Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hilarious House of Frightenstein

Here's the opening to a fondly remembered program The Hilarious House of Frightenstein which was released on DVD recently. Yes, that's Vincent Price doing the opening.


Hilarious House of Frightenstein on DVDThis clever syndicated 60 minute comedy-variety kid show starred Price as the narrator and Billy Van (Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour) as mad scientist Bwanna Clyde Batty. Also seen: Fishka Rais as Igor, Guy Big as Count Munchkinstein, Joe Torbay as Gronk, and Julius Sumner Miller as The Professor.

Here's the first episode from 1971 followed by an interview with Billy Van & the cast.


Profiles in Beauty : Golddigger Robyn Whatley

TV Blog / Television Blog / TVparty!

 Robyn Whatley-Kahn (a former Dean Martin Golddigger) It seemed like a dream… they, the Greg Garrison Productions office, producers of The Dean Martin Show, were paying “me’”… paying me to do what I love: singing and dancing - AND doing it alongside the legendary Dean Martin as one of the Dean Martin Golddiggers! 

 I experienced singing to over one million people amid standing ovations from the sold out performances in the 1,400 person capacity “Celebrity Room” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. We were the opening act for many of the legendary entertainers of the century, signed autographs, and were involved in numerous photo sessions and countless newspaper interviews. Rehearsals were held at the NBC studio with the Carol Burnett show rehearsing in the studio on our left and the Tonight show across the hall. We were surrounded by stars from day one. 

I was lucky enough to perform in Monte Carlo, Montreal during the Olympics, Las Vegas, and Acapulco to name a few. There were many concerts as well as numerous charity functions. Also, we had repeated performances as guest stars on the Mike Douglas Show plus, of course, the many Dean Martin TV Specials. All of this with 7 other women who are still my dearest friends.   

Frank Sinatra with The Golddiggers
Life was a mixture of being “on the road” in fabulous places, and then regular day to day life in L.A. On tour in those “golden days” of show biz included singing in the amazing historic Rat Pack Tour with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. TV cameras were whirling with a 7,000 person capacity crowd at the Westchester Premiere theatre (Sinatra had so many bodyguards that believe me, we were “well” protected). 

The old Mae West quip, “Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?” took on a whole new meaning. 

 Read more of Robyn Whatley's 
memories of Dean Martin and more!

Rare Bootleg Lou Reed Performance from 1977

Lou Reed has died, no cause yet but he recently received a liver transplant. Rolling Stone can eulogize him better than I, he was one of those performers embedded in the Rock & Roll DNA and will be for generations. His best work will always crackle with life.

 Here's a 1977 bootleg recording of Lou Reed from the Bottom Line New York, Satellite Of Love:


Remembering Bobby Darin by his Guitarist TK Kellman

Bobby DarinBobby Darin made a Splish Splash on TV as Dean Martin's summer replacement in 1972, his variety series did so well NBC brought him back in January of 1973. Ratings were solid, he was attracting huge audiences in Vegas and elsewhere, Bobby Darin had engineered one of the greatest comebacks in show business history.

But it was not to be, fate stepped in, the singer died a year later.

In the late-nineties Bobby Darin's lead guitarist  T. K. Kellman  shared his memories of the TV series, Darin's electric live shows and the last days of one of the most dynamic performers of all time.

I was a regular on screen as well, but technically I was only shown when Bobby Darin played in front of the band and he occasionally introduced me.

Tommy Amato was also part of the band, but Bobby had a particular affection for Tommy (we all did) and included him as a spaced-out hippie percussionist in a recurring skit each week. Actually, we DID perform after the TV show was cancelled; at the Las Vegas Hilton. Bobby, who was unquestionably the consummate performer, would incorporate false exits and "bows" in the show so he could duck briefly backstage and suck on an oxygen mask for a few seconds before returning to the stage. This, understandably, lasted only a short time until he had to cut back his performance schedule drastically.

 I remember we were all sitting in the living room one night at Tommy Amato's house. Bobby, Tommy, myself, Bill McCubbin (bass) and interestingly enough, Telma Hopkins who was living with Tommy at the time. Bobby said "Guys, I think this is it . . It feels like I'm gonna die this year." Although we all poo-poohed him, it was painfully obvious from his weakened condition and gray color that he was seriously ill.

If today's heart bypass operation had been around then, Bobby most assuredly would be performing today. Back then, they used plastic valves which were rejected by the body eventually. That unfortunately, is exactly what happened to Bobby and resulted in his death on the operating table. 

When Bobby cut back his schedule, most of us went to work for Tony Orlando who idolized Bobby and did a tribute to him in his act. He was very excited about using members of his band and to this day we are good friends.

Regarding Bobby's reputation for being hard to work with. He was. He had good days and bad days but for the most part, he treated us (the band) like gold. We hung together like musketeers and we still talk about how great those days were. However, when it came to getting his show and the stage EXACTLY how he wanted it . . . he would be extra demanding. For the most part, it seemed to me he HAD to be that way because he had to overcome what everyone else (sound men, stage production crew, etc.) thought he SHOULD be doing as opposed to what he WANTED to do. After all, he used to say, "If people go out of here dissatisfied, they don't say 'gee the lighting was bad' or 'the sound stunk' . . they say; 'Man, Bobby Darin's show SUCKS!!'"

bobbydarinA quick personal anecdote: When my father had his first heart attack, Bobby arranged to have his doctors flown in immediately to consult with our own in Las Vegas. He personally called my mother and counseled her through the entire crisis telling her he knew what my dad was going through because he had gone through it himself.

 He became, in effect, part of the family, even sleeping over at my house with his son Dodd (nicknamed "moose" at the time). We would wake up early and go work on an old dilapidated boat he bought that was docked on Lake Mead. All the years he had that boat, he never could get it to run. But he loved working on it with the band members and Dodd. Dodd was ten at the time, so I don't know if he even remembers. Mostly, it was just an excuse to hang out. bobby darin in concert

I never saw Bobby impolite or even distant from any fan. He was always unfailingly gracious and accommodating even to people I would consider pesky and some on the edge of reality. Bobby never slighted any of them, sometimes even inviting them backstage to his dressing room and talking to them in his underwear while he was changing clothes.

 He was an exceptional man and the finest performer I've ever worked with bar none, and I've worked with many of the greats. Impeccable comedy timing, singer par excellence, and an unfailing musicality that always earned him a standing ovation. I wish you could have seen him.   -  T. K. Kellman

More Classic TV & Bobby Darin at TVparty!

More Las Vegas Legends!  /  Enjoy Obscure 70s Music!

Failed Wonder Woman TV Show Pilots

Wonder Woman on TV
by Billy Ingram

  Batman TV Show The hottest TV show in the nation in 1966 was Batman. Taken completely by surprise (it was so way-out everyone thought it would tank) the networks scrambled to find another established comic book character to capitalize on the craze.

 In 1967, Batman's producer William Dozier put writer Stanley Ralph Ross on the spec pilot - it was his job to come up with a format to bring Wonder Woman to the home screen. A brilliant and prolific TV writer/producer/actor, Dozier also served as Batman's narrator who intoned, "Same Bat-time... same Bat-channel" at the end of each episode.

Stanley Ralph Ross was quoted as saying, "Professionally what happened was that, after writing for Batman, I became more or less known as a person who knew how to write adaptation of comic books for television."

This resulted in a dreadful five-minute film for Warner Bros., a domestic sitcom entitled Wonder Woman: Who's Afraid of Diana Prince? It was the story of a typical American super-powered housewife. Think Bewitched with a tiara. Wonder Woman was played by two different people - a homely gal in the role of Diana Prince (Ellie Wood Walker of The New Interns) and a beautiful woman (Linda Harrison) after she morphed into Wonder Woman.

Read more about WONDER WOMAN ON TV at TVparty! 
and watch scenes from  the 2011 Wonder Woman pilot!

The Latin Casino Nightclub in Cherry Hill, NJ

Latin Casino

I spoke in 2011 with guitarist Chuck Anderson who's had a remarkable career playing for some of the biggest names in show business. He got his big break as the house guitarist at The Latin Casino in Cherry Hill New Jersey; I've been fascinated by this legendary Dinner Theater lately. A 3,000 seater, people dressed to the nines and came from all over the Tri-State area to see the finest entertainment outside of New York City. Frank, Dean, Hope, Rickles, all the greatest Vegas performers would do a week or two a year at the Latin which opened in 1960 after moving from Philadelphia.

Cherry Hill New JerseyIt was only when Atlantic City legalized gambling and opened huge showrooms with non-compete clauses that led to the club's reinvention as a discotheque in 1978. The place suffered a serious fire in the mid-1980s and never re-opened. People who lived in Philly and Cherry Hill at the time will always remember The Latin Casino, a place, ironically, where you could not gamble.

Here Chuck Anderson talks about the club and shares behind the scenes stories about some of the biggies that played the Latin like Anthony Newley, Wayne Newton, Perry Como, and Peggy Lee who employed a one-armed drummer. Chuck Anderson has a blog here that you should check out, especially if you're a jazz lover. If you have memories of The Latin Casino I'd love to hear them!