Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bon Appetit, JK! :)


When researching Jack Kelly, it quickly becomes obvious that the man loved cooking and food. Mentions of his culinary interests are peppered throughout old newspaper and magazine stories, such as this tasty tidbit from 1961:

"...But a real Irishman, Jack Kelly, the Bart of Maverick fame, passes up such things as Irish stew for Mexican dishes. He is a real lover of enchiladas."

Here's a rare color shot of JK and wife Donna (a.k.a. May Wynn) whipping up something yummy at the kitchen stove:

Learning more about JK's love of cooking has also helped me to discover other interesting foodies. For example, below is a 1959 press photo of JK demonstrating how to slice Italian bread length-wise (and, as Crocodile Dundee would say, "Now that's a knife"). There's Donna again, and the woman in the center is identified as Mary Hart.

Obviously, that's not the Mary Hart who used to host Entertainment Tonight. A bit of research revealed that this lady was actually named Mary Sorensen. She was a food columnist for the Minneapolis Tribune/Star-Tribune for over 40 years and "Mary Hart" was her pen name. Celebrities such as JK were featured in her column from time to time. (A photo at this link shows her in 1961 with famed TV emcee Art Linkletter.) Incidentally, Ms. Sorensen's husband was a food chemist who helped invent the instant version of Cream of Wheat cereal!

I've also learned a little bit about the Los Angeles restaurant scene in the 1950's, since when he wasn't cooking, JK frequented establishments such as the Valley Casa D'Amore in North Hollywood (dig those prices!):

Now, how do I know JK ate there? Because he signed the back of the menu above. I have no idea who the "Greene girls!" (to whom he wrote, "I sure hope we'll always be friends") are, however:

Trivia: The original Casa D'Amore opened on Cahuenga Boulevard in Hollywood in 1939. It was the first pizzeria in Southern California and was owned and named for brothers Franklyn and Pasquale "Patsy" D'Amore, immigrants from Southern Italy. Patsy D'Amore later opened the Villa Capri, a favorite hangout of stars such as Frank Sinatra. (Franklyn D'Amore's daughter, Connie Ruel, has a very nice blog here.)

This last photo below, dated March 1960, shows Donna and JK about to enjoy a home-cooked meal (and, yes, that is a poodle on his lap!) The snipe on the back of this vintage photo reads, "THE COOKING KELLYS--Jack Kelly, he's Bart Maverick of the television series, and his wife Donna prepare to sample a bit of their own kitchen handywork. The Kellys, who are good cooks, frequently cook the dinner when entertaining guests at home in Hollywood."
Well, I hope this post whets your "appetite" for more about JK, because there's lots more to come. I'm working on a series about some of JK's stage roles. Recently, I was fortunate enough to find a truly rare (and maybe even one-of-a-kind) document which provides a behind-the-scenes peek at one of JK's Broadway appearances. I also found a similar document for one of JK's television appearances, so, please stay tuned! :)