Posts Tagged ‘Laramie’

A Laramie Christmas

I had to wait to share this, one of my best Christmas gifts this year.  My friend was making them for others, so I didn’t want to spoil their surprise.  It’s a Laramie Christmas ornament.  I like it so much, I’m not going to be putting it away in storage for the year.  Poor Jonesy had to be left out to squeeze me in, but I love that my stocking is hanging next to Jess’s stocking!

Laramie Christmas ornament

For those who haven’t been paying attention, Laramie (1959-63) is a television western that I love.

My Year End Wrap Up 2012

Another year has slipped away, and here I sit, reflecting back on what entertained me in 2012.  I always start my wrap up by going back to the beginning of the year, to see how my interests have changed.  I began the year dividing my time between British stuff and vintage television shows…and that’s exactly where I find myself now.  Only the faces have changed!

Best Books:  Might as well get the embarrassment out of the way first.  Normally I read a couple of books a week, but I went 8 months out of the last 12 without finishing a single book!  Oh, the shame.  I could blame my eyes, since I need new glasses, but the real truth is that I spend too much time online.  Making videos has also sucked up my reading time, but that’s for another category.  Of the small selection of books read this year, I really enjoyed Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt, Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim.  (More about Arngrim’s book in an upcoming post.)  The biggest disappointment was Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James.

Best Television:  My television is usually always tuned to either Me-TV or CBS, except on Sunday night, when I watch Masterpiece on PBS.  I still enjoy The Big Bang Theory, but I do think it’s losing something from having too many separate storylines, with the characters spending less time gathered in the same living room.  More characters means less screen time for favorites Sheldon and Raj.  I discovered Leverage in reruns just as the show got cancelled, but at least I have five seasons to explore further.  Since September, I’ve been enjoying reruns of Emergency! on Me-TV.  Another season of Sherlock brought more delight, as well as more Inspector Lewis.  Thanks to a friend, I’m now back to enjoying EastEnders, the British serial drama, and already my life wouldn’t be complete without weekly visits to Albert Square.   This year’s favorite program was Call the Midwife, featuring new favorite Miranda Hart as the wonderful Chummy.  I can’t wait for more of this series!

Best Twitter:   I’m very picky about twitter.  Too much shameless self-promotion?  Unfollow.   Too many retweets?  Unfollow.   Too many conversations that should be private?  Unfollow.  No sense of humor?  I shouldn’t have been following in the first place!  I enjoy humor, whimsy,  and folks who don’t take themselves too seriously.   The most consistently entertaining tweets this year have come from Josh Groban.  I’ve also enjoyed following Russell Tovey.  I can count on a friend to share the best of Demetri Martin and The Onion, so I guess they count, too!

Best Theatre:  Oops.  Didn’t see any.  Never mind.

Best Movies:   I had good luck with the movies I saw in the cinema this year.  Mind you, I still haven’t seen three of the four films I was most looking forward to in 2012, so they will have to wait until 2013!  The Avengers was terrific, and I also enjoyed Life of PiThe Dark Knight Rises wasn’t a favorite, but Tom Conti and Joseph Gordon-Levitt made it worthwhile for me.   I saw my first 3D movie, John Carter, but I’m not a fan of the technology.  It was a great year for silents: Napoleon was stunning, and I also saw three films at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, with The Canadian (1926) making the deepest impression.   Shah Rukh Khan’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan had an entertaining beginning and middle, but I was disappointed by the third act.  The best new film I saw in 2012 was Argo.

Best DVDs:  I spent six months of this year with Wagon Train at the top of my Netflix queue.  They never sent me any on the discs, and my queue always said “short wait.”  I could have bought the DVDs for the money I spent on my Netflix plan, especially since I wasn’t watching the discs they sent me instead.  I cancelled my account.   This means I can’t go look at my history for this year to review, but this an easy category.  The best DVDs of my year have been the classic television western Laramie, particularly seasons one and two.  When I’m not watching the episodes again and again, I’m making tribute videos and posting them on YouTube.  I now have more YouTube followers than blog followers!   Which leads me to a new category…

Best Time-Sucker-Upper:  Call it a hobby, a passion, an obsession, a skill or an art.  But this year I started making videos, and now I can’t stop.  I’d been making slideshows using still images at animoto.com, and this summer I tried using their template program for short video clips.  It was okay, but I didn’t like their wide border which wasted space, so it forced me to try Windows Movie Maker.  I had no idea it would be so much fun!  My Laramie tribute videos aren’t very interesting to people who aren’t fans of the series, but I’m proud of my channel and grateful for all my followers.

Best Music:  Mostly I’ve listened to older stuff this year.  When Davy Jones died, I started listening to lots of the Monkees.  I love Gaelic Storm’s album How Are We Getting Home? (2004), discovered in a stack of my own CDs that I never got around to hearing.  I’m definitely going to listen to more of this group in 2013.  I’ve also been enjoying lots of Kate Rusby.  One of my favorite new old songs is “Can’t Turn My Heart Away” by Art Garfunkel.  I’m still enjoying The Book of Mormon Broadway soundtrack, but I learned the hard way not to listen to it in public.  Even with earphones, you look like a nutter snickering at the lyrics.

Best Music Video:  My choices are never conventional, but that’s what you get for taking musical advice from me!   Here’s my favorite:

Never mind that it was uploaded in 2008.  It’s still the most adorable video I’ve seen on YouTube this year!  If you don’t know it, this is India’s national anthem.

Best New-To-Me Software:   Handbrake for ripping DVDs, and Google Talk for saving me a fortune on phone bills.  I chat now with friends around the world, without the complications of installing Skype, and no webcam to show everyone how hideous I look through a fisheye lens.

Entertainer of the Year:  Honorable Mention this year goes to Miranda Hart.  I discovered her in Call the Midwife, and now I’m enjoying her comedy on YouTube and her BBC series Miranda.  The winner is an easy choice.  In April, I purchased season one of Laramie on DVD, and by the end of May, I was a member of Robert Fuller’s official fan group.  While my favorite role is Jess Harper in Laramie, I’ve been enjoying Wagon Train, Emergency!, and all of Fuller’s other television shows and movies.   I’ve spent hours chatting with other fans, making tribute videos and collages, and searching ebay for vintage photos.  For so much entertainment in so many different ways, Robert Fuller is my Entertainer of the Year.  Thank you, Mr. Fuller!

Jess Harper whip blog crp

Robert Fuller in Laramie

Fuller, Crawford, and Grey Flannel

In my continuing passion for finding extras in old movies, here’s an interesting connection between favorites Robert Fuller and Johnny Crawford.  They were both extras in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956) starring Gregory Peck.  Fuller appears as a soldier in a scene at a field medical station.  This scene also features DeForest Kelley; both actors went on to play well-known television doctors.   Johnny Crawford plays a boy in Italy delivering a box of groceries.  His older brother, Robert Crawford Jr, co-starred in Laramie with Fuller three years later.

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Robert Fuller in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Johnny Crawford in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

Johnny Crawford in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit

This entire movie is on YouTube.  Crawford’s moment is at 0:29:50, and Fuller appears at the 0:49:45 mark.

Goodbye, Ernest Borgnine

This morning my friend asked me, any new celebrity deaths?  After Don Grady and Andy Griffith, I guess my friend was wondering who would be next.  How sad to hear that Ernest Borgnine has now passed away.  At age 95, he had a long, productive career and an irrepressible grin.  Here are images from his two guest appearances on the television western Laramie, in Circle of Fire (1959) and Ride The Wild Wind (1960).   Rest in peace, Mr. Borgnine.  I’m sure the angels are grinning back.

Ernest Borgnine in Laramie

Ernest Borgnine in Laramie

Robert Fuller: Extra

I’ve been trying to watch my favorite westerns with actor Robert Fuller.  Netflix keeps skipping over my Laramie and Wagon Train discs,which are “short waits.”  Two months is NOT a short wait!  Anyway, what they’ve been sending are movies in which Fuller appeared as an extra.  You can understand why they’re pretty far down on my queue!  Still, I watch them, enjoy them, find Fuller, and make a collage.  Here’s Calamity Jane (1953) starring Doris Day and Howard Keel.  Fuller doesn’t appear with these leads.  He just has a few brief seconds onscreen giving flowers to actress Adelaid Adams (played by Gale Robbins) and exiting backstage behind her.

Robert Fuller as an extra in Calamiity Jane

Robert Fuller as an extra in Calamiity Jane (click to see larger versions)

Later, Fuller was an extra in Friendly Persuasion (1956), starring Gary Cooper, Dorothy McGuire and Anthony Perkins.  He was chosen to appear with Cooper and (Peter) Mark Richman in the shooting gallery scene because his sideburns were real.  Another actor in this film was John Smith, who would later star with Fuller in Laramie.  Fuller sits right behind Smith in the Quaker meeting scene at the beginning of the film.

Robert Fuller in Friendly Persuasion with Gary Cooper

Robert Fuller in Friendly Persuasion with Gary Cooper (click to view larger)

Still not enough young Fuller?  Check out my latest YouTube videos:  Fuller’s 1958 appearance in Rin Tin Tin, and United States Marshal (1959) with a nasty Charles Bronson.

(If you’re saying to yourself, “Not another Robert Fuller post!” just keep this in mind.  I have about fifty other collages that I haven’t shared!)

Remembering Don Grady

Don Grady has passed away at the age of 68.  I woke to the news this morning when I visited facebook.  I grew up watching My Three Sons, became obsessed with The Mickey Mouse Club in reruns in the early 70s, and watched Grady in his guest roles on The Rifleman just this year.

Born in San Francisco (or San Diego, since different sites disagree) on June 8, 1944, Grady was a musical prodigy.  He was a third season mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club.  After that, he had guest roles on shows like The Rifleman (in the episodes Heller and The Patsy) and Wagon Train.  He was almost signed for the part of Andy Sherman on the western series Laramie, but the role went instead to Robert Crawford Jr.  (More about this here.)  Grady was then cast in My Three Sons, which ran from 1960-1971.

Many younger viewers of My Three Sons thought Grady’s Robbie was the oldest son, because we never got to see the black and white seasons in syndication.  Tim Considine (Mike) was actually the oldest, but he left the show—er, went off to college.  Not enough sons?  Okay, let’s adopt Ernie.  How convenient that he looks an awful lot like Chip.  (Barry and Stanley Livingston are real life brothers.)   The series ran for so long, Grady’s character got married and had three sons of his own—triplets, no less.  I went to elementary school in San Diego for one year with those triplets.  Well, one set of them, anyway.  Don’t ask me if they were the Swansons or the Todds!  It was too long ago.  We weren’t in the same grade, but the kids were always talking about them.

Grady was in a band that had a hit called The Yellow Balloon in 1967.  That’s the name of the band and the song.  He went on to have a long, successful career as a composer.  His death yesterday from cancer has shocked and saddened his many friends and fans.  RIP, Don Grady.

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

Don Grady in The Rifleman (The Patsy, season 2)

The Yellow Balloon (1967)  Don Grady is in the wig and sunglasses.

The Yellow Balloon (1967) Don Grady is in the wig and sunglasses.

Cowboys and Blondes

There’s an interesting connection between the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and the TV western Laramie (1959-63).  Actually, two connections.

Laramie star Robert Fuller grew up dancing, which isn’t surprising, since his mother and stepfather were both dancers and instructors.  Fuller danced in the chorus of several movies, including the famous number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  With his sideburns dyed grey and a grey mustache, I spotted young Fuller (age 19 or 20) just once, in this shot behind Marilyn Monroe.

Young dancer Robert Fuller behind Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Young dancer Robert Fuller behind Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Soon after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Robert Fuller was drafted.  He served for two years in Korea before returning to LA in 1955.  He spent several years working as an extra and a stuntman.  He took acting lessons from Richard Boone, guest-starred in many TV series, and went on to play Jess Harper in Laramie, his first starring role.  Retired now and ranching in Texas, he appears at various western festivals, talking to fans about his fifty years of work.  I’d love to hear him tell about this particular shoot!

The other Laramie connection?  Hoagy Carmichael wrote the music for two of the songs performed in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: “Is Anyone Here for Love?” and “When Love Goes Wrong.”  Carmichael later played Jonsey in season one of Laramie, with Robert Fuller, John Smith and Robert Crawford, Jr.  Hollywood was once a place where chorus boys and songwriters could grow up to be cowboys!

Robert Fuller (Jess Harper) and Hoagy Carmichael (Jonsey) in Laramie

Robert Fuller (Jess Harper) and Hoagy Carmichael (Jonsey) in Laramie

(L to R) Hoagy Carmichael, Robert Fuller, and Robert Crawford Jr. in Laramie (with John Hoyt's back)

(L to R) Hoagy Carmichael, Robert Fuller, and Robert Crawford Jr. in Laramie (with John Hoyt’s back)

Marilyn Monroe in Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend. I had to include this one just because I love pink.

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