Saturday, December 29, 2018

Taking A Spin...

Hello Everyone,

I'm very thankful to be here.

You see, yesterday afternoon I took the Bartistamobile for a spin...literally.

I was on my way to meet a friend for some after Christmas bargain shopping. Although it had rained hard all morning, the sun was now shining. It looked like it would be an enjoyable afternoon.

That is, until I started down an exit ramp near my home which I've used hundreds of times without incident. Apparently, the ramp was still slick from the morning's downpour and the Bartistamobile hydroplaned.

What began as an ordinary day suddenly became a frightening whirl as my vehicle spun out of control. I'm sure it was only a few seconds, but it seemed like an hour as I tried to steer into the skid as I'd been advised to do by safe driving videos I'd viewed at work.

Unfortunately, the Bartistamobile had left the pavement and was now sliding downwards on soggy grass with zero traction. All I could do was pray to the Lord that the car wouldn't roll over.

It didn't, and for a moment I thought I was in the clear. Then, I heard and felt a hard "thunk" as we finally stopped. I peeked in the rearview mirror. Somehow, the Bartistamobile's rear bumper smacked the concrete base of a light pole during our unplanned pirouette.

The light pole was unscathed, naturally. Thankfully, I was uninjured. But, the Bartistamobile wasn't so blessed. I turned the hazard lights on and got out to check the damage.

The rear bumper had done exactly what it was supposed to do: absorb the impact of the crash. In so doing, however, the bumper crumpled and was partially detached from both sides of the vehicle. This wasn't going to buff out...

I got back into the car and composed myself. This was my first automobile accident ever and I was pretty shaken up. Actually, the scariest part of this incident was that no one who was driving by at the time and presumably observed what was happening stopped to see if I was okay or offer to help. Not one person!

I called my friend to cancel our shopping trip. The Bartistamobile could still be driven, so I steered out of the muddy grass and returned home. Then, I called my insurance company to file a claim. They're sending a claims adjuster out on Monday to assess the damage. Hopefully, I will be in good hands and like a good neighbor they will be on my side. ;>

This just goes to show that the spin of a wheel can change your day...and your life. Just like in Las Vegas, the setting for "The Name of the Game", a 1963 episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre starring Jack Kelly:

JK with co-star Nancy Kovack

JK portrays "Pete Braven", a down on his luck professional dice player who enters into a deal with wealthy oilman "Ed Caldwell" (Pat Hingle). If Braven can help Caldwell break the bank at a casino, the two men will split the winnings. If not...well, of course, complications ensue.

"Switch dice? No dice!"

"C'mon, baby needs a new pair of cowboy boots!"

Below is a behind-the-scenes color photo from "The Name of the Game":

"Actors and extras surround dice table, cut away for camera in a scene for 'The Name of the Game'. Pointing, far left, is Jack Kelly." 

According to TV Guide, no expense was spared to ensure the gaming in "The Name of the Game" looked realistic. It apparently looked a little too real, though:

"'Well,' said Jack Kelly, who not two years ago flipped his last card as a gambler in Maverick, 'here I am at the gambling tables again.'

"In Maverick, however, Kelly seldom if ever gambled on as elaborate a set as that turned out by producer Robert Blees for 'The Name of the Game', a Kraft Suspense Theatre episode scheduled for airing on NBC Dec. 26. Blees had a replica of a casino built inside a sound stage on the Revue lot at a cost of some $20,000--the most expensive set the studio has ever had for a single TV episode...From Las Vegas, Blees imported 'stick men' (craps-table operators) and a 'box man' (money-handler). From central casting came 100 extras, and from the studio's prop department came 500 silver dollars and $1000 in bills (by way of a bank--it was real money, carefully watched on the set for any leakage), two craps tables, two roulette tables and two '21' tables. Sixty-one slot machines were rented, and here's where a slight hitch occurred.

"Some sharp-eyed bystanders saw the machines being loaded on trucks and promptly called the sheriff, who confiscated 13 of them as being operable and therefore illegal. The remaining 48, whose innards had been removed, were released for use on the set."

JK's dice-playing also looks authentic because (as reported by the Long Beach Independent) he was coached by a California shoe store owner who moonlighted as Hollywood's "strangest technical advisor" under the secretive sobriquet of "Mr. Fingers". Mr. Fingers was the studios' go-to guy when stars needed to learn how to convincingly handle dice, cards or other people's wallets onscreen. In addition to coaching JK, he taught poker skills to Tony Curtis for 40 Pounds of Trouble (1963) and to Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau for The Odd Couple (1968). The light-fingered Mr. Fingers also taught actor Millard Mitchell how to pick pockets for his role in the 1952 film My Six Convicts.  

UPDATE! (1/26/19) - JK was also coached by Angelo Schiano, one of the stick-men imported from Las Vegas. Below is a behind-the-scenes photo dated 11/7/1963 which was recently purchased for the Kellection:

The snipe reads: "LESSON IN GAMBLING - Preparing for roles in a television drama, Jack Kelly and his co-star, Nancy Kovack, learn the fine points of betting from Angelo Schiano on the TV set in Hollywood. Schiano is one of a group of dealers brought from Las Vegas as technical experts for the play, which will presented on NBC-TV's 'Kraft Theater' [sic]. Schiano is showing the pair how to place bets at a craps table."

And, here's another promo photo which I've actually had for years but forgot to add! The lucky ladies with JK are Peggy Ward (L) and Sharon Morrell (R) as cocktail waitresses:

Finally, here's the entire episode of "The Name of the Game". Enjoy, and please: drive carefully. :)