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ekw

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About ekw

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  1. Jim was one of our best family friends. A great guy and funny as all get-out. A great joke teller and raconteur (as was my dad). They knew all kinds of old routines, too, vaudeville stuff that they saw as kids. Great stuff. Beverly Blizzard III was, indeed, the model for the Howell character.
  2. Funny you should mention Magoo. Jimmy Backus was one of my father's best pals. They had worked together in summerstock in a place called Skowhegan, Maine. That was in the Thirties. Then Jimmy came out to L.A. after my dad did, probably around 1950. I don't know when he started doing the Magoo character, but he had a lot of wonderful characters that he had invented over the years, mostly for radio. One was called "Beverly Blizzard the Third" and he was one of those upper upper New England patricians who barely moved their lips when they talked. Very funny. Jimmy and his wonderful and funny wife, Henny, were friends with Keeno to the end. Great people. No kids, so that line is extinguished. I think Scrooge says, "Intelligent boy" to himself when he is cajoling the child to fetch him the Christmas goose in the lane. "Marvelous boy, intelligent boy..." something like that. I haven't seen it on TV here (Sonoma County, CA) yet. If it's on in San Francisco then that is when we see it.
  3. Dolores, Chris, you guys, it's not easy finding where people are hanging out around here. Is "Scrooge" considered an "essential" film for any collection? Or has it been placed into a holiday movie thread? I guess it has a slot somewhere on these boards, I just haven't found it. But of all the Christmas movies that I ever loved as a kid, this was the best. The three apparitions of Christmas were the clearest to me in this movie. I got them better in this movie than in any other Christmas film. As a child, I always saw the future as something glorious and shiny and exciting, but in truth - as told in "Scrooge" - it is also full of sorrow and loss. This was like a splash of cold water in my face. The future, death? I really didn't understand, for instance, why the sight of his own grave stone should be such a terrible thing for Scrooge. Big deal, his name on a grave stone. I just didn't get it then. It has taken me most of my life to become aware of how chilling that would be. And in the story he is allowed to see it as a warning: That there he will one day surely reside, and if he continues to live as he does, a miser who refuses to associate with his own sister's child (his dearest sister who dies giving this boy life), his own flesh and blood, his only living relative, then his will be a lonely death. These were issues well beyond my grasp then. But now this film has even greater resonance as I am finally at an age where amendment of life is an absolute necessity, and Scrooge's opportunity to see the results of his own captious and penurious heart must be the greatest of all the Christmas apparitions' gifts. The movie never looses its power over me. I know this isn't the thread to discuss the film, this is for the character actors. Well, Alastair Sim must be considered one of the greatest character "leads" in film history. If Sim was in a film, my pals and I had to go see it. Him and Terry Thomas. Anyway, that's enough from me. Good to have found you people. Merry Christmas! "Boy! I say, Boy! Is the goose still hanging at the butcher's in the lane?" "You mean the one as big as me?" "Wonderful boy, marvelous boy, Yes! That one. Does it hang there still?" Can't remember the rest. He promises the boy sixpence if he gets it, and then says half a crown if he's quick about it. Something like that. Now I desperately need to see this movie. Ned "If I could work my will . . . every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas,' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!" Ebenezer Scrooge
  4. Kathleen Harrison in "Scrooge". I consider this as the definitive version of Dickens's "A Christimas Carol" mainly because of the performances of Alastair Sim and Kathleen Harrison who played Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge's housemaid. Her most wonderful moment was when Scrooge wakes up after the visit of the last apparition and finds he is still alive. He goes nuts, positively giddy, "I think I shall stand on my head!" giddy, and terrifies Mrs. Dilber who begins shrieking and flapping her apron. Scrooge then tries to press some money on her and she says, "Here, wot's this?" A gift, a Christmas bonus, but Mrs. Dilber is notably suspicious. She looks askance at the demented old fellow and starts running off to "call the beadle!" Scrooge chases after her and captures her on the staircase where he finally gives her the money and convinces her it's really a gift. She declares she will keep it after all (the subtext here is that she thought it was for an act of prostitution he wanted her to perform), as she says, counting the money,"...in keepin' with the sichuayshun!" I've loved that scene and Mrs. Dilber since childhood.
  5. I'm slightly less embarrassed at being Paramedic #2 (and where is Paramedic #1 today, eh?) because I wrote the thing. I was pressed into acting duty at the insistence of my friend, the director, Richard Lang. I find that "Don't Go To Sleep" has become a cult favorite which made my day when I heard about it. I wrote exactly two cult films, that one and California Dreaming (in which the true depth of my acting talents are on display) which was a hit in Japan (though no one ever asked me to do any Suntori ads much to my chagrin. I was hoping to go there and meet my Scarlett Johannson).
  6. Ayres, Thanks for the extravagant praise you have offered me for my writing. People have often faulted me for not continuing on a bit to let the reader know that I fared well after my alcoholic crash and burn. I've rebounded and stayed sober these past 21+ years. Judith, I am astonished that anyone would want to put a picture of me in a gallery of genuine actors. I wasn't even close to having talent in that area, so it has to be considered a bit of an inside joke, right? Otherwise I would be mortified to think that people took my inclusion seriously. .
  7. I'll hasten thence. My picture, eh? Hmmm...my picture...my...
  8. May I be so bold as to enter my father, Keenan Wynn, into the lists? Perhaps with an asterisk for me as I won't list him in my own meager offering. I may be breaking the rules here, but I am separating the female and male supporting actors. It may just be a sneaky way to get more people onto my list. In fact that is exactly what it is. I hope no one minds. Byron Foulger Arthur Hunnicutt Eugene Pallette Edgar Buchanan Sir Cedric Hardwicke Gloria Grahame Dame Margaret Rutherford Madge Blake Elsa Lanchester Joan Blondell Gosh, this is tough. There are so many great character actors. My father drilled the idea of character acting into me as a child and young man so I have a particular fondness for the breed. I have left out such geniuses as Jack Carson and Eve Arden because I think there are some entire threads devoted to them.
  9. Thanks, Charlie. Yes, he was excellent in TDOAF. He was also pretty good in Marjorie Morningstar which is one of those mostly forgotten BIG movies. It was a bit boring, if I remember it (Natalie Wood and Gene Kelly?) it seemed to go on forever. I think my grandfather played Natalie's uncle or something, an old trooper in some small stock company. Hard to remember. I do think that Natalie has an affair with the older Gene Kelly who is the director of this summer stock company. She thinks he's like some kind of genius which is the impression he tries to cultivate to impress young actresses. Then she finds out, as she confronts the larger world, that Kelly is really nothing more than what he is: a small-time summer stock director who always will be one and that he uses what charm he has to dazzle and seduce. Ed Wynn gives her some good advice about life. It's a coming of age story, and it's one of the few films of its time where Jewishness plays an important role. I just don't recall how it all works out.
  10. Sorry Heidi but I don't know what you mean by Ed Wynn and Van? What is the question about them? It is Keenan Wynn and Van Johnson who were contract players at MGM. Ed Wynn, who was never contracted with any studios, was not associated with Van except that he was his grandsons' stepfather.
  11. Right you are, Gerb. I am here, but if there is no activity I pretty much let it go unless I suddenly am struck with an idea. Also, I have some deadlines approaching and work to finish before they arrive. heidi, I need to correct a couple of your points. Ed Wynn was never a contract player at MGM or any other studio. Both he and my father appeared in a number of things together in both films like The Great Man - an all but forgotten film directed by actor Jose Ferrer - and a number of other things on TV most famously the original Playhouse 90 version of Requiem for a Heavyweight (not the film that most people remember). You are quite right and very astute to observe that my dad was both a comic player and a serious actor. He would have loved you for that. Ed Wynn was know as the Perfect Fool because it was the title of his first huge Broadway hit which opened in 1921. He first developed that character for that show. He became known as The Perfect Fool from then on. That is where the name came from, not from other comedians. Like most comedians and comics, my grandfather was anything but "happy-go-lucky." He was quite gloomy and serious though he was given to moments of wonderful humor. But if you scratch the surface of most comics you will find a deadly serious individual underneath. Comedy is their escape not their usual persona.
  12. Alas, ma petite Anne, he was, indeed, gay; gay as Elton John. So you gotta give him props for playing straight so well.
  13. Girls, Gene was short, Astaire was tall. Just so you know. Now, continue the battle.
  14. You might have a lot arguments about Van Johnson's looks. While I, as a man, never thought him so handsome (he was a hayseed, after all), he was a bobbysoxer idol. Girls went absolutely ape over him. We needed police escorts to get us out of our car at movie premieres, Van couldn't go out in public at all after awhile because he would be mobbed. You may be too young to know any of this, but he was a big deal in his day. One year he was the top box office draw in America (I think 1955 or so). I witnessed this. So while many people may disagree, they would be in the definite minority. And in his defense, he could hold his own doing comedy or drama (he was great as the wisecracking political sidekick James Carvell-type of guy before James Carvell existed in State Of The Union with Angela Lansbury). Personally, I just loved Jack Carson, and as an actor overall, I think he was brilliant. Why do you think I brought him up? It's just that to totally dump on Van is to ignore his real abilities, which he did have. Watch The Caine Mutiny where he plays a very torn naval officer who takes over a ship from Humphrey Bogart followed by the unlikely comic character he played in Brigadoon which showed off his talents as a hoofer - no Gene Kelly, but surprisingly good for a guy 6'3 220, or The Last Time I Saw Paris, an admittedly over-the-top melodrama-kind of Doug Sirkish-like movie. Earlier in his career he was in some decent war movies like 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, Command Decision (a great Sam Wood film), and later, Go For Broke. Just to let you know how good he was,in all his films he played a very creditable straight, heterosexual male when he was nothing of the sort. That's not easy. Rock Hudson did it, and Hudson was actually good in a few things also, especially a film called Seconds. But back to Van, both he and Carson were in The Bottom Of The Bottle together, so I suppose you could get that and make your comparisons. Overall, it's really hard to compare these guys. For one thing, Van was in a lot of movies that were just flat out better than the movies Carson got. Carson was a true character actor (like my dad), and Van was a kind of split character/leading man actor and acquitted himself admirably. if I had to choose whose movies I would rather have with me on a desert island it would be hard; I would have to pick Van's for the movies themselves many of which I liked, and Jack's movies from the 30's, 40's and early 50's before he started doing so much TV, for the performances. Every time I saw Jack Carson, I didn't care much about the movie because his performances got me. I couldn't wait until he got on screen, that was the guy I wanted to see. With Van, there were often a lot of big movie stars besides Van in them, and I was happy to see all these other people. It took the heat off Van whereas Jack Carson had to work his **** off to make those early B movies happen. I can see his face in my head and feel the energy he put out. But even though I am not on good terms with the old viper, I have to give Van his due. I assume that some people on this thread were on The Caine Mutiny thread before, so there must be a few of you who liked Van. I'm going to let you say why or why not.
  15. Jack Carson was the much better actor when it came to those wise-cracking character roles that both played, but Van also had those leading man looks, or at least the studios thought so, and he was good enough in them. But Mr. Carson was more versatile and had a very different kind of "energy" (God, I hate that word, but I couldn't think of another one just now, that's why I put it in quotation marks) to the role.
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