Saturday, May 23, 2020

Y&R Report (May 23, 2020): 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. 

NOTES FROM JOANNE

Hi fans,

Since there are no new Y&R episodes in the midst of this pandemic, I didn't think
there would be very much to write about.  As it turned out, at least for this edition of Y&R Report, I was wrong.  I found plenty to discuss.  I will continue to provide you with any news available concerning COVID-19's effects on The Young and the Restless and any updates on what is happening with the show and its cast members.

Well, we continue watching throwback episodes with weekly themes introduced by various cast members.  We've watched a week of rivalries - Victor and Jack and Brad, Nikki and Sharon, Lily and Hilary etc.  This was followed by a theme week focusing on the Winters family.  I have to say that I wasn't so keen on the rivalries week.  As for the Winters family week, I enjoyed watching Neil (Kristoff St. John) and Drucilla (Victoria Rowell).  Drucilla added spice to show and she and Neil made a great couple.   My favourite scene is the one where they bump into each other at Newman Enterprises, where Neil is an up-and-coming young executive and Drucilla is working in the mail room.  Dru, of course, drops her mail on the floor.  They set eyes on each other and there is instant chemistry.

I also enjoyed the episode in which Devon is adopted.  It was interesting seeing a young Brittany Hodges, a young J.T. and Bobby Marsino.  J.T. was so understanding and comforting to Brittany back then.  Y&R characters certainly evolve.  Nikki transformed herself from a stripper to a wealthy socialite and philanthropist with several grandchildren.  Brittany changed drastically, too.  She converted herself from a stripper to a respected lawyer.  Drucilla was originally a petty thief.  Devon was once a foster child, the son of a drug addict.  He became a billionaire businessman and was revealed to be the grandson of Katherine Chancellor.

Now we have a week focusing on villains.   "Villains Weak" is introduced by Joshua Morrow, Nick Newman himself,.  The introduction shows Josh cradling a dog, wearing a toque and sporting a shaggy beard.  I've already seen the first "Villains Week" show because I watch Y&R on Global.TV.  It's a 1991 episode and it features David Kimble (Michael Corbett), who was a threat to Cricket's friend, Nina Webster., played by Tricia Cast.  Kimble was an evil schemer and murderer.  He began romancing Nina when he learned that she had received a sizeable inheritance.  Nina was warned about Kimble, but refused to listen and eloped with him.  Kimble went to a plastic surgeon to disguise himself and fake his own death.  He instructed the doctor to make him resemble David Hasselhoff (who once played Dr. William "Snapper Foster" on Y&R)., but the doctor carved the word "killer"on his forehead instead.  David Kimble suffers a gruesome death in this episode shown.

Michael Corbett (David Kimble)

Other villains this week include the following:

 * Isabella, who was portrayed by Eva Longoria in this 2003 episode of Y&R, before she became a big star on Desperate Housewives.  Y&R will replay the classic episode in which Isabella, who is presumed dead, attempts to drown Christine "Cricket"in a bathtub so that she can have Paul Williams for herself.

* Sheila Carter (Kimberlin Brown), who tormented Lauren off and on for years.  Sheila was a nurse who was was infatuated with  Lauren's then-husband, Dr. Scott Grainger.  A 2005 episode will be shown in which Sheila makes a surprise appearance during Lauren and Michael's honeymoon.

Longtime viewers will remember a villain known as  Mr. Anthony.  Joseph Anthony was a mob boss on Y&R circa 1985.  Paul Williams tried to bring mob kingpin Anthony and his gang down.  I would  certainly enjoy seeing an episode featuring the wicked Mr. Anthony, who kept a tank filled with piranhas.  In one memorable episode from the 1980s, hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky appears as one of Mr. Anthony's gangsters.  It would be great to watch that episode.  Another villain who appeared more recently on Y&R was Ian Ward, a devious cult leader who was expertly portrayed by Ray Wise.


So, what does the future hold for Y&R, once production begins on new shows?  Will the writers introduce the coronavirus into storylines.  If so, how will the pandemic factor into the lives of Genoa City's citizens.  Christian LeBlanc, who portrays District Attorney Michael Baldwin, has some thoughts about that.  In an interview with 4WWL in New Orleans, Louisiana, Christian's hometown.  Christian stated that he is not so sure that introducing a virus episode is such a good idea, although he acknowledged that social distancing restrictions, not the creative choices of the writers, might determine whether that will occur.  Christian stated the following: "When a lot of current events happen, the question (has been) whether to include them., and I think think the answer they always get is 'This is an aspirational show' as far as fantasy, and you are using this show, I think, to enter another world.  People use this as escapism, so I don't know if they will include this.  I don't know if they might have to include this, as far as how do you start shooting the show again when we get back if we're having to keep six feet (about two metres) away from each other?"

I'm with Christian.  I'm not so sure I would enjoy seeing Nikki and Victor wearing masks and quarantined on their ranch.  Many people watch soaps as a distraction, a harmless escape from realities such as the horrid COVID-19.  We hear about it night and day, and we need to get away from it at times.  However, as Christian pointed out, there may not be a choice.  It may depend on the situation with regard to social distancing when Y&R resumes filming."


VIEWER FORUM

If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 

My email address:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca

I received an email from longtime Y&R viewer Carly in Barrhaven, Ontario.  Here are Carly's coments.

I have been enjoying the Y&R classics but anxious for them to start shooting new episodes.  I started watching Y&R in 1981, so whatever years they show is fine with me.  I record so I can fast forward what I am not interested in watching.

Most Y&R fans feel the way you do, Carly.  It is understandable that they are anxious to view new episodes. That can't happen, though, until the safety of the cast and crew is assured.  Two cast members, Greg Rikkart (Kevin Fisher) and Jordi Vilasuso (Rey Rosales), have contracted the virus.

Speaking for myself, I would really like to see some episodes from the 1970s and early 1980s.  From my perspective,, those episodes would really be fun to watch.


CAST NEWS

Melissa Ordway (Abby Newman) sells home that she recently purchased


Variety reports that Melissa Ordway (Abby Newman and her husband, Justin Gaston (ex-Ben Rogers, Days of our Lives), have sold the Spanish-style mini-compound they purchased just this past October. It is a beautiful bungalow located in Toluca Lake, a neighbourhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles.  Melissa's husband is a musician turned real estate agent. so it is not surprising that the couple has flipped their band new home.


THE SHOW WILL GO ON!  THE DAYTIME EMMY AWARDS WILL BE BROADCAST IN JUNE

I have some really good news to report.  The National Academy of Arts and Science has unexpectedly announced that 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be presented in a two-hour special on Friday, June 26 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET/PT).  Not only will the awards be broadcast in primetime, but they they will be broadcast on CBS.  This marks the first time a major network has broadcast the ceremonies since 2011 and the 14th time that CBS has done the honours.  Thank you, CBS.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, nominees, recipients and other special guests will be appearing from home, but I'm just pleased that Y&R fans and other daytime TV viewers have something to look forward to during these terrible times.


Y&R NOMINATIONS FOR DAYTIME EMMYS (some commentary from me included)

The nominations for Daytime Emmys have been announced:

* The Young and the Restless has been nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, along with The Bold and the Beautiful, Days of our Lives and General Hospital.

* Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott) has been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor.  He is up against Steve Burton of General Hospital.  Steve played Dylan McAvoy on Y&R.

* Mark Grossman (Adam Newman) has been nominated in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor.  Mark is up against his Y&R castmate, Bryton James, who plays Devon Hamilton.

* Sasha Calle (Lola Rosale) has been nominated for Outstanding Young Performer.  I don't know about that one.  I think there are young soap actors who are more talented - Alyvia Alyn Lind (Faith Newman), comes to mind, although her role is much smaller than Lola's.

* Christel Khalil (Lilly Winters) has been nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress.

* Y&R has also earned three nominations for Outstanding Special Guest Performer.  Elissa Kapneck has been nominated for her performance as Sasha, the mother of the baby she left at Victor and Nikki's ranch.  Eva LaRue (Celeste Rosales) has been nominated for her role as the Rosales family matriarch, the mother of Rey. Arturo and Lola.  The third Y&R nominee in this category is Jeffrey Vincent Price who portrayed the villainous Simon Black, a criminal who terrorized Chelsea and her young son, Connor Newman.  Jeffrey Vincent Price was great at the evil Simon Black.  I also enjoyed the performance of Eva LaRue as Celeste.  I don't think Elissa Kapneck's performance as Sasha rates with theirs.

Y&R REPORT READERS' POLL


When Y&R resumes production, do you think the writers should include the COVID-19 pandemic in storylines or just ignore it?  What do you think, fans?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.


Do you think Y&R should write the COVID-19 virus into its storylines?

Yes. Genoa City should be affected like the rest of the world.  We can't pretend it didn't happen.
No, soaps are for escapism. We don't need to be reminded of the virus. We need to forget it for a while.
Maybe
I don't know
Other
Please Specify:
Created with PollMaker


That's all for now.  Please remember that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, June 6, 2020.  Take care everyone and stay safe during this pandemic.


- Joanne

Thursday, May 21, 2020

We'll miss you, Eddie Haskell: A Tribute to Ken Osmond


"Eddie was the best friend of Tony Dow's Wally Cleaver, big brother to Jerry Mathers' Beaver Cleaver.  He constantly kissed up to adults, flattering and flirting with Wally and Beaver's mother, and kicked down at his peers, usually in the same scene.  He was the closest thing the wholesome show had to a villain and viewers of all ages loved to hate him."

- Katie Scott
Global News, May 19, 2020

"I will greatly miss my lifelong friend Ken Osmond who I have known for over 63 years.  I have always said that he was the best actor on our show because in real life his personality was so opposite of the character he brilliantly portrayed. RIP dear friend."

- Jerry Mathers on Twitter

Eddie Haskell is one of the most memorable characters on American television.  Ken Osmond, the man who brought Eddie to life on Leave it to Beaver died on May 18, 2020 at his home in  suburban Los Angeles.  He was 76 years old.  Ken's son, Eric, revealed that the cause of his father's death was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and peripheral arterial disease.  Eric described Ken as "an incredibly kind and wonderful father."  He stated that Ken "had his family gathered around him when he passed."

Kenneth Charles Osmond was born in Glendale, California on June 7, 1943.  He was the son of Pearl (Hand) and Thurman Osmond.  Thurman Osmond was a studio carpenter and a prop maker. Pearl, whom Ken described as "a typical movie mother," was a show business agent. She was eager to get Ken and his brother, Dayton into acting. At the age of four, Ken began appearing in television commercials.  He and his brother made their film debut as child extras in the 1952 Mayflower pilgrim tale Plymouth Adventure, starring Spencer Tracy

Ken was 14 years old in 1957 when he was called to audition for the role of Eddie Haskell, for which he was eventually chosen.  The character of Eddie was originally intended to be a one-shot guest appearance during the first season of Leave it to Beaver.  However, the show's producers were so impressed by Ken's performance and viewer response was so positive that Ken became a regular on the series.  Over a spam of six seasons, from 1957 to 1963, he appeared in 97 of the show's 234 episodes.  His first appearance as Eddie was in a 1957 episode entitled "New Neighbors" (Season 1, Episode 5, Air Date: November 1, 1957).

With his curly blond hair and menacing sneer, Ken's Eddie Haskell character really resonated with fans.  Always fawning over adults and people with authority, unctuous Eddie became a symbol for a two-faced troublemaker.  He was unfailingly sweet and polite with Beaver's parents, June (Barbara Billingsley) and Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont).  June, recognizing Eddie's insincerity, would roll her eyes whenever  Eddie complimented her appearance or her attire,  In typical Eddie fashion, he would say, "That's a lovely dress you're wearing today, Mrs. Cleaver.  Then he would walk up the stairs and stir up all kinds of mischief.  He would encourage Wally to break some kind of curfew rule or bully Beaver, calling him "squirt."  Eddie was definitely a phony, but he was also a very vulnerable and insecure person.  His sneaky behaviour was obviously a cover for his lack of confidence.

One of my favourite Leave it to Beaver episodes is from 1962 and it is called "Beaver's Fear" (Season 5, Episode  21, Air Date: February 24, 1962). In the episode,  Beaver visits an amusement park with Wally and his friends Lumpy and Eddie..  Beaver is frightened about riding the roller coaster with the older boys after his own friends tell him how scary it is.  As it turns out, Beaver enjoys the roller coaster ride, while Eddie is scared out of his wits.

"Everyone knows an Eddie Haskell," Ken told the Chicago Tribune in 1992.  "He's the guy you can blame when things go wrong.  The ironic thing was that Beaver was never a top ten show during the original network run.  It was just another family show that had enough fans to keep it on the air."

On June 28, 1969, Ken married Sandra Purdy.  The couple had two sons, Eric E. Osmond (born October 8, 1971) and Christian Scott Osmond (born June 12, 1974).  Eric is an actor and film editor.  (He was an editor for the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger).

When Leave it to Beaver ended its run in 1963, Ken was 20 years old.  He found it difficult to find work as an actor because he was typecast as Eddie Haskell.  Unhappily, he found himself relegated to  guest roles on such TV series as Petticoat Junction (1964), The Munsters (1966)  and Lassie (1967).

Ken described his feelings about being typecast in a 2008 radio interview on Stu's Show.  He made the following remarks to host Stu Shostak:  "I was very much typecast.  It's a death sentence.  I'm not complaining because Eddie's been too good to me, but I found work hard to come by.  In 1968, I bought my first house.  In '69 I got married, and we were going to start a family and I needed a job, so I went out signed up for the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department)."

In 1970, Ken Osmond became a Los Angeles police officer.  He grew a moustache to hide his true identity from ordinary citizens and worked as a motorcycle officer.  His co-workers on the force, however, were aware of his disguise.  On September 20, 1980, Ken was shot three times during a foot chase with a suspected car thief.  Fortunately, a bulletproof vest stopped two of the slugs and a third bullet ricocheted off his belt buckle.

After serving 18 years on the LAPD, Ken Osmond retired in 1988 at the age of 46.  Ken claimed that after the shooting incident, he had suffered deep depression.  He contended that his conditioned improved when he was relieved of his duty between September 1981 and March 1982.  He said he had suffered a relapse when he returned to work and that he drank that excessively to deal with the stress.  In 1984, he filed for a disability pension, but his request was denied by the Los Angeles Board of Pension Commissioner in November of 1986.  In 1988, however, n 1988, the board decision was reversed by a Superior Court Judge who ruled that "psychiatrists agree that (Osmond's) condition is a real and disabling psychiatric condition."  Ken was thereby granted a service related disability pension retroactive to his last day of service.



Ken returned to television in 1983, when Leave it to Beaver reruns were very popular, appearing in the TV movie Still the Beaver.  From 1983 to 1989, he reprised his Eddie Haskell role in a revival series called The New Leave it to Beaver, alongside Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers and Barbara Billingsley and Frank Bank.  His real-life sons. Eric and Christian, played Haskell's sons on the show and they were just as smarmy as Eddie. In Still the Beaver, the TV movie, Eric Osmond portrayed Eddie Haskell Jr.  In The New Leave it to Beaver series, he portrayed Frederick "Freddie Haskell in 101 episodes..  Eric's brother, Christian, played Edward C. "Bomber" Haskell Jr. in 10 episodes of The New Leave it To Beaver.

Ken Osmond and Christopher J. Lynch co-authored a 2014 memoir entitled Eddie: The Life and Times of America's Preeminent Bad Boy.  The book contains a forward by Jerry Mathers.


DECEASED MEMBERS OF THE ORIGINAL LEAVE IT TO BEAVER CAST

Not too many of the original Leave it to Beaver cast are still alive.

* Doris Packer, who played Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn, the principal of Beaver's elementary school (Grant Avenue School), died in Glendale, California.on March 31, 1979.  She was 74 years old at the time of her death.

Hugh Beaumont,who  portrayed Ward Cleaver, Beaver and Wally's father, passed away on May 14, 1982 at the age of 73.  He died of a heart attack while visiting his son, a psychologist, who was working in Munich, in what was then West Germany.

* Richard Deacon, played Fred Rutherford, Ward Cleaver's office colleague and the father of Wally's schoolmate, Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford.  Deacon, who also played Mel Cooley on the Dick Van Dyke Show, died in Los Angeles on August 8, 1984 of cardiovascular disease.  He was 63 years old.

* Sue Randall, who portrayed Miss Alice Landers, Beaver's elementary school teacher, died of lung cancer at a hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 26, 1984.  She was only 49 years old.

* Stanley Fafara played Hubert "Whitey" Whitney, one of Beaver's school friends.  Stanley passed away on September 20, 2003, his 54th birthday.  He was a recovering drug addict who had contracted hepatitis C due to his addiction to heroin.  He died in Portlnad, Oregon of complications from hernia surgery.

* Barbara Billingsley, who played matriarch June Cleaver, died on October 16, 2010 at her home in Santa Monica, California.  She was 94 years old at the time of her passing.

* Frank Bank played Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford   In 1973, Frank became a bond broker in Los Angeles.  He died of cancer in Rancho Mirage, California on Mon April 13, 2013, a day after his 71st birthday.

THE SURVIVORS

Tony Dow, who played Beaver's older brother, Wally Cleaver, was born on April 13, 1945.  He is 75 years old.

Jerry Mathers, the Beaver himself, was born on June 2, 1948.  He will celebrate his 72nd birthday on June 2, 2020.

Robert "Rusty" Stevens played Beaver's chubby, not-too-bright friend, Larry Mondello.  Rusty was born on December 25, 1948 and is now 71 years old.  He appeared in 68 episodes of Leave it to Beaver and left the show in 1960. (Madge Blake, who played Larry's long-suffering mother, Margaret Mondello died on February 16, 1969 of a heart attack at the age of 69.  Madge was also known for her portrayal of Aunt Harriet Cooper on Batman from 1966 to 1967.

Stephen Talbot, who portrayed Beaver's friend Gilbert in 57 episodes of Leave it to Beaver, was born on February 28, 1949.  He is now 71 years old.  Stephen became s television documentary producer, reporter and writer.  He is a longtime contributor to the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and is particularly known for his work on the series Frontline.

END NOTES

* In the early 1960s, Ken Osmond served in the U.S. Army Reserve.

* Ken also portrayed his Eddie Haskell character in a 1991 episode of the series Parker Lewis Can't Lose and a 1992 episode of Hi Honey, I'm Home.

* Ken appeared as Freddie Bascomb in a 1983 episode of Happy Days entitled "Vocational Education" (Season 11, Episode 7, Air Date: November 22, 1983).

* From 1997 to 1998, Ken's brother, Dayton Osmond, worked as a special effects supervisor for the futuristic TV adventure series Babylon 5.

* There was speculation that Ken had been killed in Vietnam.  That apparently arose from the "Paul McCartney is Dead" conspiracy theories in the late 1960s, when several celebrity death rumours circulated.  There was also an urban legend that Ken was actually rocker  Alice Cooper.  That came from a Rolling Stone interview in which Cooper said he was "Eddie Haskell as a child.  His remarks were taken literally by some, although he meant that he behaved like Eddie as a child.

Henry Lane, Ken's partner at the Los Angeles Police Department, told Variety that Ken had suffered from respiratory problems.

Ken Osmond in 2014

                                              PHOTO ATTRIBUTION: Louise Palanker
                                              https://www.flickr.com/photos/louisepalanker/15475130127


SOURCES:  USA Today,"'Leave it to Beaver' Actor Ken Osmond, known for role as Eddie Haskell, dies at 76," by Anika Reed. May 19, 2020; Global News, Ken Osmond dead: Eddie Haskell of 'Leave it to Beaver ' dies at 76, Katie Scott, May 19, 2020; CBS News, Ken Osmond on 'Leave it to Beaver' has died at 76, May 29, 2020; Los Angeles Times, Pension for 'Beaver' Actor, June 9, 1988; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com)


- Joanne

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Quarantine Streaming Service Alternatives to Netflix and Hulu to Learn Something New

During this pandemic, people have been watching a great deal of television, especially on streaming services.  If  you are searching for an alternative to the giant streaming services such as Netflix, this infographic will provide you with many worthwhile suggestions.  I hope you find it helpful during your quarantine or self-isolation.

- Joanne

Quarantine Streaming Service Alternatives to Netflix and Hulu to Learn Something New

The average American adult watches almost three hours of television every day, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the vast majority of adults — 90% — subscribe to at least one video streaming service, according to Nielsen.

Those numbers have likely grown much higher during this pandemic as millions of people continue to stay inside and binge watch their favorite Netflix, Hulu and HBO shows. We love TV, but too much screen time can be bad, especially for children. 

If you find yourself glued to the TV or your laptop, there are plenty of alternatives to Netflix and Hulu that you can use to learn something new and feel better about yourself. Wikibuy created a guide to free video streaming services where you can learn about art, cooking, meditation, yoga, and physical exercise. 

For example, have you heard of CakeFlix? It’s like Netflix but for cake baking and decorating. There are more than 1,000 cake courses and a free seven-day trial. Or, consider one of the Museum of Modern Art’s nine free video courses on everything from fashion to abstract art. 

Check out the infographic below with a roundup of 12 streaming service alternatives to Netflix and Hulu. Also, check out the full list of more than 40 free video streaming services.


video streaming services to boost mental and physical health

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Life and Times of Amanda Blake ("Miss Kitty" on "Gunsmoke")


Amanda Blake was born Beverly Louise Neill in Buffalo, New York on February 20, 1929.  She was of English and Scottish descent, the only child of Jesse Neill, an industrial banker, and Louise (née Puckett) Neill.  During World War II, the family moved to California because Amanda's father was summoned to the West Coast to work as an engineer as part of the war effort.  

Amanda attended multiple schools in her youth, mainly due to her family's frequent moves.  Most of her grade schools were in the Buffalo area, but she also attended Lincoln Middle/Jr. High in Santa Monica, California.  For her Freshman and Sophomore high school years, she attended Brenau Academy, an all-girls private boarding school in Gainesville, Georgia, but returned to the Buffalo area to attend Amherst High School for her Junior year and the first semester of her Senior year.  She then completed the final semester of her Senior year at Claremont High School in Claremont, California, graduating from Claremont High in 1947.

For a time, Amanda attended attended Pomona College, a liberal arts college in Claremont.  She later took a position as a telephone operator for $40 a week.  That job helped to hone her diction and enunciation skills, which opened the door to some radio work and dramatic readings at women's clubs.  She launched her acting career on the stage by performing in summer stock in New England.

Amanda also began performing in bit parts for MGM studios.  In 1948, she signed a contract with MGM and changed her name from Beverly Neill to Amanda Blake.  The studio envisioned her as its future Greer Garson, the 1940s MGM film star who received five consecutive Best Actress Academy Award nominations.  Thus, she was nicknamed "the young Greer Garson."

Amanda made her motion picture debut as Faith Radmore Samuels in the 1950 film Stars in My Crown, a Western starring Joel McCrea and Ellen Drew.  MGM lent her out to other studios and she occasionally had the lead role in B movies.  Her first television role was in Schlitz Playhouse: Double Exposure in 1952.

Amanda Blake was at CBS when she heard that there were plans in the works to make the Gunsmoke radio show into a television pilot.  "I knew I had to have the part of Kitty," she stated in a 1971 interview.  Many actresses auditioned for the coveted role and Polly Bond, who had performed in a  Western singing act along with her sister, was the original choice for the part.  Bond, however,  turned down the opportunity in order  to focus on family life (She retired from acting after marrying Little Rascals star Tommy Bond in 1953).  Amanda ended up landing the part, and it catapulted her to stardom.  The classic Western made its TV debut in 1955, with Amanda in the role of Miss Kathleen "Kitty" Russell, the feisty owner of the Long Branch Saloon in the western frontier town of Dodge City, Kansas.  Her co-star was James Arness, who played lawman Matt Dillon, a United States marshal. 

Television audiences were captivated by the underlying current of romance between Miss Kitty and Matt Dillion, although she and Marshal Dillon never even shared a kiss on the show, except for one on the cheek at Christmas.  Amanda said that their relationship "is always unresolved."  "Whatever the viewer thinks," she explained, "that's it."

Miss Kitty and Matt Dillon

Below is a 1978 Gunsmoke cast photo - Clockwise from top: Ken Curtis (Festus Haggen), James Arness (Matt Dillon), Amanda Blake (Kitty Russell) and Milburn Stone (Doc Galen Adams)


In 1974, Amanda left Gunsmoke after 19 seasons on the show and appearances in 569 episodes.  She was weary of the commute from her home in Phoenix. Arizona to Hollywood.  She also made no secret of the fact that she had grown tired of playing the role of Miss Kitty.  Indeed, she was quite vocal about it.  Upon leaving Gunsmoke, she declared, "God, if I have to put on that damn bustle and those curls one more time . . . 19 years is a hell of a long time for someone behind a bar."

Amanda Blake's final episode on Gunsmoke is entitled "The Disciple," which originally aired on April 1, 1974.  After Amanda's departure, the writers decided that Miss Kitty had left Dodge City and moved to New Orleans.  Fran Ryan was introduced as Hannah, the new saloon owner.

Gunsmoke only lasted one more season, its 20th, without Amanda.  The show was not the same in the absence of Miss Kitty..  "They gave it a shot for a year after me and it didn't work - that's a nasty thing for me, but it's true," she told Knight-Ridder Newspapers in 1985.

After leaving Gunsmoke, Amanda Blake went into semi-retirement at her home in Phoenix, where she devoted much of her time to animal welfare and conservation..  However, she did make make several television appearances over the years.  She had a starring role n a 1974 television movie entitled Betraval.  She made guest appearances on such TV series as The Quest, a short-lived Western (1976) and The Love Boat (1979) .  Amanda also appeared  in a 1983 episode of Hart to Hart entitled "The Wayward Hart" (Season 4, Episode 18, Air Date: March 8, 1983)  and a 1986 episode of Brothers.  

Amanda even returned to Dodge City one last time.  She portrayed Miss Kitty once morewhen she and James Arness were reunited in a TV movie called Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge, which aired on September 26, 1987.  After that, her final acting performances were as Rosie in B.O.R.N., a 1989 feature film thriller, and as Mrs. Sylvia Wilson in a 1989 episode of Dragnet's 13th season.  She finished filming the The Dragnet episode about three weeks prior to her death.  It is entitled "Noveau Gypsies" and it aired on November 30, 1989, just months after her passing.

Amanda Blake was married five times.  She had no children.  Her first husband was Jack Shea.  Her second husband was TV director Don Albert Whitman (born October 24, 1924), whom she wed in 1954.  That marriage ended in 1956.  In 1964, Amanda married Jason Seymour Day Jr., an Arizona cattleman.  They divorced in 1967.  That same year, Amanda wed her fourth husband, Frank Gilbert.  They divorced in 1982.

Amanda Blake and Jason Day

On April 28, 1984, Amanda Blake married for the fifth and final time, to Mark Edward Spaeth, a real estate developer and a member of the city council of Austin, Texas.  She left her Arizona home and joined him in Texas.  Mark Spaeth, ten years her junior, had been elected to Austin council in 1983.  In February of 1985, after spending much time undergoing treatment for an undisclosed illness, he announced that he would not seek another term on the council.  On April 26, 1985, two days before the couple's first anniversary, Spaeth filed for divorce from Amanda.  In his petition in an Austin state district court, he stated that the marriage had become "insupportable because of discord or conflicts of personalities . . . that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage."

 At the time of the divorce petition, Amanda was living and working in Hollywood, California.  She had formed a production company to make television films in which she would appear.  Her husband had not attended an Austin council meeting since February of 1985 and was residing in Dallas, Texas.

On May 27, 1985, Mark Spaeth died at the age of 45 at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.  His death was attributed to pneumonia, but it is believed to have been AIDS-related.  Spaeth was known to have been bisexual and it is likely that Amanda was infected by him.  However, when Blake was dying, he told the media that he may have contracted his viral infection from Amanda, suggesting the possibility that she picked up the disease in Africa during one of her wildlife excursions there.

Mark Spaeth

Amanda's former housekeeper, Jane.Price, claimed that Amanda had confided in her that her marriage to Mark had never been consummated.  Everett Aaker, in his book Television Western Players, 1960-1975: A Biographical Dictionary, wrote that Amanda lied to her housekeeper (presumably to disassociate herself from AIDS).  According to Aaker, Amanda's marriage to Spaeth fell apart when she learned that he had AIDS and that he had known about it two months before their marriage.

Amanda Blake died on August 16, 1989 at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento, California.  She was 60 years old at the time of her passing.  It was not until November that an AIDS-related controversy surrounding the cause of Amanda's death emerged.  Until then, her death had been attributed to other factors.  Amanda's unofficial death certificate stated that the cause of her death was "Cardio-pulmonary arrest due to liver failure and CMV Hepatitis."  CMV Hepatitis, is AIDS-related.

There were now reports in the media that Amanda's physician, Dr, Lou Nishimura, had cited AIDS-related complications as the underlying cause of her death, not throat cancer or heart failure as hospital officials had previously reported.(A November 8, 1989 headline in the New York Times reads "Amanda Blake Died of AIDS, Doctor Says.")  Close friends, were concerned that Amanda's memory would be tainted by the revelation that she had died of AIDS, quickly pointed out that she was not a drug user or sexually promiscuous.  They suggested that she may have contracted the disease from her last husband, Mark Spaeth.

In late 1988, Amanda had returned from a month-long trip to Africa appearing unwell.  She "looked awful and really sick., "her closest friend, Pat Derby told People magazine in 1989.  "We thought it was the flu"  Amanda neglected to tell Pat that a doctor in Africa had told her that she had AIDS.
Concerned about her friend's declining health, Derby convinced the reluctant Amanda to seek treatment in Sacramento from  Dr. Nishimura.  She went to see him and underwent tests which confirmed that she had AIDS. She received treatment with AZT, but her condition did not improve.

According to a 1995 article in  People magazine, Amanda Blake suspected that she had contracted AIDS from Mark Spaeth.  She spent the final two years of her life in seclusion on the Gait, California ranch with her friend Pat and Pat's husband, Ed Stewart.  Even though Amanda had retired, she was fearful of the consequences if it became know that she had AIDS, since there was a great deal of stigma attached to the disease at that time.  Pat Derby told People that Amanda "was terrified of what would happen" if people learned the truth." She said that Amanda also feared she would lose support for the sprawling 20-acre (8.09 hectare) ranch, a home for retired performing animals that she had established with Pat and her husband.

Amanda had wanted to keep her diagnosis and subsequent illness out of the headlines.  On August 13, 1989, three days before her death, she made changes to her will.  She bequeathed her ranch-style home in California's San Fernando Valley to PAWS. the Progressive Welfare Animal Welfare Society.  The estimated value of the home, which Amanda had left vacant when she went to live with Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, was $400,000.

As a result of the changes to the will, some of Amanda's relatives, including an aunt and two cousins, with whom she had not been in contact for years, came forward and contested the will   They contended that she was not of sound mind because she was suffering from head and neck cancer..  The court then refused to alter the terms of the will.  Two months later, Dr. Nishumura dropped the bombshell that Amanda had died of AIDS- related complications.

Even though Dr. Nishumura had cited AIDS as the cause of Amanda's death, that information may never had been made public if family members had not contested her will.  Fearing that a drawn out legal battle would cause the true circumstances of Amanda's death to be twisted, Pat Derby took it upon herself to make the AIDS story public.

END NOTES

* During her school days, Amanda (then known as Beverly) was nicknamed "Barry" by her peers.

* A heavy smoker for years, Amanda Blake underwent an eight-hour surgery for oral cancer in February of 1977.  She immediately gave up smoking and became an avid supporter of the American Cancer Society, appearing at its fundraising events around the United States.  As a result of her efforts, Amanda was awarded the organization's Courage Award, which was presented to her by then-U.S. president Ronald Reagan in 1984.  She also received the American Cancer Society's Sword of Hope award in 1985.

* Amanda was known for bringing her pet lion, Kemo, to the set of Gunsmoke.  Kemo lived in an animal compound at Amanda's home in Phoenix, Arizona, where she and her fourth husband, Frank Gilbert, operated an experimental breeding program for cheetahs.  The couple were among the first to breed cheetahs in captivity and the cheetahs were sold to American zoos.

* Amanda's dog Butterfly, her beloved "little mutt," was with her at the time of her death.  Amanda rescued the dog from a pound.

* Amanda appeared on games shows such as Password and Match Game.

* From 1956 until 1971, Amanda made appearances on the daytime drama The Edge of Night.  She portrayed Dr. Julianna Stanhower.

* In 1959, Amanda was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series for her role as Miss Kitty.

* Amanda was cremated and her ashes were spread over the animal reserve she co-founded.

SOURCESChicago Tibune, "Miss Kitty Beats Cancer to the Draw," by Ena Naunton (Knight-Ridder Newspapers), February 20, 1985; People magazine, Friends - and Her Doctor - Say AIDS, Not Cancer, Killed Gunsmoke's Amanda Blake, by John  Stark and Eleanor Hoover, November 20, 1989; People magazine, "Fallen Stars," by Jane Sugden, November 13, 1995; Television Western Players, 1960-1975: A Biographical Dictionary, by Everett Aaker, McFarland & Company, Inc, 2017; Claremmont High School Alumni Society website (www.claremonthighalumnisociety.com); Los Angeles Times, "Rights for Amanda Blake of 'Gunsmoke' Planned, by Myrna Oliver, August 18, 1989; Find a Grave website (www.findagrave.com)Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com)


- Joanne

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Y&R Report (May 9, 2019): 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. 

NOTICE FROM JOANNE

Hi fans,

Since there are no new episodes in the midst of this pandemic, there is not as much to write about.  Therefore, my Y&R Reports will probably be much shorter.  However, I will provide you with any news available concerning COVID-19's effects on The Young and the Restless and any updates on what is happening with the show and its cast members.

It has certainly been fun watching the old episodes.  We've seen a young Cricket, a young Drucilla, a young Cassie and a young Devon with hair.  We've seen the elegant, upscale Colonnade Room.  We've seen Mamie and Lorie Brooks and the original "Jack Abbott," Terry Lester.  Terry passed away in 2003 of a heart attack.  He was only 53 at the time of his death.  He left the show on bad terms in 1989, complaining about his lack of screen time.  He even singled out Lauralee Bell,(Christine "Cricket" Blair), the daughter of the show's creators, Bill and Lee Phillip Bell.  After Terry's departure, Peter Bergman took over the role of Jack Abbott.

Terry Lester

We've also seen episodes featuring the late Beau Kazer, who played Mrs. Chancellor's son, Brock Reynolds.  Toronto-born Beau had such a booming, baritone voice, especially when he called Katherine "Duchess."  Beau Kazer died on December 30, 2014 in Thousand Oaks, California at the age of 63.

Beau Kazer

I've enjoyed seeing the current Y&R actors at home, especially Eric Braeden.  He's so feisty, although his voice isn't as strong as it used to be.  Since I watch Y&R on Global TV, I've already viewed the first episode of the next theme week.  I was very pleased that Melody Scott Thomas introduced the the first episode.  She looked beautiful as she as sat on a piano bench.  As you know, Melody's character, Nikki, often plays the piano.  It's evident that Melody herself must be an accomplished pianist.  She has tweeted that she was a music/piano major and she enjoys talking music.

I know there will come a time when I will be itching to see new episodes.  I really enjoyed the "Katherine the Great:" week, which featured some memorable moments in the life of the wealthy Genoa City matriarch.  We saw two weddings from the past - the wedding of Billy and Chloe and the wedding of Katherine and Murphy.  I've also enjoyed the Nikki and Victor week.  For over four decades, they have been daytime television's premier couple, exuding elegance and flare.  Their epic romance has continually enchanted viewers through the years.  It was a treat to watch their 2002 wedding.

It looks as if it's going to be a while yet before we can watch new episodes of Y&R Neighbours, an Australian soap, has already resumed production, with the virus outbreak seemingly under control Down Under.  However, the filming of Neighbours is being strictly monitored, meaning no love scenes involving kissing or physical contact. Camera tricks are being used to make physically-distanced actors appear closer than they really are.  Government guidelines regarding social distancing are being enforced by health officials, with cast and crew split into group in different areas of the set.  Extras are not being used and crew members will appear in the background instead.  There is no pressure on cast and crew to return if they don't feel comfortable and special measures have been taken to accommodate older employees.  The situation doesn't seem ideal to me, but North American soaps may follow suit if COVID-19 fears continues for a long time to come.

This week, Y&R'S theme will be epic rivalries featuring Jill and Katherine (1998), Victor and his foes (1993), Nikki and Sharon (2012), Victor and Jack and Brad (1999),  Victor and Jack, (1999), Lily and Hilary,(2014).  There's nothing there from the 1970s or 1980s.  It seems as if Y&R is reluctant to open the vault and air some older episodes.


Y&R REPORT READERS' POLL

What do you think of the Australian soap Neighbours' plan for resuming production of new episodes?  Fans, do you think that Y&R should do the same thing?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do you think Y&R should resume production of new episodes using social distancing?

Yes, I think they should follow the example of the Australian soap, Neighbours.
No, it's not the same. I think they should wait until social distancing is no longer needed.
Yes, but not right away. They should wait and see how long the pandemic drags out.
I don't know.
Other
Please Specify:
Created with Poll Maker


NOTE TO READERS

If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 

My email address:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca

That's all for now.  Take care and stay safe during this pandimic.  Please note that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, May 23, 2020.


- Joanne

Monday, May 4, 2020

What have you been watching on TV during the pandemic?



To My Valued Readers:

I am inviting you to email me a few lines about what you've been watching on your television or computer while at home during this pandemic.  Here are some questions you might consider:  Has your viewing distracted you doing this terrible time?  Has it helped relieve your stress?  Have you been looking at comedies rather than dramas because you need a laugh?  Have you been  binge-watching Netflix shows or viewing DVDs?  How are you dealing with the constant barrage of bad news about sickness, death and uncertainty?  Are you avoiding the news or getting informed in small doses?  Can you provide any viewing tips?

I really want to hear from you.  I'd really like to know how you are coping.  I would be greatly appreciative if you let me know.  I promise that I will post your emails on TV Banter so that you can share your experiences with other readers from around the world.  That's why it would be helpful if you let everybody know what country you are writing from, although you don't have to.

I'm curious about all of this.  So, join the banter and help satisfy my curiosity.

My email address is jmadden16@yahoo.ca


Take care and stay safe,

Joanne

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Keeping up with Richard Thomas (John-Boy of "The Waltons")


Although Richard Thomas is an accomplished actor of the stage and screen, he will always be remembered for his role as John Walton Jr. (better known as John-Boy) on The Waltons.  Yet Richard is a Shakespearean-trained thespian who has played a wide variety of roles, including some unsavoury characters such as murderer Kenneth Kinsolving in the 1972 movie You'll Like My Mother, opposite Patty Duke.  He has also appeared in television adaptations of Stephen King horror stories.

Being recognized as John-Boy doesn't seem to faze Richard, though.  In a 2014 interview with Closer Weekly,  he was asked if he ever tired of hearing his Waltons catch phrase, "Good night, John-Boy!"  He replied, "It made me a star.  It gave me the leverage that allowed me to work steadily all my life.  It will be 'John-Boy Dies' when I'm gone.  That's fine with me.  There are worse ways to be remembered."

Richard Earl Thomas was born June 13, 1951 in Manhattan, New York City.  His parents, Barbara (née Fallis) and Richard S. Thomas, were dancers with the New York City Ballet.  They also owned the New York School of Ballet.  Their son, Richard, meanwhile, attended the Allen-Stevenson School, a private school for boys (Grades kindergarden to 9), and the McBurney School, a now-defunct private college preparatory school, both located in Manhattan.

Richard made his Broadway debut in 1958 at the age of seven in a production of Sunrise at Campobello, portraying John A. Roosevelt, the son of President Franklin Roosevelt.  In 1959, he had a role in the Hallmark Hall of Fame's NBC television presentation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, along with such luminaries as Christopher Plummer, Julie Harris and Hume Cronyn.

Richard Thomas' initial television appearances include Great Ghost Tales, a half-hour live dramatic series  (1961) and 1,2,3-Go, a children's educational show (also 1961).  Early in his career, Richard also appeared in three soap operas.  In 1961, he played Ben Shultz, Jr. on The Edge of Night.  From 1964 to 1965, he played Chris Austen in A Flame in the Wind (renamed A Time for Us in 1965).. From 1966 to 1967, he portrayed Tom "Tommy" Hughes on As the World Turns.

Below is a photo of Richard at age 10 in 1,2,3-Go.




In the early 1970s, Richard was a guest actor on such TV series as Bonanza (1970), Medical Center (1970) and The F.B.I. (1971)  and Night Gallery (1972).  In 1971, Richard appeared in a television movie called The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, in which he played John-Boy Walton for the first time.  This led to his role as John-Boy in the hugely popular TV series The Waltons, which aired on CBS from 1972 until 1981.

The Waltons was created by author Earl Hamner, Jr., and is based on memories of his childhood in Schuyler, Virginia.  Hamner also served as the show's narrator.  Richard's character, John-Boy, is the oldest of the seven children of John and Olivia Walton and everything is seen through his eyes.  The Waltons live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of rural Jefferson County, Virginia and John-Boy is a cerebral would-be journalist who keeps a diary of the happenings on Walton's Mountain.


Richard left The Waltons, in 1977, after the show's fifth season.  He had completed his five-year contract and he wanted to pursue other acting interests.  In a 2014 interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine, he stated, "I never intended to do more than the first five years.  When I left in year five, I didn't think the show had lost much.  I thought it was still going strong and dong well."  Richard did come back "for a couple of episodes in the sixth season for visits and all that, and that was fun too."

Below is a 1973 photo of Richard on the set of The Waltons.


One particular episode of The Waltons stands out for me.  It's a 1974 episode entitled "The Marathon" (Season 3, Episode 9, Air Date: November 7, 1974) in which John-Boy defies his mother's wishes and enters a 7-day dance marathon with Daisy Garner, a girl he recently met in a bookshop during his college break.  After a gruelling three day of marathon dancing, however, John-Boy has had enough and leaves Daisy to compete in the contest with someone else.

Robert Wightman took over the role of John- Boy in 1979 and remained until the series was cancelled by CBS in 1981.  For me, the show was never the same without Richard Thomas.  Fortunately, Richard returned to portray John-Boy in three made-for TV movie on NBC from 1993 to 1997.  The first is A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, which aired on November 21, 1993.  In that movie, The Walton siblings and their families gather for Thanksgiving on Walton's Mountain, including John-Boy and his new fiancée Janet Gilchrist.  It is November 1963 and they are shocked to hear the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

The second TV reunion is A Walton Wedding, which aired on February 12, 1995.  It is set in 1964 as John-Boy and Janet, a New York fashion magazine editor, are planning their wedding.  The third and final Waltons TV movie is A Walton Easter, which aired on on March 30, 1997.  It is set in 1969 and John-Boy is a TV news anchor in New York.  He and a pregnant Janet make plans to return to Walton's Mountain for John and Olivia's 40th wedding anniversary.  The longer John-Boy stays on the mountain, the more he becomes convinced that he would like to settle down there and raise a family.  The problem is that Janet prefers to live in New York.

In 1979, Richard played the role of Jim Warner in the TV miniseries Roots: he Next Generation.  He had roles in two other made-for-television movies that year: No Other Love and All Quiet on the Western Front.  In the 1980s, Richard appeared in a number of TV movies such as To Find My Son (1980), Berlin Tunnel (1981), and Barefoot in the Park (1982). Final Jeopardy (1985),  In 1983, he played country singer Hank Williams, Jr. in Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr Story.  In 1985, he and Linda Hamilton starred in Go Toward the Light, as a young couple facing the challenge of living with their AIDS-diagnosed child, played by Joshua Harris..

Richard Thomas portrayed Bill Denbrough in the 1990 two-part miniseries It, based on Stephen King's 1986 horror novel of the same name.  Richard's character, Denbrough, is the founder of the Losers Club whose objective is to kill Pennywise, a murderous clown.

From 1998 to 2002, Richard hosted a television documentary series called It's A Miracle. It explored case studies of people claimed to have experienced miracles.  He  played the role of David Robinson on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson from 1998 to 1999.  From 1999 to 2002, he portrayed Robert Hunter in the mystery series Bloodhounds Inc.


In the 21st century, Richard Thomas has made a number of guest appearances in episodes of television shows and he has taken on regular roles in various series.  From 2002 to 2003, he had a starring role as Hamilton Whitney III in the short-lived drama Just Cause.  He guest-starred in episodes of Law & Order (3009), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2001, 2013), The Good Wife (2014) and Chicago P.D. (2016).  He also appeared in a miniseries called Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (2006) and TV movies such as Annie's Point (2005), Time after Time (2011), The Music Teacher (2012) and Incident at Vichy (2016).

From 2013 to 2016.  Richard played FBI Special Agent Frank Gaad in 48 episodes of The Americans, an FX spy series about undercover Russian agents in the United States.  Of his role in the Cold War drama, Richard stated the following to Closer Weekly in 2014: "It's not the kind of role I'd normally be cast in, but I thought it would be great fun."

Richard Thomas shows no signs of slowing down.  Most recently, he appeared as Deputy Director Van Cleef in two episodes of the crime drama NCIS: New Orleans, starring Scott Bakula.  The episodes are "Judgement Call" (Episode 1, Season 6, Episode 1, Air Date: September 24, 2019) and "Predators" (Season 6, Episode 20, Air Date: April 19, 2020).  In 2019, he also guest-starred on Showtime's Billions and NBC's The Blacklist.  He is set to appear as Chuck Rosenberg in an upcoming TV miniseries called A Higher Loyalty, adapted from former F.B.I. director James Comey's book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.  

Richard will also be featured in an upcoming Netflix thriller, along with Viola Davis, Sandra Bullock, Vincent D'Onofrio and John Bernthal.  The film, directed by Nora Fingscheidt, is still unnamed, but it is based on the 2009 British television series Unforgiven, about a woman seeking personal redemption after committing a violent crime as a teen.


Richard Thomas has been married twice.  On February 14, 1975, he married Alma Gonzales, a former teacher and welfare worker.  They had a son, Richard Scott Earl Francis "Francisco" Thomas III, born in 1976 and triplet daughters, Barbara Ayala Thomas, Gwyneth Gonzales Thomas and Pilar Alma Thomas, born on August 26,1981.  However, the couple divorced in 1993.

Richard and first wife, Alma

Below is a photo of Richard with son Francisco and triplet daughters.


On November 20, 1994, Richard Thomas, 43, wed Georgiana Bischoff, 34, a Santa Fe, New Mexico art dealer. The wedding took place against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles.  50 guests witnessed the ceremony, although none of the old Waltons TV family was in attendance.   Richard's 18-year-old son, Francisco, was the best man, while his triplet daughters, Barbara, Pilar and Gwyneth,13, served as bridesmaids.  The triplets were accompanied by Georgiana's two daughters from her two previous marriages, Brooke Murphy, 14, and Kendra Kneisel, 9.  Georgiana and Richard had a son, Montana James Thomas, born on  July 28, 1996.

Around 2008, I saw Richard Thomas on stage in a performance of Reginald Rose's play, 12 Angry Men, a courtroom drama in which a jury had to decide whether a young man should be found guilty of first degree murder and face a death sentence.  Richard played Juror #8, the role made famous by Henry Fonda in the 1957 film version.  Beginning in 2006, Richard toured with 12 Angry Men through 19 different cities and I feel fortunate that I saw him live on stage.

Richard lives in Manhattan with his second wife, Georgiana and is a grandfather.


Richard Thomas in more recent photo

END NOTES

* Richard has a sister named Bronwyn Thomas (born December 7, 1959) in New York City.  Bronwyn is also an actor, known for dancing on the TV show Fame and in a 1985 appearance on an episode of Family Ties.  Bronwyn was trained as a ballerina.  She began performing in major roles at the age of 13, when she appeared as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Eglevsky Ballet's Nutcracker.

* Richard has suffered hearing loss.  In his early 30s, he was diagnosed with a condition called cochlear otosclerosis and it almost jeopardized his career.  He was diagnosed with the condition after he had lost approximately 50 per cent of his hearing.  Fortunately the diagnosis occurred early enough to halt the progression of the disease, although a great deal of damage had been done  As a result, Richard wears hearing aids in both ears.  The experience inspired him to became a strong advocate for hearing health and he became a spokesperson and nations chairperson for the Better Hearing Institute.

* By the end of the 1960s, Richard was cast in his first major film roles.  He appeared in 1969's Winning, an auto racing film starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner.  He also had a role in another 1969 movie called Last Summer, another 1969 movie, a a coming-of-age film featuring Bruce Davison and Barbara Hershey.

* Richard attended New York's Columbia University in 1969, where he majored in English and comparative literature.  He studied Chinese as an elective and later changed his major to Asian studies.

*  In the mid-1980s, all four of Richard's children from his first marriage to Alma appeared with him in a series of television commercials for Minute Maid orange juice.

* In 1972, Richard won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series for his portrayal of John-Boy Walton.

* Richard has a mole, a birthmark on his left cheek. In his 2014 interview with Closer Weekly, he said he was originally turned down for roles because of it.  "When I was a boy," he told Closer, I auditioned for a Greyhound bus commercial and they took my dad aside and said, 'He's a nice boy, but unless you get that thing taken off his face, his chance for a career is very slim.'"

It mole evident in the photo below.



SOURCES: People magazine, "Mountains of Love," by People staff, December 05, 1994, Healthy Hearing.com (healthyhearing.com), June 23, 2008; People, "Actor Richard Thomas Says 'we' Were Relieved' When Ballerina Sis Browyn Came Down with TB, by Gail Lumet, June 5, 1978;    Smashing Interviews Magazine, "Richard Thomas Interview: Television Icon on His Career and the Long-Lasting Impact of  'The Waltons'," by Marc Parker and Melissa Parker, November 24, 2014; Closer Weekly, "'The Waltons' Richard Thomas on Early Fame, 'I Don't Know How Young Stars Survive Today,'"  by Closer Staff, April 10, 2014;" Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne