Saturday, May 19, 2018

Slidin' Into Saturday :)


A real Jack Kelly rarity just joined the Kellection:

It's an original promo slide for "Time of Flight", a 1966 segment of Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre.

It's not the usual type of slide, either. It's actually a transparency enclosed between two pieces of glass which are sealed in a plastic frame. It was used in a "filmchain" set-up. The filmchain usually incorporated a slide projector, which is how TV stations aired images such as this one as well as station logos and test patterns back in the day. The filmchain captured the image from the slide, turned it into an electronic signal and then converted it back into a picture which was broadcast over the air. Today, most filmchains have been replaced by the telecine process.

"Hope"fully (pun intended) I'll get to see "Time of Flight" some day. For now, though, I'm glad just to see this beautiful slide, which is still in pristine condition after 52 years.

What other rarities from the Kellection are coming up in TDS? Please stay tuned to find out! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day...

The Kelly Kids!
 Nancy, Clement, Karolee
.... and JACK! :)

Monday, May 7, 2018

"The Master"--Remastered! (Pt. II)


Here's Part II of our look at "Kunoichi", the episode of "The Master" in which Jack Kelly guest-starred in 1984.

Brian Elkwood applauds at the conclusion of the Chopin piece:

But, the applause suddenly stops when a woman screams from the audience. She sees the ninja assassin on the catwalk above the stage, aiming a gun at Elkwood!

Luckily, McAllister and Max were able to escape from the safe house. Max takes down "The Hawk", and then he and Elkwood nervously watch as McAllister battles with the assassin:

Finally, McAllister defeats the assassin, saving the day and Elkwood's life--again:

(I've obscured the assassin's unmasked face to avoid a "spoiler" for those who haven't seen the episode yet, but the character's identity isn't really surprising if you know the meaning of "kunoichi". ;>)

Elkwood salutes McAllister:

The next day, Brian tells McAllister and Max that it would have been a disaster if "The Hawk" had replaced him at the summit in Geneva:

And, he expresses his gratitude to his old war buddy for saving his life:

The Master is a big slice of 1980's cheese, from the Bill Conti theme music and The Master's A-Team van, all the way to Ms. Harmon's shoulder pads and Crystal Carrington hairdo.

And, yes, it's preposterous every time elderly, frail-looking Lee Van Cleef suddenly becomes a lean, mean ninja fighting machine in the battle scenes. Plus, the scene in "Kunoichi"where McAllister and Max escape from the safe house should have been prefaced with an announcer intoning, "Tune in next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!"

But: I love it! "Kunoichi" isn't spectacular, but it was better than I thought it would be. It was wonderful seeing JK act with Van Cleef once more. Like Elkwood and McCallister, JK and LVC went way back. They previously acted together on TV in the "Man Down, Woman Screaming" episode of the syndicated 1950's series City Detective. They also appeared as themselves in When the West Was Fun in 1979.  And, of course, they also co-starred in the 1968 feature film Commandos.

Before acting with Kelly Harmon in "Kunoichi", JK had appeared with her sister, Kristin Harmon Nelson, in the 1965 feature film Love and Kisses. (Sadly, Kristin passed away in 2018 at age 72.)

And, JK didn't just play a government official on TV--he was also the mayor of Huntington Beach, CA, in 1984!

All 13 episodes of The Master are now available in a remastered DVD set and can be purchased through Amazon and other retailers.  

Please stay tuned for more about JK's TV and movie adventures in TDS! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

"The Master"--Remastered! :)


I just made an amazing new DVD discovery: The Master. If that title doesn't ring a bell, it's not surprising: The Master was an NBC television series which ran for only 13 episodes in 1984. 

Photo courtesy the Internet Movie Database
"The Master" is "John Peter McAllister" (Lee Van Cleef), a seasoned US veteran of WWII and the Korean War who becomes a revered teacher of the ninja way in Japan.
McAllister leaves Japan to search for his long-lost daughter back in the States. Along the way, he finds a friend, "Max Keller" (Timothy Van Patten), a young man who travels with a pet rodent named "Henry". (Max is also the show's narrator.)
The Master also has an enemy, "Okasa" (Sho Kosugi), a former pupil who has sworn vengeance on McAllister for abandoning his ninja sect.
The Master employed a lot of familiar guest stars from TV's past, including Stuart Whitman, Claude Akins, David McCallum, Doug McClure...and Jack Kelly. :)
JK appears in the episode "Kunoichi", which originally aired on April 6, 1984. He plays "Brian Elkwood", a wartime specialist in espionage who is now the "right-hand man to the President".
On the eve of a crucial summit meeting in Geneva, Elkwood suspects that a traitorous "mole" has infiltrated his high-risk security operation.
Meanwhile, McAllister and Max arrive in Washington, DC. McAllister explains that Elkwood had written to him, anxiously seeking his help. He and Elkwood go way back, having been held in the same P.O.W. camp during the Korean War.
However, Elkwood tells his devoted secretary "Allison Grant" (Kelly Harmon) that he wants nothing to do McAllister, who he claims is a dangerous crank who's sent threatening letters to him. He warns Allison that McCallister is not the man he once knew.
Then, Allison meets McAllister when he rescues her from some attackers. She tells him how Brian had warned her about him and about the threatening letters. McAllister tells her that he sent no such letters. He insists he came to DC because Brian wrote to him.
Allison tries to reconcile the two former war buddies by bringing McAllister to a party at Elkwood's house. Elkwood is not amused:
McAllister tries to plead his innocence, but Brian won't listen and angrily orders him to leave. He does, but later sneaks back to the house to surreptitiously examine the letters, which he knows are forgeries.
While in the house, McAllister notices a wartime photo of him and Elkwood:

("Watch Your Six O'Clock" is military slang meaning to check behind you
to make sure you're not being followed)

Then, Brian catches him red-handed with the letters:
 McAllister convinces his old pal to put the gun down:

 Brian begins to think that maybe John didn't write the letters:
They deduce that someone else wrote the menacing missives in an effort to pit the two men against each other: 
However, their reunion is interrupted by a ninja-garbed assassin. McAllister foils the attempt on Brian's life by battling the ninja, who mysteriously vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Then, the police arrive. They assume McAllister is the would-be killer and take him into custody. A cynical detective (William Campbell) scoffs at John's story of being framed and tells him he's going to be transferred to federal prison for the attempted murder of Elkwood:
(It's "Trelane" from Star Trek!)
McAllister tries to call Max, but is unable to reach him. However, he's able to reach Allison. He tells her to contact Max and explain the situation to him:
"Care for a Tic-Tac?"
Max springs McAllister from the security van before he reaches the prison. They infiltrate a "safe house" where Okasa is meeting with the mole--who is really a "Hawk". And, it turns out that the ninja assassin--trained by Okasa--is really:
I hope Jethro Gibbs doesn't see this...
And, the plan is to kill Brian Elkwood at a piano concert and frame McAllister for the crime--again. Then, the Hawk will attend the summit in Geneva. Max and McAllister are held captive at the house as the assassin heads to the recital. 
Blissfully unaware of all this, Elkwood enjoys Chopin's Polonaise No. 6 In A Flat Major Op. 53 at the concert hall:
Note JK's cowboy boots. You can take
the actor out of Maverick,
 but you can't take the Maverick out of the actor! :)

Will "The Master" escape in time to stop the assassin? Please stay tuned for Part II of "'The Master'--Remastered!" :)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wake Up and Read! (Pt. II)

Happy Monday!

Continuing with the "Wake Up and Read!" theme, here's a review of Shooting Stars of the Small Screen by Douglas Brode.

This book is subtitled "Encyclopedia of TV Western Actors, 1946-Present" ("Present" being 2009, when it was published). And, that's exactly what it is, an encyclopedia-style conpendium of actors who were regulars or had recurring roles in TV western series. James Garner and Jack Kelly both have entries (JG rates a photo; JK does not).

In fact, most of the bios don't include photos of their subjects. And, some of the entries are curiously skimpy. For example, Eric Fleming, the star of Rawhide, gets a shorter bio than Paul Brinegar, who played the supporting role of "Wishbone".

Brode also seems rather condescending in some of the entries. He dismisses David Canary of Bonanza as "essentially a one-note actor". (And yet somehow Canary won five daytime Emmy awards for playing a dual role.) In the entry for Gina Gillespie, the young actress who co-starred opposite JK in the "The Deadliest Kid in the West" episode of Laredo, Brode notes that she is the younger sister of former "Mouseketeer" Darlene Gillespie. Brode concludes the entry by writing that Gina "left showbiz and became a lawyer, unlike her sister, who left show business, became a criminal and went to jail." The latter might be true, but I think he could have worded it a little less flippantly.

Brode, a teacher at Syracuse University, also makes some erroneous statements which could have easily been fact-checked and corrected before publication. For example, he writes that actor Brandon De Wilde died in a "bizarre camping accident". Nope: De Wilde died after a not-so-bizarre vehicle accident when the camper he was driving slammed into a truck in the rain.

Brode also claims that singing cowboy Eddie Dean was the older brother of singer/sausage magnate Jimmy Dean. Wrong again. Eddie Dean (whose real name was Edgar Dean Glosup) did have a brother named Jimmy. However, he was not the country crooner who was born Jimmy Ray Dean in 1928 and had a hit record with "Big Bad John" in 1961. (Since the book was published by the University of Texas Press, it's surprising they didn't catch this jarring error involving two native Texans.)

The biggest problem with Shooting Stars of the Small Screen is that it was published nearly a decade ago. The information it contains is static. Some of the actors profiled in the book have since died. Actors who are still living have accumulated additional western credits. Frequently updated sites such as the Internet Movie Database are now available online and can provide much more current and complete information.

Also, any serious fan of most of these stars (such as JK) is going to know a lot of the stuff written in the book already.

But, it's an okay little book to keep handy when watching westerns on channels like MeTV and Heroes & Icons. Anyway, I bought it mainly for the cover:

Please stay tuned for more rootin' tootin' fun in TDS! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Wake Up and Read! :)


Some vintage magazines and a book featuring Jack Kelly recently joined the Kellection.

In one of those magazines, I found this brilliant ad:

1959 ad promoting "National Library Week" (more here)

So, let's do just that: wake up and read about JK! :)

First up, here's a short but sweet write-up about Mr. K from a column in a 1960 newspaper TV magazine:

"STAR CALLING: Things are restless at the Warner [Bros.] corral again. Clint 'Cheyenne' Walker is threatening another walkout. Jim 'Maverick' Garner is still holding out even though 10 of the new season's shows are already completed. Ty ['Bronco'] Hardin has suddenly but so sincerely got religion he is giving Bible readings on the set between scenes.

Only Jack 'Bart Maverick' Kelly is content. He has a new contract. He's bought himself a stylish new house in the most expensive section of Sunset Boulevard, where he's pushing out walls, installing a swimming pool and right now living surrounded by packing boxes. Donna, his wife, who as a movie starlet called herself May Wynn, does all the cooking and housework since no maid would submit to the clutter everywhere and eating off a two-foot coffee table while seated on old camel cushions, which so far are the Kellys' only chairs.

'Clint Walker can really live in the wilds,' Jack told me. 'He likes it. The last time he walked out on the studio, he took his family with him and they were really free people, not dependent on the comforts like most of the rest of us are for happiness. Wayde Preston, if he really quits, could make a fine living flying. Ef Zimbalist is talented in a dozen ways, but me, I'm just an actor. It's all I've ever wanted to be--a good actor, preferably in light comedy.

'Oh, I know. I work those impossible TV hours, usually seven A.M. to seven P.M. I never can go away because even over the weekends I'm studying scripts. I spend whatever free time I have at home, when I'm not making like an amateur chef, or watching TV--studying performances. I'm the kind of goof who cried at Father Knows Best, and all the time behind everything else I'm thinking about how I can be a better light comedian.

'That's why I miss Jim Garner being out of the series. We work together like a right and left hand. The first time we ever met we had to make a [screen] test together. We weren't even introduced. I asked him why he was standing up so tall, trying to top me, and Jim took it from there.

'It's been like that with us ever since. I think the best Mavericks have been the ones in which we were together. All Jim and I have to do in a scene is turn and look at one another and we know just what to do to make it funnier. If I had anything to do with it, which unfortunately I don't, Jim would be back tomorrow.'"

Please stay tuned and read more about JK in TDS! :)