Monday, June 18, 2018

Benny Hill...a Future Biopic in the Works...

I periodically browse the internet as mostly everybody else does and I came across a story about a biopic in the works centering around the one and only Benny Hill. I came across this story while doing an on-line news search for Benny and it's from a site called deadline.com and I offered a comment over there. Their comments section, much like mine, is monitored and so it hasn't been uploaded to their site yet. Just in case my comment, for whatever reason, doesn't get published on their site I planned ahead and copied my message and I'm pasting it here. Since I'm a fan and appreciator of Benny Hill's brand of humor and entertainment and since I've written several blog posts about him over the years I decided it made a whole lot of sense to share it on my personal blog page, too. First off here's the link to the story about the possible Benny Hill Biopic so you'll be able to better understand my comment:

Although one comment suggests there's not an audience considering the subject of the biopic died more than 25 years ago and another comment simply trashes him based on their interpretation of his comedy I, for one, have loved Benny Hill's style of entertainment ever since I came across it by accident flipping through the television channels one summer night as a teenager. I live in America and like a lot of people here I discovered Benny's comedy on late night television on those half hour syndicated programs that used to air on numerous local channels at all hours of the night.

I get a bit nervous, though, anytime I read about upcoming book releases or in this case, a biopic, centering around Benny given his enigmatic life and how only a precious few actually got to know Benny off-stage.

Unlike a quote from one of the writers of this project I never "fell out of love" with Benny's comedy...I grew to love it more and more. I've since added a lot of DVD products of his comedy...everything from his sketches from his BBC era in the mid 1960s to his more famous Thames Television sketches. But again...I hope this does Benny justice and presents him in a way that will teach people a lot of things they maybe didn't realize...the last thing I want to see, as a Benny Hill fan, is a hatchet job that celebrates or justifies the negative criticisms leveled at him during his later years from those with axes to grind
.

So, then, that's the comment I wrote concerning the possible biopic of Benny Hill. You will be able to read much more detail about this when you click the link I provided. There are other on-line sites reporting on this, too, but deadline.com was the first one I came across. They published their report on May 31st so I'm just a tad bit late at finding it.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Chuck McCann: 1934-2018

News broke yesterday of the death of Chuck McCann at age 83 but the on-line tributes and biographies of his life and career didn't start to surface until earlier this morning. I first seen the news on a classic television group I belong to on Facebook. A lot of members of that group posted their remembrances of his New York children's programs of the '50s and '60s. Some of the children's shows he hosted or was heavily involved in were: "The Puppet Hotel"; "Laurel and Hardy and Chuck"; "Let's Have Fun"; and a self-titled "The Chuck McCann Show".  Some other titles were "The Chuck McCann Laurel and Hardy Show" and a music driven series, "The Clay Cole Show", in which Chuck served as the announcer/sidekick and appeared in comedic sketches. Chuck's programs aired on local stations in New York...most of them airing on WPIX but others on WNEW. Also remembered fondly by members of the Facebook group is a live action series Chuck starred in with Bob Denver titled "Far Out Space Nuts", which ran 15 episodes for several months in 1975 but yet spent quite a number of years in reruns on various package shows presented by Sid and Marty Krofft.

My introduction to his work is tied to the field of animation...by seeing his name on the closing credits of several cartoon series...but not knowing, until years later, exactly what characters he performed or knowing just how iconic and legendary he happened to be in children's television. A lot of the time his name appeared listed in the Additional Voices screen credit...indicating that he was called on to perform supporting or one shot characters revolving around the star characters of a series. Some of his earliest voice work in animation came along on the 1966-1967 series, "Cool McCool", in which he vocally portrayed every male villain in addition to giving voice to McCool's boss, referred to only as Number One, and McCool's uncles Dick and Tom. Another voice acting legend, Bob McFadden, starred as Cool McCool and as Cool's father, Harry. A third vocalist, Carol Corbett, was heard as the female characters, specifically the villainous Greta Ghoul (an impression of Greta Garbo). The series ran in the latter half of 1966 to January 1967 and there were 20 episodes produced. Each episode contained three short segments roughly 8 minutes each. Each episode featured two Cool McCool segments (the first and last segment) and a middle segment titled Komedy Kops featuring adventures of Cool's father, Harry, and his brothers Tom and Dick which were presented as recollections from Cool's memories of when his father served as a policeman.

I learned more about Chuck's career within the last 10 years or so by finding information on the internet and seeing photos from his years on local New York television. You can visit YouTube and find a lot of video from those years and you can also find some of the television commercials he appeared in. A long running series of Right Guard commercials aired on television, in which he starred as the man on the other side of a shared medicine cabinet, and a lot of those commercials once were available on YouTube but only a handful are available now. Chuck's catchphrase in those commercials was "Hi, guy...".

At the moment this video clip is available on YouTube. It's been available on YouTube since 2011 and so it's safe to say the embed will still be visible for future visitors of this blog entry to enjoy...



In addition to those commercials he also appeared in the role of Oliver Hardy along side Jim MacGeorge as Stan Laurel in a string of commercials for a wide array of products.

Chuck's love for the Laurel and Hardy comedy team is something you find out right away if you happen to research his career. I'm sure the most dedicated of fans of Laurel and Hardy are aware of The Sons of the Desert organization. Well, Chuck was one of the founders of that appreciation society.

One of the truly fascinating clips of Chuck McCann at work is footage recorded in 1969 for a film called The Projectionist which was released in early 1971. The film also stars Rodney Dangerfield. In this particular clip Chuck looks at photo's of movie stars and does vocal impressions. It gives a good sampling at the vocal talent he possessed.



Posted just today is this tribute to Chuck's vocal contributions to animation...his "Duck Tales" characters are given spotlight (Burger Beagle; Bouncer Beagle; and Duckworth) as are some of his other contributions. There's one iconic character he gave voice to that I hadn't made mention of but you'll see the character/mascot when you watch the video clip below.



Chuck voiced The Thing in the 1990s version of "The Fantastic Four". The character had originally been voiced, in the mid 1960s, by Paul Frees. You'll see The Thing in the video clip, too. Something I didn't know until yesterday is Chuck provided the voice for the lackey, Sugar Ray Lizard, on "Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers"! Definitely a character that only those that are familiar with the series are probably aware of considering he's a minor character compared to other villains in that series. In case you're unfamiliar with Chuck McCann I suggest you visit YouTube and check out some of the things he did in his career. You'll be entertained for sure!

Chuck McCann: 1934-2018

Friday, September 8, 2017

Don Messick on camera...

Hello all...there are several video clips on YouTube that feature the late Don Messick on camera. There have been uploads of the sitcom, "The Duck Factory", which Don co-starred in as Wally Wooster. There's a clip of him and Daws Butler performing primarily as Boo Boo and Yogi Bear (plus Ranger Smith)...and then there's a video clip I came across yesterday while searching YouTube. Don's birthday happened to be yesterday (born September 7, 1926) and so I did some video searching. I came across this video clip (uploaded a couple of weeks ago) from 1982 (I think). Don mentions a couple of times that he'd been working for Hanna-Barbera for 25 years and given that Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera started their studio in 1957 that means the video clip is from 1982...or possibly early 1983. The video is an interview which lasts a little over 8 minutes.

If you're a dedicated fan of classic cartoons and are familiar with Don Messick's work you'll definitely get a kick out of seeing him perform some characters on-camera. The figurine of the Smurf character in the screen shot is Jokey Smurf (a character June Foray gave voice to) that the interviewer mistook for Papa Smurf. Remember...the interviewers aren't necessarily what you'd call die hard fans of cartoons...but they gave Don a grand opportunity to display his incredible vocal talents. I wish he would've performed the voice of Klunk on camera...I'd love to have seen Don's facial contortions as he spoke in that character's voice. If you're not familiar you'll have to look up video clips of a cartoon called "Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines". Don voices Muttley, Zilly, and Klunk in addition to providing the opening narration which sets the scene. Klunk has a very distinctive vocalization.



Don Messick: September 7, 1926 - October 24, 1997.