Thursday, October 22, 2009

Classic TV Sign-Offs

"They're creepy & they're kooky... mysterious and spooky. they're altogether ooky... the Addams family..." R.I.P. Vic Mizzy. The genius behind classic catchy TV themes including those for The Addams Family; Green Acres, Petticoat Junction and F Troop passed away last Saturday at 93.

Besides adding an indelible reel to the boomer and post boomer soundtracks, the prolific Mizzy also composed movie soundtracks for the Addams Family Values movies, Spider Man and others; wrote a slew of songs for groups like the Andrews Sisters back in the thirties and forties, and even did an anti-jaywalking song as a public service announcement back in the '60's, "In the middle, in the middle, in the middle." features a font of info and some links to buy cool retro stuff. Alas, I didn't see a "Thing" music box to replace the one I had as a kid. Darn! Bet that little souvenir could fetch a bundle on e-bay. Or at least amuse the folks at Antiques Roadshow.

Just heard the news: Soupy Sales, the slapstick kiddie comic and game show staple died last night at 83. Soupy--who was born Mort Supman--became a household name on sixties TV with his pie-in-the-face and other silly, physical antics.He also landed in himself in a boiling hot pot of water when he asked kids to clean out their parents wallets and send him the cash. The stunt garnered a one week suspension and a brief FBI investigation. In later years, Soupy would be a regular on a slew of game shows including To Tell the Truth and What's my Line? as well as a frequent guest on variety and late night chat shows.

Some years ago I interviewed Soupy on WXPS radio in NY. To be honest the interview itself--part of a '60's retro week-- wasn't all that memorable. But the pre and post interview drama remains indelibly etched in my memory. It is my custom to "warm-up" guests--whether in the studio or on the phone-- before the actual interview. Just basic pleasantries; there's rarely time for much more, but it just seems nice. Soupy--who was coming in via phone--didn't want any of it. "Oh, we're not on yet? I'll wait." After the interview, which I thought was fine, I mentioned --off-air--to my co-host that I thought it had ran long, an allusion to my own inability to end the segment on time( I was hosting a rock morning show and had just received a lecture from the manager on keeping interviews short). Soupy's phone line was still open and he heard me and took offense saying, "I'm probably the best interview you'll have all week, all year, maybe of all time." Good thing he was on the phone; if he had been in the studio, I'm sure I'd have faced the pie!

I felt horrible, tried to apologize; he wouldn't accept, eventually yelling at the producer and refusing to take my call later. I still feel bad about hurting his feelings. And though I can't say his was the best interview I ever did (my skills have improved), the dramatics surrounding it will always stick with me. And it wasn't long after that I started hosting talk shows, where I could have more sprawling conversations with all sorts of people.

CBS had a memorial earlier in the week for Don Hewitt, the creator of 60 Minutes who passed away over the summer. Hewitt is the granddaddy of the TV news magazine. The biggest tribute--while so many copycats have come and gone--the original is still on. Forty plus years later. Not bad for a guy who summed up his life's work with four words: "Tell me a story."

This one's for Mom: yes, Joan Fontaine is very much alive. She just celebrated her 92birthday yesterday. The Oscar-winning Actress is still feuding with her Oscar-winning older sister, Olivia de Havilland. They never got along too well. Joan winning her Oscar first in 1942 for Suspicion (Olivia was up that year too for Hold Back the Dawn; and won later for The Heiress)surely added to the strain. They finally stopped talking altogether in 1975 after an argument over their mother's memorial. So while they've both long since retired from the movies, the off-screen drama lives on. And on.

Drive safe. Play nice. Think peace.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Olivia DeHaviland must have started the rumor that Joan had passed away - Thanks Amy Beth for an insight into these people's lives.
Always well written and well received. Poppy