e" to his last name.  In her 2004 biography, My Father's Voice: The Biography of Lorne Greene, his daughter, Linda Greene Bennett,  wrote that it is not known when he changed his name.

Greene attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, originally intending to pursue a career in chemical engineering. His heart, however, was in acting.  According to daughter Linda, in order to participate in the university's drama guild, "he altered his course registration, deleting chemical engineering and adding modern languages instead." During his years at Queen's, he became active in amateur theatre and as Linda put it, "began the uncertain journey to follow his dream."

After graduation, Lorne spent two years in New York studying drama.  He then settled in Toronto and worked as a radio broadcaster.  Gifted with rich-sounding vocals, he was so successful that he became the chief news broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) from 1939 until 1942.  The CBC billed him as "The Voice of Canada" and listeners nicknamed him "The Voice of Doom" because of the deep intonation of his sonorous voice and because of the grim events he reported to Canadians during the darkest days of World War II.

Lorne Greene as a CBC radio news anchor n 1942

Lorne Greene left the CBC in 1942 to serve as a flying officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force.  Following his service in the war, Greene returned to Toronto and pursued his interest  in radio broadcasting but did not resume his job as chief news announcer for the CBC.  Instead, he established the Toronto's Academy of Radio Arts and worked as an instructor there, teaching young people the fundamentals of radio broadcasting.  He also co-founded the Jupiter Theatre in Toronto.

In 1953, Lorne Greene headed to the United States where he performed on Broadway, in films and in the burgeoning new medium known as television.  During the 1950s he began appearing in various roles on live and filmed TV programs.  In 1953, he played Othello in a one-hour version of Shakespeare's classic.  In 1955, he was cast as Ludwig van Beethoven in an episode of You Are There, a CBS educational series hosted by Walter Cronkite.  The actor also appeared on the big screen.  He played the part of the prosecutor in the 1957 film Peyton Place and appeared as Mercier in The Buccaneers, a 1958 historical epic about the Battle of New Orleans directed by Anthony Quinn.

Lorne Greene's big break came in 1959 when an American producer, David Dortot, noticed him in a minor role on the television Western, Wagon Train. Dortot was impressed by the actor's performance and thought he would be perfect for the part of the father figure  in a new Western he was developing for NBC.   Greene then won his first continuing role on a television series when he was cast as Ben Cartwright, the family patriarch on Bonanza.  Greene's character, the thrice-widowed Ben, guided his three sons (each by a different wife) and defended the prosperous family's sprawling ranch, known as The Ponderosa.  Bonanza became a staple of NBC's Sunday night line-up for years and Greene's portrayal of the tough but wise "P:a" Cartwright made him a household name.

Lorne Greene based his portrayal of Ben Cartwright on his own father, Daniel, the Ottawa shoemaker,  That's the reason why he was able to play the play the part of the patriarch so well.  As a child, whenever he misbehaved, Daniel would give him "one of those looks."  On the Ponderosa, Lorne would give his television sons, Adam (Pernell Roberts), Hoss (Dan Blocker) and Little Joe (Michael Landon), "the same look" if they acted up.

After Bonanza went off the air in 1973, Lorne Greene starred in the  NBC crime drama, Griff.  The series was short-lived, but for Greene it was an attempt to replace his Pa Cartwright image with a more contemporary role.  In Griff, he played Wade Griffin, a veteran police captain who, after resigning from the force on a matter of principle, decided to start his own business as a private investigator.  Due to low ratings, the show was cancelled after a mere 13 episodes.

Duing the 1970s, Lorne Greene appeared in three popular television mini-series: The Moneychangers (1976), Roots (1977) and The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald (1977)  In The Moneychangers, based on Arthur Hailey's novel about the politics and greed inside a major American Bank, Greene played the part of George Quartermain.  In Roots, he appeared as John Reynolds, the first master of Kunta Kinte.  In The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald, an alternate history of what might have happened if Lee Harvery Oswald had gone on trial for the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he starred as Matthew Arnold Watson.alongside Ben Gazzara as Anson "Kip" Roberts and John Pleshette as Oswald.

For many years, Lorne Greene was the chief spokesman for Alpo, a beef-flavoured dog food, on its television commercials.  When he died, Alpo's ad agency announced that he would not be replaced by another celebrity spokesman for its product.

Click below to watch some of Lorne Greene's Alpo ads.

Click below to view a 1979 Alpo ad with Lorne Green and Victoia Principal.

In 1978, Lorne Greene took the lead role in a much-hyped ABC science fiction series Battlestar Galactica.  The series centred on some human refugees Greene portrayed Adama, the silver-haired commander of the Galactica.  The show was full of costly special effects and laser battles.  It was so similar to Star Wars that the producers of Star Wars sued ABC for "stealing' their film.  Despite the initial hype, rating for the show declined and it was cancelled after a single season.  It returned, however, in early 1980 in a revamped form and with a new title, Galactica 1980.  Lorne Greene was the only remaining member of the original cast.

From 1981 until 1982, Greene starred in yet another short-lived television series. The series, entitled Code Red, was produced by Irwin Allen and it aired on ABC on Sunday evenings.  This time Greene played Joe Rorchek, a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department.  Rorchek, an arson investigator, was the patriarch of a family of firefighters and Julie Adams portrayed his wife, Ann.   The show was instructional and provided lessons in fire safety.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Lone Greene devoted much of his time to ecological and wildlife issues.  From 1974 to 1975, he hosted a syndicated nature series entitled "Last of the Wild."  ,From 1982 until 1986, he hosted  Lorne Greene's New Wilderness, a Canadian nature documentary series that promoted environmental awareness.  It was a half-hour compilation of footage showing wildlife for which Greene provided on-camera and voice-over narration. The CTV series garnered high ratings in Canada  and  it also enjoyed success when it was syndicated in the United States and in other countries.

Lorne Greene was married twice. His first wife was Rita Hands of Toronto.  Lorne and Rita wed in 1938 (some sources say they were married in 1940) and divorced in 1960.  They  were the parents of twins, Belinda Susan and Charles, born in 1945. Belinda (now known as Linda Greene Bennett) became the author of the aforementioned biography of her father. Charles Grreene was co-producer, along with documentary producer/writer Stephen Dewar, of Lorne Greene's New Wilderness.

Lorne Greene's second spouse was Nancy Deale, whom he wed on December 17. 1961.  They remained together until Lorne's death and they raised a daughter, Gillian Dania,.who was born in Los Angeles on January 6, 1968.  Nancy Deale Greene died of cancer in Marina del Rey, California on March 2, 2004.  Gillian Greene married film producer, director and actor Sam Raimi in 1993.  Raimi is best known for directing cult horror/ comedy films.  They have five children.

Lorne Greene died of complications from pneumonia in Santa Monica, California on September 11, 1987.  His death occurred after he had undergone surgery for a perforated ulcer.  The 72-year-old had been scheduled to reprise his role as Ben Cartwright in Bonanza: The Next Generation, a syndicated television movie.  Due to Lorne's  health problems, the script had already been altered so that his part would be less physically taxing.  He was eventually replaced by veteran actor John Ireland who played Ben's brother, Aaron Cartwright.

Bonanza: The Next Generation aired in 1988 and featured Lorne's own daughter, Gillian Greene, in the role of Jennifer Sills and Michael Landon, Jr. as Benjamin "Benji" Cartwright.


* During his radio days, Lorne Green invented a stopwatch that ran backwards.  It was designed to help radio announcers determine how much time they had available while they were broadcasting.

* In 1964, Lorne Greene had a Number #1 hit in the United States with his recording of "Ringo," a spoken-word song about a real-life Old West Outlaw.named Johnny Ringo.

* Lorne Greene appeared in a 1985 episode of Michael Landon's series Highway to Heaven (Season 2, Episode 8, Air Date: November 20, 1985).  Greene played a character named Fred Fusco in this episode about the lead actor in a Broadway play who insists that God is attending the show's performances in an orchestra seat.

* Lorne Greene has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada on October 28, 1969.

To watch a television news report of Lorne Greene's death, click on the link below.

- Joanne