Thursday, December 31, 2015

Throwback Thursday: "If You Were Mrs. Jack Kelly" :)

Hi Everybody,

As we look forward to 2016, here's a fun look back at a 1959 magazine klipping from the Kellection which examines what life would be like:

"If You Were Mrs. Jack Kelly...."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be "Black Tuesday" :)

Hello All,

Since it's Tuesday, I thought I'd shine some light on Black Tuesday, a noirish little number in which Jack Kelly co-starred in 1954.

Heading the cast is Edward G. Robinson, who plays a murderous racketeer named Vincent Canelli. Canelli is about to be executed. All executions are scheduled on Tuesday in the prison where he's incarcerated--hence the title of the film.

JK enters the picture as cub newspaper reporter "Frank Carson". Instead of assigning a more seasoned journalist to cover Canelli's execution, Carson's boss chooses the newbie to provide a less hackneyed perspective of the event. 

Unfortunately, Frank is kidnapped by two of Canelli's henchmen before he reaches the prison.

"Is that a gun in your pocket?" Yes, and Frank Carson (JK) isn't glad to see Canelli's henchmen. BTW, Warren Stevens (left) would reform and accompany JK to the Forbidden Planet in 1956. The bad guy on the right, Russell Johnson, later became a professor and spent a few years marooned on an island... ;->

One of the men assumes Frank's identity and helps Canelli avoid execution with just moments to spare.

Guards are killed and hostages (including a doctor and a priest) are taken as Canelli escapes from the prison with "Manning", a young killer/bank robber played by Peter Graves. Manning is badly wounded in the escape. Canelli wants Manning kept alive because he's the only one who knows where the loot from the robbery is. Canelli covets the cash so he and his moll can flee the country. Canelli, Manning, and the hostages are driven to a hideout where Frank Carson and other captives are also being held.

Carson himself is later wounded when he tries to stop Canelli from shooting the priest (played by Milburn Stone of Gunsmoke fame). 

British lobby card

The young reporter lies unconscious on the floor as the priest tries to reason with the ruthless gangster, as illustrated in the still below (that's Vic Perrin as the doctor at right).

Below is a color version of the same scene, shown on this dynamite Italian lobby card which just joined the Kellection. The title Pioggia Di Piombo literally translates into English as Rain of Lead, no doubt a reference to all the bullets fired in the film.

Here's a close-up of the nearly shirtless JK in repose:

What happens next? Well, a synopsis of the entire film is available on the Turner Classic Movie (TCM) website.

The entire film itself was previously viewable on YouTube, but it's been deleted. Well, maybe it will show up again on YT some Tuesday...or Wednesday, or Thursday. ;)


Monday, November 23, 2015

A Blast From the Pages of the Past :)

Hello Everyone,

I love delving into vintage magazines and books to learn more about Jack Kelly. I've also enjoyed countless hours scrolling through various newspaper archives to research posts such "All the World's A Stage With JK".

While wandering around these archives, I've also found some great, rare pictures of JK to share. They're PDF images scanned from old newspapers, so they're not the clearest pictures, but I'm sure you'll enjoy them, nonetheless.

Remember my 2009 post about "JK Goes To Rodeo", with photos from a Japanese magazine showing JK at a rodeo? For years, the date and location of this rodeo was a mystery (at least to me--I don't read Japanese). Then, I finally learned that JK was the grand marshal of the annual Palm Springs Rodeo parade on January 28, 1961. The "queen" of the rodeo was actress Barbara Nichols, who'd co-starred with JK in "The Third Rider" episode of Maverick.

But, Ms. Nichols was actually a replacement rodeo queen! Thanks to a newspaper archive, I discovered that the original 1961 queen was none other than Bart Maverick's Charleston partner, Dorothy Provine, pictured here with JK putting a rodeo bumper sticker on a vehicle at the Warner Bros. studio:

Ms. Provine had to abdicate at the last minute due to an eye ailment. So, Ms. Nichols assumed the crown--er, cowboy hat. Below, she's clowning with JK. (He's plugging his ear because she's pretending to shoot at the photographer.) The newspaper story says that "thousands" of spectators were on hand to watch the Palm Springs parade and rodeo.

Now, here's a cute shot of JK getting a friendly smooch from one of his poodles in 1958:

I'd read that JK was a guest at Sammy Davis Jr.'s November 1960 wedding to Swedish actress May Britt. What I didn't know was that JK and James Garner had presented a humanitarian award from the Los Angeles chapter of the Shriner's organization to Davis earlier that same year. (That's JK second from right with his hand on Sammy's shoulder; singer Arthur Lee Simpkins is next to JG.) Strangely, the photo caption IDs JG as "Bart" and JK as "Bret"!

Finally, here's JK (at right) in 1969 presenting another award, this time to an amateur actor in Akron, Ohio. JK was appearing at the Canal Fulton Summer Arena at the time.

Coming up in TDS:
  • Forget "Black Friday". You don't want to miss "Black Tuesday"! :)
  • Part III of "All the World's a Stage With JK".
  • And more--stay tuned!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

All the World's A Stage With JK - Pt II :)

"I've Got My Straw Hat, I've Got My Cane..."
Undated candid slide of JK
I've discussed Jack Kelly's summer stock performances before in TDS, but since I've discovered so much more new information about this topic, it's time for a re-visit.
JK was a very busy performer on the "straw hat circuit" in the early 1960's. After Maverick went on permanent hiatus in 1962, JK toured in The Music Man,  The Moon is Blue and Under the Yum-Yum Tree.

JK starred in the latter play at the O'Hare Inn Theatre, which was located in a 400-room motel that was only minutes away from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. His co-star was Brigid Bazlen, a young actress who had gone from being a local TV and stage star in the Windy City to appearing in Hollywood epics such as King of Kings and How The West Was Won

Joan Mette, drama critic for the Arlington Heights (IL) Herald, dubbed JK's performance as a lecherous landlord in Under the Yum-Yum Tree "delightful" and said that he "out-Mavericks his TV role". Ms. Mette added, "In this age of Freud, the sex-oriented play might be termed a 'sophisticated comedy', but it's really an old-fashioned farce. And Kelly plays it as a farce--with all the stops pulled out. He cut loose a bit too early, however. His performance would have been better paced if he had given himself a little room to develop his role of 'Hogan' in the first scene. However, by the last scene, all is forgiven. Kelly has a way with grimaces, posturing and timing that is most beguiling."  

In 1963, JK sang and danced in The Pajama Game in Anderson, Indiana. The Hoosier state was a hotbed of summer stock activity at the time. In July 1964, JK appeared in Indianapolis as "Sky Masterson" in the Starlight Musicals production of Guys and Dolls.

Masterson is a smooth gambler (sound familiar?), but JK looks ruggedly handsome on the cover of the Guys and Dolls program:

Indiana didn't have a lock on summer stock, however. The following month, JK traveled north to appear in the farce Petticoat Fever at Prudhomme's Garden Centre Theatre in Ontario, Canada.

This theatre, located in a resort setting, was a rather unusual venue. According to the "World Theatre" website, owner George Prudhomme removed the seats each winter to convert the theatre into a curling rink! The seats were returned in the summer so audiences could watch celebrities such as JK and even a young Liza Minelli (who appeared in The Fantasticks) tread the boards.

JK made another jaunt to Prudhomme's in July 1965 to star in Love and Kisses, a comic play he'd done in Chicago in 1964. He also portrayed Rick Nelson's father in the film version, which was released in 1965. 

JK revisited Indiana as well in 1965 to appear in The World of Suzie Wong at the Avondale Playhouse (a.k.a. Avondale-in-the-Meadows) in Indianapolis from August 24 through August 29. The play's program states that JK broke box office records at Avondale when he'd starred in The Moon is Blue in 1962.
Suzie Wong, the popular "East meets West" love story, originated as a novel by Richard Mason. It was adapted into a play by Hoosier-born Paul Osborn and debuted on Broadway in 1958 with William Shatner as the male lead. It became a film starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan in 1960.
At Avondale, JK portrayed "Robert Lomax", a struggling artist who falls in love with Hong Kong prostitute Suzie Wong, played by Lisa Lu. (Ms. Lu's program bio lists her credits, but oddly doesn't mention the role she's probably best-known for: "Hey Girl" in TV's Have Gun--Will Travel.)

Marshall Pitler, a guest writer for The Kokomo (IN) Tribune, gave JK's performance a glowing review: "Kelly's television fame drew the largest opening night crowd in the history of Avondale last Tuesday, and the audience was well-rewarded for its support. This week's star proved once again that [Avondale's] star system, with the proper vehicle, can work. Jack Kelly is a handsome, well-poised, natural actor who has learned his trade well through years of television and movie experience. His performance as Robert Lomax, the artist, was superb--an adjective not easily applied to Avondale stars this season."
Suzie then ran August 31-September 5 at the theater's sister venue "Avondale-on- the-Mall". An ad in the program says this theater could be reached via "a short trip through colorful Southern Indiana, across the beautiful Ohio River, to Louisville, Kentucky". It was located in "'THE MALL', one of the nation's newest and largest Closed Mall 'Shopping Centers'", the ad proclaimed.
Avondale-on-the-Mall was an ambitious attempt to expand the Avondale brand to other cities. Unfortunately, the gambit was such a failure in Louisville, that, according to the website "", the Playhouse board was forced to liquidate Avondale's assets. 
JK wasn't a failure, however, especially with Jane Marlow Willis, the editor, publisher and entertainment columnist for the weekly Meade County (KY) Messenger. On 9/16/65 she wrote, "Miss Rose Grinnell and I went to Avondale Playhouse for the last production of the season, THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG, starring Jack Kelly. Mr. Kelly is a most interesting person and quite gracious about posing for pictures. His performance as Robert Lomax was great. Although most of us know him as Bart Maverick and expect him to be typed as Maverick, he is a versatile actor, and as at home in the role of Lomax as he was on Maverick...THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG is a rather difficult play for an arena theatre, but the Avondale players did it quite well. The summer is usually a slow theatre season, but Avondale has made summer a good season for theatregoers in the Louisville area."

In 1966, JK co-starred in the comedy Mary, Mary at the Music Theatre in Houston, Texas. A reviewer in the Bellaire & Southwestern Texan newspaper wrote on 10/26/1966 that the production was "delightful" and continued, "There's a keen cast: Jack Kelly (remember when he was Bart Maverick) and Marjorie Lord (she from The Danny Thomas Show) are a divorced couple who have a hilarious reunion...[then] a fading Hollywood actor tries to woo Mary to New Orleans, only to make her [former] husband furiously jealous...The Jean Kerr comedy is light, but highly entertaining as performed by these actors...Every scene clicks and that's because of good timing and expert line readings."

By this time, JK had also became an annual fixture at the Summer Arena in historic Canal Fulton, OH, located in Stark County near the cities of Akron, Canton and Massillon. The Arena began as the Canal Fulton Summer Theatre in 1954 and later moved into a renovated barn next to a pond. The Theatre's founder, David Fulford, staged productions with one "name" star per play and filled the supporting roles with local actors. This formula was such a crowd-pleaser that in 1959, the barn was upgraded into the air-conditioned Canal Fulton Summer Arena. (The pond was upgraded into a swimming pool.)

Undated postcard view of the Canal Fulton Summer Arena (courtesy

JK first appeared at the Arena with The Moon is Blue (which a reviewer in Massillon's Evening Independent described as "exceedingly risqué") from September 4 through September 9 in 1962. The reviewer felt that some of JK's mannerisms in the play "rang a little off-key", but added this may have been due to the fact that JK had just arrived from performing the play in Traverse City, MI, and "could hardly be accustomed to the Arena setting yet".

JK would have plenty of time to get used to the setting, though. He was brought back "by popular demand" to star in Neil Simon's Come Blow Your Horn in 1963. (Julie Sommars, later seen in TV series such as The Governor and JJ and Matlock, portrayed one of his girlfriends in this play.) According to the Evening Independent, advance ticket sales were so strong for this show that an extra Sunday matinee performance was added to the run before the play even opened. JK also served as grand marshal of the Edgefield Volunteer Fire Department's 12th annual homecoming parade while in town for Come Blow Your Horn.

A review of the production in the Daily Times of New Philadelphia proclaimed "Jack Kelly Play Is Seen As Hit Of Fulton Season" and lauded JK's performance as "suave, sophisticated and assured".

JK starred in A Thousand Clowns in 1964 and Goodbye, Charlie in 1965. He headlined Tunnel of Love in 1966. The latter play was reviewed by an uncredited writer for the Dover OH Daily Reporter. While describing JK as a "bit paunchy", the reviewer also noted the actor's obvious appeal to the ladies: "The predominately female audience punctuated his love scenes with little squeals and one eager matron even broke the house rules and snapped a flash bulb in his eyes. Undaunted, but not unaware of the adoration, he treated the audience to one his best acting roles at the Arena. Thoroughly poised and articulate, he was believable in his difficult role...This is a good play! Jack Kelly has risen to the full height of his potential and with a first-rate supporting cast has made this an outstanding night of theatre." 

Arena audiences obviously loved JK and the feeling was mutual because he is quoted in the program for Simon's The Odd Couple (where he starred as slobby "Oscar Madison", 6/27-7/9/1967) as saying, "I hope I  never have to miss a season at Canal Fulton Summer Arena because it has become my second home. The Arena represents the gateway to the many friends and activities I have enjoyed over these recent years in the general area."

Incidentally, JK's bio in the Odd Couple program also contains some amazing information that I've not read elsewhere about a couple of tantalizing TV roles which unfortunately never happened:

"Jack Kelly once more is making his only summer appearances of the season at The Arena, where he has become one of our most popular repeat performers. Preparation of his new television series, Tolliver's Travels, is consuming most of his availability. Tolliver's Travels is geared for September production and January or mid-season release. The setting is Hawaii and all exterior photography will be shot in the Islands. Kelly, under contract to Universal for the past five years, has again had a very busy TV schedule, the past season having completed three Chrysler shows for Bob Hope [and] Run for Your Life for his old Maverick producer, Roy Huggins. Immediately upon completion of The Odd Couple he will return to Hollywood for another Run for Your Life segment that Huggins has lifted from the shooting schedule until Kelly is available."

A reviewer for the New Philadelphia Daily Times bluntly described JK as "chubby", but pointed out that "the extra weight is put to good use" in his role as Oscar in The Odd Couple.

At the Arena, JK also appeared in proven laugh-getters such as Under the Yum Yum Tree (repeating his 1962 Chicago role as "Hogan", 9/10-22/1968); Cactus Flower (as "Dr. Julian Winston", a dentist who stays single by pretending he's married, 6/24-29/1969); and other productions including that old standby The Moon is Blue (6/5-10/73).

 In July 1973, JK co-starred with Gale Storm in a political comedy called Affairs of State at Florence State University's summer theater  program in Alabama. The supporting actors were students at the University. JK participated in an engaging press conference with Ms. Storm. The play (and the actors) received a very nice review.
But sometimes, life onstage wasn't everything nice...stay tuned and learn about the play in which JK appeared that was so awful the audience reportedly booed it off the stage on opening night! It's here in Part III.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween From TDS! :)

"That's some snake costume, but
the Halloween party
ended three hours ago--now scram!"

Friday, October 30, 2015

Flashback Friday--With a Twist! :)

Back in 1962, everyone was doin' it--the Twist, that is!

Even Jack and Donna Kelly. Here they are, twistin' the night away in Hollywood:

Now, let's twist into the weekend with Sam Cooke:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Flashback Friday: "He Wasn't The Man I Wanted to Marry...I Was Sure of It..." :)

I hope you enjoyed this Friday flashback from 1961 in which Donna explains how she first met "Kelly" but didn't think he was "the one" for her. (Um, looking at that top photo of JK, I don't think I'd have any doubts whatsoever... ;>)
The rest of the article is pretty long but here are a few highlights:
  • Sometimes, when JK came to the door for a date, Donna would pretend she wasn't home. So, he left little notes on her door. He wrote messages like 'Hi Kook, the Tiger was here' and drew little tiger paw prints at the bottom of the page!
  • Donna admits, 'But from the beginning, I felt so comfortable with Kelly. That's why I had to call him 'Kelly'. He was like an old shoe. Yet he had so much spring in his step...I could never call him 'Jack'. He's just Kelly. It's the right tag for him. His name should be Kelly-something. Kelly expresses his personality. It tells all about him."
  • And in conclusion: "Maybe now you've got an idea of what Jack Kelly's really like--even when the shades are drawn...This isn't saying that Kelly doesn't have his faults. He much too real not to have any. But don't try to prove them to me. As he can tell you, I have a lousy memory."
Now, don't you forget to come back to TDS for more kewl stories from the Kellection. By the way, I am still working on "All the World's a Stage With JK"--I just keep finding more research material! But, it will be worth the wait, I promise you. Have a great weekend! :) 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hot Dog, It's Friday! :)

Here's a fun way to kick off Columbus Day weekend: a pic of JK and Donna enjoying hot dogs at Marineland in California. The caption says the two starlets at right just happened to "bump into" the Kellys. When a photographer was present, yet. Sounds kind of "fishy" to me. Oh well, have a happy and safe weekend! :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

JK's Sunday Funnies :)


I'm sure we're all familiar with the Maverick comic books which were published during the show's run. I've even featured some of them in this blog. What you might not know, however, is that Jack Kelly also "appeared" in other comic books.

Like, the May 1960 issue of Archie's Girls: Betty and Veronica.

Archie, of course, is that red-headed high school kid and Betty and Veronica are his girlfriends (he apparently can't decide which one he likes the best). The girls--blonde Betty and brunette Veronica--were popular enough to get their own spin-off comic. And, Veronica must have very good taste because she picked JK as "Star of the Month", complete with a small black and white photo and a full-page biography.

Incidentally, in one of the comic's stories, Betty describes Veronica as her "frenemy" ("a combination of a friend and an enemy"), a word which I thought was coined fairly recently. I Googled it and one source said "frenemy" originated in 1977 and was added to the  Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2009. So, if any etymologists see this post, they may want to revise that origin date! :)

Okay, so this next comic is a Maverick comic, but it's more than that. It's also a science-fiction comic book! No, Bart and Bret don't wander into Westworld. However, there are sci-fi stories in this early 1960's Spanish-language comic, which also has one of the coolest Maverick covers (inside and out) I've ever seen.

Also published in Spanish, this Mexican photo-novelization of JK's 1963 feature film FBI Code 98 (Operacion F.B.I. En Cabo Canaveral) features actual scenes from the film:

Unfortunately, most of the photos inside are pretty grainy, but here's one of the pages with JK:

"Fotonovelas" were and still are popular in Latin America. As with FBI Code 98, the content of these photo-illustrated comics isn't always kids' stuff. For example, I own several vintage fotonovelas based on Breaking Point, the 1963-'64 psychiatric drama series starring Paul Richards.

Well, I hope these JK "funnies" have put a smile on your face. Keep watching for more JK goodies in TDS! :)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Come Fly Away With JK! - Pt III

Hi Everyone!

Here's the third and final part of "A Pilot, On Stage and Off":

"For the past several years, Kelly has been playing in summer stock companies throughout the Midwest. Since many of these stops are off-airlines, he will frequently charter a plane for his wife*, himself and the large wardrobe that is required even when playing a 'modern' role.

"'I'll need at least five complete changes of suits on the road," he said, "in addition to what I wear offstage. You never know when or where you'll have a chance for cleaning and pressing. So, there's usually just room for a pilot, the two of us and our baggage when we charter a four-place. However, these short cross-country trips in various areas that are new to me give an excellent background for my own vacation flights.'

"Some of the actor's sensitivity to surroundings came to light when he was asked why he liked to fly. "I get a fantastic reaction to being off the ground. My mind crystalizes into clarity when I'm in the air and the earthbound problems disappear.

"Just as almost everyone else in the nation, I was glued to the TV set for two days after President Kennedy's assassination. Finally I became so depressed that I drove to the airport and took a Cessna up for two-and-a-half hours. For the short time I was in the air, the whole national tragedy seemed lifted from my shoulders.'

"Although he was born in New York City, Kelly is no stranger to southern California. He has spent a large part of his time there for the past several years, working in motion pictures, on TV and on the stage.

"Kelly had a clause in his contract that provided the option to drop out of a Broadway** show if the TV aviation film he was working on proved to be a success and was continued as a regular series.

'While I look forward to the Broadway assignment,' he said before leaving for the East, 'it would be most enjoyable to do a regular TV series patterned around aviation. In the trial film, 'Double Jeopardy', I play a happy-go-lucky, girl-chasing executive who uses a light aircraft for business transportation. In the original script, the author came up with a name for the proposed series--Pay the Piper.'

"'Naturally, the lead character's name in 'Double Jeopardy' is 'Mr. Piper'.

"And naturally, the aircraft used in 'Double Jeopardy' just happened to be a brand-new Piper Aztec C."

Bonus photo: JK not as a pilot, but as a passenger, along with wife Donna (May). The snipe on the back of this fabulous late 1950's TWA publicity photo says: "Idlewild Airport, N.Y. May 24--TV Star of Maverick, Jack Kelly and his attractive wife, actress May Wynn, look lovey-dovey on their arrival from Los Angeles. They will be with us a few days on business."  Incidentally, the book Donna is holding says "The Mainstream of America Series". This was a series of 20 books published by Doubleday between 1953 and 1966 which focused on American history.

Where will TDS and JK fly to next? Stay tuned and find out! :)
*This interview apparently took place in 1964 when JK was still married to May Wynn.

**Probably a reference to The Family Way, which opened and quickly closed on Broadway in early 1965. Unfortunately, "Double Jeopardy" wasn't a hit, either, and Pay The Piper didn't become a regular series, although JK would play Fred Piper again in "One Embezzlement and Two Margaritas" on Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater in 1966.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Come Fly Away With JK! Pt. II

"A Pilot, On Stage and Off" continues:

JK waits as technicians check the light (that's co-star
Lauren Bacall in the foreground)

"As a mechanical malfunction in the sound recording system shut down filming temporarily, Kelly explained, 'The first flight I ever made was as an enlisted weather forecaster for the USAAF toward the end of World War II. We were to go from Great Falls, MT, to Anchorage, AK, as passengers in a C-46. Some of my buddies were also making their first flight and were admittedly scared. But when you've done professional acting, there's always the challenge of making the part believable. So, I lied like a trooper and told my fellow passengers that I'd been flying for 15 years and that there was nothing to worry about.'

"'Actually, I'm afraid of heights--close to the ground--and a 10-foot diving board gives me the shakes. However, I never have a bit of trouble in the air.'

"For an amateur light plane pilot, actor Kelly has had more than his share of misadventures as a passenger.

"'I was riding in a C-47 one day on a landing at Cold Bay--that's out on the Aleutian Chain--when the pilot ground-looped because of extreme surface winds. We finally slid to a stop off the runway in about six feet of icy water. However, we could walk ashore by climbing up the wing before the cabin filled with water.'

"The actor's military background for flying included riding and occasionally piloting C-47s on 'buzz-jobs' of Alaskan moose. 'In looking back, I guess the experience was a blessing in disguise, since we lived through it,' Kelly said. 'It called for a type of precision flying that you don't especially need in the traffic pattern at Burbank.'

"Kelly completed his military service as a non-commissioned officer in charge of the weather station at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. 'I can still read a synoptic chart,' he said, 'and I've found the early training I had in weather has been a great help since I've had a chance to begin to learn to fly.'

"While Kelly is probably best known for working with one-horse-power films (he played the part of 'Bart' in the Maverick series on TV for several years), he has had the opportunity to portray a pilot or co-pilot in productions other than 'Double Jeopardy'. During the filming of FBI Code 98 for theater release, there was a North American 'Sabreliner' used for a 'set-dressing' and two Hughes 269A helicopters used on location. Kelly was able to fast-talk long enough and fast enough to get a Hughes pilot to give him 11 hours of dual [instruction] and he then spent 45 minutes solo in the helicopter.

"During the filming of Julie nine years ago, Kelly portrayed an airline [co-pilot] and was able to spend several hours in the United DC-6 simulator at Oakland. 'If you are going through the motions of operating a transport, you want to know which levers work the throttles and which work the props.'

[Bartista here: JK also appeared in the aviation-related feature film The Wild Blue Yonder in 1951.]

"It wasn't until the Maverick series came along that Kelly was able to stay in one place long enough to learn how to fly. He went to several instructor before B. G. O'Hara, a Flying Tiger Lines captain who worked with the Sky Roamers between the Pacific flights, took over and helped the actor smooth out his pre-solo problems.

"'Good instruction is important in everything you try to do, whether it's golf, swimming, flying or what', said Kelly. 'That ability to teach the right psychological approach makes all the difference in the world between just an airplane driver and a good instructor.'

"'After I'd shot just one landing with O'Hara, he pointed out that I was coming in with my left wing a little low because I was handling the wheel of the Cessna 150 by the hub instead of the outside. After a few minutes of practice, my landings improved 100%.'

"Jack Kelly looks upon flying as something active. 'My idea of flying isn't just to go out on a long cross-country trip where you climb to an altitude, turn on the autopilot and turn off your mind. I love to navigate by dead reckoning and, actually, I'm looking forward to the day when the omni goes out.'

"Kelly's other avocations are golf and fishing. 'Someday I hope to produce a 'home movie' on the fishing grounds of the Southwest because it's going to be a long time before they're fished out. I hope to take aerial footage of each of the locations and then follow up with scenes of actual fishing from the surface.'

"While he's an enthusiastic angler, Kelly admits that there's one species of fish that he honestly doesn't like to catch: the multicolored dolphin* that are found in great numbers in waters off both sides of the peninsula of Baja California. Dolphins are brilliantly-hued fish while in the water but lose much of their color once they're landed.

""I really hate to catch a dolphin,' he said quietly. 'When it's possible, I'll unhook them and put them back in the water.'

[*Bartista again: I think JK is actually referring to "dolphin fish", also known as "mahi mahi" or "dorado". They are fish and not dolphins like Flipper, which are mammals. A notable attribute of dolphinfish is their multi-hued iridescent coloring which fades when they're removed from the water.]

STAY TUNED FOR PART III and learn the main reason JK liked to fly.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Come Fly Away With JK! - Pt I :)


I hope everyone's recovered from the party. :)

Now, fasten your seatbelts...because we're going flying with Jack Kelly!

An amazing article about JK finally landed (pun intended) in the Kellection the other day after I'd diligently searched for it for several years. When you read it, you'll agree it was worth the wait!

Published in an aviation magazine, this profile from the mid-1960s offers a fascinating look at JK's interest in flying. It also reveals information about his military service and about some of his appearances as an actor which involved aviation. Above all, it provides a different perspective on JK than the usual "fan" magazine story. It proves once again that he was far more than just a handsome face.

As an introduction, let's watch this clip from "Double Jeopardy", a 1965 episode of Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater in which JK starred as detective Fred Piper. The article explains how the flight scenes in this clip were filmed:

And, away we go:

"A Pilot, On Stage And Off
Written and photographed by

 Don Downie (c) The AOPA Pilot

Actor Jack Kelly enjoys flying as an avocation,

but he'd also like to be more closely involved with aviation in his television and screen activities.

"While filming a special television show for Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater, actor Jack Kelly shares the cockpit of a Piper Aztec with Fullerton, CA,  pilot J. Tom Brody." (Photo by Don Downie)
"It was quiet on the soundstage at Universal Studios near Hollywood, CA. In front of the cameras was a meticulous 'mock-up' of a new Aztec C. Actually, the motion picture prop was a production Piper fuselage from nose to baggage compartment, opened up like a sliced orange for proper camera angles.

"In the pilot's seat was Zsa Zsa Gabor, but her co-pilot knew a great deal more about flying than the Hungarian glamour girl. Flying right seat for Zsa Zsa was actor Jack (John A.) Kelly (AOPA 133779) who starred in the Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theater TV film titled 'Double Jeopardy'. In addition to Kelly and Miss Gabor, the film included Lauren Bacall and Tom Poston.

"It would have been much more practical from a flying standpoint to have the roles in the cockpit reversed. Actor Kelly is an eager and active member of the Sky Roamers Flying Club of Burbank, CA, and an expert meteorologist.

"While he's working in Hollywood, Jack Kelly finds the Sky Roamers an ideal flying club for his purposes. 'There's everything a new pilot needs, including a Link trainer and lots of instruction,' he explained between takes of 'Double Jeopardy'.

"In this particular scene, which took 12 retakes, Kelly had to have a makeup artist remove Miss Gabor's lipstick each time. But Kelly is a professional actor who can switch quickly from camera capers to hangar flying.

"'I use the Sky Roamers' Cessna 172's and 175's to go golfing at Palm Springs or Borrego Springs, but I like to fly pretty high through Banning Pass,' he said.

"The basic idea for the script and lead character for 'Double Jeopardy' was Jack Kelly's.

"'I feel if we can keep private flying in the foreground of entertainment, we can influence more people to try it themselves,' he explained. 'At first, we kicked around the idea of having the lead character have the capability to fly himself. However, there seemed to be better plot opportunities to have him as an interested passenger involved with a great deal of flying and, of course, a great number of most attractive gals.'

"Even with his relatively brief experience in flying, Kelly doubled in brass as technical director on the set.

"'But what am I supposed to do, darlink,' asked Zsa Zsa, 'when I'm supposed to be piloting zis machine?' (Her on-camera accent is for real.)

"Kelly explained what the control movements would be to correspond with the rear projection color background that showed a landing at the Monterey, CA, Airport."

STAY TUNED FOR PART II and learn about JK's adventures (and misadventures) with military airplanes and some of his high-flying film roles!