Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jack Kelly - It's Summer (Stock) Time! :)

Hello Everyone!
Well, it's officially summer now. However, it's felt like summer for a month here. I remember when it never used to get really hot until August. This year, it got hot in May and has stayed that way. It was 90 degrees when I was driving home from work this evening and 83 degrees when I took my dog for a walk later. But, there was a nice breeze blowing so it wasn't unbearably warm.

I don't know if they do this much any more, but another thing I remember about summer is television actors hitting the straw hat circuit. In my hometown, the now-defunct Kenley Players presented big-name TV talent in summer stock vehicles such as The Sound of Music, Camelot and Mame. Further west, in cities like Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee, other homegrown Huroks hosted stars in venues ranging from dinner theaters to canvas tents where audiences could see their favorite TV stars acting outside of the box.

When Maverick ended in 1962, Jack Kelly swapped his Stetson for a straw hat to tour for three months in summertime productions of The Moon is Blue, Under the Yum Yum Tree and The Music Man. Since I own a program and several production stills from JK's The Moon is Blue, I'm going to focus on this play.

In June of 1962, JK arrived in Indianapolis, IN, to star in The Moon is Blue at the Avondale Playhouse.

The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis by David J. Bodenhamer and Robert Graham Barrows states the Avondale Playhouse was regarded as "one of the Midwest's top professional summer stock theaters" and it "contracted nationally recognized stage and screen personalities to headline casts composed largely of local talent." The "playhouse" was actually a candy-striped tent situated at a shopping center. Plays were presented "in the round" inside the tent, which could seat 1200 people.

In the racy comedy The Moon is Blue, JK portrays "Donald Gresham", a playboy architect who falls in lust with "Patty O'Neill", a highly moral young actress he meets on the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

(Here's the one Mama warned you about! ;->)

Donald wines and dines Patty, but she will not compromise her virtue.
Finally, Donald realizes there's only one way to get Patty, and that's to go back to the Empire State Building and propose to her.
(Note the pinky ring and the "JAK" monogram on his shirt cuff. :->)

Other stops in
The Moon is Blue's orbit included Traverse City, MI, where this autographed program came from.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remembering Dads on Father's Day

Hello Everyone,

I was thinking about my dad today. Actually, I think about him (and my mom) every day, but, today, on Father's Day, he was especially on my mind.

Dad passed away in June 2002, only a couple of days after Father's Day. The anniversary of his passing always falls around (and sometimes on) Father's Day. And, my older brother, who was also a dad, is gone now, too. So, the third Sunday in June is always bittersweet for me.

This year, as I watched the US Open on TV, I thought about how much Dad loved to play golf. The last Father's Day gift I gave him was a book about golf.

Yesterday, I found another of Dad's golf books. As I was looking through a box of some old family photos, I came across a little (3" x 4") booklet with a battered green front cover.

GOLF GUIDE, the title read. I thumbed through the book's now-yellowed pages. It's sort of a golfer's pocket-sized "bible", with rules, regulations, golfing tips, statistics, and more.

I noticed Dad's distinctive printing at the top of the title page:

I thought, "That has to be a golfing instruction", because Dad was never in the middle on anything else--you always knew on which side he stood! :)

While sifting through those old photos, I'd hoped to find one of Dad playing golf, or at least standing near his clubs, to share here. I know we have old home movies and videos of Dad with his clubs, but, I couldn't find any still photos.

So, instead, here's a photo of another avid golfer: JK. The caption on the back says, "Jack Kelly and wife May Wynn check scores on course at Rogers Sports Center in San Fernando Valley near Chatsworth [CA]."

Of course, JK later became a father with his second wife, Jo.

So, here's to all of our dads, whether they're still with us, or whether they're walking the Heavenly green above.

"Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts we're about to receive.
May the fairway of life rise to meet you;
May the wind ever be at your back;
May His grip sustain you and a Heavenly green await you;
May you be a thousand years in Heaven before
the Devil knows what your score really was."

--"Prayer for Golfers" by Monsignor S.J. McGovern,
Spring Valley, N.Y.
(from the Golf Guide)


Coming up: A look at JK in his King's Row TV series and his adventures in summer stock. :)