Saturday, May 23, 2015

Y&R Report (May 23, 2015): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

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

Phew!  It's finally over!  There will be no more scenes of Kelly kidnapping, drugging, torturing and brainwashing Jack Abbott.  In all my years of watching Y&R, those were some of the most sickening and distasteful scenes I've ever seen on the show.

I have already ranted and expressed my dislike of the "two Jacks" storyline.  I find it too far-fetched. How can a South American drug lord look exactly like Jack Abbott and have Jack's mannerisms and Jack's voice?  Not only that, but wouldn't he have a Spanish accent?  I realize soaps are not expected to be realistic, but give me a break!  Oh yes, and why would a South American drug lord become involved in Fen Baldwin's problems with his grades at university?

The fake Jack did give himself away when he referred to his brother Billy as "Billy Boy."  The real Jack would never do that.  That's pure Victor.  Yet no one picked up on it.

Victor's nerdy spy, Tobias, had his big moment in the spotlight before dying in a car crash.  The drunken ex-Jabot employee showed up at the Newman-Abbott merger party with some bitter threats and accusations. We learned that he was heavily involved in the Austin/Courtney murders. Could he have been a double agent, working for both the murderer and Victor?  We don't know yet because Tobias died before he could reveal the truth. However, before he expired, he tried to say Austin's name.

So Ashley Abbott has come clean and admitted to Dr. Stitch that she has developed feelings for him. Of course, we viewers knew that all along.  It's not surprising to us. However, Stitch 'em Up didn't have any idea how A.A. felt.  Either he's not very perceptive or he's been too smitten with her daughter Abby to pay much attention to anything else.  At any rate, Ashley's feelings for Stitch are not reciprocated. Maybe she'll eventually set her sights on Joe Clark instead.  Then she'll have to contend with Nurse Avery, Attorney at Law.

I really didn't think we'd see any more of Gwen.  However, she has returned and she and Neil appear to be forming a relationship.  Neil denies that he is using Gwen to get back at Devon and Hilary.  He claims to genuinely like her.  These days, however, I strongly question Neil's integrity.  After all, hasn't he aided and abetted Vile Victor in his scheme to forge Jack's signature?  Yet I don't think the Neil we've always known would get involved in such a criminal activity.  Despite his faults and shortcomings, I doubt he would stoop to something that blatantly illegal.  It seems contrived for storyline purposes.

Somehow Neil's pairing with Gwen also seems very contrived.  I can't detect any real warmth between them at all. Actually, he has more in common (and I don't mean just alcoholism) and better chemistry with Nikki.  If those two ever became involved, wouldn't Victor blow a gasket?  Would Neil have the nerve to betray The Big Man so brazenly?  It doesn't seem that way.

As for Nikki, her nightmare continues.  She was so relieved that son Nick did not remarry Sharon. The grand matriarch of the Newman dynasty has always been very clear about her opinion of Sharon. In Nikki's eyes, Sharon is nothing more than a gold digger.  She is low class and not worthy of the Newman name.  Now to Nikki's utter dismay, her other son, Dylan, has become close to the troubled blonde.  It's just another thing that's driving her to drink.

What is it with Sharon and the Newman clan?  She can't stay away from Victor and Nikki's offspring. Although Nick Newman has always been the love of her life, she has been involved Adam Newman, The Big Man himself (Ugh!!!!) and now Dylan. Dylan was right about one thing.  He certainly has the White Knight Syndrome.  He just revelled in rescuing Sharon, the eternal damsel in distress. Now that she's been rescued, what's next?

Where is Ian Ward?  I'm still holding out hope that he will reappear.  Ray Wise plays the part so well that I am eager for him to return.  He is outstanding in the role of the sleazy cult leader.


Regular correspondent, CC from Etobicoke, has a beef with the show. She says that Y&R characters have too many public arguments at parties and restaurants. She also thinks there are fewer scenes at Genoa City homes than there used to be. I haven't thought about that but it seems to be true.  There are plenty of embarrassing public altercations, obviously for dramatic effect.  However, when those scenes occur too often, they lose some of their impact.

As for homes, I've noticed that the Chancellor residence is rarely shown now.   Esther has virtually disappeared since Mrs. Chancellor died and Chloe left town. I've also noticed that there doesn't seem to be a storyline for Jill and Colin.  Since Charles Pratt became the head writer, they've appeared sparingly.  Chelsea's apartment is shown quite often as is Sharon's house.


Well fans, Nikki Newman is about to hit rock bottom.  There is going to be a special episode that will focus solely on an intervention by the alcoholic Nikki's family and friends.  Melody Thomas Scott, the woman who portrays the wealthy Genoa City socialite, told TV Guide that "Nikki hits the skids in a way that neither the fans or (sic) anyone in Genoa City has ever seen."  "It's bad, it's low," she declared emphatically."

The intense stand-alone intervention episode will air on Thursday, May 28, 2015 on CBS and Wednesday, May 27 on Global TV in Canada.  I'm looking forward to it.


Although Kelly appears to be dead (you never know for sure with Y&R), there is no certainty that Cady McClain, the actress who portrays her, has left the show. According to, McClain did change her Facebook status to indicate that she was no longer employed by the show.  However, when CBS Soaps in Depth tweeted the news, Cady's response was that it may have been a "technical error." Is she sending out mixed messages or just weighing her options?  Perhaps she's waiting to see if Y&R has anything else to offer her.  Maybe Kelly has a twin too  Oops!  I don't want to give the writers any ideas.

Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher) had a beachside wedding ceremony with his partner Robert Sudduth, a writer and actor.  The ceremony took place in Maui, Hawaii.

Greg Rikkart


Everyone in Genoa City, except Victor, believed Kelly to be dead. Now she really has left this mortal coil.

Who killed Kelly?

Jack Abbott
The killer of Austin and Courtney
The ghost of John Abbott
She killed herself.
I don't know but Victor is involved somehow.
I don't know. It's a mystery to me.

Poll Maker

That's all for now.  Don't forget that The next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

- Joanne

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dwayne Hickman: Whatever happened to Dobie Gillis?

The Dobie Gillis show was the first show that I’m aware of that was not about the family. It was about the teenagers, the kids, life from a teenager’s point of view. All the other shows - Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Ozzie and Harriet - were about the family. But The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was not. Parents were part of the show, but they weren’t the driving force.

- Dwayne Bernard Hickman
From an interview in LMU, the magazine of Loyola Marymount University, November 17, 2011

Dobie was so well written and so ahead of its time. The spinning frames, the short clipped scenes, the rapid-fire delivery - it was the MTV of its time. Breaking the fourth wall and having Dobie talk to the audience was ground-breaking.

- Dwayne Bernard Hickman
From July 20, 2000 article by Sharyn Peacocke (

Those who remember The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis probably think of the show's star, Dwayne Hickman, as a girl-crazy teenager.  Dwayne, however, is celebrating his 81st birthday today.  He was born in Los Angeles, California on May 18, 1934 and made his acting debut when he was about six years old, following in the footsteps of his older bother, Darryl Hickman.  Dwayne was an extra in John Ford's classic 1940 film, The Grapes of Wrath, in which Darryl played the part of Winfield Joad.  His first role of any consequence was in 1945's Captain Eddie, starring Fred MacMurray. Both he and his brother appeared in the film.

In the early days of television, Dwayne appeared in a 1951 episode of The Lone Ranger entitled "Two Gold Lockets" (Season 2, Episode 23, Air Date: February 15, 1951).  He also appeared in a second episode of The Lone Ranger in 1955 called "Sunsstroke Mesa" (Season 4, Episode 28, Air Date: March 17, 1955).

In the fall of 1952, Dwayne Hickman began his freshman year at Loyola University, a Catholic college in Los Angeles (he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics). While a student at Loyola, he accepted minor roles in such TV shows as Public Defender (1954) and Loretta Young's Letters to Loretta (1954). His big break came, however, when he was given his first regular television role alongside comedian Robert Cummings.  From 1955 to 1959, Dwayne appeared on The Bob Cummings Show (also know as Love that Bob). The series starred Cummings as a womanizing Hollywood photographer with Dwayne his teenage nephew, Chuck MacDonald.

Bob Cummings, left, with Dwayne Hickman as nephew Chuck

Dwayne attracted a fan following while on The Bob Cummings Show.  It wasn't long before he became the star of his own series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which premiered on September 29, 1959 on CBS.  Although 25 years old at the time, Dwayne played the title role of Dobie Gillis, a teenage high school student, Dobie, the son of a grocer, lived in the fictional town of Central City, U.S.A.  His primary interests were girls, cars and money.

The show was based on a 1953 book of campus stories by Max Shulman.  Shulman also served as the main scriptwriter for the series.  It was he who created the character of Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) specifically for the show.  Krebs, a pre-hippie era beatnik, was Dobie's best friend.  He had a strong aversion to the concept of work and avoided gainful employment like the plague.  His primary interests were playing the bongos and hanging out in coffee houses.

During Dobie's first season, a young, unknown Warren Beatty was a member of the cast.  He played a handsome, rich kid named Milton Armitage.  Milton was Dobie's nemesis and his rival for the affections of the lovely but money-grubbing Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld).  In the Sean Peacocke article, Dwayne is quoted as saying, "Warren Beatty has always acted like a Movie Star even even when no one knew who he was.  I think he denies being on the show because he doesn't want anyone to think he began on TV."

Beatty on Dobbie Gillis

Each episode of Dobie Gillis began and ended with Dobie contemplating his life beside a reproduction of Auguste Rodin's statue, The Thinker. in the Central City park.  It was in these scenes that he directly addressed the audience and broke the fourth wall.

Dwayne Hickman as Dobie Gillis beside The Thinker statue 

Bob Denver passed away on Friday, September 2, 2005 at the age of 70.  He died in a North Carolina hospital of complications from cancer treatment.  Below is an excerpt from a personal tribute to Bob from Dwayne Hickman.  It appears on Dwayne's website.

Dwayne and Bob as Dobie and Maynard

Bob and I have been friends for over fifty years.  We both attended Loyola University in Los Angeles.  I knew him briefly from his work with the Del Rey Players, the college theatre group.  In 1958 he came in to audition for the role of Maynard G. Krebbs, opposite my chraacter, Dobie Gillis.  I had already been cast and the producers asked me to test on film with all the actors they were interested in for the role of Maynard.  I must have tested with twenty actors, some good, most not.  It was the end of the day and as I was leaving the studio the producer called me back to test with one more actor.  It was a favor to a secretary on the lot - it was her brother. When I returned to the set I was amazed to see that the secretary's brother was Bob Denver.  From the moment we began to read the lines all the other actors who had auditioned for the role just evaporated.  Bob and I had rhythm and timing that was instant and a new comedy duo was born.

For the next four seasons I had the privilege of being Bob's straight man. My favorite line? "Maynard, go home and feed your iguana.  Maynard's reply?  "He don't need me, Dobie.  He can open the refrigerator himself."

Dobie Gillis
achieved cult status among teenagers of its era.  After the series finished its run in 1963, Hickman returned to feature films.  Unfortunately, he found him typecast as a teenager found it difficult to find desirable roles.  Bob Denver, of course, later starred as Gilligan on the popular sitcom Gilligan's Island from 1964 until 1967.

Meanwhile, Dwayne went on to appear in Cat Ballou, a 1965 comedy Western film with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin.  In 1966, he played the role of  Private Corey in an episode of the CBS drama series Combat!. The episode is entitled "Run, Sheep, Run!" (Season 4, Episode 30, Air Date: April 5, 1966) and Dwayne's character is grief-stricken when he causes the death of another GI.

In 1969, Dwayne  guest-starred in an episode of The Flying Nun called "The Boyfriend" (Season 2, Episode 18, Air Date: February 13, 1969).  He played the role of Randy Putman, an old boyfriend of Sister Bertrille (Sally Field).  Dwayne also appeared in a 1969 episode of The Mod Squad entitled "The Healer" (Season 2, Episode 11, Air Date: December 9, 1969).                                                                                                                            

In 1970, Dwayne went to work for Howard Hughes' company, Hughes Tool Co.  His job was to book entertainment for the now-defunct Landmark Hotel in Las Veagas. In an interview with Gary James for, he described the experience as a "a nice get-away for a year or two" and that he booked a lot of Country-Western performers.  "I introduced Country-Western music to the Strip," he told James.  "It was very successful. I enjoyed that. It was a good departure from my career. I’d always been acting and it was fun to book and promote talent."

During the late 1970s, Hickman became a programming executive for CBS.  For a decade he supervised such hit TV series such as Maude, M*A*S*H and Designing Women. In 1990, he was a guest star in an episode of the crime series Murder, She Wrote entitled "Murder: According to Maggie" (Season 6, Episode 17, Air Date: March 4, 1990).  It's not surprising that he played an actor-turned-network executive whose murder coincides with the cancellation of a television show.

Dwayne Hickman has been married three times and divorced twice.  His first wife was actress and model Carol Christensen.  Christensen played Carol Danforth, daughter of eccentric Professor Danforth (Emil Sitka), in the 1962 feature film The Three Stooges in Orbit.  Her  television credits include one episode of Ensign O'Toole ("Operation Casanova," Season 1, Episode 21, Air Date: February 10, 1963) and two episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis ("Back to Nature Boy," Season 3, Episode 32, Air Date: May 22, 1962); ("Vocal Boy Makes Good," Season 4, Episode 16, Air Date: January 16, 1963).  She and Dwayne HIckman wed on May 7, 1963 and had one child, a son named John Francis Hickman (born 1964).  The couple divorced in 1972.

Carol Christensen died of cancer in Rancho Mirage, California on June 4, 2005.  She was 67 years old at the time of her passing.

Wedding of Dwayne and Carol Christensen

Dwayne Hickman married Joanne Papile on March 3, 1977.  The marriage, however, ended in divorce in 1981.  That same year, Dwayne met Joan Roberts (born February 19, 1952), an actress writer and voice over artist.  The pair became acquainted when Joan was cast in an episode of the CBS series Private Benjamin entitled "Jungle Swamp Survival" (Season 1, Episode 2, Air Date: April 13, 1981). At the time, Dwayne was the CBS executive assigned to the series.

Joan and Dwayne wed on April 16, 1983.  On November 23, 1992, the couple's son, Albert Thomas Hickman, was born.  In the aforementioned mentioned interview with Gary James, Hickman stated that he and Joan never wanted their son to be a child actor.  "We both feel that it takes away their childhood and puts untold pressure on children," he said.

After Dwayne left CBS, he began directing half hour comedies.  He also pursued his interest in oil painting, especially landscape art and pastoral scenes.  By 1999, his hobby had developed into a successful business.  Joan launched his artwork all across the United States.  Of his relationship with his wife, Dwayne told Sharyn Peacocke the following: "Some couples could not work together but we enjoy working on our projects and building our art business."

Dwayne and Joan at art gallery


* Tuesday Weld, born Susan Ker Weld on August 27, 1943, is now 71 years old.  She was only a member of the Dobie Gillis cast during the first season of the show.

* Florida Friebus, who played Dobie's mother, Winnifred "Winie" Gillis, died of cancer on May 27, 1988.  She was 78 at the time of her passing.  After The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Friebus went on to play the role of Mrs. Lillian Bakerman on The Bob Newhart Show.

* Character actor Frank Faylen, who portrayed Dobie's grocer father, Herbert T. Gillis, passed away on August 2, 1985.  He died of respiratory ailment and pneumonia at the age of 79.      

* Sheila James Kuehl, who played Zelda Gilroy, Dobie's lovestruck wannabe girlfriend, served as a Democratic member of the California State Senate from 2000 to 2008.  Now 71 years old, she is currently a member of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, a non-partisan governing body for Los Angeles County.  Below is a photo of a Dobie Gillis scene with Bob Denver, Dwayne Hickman and Sheila James Kuehl.

*  For the role of Dobie Gillis, CBS required Dwayne Hickman to dye his dark brown hair a blond colour.  The network wanted him to distance himself from the teenage character he played in his previous role on The Bob Cummings Show.

* In his November, 2011 interview with LMU magazine, Dwayne revealed that for a brief time in 1952 he planned on becoming a Passionate priest.  He went to a seminary in St. Louis but "felt uncomfortable" with the strictness there and realized that he had done "something rash."  He left after only two weeks and enrolled at Loyola University instead.

* Dwayne Hickman's 1994 autobiography is entitled Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman.  It was co-authored by his wife, Joan.

* Dwayne appeared in a 1977 TV short (an unsold pilot) entitled Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis?. The story reunites the cast of the original series and provides an update on Dobie's life. Viewers learn that he married Zelda and they have a teenage son.  He works with his father in an expanded Gillis Grocery.

Hickman again reprised his role as Dobie Gillis in a 1988 television movie called Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis.  Here is the plot: A middle-aged, Dobie, as head of the town council, must deal with a crisis in which some the town's major industries have shut down and people are unemployed. During this bleak crisis, his old friend, Maynard G. Krebs, makes an appearance.

- Joanne

EDITOR'S UPDATE:  Dwayne Hickman died of complications from Parkinson's disease on January 9, 2022.  He passed away at his home in Los Angeles, California.  He was 87 years old.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Y&R Report (May 9, 2015): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

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

We are in the midst of the May ratings sweeps.  However, I don't find Y&R's storylines very compelling right now.  After moving along at a fast pace earlier in the year, the show seems to be dragging at the moment.  I wish that snake-in-the-grass Ian Ward would return soon.  He''d certainly shake things up.

Victor Newman is a wealthy criminal.  Yet, despite his nefarious activities, he commands a great deal of admiration and respect in Genoa City.  Every time he makes a request, the response is "Yes, Mr. Newman.  Right away, Mr. Newman." That's not really surprising because he buys a lot of people with his money. What is surprising is the amount of respect Victor receives from Clueless Paul Williams. When Victor phoned to inform the police that Sharon had broken the rules of her house arrest by attending the party at Nick's restaurant, Paul exclaimed that "Victor Newman himself" had made the call.  Well, so what?  Paul Williams, as chief of police, is expected to uphold the law. Victor Newman is a crooked businessman who breaks the law whenever it suits his purposes.  He thinks he is above the law.  Paul should not speak of Victor with such reverence in his voice.  He also should not have taken so long to exonerate Sharon of the murders.  It was only after Christine (a.k.a. the Cricketmeister) recognized Sharon's innocence that she was cleared of the crimes.

Meanwhile, Vile Victor's latest criminal activity is forgery.  He is concerned that the Jabot/Newman merger will be invalid since Jack has not signed the agreement he wants to have Jack's signature forged on the documents.  He's even dragged Neil Winters involved Neil into the scheme, as well as his wife Nikki.  As if Neil and Nikki, both alcoholics, don't have enough problems already! It's about time Victor faced some real consequences for his actions.  I'm sick and tired of him coming out on top all the time.

Gwen is back and she's getting involved with Neil.  Is he just using her to get revenge on Devon and Hilary somehow?

After the Billy and Chelsea wedding fiasco, I think the next wedding on Y&R should involve a couple who really want to get married.  The most recent weddings on the show have all been farces. Most of them have been rushed affairs interrupted with the bride or groom left at the altar.  In the case of Noah and Courtney, the bride was murdered.

As regular readers of Y&R Report know, I like to call Y&R characters by their nicknams.  Victor Newman, of course, has a classic list of nicknames given to him by Jack Abbott.  Through the years, Jack has referred to his nemesis as "The Black Knight". "Moneybags," "The Moustache," and "Mr. Mumbles." Billy has recently taken to referring to Victor as "Snidely."  My own contribution is "The Big Man" and "Vile Victor."

Victor always refers to Billy Abbot as Billy Boy.  During an argument between Billy and Neil Winters, Neil said, "Get your facts right, Billy-Bob."


I received some negative feedback on the two Jacks storyline from regular viewer Fifi in Collingwood, Ontario.  Fifi told me that she fast forwards the scenes between Kelly and Jack.  I definitely agree with Fifi.  One Jack Abbott is enough.  I hope the kidnapping scenes end soon.  I thought the fake Jack was going to die from his injuries in the car accident with Kyle.  I can't wait for the real Jack to get away from Kelly.

Having said that, I do like the storyline of Victor taking over Jabot.  I just wish they could have done that without having a Jack look


Is Christian LeBlanc leaving Y&R?

Rumours are rife on the Internet that Christian LeBlanc will soon be leaving Genoa City for Port Charles, where General Hospital is set.  LeBlanc is good friends with Michelle Stafford, Y&R's former Phyllis.  Stafford left The Young and the Restless and  eventually joined the cast of General Hospital.  Fans are wondering if Christian LeBlanc is planning to follow suit.

General Hospital seems be making quite a habit of scooping up Y&R stars such as Stafford and Billy Miller, Y&R's ex-Billy Abbott.  It would be a real coup for GH  if Christian LeBlanc joins the growing list.  It could very well happen, too.  His Michael Baldwin character has been battling cancer and may soon shuffle off this mortal coil. All I can say is that Y&R's loss will be General Hospital's gain if LeBlanc jumps ship.  He is a Daytime Emmy-winning actor and Y&R can ill afford to lose performers of such high quality.

Note to Y&R fans in Toronto, Canada: Christian LeBlanc will appear at the casino at the Woodbine Racetrack on Sunday, May 10, 2015.from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m,

Christian LeBlanc

Y&R at the Daytime Emmys

The Daytime Emmys were awarded on April 26, 2015. Y&R won for Best Drama Series in a tie with Days of Our LivesAmelia Heinle (Victoria Newman) received an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Hunter King (Summer Newman) won for Outstanding Younger Actress (she is 21 years old).  

In Memoriam

I have just learned some sad news about a former Young and Restless star. Longtime viewers will remember Victoria Mallory, the second actress to portray concert pianist Leslie Brooks (The original Leslie Brooks was Janice Lynde who left the show in 1977).  Mallory, who portrayed Leslie from 1977 until 1984, died of pancreatic cancer on August 30, 2014 at the age of 64.  The veteran Broadway star is survived by her husband, actor Mark Lambert, and daughter Ramona Mallory Lambert (known professionally as Ramona Mallory).  Ramona is also an actress.

Victoria Mallory


A new character will be arriving in Geona City soon.  Soap Opera Digest reported that Moroccan-born actress Sofia Pernas has been cast in the recurring role of Marisa.  Marisa is described as "a mysterious beauty" and there has been speculation that the character will interact with several major characters on the show.  Pernas makes her Y&R debut on Monday, June 1, 2015 on CBS (Friday, May 29, 2015 on Global TV in Canada).

Sofia Pernas

Chris McKenna will return to the screen as Detective Mark Harding on Tuesday, June 2, 2015 on CBS (Monday, June 1 on Global TV),  Frankly, I don't consider Harding to be a very likable character.  However, viewers don't know all that much about his personal life since he's only been a minor character.  His return obviously has some connection to the Austin/Courtney murders.

That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next addition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on May 23, 2015.

- Joanne

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Farewell to Tracy Partridge: The sudden death of Suzanne Crough

There is life after acting.

- Susan Crough
People magazine, 1993

Two American child stars have died unexpectedly in recent weeks.  First, Sawyer Sweden, who played Geoffrey Barone, one of Ray Barone's twin sons on Everyone Loves Raymond, committed suicide on April 23, 2015.  Sadly, the troubled 19-year-old took his own life while visiting family in Texas. Within days, there was more tragic news. Suzanne Crough, who played sweet, freckle-faced Tracy Partridge on the Partridge Family passed away.  The 52-year-old died suddenly at her home in Laughlin, Nevada.(near Las Vegas) on Monday, April 27, 2015.  Las Vegas police attributed her death to a "medical episode" and stated that it was "not suspicious." An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday, April 29, 2015, but no conclusive findings have been reported as of this writing

Suzanne J. Crough was born on March 6, 1963 in Fullerton, California.  According to a November 1, 1993 article by Tim Allis in People magazine, she was "the youngest of eight children of a motor scooter dealer and a housewife." She began acting at a young age, prompted by that fact that her oldest brother portrayed one of Opie's (Ron Howard) friends on the Andy Griffith Show. After appearing in a Barbie commercial for Mattel toys, the seven-year-old auditioned for the part of Tracy Partridge and was cast in the role.

Suzanne Crough, left, and in her Partridge Family days (far right)

The Partridge Family debuted on the ABC network on September 25, 1970. Suzanne's character, Tracy, was the youngest of the Partridge siblings.  She played the tambourine and other percussion instruments such as triangles and cowbells. The show revolved around a widowed mother, Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) and her family of five children.  They formed a band and toured on a psychedelic bus.

Keith Partridge, the eldest child, was played by Shirley's real-life stepson, David Cassidy, who became a teenage heartthrob.  Susan Dey played eldest daughter Laurie Partridge, the group's keyboardist. Susan went on to star Grace Van Owen on L.A. Law.  Danny Bonaduce portrayed Danny Partridge, the family's precocious redheaded base player.  The role of Chris Partridge, the band's drummer, was played by two different actors.  For the first year, Jeremy Gelbwaks portrayed Chris. Brian Forster, however, played the part for the rest of the series. The band's hapless manager, Reuben Kincaid, was played by Dave Madden.  Dave passed away on  January 16, 2014 at the age of 82.

The Partridge Family was a hugely popular sitcom and it produced a monster hit song, "I Think I Love You," sung by David Cassidy.  In 1974, however, the show was cancelled after a disenchanted Cassidy decided to quit.  The writing was on the wall anyway.  After four seasons, The Partridge Family was losing the ratings battle in its new timeslot (Saturdays nights 8:00 to 8:30) that put it up against CBS's groundbreaking All in the Family.

Suzanne Crough's post-Partidge Family career was fairly brief.  In March of 2000, she told Michael Colavolpe and Jennifer Futch of the website that after playing Tracy Partridge she was typecast and it was difficult to get other roles.  She said, "Either I looked like Tracy, or because I wasn't on the show that much, I coudn't act.  Well, you know it's hard to change someone's mind without meeting them.  Sometimes they wouldn't let me read for the part."

Suzanne appeared in the short-lived 1977 drama series Mulligan's Stew on NBC. Set in the fictional suburban neighbourhood of Birchfield, California, Mulligan's Stew was a comedy/drama about the lives of Michael and Jane Mulligan (Lawrence Pressman and Elinor Donahue) and their extended family of seven children, one of which was Stevie Friedman, Suzanne's character.  Only seven episodes of the series were produced.

Below is an October, 1977 publicity photo of the cast of Mulligan's Stew: (Front row ; L–R) Lawrence Pressman, Elinor Donahue, (2nd row; L–R) Christopher Ciampa, K.C. Martel, Sunshine Lee, (3rd row; L–R) Julie Anne Haddock, Suzanne Crough, (Back row; L–R) Johnny Doran and Lory Kochheim.

Suzanne also played the role of a teenage mother in the 1978 Academy Award-winning short film Teenage Father.  The docudrama, directed by Taylor Hackford, received an Oscar in 1979 for best short subject.  Hackford, who later directed An Officer and A Gentleman (1982), , Against All Odds (1984), White Nights (1985) and Ray (2004), thanked Suzanne during his acceptance speech.

Suzanne Crough's last credited screen role was in the 1980 television movie Children of Divorce. After retiring from acting, Suzanne attended and graduated from Pierce College Los Angeles.  In July of 1985, at the age of 22, Suzanne married William "Bill" Condray. Condray, a former highway patrolman, is now a lawyer in Bullhead City, Arizona, near the boarder of Nevada.  The couple had two daughters, Samantha and Alexandria. According to the website, Samantha, now 28, is in the military. Alexandria is now 24 years old.

Until 1993, Suzanne Crough owned the Book Center bookstore in Temecula, California.  Although she never revived her acting career, she participated in Partridge Family reunions over the years.  In 1995, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the series, she appeared on Danny Bonaduce's talk show with Shirley Jones, Dave Madden, Susan Dey (via telephone), Jeremy Gelbwaks and Brian Forster.

In March, 2010, almost four decades after The Partridge Family's premiere, Suzanne appeared on a Partridge reunion on NBC's The Today Show in New York City. The show was, hosted by Matt Lauer and featured her former castmates David Cassidy, Danny Bonaduce and Brian Forster.  Shirley Jones was unable to attend as she was in the midst of a symphony concert tour. Susan Dey also did not attend. Neither did Dave Madden who was living in Florida at the time.

During the Today Show reunion, Suzanne revealed that she was a manager of an OfficeMax store in Bullhead City, Arizona. “I have two daughters, I’m married, I have a normal job," she declared. When asked if she did any singing, she joked that she was "very good at being Milli Vanilli, referring to the pop singing duo involved in a lip-syncing controversy in the late 1980s (Shirley Jones and David Cassidy were the only real singers on The Partridge Family).

Upon learning of Suzanne Crough's  sudden death, Danny Bnnaduce, paid tribute to his former onscreen sibling.  In a statement to People magazine, he said, "Everyone thought I'd be the first Partridge to go.  Sadly, it was little Tracy."  "Suzanne was a wonderful lady," he added.  "She will be missed."

Another of Suzanne's TV brothers, David Cassidy, told celebrity website TMZ of his sadness at hearing the news of Suzanne's sudden passing.  He said, "Although we did not know each other very well due to our age difference during our Partridge days, I always thought fondly of Suzanne and her family."

Suzanne's television mother, veteran actress Shirley Jones, 81, expressed the following sentiments to the website

I am so devastated by the sad and sudden loss of Suzanne.  I still remember her as my young daughter on The Partridge Family.  She was the baby of the show.  It's a rude awakening that we are all mortal. How fleeting life is.  My heart goes out to her family and children.  Suzanne will always be remembered and I will always treasure my memories of her.  Suzanne Crough  . . .  my sweet TV baby for 5 years  . . .  only 52  . . .  never sick a day  . . .  two adorable children  . . .  a devoted husband  . . . everything to live for  . . .  just fell asleep at the dining room table and left us forever.  Dear God take care of my baby.

In Suzaane's Associated Press obituary, her grieving husband, William Condray, described her as a patient and loving wife, mother and grandmother to one-year-old Evelena.  He and Suzanne were preparing to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in July of this year.

Suzanne Crough

- Joanne

Friday, May 1, 2015

Frankie Muniz: Update on the Malcolm in the Middle star

I never let Hollywood take control of me. What helped was leaving when (Malcolm in the Middle) ended, living a normal life in Phoenix.  I know the people at the grocery store and my neighbours.

- Frankie Muniz
Interview with Fox 411, published September 26, 2013

In the year 2000, Frankie Muniz rose to television stardom by playing a nerdy child prodigy.  With his bright blue eyes and confused expression, he delighted TV viewers as the new millennium dawned..  Since 2008, however, Muniz has put his acting career on the back burner in order to to pursue other interests,  Best known as the star of Malcolm in the Middle, Frankie is 29 years old now and is a racing car driver.  He races open-wheel or formula cars (known as single-seater cars in Britain). These cars are usually built specifically for racing and have one seat.

Below is a photo of Muniz at the 2011 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

          Photo Attribution:  "Frankie Muniz 2011" by Real TV Films/Carole Lowe

Frankie is also a musician.  He has been playing drums since the age of 12 or 13 and is a former member of Kingsfoil, an indie rock band. He was originally with  the group You Hang Up, which had the same manager as Kingsfoil. When You Hang Up dissolved, Mnniz auditioned for Kingsfoil.  In April of 2012, he became Kingsfoil's drummer.

Frankie spent almost two years with Kingsfoil. In February of 2014, however, the group announced that he was no longer a member of the band.  Lead singer Jordan Davis said that group members had remained on friendly terms.

On February 20, 2014, Frankie posted the following message on his Facebook page:

Very sad to announce that Feb 7th at the University of Wyoming was my final show performing as the drummer of Kingsfoil. Due to scheduling conflicts in the coming months, the guys in the band decided to replace me as the drummer a few weeks ago. Although I'm sad about not being a part of the band, I understand their decision and support them moving forward!

I want to thank all my fans and the fans of Kingsfoil for supporting me while I got to live out one of my dreams. Playing drums in a touring rock band was incredible, and I will remember the times I was lucky enough to experience forever!

I've been extremely fortunate to be a part of some amazing things in my life. As an actor, race car driver and musician, I couldn't ask for a better first 28 years of my life! That being said, look for some exciting news from me in the next couple of weeks... 

Frankie on the drums

Frankie, far left, with Kingsfoil

Franciso "Frankie" Muniz IV was born in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey on December 5, 1985 to Francisco III, a Puerto Rican restaurateur, and Denise, a nurse.of Italian and Irish descent.  He has an older sister named Cristina.

When Frankie was four years old, The Muniz family moved to the tiny town of Knightsdale, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh,  At the age of eight, the talented child was given his  first significant acting role.  He portrayed Tiny Tim in a local production of A Christmas Carol at the Theatre in the Park in Raleigh,

Frankie's parents separated and the youngster eventually moved to Burbank, California with his mother.  He began appearing in commercials and was cast in two 1997 television movies: To Dance with Olivia and Hallmark Hall of Fame's production of What the Deaf Man Heard.  In 1998, he portrayed a boy named Derek in two episodes of the comedy Spin City, starring Michael J. Fox.  The episodes are "Three Men and a Little Lady (Season 3. Episode 6, Air Date: October 27, 1998) and "The Kidney's All Right" (Season 3, Episode 9, Air Date: November 17, 1998).

Muniz also had a minor role in a 1999 episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, starring Melissa Joan Hart.  In the episode, entitled "Sabrina the Matchmaker" (Season 3, Episode 16, Air Date; February 12, 1999), he played a boy named Angelo, the son of a man being matched by Sabrina for Valentine's Day.

Frankie in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch episode

Frankie's first breakthrough came when he was cast as Willie Morris in the 2000 movie My Dog Skip opposite Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane and Luke Wilson.  It was his first starring role in a feature film. The film, set in the American South during the 1940s, chronicles Morris' childhood, particularly his warm relationship with his dog, Skip.

That same year, the young actor portrayed Justin Yoder in the Disney Channel's Miracle in Lane 2, The TV movie is based on the true story of Yoder, a 13-year-old boy in a wheelchair who is determined to emulate his athletic older brother by winning a trophy.

2000 was also the year that Frrankie lit up television screens as a boy genius in Malcolm in the Middle,  The sitcom first aired on January 9, 2000 as a midseason replacement on the Fox network. Frankie was just 14 years old when he began playing Malcolm, a gifted teen with an IQ of 165 and a photographic memory.

Malcolm lived with his dysfunctional family in a suburban community in the fictional Tri-County Area.  He was assigned to a class of gifted students, known as "Krelboynes" at the school he attended.  Throughout the series, he struggled with the problems of adolescence and feelings of not fitting in.  The television audience was privy to his thoughts because he would sometimes speak directly to viewers.

Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame portrayed Malcolm's father, Hal, and Jane Kaczmarek portrayed his mother, Lois.  When the show began, Malcolm had three brothers.  Francis, the eldest was played by Christopher Masterson..  Reese (Justin Berfield) was the second eldest.  Then came Malcolm, the third child, followed by Dewey (Erik Per Sullivan),  A fifth brother, Jamie, was introduced as a baby in the show's fourth season.  Jamie was played by identical twin brothers James and Lukas Rodriguez.

Below is a photo of the cast of Malcolm in the Middle:  Clockwise: Christopher Masterson. Brian Brian Cranston, Jane Kaczmarek, Justin Berfield, Erik Per Sullivan and Frankie Muniz.

While starring in Malcolm in the Middle, Frankie Muniz also had the lead role in the 2002 feature film called Big Fat Liar.  In the teen comedy, Frankie played a 14-year-old chronic liar named Jason Shepherd.  The film was directed by Shawn Levy and co-starred Paul Giamatti and Amanda Bynes. Frankie also starred in 2003 film, Agent Cody Banks, with Hilary Duff. 

After six years and 151 episodes, Malcolm in the Middle ended its run in 2006.  For his performance in the series, Frankie Muniz received an Emmy Award nomination and two Golden Globe nominations. The series itself won much critical acclaim  It was distinct from most TV comedies in that it did not have a laugh track or a studio audience.  The show was shot on film rather than on video.

In 2007, Frankie was a guest star in an episode of Criminal Minds entitled "True Night" (Season 3, Episode 10, Air Date: November 28, 2007).  He played Jonny McHale, a graphic novelist with links to a number of horrific murders.

In 2012, Frankie appeared in an episode of the TV comedy Last Man Standing, starring Tim Allen. In the episode, "Baxter & Sons" (Season 1, Episode 18, Air Date: February 21, 2012), he played the part of Richard.

Frankie had a leading role, alongside Barry Botswick and Maggie Castle, in Destruction: Las Vegas, a 2013 television movie.  The movie, originally titled Blast Vegas, is an action thriller about fraternity brothers who head to Las Vegas for spring break.  They steal an Egyptian sword from a hotel, thereby releasing an ancient curse upon the city.  The film initially aired on the Syfy channel on July 18, 2013.

Frankie with Maggie Castle in a scene from Blast Vegas

On October 22, 2011, Frankie announced his engagement to Elycia Maria Turnbow, the owner of a clothing line called Arcadia Vintage.  The announcement was made on Twitter.  There has been no news of a wedding date and there has been much speculation and many rumours surrounding their relationship.

In February of 2011, there were reports of an argument between the couple in which the police were called to the scene.  It was alleged that Frankie had put a gun to his head.  When ashed about the incident by Fox 411, Miniz played it down.  He said, "I didn't let it bother me . . . neither of us came close to being arrested.  The fact that the story ran the way it did was insane to me  . . . There wasn't more to it.  It was a fake, overblown story."

Frankie has suffered two mini-strokes.  On November 30, 2012, he had his first stroke.  He was hospitalized after family and friends noticed that he was disoriented and that his speech was slurred. A year later, he underwent a second mini-stroke. In a Twitter post on November 25, 2013, the actor wrote, "Almost a year to the day, I experienced another mini-stroke.  Hopefully that will be the last. Miserable."

In April, 2014, Frankie Muniz condemned Donald Sterling, then-owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA franchise.  Muiiz, a longime fan of the Clippers, addressed the storm of controversy that erupted after a tape surfaced of Sterling telling his girlfriend that he did not approve of her "associating" with black people.  On his Facebook page, Frankie declared that he was "disgusted by the things said by owner Donald Sterling."  "I've never been a fan of the owner," he wrote.  "I am a fan of the players, the coaches, and I root for the team to win for the fans."  Frankie later tweeted that he was considering buying the team himself.. (It is not known how serious he was about that).


*  Frankie Muniz currently resides in Scottsdale, Arizona and is a fan of the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL).

*  Frankie was homeschooled by his mother beginning in Grade Six.

*  On June 5, 2013, Muniz sent a message on Twitter that was highly critical of U.S. President Barack Obama's choice of Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as National Security Adviser.  He tweeted, “Really? Susan Rice? National Security Adviser? Really? Another ObamaFail. Wake up people.”

- Joanne