Betty White on TV by Wesley Hyatt

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  • February 6, 2021
  • 1 min read

She made her TV debut in 1939 and was still on the medium eighty years later. Betty White earned her first Emmy nomination in 1951 and her last sixty-three years later. Her longevity in television earned her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Betty White’s incredible career encompasses seventeen regular roles, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Golden Girls, and Hot in Cleveland. She also did thousands of guest shots on everything from The Tonight Show to Password and Match Game to SpongeBob SquarePants. Including interviews with many who worked with her, Betty White on TV: From Video Vanguard to Golden Girl recounts and celebrates the achievements of one of entertainment’s most distinguished and beloved celebrities.Wesley Hyatt is the author of The Carol Burnett Show Companion (2016) and Bob Hope on TV (2018), both for Bear Manor Media. This is his tenth book.

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Between 1977 and 1992, the lectures and fragments collected in Ritual to Realism were prepared and delivered in a variety of theatre history courses to supplement assigned readings in dramatic literature. The lectures (and fragments thereof) have been collated into sixteen units that, presented chronologically, offer an easily-assimilated survey of Western theatre history—from the ceremonies of the ancient Greeks to the rituals proposed by members of the twentieth-century avant-garde. Designed for a general audience as well as theatre students, actors, directors, and designers, Ritual to Realism does not pretend to be exhaustive. Instead, it provides an entertaining, lively, fact-based consideration of major theatrical movements, theatre practice, playwrights, and dramatic works—virtually, something for everyone with an interest in theatre.From the introduction, “Search through Ritual to Realism however you like, line by line, back and forth through the chapters that interest you, or strictly as you need to through the index. No matter how you do it, every page, every paragraph will give you pieces of information and ideas that remain as fresh, subversive and radical today as they were in Ancient Greece or Restoration England. Plays, like all artistic creations, have never really changed, holding steadfast in opposition to conventional ideas and commonplaces, striking against the grain, so to speak, as untouchable, blinding entities that have mesmerized the minds of people for millennia. It is easy to find such a notion as historical context to be too abstract, not personal enough to do a student any good in the theater right now. It is through the evolving process by which one develops as an artisan throughout life that one inevitably feels tied ever closer to the historical long-view of the theater. . . . This book is designed to fill your arsenal with tools. Let it be a step that will influence the way you create dramatic art for the rest of your career.”

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Elissa Landi: Cinema’s Empress of Emotion, by Scott O’Brien

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  • October 13, 2020
  • 1 min read

Cecil B. DeMille boosted the career of Elissa Landi in The Sign of the Cross (1932). Her leading men included Laurence Olivier, Fredric March, Cary Grant, and Robert Donat in The Count of Monte Cristo (1934). After 33 films, Landi gave up on Hollywood, to focus on her career as a novelist. “O’Brien reveals things about Elissa, I never knew!”- Suki Landi Sennett (niece) Elissa Landi is Scott O’Brien’s eighth biography of classic cinema legends. His books have garnered positive reviews in such publications as Classic Images, Sight & Sound, and SF Gate. Three of O’Brien’s books have made the Huffington Post “Best Cinema Books of the Year.”

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Author Garry Berman gives readers a history lesson in comparing and overlapping the mediums of radio artists and film comedies during the decade of the 1930s. In doing so, he has not only created a new format, he has brought in fresh perspectives of the people that made the magic.” – Bill Cassara, author of Nobody’s Stooge and Edgar Kennedy: Master of the Slow Burn.

“It is a thorough and fascinating study, filled with interesting details.” – James Neibaur, author of Arbuckle & Keaton and The Charley Chase Talkies.

“Garry Berman has done a stellar job.” – Michelle Morgan, author of The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd.

If there was ever a “Golden Decade” of American comedy, it was the 1930s. At the dawn of that remarkable, laugh-filled era, comedians had, for the first time, three performing venues available to them: the stage, radio, and talking films (plus, in the final year of the decade, the arrival of television), resulting in this ten-year span producing the finest performances by the greatest comedians ever to make audiences laugh. In film, comedy titans Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers, and W. C. Fields all reached their creative peaks, as did Mae West, Our Gang (a.k.a. The Little Rascals), the Three Stooges, and less-remembered teams such as Wheeler & Woolsey, Clark & McCullough, and the Ritz Brothers.

At the same time, radio became a major entertainment force, allowing vaudevillians Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Fred Allen, Ed Wynn, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Edgar Bergen, Bob Hope, and Abbott & Costello to become national stars.On the stage, comedians including Bert Lahr, Fannie Brice, Jimmy Durante, and Wynn all thrived, while expanding their respective careers into films and radio.The Funniest Decade devotes one chapter to each calendar year of the 1930s, covering the landmark comedy films, radio programs, and stage performances of each year, while focusing on the individual comedians and comedy teams at key moments in their professional careers, including their first major creative and popular breakthroughs.

Dozens of photos, too!Entertainment historian Garry Berman has been writing about pop culture−especially television, music, and films−for over twenty years. He has contributed to Nostalgia Digest magazine, History magazine, and Beatlefan. He has also written and/or published several comedy scripts and humorous short pieces. This is his sixth non-fiction book.

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OMG! It’s Harvey Korman’s Son! by Chris Korman

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  • September 12, 2020
  • 1 min read

CAROL BURNETT: Danny Kaye’s show went off the air in 1967 and The Carol Burnett Show was premiering that fall. All I could think about was, We need a Harvey Korman. We need a consummate actor with comedy chops to spare. I believe we had a call in to his agent when one afternoon I happened to see Harvey himself headed for his car in the CBS parking lot. I shouted, “Harvey!” And then proceeded to jump him.I seem to remember leaning him back over a car hood.“Please, please be on our show! You’re the very best! PLEASE?”It wasn’t exactly the most professional way to offer someone a job, but it worked. Harvey signed on, and I was in heaven.
BURT LANCASTER (OSCAR-WINNING ACTOR): “Chris, your father is a brilliant actor. He creates these incredibly believable human characters. On live television, no less.”
PETER MARSHALL (Emmy-Award-winning host of Hollywood Squares) “I always tell people that Chris loves me so much that, when he was six years old and I was in the hospital, he chose to visit me over breakfast at IHOP.”
MEL BROOKS (Oscar-winning writer/director) (Starred Harvey Korman in Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety, and Historyof the World Part 1): “Chris, I loved your father, even though he could be a real asshole.”

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First Line of Defense: Inside the U.S. Border Patrol by James McFadden

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  • June 11, 2020
  • 1 min read

Sneak through the pitch blackness of a distant mountain ridge along the border and stop to listen to the sounds of the night, only to hear people breathing all around you in the dark. Hide in a brush covered draw so dark that a group of approaching people do not even know you are there until they run into your outstretched hand.This is the real Border Patrol, the federal law enforcement agency where for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, dedicated men and women are on duty in the most remote hills, mountains and deserts along the international border with Mexico, looking for and apprehending men and women who have illegally snuck into the United States.

Border Patrol agents do this because one third of the people they catch have a criminal record. They do this because merciless foot guides or “coyotes” leave their injured or sick countrymen behind to die in the heat or cold of the wilderness. And the agents do this, often on their own and always outnumbered, despite the dangers from armed drug smugglers, border bandits hiding in the shadows, criminal aliens, and the threat of injury from every possible natural obstacle in the untamed borderlands where so many agents skillfully and successfully complete their assigned duties.

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Popularly known today as a radio and television quiz program designed to humiliate its contestants through practical jokes, Truth or Consequences inspired imitators by raising the bar for audience participation. Created by Ralph Edwards, the program quickly became known for contestants facing off against custard pies and seltzer bottles, all while it attained a success […]

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Adamant: The Life and Pursuits of Dorothy McGuire by Giancarlo Stampalia

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  • April 21, 2020
  • 1 min read

Dorothy McGuire remains one of the most beloved stars of Hollywood. An actress of sincerity, dignity and natural beauty, she graced film, radio, television and theater for nearly half a century, delivering unforgettable performances in such classic movies as A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and the suspense thriller The Spiral Staircase. Yet no biography has been written about her—until now.

Adamant is intended not as a definitive biography, but rather as an attempt, which investigates, reveals and examines, with microscopic tenacity, the many facets of McGuire’s personal and professional history, drawing on a wide range of sources, including personal reminiscences of friends, colleagues and family and the author’s own frequentation of the actress. The reasons for the author’s self-deprecating definition of Adamant as an attempt hinge on the definition of exactly what one is attempting when one writes a biography.

The loose strands of philosophical, literary and spiritual Leitmotifs that are woven through the book’s exploration and culminate in its unusual conclusion make it less a biography than a moral, or alchemical, study of Dorothy McGuire. This loving tribute takes the metaphysical route and makes observations not only about its immediate subject but also about the art of acting, personal evolution and virtues, and, most importantly, the act itself of writing a biography.

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Children of the Underworld by Monique Lessan

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  • March 2, 2020
  • 1 min read

Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text.

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The Big Show: Talulah Bankhead and her Radio Career by Martin Grams

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  • September 5, 2019
  • 2 min read

The Big Show was an NBC house-built package and an innovation in show business deriving its name from the fact that the talent roster each week included “the biggest names in show business.” Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, Phil Harris, the Andrews Sisters, Milton Berle, Judy Holliday, Jimmy Durante, Eddie Cantor and many others were heard […]

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