Tag Archive: Lucille Ball


Review by C.J. Bunce

A new book at last features a throwback many fans of classic TV cartoons may not be aware of.  If you watched Hanna-Barbera animated shows Jonny Quest, Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, Young Samson & Goliath, or Space Ghost before you learned how to read as many kids did, you might never have made the connection that Tim Matheson was the voice of Jonny, Sinbad, Samson, and Jace.  That’s the boy who would grow up to be well-known actor Tim Matheson, who would star in Animal House and Fletch, and have key roles in shows like Magnum Force and 1941, and guest star in several TV series, from Leave it to Beaver to Burn Notice, in addition to directing even more shows, all over the past six decades.

In the new book Jonny Quest Speaks: Jonny, Sinbad Jr. & Me, author Kevin Scott Collier pieces together past interviews with creators from Hanna-Barbera, giving a background for Jonny Quest, which premiered in 1964.  He includes an interesting and informative interview with Matheson as he recounts not only voicing the various cartoon characters, but his direct work with animation legends Joe Barbera, Don Messick, and Mel Blanc.  It all amounts to a good comic-con panel worth of content from Matheson, who recalls his interactions at this time in his life with great clarity.  A big deal for Matheson was his first public appearance, flying first class into Kansas City and staying at the Muehlebach Hotel.  He signed autographs at a department store, yet his series had not yet aired on television.  Matheson illustrates how he learned how the business of Hollywood works (and why the animation pioneers had the biggest houses in town), something he picked up by paying attention to the adults working around him, all always serious about their craft.

Matheson discusses his takes on competing animated series (speaking fondly of animation pioneer Jay Ward) and goes into more detail about working with Blanc and Gary Owens of Laugh-In fame in a chapter on Sinbad Jr. and His Magic Belt, Young Samson & Goliath, and Space Ghost.  The actor has been working long enough and is lucky enough to be able to drop names he worked with including Lucille Ball, Henry Fonda, and Bob Hope.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Let’s face it.  The “turn of the century” was eighteen years ago.  Are you happy with the styles that define this decade?  Why not re-define what the new ‘twenties are going to represent, and why not start with how you want to look?  Timeless, a new book by fashion makeup artist Louise Young and film industry hairstylist Loulia Sheppard, provides readers with a step-by-step guide in photos and instructions to recreate the most memorable styles from the silent screen era forward.  So not only is it an obvious tool for cosplay and theater, it’s a way to bring the golden age of women’s fashion to everyday lifestyles.

Young and Sheppard also recreate actual style icons, and provide the steps for anyone to follow suit.  Readers will find not only how they can recreate styles, but what materials were available for contemporary women to make the look they are after.  Models reflect many memorable looks in Timeless, including Louise Brooks, Clara Bow, Ginger Rogers, Myrna Loy, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Gene Tierney, Grace Kelly, Lucille Ball, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Farrah Fawcett, Julia Roberts, and many more.

Timeless is not your typical makeup and hair book.  The creators have decades of experience in film creating any and every look imaginable.  Louise Young has created makeup designs for celebrities in movies including Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spectre, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Wonder Woman, Murder on the Orient Express, Pride & Prejudice, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Clash of the Titans, Jack the Giant Slayer, and The Avengers.  Loulia Sheppard has created hairstyles for several award-winning productions, including Gosford Park, The Phantom of the Opera, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Last Samurai, Jane Eyre, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, RED 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Victor Frankenstein, and Murder on the Orient Express–and most recently the looks of Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson.

Take a look at some of the designs featured:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Queen Elizabeth I, Prince Harry, Winston Churchill, Ron Howard, Ginger Spice, Agent Scully, Chuck Norris, Vincent Van Gogh.

What do they all have in common?  Plenty.

Truly–this latest look at a segment of the Earthling population should have been part of the Hidden Universe travel guides.  It’s Ginger Pride: A Red-Headed History of the World, called “a rallying call and calling card for gingers,” it’s a mix of facts, history, and humor about redheads in society.  Compiling everything you’d ever need or want to know about redheads, this quick guide seizes the day and tackles the segment of the population born with a red coif.  More redheads are around than you might think.  Actually 140 million redheads worldwide, 18 million in the United States alone, and two percent of the world population is born with red hair, with ten percent of the population of Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

Writer Tobias Anthony (a redhead) dives into the history and truths of red hair, with whimsical artwork by Melbourne artist Carla McRae (not a redhead).  He has come up with 20 variants of color of redheads, from auburn to aubergine.  If you don’t know any redheads personally, well, Anthony has a solution for that–a spotter’s guide–where you are apt to find redheads “in the wild” and how to spot a fake redhead or “daywalker.”  (Spoiler: He reports Amy Adams is a fake, Isla Fisher is 100% real redhead).  Anthony even argues why fake redheads should be praised for complimenting the ginger community by trying to join in.  According to the author, if they’re carrying around a lot of emotional baggage, they’re probably a redhead.  And he spotlights the most ostracized of the ginger community is “the Traitor”–what he calls that redhead who dyes his hair another color to hide his gingerness.  Red hair dye amounts to $200 million in sales per year in the U.S., more than any other color.  Surprised “bottled” redheads he has identified in his book include Molly Ringwald, Rita Hayworth, and Lucille Ball.  Why go red?  It looks like it’s the attitude and reputation of redheads that celebrities– and everyone else–is trying to imitate by dying their hair red.

Most useful in the book is the section on etiquette for getting along with gingers.  Key takeaway?  Don’t actually call them “ginger”!  Or carrot top, freckles, or anything else–except their name.  In that way the book successfully uses humor to look at its subject, while also carefully illustrating why singling out anyone for how they look is just wrong.  The author notes there are days of the year dedicated to both kicking (don’t kick anyone, it’s an in-joke) and kissing (get their permission first) gingers.  (Err, wait, don’t we mean redheads?).

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lost-in-space-cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

It takes a unique brand of personality to pull together the required components to make a hit television series.  It took a bit of a showman to convince Hollywood in 1965 to produce a science fiction series aimed at kids, and before Star Trek, someone had to lay the groundwork for a series taking place in another world.  That someone was the P.T. Barnum of his day, Irwin Allen.  Classic television researcher Marc Cushman has delved into his favorite show from his youth to deliver a full picture of Allen and the first season of the hit series Lost in Space in his latest work, volume one of Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Authorized Biography of a Classic Sci-Fi Series.

What do all these TV series have in common?  Lassie, Bonanza, Zorro, The Danny Thomas Show, The Twilight Zone, Leave it to Beaver, The Sound of Music, Psycho, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents/Hour?  An assemblage of hundreds of TV people in front and behind the camera came together to make an unlikely idea into a success.  At nearly 700 pages, Cushman’s book leaves no rock left unturned, interconnecting a Who’s Who of Hollywood.  He investigates oddball directors like Irwin Allen, who built up his office desk so visitors would be left to look up to him and had his own “yes man” who would repeat conversations to him as he discussed business with people, and Sobey Martin, viewed by the cast as a bad director who would fall asleep during filming, yet he was the only one who seemed to be able to get an episode filmed on time.  The production never seemed to get an episode filmed with the allotted budget.

lost-in-space

Just as Cushman revealed in his similarly-formatted, award-winning three volume chronicle of Star Trek (These are the Voyages, reviewed previously here at borg.com) that Lucille Ball was the mastermind producer behind Star Trek, here we see the influence of movie and TV stars Groucho Marx and Red Buttons on Irwin Allen as he pushed forward to create the first season of Lost in Space.   Where the coming new sci-fi series Star Trek would be a “Wagon Train to the stars,” Allen was orchestrating a “Swiss Family Robinson in space” an idea that would encounter its own breed of intellectual property legal issues along the way.

Cushman pulls archival interviews from the late series star Guy Williams (one of the top TV stars in the 1960s as he came off his successful run as Zorro and would portray astronaut John Robinson), everyone’s favorite TV mom June Lockhart (as pioneer female astronaut Maureen Robinson), Western and true crime TV star Mark Goddard (as scientist Don West), new starlet Marta Kristen (as John and Maureen’s eldest daughter Judy Robinson), Angela Cartwright fresh off her breakout role with Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (as Penny Robinson), young Billy Mumy, the versatile child guest star of The Twilight Zone, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, The Fugitive, and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (as Will Robinson), Bob May (as the guy in the Robot), and the last-minute addition, character actor Jonathan Harris (as the quirky villain Mr. Smith).

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i-am-jane-goodall

Do you remember your first book?  Was it Grover and the Monster at the End of This Book?  Winnie the Pooh and Eeyore’s Birthday?  A Child’s Garden of Verses?  De Angeli’s Book of Nursery & Mother Goose Rhymes?  The Pokey Little Puppy?  Milton the Early Riser?  Horton Hears a Who?  The Little Golden Book of Manners?  The Five Chinese Brothers?  The Ugly Duckling?  Curious George Goes to the Hospital?  I remember all of these (all recommended), but am not sure which was my very first.  A Child’s Garden of Verses was my first exposure to 3D via its magical lenticular cover.  I’ve read them all years later and they have much in common–compassion and respect for others and yourself is a common theme of them all.

Throughout the past year Brad Meltzer, noted fiction and non-fiction author and television personality (and DC Comics writer for the Identity Crisis and Green Arrow series) joined former Marvel Comics artist Christopher Eliopoulos to produce the Ordinary People Change the World series of books for young readers from Dial/Penguin/Random House.  Each of these could–or should–be your child, your nephew, niece, grandchild, or other young friend’s first book.  The latest, released this month, feature Dr. Jane Goodall and President George Washington.  As the holidays get closer, make a note of I Am Jane Goodall.   It’s a storybook written in an autobiographical style incorporating actual quotes from the noted scientist, environmentalist, and animal rights advocate, and belongs at the top of our recommendation list for today’s young readers.

jane-goodall-with-book

Meltzer and Dr. Goodall have gone back to young Goodall’s decisions and thinking as a child to relate to readers her influences, desires, and dreams, and how she went about carving a path to change the world.  Eliopoulos draws Dr. Goodall as an adorable girl throughout.  We meet her first stuffed chimp named Jubilee, and witness her thinking about moving to Africa to study chimpanzees at a young age, then actually saving the money to go to Kenya at 23 to visit the animals, meet Dr. Louis Leakey and eventually work for him, then to go on and live among the animals and learn more about communication and primates than anyone before her.  The story is sweet, inspiring, and beautifully written and drawn.

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These Are the Voyages TOS Season One

Review by C.J. Bunce

Literally hundreds of books and journal articles have been written on the three seasons of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek.  What more can be said about the making of this series?  After all, there is a well-maintained website chronicling seemingly all you would want to know about “the original series” called Memory Alpha.  Plus, nearly every major player involved with the creation of Star Trek has written a book on it, from Herb Solow and Robert Justman’s Inside Star Trek to William Shatner’s Star Trek Memories, Gross and Altman’s Captains’ Logs, to Stephen Whitfield’s The Making of Star Trek, Allan Asherman’s The Star Trek Compendium to the more recent entry Block and Erdmann’s Star Trek: The Original Series 365 But what writer/researcher Marc Cushman’s new These Are the Voyages – TOS: Season One does is pull information from all these sources plus resources like Starlog, Daily Variety, and TV Guide articles as well as delve into an archive of production work papers from the UCLA Performing Arts Special Collections never before tapped for such an exhaustive work on the series.  These Are the Voyages is a treatise on Trek, a comprehensive history of a crowning achievement in science fiction, but also a history of television itself in the 1960s.

These are the Voyages photo

These are the Voyages delves into each episode in a level of detail that has not been reached before.  For each episode the author gives a brief picture of where the U.S. stood via pop songs on the radio and national events.  Cushman then introduces a plot summary and nicely extracts the critical theme of each episode—separating Star Trek from frivolous weekly episodes of competing series with each episode’s focus on some weighty issue for mankind.  Pulling margin notes, memos, and script drafts together with interviews, both old and new, Cushman recreates the making of each episode from a production standpoint and–even more illuminating—he recreates the development of each story into the final script.  Who was responsible for the romance between Edith Keener and Captain Kirk in City on the Edge of Forever?  (Not Harlan Ellison).  When did Gene Roddenberry’s rewrites contribute to or take away from the story writers’ original vision?  What would NBC let the production get away with (like William Ware Theiss’s many actress costumes) and what did they censor (such as how brutally red-shirts could be offed)?   Why did Romulans wear helmets in Balance of Terror?  How much of those famous introductory words to each episode were actually penned by Gene Roddenberry, and how many takes did William Shatner need to get it right?

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Wow.  It’s not every actress that puts her pregnancy in plain sight.  Mary McCormack did just that this season on the USA series In Plain Sight, the show about two federal witness protection program marshalls officed in Albuquerque.  From the first episode of the summer season to the last we figured out Mary McCormack’s character Marshall Mary Shannon was pregnant even before she did and got to watch her reaction and choices as her character begrudgingly grew.  And over the course of the season both Marys got bigger, with no hiding behind office desks, no oversized concealing clothing, no disappearing from episodes with action sequences.  Mary McCormack was openly and unabashedly pregnant and her character was, too.

To be sure, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional approach.  Even in the past few TV seasons we saw both the female leads of White Collar and Leverage carry on with their characters unaffected by the actresses’ real life pregancies.  But this was so much more fun.

Mary Shannon is about as cynical as they come.  In the opening episodes of season one it was difficult to fathom how this series could move forward with such a harshly snarky, pretty-much-always-unlikeable character.  Yet she grew on us and we went back for more each week, despite her failed relationship with her sister’s ex-boyfriend Raph, her poor decison-making sister, her cringeworthy mother, and Mary’s non-stop cranky hatred of everyone and everything.  As characters go, she’s pretty awesome.

So some proof that she is a great actress?  This is actress Mary’s third child.  With all the ranting by character Mary about stinky kids and her genuine dislike for humanity, how could the actress be so convincing?  At Emmy time someone should stand up and take notice.

And who would have thought weekly conversations about the increasing size of Mary Shannon’s breasts would be so funny, so real?  And this year, more than past seasons, the writers have created a universal aura that constantly hovers over us–partner Marshal Marshall Mann played by Fred Weller is somehow cosmicly linked to Mary Shannon.  More than partners, more than BFFs, they are soulmates of sorts–Marshall knew it early on, especially when Mary was dying at the end of the first season, but since then he moved on to a live-in girlfriend who seems to be cut from the same cloth as Marshall.  But their bond never goes away, as highlighted at the end of the season finale this week.  Finally, the bitter, grumbly Mary opens up for two sentences in the midst of all the chaos of her life, an Assault on Precinct 13-influenced shoot-out, the denial of how she feels about how she looks, and darned near missing her sister’s wedding when she is the maid of honor.  All for something unsaid to finally be said–to fall apart as a season cliffhanger.  The alliteration is not lost on us, two sides of the same coin, Mary and Marshall, would be horrible as a couple.  But their bond, however unexplainable, is believable, and makes us care about people we might not normally care about.

What can we expect for next season?  The father of the baby sticking around?  The fallout of her sister’s actions on her wedding day, after a full year of upward momentum, growth and positivity?  Mary hauling a baby around town like her failed attention to the dog she eventually pawned off on Marshall?  It is hard to imagine the writers concocting a better season of stories but for Mary McCormack’s real-life pregnancy.  And going with it, instead of denying it, now sets up even more opportunities for both Marys next season.  When other characters’ failed relationships served as Mary Shannon’s foil for past seasons, unimaginably Shannon’s baby played the foil all season long.  For pure drama fans this meant dealing with all the traditional questions every mother must face with an impending due date.  But with a no-holds-barred character on modern cable, this seems like the first time we got to live alongside a lead character of a television series sharing all the unstated negatives of carrying a kid around for the bulk of a year.  The truth of the cravings, body out of control, unwanted reactions of her peers, uninvited advice, suffocating family pressures, and the sweat could hardly have been dramatized in a funnier way, by a better actress.  Up against the likes of actresses like Kyra Sedgwick of The Closer playing equally off the wall characters, it says a lot that McCormack stormed ahead of the pack (actually slightly waddled ahead of the pack) this year.  Poking fun at real life pressures, common angst-inducing circumstances and life’s surprises proved to make a great season of a good series.

Watch for an iconic scene toward the end of this season’s finale: like Sigourney Weaver marching away from a pile of dead creatures in Aliens, or Linda Hamilton walking away from a squashed Terminator, our heroine in flak jacket forges ahead, emerging victorious, on to her next battle.

As a postscript, 100 years ago this week Lucille Ball was born.  Those who watched I Love Lucy when it first aired or in re-runs on Nick at Nite as I did, may recall that Lucy was the first actress to be openly pregnant in an ongoing series.  Although censors wouldn’t let the show say the word “pregnant”–Lucy was “expecting”–it was a first for the growing medium of television.  Since then networks have shied away from a pregnant woman playing a pregnant woman, or even a non-pregnant woman playing a leading role as a pregnant woman in an ongoing series or feature film.  Only Frances McDormand’s performance as a pregnant police officer in Fargo comes to mind.   McCormack did something ordinary this season, but in a venue and way both unusual and interesting.  We can hope for even more fun next season.  Who says there is nothing good on TV to watch?

C.J. Bunce

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