Saturday, November 30, 2019

Gabby Hayes trivia

Hayes was, of course, the crusty side-kick of Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy.

He did not learn to ride a horse until he was in his 40s.

He and his wife worked in vaudeville, but lost all their money in the Crash of 1929, and moved to California to try their fortunes there.

In real life he was intelligent, well-groomed and articulate.

Concerning westerns, he said, "I hate 'em. Really can't stand 'em. You have so few plots."

Married one time, to Olive E. Ireland, for about 43 years.

George 'Gabby' Hayes Picture

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A single-minded woman

To have dissuade her would have taxed the combined arts of a Demosthenes, a Cato, and a Dale Carnegie. In thirty seconds we four humble mortals knew defeat, struck our tattered colors, and retired before a swirl of fury that would have put to frantic rout fie times our strength in Memelukes.

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Quiet sunrise

The sun is coming up as I type. No wind is blowing at all, that I can see. Not a creature is stirring in the house (amazingly enough, given how many grandchildren are here). It is quiet, and it is beautiful, even if I hardly slept at all.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Idiot detectives

     Henry thrust himself from the window and strode over to stare down at her. "Why didn't you come? Three days and a half," savagely. "What've you been doing since Wednesday?"
     She snorted. "Hiring detectives - and firing them. Do all the epileptics and morons naturally swarm to your profession, Hyer? Or do they get that way afterward?"

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steele)

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Nice depiction

"The house was silent, dark save for the lighted vestibule, wrapped in the rhythmic, small-hour hush of the city." (from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steele)

I thought that was an interesting description - "rhythmic hush."

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Crazy map

"Who laid out the streets in the Bronx?"

"The Indians. After the Dutch paid 'em off in red-eye."

"That's a good a theory as any."

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

The same theory exists about the street system in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Friday, November 22, 2019

If they're not against us, they're for us

"In a war," Brook said defensively, "when you see a chap pointing his gun the same direction you're pointing yours, you have a feeling of sympathy for him, and if you don't know anything about him you're naturally curious."

(from Crooked Shadow, by Kurt Steel)

Thursday, November 21, 2019


In old radio shows, if there was an Irishman involved, sooner or later you were going to hear the word "spalpeen" used. I just saw it in Stuart Palmer's book, The Penguin Pool Murder. Just exactly what is a spalpeen? He is a rascal, and that pretty much sums it up.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Concerning justice

Justice is bigger than human hates and loves and sympathies, not only legal justice, but abstract justice. The kind of justice that lets the letter of the law go sometimes to follow the spirit instead.

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Monday, November 18, 2019

What happened to "shan't"?

Can't. Won't  Those and other contractions are still healthy in our language. But what happened to "shan't"? Shall not. It is just that we do not use "shall," and so its contraction disappeared when it did?

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Maybe one of those behind-the-scene facts of history

Alexander Ulyanov was the older brother of Vladimir Lenin, the Russian revolutionist. Ulyanov was involved in a plot of assassinate Tsar Alexander III, and was captured and hanged in 1887. Who knows if that might have played a part in Lenin's zeal for the revolution?

Friday, November 15, 2019

Which brand do you smoke?

"Have a chair first, won't you? Sorry that I haven't a Camel to offer you . . . wasn't that what you asked for last night? Would a Lucky do?" (from The Penguin Pool Murder by Stuart Palmer)

Richard Diamond smoked Camels. Jack Benny pushed Lucky Strikes. We are so unaccustomed to hearing cigarette advertising today that it looks strange, even in a novel.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

How a detective works

Piper shook his head. "My dear Miss Withers, a detective has no beliefs. He either suspects or he knows. I have to suspect everybody and everything."

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Miss Withers gets in her digs

     The guard, fat and perspiring from his unaccustomed chase, took a firm grip of the prisoner's coat collar and jerked him into a sitting position. As he did so, three gold watches slid from the pocket and clinked musically on the floor.
     "A pickpocket, huh? said the guard.
     "Quite obvious, even to the most limited intelligence," pointed out Miss Withers. "I guessed it myself."
     "Stealing watches, too."
     "Do they look like grandfather clocks?"

(from The Penguin Pool Murder, by Stuart Palmer)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Barbara Hale trivia

Hale's most famous role was as the secretary of Perry Mason on the television program.

She began her professional career as a model for the comic strip Ramblin' Bill.

She and actor Bill Williams were married for 46 years and had three children, all named Katt (Williams' real-life name). She said, "It took me two years to talk him into marrying me." Williams became the star of The Adventures of Kit Carson television program, which ran for four seasons in the 1950s.

Perry Mason co-star Raymond Burr said she had "the best shriek in Hollywood," and she was known for her screams.

She has an orchid named for her.

On the set of Perry Mason she sketched constantly.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

How John Dehner got his start

John Dehner was a prominent radio actor, starring in Have Gun, Will Travel and being a regular visitor on several other programs. He actually started his Hollywood career as an animator for Walt Disney. He then worked as a disc jockey (easy to imagine given his rich voice) and a professional pianist.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Always Bendix

For some reason, I have never cared for William Bendix as an actor. He always seemed to me to be a caricature of life, and therefore unable to portray real life. Even when he was a comic figure, which was most of the time, he came across as irritating rather than entertaining. And no matter who he was portraying, he always sounded like Bendix.

His Life of Riley radio show was very popular, but if it had not been for the supporting cast, it would not have had much going for it, in my opinion. ( John Brown as Digger O'Dell was great.) Bendix was an actor I could take or leave - preferably leave.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Bill Chadney - Peter Gunn's piano player

On the Peter Gunn television program, his girlfriend Edie (Lola Albright) performed with a small jazz combo in Mother's, a waterfront bar. The piano player in the combo was a regular bit part (rarely a speaking role), whose name was Emmett. The actor who played that part was Bill Chadney, who actually was a popular Southern California jazz pianist, who actually married Albright toward the end of the Gunn series. He opened three Chadney's restaurants, which featured live jazz, just like Mother's.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

One of the good cops

Hollywood's policemen are not always uniformly good guys. Some of them have pretty "flexible" morals, some are needlessly brutal - all sorts have been depicted on the screen. But Peter Gunn's poor, abused pal, Lt. Jacoby, was one of the good guys. He was strictly honest, tireless in the pursuit of his duty, not to mention homely as a mud fence and always having to put up with the handsome, flashy Gunn and his gorgeous, jazz singer girlfriend. Gunn got the money and the girl, but Jacoby would always be there to bail him out at the last minute - and always with a hang-dog look.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Why he went to Hollywood

Antony Carbone was born in sunny Italy, but raised in Syracuse, New York, where they have legendary winters. He hated the cold and the snow, so he moved to California, determined to become an actor. Like many actors of Mediterranean lineage, his was a familiar face in crime and police dramas.

Friday, November 01, 2019

She wasn't buying it

A common-sense actress who was also a great actress: Teresa Wright. Here is what she said when Samuel Goldwyn terminated her contract:

I would like to say that I never refused to perform the services required of me; I was unable to perform them because of ill health. I accept Mr. Goldwyn’s termination of my contract without protest—in fact, with relief. The types of contracts standardized in the motion picture industry between players and producers are archaic in form and absurd in concept. I am determined never to set my name to another one… I have worked for Mr. Goldwyn seven years because I consider him a great producer, and he has paid me well, but in the future I shall gladly work for less if by doing so I can retain my hold upon the common decencies without which the most glorified job becomes intolerable.