Sunday, February 19, 2017

JK's Sunday Sermonette :)


A very special Jack Kelly performance has found its way into the Kellection. It's in an episode of Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre titled "Kirsti". It originally aired on Valentine's Day in 1956.

I made some screencaps, but unfortunately the copy I have of "Kirsti" isn't the greatest, picture-wise. But, I hope you'll enjoy them nonetheless. :)

JK portrays a young pastor (not a "parson", he insists) named "Rayburn Stone". Pastor Stone has just returned to his New England town with "Kirsti", his winsome Norwegian-born bride.
She's always quoting her "Papa" (hmm, I wonder if she has some American relatives named Maverick?)

 Kirsti can't wait to hear Rayburn preach, until he explains that he's only an assistant pastor who doesn't usually deliver the sermons in his church.

 That's the job of "Dr. Cutler" (Charles Coburn), the senior pastor. Rayburn takes care of more mundane tasks such as typing Dr. Cutler's messages. However, he also writes a few of his own messages, just in case he needs to fill in for Dr. Cutler some day.

After reading one of Rayburn's sermons, Kirsti thinks it deserves to be heard.

And, it looks like it will be, since Dr. Cutler has come down with a bad cold and has asked Rayburn to spell him in the pulpit.

But, then Dr. Cutler starts to feel better. He decides to preach after all and asks Rayburn to type his sermon. 

The next day, Dr. Cutler prepares to preach a recycled sermon full of  hellfire and brimstone. However, it seems someone has pulled the old switcheroo with his notes, and Dr. Cutler ends up sharing Rayburn's gentler message instead. This leads to a big change in the church, but not as big as the change the Stones will soon be dealing with at home.

JK is delightful as Rayburn. And, Jane Wyman is so loveable as Kirsti, it's hard to believe this is the same woman who played nasty "Angela Channing" in the 1980's prime-time soap Falcon Crest. But, that just shows what a fine actress Ms. Wyman was.

Just about a month after "Kirsti" aired, JK and JW co-starred in another Fireside Theatre presentation titled "Scent of Roses". And, in a April 1956 newspaper article, Ms. Wyman mentioned JK as one of several talented young Fireside Theatre co-stars in whom she took pride (others included tough guy Neville Brand and actress Betty Lynn, who later appeared as "Thelma Lou" in The Andy Griffith Show).

Naturally, after I purchased a copy of "Kirsti", I discovered this charming episode had been uploaded to YouTube some time ago (it looks like whoever put it there used the same grainy copy). So, enjoy this wonderful JK performance and have a super Sunday. :)


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentine's Day Question :)

Happy Valentine's Day Everyone!

Last summer, I posted a look at Jack Kelly from a Brazilian movie magazine called Cinelandia. I just added another issue of Cinelandia to the Kellection. This issue not only contains some wonderful pix of JK inside the magazine, but features him on the Valentine-red cover as well (along with Robert Colbert as brother Brent):

The banner just above Bart and Brent reads (roughly translated from Portuguese): "Cinelandia Asks: Should Cowboy Heroes Get Married?" Apparently, the question was prompted by a story arc on Bonanza which almost had Adam Cartwright (Pernell Roberts) marrying a widow with a young daughter. Their wedding never happened, supposedly because Bonanza's female fans demanded that Adam remain single.

The cover article begins (again, roughly translated):

"The good guys from the 'Far West' are the only men in the world who need the approval of thousands of people to go to the altar. Marriage may be the aim of many of them, but the 'yes' depends on the TV viewers. Should the cowboys settle down to family life? Or should they keep chasing bandits? This depends on you and Cinelandia wants to know your opinion."

On the cover, bachelor Bart's opinion of marriage seems to be "No thanks". But, inside the magazine, he enthusiastically aims some affection in the direction of pretty Karen Steele, while brother Bret (James Garner) seems to second that emotion. Ms. Steele guest-starred on two episodes of Maverick (with JK in the episode "You Can't Beat The Percentage" and with JG in "Point Blank") and was later linked romantically to JK in real-life following his 1964 divorce from wife Donna (May Wynn) Kelly.

Below, Bart and Bret are barely visible behind a bevy of potential brides:

Actually, these are some of the many actresses who co-starred opposite JK and JG in Maverick. The photo is a bit grainy, but some of the ladies I recognize are Ruta Lee, Patricia Crowley, Adele Mara, Joi Lansing, Ms. Steele, Marie Windsor, and Arlene Howell. This gathering of glamor gals appears to be from the same shoot as this photo.

Well, Bart Maverick may have escaped matrimony, but he still captures our hearts. :)

Clipart courtesy of Shannon Hatfield

Sunday, February 5, 2017

JK And "Jealousy"! :)


As you may know, Maverick is now airing nationally Saturday mornings at 10 AM ET on ME-TV (although local ME-TV stations sometimes substitute their own programming--check your area listings to be sure). As the Maverick episodes seem to be running sequentially from the beginning, that means Bart hasn't shown up yet. Sit tight: he makes his debut in "Hostage!", coming soon (February 25, to be exact).

That's not the only Jack Kelly treat we have to look forward to on ME-TV. Since the network is also airing the original half-hour length episodes of Gunsmoke, we'll also be seeing "Jealousy", the 1957 episode written by Sam Peckinpah in which JK guest-starred. It will be coming up soon as well (February 23).

I recently found a Gunsmoke DVD with "Jealousy", so here are some dreamy screen caps of JK from the episode as a preview.

Smilin' Jack (as "Cam Durbin") introduces big (6'7") Jim Arness ("Marshal Matt Dillon") to his wife, "Tilda" (Joan Tetzel). Cam is an old friend of Matt's.

Cam has come to Dodge City to deal faro at the Longbranch Saloon. While he and Tilda are chatting with Marshal Dillon, a shady character named "Lonnie Pike", who was the former dealer at the saloon, comes to plead his case with the Marshal. Pike was stabbed in the hand by a card player he tried to cheat and can no longer ply his trade as a gambler.

Cam decides to help Pike by offering him a job as a back-up dealer. Marshal Dillon tells him he's making a mistake, but Cam stands firm.

He should have listened to Matt. Pike holds a grudge against Dillon because he wouldn't shoot the man who stabbed him. He plots to get rid of the Marshal by convincing Cam that Matt is trying to steal Tilda away from him. (You see, Cam is the jealous type...and he used to be pretty good with a gun.)

Cam begins to have his doubts:

Is Tilda really cheating on him with his old friend?

The evidence seems to be mounting. Cam catches Matt and Tilda together in a restaurant (not the restaurant Tilda was supposed to meet him at):

Finally, he angrily confronts them on the street, and threatens to shoot Matt:

He doesn't, but it turns out someone else in the Durbin family is good with a gun. Tilda blasts Pike at the saloon for feeding false rumors about her and Matt to Cam.

Cam tries to  stop Matt from arresting Tilda, but is knocked out cold by the Marshal.

At the Marshal's office, Cam tries to reason with Matt and Tilda: 

When it appears that Pike will recover from the shooting, Matt releases Tilda:

And, the Durbins decide to get out of Dodge:

JK's role as gamblin' man Cam was good practice for when he took on the role of Bart Maverick later in 1957!  

COMING SOON: A look at another pre-Maverick JK performance, plus a post-Maverick JK performance, and a different view of Gunsmoke--stay tuned! :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Pawprints on My Heart



I'm not a big fan of "sad dog stories". You know: Movies like Old Yeller or any other flick where the pooch dies at the end.

Recently, I mused that all dog stories have sad endings, because our canine companions simply don't live as long as we do. This unhappy thought became a reality for me almost two weeks ago, when I had to say goodbye to my beloved dog, Wiley.

I could write a book about Wiley (and maybe some day I will), but here are the basics: Wiley came into my household as a two-year old. He was basically in good shape and looked and acted far younger than his age well into his senior years. So, in January of 2016, when he began losing his appetite and weight, I knew something was up.

I took him to his regular vet, who felt around his tummy and took an x-ray. He said there appeared to be a mass in Wiley's abdomen and advised me to take him to the emergency vet for an ultrasound as soon as possible.

I did, and the ultrasound revealed the rest of the story: Wiley had a tumor in his spleen. And, both the mass and the spleen had to come out.

A million scary thoughts ran through my mind.  Would my 13 year-old pup survive major surgery? What if the mass is cancerous? However, the surgeon assured me that dogs (and people) can live without a spleen. And, if the tumor was malignant, removing it along with the spleen would probably keep any cancer from spreading further.

Happily, Wiley did survive the surgery. But, when the surgeon called back a couple of weeks later with the results of the tumor biopsy, the news wasn't good: Wiley had canine lymphoma, and would need some form of secondary treatment (such as chemotherapy and/or radiation) to beat it.

More scary thoughts. Thankfully, the emergency vet service is connected to a world-class veterinary cancer center and Wiley's case was assigned to a renowned oncologist. The oncologist explained Wiley's treatment options.

Radiation was out. Wiley was too small and would literally be fried by the level of radiation required to eradicate the cancer. We decided to proceed with the "CHOP" chemotherapy protocol. This method uses several different types of chemo drugs administered on a rotating basis over several months, to help avoid drug-resistance. The oncologist explained that most dogs do very well on chemo, since they're given a lower dosage of the drugs than are given to humans and thus avoid side effects such as nausea and hair loss. However, this also means that most dogs aren't really "cured" of lymphoma; they're only put into remission by the chemo. And, hopefully the remission would last at least a year.

My little "scaredy pup"--who was afraid of thunder, fireworks, my cat, and that "this is only a test of the emergency broadcast system" siren which periodically shreiked from the TV--bravely endured six months of chemo. The vet techs nicknamed Wiley "Handsome" and, while I'm sure he wasn't always glad to see them, his oncologist assured me they loved seeing him. When Wiley completed his chemo in July, he was awarded a personalized "Cancer Fighter" bandana. He had achieved remission!

We were blessed with more good quality months filled with walks, treats, and car rides, only now I had a deeper sense of thankfulness that Wiley was still with me.

Unfortunately, the time he would remain with me was far shorter than I thought it would be. In December 2016, while Wiley was still in remission from lymphoma, he developed a limp in his left hind leg. During one of his follow-up visits to the oncologist, an orthopedic vet examined the leg. The doc said it appeared Wiley had torn a ligament. I was instructed to keep him from injuring the leg further by not letting him run and to keep him from jumping off the furniture, steps, etc. Eventually, it was hoped, the injury would resolve itself.

But, it didn't. Although I followed the vet's instructions and gave Wiley his prescribed pain meds, his limp persisted. When his leg began to swell (ominously on Friday, January 13), I rushed Wiley to his regular vet.

The x-rays the vet took of the swollen leg revealed a grim picture: Wiley appeared to have bone cancer. Further scans and tests at the vet cancer center a few days later confirmed this dreaded diagnosis, which was apparently unrelated to the lymphoma.

I couldn't understand how cancer could have thrown another cruel curveball to my dog, and why no one at the cancer center had caught it sooner. I've since learned that torn ligaments are common in older dogs, but bone cancer is relatively rare in smaller dogs such as Wiley. And, initially, both conditions display similar symptoms. It wasn't until Wiley's leg swelled that we realized something more serious was going on.

Unfortunately, osteosarcoma (bone cancer) can be very agressive, so by the time it's diagnosed, it has usually spread to other organs, such as the lungs. When that happens, treatment options are few.

Sadly, this was the case for Wiley. I was offered the option of putting him down immediately, or I could give him hospice care at home with pain meds for the remainder of his life. I chose the latter, since as his oncologist smiled with tear-filled eyes, "He's still his feisty little self for now."

But, that feisty self faded more each day. It became more difficult for Wiley to get around. He would move a short ways, and then stop to pant. He couldn't seem to get comfortable. He slept more and ate less.

Finally, on Sunday, January 22, 2017, I sensed it was "time". One last time, I drove Wiley to the emergency vet and he very peacefully crossed "the rainbow bridge" just after sunset. I cried for days (and nights) afterward.

Wiley was my first dog--I'd always had cats before. I considered him a blessing, because he was always there when I needed him. For instance, if I had a migraine, he would lie down next to me. Most of all, Wiley reminded me there was someone besides me in the world. I'd come home from work and just want to relax, but this persistent pooch would beg and whine until I took him out for a walk (or until he took me for a walk, I should say). He literally fetched me out of my comfort zone. I got exercise and fresh air instead of vegging out in front of a screen.

Today, I received a wonderful card signed by Wiley's oncologist and some of the vet techs who cared for him at the cancer center. They all wrote heartfelt notes about how much they loved my "spunky" little fellow and how much they'll miss him. I also received a card from the vet at the emergency center who helped release Wiley from his pain. This card stated that pets leave their pawprints on our hearts. Wiley certainly did. The inscription on his urn says "Devoted friend, faithful companion". Truer words were never written about a dog.

(If anyone out there is dealing with a dog's cancer diagnosis, I highly recommend the Dog Cancer Blog.)

Now, I'm not going to leave you with a sad dog story. Here's a somewhat happier doggy tale starring Jack Kelly. Following the devasting Bel-Air Fire in 1961, JK was a devoted friend and a faithful companion to some very needy dogs: 


Monday, January 16, 2017

A "Model" Maverick Story - Part II

As we saw in the video in Part I, the Ideal Toy Corporation took a huge gamble on Maverick. Ideal became one of the show's major sponsors on October 1, 1961, betting on its new late afternoon/early evening timeslot to introduce viewers of all ages to the company's line of ITC hobby model kits. It was reportedly the first time a toy company sponsored a network television show targeted mainly at adults.

As a build-up, Ideal beat the drum for ITC's pending Maverick sponsorship with splashy ads in toy trade publications. Fortunately for us fans, Jack Kelly was featured prominently in these ads:

A write-up also announced the deal, illustrated with a variation on the Maverick "saloon door" promo photo with JK and James Garner which I hadn't seen before:

Unfortunately, Ideal's sponsorship wager didn't pay off. For one thing, Maverick wasn't exactly a ratings powerhouse at this point and its odd timeslot didn't help matters (it was canceled in 1962). Plus, ITC's motorized "Cam-A-Matic" model kits were relatively expensive and contained sophisticated elements such as programmable motors and lights which were way cool, but far too complicated for younger model builders to properly assemble, prompting consumer complaints and returned kits. The ITC line was discontinued by the mid-1960's.

Oh well, at least we have those Maverick trade ads to enjoy... ;)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A "Model" Maverick Story - Part I :)


As you know, I love finding anything related to Jack Kelly and sharing it here with you in TDS. Sometimes, I even find things I didn't know I was looking for.

For instance, I recently discovered I was "on to" something pertaining to JK and Maverick and didn't realize it until the pieces fell into place in front of me like a jigsaw puzzle coming together. Here's how it happened:

First came a picture of a vintage model car kit I saw online:

Photo courtesy The Boxart Den

Notice the little blurb that says "As Seen On TV - Maverick". Huh? I didn't remember seeing any Mercer Raceabouts on Maverick, which of course took place in the pre-motorized days of the old west. Strange!

Second, I'd read old newspaper stories about Maverick moving to an earlier, 6:30 pm ET timeslot on Sunday evenings in 1961. This meant it aired in the late afternoon in some time zones, pitting its grown-up gamblers against "kiddie" shows such as Lassie on other networks.

Then: I came across some information about a trade journal published long ago for the wholesale toy market. Each issue contained news and ads for the latest playthings. The info for one particular issue mentioned Maverick, so I read further.


Now I saw the connection between the mysterious model Mercer Raceabout, Maverick and its earlier start time...and it was Ideal!

Ideal Toy Corporation, that is, or more precisely, ITC Model Craft, the company's short-lived hobby model kit division.

When I Googled "ITC" and Maverick hoping to find more info, I found this detailed and fascinating history of Ideal and ITC. I also found this PHENOMENAL 1961 promo film. It's an ambitious "pitch" for the ITC line which cleverly explains the tie-in to Maverick (you might recognize a couple of familiar poker players--and their animated "sidekick"--in the film, too. ;>).

How cool was that?!

But, wait, there's more:

Remember that issue of the wholesale toy publication I mentioned? Well, it was for sale--and now it's part of the Kellection! Stay tuned for Part II because you will not want to miss what I found in the pages of this periodical... :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Can You See JK? You Sure "Canasta"! :)


Here's something you don't see every day:

A German lobby card for a Mexican film! (Canasta de Cuentos Mexicanos, or, A Basket of Mexican Tales).

This gorgeous card, which recently joined the Kellection, shows smilin' Jack Kelly (as "Eddie Winthrop"), Mari Blanchard (JK's future She Devil co-star as "Gladys Winthrop"), and a Mexican actress in a segment of the film titled "Canasta". The Winthrops are American tourists who discover some beautifully hand-woven baskets while vacationing in Mexico. But, when they try to cut a deal with the basket-maker to have the canastas mass-produced for sale north of the border, their plans for quick riches quickly unravel.

Like each segment in this episodic 1956 film, "Canasta" was based a short story by the enigmatic author B. Traven, probably best known for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Traven's story "Assembly Line" is the basis for "Canasta". 

Here's something else you don't see every day--JK in a bathing suit:

You can enjoy the rest of this scene (and the entire "Canasta" segment) here:

Now, be sure to travel back to TDS, because a basketful--well, a mailbox-full--of other Kellectibles also arrived with the lobby card, including a DVD and some photos (hmm... ;>). Plus, bloodhound Bartista is on the scent of something really cool and hopefully I'll be able to share it with you here soon, too. So, stay tuned amigos! :)