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‘TV’ Category

  1. “O Julia, Julia, cook and nifty wench…”

    August 15, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

      

     

     

    I post the following  poem not so much as a tribute to culinary legend Julia Child but to her complete nerd of a husband, Paul Child who presented it to his wife on her 49th Birthday, August 15, 1961:

     

     

     

    O Julia, Julia, cook and nifty wench,
    Whose unsurpassed quenelles and hot souffles,
    Whose English, Norse and German, and whose French,
    Are all beyond my piteous powers to praise –
    Whose sweetly rounded bottom and whose legs,
    Whose gracious face, whose nature temperate,
    Are only equalled by her scrambled eggs:

    Accept from me, your ever-loving mate,
    This acclamation shaped in fourteen lines
    Whose inner truth belies its outer sight;
    For never were there foods, nor were there wines
    Whose flavor equals yours for sheer delight.
    O luscious dish! O gustatory pleasure!
    You satisfy my taste buds beyond measure.


  2. Sid & Marty Krofft’s World of Topless Puppets

    August 10, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    “Think about it—a dirty puppet show. An evil puppet chains a lissome nude to a pillar and tickles her to death with a long pink feather. A vast bat helps tear the clothes off an undulating stripper, then flies away with her. A bawdy Balinese girl is seduced in a swimming pool. Bare-breasted beauties hang in bird cages over the audience, or parade around the stage, heaving, wiggling, sighing, shaking, and saucing the house!” – Time Magazine, 1962

    Les Poupées de Paris (The Dolls of Paris) was a musical puppet show created, produced and directed by Sid and Marty Krofft in 1961. Yes, the same Kroffts who would go on to make their mark on the history of saturday morning children’s television with shows like H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, and Land of the Lost.

    In the late 1950s, The Brothers Krofft were a rather successful opening act for Las Vegas performers like Judy Garland and Sammy Davis Jr. Like most Vegas acts of the time, the Krofft puppet shows were tailored for an adult audience and many of their puppets were modeled after the showgirls and celebrities they shared stages with at the Flamingo and other casinos. By 1961, they were offered residency at a San Fernando dinner club called The Gilded Rafters. An entire theater there (called “The Krofft Theatre”) was dedicated to a musical puppet show inspired by Paris revues like those performed at the Lido and Folies Bergere. Before packing up their puppets and leaving for L.A., the Kroffts recorded hours of dialogue by their celebrity acquaintances in Las Vegas; Pearl Bailey, Milton Berle, Cyd Charisse, Gene Kelly, Liberace, Jayne Mansfield, Tony Martin, Phil Silvers, Loretta Young and Mae West,  among others. It’s uncertain whether any of the actresses concerned knew that they were giving voice to naked puppet doppelgängers of themselves.

    According to a program from the show (with “Adults Only” printed on the cover), Les Poupées de Paris consisted of a prologue and seven acts:

     

     

    ACT I featured a full puppet orchestra and a line of can-can dancers. Each of the 17 dancer/puppets have their names and head shots listed in the program. Paulette and Marion are fresh-faced and eager looking.  Chantal and Toni have the weary appearance of showgirls who are no longer quite girls. And Patricia (shiver), creepy, bug-eyed Patricia looks for all the world like one of those evil ventriloquist dummies that crawl out of their steamer trunks in the middle of the night and strangle their owner’s girlfriend.

    ACT II was entitled Une d’Horreur (Night of Horror) and consisted of gags and musical numbers performed by a mad scientist, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and dancing skeletons.

       

    ACT III was a juggling act. ACT IV featured a puppet named Mr. Showmanship and some more showgirls:

    ACT V was the really juicy part of the show called L’Amour Exotique, full of satyrs and tree nymphs and featured two mostly naked lovers named Antoinette and Lamas.

    With ACT VI things get really racy. Not more risqué, but “race-y”. This is the “colored” segment of the show with dance and musical numbers entitled Une Visite a la Boite de Chocolats (“A Visit to the Chocolate Box”) and Le Caramels. The star of this segment is a Rue Pigalle prostitute known simply as “The Pick Up”.

     

     

    ACT VII stars a topless Mae West and a reprise of some of the puppets who appeared earlier in the show.

     

     

     

     

     Les Poupées de Paris was such a success, it became a major attraction at the 1962  Seattle World’s Fair , and again at the New York World’s Fair in 1965. The touring production cost $200,000 to produce and the sets (which included a revolving theatre, elevators, an ice-skating rink and waterfall) took three months to install.  The Reverend Billy Graham attended a World’s Fair performance of the show and immediately denounced it, complaining that ”the women don’t wear bras!”  He failed to mention that the “women” were puppets. The Reverend’s backhanded endorsement and the write-up in Time Magazine guaranteed that the show would garner record crowds.  Marty Krofft concluded every interview with the instruction; “Be sure to mention it’s dirty.”

    This might be a good place to note that the program credits Tony Urbano as puppet designer. You might not be surprised to learn that Urbano was lead designer for Parker and Stone’s film Team America which (in my limited judgement)  features the best marionette sex ever put on film. I can only make this claim because,  although Les Poupées de Paris  traveled around the country for ten years and was seen by almost 10 million people, no film or video of a complete performance has been discovered.  How sad!

     

     


  3. The Year Roller Derby Returned to TV

    August 1, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

     

    Roller derby was one of the first sports to appear regularly on network  TV starting with a 13 week run on CBS in 1948. Roller derby was a staple of network TV until 1951 when attempts to remove the theatrics from the “sport” generally resulted in a decline in public interest. During the rest of the ‘50s, roller derby was only to be found on a few local channels, particularly in Los Angeles and San Francisco. By 1958, the sole bastion of televised roller derby was independent Oakland TV station KTVU which broadcast roller derby matches kinescoped in a deserted garage.

    In 1960, KTVU switched to a videotape format for recording matches for broadcast. One of these tapes made its way to a Portland, Oregon TV station which aired it once. The owner of the roller derby league received over 300 letters from Oregonians pleading with him to bring roller derby to Portland. Two teams were promptly sent to put on a match in Portland which drew over 9,000 fans; well in excess of the few hundred showing up for matches at San Francisco’s Cow Palace.

    The league quickly began syndicating videotapes of games to other independent TV stations, and by 1961 over 40 stations carried roller derby.  The syndication format worked so well, that by the end of the year, a rival league, Roller Games was created in Los Angeles where new teams like the Los Angeles T-Birds and the New York Bombers sold out arenas like the Olympic Auditorium. It was in the Olympic’s broadcast booth that announcer Dick Lane would respond to every fall or crash with a whooping “”Whoaaaa, Nelly!!!”


  4. A Boy’s Best Friend is his Robot

    July 21, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    I’ve only cried at the movies three times in my life. The first time was at the end of a Japanese film called Voyage Into Space when Johnny Socko’s giant robot sacrifices himself to save the world (“Come back, Giant Robot! Come back”). The next time was at the end of a Bruce Dern movie called Silent Running when the last surviving robot drone, Dewey, is left to tend Earth’s last  forest (in space!) while Joan Baez sings over the closing titles. And most recently, near the end of the animated feature, Iron Giant.  I can suck it up and keep my cheeks dry during any screening of Old Yeller or Where the Red Fern Grows but if Yeller was a stop-motion flying robot, or if  Old Dan and Little Ann were played by double-amputees in drone costumes, I’d be blubbering like an idiot.

    Maybe it was because I didn’t have a dog when I was a boy. But I did have toys. And, oh, what wonderful toys we children of the Sixties had.

     
    Robot Commando, made by Ideal, hit toystore shelves in 1961. It could move forward, turn right or left, shoot marbles from his swinging arms and a rocket from his hinged head…using voice commands! How cool is that for something made for children fifty years ago!

     

    The Great Garloo by Marx also came out in 1961. I’m not sure if it was technically a robot theme-wise but the fact that you could make it do your bidding gave it a robot vibe. The interesting thing about the commercial is the schizophrenic attempt to convince boys that Garloo is a violent city-wrecking monster and then go on to reassure parents that Garloo is no more than a benign servant.

    Here are examples of some other toy robots from 1961. Make sure you turn up your speakers!:

     

     
     

     

     


  5. Wouldn’t they have called them Winstones?

    July 18, 2011 by The Belated Nerd

    Long before they were pitching children’s vitamins and breakfast cereal, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were hawking cigarettes for the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1961, the primary sponsor of ABCs hot new primetime animated sit-com, The Flintstones, was RJR’s Winston line of coffin nails.

    The storyline for the first few commercials revolved around Fred and Barney stealing time away from work or household chores to sneak a smoke.

    FRED: “They (Wilma and Betty) sure work hard.”

    BARNEY: “Yeah, I hate to watch them work so hard.”

    FRED: “Um, let’s go around back where we can’t see them.”

    …and out come the Winstons and a glowing testimonial about “the filter cigarette that delivers flavor twenty times a pack!”  and the tagline for all of the commercials: “Winston tastes good like a good cigarette should!”