Sunday, June 17, 2018

...And Jack the Dad :)

Happy Father's Day!

Here's a photo of Jack Kelly's pop, John A. "Jack" Kelly, Sr., dancing with JK's younger sister, Karolee, in 1939:

According to the caption, Mr. Kelly was called "Jack" even by his children. And although it states that Karolee would make her screen debut in Gone With the Wind, I'm not sure if she actually appears in the film. She did go on to play minor roles in movies and on TV, but GWTW isn't among her credits on the Internet Movie Database.

Please stay tuned for more about JK (Jr., that is!) in TDS. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Jack the Grad...


'Tis the season for high school graduation ceremonies, with each student garbed in a colorful gown and proudly sliding their tassel from one side of their cap to the other after receiving their diploma. 

Well, I assume they still do that. That's how I remember it from my graduation, anyway. It seems like it happened only yesterday, but...good golly, was it really that many moons ago? Doesn't seem possible! ;>

Speaking of graduation, I have a copy of the 1945 Chieftan yearbook from University High School in West Los Angeles, California.

 University High has had a number of its students go on to fame and fortune, including one Norma Baker...better known as Marilyn Monroe

In 1945, a particularly handsome young lad was pictured as a senior in the Chieftan. You may recognize him:

Of course, it's Jack Kelly. (There's no mistaking that fabulous face!) :>

Years ago, I found a pic of JK in his cap and gown in an old magazine:

JK wasn't the only member of the University High class of '45 who would achieve stardom. There was also this fellow:

Yes, that Andy Williams:

The Moon River crooner was born in Iowa and began high school in Ohio. He graduated from University High after his family moved to California.

And, a member of the "Uni" class of 1947 would also make his mark on the entertainment world, plus have a connection to JK:

 Merv Adelson co-founded Lorimar Television and was the third husband of Barbara Walters. He also created the Rancho La Costa resort and country club (now the Omni La Costa) near Carlsbad, California. JK was a member of La Costa.

'Tis also the season to celebrate dad, and we'll do just time in TDS! :)

Monday, June 11, 2018

Coming Soon in "TDS"! :)

  • Rare candid photos of Jack Kelly at Warner Bros., including one signed by JK himself. Formerly in the personal collection of a Maverick guest actor, these incredible pix are now in the Kellection.
  • Other rare JK photos from film & TV
  • Much more
  • So please stay tuned! :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Taming" Tuesday :)


In addition to a time for reflection and remembrance, I'd planned to use Memorial Day weekend to scan some Kellectibles and create some new posts for this blog.

What's that saying about "best laid plans"? On Friday evening after I returned home from work, the Bartistamobile suddenly got a flat tire--and I mean, pancake flat. It wouldn't hold air after being pumped back up (I could hear the air defiantly hissing out as the tire deflated again). So, the automobile club came over on Saturday morning and installed the "donut" spare as a temporary fix. 

I called my go-to tire place. Unfortunately, they didn't have any appointments open until Monday afternoon, Memorial Day. And, since one of my other tires has had a slow leak for a while, I knew this wasn't going to be just an inexpensive patch job. Sure enough, the Bartistamobile is now $porting a brand-new $et of four tire$. (We'll be back at the tire place on Friday for $ome brake work, as well.) ;)

Aside from the tire drama, temperatures were in the humid 90's over the weekend. Heat and I don't mix very well, and after spending Saturday afternoon running errands with my sister, traipsing back and forth between the muggy outdoors and chilly air-conditioned stores, I felt like a wrung out washcloth. My schedule was full on Sunday, too.

My weekend plans may have gone awry, but I'm hoping to tame Tuesday as I return to work.

Speaking of taming: here's a rare poster from Taming Sutton's Gal (a.k.a. Back of Beyond), the 1957 feature film in which Jack Kelly co-starred with May Wynn (Donna Kelly), his real-life wife at the time. JK portrays a backwoods bootlegger named "Jugger Phelps", who is married to Donna's character in the film.

A close-up of JK and DK from the poster

Plus, a fantastic still from the film:

Well, I hope your Tuesday is terrific. Thanks for reading and please stay tuned for more fun with JK in TDS! :)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Slidin' Into Saturday :)


A real Jack Kelly rarity just joined the Kellection:

It's an original promo slide for "Time of Flight", a 1966 segment of Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre.

It's not the usual type of slide, either. It's actually a transparency enclosed between two pieces of glass which are sealed in a plastic frame. It was used in a "filmchain" set-up. The filmchain usually incorporated a slide projector, which is how TV stations aired images such as this one as well as station logos and test patterns back in the day. The filmchain captured the image from the slide, turned it into an electronic signal and then converted it back into a picture which was broadcast over the air. Today, most filmchains have been replaced by the telecine process.

"Hope"fully (pun intended) I'll get to see "Time of Flight" some day. For now, though, I'm glad just to see this beautiful slide, which is still in pristine condition after 52 years.

What other rarities from the Kellection are coming up in TDS? Please stay tuned to find out! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day...

The Kelly Kids!
 Nancy, Clement, Karolee
.... and JACK! :)

Monday, May 7, 2018

"The Master"--Remastered! (Pt. II)


Here's Part II of our look at "Kunoichi", the episode of "The Master" in which Jack Kelly guest-starred in 1984.

Brian Elkwood applauds at the conclusion of the Chopin piece:

But, the applause suddenly stops when a woman screams from the audience. She sees the ninja assassin on the catwalk above the stage, aiming a gun at Elkwood!

Luckily, McAllister and Max were able to escape from the safe house. Max takes down "The Hawk", and then he and Elkwood nervously watch as McAllister battles with the assassin:

Finally, McAllister defeats the assassin, saving the day and Elkwood's life--again:

(I've obscured the assassin's unmasked face to avoid a "spoiler" for those who haven't seen the episode yet, but the character's identity isn't really surprising if you know the meaning of "kunoichi". ;>)

Elkwood salutes McAllister:

The next day, Brian tells McAllister and Max that it would have been a disaster if "The Hawk" had replaced him at the summit in Geneva:

And, he expresses his gratitude to his old war buddy for saving his life:

The Master is a big slice of 1980's cheese, from the Bill Conti theme music and The Master's A-Team van, all the way to Ms. Harmon's shoulder pads and Crystal Carrington hairdo.

And, yes, it's preposterous every time elderly, frail-looking Lee Van Cleef suddenly becomes a lean, mean ninja fighting machine in the battle scenes. Plus, the scene in "Kunoichi"where McAllister and Max escape from the safe house should have been prefaced with an announcer intoning, "Tune in next week, same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!"

But: I love it! "Kunoichi" isn't spectacular, but it was better than I thought it would be. It was wonderful seeing JK act with Van Cleef once more. Like Elkwood and McCallister, JK and LVC went way back. They previously acted together on TV in the "Man Down, Woman Screaming" episode of the syndicated 1950's series City Detective. They also appeared as themselves in When the West Was Fun in 1979.  And, of course, they also co-starred in the 1968 feature film Commandos.

Before acting with Kelly Harmon in "Kunoichi", JK had appeared with her sister, Kristin Harmon Nelson, in the 1965 feature film Love and Kisses. (Sadly, Kristin passed away in 2018 at age 72.)

And, JK didn't just play a government official on TV--he was also the mayor of Huntington Beach, CA, in 1984!

All 13 episodes of The Master are now available in a remastered DVD set and can be purchased through Amazon and other retailers.  

Please stay tuned for more about JK's TV and movie adventures in TDS! :)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

"The Master"--Remastered! :)


I just made an amazing new DVD discovery: The Master. If that title doesn't ring a bell, it's not surprising: The Master was an NBC television series which ran for only 13 episodes in 1984. 

Photo courtesy the Internet Movie Database
"The Master" is "John Peter McAllister" (Lee Van Cleef), a seasoned US veteran of WWII and the Korean War who becomes a revered teacher of the ninja way in Japan.
McAllister leaves Japan to search for his long-lost daughter back in the States. Along the way, he finds a friend, "Max Keller" (Timothy Van Patten), a young man who travels with a pet rodent named "Henry". (Max is also the show's narrator.)
The Master also has an enemy, "Okasa" (Sho Kosugi), a former pupil who has sworn vengeance on McAllister for abandoning his ninja sect.
The Master employed a lot of familiar guest stars from TV's past, including Stuart Whitman, Claude Akins, David McCallum, Doug McClure...and Jack Kelly. :)
JK appears in the episode "Kunoichi", which originally aired on April 6, 1984. He plays "Brian Elkwood", a wartime specialist in espionage who is now the "right-hand man to the President".
On the eve of a crucial summit meeting in Geneva, Elkwood suspects that a traitorous "mole" has infiltrated his high-risk security operation.
Meanwhile, McAllister and Max arrive in Washington, DC. McAllister explains that Elkwood had written to him, anxiously seeking his help. He and Elkwood go way back, having been held in the same P.O.W. camp during the Korean War.
However, Elkwood tells his devoted secretary "Allison Grant" (Kelly Harmon) that he wants nothing to do McAllister, who he claims is a dangerous crank who's sent threatening letters to him. He warns Allison that McCallister is not the man he once knew.
Then, Allison meets McAllister when he rescues her from some attackers. She tells him how Brian had warned her about him and about the threatening letters. McAllister tells her that he sent no such letters. He insists he came to DC because Brian wrote to him.
Allison tries to reconcile the two former war buddies by bringing McAllister to a party at Elkwood's house. Elkwood is not amused:
McAllister tries to plead his innocence, but Brian won't listen and angrily orders him to leave. He does, but later sneaks back to the house to surreptitiously examine the letters, which he knows are forgeries.
While in the house, McAllister notices a wartime photo of him and Elkwood:

("Watch Your Six O'Clock" is military slang meaning to check behind you
to make sure you're not being followed)

Then, Brian catches him red-handed with the letters:
 McAllister convinces his old pal to put the gun down:

 Brian begins to think that maybe John didn't write the letters:
They deduce that someone else wrote the menacing missives in an effort to pit the two men against each other: 
However, their reunion is interrupted by a ninja-garbed assassin. McAllister foils the attempt on Brian's life by battling the ninja, who mysteriously vanishes in a puff of smoke.
Then, the police arrive. They assume McAllister is the would-be killer and take him into custody. A cynical detective (William Campbell) scoffs at John's story of being framed and tells him he's going to be transferred to federal prison for the attempted murder of Elkwood:
(It's "Trelane" from Star Trek!)
McAllister tries to call Max, but is unable to reach him. However, he's able to reach Allison. He tells her to contact Max and explain the situation to him:
"Care for a Tic-Tac?"
Max springs McAllister from the security van before he reaches the prison. They infiltrate a "safe house" where Okasa is meeting with the mole--who is really a "Hawk". And, it turns out that the ninja assassin--trained by Okasa--is really:
I hope Jethro Gibbs doesn't see this...
And, the plan is to kill Brian Elkwood at a piano concert and frame McAllister for the crime--again. Then, the Hawk will attend the summit in Geneva. Max and McAllister are held captive at the house as the assassin heads to the recital. 
Blissfully unaware of all this, Elkwood enjoys Chopin's Polonaise No. 6 In A Flat Major Op. 53 at the concert hall:
Note JK's cowboy boots. You can take
the actor out of Maverick,
 but you can't take the Maverick out of the actor! :)

Will "The Master" escape in time to stop the assassin? Please stay tuned for Part II of "'The Master'--Remastered!" :)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wake Up and Read! (Pt. II)

Happy Monday!

Continuing with the "Wake Up and Read!" theme, here's a review of Shooting Stars of the Small Screen by Douglas Brode.

This book is subtitled "Encyclopedia of TV Western Actors, 1946-Present" ("Present" being 2009, when it was published). And, that's exactly what it is, an encyclopedia-style conpendium of actors who were regulars or had recurring roles in TV western series. James Garner and Jack Kelly both have entries (JG rates a photo; JK does not).

In fact, most of the bios don't include photos of their subjects. And, some of the entries are curiously skimpy. For example, Eric Fleming, the star of Rawhide, gets a shorter bio than Paul Brinegar, who played the supporting role of "Wishbone".

Brode also seems rather condescending in some of the entries. He dismisses David Canary of Bonanza as "essentially a one-note actor". (And yet somehow Canary won five daytime Emmy awards for playing a dual role.) In the entry for Gina Gillespie, the young actress who co-starred opposite JK in the "The Deadliest Kid in the West" episode of Laredo, Brode notes that she is the younger sister of former "Mouseketeer" Darlene Gillespie. Brode concludes the entry by writing that Gina "left showbiz and became a lawyer, unlike her sister, who left show business, became a criminal and went to jail." The latter might be true, but I think he could have worded it a little less flippantly.

Brode, a teacher at Syracuse University, also makes some erroneous statements which could have easily been fact-checked and corrected before publication. For example, he writes that actor Brandon De Wilde died in a "bizarre camping accident". Nope: De Wilde died after a not-so-bizarre vehicle accident when the camper he was driving slammed into a truck in the rain.

Brode also claims that singing cowboy Eddie Dean was the older brother of singer/sausage magnate Jimmy Dean. Wrong again. Eddie Dean (whose real name was Edgar Dean Glosup) did have a brother named Jimmy. However, he was not the country crooner who was born Jimmy Ray Dean in 1928 and had a hit record with "Big Bad John" in 1961. (Since the book was published by the University of Texas Press, it's surprising they didn't catch this jarring error involving two native Texans.)

The biggest problem with Shooting Stars of the Small Screen is that it was published nearly a decade ago. The information it contains is static. Some of the actors profiled in the book have since died. Actors who are still living have accumulated additional western credits. Frequently updated sites such as the Internet Movie Database are now available online and can provide much more current and complete information.

Also, any serious fan of most of these stars (such as JK) is going to know a lot of the stuff written in the book already.

But, it's an okay little book to keep handy when watching westerns on channels like MeTV and Heroes & Icons. Anyway, I bought it mainly for the cover:

Please stay tuned for more rootin' tootin' fun in TDS! :)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Wake Up and Read! :)


Some vintage magazines and a book featuring Jack Kelly recently joined the Kellection.

In one of those magazines, I found this brilliant ad:

1959 ad promoting "National Library Week" (more here)

So, let's do just that: wake up and read about JK! :)

First up, here's a short but sweet write-up about Mr. K from a column in a 1960 newspaper TV magazine:

"STAR CALLING: Things are restless at the Warner [Bros.] corral again. Clint 'Cheyenne' Walker is threatening another walkout. Jim 'Maverick' Garner is still holding out even though 10 of the new season's shows are already completed. Ty ['Bronco'] Hardin has suddenly but so sincerely got religion he is giving Bible readings on the set between scenes.

Only Jack 'Bart Maverick' Kelly is content. He has a new contract. He's bought himself a stylish new house in the most expensive section of Sunset Boulevard, where he's pushing out walls, installing a swimming pool and right now living surrounded by packing boxes. Donna, his wife, who as a movie starlet called herself May Wynn, does all the cooking and housework since no maid would submit to the clutter everywhere and eating off a two-foot coffee table while seated on old camel cushions, which so far are the Kellys' only chairs.

'Clint Walker can really live in the wilds,' Jack told me. 'He likes it. The last time he walked out on the studio, he took his family with him and they were really free people, not dependent on the comforts like most of the rest of us are for happiness. Wayde Preston, if he really quits, could make a fine living flying. Ef Zimbalist is talented in a dozen ways, but me, I'm just an actor. It's all I've ever wanted to be--a good actor, preferably in light comedy.

'Oh, I know. I work those impossible TV hours, usually seven A.M. to seven P.M. I never can go away because even over the weekends I'm studying scripts. I spend whatever free time I have at home, when I'm not making like an amateur chef, or watching TV--studying performances. I'm the kind of goof who cried at Father Knows Best, and all the time behind everything else I'm thinking about how I can be a better light comedian.

'That's why I miss Jim Garner being out of the series. We work together like a right and left hand. The first time we ever met we had to make a [screen] test together. We weren't even introduced. I asked him why he was standing up so tall, trying to top me, and Jim took it from there.

'It's been like that with us ever since. I think the best Mavericks have been the ones in which we were together. All Jim and I have to do in a scene is turn and look at one another and we know just what to do to make it funnier. If I had anything to do with it, which unfortunately I don't, Jim would be back tomorrow.'"

Please stay tuned and read more about JK in TDS! :)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

"Biggest Sunday Audience" :)

The picture quality of this ad with Jack Kelly from a 1959 Amarillo, Texas, newspaper is terrible, but I still wanted to share it with you.
They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that was true of the audience size for Maverick in Amarillo.
"Some Programs Win Awards! Others Win Audiences! Some Win Both!" the ad trumpets. 

It notes that Maverick was named "Best Western" by the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. Maverick also had the "Biggest Sunday Audience", according to the American Research Bureau.

The ad sums it all up: "TONIGHT, More Amarillo Residents Will Watch Maverick Than ANY Other Sunday Program on ANY Station!"

Of course, now we can watch Maverick on Sunday, Monday or any other day of the week. But, it's still nice to see that it was the "king" of its timeslot and "aces" with the audience back in the day. ;)

Please stay tuned for more about our favorite Maverick in TDS!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Last Stop: JK :)


I watched "Last Stop: Oblivion", the 1961 Maverick episode shown on MeTV this morning. I'd seen it before, and once again, I was struck by how macabre this episode is. It's all about Bart Maverick's chilling encounter with avaricious inn keeper  "Nero Lyme" (portrayed by Buddy Ebsen) and his creepy kin, whose motto could be "The family that slays together stays together." (And after watching "Last Stop: Oblivion", you might think twice about accepting coffee from "Mrs. Olson"! ;>)

What makes this episode even scarier is that it may have been based on a true story. While I've never seen it explicitly acknowledged, "Last Stop: Oblivion" was almost certainly inspired by the story of the murderous Bender family of Labette County, Kansas.

Like Nero Lyme, John Bender and his wife ran an inn and welcomed travelers--especially wealthy travelers. And, some of their guests checked in, but didn't check out. 

The Benders' living quarters were separated from the inn and the small general store they ran by a large canvas curtain. Once a victim was targeted, the unsuspecting "guest of honor" was seated with their back to the curtain. The Benders' daughter, Kate, distracted the victim as Pa Bender and son John Jr. crept from behind the curtain to dispatch them with a deadly sledgehammer blow to the head. The victim's lifeless body was then stripped of valuables and dropped through a trapdoor into the cellar to await burial. Some of the Benders' victims were found buried in an orchard near the inn.

The Benders' killing spree lasted nearly two years. It might have gone on longer, but rumors of mysterious disappearances in the area eventually led concerned family members and friends to the inn in search of their missing loved ones.

Among the missing was a prominent physician, Dr. William York. Dr. York had visited the inn previously. He told his brother, Colonel A.M. York of Fort Scott, that he would be staying there again. However, Dr. York--who himself had been searching for a neighbor and his young daughter who were missing--never returned home.

According to one account, the Colonel stopped at the inn in May of 1873 and asked if the Benders had seen his brother. They suggested that perhaps Dr. York had run into trouble somewhere else along the way.

Colonel York thought this sounded plausible. He stayed for dinner at the inn and luckily didn't end up paying with his life. After dinner, he was sitting by himself in the front room of the inn when something shiny under one of the beds caught his eye. It was a locket--with pictures of Dr. York's wife and daughter inside. He instantly recognized the locket as one of his brother's most prized possessions. (Like when Bart found Mr. Sunday's locket in "Last Stop: Oblivion".)

Colonel York slipped out of the inn to ride away and alert the nearest authorities. As he made his way to the stable to fetch his horse, he noticed a lantern light in the orchard. He stealthily drew closer and saw Pa Bender and John Jr. apparently preparing to bury one of their victims.

Colonel York left and returned with a posse, only to find that the Benders--possibly alerted by his sudden departure--had deserted the inn and seemingly vanished into thin air. However, nearly a dozen of their victims (including Dr. York and the father and child he'd been looking for) were found buried on the property.

It was also discovered that the evil innkeeper wasn't actually named Bender and that his "family" members probably weren't even related to one another, except for Ma "Bender" and Kate, who really were mother and daughter.  

Yes, the horrific real-life saga of "The Bloody Benders" is even more hair-raising than "Last Stop: Oblivion". Pa Bender makes Nero Lyme look like Mister Rogers!

Now, let's move on to something much cheerier: color images of Jack Kelly as he appeared in "Last Stop: Oblivion". These were scanned directly from genuine color Maverick publicity slides in the Kellection. Enjoy! :)

JK and lovely co-star Suzanne Lloyd. Ms. Lloyd portrays "Laura Nelson", whom Bart meets on the stagecoach to Oblivion. Laura is in search of her missing fiancĂ©. 

The plot thickens: Another stage passenger, "Mr. Smith", is really a murderer named "Durst". Durst tries to squeeze money out of the Lymes by blackmailing them, but his plan is soured by Nero. 

 Brave Bart to the rescue! :)

The previous image was used on the cover of
this Maverick comic book:

It was also the basis for the illustration on the Maverick annual cover shown below:

Bonus photo:
This image is courtesy of Suzanne Lloyd's website, which apparently is no longer online.

Please stay tuned for more about JK and Maverick in TDS!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

JK in AZ :)


Fifty-nine years ago today (and tomorrow), Bart Maverick, er, Jack Kelly, appeared "IN PERSON!" at John F. Long's International Home Show in Phoenix, Arizona:

While in Phoenix, JK also put in an appearance at a local Jeep dealer:
 Now, here's the scoop on JK and wife Donna/May Wynn's arrival in AZ on Friday 4/10/59 (I love the headline--just wish the photo was clearer!):

The bemused local newspaper reporter, Charlotte Buchen, didn't quite know what to make of the cowboy from Queens:
"I do declare--television's Bart Maverick ain't like no cowboy I ever saw.
Bret's 6-foot, brown-eyed little brother stepped down from an American Airlines plane here yesterday morning looking very much like the man about town on the streets of New York. He's here for the John F. Long International Home Show. 
Wearing a gray suit that might well be the pride of Brooks Brothers, Maverick's white teeth sparkled as he beamed a matinee idol smile upon dozens of admirers who caught his arrival.  
'I don't live the part of Maverick,' he said, 'although I'd love to do Maverick forever.'
Like the rugged individualism of the show that has brought his face and name to millions, he defies the Buck Jones era of gun-slinging 'personality' cowboys.
'The Western ideas on the moral-telling story are over,' he said with the clipping accent of a dramatic star. 'No longer must there be right conquering might, where the mortgage property must be free and clear from the villain who goes to his demise.'
'Maverick', he continued, 'is the charming and fortunate man of the West with no ties to responsibility. He counteracts drollness and doesn't care if it's right or wrong.'
What the Maverick show has done for the actor in the brother role is to give him 'constant and prestige exposure of a national nature.'
Although 'I was successful for some 8 to 10 years prior to the Maverick show, such a force of concentration was never exerted on my career,' he added.
As he told a television newsman at the close of an on-the-spot interview at the airport, 'It might be nice if you told the listeners that my name is Jack Kelly.' So be it said.
Kelly, the man, turned away from a potential career in law to become an actor. After two years in law school, he asked his father for one year to prove himself on stage.
With reasonable success that year, he moved on to successes on stage and in films. 'Until 1951,' he admitted with a big smile, 'I was afraid of horses.'
Under contract to Universal, he was taught everything from wielding a sword to slinging a gun. When it came to learning to ride, he balked.
"But I was told that if I didn't take [riding] along with the rest, it would mean I wasn't serious about my career. So, I went out with the wranglers on the farms, and after a series of lessons, I found I wasn't petrified anymore.'
'Now I love horses, and I know that once a fear is faced it can be controlled and conquered.'
As he chatted, his wife, the former May Wynn, actress in her own right, sat sedately by as a woman who has turned her ambitions to her husband's interests.
'We have very little time for social life,' she said, 'with bedtime at 9 p.m. and getting up every morning at 5:45.'
Drawing a light for two cigarettes in the best Charles Boyer tradition, her handsome husband beamed down on her as he handed her one. 'We've been married for three years. I hope it will be 30.'
The Western star will appear at the home show from 2 to 4 p.m. today [Saturday] and tomorrow [Sunday] at West Indian School Road and 57th Street."
Where will TDS travel next in pursuit of JK? Please stay tuned and find out! :)