Elvis Presley: The Quest for an Oscar

  • duffincreative_1s2jiw
  • September 3, 2021
  • 1 min read

Forthcoming 2021

Read More

Monty Hall: TV’s Big Dealer by Monty Hall

  • duffincreative_1s2jiw
  • September 2, 2021
  • 1 min read

Forthcoming 2021

Read More

“Our comedies are not to be laughed at!”

A funny line, admittedly, but dead wrong. This quip, supposedly uttered by one of the Stern Brothers, is another example of the legend becoming “fact,” and has defined – and tarnished –
the lasting reputation of the brothers and their films.

In spite of budgetary constraints and a lack of star power, Julius and Abe Stern were responsible for nearly 900 silent comedy shorts over the fifteen year period 1914-29; films often just as good – if not better – than those of their primary competitors, Mack Sennett and Hal Roach. They were financially successful as well, the brothers retiring from filmmaking at the end of the silent
era as millionaires.

But there is more to the story. Little known is the breadth and depth of the Sterns’ relationship with their brother-in-law, Universal head Carl Laemmle, and the relationship’s eventual downturn. Or Julius’s humanitarian endeavors in the 1930s, sponsoring the emigration of numerous Jews from Hitler’s Germany.

TIME IS MONEY! THE CENTURY, RAINBOW, AND STERN BROTHERS COMEDIES OF JULIUS AND ABE STERN finally reveals the intriguing – and true – story of the lives and careers of Julius and Abe Stern. Lavishly illustrated with more than 300 rare photos, TIME IS MONEY! details the making of the brothers’ films, and delves into their previously undocumented, behind the scenes importance to Laemmle and the growth of Universal.

Read More

Program for Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention

  • duffincreative_1s2jiw
  • August 19, 2021
  • 1 min read

Annual nostalgia convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Read More

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 with charitable contributions which remains unparalleled in the history of broadcasting entertainment. Along with raising millions of dollars for various health agencies and wartime projects, a half-billion dollars in “E” Bonds were sold through the Truth or Consequences broadcasts.

Over the years, Truth or Consequences was instrumental in establishing both The Jimmy Fund and the American Heart Association, while the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes benefited financially through a series of ongoing contests. Following the Second World War, the series served as a public service message for rehabilitating war veterans, setting the stage for another successful Edwards program, This is Your Life. In 1948, Jack Benny secretly agreed to participate in The Walking Man contest, ultimately positioning the quiz program into a national phenomenon. Two years later, the small town of Hot Springs, New Mexico agreed to permanently change its name to Truth or Consequences, making headlines across the globe.

Besides the basic history of the quiz program, from concept/origin to the transition from radio to television, this book documents many stories of contestants and charitable contributions proving that Truth or Consequences was not just an ordinary quiz program. Also included are more than 200 never-before-published photographs, recollections from contestants and crew, and a detailed episode guide.

Read More

Betty White on TV by Wesley Hyatt

  • duffincreative_1s2jiw
  • 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.

Read More

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.”

Read More

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

  • duffincreative_1s2jiw
  • 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.”

Read More

Hitler’s Third Reich of the Movies by Rolf Geisen

  • duffincreative_1s2jiw
  • October 10, 2020
  • 1 min read

“We’re here to stay!” was what Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels assured, speaking to members of the German film industry in early 1933. There were many who agreed with him like Karl Ritter who introduced Mickey Mouse to German audiences in 1930 and in 1933 began to produce propaganda films like Hitler Youth Quex: “In our cinemas we want to see nothing else than convinced National Socialists!”

For a while German film export languished, but with WW2 the Nazis “conquered” cinemas all over Europe and flooded them with their movies, propaganda as well as allegedly “apolitical” entertainment. In the new Germany one can laugh again! the propaganda promised but it was a different way of laughing. It was gallows humor.

This book deals not only with Hitler’s personal cinematic likes and dislikes, with the ambitions of Leni Riefenstahl, with the idyllic world of German animation, with film emigration, with anti-Semitic films, Dachau and Auschwitz. There is also a back story to tell about certain German silents like Metropolis and why the way of Teutonic imagery didn’t end with the death of the Nazi leaders in 1945, why their way of “laughing” is still alive on German screens…

Read More

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.

Read More