Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tee Time! (Pt. ll)

Time to tee off with JK!

Yep, that's JK practicing on the set of Maverick for the Bing Crosby Golf Tournament which would take place on Sunday, January 22, 1961. Just look at that concentration, that stance, that dark outfit--why, JK is a veritable Gary Player in cowboy boots! :)

Here we have a funsome foursome consisting of JK, his golf instructor/occasional Maverick actor Art Stuart, wife Donna Kelly, and a poodle. (Not to be confused with a puddle, which is
 what JK is hitting from.)
Time to go home! Donna lends a shoulder as JK checks his score. (And they'd better watch out for that giant golf ball behind them!)
Another day, another 18 holes. Here, Donna watches as JK pencils in his score at the Rogers Sports Center in the
 San Fernando Valley near Chatsworth, CA.
By the way, that's "Rogers" as in Roy Rogers. The "King of the Cowboys" was
 part-owner of this sports center,
which also contained a skeet-shooting range.
NEXT TIME: More golfing fun with JK! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tee Time! (Pt. I) :)

Hello Everyone!

Not so long ago, the game of golf seemed to be losing its grip on the American public after years of enduring popularity.

Tiger Woods' phenomenal career crashed and burned; casual duffers lost interest in the game; once-thriving country clubs were repurposed into housing developments.

But, thanks to a pack of bold young Tiger cubs such as Rory McIroy, Justin Spieth and Rickie Fowler, interest in golf is on the upswing again. Even Woods himself is making a comeback.

So, what better time to look back at Jack Kelly's love of the links.

First, some stats:

According to an early 1960's-era article I found in a Golfer's Digest anthology which belonged to my dad, JK had a 14 handicap. He's described as an "excellent golfer" with "a number of low net trophies on his mantle at home to prove his ability."

JK explained to the writer why he enjoyed golf so much: "I like the exercise and the chance to meet people, and when things go wrong I don't get upset. The game is just fun for me."

The writer continued, "Jack is in heavy demand for movies and TV but when not working he likes to get out on the links every day. Even when working, he makes it Saturdays and Sundays. His preference is to play with as many different people as he can. For company--('not her game')--he likes to take along his wife, Donna (professional name May Wynn). He does most of his playing at Lakeside Country Club in Hollywood, or one of the Palm Springs courses."

The Maverick soundstage also became a makeshift practice green for JK. An October 9, 1960, story in the Buffalo NY Courier Express stated, "Art Stuart, a Los Angeles golf professional who helps Jack Kelly with his golf, is also an actor. Art appeared in several Maverick episodes last season, and between 'takes' he and Jack practiced with a bag of shag balls in a remote corner of the set.

"'Since Art started working in the show my game has improved by three or four strokes', says Kelly. 'I wish they could find a running part for him so we could practice every day.'"

NEXT TIME: Stay tuned to TDS for fantastic photos of JK practicing for a big event in that "remote corner" and teeing up with Donna (and friends!) :)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Jack Kelly: A Valentine's Mystery Solved? :)

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

On February 14, 1963, the Ocala (FL) Star-Banner reported that Jack Kelly had arrived out of the blue at Six-Gun Territory, a newly opened Wild West-themed attraction near Ocala. According to the news story, the park's PR director, Frank McDowell, was mystified by JK's unscheduled appearance.

Although JK explained that he had dropped by "to see a friend", it still seemed odd to see him unexpectedly strolling the streets of Six-Gun Territory...on Valentine's Day, no less. Had the actor become a real-life maverick? Why had he suddenly appeared in Florida?

Actually, a follow-up story printed in the Star-Banner on 2/17/63 shed a little more light on JK's seemingly impromptu visit to the Sunshine State. This story identified the friend he'd visited--Bob Marks. Marks was a Thoroughbred horse farm owner who later became president of the Ocala Jockey Club. (Trivia: In 1972, a colt born on Marks' farm ran in the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes. The colt's name? Smiling Jack--but he wasn't named after JK.) 

Betty Wardlow, the writer of the 2/17 story, noted, "Jack Kelly, who looks very much at home at Six-Gun Territory, is a tall, good looking gentleman, much better looking in person than on television, who likes to hunt and fish. No, I didn't ask him if he had any money pinned inside his coat, but I was tempted."

JK told Ms. Wardlow that this was his first visit to Florida and he was quite taken with the Ocala area and its beautiful horse farms. The article even included a photo of JK showing card tricks to Marks. It also added that JK had gone on from Ocala to "Crystal River on business".

Thanks to a 1963 press photo which recently joined the Kellection, I think I know what that "business" was:

Yes, that's JK blissfully piloting a golf cart with his lovely wife Donna (May Wynn) smiling beside him.

The photo caption says, "RIDING GOLF RANGE--Maverick star, Jack Kelly, and wife saddled golf cart during vacation at Florida's newest resort, Paradise Plantation Hotel and Country Club at Crystal River on Florida's west coast. Kelly broke from work developing a new western series to vacation at hotel's opening weekend."

And, guess when that opening weekend was? Articles in the Star-BannerLakeland Ledger and the St Petersburg Times announced the $1.5 million resort's grand opening would occur on February 15, 1963--one day after JK made his surprise appearance at Six-Gun Territory.

Well, the mystery behind JK's visit to Florida may be solved, but it's no mystery now that his marriage wasn't really all that sunny in 1963. He and Donna divorced in 1964. The Paradise Plantation resort also went through some rough patches, but it still exists today. It's now known as The Plantation On Crystal River.

And, that "new western series" JK was reportedly developing? In early 1963, there was mention of a possible TV series based on the 1940 film Boom Town which would have paired JK with his former Warner Bros stablemate Clint Walker. That may have been the series the photo caption was referring to, but, unfortunately this Boom was a bust and never came to fruition.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The First Kellectible of 2015! :)

Howdy Everyone!

I finally captured a Kellectible I've been chasing since I first became interested in Jack Kelly and Maverick :

It's a cardboard display box which once held 24 "Mounds" and "Almond Joy" candy bars. I've actually had several chances to buy items like this one, but the cost was always pretty steep for an empty box. I finally found one for a "sweet" price. :)

Why is Bart Maverick on the box? Because the Peter Paul company sponsored Maverick during its 1961-'62 season. A blurb in the 6/26/1961 issue of Sponsor (a TV/radio advertising trade publication) explains:

Here are a couple of Mounds and Almond Joy commercials from 1961:


Can you believe these candy bars were only $.10 back in the day? The last time I got a Mounds out of the vending machine at work it cost $.95!

But, they are still "indescribably delicious":

By the way, the gal on the box with Bart is "Pinky Pinkham" (Dorothy Provine) from The Roaring 20's series. You may remember Bart and Pinky dancing a mean Charleston in this previous TDS post.