Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jack Kelly on TV: I Love Parris... ;->


I've added another intriguing artifact to the Kellection. It's an original script written by Muriel Roy Bolton titled "Wedding Gift", an episode of Kings Row, the short-lived TV series in which Jack Kelly starred from September 1955 to early 1956. The script is dated October 1, 1955, with revisions listed inside dated October 4, 1955.

In Kings Row, JK played small-town psychiatrist "Parris Mitchell". His friend "Drake McHugh" was played by Robert Horton, who later starred in Wagon Train:

Kings Row was one of three rotating shows presented under the umbrella title Warner Brothers Presents. The other two shows were Casablanca and Cheyenne, and all three were based on old Warner Brothers feature films.

Guess which show clicked with audiences and went on to stand-alone status? Yep. Kings Row and Casablanca quickly bit the dust, and Cheyenne quickly became a big hit.

But, Jack Kelly must have made an impression. When Bret Maverick needed a brother a couple of years later, someone remembered that fellow from Kings Row...and the rest is TV history. :)

The description given for this script said that "Wedding Gift" was never filmed. However, the Internet Movie Database lists "Wedding Gift" in its entry for Kings Row. And, it shows up in TV Guides and newspaper TV listings from the late 1950's and early 1960's, usually as part of the syndicated series TV Hour of Stars:

  • "Dr. Parris Mitchell (Jack Kelly) reunites two young lovers when a
    Spanish-American War veteran returns to Kings Row in 'Wedding Gift.'"

  • "'Wedding Gift', with Jack Kelly. A man who has just returned from army duty is resentful that his future wife has planned their life."

"Wedding Gift" guest-starred Natalie Wood as "Renee" and Dennis Hopper as "Tod" (both seen in the still below), two immature youngsters who are about to get married...or perhaps not.

Dr. Mitchell uses a clever wedding gift to reunite the couple:

Incidentally, I've seen a still from Kings Row with Jack Kelly holding a shaggy dog, and the script says that Dr. Mitchell has a pup named "Little Doc".

Of course, I have no idea which actor used this actual script, but its fun to think it might have been JK. It would be even more fun if we could actually view Kings Row with JK some time. Until that happens, I posted some
lobby cards from another Kings Row episode a while back so we can see JK as Parris.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Kelly Pages: Additions to the Kellection!--Pt VIII :)


We're coming up on the conclusion of "Cooking of a Storm".

First, though, I have verification of Jack Kelly's age when he enlisted in the Army, since, as was noted on FB, the actual timeline of his schooling and his enlistment in the Army is a bit unclear in the article. JK had in fact just turned 18 before he enlisted on October 25, 1945, at
Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA. This data comes from the World War II Army Enlistment Records at the U.S. National Archives.

And, although I love researching and writing about my favorite subjects, I am not writing a book about Jack Kelly. No, dear readers, I'm only a fan with a blog. Linda Alexander is an accomplished author who is very hard at work on JK's bio, and I'm looking forward to reading her book just as much as you all are.

As I said in the introductory posting, "The Tall Dark Stranger There..." is a way of sharing my enthusiasm for Jack Kelly with other fans. Most of the info I share here is from publicly available secondary sources such as magazines. So, I'm not worried about posting "spoilers" about JK because Linda has access to primary sources such JK's family, friends and co-workers. Therefore, her book will contain insights into his life that are far more informative and enlightening than anything I can post here.

But, I humbly hope you'll continue to visit "The Tall Dark Stranger There...". Jack Kelly lived a life so large that there's always a new JK "nugget", or a photo, or a video waiting to be unearthed. Or, an antiques mall waiting to be scoured for Kellectibles. :) I thrill to the "hunt" and love sharing what I've discovered with other fans. If you keep reading, I'll keep hunting. Thank you!

And, now Part III of "Cooking Up a Storm" from TV's Top Stars - 1961 Edition:

"...A role in a play at the Coronet Theater took him back to Hollywood and, once there, he stayed, making 20 movies before he got into his first TV series, King's Row. The series didn't make the grade, but when an actor was needed to alternate with Jim Garner in Maverick, the studio remembered Jack and he got the nod.

Not as success-hungry as some TV stars, Jack says he likes lots of free time for his many hobbies--golf, boating, water skiing, and, of course, cooking. But he is also aware that he'll probably outlive Maverick. With this in mind, he and Donna (who was an actress under the name of May Wynn when they were married) have set up a production company and plan to make pictures in which Jack will star--if his studio will loan him out to himself. The two, who were practicing togetherness before it was a word, have also worked up an act for personal appearances. To rehearse it with musicians who are to be part of the troupe, they rented a piano. And within weeks Jack had a new hobby--he began taking piano lessons. (The neighbors, it's duly reported, wish he'd stick to cooking.)"


The Kelly Pages: Additions to the Kellection!--Pt VII :)

Hello Everybody!

Presenting Part II of "Cooking Up a Storm":

"...'Kelly', as his wife calls him, was born in Astoria, Long Island, on September 16, 1927, and had his first fling in show business when he was just two weeks old--and modeled for a soap company.

He continued modeling until he was nine, when he landed a job in a Broadway play. By the time the Kelly clan transferred their base of operations to Los Angeles in 1938, Jack had been in four plays and had done some radio work.

It all came about naturally. Though his father, John A. Kelly, was in the real estate business, his mother, Ann, had been on the stage before her marriage. One sister, Nancy, is well known in the theater; a younger sister, Carol, is making a name for herself in television. Only the fourth [child], William, passed up show business in favor of art.

In spite of his early start in the business, Jack didn't plan a career as an actor. While he attended St. John's Military Academy, University High School and UCLA (for two years) he made spending money the way most boys do--by pumping gas, as a car hop, a messenger boy, and a clothing salesman. Inducted into the Army when he was 18, he was shipped off to Alaska as a weather observer and, after his discharge in December 1946, went back to college for one term. By then, the idea of studying law had lost its appeal. Working on radio nights while he went to school days, Jack made up his mind to concentrate on acting, quit school and headed for New York. He stayed there for two years, from 1947 to 1949, working in radio and TV."


P.S. To the fine folks on FB: You're very welcome! :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Kelly Pages: Additions to the Kellection!--Pt VI :)


As promised, here's a look at what was cookin' with Jack Kelly in 1961. But first, an aside.

JK's fans have the gift of 20/20 hindsight. We know his marriage to May (Donna) Wynn ended in 1964, so the rosy reports of "togetherness" and portraits of an inseparable pair in these fan magazine articles from the "Kellection" don't always ring true.

Actually, though, if you look at other "star" couples spotlighted in these magazines, many of them didn't stay wed forever, either. In the 1960 Silver Screen Annual article, JK and MW are pictured as devoted "Young Marrieds" along with eight other couples. Of the nine couples, only two remain married to this day: the Pat Boones and the James Garners! Like the Kellys, most of the other young marrieds split within a few years after the article was published.

It's not easy being married in Hollywood. Or, in Hoboken, or in Hartford, or in Honolulu, for that matter. I think the Kellys at least tried. JK told TV Guide in 1958, "The only way to keep a Hollywood marriage going is not to go anywhere without each other." Another article I have says JK had a clause in his Warner Brothers contract which stipulated that May be allowed to accompany him on personal appearance tours. I don't think JK would have insisted on such a clause if he didn't care about her.

But, sadly, couples sometimes change as the years pass. Ardor cools, tempers flare--and some marriages fail.

Obviously, Jack Kelly and May Wynn weren't always the astonishingly happy twosome portrayed in the movie magazines. However, I'll continue to post these vintage fan magazine articles because they contain many other intriguing "nuggets" about JK. And wonderful pix like this one:

Thank you for your understanding, dear readers. :)

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

"COOKING UP A STORM - (From TV's Top Stars - 1961 Edition)

When the wind is right, the neighbors of Jack and Donna Kelly are among the most frustrated people in the world. The Kellys like to cook, know how, and the smells that are wafted about in the air are enough to bring tears to the eyes of food-lovers. To some of them, as well as to relatives and friends, the Kellys cooking is irresistible, and when Jack and Donna cook up one of their Italian dinners (which take three days to prepare) there are usually 18 or 20 hungry people waiting for the bell.

Jack is, of course, one of the stars of Maverick, seen on ABC-TV Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm ET, but there are circles, it's rumored, where he is best known, not as an actor, but as a chef extraordinaire. Jack doesn't mind. He's making enough money so that even a 30-pound roast of beef doesn't dent the budget too badly, and it's good advertising for the cookbook he and Donna are whipping up, titled Love 'N' the Oven.

According to the Kellys, who were married on November 10, 1956, and have been living oh-so-happily ever after, cooking was a big part of their courtship. Neither of them cared much for eating in restaurants, so when Jack would call Donna for a date, she'd usually suggest he bring along a steak for a barbecue. But as Jack tells it, she'd call back later to tell him to make it a steak for eight. 'It got so expensive I finally had to marry her.'"