Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mitzi Gaynor: A Dougsploitation Diva

Just came back from seeing (and meeting) the legendary Mitzi Gaynor!

Born Francesca Marlene de Czanyi von Gerber, Mitzi began dancing as a child and hasn't stopped yet.
This shapely, shimmering superstar has had a career that spans film, stage and television.
She appeared in many films, including THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS (1954) alongside Ethel Merman (her showbiz "mom") and Marilyn Monroe,

LES GIRLS (1957) with Gene Kelly and in the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's SOUTH PACIFIC (1958).

On February 16, 1964, Gaynor performed in between two sets by The Beatles when they made their second appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW. On the show, Mitzi performed a nine-minute medley including Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot".

Throughout the 1960s and '70s Gaynor starred in a string of popular TV specials.
Each broadcast was an energetic was a mix of song, dance and comedy with guest stars galore–not to mention a fabulous array of Bob Mackie gowns!
The specials, originally broadcast on NBC and CBS were...
* The Kraft Music Hall:The Mitzi Gaynor Christmas Show (1967)
* Mitzi (1968)
* Mitzi's 2nd Special (1969)

* Mitzi: The First Time (1973)
* Mitzi: A Tribute to the American Housewife (1974)

* Mitzi...and a Hundred Guys (1975)
* Mitzi...Roarin' In the 20's (1976)
* Mitzi...Zings Into Spring (1977)

Mitzi...What's Hot, What's Not (1978)

Mitzi also recorded two albums for the Verve label and soon became a top attraction in Las Vegas showrooms and Vancouver nightclubs.

Last November MITZI GAYOR: RAZZLE DAZZLE a new documentary celebrating Miss Gaynor's TV specials was broadcast on PBS and released on DVD, including some of the best showstopping moments from the rarely seen shows.

Gaynor is currently touring with her one-woman show, Razzle Dazzle: My Life Behind the Sequins. You can visit Mitzi here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Andy Williams (1927-2012)

Originally posted in 2008. Despite his recent nutty attacks on on our "socialist" President, here's my tribute to the late Andy Williams. Pop singer Andy Williams is known as "Mr. Christmas," due to unmistakably smooth renditions of on many much-loved holiday standards, specifically The Most Wonderful Time of The Year. But in my opinion, it was his holiday TV shows and specials that solidified this title.
After hosting a short-lived half-hour ABC show in 1958 featuring Dick Van Dyke, this undeniably handsome crooner became the star of his own hour-long weekly CBS show during the summer of 1959. In 1962 NBC awarded him an ongoing series, which ran, more or less until 1971.
While never a Top 20 hit, the show proved very popular no matter what competition it faced. In it's debut season, NBC aired it Thursdays at 10PM, opposite CBS's ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRSENTS. For seasons 2 and 3, the show was moved to Tuesdays at 10PM, alternating with the BELL TELEPHONE HOUR. THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW returned to a weekly schedule in 1965, when it was moved to Monday at 9PM-opposite THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, creating the infamous "Battle of the Andys". The show then became part of NBC's Disney-led Sunday night line-up in 1966.
The show took two seasons off and returned on Saturdays at 7:30PM for a final two years. In total, the show went on to win three Emmy Awards for outstanding variety program (1963, 1966 and 1967). While each week was jam-packed with great songs and fabulous production numbers featuring top knotch guest stars, the absolute highlight of each season, of course, was the annual Christmas show. Even after the series ended, through the early 70s, Andy's Christmas specials were among the most popular of the season, setting the tone and format which many others have copied and parodied ever since.The Osmond Brothers, who Williams "discovered" performing in Disneyland made their TV debut on the 1962 Christmas show, and stayed with Andy for the rest of his run. Andy's wife, the lovely French chanteuse Claudine Longet and their three children, Noelle, Christian, and Robert all appeared on the Christmas shows. For more about Claudine go here. I guess part of what made his holiday shows so special was the appearances by Andy's family, notably his very talented brothers. The visual of these guys singing in harmony wearing matching sweaters has had a profound effect on me over the years. Here's a photo from my annual Christmas shindig:So, when you get the Christmas blues or are sad because you can't afford to buy any gifts for your friends or family this year, just think of Andy's warm, comforting voice and it will bring you back to a time when the TV landscape was littered with so many magical hours of song, dance and cornball comedy. Luckily some of that magic has be captured and is now available on dvd (or on your local PBS station).In addition, Williams has recorded eight Christmas albums over the years and has performed in his own theater in Branson, Missouri since 1992. Here a great little (and totally unauthorized) compilation that I came across on YouTube. You can see more clips over at Marc Harshbarger's DEEP DISH.

Friday, September 21, 2012


Yesterday I blogged about MAN FROM ATLANTIS - the TV series. Now let's take a look at some cool Mark Harris ephemera.
I believe this psychedelic key art is from the VHS release of the TV-movie pilot. What the hell is wrong with his eye?
This is the cover of a British annual. Notice how the mysterious Mr. Schubert is looking at Mark!
Here's a Tiger Beat Magazine profile of dashing young heartthrob Patrick Duffy! "Here He Is!"

"The Man Who Makes THE MAN FROM ATLANTIS Live". A bit hyperbolic?
Here's a gallery of underwater pulchritude courtesy of the Marvel Comics Group.
A couple of more slabs of beefcake from the Might Marvel Bullpen.
Interesting how Mark only has nipples some of the time. I guess it depends on how cold the water is?
Here's an in-house trade ad ("Mighty Marvel Does It--AGAIN!") and a cast pin-up by future PUNISHER artist Mike Zeck. I think there's a hint of nip there.

And finally - here's a print ad for a Dip Dots Painting Design Book. I guess you could paint your own nipples on Mark using the pink paint. Or not. Well, that's all the crap I have on MAN FROM ATLANTIS, probably more than you ever thought you'd want to see, eh? I'm just waiting for some studio to announce a MAN FROM ATLANTIS feature film. Who would YOU cast as Mark Harris?

Thursday, September 20, 2012


MAN FROM ATLANTIS was one of those childhood memories that I thought I would never get a chance to relive. Now, thanks to the like-minded individuals who run The Warner Archive Collection, the adventures of Mark Harris are back to thrill a new generation of underwater adventure fans!

The dvd release of the original 1977 pilot has now been followed by the release of the TV-movie collection and the entire series - truly a dream come true for anyone who remembers this show from it's initial NBC run.
The original pilot aired in 1977 up against SONNY & CHER on CBS and THE BRADY BUNCH VARIETY HOUR on ABC. Talk about your proverbial "Sophie's Choice!" What was a gay 13 year old boy to do??? Especially since VHS and DVR had yet to be invented!
I opted to watch MAN FROM ATLANTIS, because it was the closest thing to Aquaman or Sub-Mariner that I would probably ever see on network TV and I could always catch those dumb old variety shows in reruns. Smart thinking!
I remember sitting on our plastic-covered living room couch, Mego Aquaman by my side as the opening tiles began.
Pretty soon we were introduced to young Patrick Duffy (a very youthful 32 years old) as an amesia victim who washes up on the shore all blue and covered in seaweed. When doctors try to save his life to no avail, brazen young Dr. Elizabeth Merrill (played by Belinda J. Montgomery) steps in realizes what this dude needs is to be thrown back in the water. Before you know it, he begins to heal and Doc Merill nurses him back to health.
The Foundation for Ocean Research decide to call him "Mark Harris" through tests they determine that he has special abilities, such as super strength, the ability to breathe under water and to leap from the water into the air. Basically, they notice his physiogamy is similar to that of a dolphin, so they begin to treat him like one! 
See how this scene is faithfully recreated in the Marvel Comics' adaptation...
Dr. Merrill takes a liking to Mark, even though he can't communicate with her. He does hang on her every word and stare deeply into her eyes with his colorful contact lenses.
The Foundation begins to have secret meetings about Mark and how he can be useful to them.

They determine that he can do all their dirty work and since he can't talk back, they'll be very little resistance. He does resist at first, and even escapes, but the good Doc knows just how to reach out to him.
He shares a tender moments with Doc Merrill. Oh by the way, he's got webbed feet and hands! Only his nails are a bit manky. Paging Madge and her Palmolive! Pretty soon we find out that Mark is super-intelligent and speaks English. But he lacks human emotion, you might say he's bit of a "cold fish".

So Mark begins helping out the Foundation and swimming in his tank wearing his skimpy yellow shorts. In fact the camera lingers on his tight little bathing suit quite a bit. Little does he know he's being watched...and not just by gay 13-year old boys (33 years later) but by the villainous Mr. Schubert (played by the immense Victor Buono), who hopes to use Mark for his own evil schemes!

You see, Schubert has a cult of very schlubby people working for him, even a lady who looks like Vivian Vance!

All of Schubert's people wear the same costume. Oh, except for this one guy. Didn't he get the memo?

Well after a lot of boring underwater bullshit concerning bombs and whatnot, Schubert finally tells Mark that he just wants to be "his friend."
His special friend?


Mark ponders the friendship as he stands there dripping in his tighty yellows.

As Schubert (and the viewers) ponder Mark's buns.

Some crazy shit happens, things blow up, water fills Schubert's secret lair and people drown. Then Mark is given a secret Stephen Colbert!

After his heroic deeds, Mark is given the opportunity to leave and search for his people.

But it turns out he can't say goodbye to Elizabeth...and thus we have the premise for the weekly series.

And the series of novels...

And the monthly comic book...
And so the saga of the MAN FROM ATLANTIS begins...and I'll be back tomorrow with more Mark Harris and Patrick Duffy goodies. Now eat your kelp!