Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jack Kelly - Christmas in the Air :)


As you know, I love visiting antiques stores and malls. I also enjoy attending live auctions.

A couple of years ago, I attended a local auction where tables full of showbiz-related ephemera (movie magazines, photos, scrapbooks, etc.) were up for bid. I was pretty lucky at this auction. One of the things I won was a box lot, which meant that in addition to the magazine or whatever it was I really wanted, I received several extra items as well.

One of these "extras" was a large cardboard box stuffed with pictures and stories salvaged from old fan magazines. When I returned home, I took a cursory rummage through the box and then put it away for future reference.

After I "discovered" Jack Kelly this year, I remembered the box and thought, "I wonder if...?" I burrowed through reams of yellowed newsprint and, sure enough, there was a 1955 story about JK! It was actually more of a photo feature, showing JK and his Kings Row co-stars Robert Horton and Nan Leslie Christmas shopping. Or, more likely, pretending to Christmas shop in August, when this feature was probably photographed! ;->

Whatever the case, I thought now would be the perfect time to share the story, which is titled "Christmas in the Air":

"When it comes to tackling the problem of what to buy for whom, some folks like to do it solo, but not this trio of Kings Row stars! Reasoning: if they can work well together as a team on the Warner Bros. ABC-TV drama, they ought to be just as successful on a shopping tour. Besides, the men, being bachelors with sisters, mothers and dates to shop for, felt the need of feminine advice on late fashions and fads. And, Nan, though she naturally has a pretty good idea of what her husband, Charles Pawley, wants and needs, picked up a few pointers on the difference between what a man says he wants and what he really hopes to find in his Christmas stocking!"

"First stop: Jane Davis's shop, where Jack and Nan head
straight for the jewelry, while Bob finds
a collection of novelty print blouses."

"At the Sportsman men's store, Jack plays necktie model for Nan. Nan followed masculine advice, stuck to conservative styles."

"But, like most men, when it comes to wrapping fancy packages, Bob and Jack leave it all up to Nan!"

Although he doesn't look too thrilled in these photos, JK was apparently an enthusiastic Christmas shopper and "wrapper" in real life. A 1962 TV Guide story states that JK's Christmas shopping "is a yearly ritual which starts in October -- the fancy wrappings take two months to concoct."

And, there's more JK-related Christmas news. Hallmark is selling a Robby the Robot ornament (complete with sound!) in its stores this year, and it's flying off the shelves. Too bad they couldn't have a Lt. Farman ornament, too.... ;->

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jack Kelly - "What a Kick It Was to Talk to Him!"


Here is a very touching letter to the editor published in the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel on November 24, 1992, not long after Jack Kelly's passing:

"WITH THE death of actor Jack Kelly (co-star of Maverick) on Nov. 7, I recalled one of his Central Florida connections and a friend reminded me of the other.

My friend reminded me that Kelly had been in Central Florida in 1968 to film an episode of the TV series Fame is the Name of the Game after one of then-Gov. Claude Kirk's trips to Hollywood to lure movie and TV work to the state.

In the mid-1970s, Kelly and his wife came to Orlando during two different summers for Kelly to star in plays produced at the then-new Once Upon a Stage (now the Mark Two) Dinner Theater. When the theater first opened, celebrities were brought in to star in the productions.

During the time he was in Orlando, Kelly and his wife were provided with Ford Maverick rental cars, and Kelly did a weekday radio talk show on one of the local radio stations.

When I found out about the radio shows, I sneaked a radio to work to listen to them. They were great! Kelly even took phone calls from listeners. I called to ask about the Western town on the Warner Brothers studio back lot (later used in Blazing Saddles). What a kick it was to talk to him!

Walter Carl Case

What a wonderful tribute to JK. I especially love the part about the
Ford Mavericks! :)

I did some checking, and the TV show Mr. Case referred to is actually titled
The Name of the Game (although its pilot was indeed called Fame is the Name of the Game). The episode (the second of two JK did for the series) is called "The Civilized Men". It first aired on November 28, 1969. The plot involved cattle rustling and tainted meat!

Also, JK starred as "Oscar" in The Odd Couple at Once Upon a Stage from June 25 - July 21, 1974. As mentioned above, this theater became the Mark Two, and was later renamed the Starlight Theater. It closed in October 2007.

Hmm, I wonder if the radio station saved tapes of JK's shows?

And, speaking of dinner theater: I found a funny little anecdote about the time JK was appearing in the play Under the Yum Yum Tree in Milwaukee, WI: "...Kelly arrived in town extremely tired and wanted a quiet hotel room so [he was put up at] the Cudahy Towers. But that was when the trains still rumbled along the lakefront and one of them roused Kelly from a sound sleep. Not knowing it was a train making the thumping noises, Kelly phoned the desk to complain. When the clerk told him it was the 3 am to Chicago, Kelly, still groggy, said, 'Oh, what time does this hotel get there?'" (Milwaukee Sentinel, 12/2/70).

What a sharp wit JK had, even at 3 am! :->