Wednesday, January 30, 2013

RIP Patty Adrews

Patty Andrews dies at 94; Andrews Sisters' last surviving member

The lead singer of the group that entertained U.S. service personnel overseas during World War II dies at her home in Northridge. She announced the war's end in 1945 to troops at a concert in Italy.

By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times
4:34 p.m. CST, January 30, 2013

They were the swinging, sassy voice of the homefront for U.S. service personnel overseas during World War II, singing catchy hit tunes such as "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Rum and Coca Cola" that delighted Americans and catapulted the Andrews Sisters to the very top of the pop charts.

One of the most successful female recording groups in pop history, the sisters — LaVerne, Maxene and Patty Andrews — became a beloved American institution, lifting the nation's spirits during a conflict whose outcome seemed often in doubt.

When the war ended in 1945, it was even the Andrews Sisters who announced it, to 5,000 GI's during a USO concert in Italy as the men were heading for duty in the Pacific. The troops' commanding officer had interrupted the show, handing the women a note that was read aloud by the youngest, Patty Andrews.

"At first there was dead silence," her sister Maxene told The Times years later. "Then Patty repeated the message. 'This is really true,' she told them, and then she started to cry. Suddenly there was a roar. They knew they would be going home, and they did."

Patty Andrews, the group's lead singer and its last surviving member, died Wednesday of natural causes at her longtime home in Northridge, according to her attorney, Richard Rosenthal. She was 94. Maxene, the middle Andrews sister, died in 1995 and LaVerne, the eldest, in 1967.

The Andrews Sisters began singing professionally in 1932, when Patty was just 14, and scored their first major success in 1938 with an English version of the Yiddish song "Bei Mir Bist du Schon" (or "To me, you're grand," as the sisters put it.) The song zoomed to No. 1 and made them overnight stars.

Known for their close, three-part harmonies, full-throated delivery and humor on stage, they churned out hit after hit, including "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," "Beer Barrel Polka," "Hold Tight, Hold Tight," "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," "Rhumboogie," "Shoo-Shoo Baby," "Strip Polka," and "I Can Dream, Can't I?"

Two of their biggest wartime singles were the Caribbean-influenced "Rum and Coca Cola" and "I'll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time," one of their rare ballads.

From 1938 to 1951, they had 19 gold records, dozens of top 10 singles and record sales of nearly 100 million. They performed and recorded with the biggest stars of their day, among them Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Danny Kaye, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Carmen Miranda.

They appeared as themselves in more than a dozen movies, including the Abbott and Costello comedies "Buck Privates" and "In the Navy," both released in 1941, and the Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour film "Road to Rio" in 1947.

They appeared at war bond rallies at home and entertained the troops overseas, becoming synonymous with the war effort.

"Looking back nostalgically at the war years, three memories come immediately to mind: Eagles, flags and the Andrews Sisters," journalist Rex Reed told the Toronto Star in 1992. "LaVerne sang low, Maxene sang high, and Patty was the bouncy blond in the middle, singing and swaying to the melody."

In 1973, long after their music had faded from the scene, the Andrews Sisters enjoyed a remarkable resurgence with the release of Bette Midler's version of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," which brought them to the attention of a new generation of fans.

The following year, the two surviving Andrews sisters were a hit all over again, starring on Broadway in the nostalgic World War II musical "Over Here." It ran for a year.

Patricia Marie Andrews was born in Mound, Minn., near Minneapolis, on Feb. 16, 1918, to Olga, a Norwegian American, and Peter Andrews, a Greek immigrant. She and her sisters were junior high dropouts who went on the road in the early 1930s when their father's business foundered, playing in the roadhouses and on the vaudeville stages of the Midwest to help support their family.

They eventually made their way to New York, where an executive at Decca Records offered them a contract to make four singles at $50 apiece. One of the four was "Nice Work If You Can Get It," which went nowhere. But on the flip side was "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," which launched them to stardom.

But the sisters' close musical harmonies belied a private relationship that was often troubled, culminating in a falling out between Patty and Maxene that lasted more than 20 years. Music industry insiders blamed it on a dispute between Maxene and Patty's husband, Walter Weschler, the group's conductor and arranger, who died in 2010.

Although the sisters lived near each other in the San Fernando Valley, according to published reports, they spoke rarely and saw each other just twice from 1974 to Maxene's death in 1995: when Patty paid a bedside visit to her sister in 1982 after Maxene suffered a heart attack, and in 1987, when they were together at the public dedication of their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

That year, the two spoke of the feud in separate interviews with The Times.

Maxene Andrews said it may simply have been the result of too many years of working so closely together. "There was really no breathing room ... ," she said. "We ate together, slept together, went out socially together. If we were going someplace, we got in the car together.... You can see how glued we were. There had to be a breaking point."

Patty Andrews was less willing to speak about the issue, but said her sister was just jealous. "Ever since I was born, Maxene has been a problem, and that problem hasn't stopped," she said, but declined to discuss the matter further.

"I'm not going to do anything or say anything to destroy that image that the people love," she said. "I hear that from the people that they love the Andrews Sisters and it's a joy to them. Who am I to take that away?"

Patty Andrews' first marriage, to agent Martin Melcher, ended in divorce in 1950 after he left her for Doris Day. She married Weschler in 1951 and they remained married until his death. She had no immediate survivors.

ANDREWS, Patty (Patricia Maire Andrews)
Born: 2/16/1918, Mound, Minnesota, U.S.A.
Died: 1/30/2013, Northridge, California, U.S.A.

Patty Andrews western – actress, singer:
Moonlight and Cactus – 1944 (Patty Andrews)

Monday, January 28, 2013

RIP Sally Starr

Sally Starr, iconic Philly TV personality, dies at 90

By: CHUCK DARROW, Daily News Staff Writer

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013, 6:01 AM

SALLY STARR, the vivacious and maternal blonde TV cowgirl who served as a surrogate parent for the Philadelphia region's baby boomers, died Sunday morning, two days after her 90th birthday.

Starr died peacefully in a South Jersey nursing home shortly after 6 a.m., according to Michael Yip, a close friend of Starr's. She had been in poor health for years, both from various natural causes as well as from the effects of a 2005 car crash. The precise cause of death was not immediately known.

Word of Starr's passing spread quickly. People who grew up watching her took to social media to express their sadness and offer reminiscences. Local broadcasters and contemporaries weighed in on what made the woman who usually referred to herself as "Your Gal Sal" so special to so many.

"Sally Starr is an icon, and she will always be remembered as an icon," said DJ Jerry Blavat, adding:

"She was someone who was pure. Her persona was always Sally Starr. She understood the importance of being a personality on and off the air. She was always in costume. She represented the true style of what it was to be a personality."

Gerry Wilkinson, chairman of the board of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, a local organization that celebrates this market's rich broadcasting history, cited the irony of Starr's having no children and her relationship to so many others' kids.

"Sally Starr was like a substitute mother to many baby boomers here in the Delaware Valley," he said. "She was real. What you saw was what you got. Even though she never had any children of her own, she loved children. They were her kids and she cared about every one of them.

"When God made Sally, he broke the mold."

Music-industry publisher Kal Rudman also spoke of the bond between Starr and her youthful viewers. Rudman recalled the times when Starr would give him a lift to the Broadcast Pioneers' monthly luncheons in Wynnefield. "Sally often told me that . . . meeting the children in person [was] the greatest thrill of her lifetime."

Sally Starr was born Alleen Mae Beller, in Kansas City, Mo., on Jan. 25, 1923, the second-oldest of five sisters raised in a hardscrabble environment. In a 2011 Daily News interview, she recalled her excitement as a little girl when her father installed her family home's first lightbulb.

It was evident from an early age that Alleen had performing talent. As a child, she and her sister, Mildred, were featured on a network radio show.

In 1941, Alleen Beller legally changed her name to Sally Starr. She also married older-by-15-years country entertainer Jesse Rogers, and later that decade moved to Philadelphia.

Her first on-air job was as host of a country-western music program on radio station WJMJ-AM. In 1950, she was offered a weekday-afternoon cartoon show on what was then WFIL-TV, Channel 6 (now WPVI, 6ABC). For two hours a day, five days a week until 1971, Starr hosted "Popeye Theater." Dressed in her famed spangled cowgirl outfit, she introduced "Popeye" cartoons and Three Stooges shorts, and welcomed celebrity guests to her live telecasts.

She was so instrumental in introducing the Three Stooges to a new generation of fans that, in 1965, the comedy troupe invited her to appear as gunslinger Belle Starr in their final film, "The Outlaws Is Coming."

She also dispensed life lessons - about everything from fire prevention to getting along with others - to her young fans, and brightened their days by sending great big "smoocheroonies" their way, along with such signature lines as "I hope you feel as good as you look, because you sure look good to Your Gal Sal," and "Love ya lots! Love, luck and lollipops."

Although Starr logged thousands of on-air hours, only a handful of clips of her on "Popeye Theater" have survived. Early on, the show was telecast live. Later, her programs were videotaped, but were recorded over in subsequent years.

By the early 1960s, she had achieved unparalleled local fame and, arguably, the status of most beloved figure in Philadelphia broadcasting history. On any given afternoon a sizable percentage of local kids (and, often, their stay-at-home moms) were tuned in to "Popeye Theater."

Even in a market that boasted such kiddie-show heavy hitters as Happy the Clown, Gene London, Chief Halftown, Pixanne and Lee Dexter's puppet Bertie the Bunyip, no one came close to "Our Gal Sal" in terms of ratings. And her popularity extended well beyond her daily telecast.

Supermarkets, fast-food outlets, toy stores and car dealerships within a 60-mile radius of Philadelphia lured vast crowds by sponsoring her personal appearances. Such was her fame and the esteem in which she was held by her fans that Sally Starr yearbooks and dolls were highly coveted souvenirs.

In 1961, long divorced from Rogers - who, in later years, she accused of physically abusing her - Starr married Channel 6 camera operator Mark Gray, who she considered the great love of her life.

As such a beloved personality - who spent countless hours visiting sick children in hospitals and working on behalf of various charities - Starr should have been comfortable. But hard luck dogged her for most of her life.

In 1968, Gray died of a heart attack, a situation that launched her on a long run of misfortune. In 1971, she was fired without warning by Channel 6, and she was not given the chance to say goodbye on the air.

After briefly hosting a program on WIBF-TV, Channel 29 (now WTXF, Fox 29), she moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she held a series of nonbroadcast jobs, including that of an airport security officer.

In September 1984, after an absence of a dozen years she reappeared locally as honorary hostess of the RV Roundup, a recreational-vehicle exhibition, at the old Civic Center, in West Philadelphia. Throughout the show's three-day run, hundreds waited in line to meet Starr and to offer precious childhood memories of their experiences on TV or in person with her.

That gig led to offers of other personal appearances in the area, but she went back to south Florida, where, in 1987, a fire destroyed her home. She returned to the Philadelphia region for good, living in various places in South Jersey - where, decades before, she had owned a ranch.

Despite a full schedule of personal appearances and a return to radio on several stations, including Vineland's WVLT-FM (92.1), Starr's life continued to be difficult.

In 1993, while hosting a New Year's Eve party at a Northeast Philly restaurant, she suffered a major heart attack. In the late 1990s, she declared bankruptcy when her personal-appearance income was severely limited after New Jersey 101.5 radio talk-show host Jeff Diminski identified her on-air as a "lesbian cowgirl."

Her defamation lawsuit initially was rejected by a lower court, but the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court subsequently ruled in her favor. Her attorney in the case, Alexander Wazeter of Millville, N.J., told the Daily News in 2011 that she received an undisclosed amount in damages.

On Feb. 6, 2005, Starr hit another car while driving to WVLT's studios. A civil suit later was filed by the other driver, and was, according to the woman's attorney, Joseph J. Hoffman Jr., of Woodbury, N.J., settled for an undisclosed sum.

The accident inflicted serious injuries. During a winter 2011 interview with the Daily News, Starr proudly showed off the location where a metal plate was surgically implanted in her right forearm. And she needed a cane to walk.

During that interview, Sally Starr was asked how she hoped to be remembered. Without hesitation, she smiled and said, "Your Gal Sal. Period."

She is survived by a sister. Services will be private.

STARR, Sally (Alleen Mae Beller)
Born: 1/25/1923, Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.
Died: 1/27/2013, Berlin, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Sally Starr’s western – actress:
The Outlaws is Coming – 1965 (Belle Starr)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

RIP Lloyd Phillips

New Zealand's first Oscar winner dies

7:35 AM Monday Jan 28, 2013

Lloyd Phillips with Temuera Morrison at the 2000 premiere for Vertical Limit in Newmarket, Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson

New Zealand's first Oscar winner has died suddenly of a heart attack in America.

Lloyd Phillips, who was 63, worked on some of Hollywood's biggest films, including as executive producer of blockbusters Inglourious Basterds and The Tourist, Nikau Film Productions said.

Phillips was born in South Africa but grew up in Auckland, where he attended Auckland Grammar School.

He worked as a photo journalist before being selected to attend the National Film School in Britain in 1973.

In 1981 he won the best short film, live action Oscar for his action film The Dollar Bottom.

Later in his career he was executive producer of the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds starring Brad Pitt, and executive producer of The Tourist, starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie.

He died suddenly of a heart attack on Saturday evening in Malibu, Los Angeles, Nikau Film Productions said.

Born: 12/14/1949, South Africa
Died: 1/26/2013, Malibu, California, U.S.A

Lloyd Phillips western – producer:
The Legend of Zorro – 2005

Thursday, January 24, 2013

RIP Eugene R. Marks

RIP Eugene R. Marks

Eugene R. Marks, a pioneering filmmaker and one of the pillars of the local Jewish community, died at home with his wife Myra at his side in Thousand Oaks at the age of 89 on January 20, 2013 of leukemia. Known for his intellect, wit, loyalty, and passionate sense of moral justice, Marks was one of the last surviving veterans of the U.S. Army Air Forces First Motion Picture Unit, in which he served during World War II alongside director John Sturges, writer Irving Wallace, actors Clark Gable, Ronald Reagan, William Holden, Lee J. Cobb, Alan Ladd, and others. The unit comprised leading filmmakers enlisted from Hollywood to make recruiting and training films, including the classified films that prepared U.S. bombing crews to find targets in Germany and Japan to end the war. Born in 1923 in Los Angeles, Marks grew up living on the Universal Studios back lot during the Great Depression, and then attended Los Angeles High School and UCLA. Marks worked for over 40 years in the film industry, first as a Sound Editor and then as a Music Editor. After stints at Desilu and Universal, he was for over 35 years a Music Editor at Warner Bros., where he worked on a wide range of classic films and TV programs like My Fair Lady, Camelot, Giant, Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, Blazing Saddles, The Exorcist, Enter the Dragon, Mame, Roots and Bugs Bunny/Road Runner cartoons. He was sent to Moscow in the winter of 1969-70 by Warner Bros. and the U.S. Government to work on a unique international film co-production on Tchaikovsky as part of the "d├ętente" thawing in U.S.-Soviet relations. Marks was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) and the Motion Picture Editors Guild. A past-president of Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks, Marks served as a leader and active volunteer for a number of local arts and industry organizations, including the Warner Bros. Studio Museum, the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Camerata Pacifica, the New West Symphony, the Conejo Players, and the Paley Center for Media. He is survived by his wife Myra (Goldman) Lee, his son Allan Marks (Mara Cohen Marks), his daughter Susan (Marks) Jacoby, his grandchildren Danielle Jacoby, Brandon Jacoby and Jacqueline Marks, and his first wife Maryann (Sloan) Kleinman.

Memorial service and burial will be on Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park in Westlake Village, CA.

MARKS, Eugene R.
Born: 1923, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.
Died: 1/20/2013, Thousand Oaks, California, U.S.A.

Eugene R. Marks westerns – music editor:
The Dakotas (TV) – 1963
F Troop (TV) – 1966
Blazing Saddles – 1974
The Frisco Kid - 1979

RIPJeff Cahill

Actor Jeff Cahill dies at 44

Published in the Los Angeles Times on January 25, 2013

Cahill, Jeff December 19, 1968 - January 18, 2013 Jeff Cahill, Professional Actor and Artist, dies at age 44. Jeff Cahill began acting at the tender age of 12. Jeff was a child actor, well known for his role in the 1980s hit the Blue Brothers and transitioned into a television career throughout his adulthood, with numerous parts including reoccurring roles in prime time television shows Dangerous Minds, NYPD Blue, and ER. He was known as having given a start to many musicians, bringing together bands from around the world. Jeff was also well known for his artwork, in particular for his untamed expressionistic mixed media paintings. His artwork sold to the likes of celebrities around the world. In addition, Jeff was a manager at On the Rox (located above the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles, California), where he was loved by all those who were fortunate to meet him. Jeff passed away on Friday, January 18, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. Jeff was loved by everyone who met and knew him. He was a jovial, caring, and compassionate individual who touched the hearts of those who knew him. Jeff had a way about him that was truly endearing and that brought out the best of the human spirit. Jeff was the loving son of the late Eddie Cahill. He is survived by his mother, Josephine Cahill, sister and brother-in law, Gina and John Monaco, niece Courtney Ebert, and nephew Joseph Radice. Service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at St. Norbert's Church in Northbrook Illinois, located at 1809 Walters Avenue, Northbrook, IL 60062. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the American Cancer Society , NFP.

CAHILL, Jeff (Jeffrey Garold Cahill)
Born: 12/19/1968, Northbrook, Illinois, U.S.A.
Died: 1/18/2013, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Jeff Cahill’s western – actor:
Deadwood (TV) – 2005 (Eamon/Crop Ear)