The Yesteryear Television Museum

Waxing Nostalgic Over Classic TV

Friday, March 20, 2009

Red-State Archie vs. Blue-State Meathead

All in the Family was the mega-hit situation comedy that ran on CBS from 1971-1979, and an additional four years as the revamped Archie Bunker's Place. From 1971-1976, the show was rated the number one show in the country. Producer Norman Lear made a name for himself by breaking through subject matter and language barriers that had previously been taboo. In fact, the show was considered so controversial that CBS displayed a kind of disclaimer prior to each show:

The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous spotlight on our frailties, prejudices, and concerns. By making them a source of laughter we hope to show, in a mature fashion, just how absurd they are.

The show was adapted from a British show called Till Death Us Do Part. Archie Bunker was a card-carrying conservative who lived in a house alongside his very liberal son-in-law, Michael Stivik (aka Meathead), as well as his daughter and "dingbat" wife. Today's red-state/blue-state division may have sprung directly out of the many spirited conversations between Archie and Meathead.

The video above is from one of the series' most notable episodes. When Sammy Davis Jr. finds himself stranded in the Bunker house we get some real insight into Archie's views on race and can only imagine what he would have thought about Barack Obama as president of the United States.

The Death of Superman

"Look, up in the sky!"

There have been many incarnations of Superman. He has appeared in comic books, cartoons, tv shows, and movies. But perhaps the iconic Superman is the one created by George Reeves, who appeared as The Man of Steel from 1951-1958 in one movie (Superman and the Mole Men) and 104 television episodes.

I was totally entranced by the show when I was a kid, and never missed an episode. Natually, I had the required gear, a bright red and blue Superman costume, complete with magic cape. I used to fly around the house and drive my mother crazy. Actually, I was hoping the cape might give me at least a couple of magic powers, and I briefly considered jumping off the roof of the house to see if I could fly before thinking better of it.

So when I heard that Superman was dead, that he had killed himself, it was pretty devastating news. It didn't compute. I thought only kryptonite could kill Superman. If Superman could die, what other beliefs that I held sacred might prove to be untrue? Was Santa Claus for real? The tooth fairy? My mind boggled at the possibilities.

George Reeves death was ruled a suicide, but many people believe that he was murdered and the crime was covered up. A couple of years ago, a really great film called Hollywoodland chronicled the story of his death. But however he really died, his death contributed to a crisis of identity for a lot of grief-stricken American kids.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What Really Happened to Diane Linkletter?

The beautiful young woman who jumped out of her sixth-floor apartment window at 9 am on October 4, 1969 had no way of knowing that her death was destined to become a focal point of the anti-drug movement in America.

Diane Linkletter was the 20-year-old daughter of Art Linkletter, the prominent radio and TV personality. Before an autopsy had even been performed, her famous father claimed to the media that she had taken LSD the night before her death. (Linkletter had not talked to his daughter before her death, but maintains that she had told her brother Robert that she had taken the acid.) He was quoted as saying, "It isn't suicide because she wasn't herself. She was murdered. She was murdered by the people who manufacture and sell LSD."

When the autopsy showed no signs of drugs in her system, he changed his story to claim that she was suffering an LSD flashback from months earlier and that had caused her to jump out the window.

The media, of course, ran with the story, and used Art Linkletter's claims to create the narrative, without doing much investigating of their own. By the time the dust had settled, the story had been transformed in most people's minds to reflect an old urban legend about a girl, high on LSD, who jumped out her window because she thought she could fly.

A much more accurate picture of what happened can be gleaned by examining the testimony of Diane's boyfriend, Edward Durston, who was present when she died. Diane had summoned him to her apartment at 3am and had spent the final six hours of her life with him. He told investigators that she was a desperately unhappy and despondent young woman who was determined to end her life. He had no reason to believe, and she had not indicated, that drugs were a factor in her death.

Art Linkletter, understandably devastated, became one of the most vocal critics of the counterculture, speaking out against drugs at every opportunity, while telling the tale of his daughter's LSD death. Dr. Timothy Leary, the LSD guru who had urged young people to "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out," became his archenemy.

In this fascinating video from 1980, Leary is surprised on an interview show with a call from Linkletter. Listening to him scream at Leary that "he hoped he had died, he hoped he had been hung" was a little disconcerting coming from someone whose public persona was that of the kindly father.

Did Art Linkletter truly believe that his daughter's death was caused by LSD or was it easier for him to view it through that prism? Did it make his burden easier to bear, believing that an outside force of some kind was responsible, and not any negligence on his part?

One thing is for certain. The story lodged itself in the public's consciousness and helped to fuel the anti-drug sentiments that led Richard Nixon to declare a "War on Drugs" in 1971, a seemingly unending battle that has strained our prison system and drained the nation of valuable resources.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Day Miss America Got Naked

"You think all Miss Americas are 'Miss America?' I mean, c'mon!"

Vanessa Williams, the beautiful star of ABC's Ugly Betty, made history twice as Miss America 1984. First, she was the first African-American woman to win the crown, and then 10 months later became the first winner to be forced to resign her title amidst scandal.

And what a scandal it was. Naked pictures of her had surfaced; pictures that had been taken two years earlier and sold to Penthouse magazine without her authorization. Miss America naked? America couldn't handle the disconnect. Our sweet little innocent symbol of all that is good and pure - naked? It was surely one of the signs of the Apocalypse!

Interestingly, Hugh Hefner had turned down the chance to publish the photos in Playboy, saying that "because they would be the source of considerable embarrassment to her, we decided not to publish them." Bob Guccione had no such qualms, however, and published the photos in the September 1984 issue of Penthouse, where she appeared on the cover alongside George Burns (the first man, by the way, to ever appear on the magazine's cover).

Although it was a very traumatic episode in the young life of Ms. Williams, Guccione's prediction that the notoriety would actually be beneficial for her career turned out to be true, as she went on to become one of America's favorite singers and carved out a very successful career as a Broadway, film, and television star.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Real McCoys Hit the Road

-"What is it, Luke?"
-"I believe it's a foreigner! Just keep calm."

One of the most popular shows on TV when I was a kid was the story of the McCoy family. When Uncle Ben died and left his desolate California farm to the McCoys, the whole clan piled into their old jalopy and made the long journey west to start a new life. Grandpa McCoy, along with his grandson Luke and new bride Kate, as well as Luke's little sister Hassie and younger brother, Little Luke, sometimes struggled but their strong family bonds always got them through the tough times.

The Real McCoys ran from 1957 to 1962 on ABC and was in the Top 10 every year. When it got a new name (The McCoys) and a new network (CBS), the audience drifted away and the show was cancelled after the 1963 season, replaced in the hearts of Americans by another backwoods family who had moved to California, The Beverly Hillbillies. While the two shows did share some similarities, the McCoys showed us more heart than the Clampetts, who were just plain silly.

Walter Brennan, of course, was already a big time movie star when he took the role of Grandpa, the crotchety but loving patriarch of the family. Richard Crenna, who played Luke, had already made a name for himself as Walter Denton, the clumsy high school student on Our Miss Brooks, and went on to have an outstanding career as a film and television actor before dying in 2003 of heart failure at the age of 76. Kathleen Nolan played the part of Kate and also went on to have a very productive acting career, appearing just this year in an episode of Cold Case. She also made a name for herself as the first woman president of the Screen Actors Guild (1975-1979).

The video above is Part 1 of the very first episode of The Real McCoys, broadcast October 3, 1957. (Check the related videos for Parts 2 and 3.) The first three seasons of the show are now available on DVD from

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tom Waits Visits Fernwood

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

When Barth Gimble and Tom Waits get together, you can only imagine what wackiness might ensue.

This very funny video from 1977 is a clip from one of my all-time favorite shows, Fernwood 2Nite, a spinoff from the very popular Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman show. Both shows were created by Norman Lear. Barth Gimble was played by the brilliant Martin Mull, with his very funny announcer, Jerry Hubbard, played by Fred Willard.

Fernwood 2Nite was a talk show set in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. It looked like your basic community access cable channel, and was known for its parade of unusual guests. On this particular night, Tom Waits' van just happened to break down on the way to a gig in Toledo, so he dropped by the set to sing a song and chat with Barth and sidekick Jerry.

Tom Waits, of course, is not your typical singer, but he's always been one of my favorites. A critic once said that his voice sounds "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months and then taken outside and run over with a car." I think that's pretty accurate.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Mork & Mindy & Dave

"Losing your Rolls Royce is a concept. Getting it back is reality!"

Every celebrity caught a break somewhere along the line that catapulted him (or her) into orbit. For Robin Williams, that break came in the form of a naive and charming alien being from the planet Ork. From 1978 to 1982, Americans must-see TV included a weekly visit with Mork & Mindyfrom Boulder, Colorado. In the show, Williams was allowed to use the mad improvisational skills that would later catapult him to stardom. The show caught fire in the U.S. and produced such memorable catchphrases as "Nanoo, Nanoo," the official Orkan greeting, and "Shazbot," a colorful Orkan curse word.

Mork first appeared on the scene during season five of the popular "Happy Days" show, when he threatened to take Richie Cunningham back to his planet with him. Luckily for all concerned, the whole thing turned out to be a dream. But audiences were entranced by the little fellow, and before you could say "Nanoo, Nanoo," he had his own spin-off.

In the video above, you'll discover another superstar-in-waiting (Hint: It's David Letterman) in a very rare acting role, playing the part of someone who pretty closely resembled est cult leader Werner Erhard, who was all the rage at the time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Honeymooners: Bang! Zoom! To the Moon!

"You know what the sink is? That's my Adventureland!"

Although Ralph Kramden would occasionally threaten to send his wife Alice to the moon, we knew that he was just being cranky, and that by the end of the show would be laying a big wet one on her, in that strange 50's kind of way, where you only saw the back of his head.

The Honeymooners was a true television phenomenon, one of the handful of 50s sitcoms that manages to maintain its humor 50 years later. The show ran on CBS from 1955-1956. (These 39 episodes are commonly referred to as the Classic 39). It had its origins on Jackie Gleason's Calvacade of Stars variety show in 1951 and returned to run from 1966-1970 as part of The Jackie Gleason Show, but with a new Alice and a new Trixie.

The relationship between Ralph and Alice was at the heart of the show, with Alice playing the long-suffering wife to Ralph's blustery "I'm the King of My Castle" husband. Alice was no wallflower, though. She wasn't afraid to go toe-to-toe with Ralph if she thought he was being a jerk. Her special weapon was sarcasm, and she employed it with the skill of a master.

They lived a spartan existence in a very drab apartment, and the fact that the show was in black-and-white just added to that perception. Ralph, however, was always coming up with money-making schemes to supplement his bus driver's salary. But we always knew his schemes were doomed to failure, and that Alice would be there for him when he came crashing back to reality.

Jackie Gleason was the star of the show, but it was Art Carney who, as the funniest second banana in the business, gave the show its pazzaz. Their relationship was often rocky, but you knew that they'd be best pals forever.

A few years later, in 1960, The Honeymooners would inspire the animated Flintstones, a popular but pale imitation of the original.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Sex Kitten and the Spider

"We're not expecting rainbow-colored skies...."

It was perhaps the most sensational celebrity trial of the '70s.

She was the wispy, sexy French sex kitten; a successful singer and actress who had captured the hearts of Americans after marrying crooner Andy Williams. Their annual Williams Family Christmas specials were always among NBC's most popular shows. He was the young, handsome Olympic and professional skiing sensation; a babe magnet who enjoyed living the good life.

The marriage to Andy Williams fell apart and they divorced in 1975. Sometime later, Claudine Longet met and fell in love with Spider Sabich. They lived together in bliss among the other celebrities in Aspen, Colorado. They seemed to be the perfect couple. But on March 21, 1976, something went horribly wrong when Longet shot and killed Sabich in the bathroom of their Aspen home.

She said it was a tragic accident. The gun went off as he was showing her how to use it. Apparently the jury believed her, because they acquitted her of felony manslaughter charges, finding her guilty of only a misdemeanor criminal negligence charge. She paid a small fine and served 30 days in the hootch.

The trial result didn't sit well with a lot of folks. Forensic results had shown that Savich was bending over and facing away from her when he was shot. He was also at least 6 feet away from the gun. This seemed to contradict her story. Add to that the fact that her sensational diary was not allowed into evidence because the police had obtained it without a warrant; a diary which would have painted a picture of a relationship on the rocks, not the loving relationship described at the trial.

After the criminal trial, she was sued civilly by the Sabich family. The case was settled out of court, with Longet paying a large amount of money to Spider's family.

Claudine Longet never performed again after the trial. Today she lives quietly in Aspen with husband Ron Austin, who had been her attorney at the Trial of the Decade.

(The video above is Claudine Longet singing "Nothing to Lose" from Peter Seller's 1968 film, The Party.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Where Were You When the President Was Shot?

"From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official...President Kennedy died at 1pm, Central Standard Time."

It happened 45 years ago today. If you're above a certain age, you almost certainly remember that dark day in Dallas, Texas, when President John F. Kennedy was killed. It all began when a soap opera was interrupted with a news bulletin that he had been shot.

I was playing soccer with my 8th-grade classmates when someone came running out of the school with the news. We all went back into the school and listened as the radio reports were broadcast over the intercom system and our teacher wiped away her tears.

After his death was confirmed, we were all sent home a couple of hours early. Later, I had to fold 80 newspapers with each one blaring ASSASSIN KILLS KENNEDY, a headline that was printed, for the first time in the paper's history, in bright red type.

As I made my rounds on my bicycle, delivering the devastating news to my neighbors, I felt dazed by the day's events, like I was in some kind of surreal dream. It was a day much like 9/11, in the sense that you knew the world would never be the same again.

Where were you when the president was shot?

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Beatles Invasion of America

"Ladies and Gentlemen...The Beatles!"

Beatlemania is one of those things that you really had to live through to truly understand and appreciate. When the Fab Four crossed the pond and landed in New York for the first time, it was almost something akin to the moon landing which would command the world's attention a scant five years later.

With their hit single " I Want to Hold Your Hand" having sold one million copies in just 10 days, the lads were primed to take America by storm. When their plane landed at the newly-named John F. Kennedy airport, a crowd of 3000 screaming young people (mostly girls), greeted them like royalty. Coming just months after JFK's assassination, Beatlemania proved to be a welcome respite for Americans who had been severely traumatized.

Their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show (see above video), America's most popular variety show, was seen by an astounding 74 million people, fully one-half of the U.S. population at the time. Talk about must-see TV. After that first American TV appearance, the boys embarked on a hugely successful tour of the U.S. and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you're looking for a memento of this historic television event, Sofa has put together an amazing 2-disc DVD which includes all four complete Sullivan shows that the Beatles appeared on in 1964 and 1965, including all the other acts and even the commercials.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tiny Tim Tiptoes Through the Tulips!

"Knee deep in flowers we'll stray, we'll keep the showers away..."

Travel back in time to the late 60's and witness a genuine show-business break. When Herbert Butros Khaury (hey, didn't he used to head up the UN?) decided to change his name to Tiny Tim, little did he know what big things were in store for him.

When he appeared on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In (above), singing his signature tune, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, it was indeed his big break. He went on to appear on Ed Sullivan and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, among others. In fact, when the 37-year-old crooner got married on The Tonight Show to the lovely Miss Vicki (17-year-old Victoria May Budinger), it generated one of their largest audiences ever (40 million). The couple got divorced three years later, but not before they produced a daughter, Tulip Victoria, in 1971.

The Timster was definitely one-of-a-kind. Most folks weren't quite sure what to make of him. Was he putting everybody on? Was it a big joke? Or was he just an eccentric entertainer? Although his novelty act wore off after a few years and his star dimmed, he continued to perform until the very end.

In September of 1996, while playing at a ukelele festival, Tiny Tim suffered a serious heart attack. His doctor warned him that he could die if he continued to perform. Two months later, ignoring his doctor's advice, he took to the stage at the Women's Club of Minneapolis, started singing "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" and suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 64 years old.

In the video below, Tiny sings a duet with his beloved Miss Vicki from a 1971 television show. You'll notice that when he sang in his natural baritone voice, instead of his falsetto, he was actually quite good.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Sad Tale of Jessica Savitch

"I'm Jessica Savitch in New York..."

Back in the late '70s and early '80s, Jessica Savitch was TV's golden girl, a pioneer for women in the world of television news. She had risen quickly to become the anchor of the weekend edition of NBC Nightly News and was the host for the acclaimed PBS Frontline program.

However, her somewhat bizarre personal life and addiction to drugs and alcohol caused her career to collapse. In October 1983, she appeared on her NBC newscast in an obviously impaired state (see above video), and 20 days later, as she rode with her dog Chewy in the backseat of a car driven by her friend Martin Fischbein, they both drowned when the car ran off the road and into a canal.

In the video below, Savitch is interviewed by David Letterman in 1982, about a year before her death. She was promoting her new autobiography, Anchorwoman.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tom Snyder's World

Fire up a colortini, sit back, relax, and watch the pictures, now, as they fly through the air.

That's how Tom Snyder would start off every Tomorrow Show on NBC. He ruled late late night from 1973-1982 with his unique style of interviews and conversations.

For me, Johnny Carson was great, but just the appetizer to Tom Snyder's entree. The success of his show was due, in great part, not only to the notable guests he booked (John Lennon, KISS, Ayn Rand, Johnny Rotten, Charles Manson), but to his willingness to talk about subjects that had been considered previously taboo - group marriage, suicide, male prostitution, rock-music groupies and film censorship, to name just a few.

I remember being pretty upset when NBC announced that his show had been cancelled to make room for a young new comedian named David Letterman, a guy who's done pretty well for himself. In fact, it was Letterman's production company who, in 1995, hired Tom Snyder to host The Late Late Show, following Letterman on CBS.

In the video above, Snyder is at his probing best in a one-on-one interview with the great John Lennon. Check the related YouTube videos for the rest of the five-part interview.

Tom Snyder died at age 71 on July 29, 2007 of leukemia.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Beaver Fever

What was it that has made Leave It To Beaver one of the truly classic TV sitcoms? From 1957-63, Americans were glued to their sets every week to see what kind of trouble Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver would get into this time.

It was different from some of the other family shows of the time, in that the 2 boys, Beaver and his older brother Wally, were really the stars of the show, and the parents were the supporting players.

It's often been said that the show presented an idealized version of the American family, and that certainly is true to an extent, but looking back on my childhood, it wasn't really all that different, in many respects, than what happened within the Cleaver household in Mayfield. Except that my mom never wore pearls and high heels when she was vacuuming.

But as is usually the case, it was the writing that was really responsible for the success of the show. It was funny, crisp, and had a certain realism that made the dialogue ring true and allowed viewers to identify with it.

The writers were also very successful in creating some truly memorable supporting characters, particularly the kiss-ass Eddie Haskell. June Cleaver, of course, saw right through Eddie, and I think there's a good chance that her acerbic "Hello, Eddie" became the model for Seinfeld's "Hello, Newman" many years later. But I could be wrong about that.

The video above is a Good Morning America 50th anniversary reunion special with the surviving cast members.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sonny and Cher: The Beat Went On

Cheryl LaPierre and Salvadore Bono met at an L.A. coffee shop in 1962. She was only 16, he was 27. Together they would go on to become one of the most popular singing duos in American pop music history.

For awhile, they called themselves Caesar and Cleo. When that didn't catch on, they changed their name to Sonny and Cher. They became an overnight sensation in 1965 with their megahit, I Got You Babe, and parlayed that success with several more hits.

By the late 60's, their softer pop music sound was crowded out by the emerging psychedelic rock scene. But in 1971, with the debut of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour on CBS, they found themselves on top again, sitting pretty in the Top 10.

Unfortunately, their marriage fell apart in 1974, and so did their hit show. But the show returned in 1976, even though they were no longer married. Low ratings, though, doomed the show by the end of the following year.

Sonny went on to do some acting, and then successfully ran for a seat in the US House of Representives in 1994, where he remained until he was tragically killed in a skiing accident in 1998. Cher went on to a very successful solo singing career.

In the above video, Sonny and Cher sing I Got You Babe with daughter Chastity at the end of one of their shows from the early '70s. The moving video below is from 1987, when the two were reunited on the Letterman show after many years.

Monday, November 3, 2008

John Belushi: What Might Have Been

When Saturday Night Live debuted in 1975, a daring new kind of comedy was introduced to Americans, and they ate it up. The star of those early SNL years turned out to be John Belushi, a wild, manic, comedic genius.

Belushi started out with the highly popular Second City comedy troupe in Chicago, and then landed a role in the stage production of National Lampoon's Lemmings. Lorne Michaels was putting SNL together and was encouraged to hire Belushi, even though Belushi made it clear that he thought television was "shit."

For me, watching Belushi create so many memorable characters on SNL ("The Samurai" was my favorite) was a revelation, in that it showed that comedy didn't have to be presented within narrow borders. It could be revolutionary. The fact that parents everywhere didn't get it made it even better.

Belushi's manic TV persona was matched by his manic personal life, and he burned out much too young at the age of 33. You have to wonder how far he would have gone had he lived; how many more characters were lurking inside his head.

Above is the historical first audition tape that Belushi did for Saturday Night Live.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Odd Life (and Death?) of Andy Kaufman

The guy was one of a kind. One part stand-up comic, two parts performance artist, you either got Andy Kaufman or you didn't. I remember the first time I saw him, lip synching to the Mighty Mouse theme on the very first episode of Saturday Night Live (1975). I found myself laughing without really knowing why.

When he came to my college campus, I found that I wasn't watching a show as much as experiencing an event. Whether it was his passion for wrestling women onstage or taking the entire audience out for milk and cookies, the excitement of an Andy Kaufman show came from never knowing what would happen next.

He had a lifetime obsession with Elvis, and when he would transform himself from his "foreign man" character into an eerily accurate impression of Elvis, it left audiences breathless. The wide variety of characters he created showed off his creative side, but it was his ability to create scenarios which left the audience wondering what was real and what was not that was his real genius.

The video above is a classic example. It's from the night he appeared on the popular late-night comedy show Fridays. In the middle of a sketch about some friends in a restaurant who keep sneaking out to smoke a joint, he announces that "I can't play stoned," and refuses to continue. His fellow castmates appear stunned, and after he dumps a drink on Michael Richards, a brawl ensues. Was it real, or was it a set-up? Kaufman never really did set the record straight, although most people seem to think it was a practical joke that not everyone was aware of beforehand.

Of course, the problem with being known as someone who was always playing with reality was that, even when you announce that you have lung cancer, some people won't believe you. To this day, there are people who think that his death was an elaborate joke and he'll reappear, like Jesus Christ, in a spectacular Second Coming. Although his longtime friend and partner Bob Zmuda confirms that he did indeed die in 1984, he says Kaufman "tinkered with the idea" of faking his death.

Jim Carrey did a brilliant job portraying Kaufman in the 1999 film, Man on the Moon. He captured his complexity and his spirit. It's one of my favorite films.

So who knows, maybe Andy will come back, arm-in-arm with Elvis. Would that be cool or what?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Houston, The Eagle Has Landed!

There are few events in life that stay with you for the rest of your life. They become a part of you. You remember every detail. One such moment occurred when a human being stepped foot on the moon on July 20, 1969.

The magnitude of the event was such that the world became one, united in the belief that anything was possible in life. Television became more than an electronic device; it transformed itself into a magical instrument with the ability to stop time as billions of eyes focused on a single image.

Although Americans were justifiably proud that they had put the first man on the moon, when Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon's surface the world celebrated the fact that a man, a citizen of the world, had accomplished such a daring feat.

It was, undoubtably, one of the most dramatic moments in history, but there was unseen drama as well, as Armstrong struggled to land the lunar module on the moon before he ran out of gas. Anxiously searching for a smooth place to land, he finally found the perfect spot with only seconds to spare.

One of the enduring legacies of Apollo 11 is the saying that, "If they can land a man on the moon, certainly they can (fill in the blank.)" Few events since have generated such a significant level of hope, imagination, and courage.

In the nearly 40 years since the first moon landing, many books and movies have been made about the Apollo program. The video below is the trailer for Ron Howard's excellent 2007 documentary, In the Shadow of the Moon. Tom Hanks' excellent 12-hour 1998 miniseries, From the Earth to the Moon, is also available on DVD.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From Japan With Love

Back in the 70's, the hottest thing on four legs in Japan was Mei and Kei, aka Pink Lady. At one point, these 2 very sexy young women put together an amazing streak of nine consecutive million-dollar singles, primarily of the disco variety.

In 1980, after enjoying some moderate success in the US market, they teamed up with comedian Jeff Altman for what NBC hoped would prove to be a winning combination. But alas, Pink Lady & Jeff was yanked from the schedule after only six weeks, and is fondly remembered today, by many, as possibly the worst show of all time.

The problem was that the girls didn't really speak English, so they were struggling through many of their performances phonetically. But I think it's one of those shows that was so bad that it was actually good, in a campy kind of way, which is why I've proudly included the show in my DVD library. The show included some big-time comic performers such as Sid Caeser, and the girls were certainly fun to watch, so I actually enjoyed it.

The duo disbanded in 1981, but have reunited periodically for concert performances. I saw them here in Japan a couple of years ago. Although they're now in their early 50's, they still put on a hell of a show.