Monday, April 29, 2013

Seinfeld Quiz


Hey Seinfeld fans, TV Banter presents a 12-question quiz just for you.  If you think you have a great deal of knowledge  about Jerry and the gang, test yourself and see how you do.  Find out how much do you know about the show about nothing?  Okay, let's go . . .

Seinfeld Quiz

1.  What was the title of the pilot episode of Seinfeld?

A.  Seinfeld and Friends

B.  The Jerry Seinfeld Show

C.  The Seinfeld Chronicles

D.  Seinfeld and Company

E.  The Seinfeld Follies

2.  How many seasons was Seinfeld on the air?

A,  Seven seasons

B.  Eight seasons

C.  Six seasons

D.  Nine seasons

E.  Ten seasons

3.  Which Seinfeld star is an accomplished magician?

A.  Michael Richards

B.  Jason Alexander

C.  Jerry Seinfeld

D. Julia Louis-Dreyfus

E.  Wayne Knight

4.  What was Newman's first name?

A.  Joe

B.  Glen

C.  Fred

D.  Chuck

E.  It was never mentioned.

5.  George's father, Frank Costanza, served in the Korean War.  What did he do during the war?

A.  Frank Costanza was an ambulance driver during the Korean War.

B.  He was a dentist for the soldiers.

C.  Frank was an Army chaplain.

D.  He spent most of his time as an Army cook.

E.  He worked in communications

6. What movie were Jerry and his friends on their way to see when they stopped at a Chinese restaurant in the classic episode of the series entitled "The Chinese Restaurant?" (Season 2, Episode 11, Air Date: May 23, 1991).  Note: This is your bonus question.  If you answer it correctly, give yourself an extra point.

Elaine, Jerry and George in Chinese restaurant episode

A.   JFK

B.  Plan 9 from Outer Space

C.  Bull Durham

D.  The Silence of the Lambs

E.  Cape Fear

7.  Which former New York Yankee star appeared in a 1995 Seinfeld episode?

A.  Paul O'Neill

B.  Yogi Berra

C.  Whitey Ford

D.  Mickey Mantle

E.  Don Mattingly

8.  What was the name of the fictional coffee shop where Jerry Seinfeld and his friends hung out?

A.  Monk's Cafe

B.  Manhattan Diner

C.  Midtown Cafe

D.  The Empire

E.  New York Java

9.  Whom was the character of Cosmo Kramer based on?

A.  An old high school friend of Jerry Seinfeld

B.  Jerry Seinfeld's cousin, Nathan Kramer

C.  Kenny Kramer - a former neighbour of the show's co-creator, Larry David

D.  Ron Kramer - an ex-boyfriend of Julia Louis-Dreyfus

E.  Jack Kramer - Jason Alexander's brother-in-law

10.  During the seventh season of Seinfeld, George Costanza became engaged after an impulsive proposal to an ex-girlfriend, Susan RossAs the wedding drew closer, George got cold feet and tried to get out of it.  As it turned out, his fiancee died.  How did Susan die?

A.   Susan died in a car accident on the way to the wedding.

B.  Susan died in a fire.

C.  She fell down the stairs after arguing with George.

D.  She died after licking toxic envelope adhesive from the cheap wedding invitations George had purchased.

E.  She was shot by muggers after trying to prevent them from stealing George's wallet.

11  Which of the following Friends stars appeared on Seinfeld?

A.  Jennifer Anniston

B.  David Schwimmer

C.  Courtney Cox

D.  Matt LeBlanc

E.   Matthew Perry

12.  In the well known "Soup Nazi" episode, what was Elaine's punishment for not following the Soup Nazi's instructions?

A.  Elaine was banned from the "Soup Nazi's" soup stand for one year.

B.  The "Soup Nazi" announced that he would never serve her her favourite soup (clam chowder) again.

C.  Elaine was no longer allowed to have crackers with her soup.

D.  She had to apologize to the other customers before the "Soup Nazi" would serve her.

E.  The "Soup Nazi" refused to serve her and she was sent to the back of the line.


1.  C

The pilot episode of the show was titled "The Seinfeld Chronicles," (also called "Good News, Bad News" for syndication).  It originally aired on July 5, 1989 and was rebroadcast on June 28, 1990 after it had been approved as a series.  It's interesting to note that in the pilot episode, the Kramer character was referred to as "Kessler."  The inconsistency was dealt with, however, in a Season 9 episode entitled "The Betrayal."  Trivia Note: Julia Lous-Dreyfus did not appear as Elaine Benes in the pilot episode.

2.  D

Seinfeld ran on the NBC network for nine seasons, from 1990 to 1998.  172 episodes of the series were produced.

3.  B

Jason Alexander, who portrayed George Costanza on the show, is an accomplished magician.  So why did he switch to acting.  As Jason told Noah B. Pisner of the The Harvard Crimson this year, "I wanted to be a close-up magician, and I studied with a man who was profoundly good. He assessed me, though, and said, “You’re going to have a lot of trouble being a close up magician.” Whenever I try to palm a standard playing card you can always see a corner peeking out from one side or the other...I also have short stubby fingers, too, and you need long ones for coin manipulation. The observation was: this is not going to work for you."  He eventually went into theatre which he described as "just a different kind of magic trick."

Jason Alexander was selected as the 2006 Magic Castle "Parlour Magician of the Year."  By the way, parlour magic differs from close-up magic in that is done for much larger audiences.

4.  E

Newman's first name was never mentioned on the show.  It was established in an episode entitled "The Ticket" (Season 4, Episode 4, Air Date: September 16, 1992) that Newman was always addressed by his last name, as was Kramer.  Unlike Kramer, whose first name was Cosmo, Newman's given name was never revealed.

A secondary character on Seinfeld, Newman, a postal worker, was portrayed by Wayne Knight in 45 episodes of the sitcom.  His apartment was on the same floor as Jerry's and he was definitely a villain.  Knight once described him as "pure evil" as did Jerry's character in an episode entitled "The Big Salad." (Season 6, Episode 2, Air Date: September 29, 1994).

5.  D

During the Korean War, Frank Costanza served as an Army cook with the "Fighting 103rd."  The character of Frank Costanza was portrayed by two actors.  The original Frank was played by John Randolph.  Radolf was replaced by Ben Stiller.

John Randolph as Frank Costanza

Ben Stiller as Frank Costanza

6.  B

Seinfeld and friends were on their way to see Plan 9 from Outer Space.  Jerry had turned down dinner with his uncle to see the film because as he explained to Elaine, "Plan 9 from Outer Space, one night only, the big screen.  My hands are tied!"

Notes: "The Chinese Restaurant," written by Jerry Seinfeld and co-creator Larry David, was the first episode in which Michael Richards did not appear as Cosmo Kramer.  NBC executives were not pleased with the script and were disappointed with what they perceived as the  lack of a concrete storyline.  They were reluctant to produce the episode as they didn't think viewers would find it interesting.  When Larry David threatened to quit the network, the NBC brass finally gave the go-ahead.

7.  A

Former New York Yankee right fielder Paul O'Neill appeared in a 1995 Seinfeld episode entitled "The Wink." (Season 7, Episode 4, Air Date: October 12, 1995.  In the episode, Kramer promised an ill boy that O'Neill would hit two home runs for him.

8.  A

Seinfeld and his friends often ate at the fictional Monk's Cafe.  On the series, the exterior of a real New York City restaurant called Tom's Restaurant (West 112th St. and Broadway), was used as a stand-in for Monks.  Tom's Restaurant, known for its neon sign, is located near Columbia University and is the place that inspired Suzanne Vega's 1987 song "Tom's Diner."

9.  C

Kenny Kramer
The character of Cosmo Kramer was inspired by Kenny Kramer, a former neighbour of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David.  In 1977, Kenny moved into a New York apartment popular with artists in Hell's Kitchen.  The apartment, located at 43rd St. and 10th Ave., was also the home of Larry David.  Kenny Kramer and David lived nest door to each other for six years.

Kenny Kramer cashed in on his association with Seinfeld.  He organized an officially-recognized tour (the Kramer Reality Tour) of the real-life New York locations featured on the wildly popular sitcom.  He also ran for mayor of New York City.  Note: The restaurant pictured in the above photo of Kenny Kramer is Tom's Restaurant.

10.  D

Susan Ross, played by Heidi Swedberg. died after licking toxic glue on the cheap wedding invitations George had purchased.  Susan's death occurred in an episode entitled "The Invitations" which aired on May 16, 1996.  The Seinfeld gang's indifference to Susan's death created some controversy and offended some viewers.

11.  C

Courtney Cox appeared in a 1994 episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Wife." (Season 5, Episode 17, Air Date: March 17, 1994).  In the episode, Courtney played Meryl, Jerry's new girlfriend.  Meryl claimed to be Jerry's wife in order to receive a discount that he had been awarded at the local cleaners.

Scenes of Courtney Cox on Seinfeld

12.  A

Elaine was banned from the "Soup Nazi's" soup stand for one year because she was indecisive and did not follow his rules.  She was also flippant with him and told him he looked like Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. The Soup Nazi's response was " “No soup for you! Come back one year!”

"The Soup Nazi" episode was originally broadcast broadcast on November 2, 1995 during Seinfeld's seventh season.  American actor Larry Thomas portrayed the "Soup Nazi" and was nominated for a 1996 Emmy Award for the role.  The restaurant Soup Kitchen International (at 259-A West 55th St. (between Broadway and 8th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan) was the inspiration for this Seinfeld episode.  The Soup KItchen International closed down in 2004 but reopened as part of a restaurant chain called the Original Soup Man.

Larry Thomas was in the news recently because he was upset that a gun manufacturer, Serbu Arms, had used his image in a T-shirt and Facebook campaign opposing New York State's gun laws.  Thomas was incensed when he saw his image and the slogan "No Serbu for You!" being used to promote Serbu's campaign against the ban on the sale of defined assault rifles in the state of New York.

Larry Thomas as the "Soup Nazi"

Below is s 2008 photo of the Soup Kitchen International after it had closed down.

                                           Attribution: Americasroof at en.wikipedia

- Joanne

Monday, April 22, 2013

Annette Funicello: From Mouseketeer to the Beach

Ask the birds and the bees 
And ask the stars above 
Who's their favourite sweet brunette 
You know, each one confesses: 
Annette! Annette!  Annette!
- Ditty from The Mickey Mouse Club

When I heard the news of Annette Funicello's death, I had been planning to write a piece about her.  Now it will have to be a posthumous tribute.  She passed away on April 8, 2013 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis.  Her death came 21 years after her announcement in 1992 that she had been diagnosed with the neurological disease.  She actually learned that she had MS in 1987, but kept her condition a secret from the public for five years.  Fearing that her condition would be wrongly interpreted as drunkenness, she finally revealed her illness and became a tireless advocate for MS research, establishing the Annette Funicello Institute for Neurological Diseases

Annette Joanne Funicello was born in Utica, New York on October 22, 1942, the daughter of Italian-Americans. Joseph Funicello and his wife Virginia Joanne (nee Albano).  She was spoiled as a child, being the first grandchild on both sides of the family.

In 1946, when Annette was four years old, her family relocated to Southern California so that her father, an auto mechanic, could find better employment opportunities. They lived in a trailer park until Joe Funicello succeeded in finding work.  After living for a time in Studio City, Annette and her parents eventually settled in Encino, California.

Young Annette took dancing lessons and learned how to play the drums.  She also did some modelling.  It was Walt Disney himself who discovered her when she was dancing the lead in Swan Lake at a school recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank, California. Disney, who happened to be in the audience, was more interested in amateur child actors than professionals  He personally chose the raven-haired 12-year for his new children's television variety show, The Mickey Mouse Club.

Annette was hired immediately and was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers to be chosen for the first season of the series which debuted on October 3, 1955. Baby boomers tuned in faithfully every afternoon to watch the ABC program on their black and white televisions.  Annette soon became the most popular Mouseketeer, receiving more fan mail than any other member of the group.  For television viewers of the 1950s, Annette was the girl-next-door with a difference.  Although she was as cute as a button, she wasn't the usual blue-eyed blonde type.  She had dark curly hair and olive skin and her last name was Funicello.  With her mouse ears, pleated skirt and turtleneck sweater emblazoned with her first name, she captivated legions of fans.

The Mickey Mouse Club ran for three seasons and in reruns until the 1990s.  For Disney, Annette was a marketing dream-come-true.  There was a slew of Annette lunch boxes and dolls and mystery novels.  When the show ended its original run in 1958, Annette was the only Mouseketeer offered a studio contract.  She then appeared in Disney's first live-action comedy film, The Shaggy Dog and other Disney films such as Johnny Tremain, The Horsemasters, Babes in Toyland, The Misadventures of Marin Jones and The Monkey's Uncle.

Annette was also cast in the Disney-produced television western, Zorro, starring Guy Williams.  She played a character named Anita Cabrillo and was even given the opportunity to sing on the show.  According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946-Present, her role on Zorro was a birthday gift from Walt Disney.  Below is a vintage ABC Television Publicity Lobby Card of Annette in a special hour-long episode of Zorro entitled "The Postponed Wedding."  It aired on January 1, 1961.

Annette Funicello remained unwavering in her loyalty to "Mr. Disney."  Of  her Disney years, she remarked forty years later: "I've been blessed to have a mentor like Walt Disney.  Those years were the happiest of my life.  I felt that back then.  I feel the same today." She also once said, "I'm saddened to see that some have been misled into believing that Mr. Disney was something other than a kind, caring man."  As for Mickey Mouse, Annette often repeated that "Mickey is more than a mouse to me.  I am honoured to call him a friend."

In 1959, Annette appeared in five episodes of the Danny Thomas sitcom Make Room for Daddy.  She played an Italian exchange student named Gina Minelli in five episodes of the series: "Gina from Italy" (Season 6, Episode 19, Air Date: February 9, 1959), "Gina's First Date" (Season 6, Episode 21, February 23, 1959). "Frankie Laine Sings for Gina" (Season 6, Episode, Air Date: March 9, 1959), "The Latin Lover" (Season 6, Episode 25, Air Date: March 23, 1959) and "Gina for President" (May 11, 1959).  Note: Singer Frankie Laine played himself in "Frankie Laine Sings for Gina."

The two photos below are from Annette's appearances on Make Room for Daddy.  In the second photo, she appears with Rusty Hamer and Angela Cartwright, Danny Thomas' TV children.

Annette and singer/songwriter Paul Anka shared a teenage love which inspired him to write his 1960 hit song, "Puppy Love."  Anka told The Associated Press that during the time they were together, Disney tried to put an end to their relationship.  He said, "The Disney crowd, and understandably so, didn't want her too involved at too young an age.  He added, "We had our professional careers and what have you, and they continued to tell her it was puppy love, and marriage should not be in question."  In her 1994 memoir with Patricia Romanowski,  A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, Annette wrote, "As Paul wrote in his song about us, just because we were 17 didn't mean that, for us, our love wasn't real."

Upon learning of Annette's death, Anka paid tribute to his former flame with these words:  "Annette was a star from the time she was 12 years old., and I met her shortly after.  In addition to her talent, she was self-possessed, determined, had incredible integrity, and was loved by everyone.  When life threw her a terrible curve, she showed the best side of herself by coming forward to discuss her MS with courage and candour.  As much as he entertained us as a young woman, she gave so much more by sharing her experience and raising awareness of this disease.  She was kind and intelligent and she will be missed by her family and her wide circle of friends, in which I was lucky to be included."

Annette and Paul Anka

During the early and mid-60s, Annette and Frankie Avalon starred in a string of beach movies.  The first of the series was 1963's Beach Party.   The pair became extremely popular and other beach films followed with titles such as Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965). They were fluffy, fun-in-the-sun films and moviegoers of the 1960s flocked to theatres to watch them.  Although well aware that the films were not great art, Annette regarded her movies with Avalon as good clean entertainment.  In 1993, she stated, "I think they were a way of holding onto some innocence as we went into a more complicated era."

Annette and Frankie were reunited on the big screen in 1987's Back to the Beach, a parody of their 1960s beach flicks.  All grown up and living in the midwest, they return to Southern California to visit their daughter, only to rediscover their beach-partying ways.  It was while filming Back to the Beach that Annette first experienced symptoms of MS.  Her balance was off and she had difficulty walking.

Annette and Frankie on the beach

On January 9, 1965, Annette.married her agent, Jack Gilardi.  The wedding took place at St. Cyril's Catholic Church in Encino, California.  A reception followed at the Beverly Hilton Holtel.  The bride was 22 years old and Jack, who was born on October 5, 1930, was 34.  Charles Schulz, in his Peanuts comic strip, depicted Linus reading a newspaper announcing the marriage with the blaring headline: "ANNETTE FUNICELLO HAS GROWN.UP."

Jack and Annette had three children, daughter Gina (born October 17, 1965) and two sons, Jack, Jr. (born February 10, 1970) and Jason Michael (born October 21, 1974).  The couple separated in 1981 and according to, they were officially divorced on March 21, 1983.  Of her divorce, Annette had this to say in 1987.

When I was divorced, I grew up for the first time. I had been so very much in the arms of my father and then Walt Disney and then my ex-husband. I didn't know how to write a cheque, much less balance a chequebook. Everything was taken care of for me, always with love, and great TLC. But it wasn't always good for me." (Source: Bob Thomas. "Back to the Beach." The Associated Press. April 25, 1987)

Annette and Jack Gilardi wedding photo

Daughter Gina, now 47, has been married John Portman, owner of Palisades Reality since 1994. She  is currently Vice-President and marketing executive at Grand Entertainment. Her younger brother, Jack, Jr. is now 43 and Jason, 38, is a drummer  for a Tulsa-based music band called New Science.   In a 1994 interview with Style magazine, Gina asserted that her mother "was always there for car pools, Hot Dog Day and the PTA."

Gina Gilardi Portman

During the 1970s and 1980s, Annette appeared occasionally on television shows. She was featured in ads for Skippy peanut butter in which she issued the Skippy challenge: Which has more protein, Fish, bologna or Skippy peanut butter?  To view Annette in two commercials for Skippy, click on the link below.  The first one is from 1981 and the second is from 1984.

In 1986, Annette appeared on an episode of Growing Pains entitled "The Seavers vs. the Cleavrs" (Season 1, Episode 16, Air Date: January 28, 1986) in which she portrayed a character called Mrs. Hinkley.  Later that year, on May 3, 1986, Annette married horse breeder Glen Holt.  They wed in a small ceremony at the Chapel in the Canyon in Canoga Park, located in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles. There were about 30 people in attendance, including Annette's close friend, Shelley Fabares, and her husband, Mike Farrell.  Annette's daughter Gina served as maid of honour and Glen's son Mike was his father's best man.

Annette and Glen wedding photo

According to the website of the Annettte Funicello Resrarch Fund for Neurological Diseases, Glen asked Annette marry him on Valentine's Day, 1985 while they were dining at an Italian restaurant.  Annette and Glen had first met when Annette was a teenager.  At the time, she owned a racehorse by the name of Troy Hedgewood.  Her parents would take her to the track to see the horse run and she would often see Glen there.  They lost contact with each other, however, and did not meet again until the early 1970s when Glen noticed Annette and her mother, Virginia, in the stands at the track.  He said hello and the two became reacquainted. Years later, after both had been divorced, they went out to dinner and began dating.

Glen and Annette

Annette life story was made into a television movie, A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes, based on her autobiography of the same title, taken from the name of a song from Disney's Cinderella.  The film was shot in Vancouver and many of Annette's friends, such as Frankie Avalon, Shelley Fabares and Dick Clark flew there to play themselves during some of its most significant moments.

 A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes was originally broadcast on CBS on Sunday, October 22, 1995 and its ratings were very good.  Eva LaRue, best known for her roles on the daytime soap All My Children and on CSI Miami, portrayed Annette. Linda Lavin played the role of Virginia Funicello and Len Cariou played Walt Disney. Annette and her entire real-life family, including her parents, made an appearance at the end of the movie followed by a  public service message from Annette in support of the MS Foundation of America.

Annette Funicello was a long-time resident of Encino, California.  In fact, she lived there until the house was burned to the ground in a fire in March of 2011.  Both Annnette and husband Glen were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.  After the fire, the couple relocated to Bakersfield, California.  In October of 2012, Glen Holt permitted Canada's CTV network's current affairs and news program, W5, into the couples' home to reveal the toll multiple sclerosis had taken on his wife after almost a quarter of a century.  Annette was confined to a wheelchair and had been unable to speak for almost three years.

81-year-old Glen, who had been a devoted caregiver to Annette during her lengthy struggle with the debilitating disease, told W5, "I'm sorry that she's this way.  I would love to have her back dancing and singing and doing everything she always loved to do.  But she can't do it."  He said that he did not regret marrying Annette "one iota." and that they had promised to take care of each other "come hell or high water" when they tied the knot.

Annette Funicello died at a hospital in Bakersfield on April 8, 2013 of complications from MS.  She was 70 years old at the time of her passing.  Annette is survived by her three children, four stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

- Joanne

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Children and television: Should you be concerned?

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be 
- Whitney Houston lyrics from the song "The Greatest Love of All"

It's no secret that children spend a great many hours in front of a television and that it has an enormous effect on them and the way they view the world.  U.S. journalist and television host, Russell Baker, made the following observation: "By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic American education . . . From television, the child will have learned how to pick a lock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long, get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety of sophisticated armaments."

Our world is changing rapidly and dramatically,  Today's television is more violent and sexually explicit than ever before.  The reality is that we can't shield our children from everything.  With social media and a multi-channel universe, they will eventually see things we'd rather they'd not see.  Children have to grow up and they obviously can't remain in Neverland forever like Peter Pan - but they shouldn't have to grow up too soon.  They shouldn't have to deal with certain realities before they're mature enough to handle them.   So how can we raise them to be responsible and well-adjusted adults in the midst of all the turmoil and corruption in the world?

As parents, relatives and teachers, we can certainly  try our best to make sure that our children are viewing material that is appropriate for their age.  What we can't do is put them on a leash or lock them in a cage in order to protect them.   It is often said that communication is the key and that we should talk to our children and learn about their opinions.

The U.S. National Commission on Causes and Prevention of Violence made the following statement regarding the influence of violent television:

Children are inclined to learn from television [because] it is never too busy to talk to them, and it never has to bush them aside while it does household chores.

Another thing we can do is stay informed.  If you are concerned about the influence of television on our precious children, I urge you to get the facts.  Canadians should go to the website of the Canadian Radio-television Communications Commission (CRTC),  the independent government agency that regulates and supervises broadcasting and communications in this country.

Here is the CRTC's policy on Canadian children and violence on television:

Canada's broadcasters follow codes that:
  • prevent the showing of gratuitous or glamorized scenes of violence on TV
  • declare a 9 PM cut-off time for showing violent scenes. Programs aired before 9 PM can’t show violent scenes that are intended for adult audiences
  • establish rules for children's programs, that limit and control any depictions of violence
  • establish rules for scenes of violence that appear on news and public affairs programs
  • require written advisories and announcements at the beginning of any program that may contain violent scenes, as well as similar advisories throughout the program
Here are CRTC's recommendations for parents and guardians.

Parents’ responsibilities

Canadian broadcasters give content ratings for children's programming, drama, "reality-based" shows and feature films.
  • If you’re not familiar with a show, watch for the on-screen rating that appears at the beginning of the show, and after every commercial break.
  • If your TV has the V-chip, you can use the technology to block programs you don’t want.
  • If you see something on TV that you think is inappropriate, contact the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council ( CBSC) with your concerns.
If you subscribe to digital broadcasting services (on cable or direct-to-home (DTH) satellite, for example) you can use the blocking features in your set-top converter box. Check your manual for instructions on how to block a program, or ask your TV service provider for details.

I also recommend an American website called Education News (  I acknowledge that I have used graphics from a piece on this site entitled "Better TV Means Better Kids."  The graphics were created by Allison Morrison and Allison has granted me permission to use them.  To view  "Better TV Means Better Kids," click on the link below.

* According to Education News, American children, 6-11, watch about four hours of television daily or 28 hours a week.  The average preschooler views even more - 4.5 hours per day or 31.5 hours per week.

* Television can have a negative impact on children's health as junk food is associated with watching television.

As difficult as it is for some working parents, they have to take some responsibility in monitoring what their children are watching on the screen.  Few parents would hire a babysitter without considering the babysitter's background and credentials.  Few parents would leave a child in the care of someone who was irresponsible and likely to provide a negative impact on the youngster's health and well-being.  To quote Bart Simpson, the bratty, rude ten-year old character in the extremely popular animated program, The Simpsons, "It's just hard not to listen to TV: it's spent so much more time raising us than you have."

Another major concern for parents is the obesity rates for children who watch a great deal of television.  They tend to eat more junk food and exercise less. They are also exposed to commercials promoting high calorie, low nutritional food.   Scholarly studies have shown a correlation between the number of hours of television viewing by children and their level of obesity. The late Laurence J. Peter, an American educator and author of The Peter Principle, stated, "Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force to an immovable object."

I'll leave the last word to someone who knew a thing or two about children's television - Fred Rogers, who hosted Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: 

We need desperately, I feel, a noncommercial alternative to what commercialism is trying to do to use.  I'm not for censorship, but I'm certainly for self-censorship when it comes to producing or purveying products to America's children.  I think that for people who make anything for children, their first though should be: Would I want my child to see, hear or touch this?  And if the answer is no, just don't make it.

- Joanne

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Alexander Gunther Martin: Grandson of Dean Martin

alexander gunther martin movies
Alexander Gunther Martin

Alexander Gunther Martin has quite a pedigree.  His late father, actor Dean Paul Martin (son of the legendary singer/comedian Dean Martin), was a teen idol as a membr 1960s pop group Dino, Desi & Billy.  The quintessential golden boy, Dean Paul was an excellent athlete and tennis player.  He was also a military pilot who attended the Urban Military Academy in Brentwood, California.

Alex's mother, Olivia Hussey, is an Argentine-born actress, best known for her roles as Juliet in Franco Zefferelli's acclaimed 1968 film version of Romeo and Juliet, Jessica Bradford in the 1974 Canadian horror movie, Black Christmas and Rosalie Otterbourne in Death on the Nile (1978).  She also played Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Zefferelli's 1977 television epic, Jesus of Nazareth.

Olivia Hussey and Dean Paul Martin married in Las Vegas on April 17, 1971.  Their son, Alexander Gunther, was born in Los Angeles, California on February 12, 1973. Alexander gunther martin movies Pictured below at the 1971 wedding: of Olivia and Dean Paul are (left to right:): Jeanne Biegger Martin (Dean Martin's second wife and Dean Paul's mother), Dean Paul, Olivia and Dean.

alexander gunther martin movies

Alex was just five years old when his parents officially divorced in 1978.  Since Olivia was busy filming movies, often overseas, the little boy stayed with his grandmother, Jeanne during much of his childhood.  In January of 1982, when Alex was less than a month away from his ninth birthday, his father married Olympic champion figure skater Dorothy Hamill in a lavish church ceremony in Beverly Hills before a slew of Hollywood celebrities (The guest list included Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.  Dorothy Hamill, however, was not Alex's stepmother for long as she and Dean Paul divorced in 1984.

On March 21, 1987, 35-year-old Dean Paul Martin died in a military jet crash in California's San Bernardino Mountains while on active duty with the California Air National Guard.  After his passing, Morgan Mason, son of James and Pamela Mason, told People magazine that the problem with Dean Paul was that "he was too good at too many things.  He had a lot of money and he'd spend it freely.  He went through Ferraris when he was a kid.  He was terrific looking, from a famous family, and he had talent.  When you have all those things on your plate - well, it's hard to resist someone like that."

His longtime friend, Tina Sinatra (daughter of Frank), told People: "There  was nothing he felt he couldn't get."  She related a story about how Dean Paul was in a movie theatre watching Romeo and Juliet starring Olivia Hussey.  According to Tina, he pointed to Olivia on the screen and rightly predicted that he was going to marry her one day.

Despite his talents and his good looks, Dean Paul Martin was not particularly successful on television.  From 1985 to 1986, he starred as Dr. Billy Hayes, a young scientist, in a fantasy series called Misfits of Science.  The youth-oriented show followed the adventures of a team of freakish superheroes with outlandish physical abilities.  This group of misfits fought crime for a the Humanidyne Institute, a scientific think tank based in Los Angeles.  Dr. Billy Hayes, a researcher of human anomalies, was their leader.  The series was short-lived as only a pilot and 15 additional episodes were produced.  To a great extent, its swift demise can be attributed to the fact that from October to December of 1985 it competed against CBS blockbuster Dallas on Friday nights.

Cast members of  Misfits of Science

(Note: Before her rise to stardom in Friends, Courtney Cox (pictured above) appeared in Misfits of Science as Glo (real name: Gloria Dinallo, a human mutant, possibly a human/extra-terrestrial hybrid. Dean Paul Martin is standing to the right of her in the photo.  To the left of Courtney is Mark Thomas Miller as Johnny B, (real name: John Bukowski), a former rock musician who was able to generate electricity and throw balls of lightning.after he guitar short-circuited during a concert.  Standing behind is Kevin Peter Hall as scientist and human cyborg Elvin "EL" Lincoln, who has the ability to shrink in height.)

Months before his death, Dean Paul Martin made a guest appearance on the mystery/thriller TV series The Hitchhiker.  He played a character named Chris Taylor in an episode entitled "Secret Ingredient" (Season 4, Episode 12, Air Date: May 5, 1987).  His other television credits include a 1984 TV movie called Boys in Blue, a comedy/drama about police officers in which he played Officer Danny Harris and a 1984 guest appearance on The Love Boat  (Season 7, Episode 18, Air Date: January 18, 1984).  When Dean Paul was 19 years old, he was a guest on his father's variety show, The Dean Martin Show, along with friends Lucie Arnaz (daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) and Frank Sinatra, Jr.  The episode aired on January 28, 1971.

Alexamder Gunther Martin was 14 years old when his father died.  During the early 1990s, he attended acting school in London for two years, returning to Los Angeles in 1994.  Now 40 years old, the actor is best known for his role as Les in the 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats.  In 2002, he appeared in an episode of the short-lived horror/drama TV series Haunted.  In the episode, entitled "Blind Witness." (Season 1, Episode 5, Air Date: October 22, 2002), he played a character named Fritz Channing.

Ales's mother, Olivia Hussey, will turn 62 on April 17, 2013.  She has married twice more since her divorce from Dean Paul Martin.  In 1980, she wed Tokyo-born Akira Fuse, a Japanese singer and musician.  They had one child, a son, Maximillian "Max" Fuse (born 1983) before divorcing in 1989.  Fuse, now 65, was once a guest star on the Japanese superhero series called Karmen Rider Hibiki.

In 1991, Olivia married David Glen Eisley, an American rock singer and actor.  She and Eisley, former lead singer for the band Dirty White Boy, have a daughter, India Joy, born October 29, 1993, in Los Angeles.  India Eisley, now 19, is an actress who stars as Ashley Juergens in the teen television drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABC Family.  The series was renewed for its fifth season on February 2, 2012.

India Eisley


* Jeanne Biegger Martin, Alex Martin's grandmother, married entertainer Dean Martin on September 1, 1949.  Their marrige lasted 24 years, until 1973 and produced three offspring:: Dean Paul (November 17, 1951-March 21, 1987), Ricci James (born 1953) and Gina Caroline (born December 20,1956).  Gina is the second wife and widow of Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys.  They wed in 1987 and remained married until Carl's death from lung cancer on February 6, 1998.

Carol Wilson had another connection with a member of Dean Martin's family.  His first wife, Annie Hinsche, whom he married in 1966 and divorced in 1980, is the sister of Billy Hinsche of Dean Paul Martin's 1960s band, Dino, Desi & Billy.

* Although divorced, Jeanne and Dean Martin stayed close until Dean's death on Christmas morning in 1995 at the age of 78.  Of his relationship with his famous grandfather, alexander gunther martin movies told People magazine ("Dean's Genes." April 30, 2001, by Samantha Miller) that Dean was "mellow and casual."   As a seven-year-old, Alex sat on Dean's lap while the singer watched golf on television.   Dean's last years were extremely difficult.  He never really recovered from shock and grief over the death of his beloved son in that 1987 plane crash.  A heavy smoker, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1993 and suffered terribly from emphysema.  During that time, Alex and Dean would frequently meet at La Famiglia, Dean's favourite restaurant in Beverly Hills.

- Joanne