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Preserving the people, places, and things from the pop culture past...because some of us still believe in yesterday.

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    Image via Bilal Ali Productions
    Editor's Note: Today's post is brought to you by guest blogger and freelance entertainment writer Spencer Blohm. 

    On August 9th, the late, great Whitney Houston would have been 50. To honor this great artist’s career, Go Retro and I have teamed up to bring you some of the greatest moments of Whitney’s career during the decade she owned: the 80’s.

    Whitney had her first #1 single in 1985 with “Saving All My Love for You” from her self-titled debut album. This song was just the first of her record-setting seven consecutive singles in a row, a record which she still holds today. Here in this 1985 live performance on Late Night with David Letterman, a fresh faced Whitney wows the audience as soon as that powerful voice comes bellowing out of that waifish body.



    She followed up her soulful first single with a lighter dance track called “How Will I Know”. The dance floor friendly song showed Whitney wasn’t just a gospel singer, but one who was able to cross genres. Here she performs it live on the Peter Popshow in 1985 underneath a rotating triangle with a rainbow in the middle of it. Because it was 1985. 



    If people were doubting her ability to be a successful gospel/pop crossover before, she solidified she was here to stay with “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” the first single off her second album Whitney in 1987. The song was a massive success, her biggest yet. In addition to earning her a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, went double platinum, hit #1 on the charts in thirteen countries, and it gave us this glorious music video. 



    To counter her dance anthem, she released “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” and became the breakup anthem of 1987. Many a teenage girls spend their evenings crying into their pillows listening to Whitney’s soothing, yet powerful voice tell them of unrequited love.



    For her second dance anthem off of Whitney she chose “So Emotional”, her sixth of seven #1 singles in a row. The music video featured an abundance of hair, leather blazers, guitar solos, and high waisted jeans, yet Whitney’s beauty still shines through.




    So today, we remember Whitney for what she gave us in the 80’s; songs to cry to, songs to dance to, and some really voluminous curls. Happy 50th Whitney, may you rest in peace.

    About the Author: Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment and pop culture blogger for GetDirectTV.org. He grew up listening to his mother try to do her best Whitney imitation in the car on the way to school. His mother is no longer allowed to sing in front of him.

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    When I learned that some kind hearted soul had uploaded several episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman to YouTube, I knew that it was my duty as a retro blogger to finally check out for myself what this show was all about. Much love has been spilled for the Norman Lear-produced series on other retro blogs, so I'll be careful not to overlap too much what's been written about it already. Let me start by saying that my honest impression five minutes into the very first episode is that I thought it was bad--a show full of bad acting, bad dialogue and bad jokes. By the end of the 22 minute running time, I thought it was brilliant. Sixteen episodes in (a mere fraction of the 400+ episodes that were filmed) I am definitely hooked on Mary's whacky and wonderful world. 


    The series was--to use a very cliche and overused term--groundbreaking. When it debuted in 1976, nothing like it had aired on television before, and little else has since (one exception is Twin Peaks, which the show has been compared to.) I'm sure that the people behind Desperate Housewives would like to think that their depiction of suburban life was edgy, but it doesn't even come close to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. What I'm about to say isn't original (I believe it's in Amazon.com's description of the series) but Mary Hartman was the ultimate desperate housewife. 

    Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is a soap opera parody, which we gander right away during the opening credits as the lead character's name is caterwauled twice (by the actress playing Mary's mother) over melodramatic music. Norman Lear felt that soap opera dialogue was often repeated. There's so much twisted HUMOR in this series--I like to think that the omission of a laugh track was simply because the it didn't need one. To give you a better idea of the show's unsettling aura, in one episode a school sports coach, drowsy from cold medicine, accidentally drowns in Mary's chicken soup. Other characters met their demise in equally bizarre ways. 

    Mary Hartman, as depicted by Louise Lasser, is--of course--the show's leading character. With her collared pale blue minidresses and pigtails she reminds me of Dorothy, and the suburban town of Fernwood and its eccentric citizens are definitely her Oz. Or, she could be Alice in Wonderland. Surrounding her domestic world is:


    Tom Hartman (Greg Mullavey) - Mary's cad of a husband who refuses to have sex with her.

    Loretta Haggers (Mary Kay Place) - Mary's big-haired best friend and neighbor, who has dreams of making it big in Nashville as a country-western star (but is playing at the local bowling alley in the meantime...in the cutest, sparkly 70s costumes you can imagine every country western singer wore back then.)

    Charlie Haggers (Graham Jarvis) - Loretta's rather physically unattractive husband and Tom's best friend.
     

    Cathy Shumway (Debralee Scott) Mary's single kid sister, who has a new boyfriend every week.

    Mrs. Martha Shumway (Dody Goodman) - Mary's quirky mother, who likes to talk to her plants.

    Heather Hartman (Claudia Lamb) Tom and Mary's ornery pre-teen daughter, who seems to have a sugar addiction and who witnessed the mass murder of the Hartman's neighbors.




    The first episode introduces us to all of them, but Charlie and Loretta Haggers are the most memorable to me. With apologies to the Jarvis family, Graham Jarvis is easily one of the most unattractive men to ever grace a TV screen. What's even worse than his egg shaped balding dome is his body. About fifteen minutes into the first episode, our eyeballs are subjected to Charlie Haggers sans shirt--a sight that is not for the faint of heart. His nipples actually point downward, his skin looks as saggy as a deflated balloon, and his pale, completely muscleless body is covered with a LOT of hair in all the wrong places. Bleeecccccchh! I can only imagine that my reaction was also the sentiments of TV audiences across the country when it aired. Charlie is supposed to be 43 years old and older than Loretta, yet they have the steamiest sex life of all the characters on the show (Charlie tells Mary's husband, Tom, that they get it on 5 or 6 times a week.) At first, I found their frequent on-screen affection to be quite disturbing and icky. But by the 9th episode, the Haggers had really grown on me, and Charlie in particular proves himself to be a good guy, and definitely in Mary's corner during a crisis in her marriage. I kept waiting for Loretta to reveal ulterior motives by marrying Charlie, but they truly support and love one another. (However, I could do without hearing Loretta constantly refer to Charlie as "Baby Boy", her pet name for him. Capitalizing on the show's popularity, Mary Kay Place put out an album under her character's name and one of the tracks, "Baby Boy", actually became a novelty hit.) 



    The Haggers' marriage is in starch contrast to Tom and Mary Hartman's relationship. Tom is the biggest tool on the show. He runs hot and cold with Mary, refusing to give her sex and berating her for trying to initiate it, saying that she shouldn't do anything and then telling her that she's not doing anything "the right way." Hoping to put the spark back in their relationship, a frustrated Mary takes out sex tip books from the library, which Charlie discovers, infuriating Tom who then blames Mary for embarrassing him. Tom acts like a child and his wardrobe reflects it--his Star Trek inspired PJs (not in the above screenshot, however) and matching bi-color jacket and baseball cap look like something a 3rd grader would wear. 



    Because he is such an asshat, Tom has an affair with a woman from the plant, a tall married hussy named Mae who clearly has been around the block too many times, and quite possibly with some of her male coworkers. None of the actors on this show were what you would call good looking (although some male fans do have a thing for Louise Lasser) and in some cases, don't even pass for average. As Mae, Salome Jens is an interesting choice because she is obviously a bit older than Tom--this coming during a decade when a woman over 40 was considered old and washed up and you almost never saw them in bedroom scenes, never mind with a younger man. But sweet karma is served as Tom catches a STD from Mae. 

    Needless to say, Mary has her hands full--with her pervy grandfather aka "The Fernwood Flasher", who is arrested for exposing his crotch to an elementary school cafeteria lady, her cheating douchebag of a husband, and bratty daughter who witnessed a mass murderer that wiped out a family (and their chickens and goat) in the Hartman's neighborhood and who is subsequently kidnapped by the murderer. All that plus a concern that her kitchen floor has waxy yellow buildup.



    What I love best about this show is that in true soap fashion, you never know what to expect. The series addressed so many taboo subjects of the time: sex, masturbation, indecent exposure, etc. that it was often shown late at night, sometimes as late as 11 PM. Just like daytime soap operas, it aired Monday through Friday with continuing storylines.

    And the writing on this show was second to none. One of the best lines I've ever heard that was written for television comes from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It's in the scene  below where Loretta, suffering from amnesia, is kidnapped by Harry Dean Stanton. His friend sizes Loretta up and says, "You put a diamond on a slut, it'll turn into a rhinestone ." Then the same character launches into a dialogue about sluts. I'm telling you, Tarantino couldn't have written it better. Come to think of it, dude looks like he belongs in a Tarantino film. (Warning: the following clip contains some strong language by 1970s television standards.)



    Another reason to love Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is the gaudy sets. It's as if the Fingerhut catalog showcased rooms in the 70s a la IKEA: we're talking quintessential tackiness of the decade. 



    Spolier alert: for reasons still unknown to me as of this posting, Louise Lasser left the show after only one season. During season one, the writers gave poor Mary a nervous breakdown while being interviewed on live TV (a moment that you can find on YouTube) and she ended up in a psychiatric asylum which was a bit of a vacation for her. When she returned, she eventually left Tom and ran off with Sgt. Dennis Foley, a police officer who clearly has a thing for her from the show's get-go. After Lasser's departure, the series became rebranded as Forever Fernwood. The rest of the cast stayed on and Shelley Fabares joined the show as Tom's love interest after Mary leaves. Forever Fernwood lasted for 130 episodes and was then replaced with a talk show parody called Fernwood 2-Night, which later became America 2-Night. Are you confused yet? 

    It's downright criminal that the remaining episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman may never see the light of day. Perhaps us retro bloggers should band together and petition the distributor for a full release?

    Also, as if the show wasn't cool enough, Sammy Davis Jr. recorded a groovy ode to Mary that incorporates the opening theme--found on his LP "The Song and Dance Man."



    One final thought: I'm seriously tempted to dress up like Mary for Halloween. Then when people ask me who I am, I'll have the pleasure of shouting, "Mary Hartman! Mary Hartman!"

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  • 08/24/13--20:10: Awkward Ads

  • Sometimes, you come across a vintage advertisement that makes you do a double take. You ask yourself if you're really seeing what you're seeing, or you start to feel uncomfortable looking at the ad. Such is the case with the collection I've gathered for this post. Many of these left me shaking my head.


    Like the first one, above, promoting hair color. I have no problem with the kids being topless, even the girls--they don't have breasts yet. However, I couldn't help but notice that one of the gingers appears to be pinching another girl's nipple. It just looks really awkward and struck me as funny. I imagine this was the result of a photo shoot that was a challenge, trying to wrangle a dozen young kids and getting them to stand still and look into the camera. Come to think of it, some of the adult models aren't even looking directly into the camera. 



    Next up is this Volkswagen Beetle spot. These prints ads made such an iconic campaign for the car, but this one missed the mark severely. "Women are soft and gentle, but they hit things. Most other VW parts are interchangeable, too. Inside and out. Which means your wife isn't limited to fender smashing. She can jab the hood. Graze the door. Or bump off the bumper."

    Yikes. Normally I give passes to retro ads that others find sexist, but this one is undeniably insulting. Could you imagine the uproar it would cause today?



    Words fail me. "Teens too chubby to fit into regular sizes" is really the icing on the cake. Yet, this was frank and honest language for overweight people back in the day. 


    Lord West did a print campaign in the 60s and 70s with the tagline "...and the lady approves" featuring young daughters with their dads. As sweet and innocent as the intention was, the problem is the gesture in this particular ad just seems waaaaaaaay too intimate...they look like they're about to make out. It's too close for consumers' comfort...certainly mine. 

    As if that's not creepy enough, check out THIS male model and daughter. Where the devil did they find this dude? And the little girl looks scared. 



    I don't care what anyone says; male underwear ads of yesteryear are always awkward. Unless you have a solo male model standing modestly, there's no good way to execute these ads...and for some reason, many featured groups of men. I think it's weird that the dude behind the seated guy has one foot up on the back of his chair. 


    But it could be worse. We could always feature sweaty macho men wrestling with the tagline "Let's Get Down to Business." This brand touted its "stretchy seat."



    Or how about we feature three average Joe Schmoes? I feel sorry for the old man...clearly, that is not a Jockey semi-brief but a Depends diaper with extra padding. The second dude reminds me of Judd Hirsch from Taxi and the last guy looks like he's ready to get his freak on with the animal print brief and necklace. Grrrrr, tiger!



    These guys, on the other hand, look like they're cracking up at their matching printed get-ups or are ready to par-ty!



    Feminine hygiene ads always seem a little weird...it's a tricky product to shill, for sure. But for the love of Tampax, why is his face so close to her derriere? If I had a date during that time of the month, I wouldn't want to subject him to...well, to this. Forget the old adage ladies first"...for his sake, he should be ahead of her climbing up the hill.  



    I think I saved the best for last. Talk about an extremely awkward product for children, which is certainly not being helped by the choice of the child model. 

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  • 08/29/13--10:05: Mmmmmmm....Metrecal!
  • When I came across the vintage ad above for the diet drink Metrecal, I was both repulsed and fascinated by it. It looks like Pepto-Bismol gurgling (urrrgh!) in a bowl, but is actually the strawberry flavor of the product. It's ludicrous of the advertisers to think that consumers were going to opt for a can of Metrecal after they mention steak and potatoes in the ad…were they serious???


    Yet, for several years, Metrecal enjoyed much success on store shelves and is often credited with kicking off the liquid diet phase of the 1960s. It was inspired by a concoction given to invalids and sick people (never a good thing) and originally came in a powder form made of skim milk, soybean flour, corn oil and vitamins and minerals that was mixed with water. A couple of years later, Metrecal (the name was a combination of "metric" and "calories") started arriving on store shelves in cans of various flavors. 


    Mead Johnson, the company that manufactured the product, advised consumers to drink four servings of Metrecal daily to lose and maintain weight. At a mere 225 calories per can, that means anyone on the Metrecal diet was subsiding on only 900 calories a day. Mead Johnson claimed that the hunger pains went away after a few days. Metrecal cookies, clam chowder (noooo!) and tuna with noodles were eventually added to the product line, despite the fact that many dieters reported that the liquid flavors were disgusting. In 1960, Time magazine published an article on the Metrecal craze and noted that some people added liquor to their Metrecal to make it more palatable.


    Metrecal inspired many competitors (such as Carnation with its instant breakfast drink) to jump on the liquid diet fad, but by the mid-60s it had already started to lose its luster. People were finally realizing that man could not live on liquid nourishment alone In the late 70s, Metrecal and other products were discontinued after the Food and Drug Administration declared them dangerous due to 59 reported deaths connected to liquid protein products. (Today we have Slim Fast, but that program at least recommends supplementing their products with actual solid meals.)

    Here's a look at some Metrecal TV commercials from back in the day. I'd have to say that freezing the product to turn it into ice cream actually doesn't look so bad...but I still wouldn't try it. 







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    Admittedly, Mae West isn't someone I've thought about often--seeing as how Go Retro has a tendency to focus on people, places and things from the 60s through the 80s. But something made me think of Ms. West the other night, and damn, there really ought to be a movie made about her life. To most folks, she is remembered best for her trademark husky voice (back in the day she would have been referred to affectionately as a "broad"), platinum locks and sassy double entendres. However, West was also a talented comedienne and entertainer--the first on-screen star to exude sexiness and humor at the same time, which she gleaned from her vaudeville beginnings. She also lived a colorful life and remained quite active right up into her 80s. The lady had chutzpah, and here are ten factoids to prove it: 


    1. She wrote all of her snappy one-liners
    West was allowed to call the shots in her movies--she rewrote her lines for her first film, Night After Night, turning it into a hit--and many of her quotes have stood the test of time as classic zingers said both on and off the screen: 

    "Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?"

    "When I'm good, I'm very good. But when I'm bad, I'm better."

    "A hard man is good to find."

    "It's not the men in my life that count, it's the life in my men."

    "It is better to be looked over than overlooked."

    "Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before."

    Needless to say, West was pretty uninhibited and confident for her time--but not filthy by today's standards. Her quips left most of it up to an audience's imagination (but did manage to infuriate women's and Catholic groups during one bawdy NBC radio program.) 

    According to IMDB.com, West's early films, while box office smashes, were a bit controversial and led to studios establishing the Motion Picture Production Code, which regulated what content could be shown or said in pictures. It was then that West started writing her famous double entendres as a way of getting around these codes. 

    My favorite line, however, comes from one of her last films, a 1970 movie called Myra Breckenridge. The movie itself is considered one of the worst flops ever made and caused a lot of lawsuits (another blog post for another time) but that didn't stop me from enjoying this clip. The line in question is at the veeeeery end--and yes, that is a young Tom Selleck sans mustache.



    2. She "discovered" Cary Grant
    In a 1976 interview with Dick Cavett, West said that she was flipping through photos of  actors that a Paramount director gave to her to pick her leading man for the film She Done Him Wrong. (Imagine being able to choose which actor to star with you?) West spotted a good looking young man walking across the street outside the window and inquired about him. "If he can talk, I'll take him!" she told the director. The movie was a box office hit and launched Grant's career. West told Cavett that she actually "had him (Grant) twice"--meaning she made two movies with him...but with West, nearly everything she said had a double meaning. 

    3. She was a supporter of gay rights
    Years before her movie career, West wrote a play about homosexuals called "The Drag." It never opened; she had already been arrested for staging another controversial play at the time (more on that a bit below.) West believed that gay people were born gay, and was vehemently against the belief that therapy could "change" a person from gay to straight. She would become a gay icon years later. 

    4. She didn't launch her movie career until she was nearly 40 years old
    West's first motion picture role was in the aforementioned 1932 film Night After Night. She was 39 at the time which is nothing short of amazing, and she managed to keep her age a secret. Not that she had to--she looked freaking fabulous and years younger, probably due to the fact that she stayed out of the sun as much as possible. 

    5. She was arrested for writing and starring in a controversial play
    Years before Madonna made waves with her erotic coffee table conversation piece "Sex", West wrote, produced and starred in a 1926 play by the same name. It marked her debut on Broadway and ran for nearly 400 performances before the New York City Police department raided the theater and arrested her for "corrupting the morals of youth." She was sentenced to 10 days in jail, and enjoyed meals with the warden and his wife. She must have made a good impression, because she was released after serving 8 days due to good behavior. The scandal didn't hurt West's career at all, and raised her profile. 



    6. She recorded rock and roll albums
    In 1966, West recorded an album featuring rock and roll covers called Way Out West, backed by a teen band called Somebody's Chyldren. A Christmas album followed the same year. She also recorded a second rock album in 1968 called Great Balls of Fire which didn't get released until 1972, and included The Doors' hit "Light My Fire." Whether she was actually a good singer I can only leave up to you--I've heard far worse renditions of popular music at the time by actors. She was the oldest female singer at that time to have a solo album on the Billboard 200 chart--a record that wouldn't be broken until 2011 when country singer Wanda Jackson released The Party Ain't Over.



    7. She didn't want to be on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    When The Beatles were pulling together personalities for their infamous album cover, they had to ask permission to use celebrity likenesses. Mae West initially turned down their request, saying, "What would I be doing in a 'lonely hearts club'?" She had a point. But then the Fab Four sent her a personal letter saying that they were fans of her, and she accepted their request. Ringo Starr would later co-star with her in her final movie, Sextette.

    8. She became a cougar
    West was married a couple of times and involved in several relationships, but her last one when she was 61 up until her death was with a bodybuilder 30 years younger than her, Chester Rybinski, who changed his name to Paul Novak. He was one of the performers in her Las Vegas musclemen stage show and would later say "I believe I was put on this earth to take care of Mae West."



    9. She inspired a sofa
    West's lips inspired surrealist artist Salvatore Dali to create the "Mae West Lips Sofa"--an art deco shaped couch with a design that is recognizable to this day. Allied forces airmen during WWII also referred to their life preserver jackets as "Mae Wests" because they resembled her waist and breasts. 

    10. She bought a building to shut up a bunch of racists
    West dated the boxing champion William "Gorilla" Jones, who was African-American. The landlords of the Ravenswood apartment building West lived in at the time didn't allow "negroes" to visit the complex and complained, so West shut them up by purchasing the building and lifting the ban on African American guests and tenants. 

    Mae West was certainly a woman way ahead of her time and in 1982, Ann Jillian played her in a TV movie about her life, but I think a big screen rendition is in order. Truth be told, I don't think there is an actress convincing enough to play her in a biopic (unless she's an unknown) but it would be nice to see Hollywood bring her to the public's attention again. 

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    I curse Dom Quinto. Who the heck is that, you ask?

    He's the dolt who invented the leaf blower. 

    I just spent the last hour listening to an obnoxious neighbor power one of these equally obnoxious contraptions. A solid hour! I'd rather have listened to a dentist's drill or the failed auditions from every season of American Idol. I seriously wanted to march over his property line, wrench that thing from his hands and blow it where the sun doesn't shine. 

    To be fair, suburban America's obsession with these noise polluters cannot be entirely blamed on Quinto. His original blower wasn't designed for consumer usage or for displacing leaves, but for agricultural chemical spraying in the 1950s (although I suppose we should pummel him for making it easier to spread cancer-causing pesticides on our produce.) Manufacturers soon discovered that consumers were removing the parts from the blower meant to hold and distribute chemicals, instead relying on the high wind speeds they produced to blow leaves and debris from their property. Genius. 

    By the 1990s, over 800,000 leaf blowers a year were being sold in the United States. 

    And now, they're everywhere. I hate these things with a passion! I can see using one for a few minutes to clear a driveway (like my mother often does) or another quick, minor clean-up job. But the problem is they seem to have replaced raking, which is what my neighbor was using his for this afternoon. When there's a landscaper crew nearby, forget about it. That's all you'll be hearing for the next 2-3 hours, never mind one. Way to go, ruining a beautiful day in the neighborhood. 

    Modern society is SO lazy today it's pathetic. Why rake leaves when you can blow them away? Better yet, why mow or maintain your own lawn yourself when you can pay a landscaper crew to do it for you? (I'm not talking about homeowners with large properties and yards, where landscaping is justified, but houses that sit on a half acre of land, if even that.)

    I'm not just blowing hot air here (ha.) Leaf blowers are not exactly the best thing for the environment and your well-being. For starters, the gasoline powered blowers emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. More of concern to me is their mind-numbing noise level, whether they run on gas or electricity. They are so loud they can cause hearing damage to the operator and anyone within close range after extended usage without earplugs. Many cities in California have wisely banned or restricted their use. Also, they are not exactly lightweight--I've helped my mother blow leaves off her driveway, and was surprised at how heavy it felt as I strapped it off my shoulder. I much prefer taking a custodial style broom and pushing the leaves off. In my opinion, it doesn't take much more time to get the job done and it's exercise! 

    Call me crazy, but I'd rather rake at any time and burn some calories while working my shoulder and back muscles. There's also something kind of therapeutic and soothing about raking leaves on a beautiful autumn day that I suppose is lost on too many people. 

    Kudos to California...if only the rest of the country would consider following their lead. Nothing would make me happier than seeing the leaf blower die a quick death. 



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  • 10/21/13--17:27: Old Timey Dentistry
  • I must confess that dentists and dentistry don't make me squeamish...maybe it's at least partly due to the fact that I have good teeth and visit my dentist every six months for a cleaning and check-up only to hear (knock on wood) "see you in six months." 

    But for those of you who hate the dentist, then this post is perfect for this time of year, the Halloween season. It doesn't help that dentists have (quite unfairly, I believe) gotten a bad rap through several years of pop culture history--Little Shop of Horrors and Marathon Man quickly come to mind. One fairly recent depiction of a dentist in film that is positive is Dr. King Schultz in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. Even though the movie takes place after Dr. Schultz has given up dentistry in favor of bounty hunting, I couldn't help but feel that the character's gentlemanly and kind demeanor (when he wasn't busting a cap into well-deserving criminals and cruel slave owners, of course) must have meant he was a gentle tooth doctor with a caring bedside manner years before he met up with Django. Even the advertising logo on the side of his dental wagon proclaims him as "amazing and painless" with "work in a careful, up-to-date manner...prices in the reach of all." I'm just saying, if you needed a tooth pulled in the 1800s, Dr. Schultz would be your man. (I also think a movie prequel or even a network series based on the character would be a smash hit for us fans of the movie...again, just saying.)

    With Dr. Schultz in mind, let's take a look (if you dare) at a selection of historical dental images and advertising from the 1800s to the 20th century that just may make you a little more grateful for your own dentist's modern equipment the next time you go (I promise that none of them are really gory; maybe just a bit heebie jeebie-ish.) Just relax and open wide...
    This advertisement quite possibly may have provided the design and copy inspiration for Dr. King Schultz's sign. 

    It may be hard to believe, but toothbrushes have been available since the 1300s--the Chinese invented and exported them to areas of Europe. In the late 1700s, Englishman William Addis perfected his own toothbrush design and started the first toothbrush manufacturing company which still exists today under the name Wisdom. Toothbrushes were manufactured in the U.S. starting in 1885. But animal hair used for the bristles of antique toothbrushes held onto bacteria and sometimes fell out, and toothbrushing was often thought of as a hygienic practice only the upper class only did. As a result, brushing one's teeth daily truly didn't catch on in the States until WWII, when soldiers were required to clean their teeth every day.

    The next time you need a filling, be grateful for your dentist's high speed drill; the first ones, developed in the 1800s (and before electricity), were powered by a foot pedal! 

    The first dental light--a lantern from 1837 that a dentist would use to help them examine a mouth...along with some tools.  

    A dental chair and foot pedal drill that belonged to a real-life inspiration for King Schultz, Doc Holliday. 


    Dentists usually are bad asses. He did much worse things than practicing dentistry without a license.

    WWI soldiers probably with toothache troubles waiting to see the field dentist...needless to say, they don't look very happy!

    Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, was discovered in the late 1700s, but not used for dentistry until 1844. It would be almost another 20 years before American dentists began adopting it for use and offering it to their patients. 

    Ad from 1911 for another amazing and painless dentist. 


    An antique dental mirror found on Etsy, made of bone and featuring a pivotal mirror. It's estimated to have been made between 1850 and 1900 in the UK. 

    This dentist had a very innovative idea for the time. 

    This lovely art deco-inspired illustration apparently came from a poster advertising a dental school...no doubt they were hoping the opportunity to treat beautiful women would help recruit aspiring dentists. Is it me, or is he looking at her cleavage?


    Early dental x-ray machine...it certainly doesn't look comfortable!


    Dental mannequins have long been used as a teaching tool at dental schools and are still used today--the Japanese even use robots that will let you know if you're being too rough on them. The vintage mannequin on the right looks like a cross between Alien and Robocop. Creepy!


    Dr. Rankin, a female dentist, ready to perform an extraction on a patient in 1909. Lucy Hobbs Taylor was the first American woman to graduate from dental school, in the 1860s. 


    Antique wooden tooth that hung outside of a dentist's office. 


    Who says dentists like to rip people off? Only 50 cents for each additional tooth removed sounds like a bargain!

    Eventually, dental care became more about pro-active prevention. I'm guessing this dental hygiene poster is from the 1950s. No kid, you cannot clean your teeth by blowing plague away with a hair dryer...no more than Dentyne gum will scrub plague away (which was always my teeth brushing cheat strategy as a kid.)

    Even back in the day, manufacturers were thinking up ways of getting the tykes to brush. But how much time was spent blowing into the thing vs. using it to brush their teeth?

    Glamour sure is an interesting word to use to describe a career in the dental industry. Is it glamorous to look at someone's cavity or tartar covered mouth?


    This place was located in the porn district of L.A. in the 1970s. I don't think the Institute of Oral Love had anything to do with dentists, but I wanted to give everyone who made it to the end of this post a little reward!

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    I suppose it's a moot point to pick on Twilight--the last movie in the series aired some time ago. But the whole time this phenomenon was in full swing, I was shaking my head, at a loss to understand why so many women--some of them my age--were drooling over that character of Edward Cullen and the actor who played him, Robert Pattinson. 

    You see, the vampires that I grew up with were supposed to be scary, not dudes that you would disrobe for in a heartbeat and jump into bed with. Count Orlock from Nosferatu, the first true vampire film that started it all? Downright ghoulishly fugly. Bela Lugosi? The quintessential Dracula of his time, but again, not sexually appealing. Barnabas Collins from Dark Shadows? Sorry, no...and hell-to-the-no to Johnny Depp's version. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt never did a thing for me, either. But at least these dudes were grown up men and didn't have skin that sparkled in the sunlight (a character trait of Edward's that I don't get...isn't sunlight lethal to vampires?) And I'm sorry, Twilight fans, but out of all of these guys, Edward Cullen would easily be at the bottom of my list. The reasons why would take up this entire blog post, so let's just leave it at that. 

    There was, however, Gary Oldman from the 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula--and he was attractive during the scenes where he played a younger Count Dracula, dressed in Victorian garb. But then I remembered another Dracula from my childhood...a Dracula movie that I watched on TV and even as a young girl, I could see that there was something different about this count. He was a little less scary than other Draculas...he didn't show his fangs and there was no blood smeared on his face. When he broke into the bedroom of the woman he intended to seduce he looked downright appealing...I could totally understand why she sighed and unbuttoned the top buttons of her nightgown, willingly giving him access to her neck. And the scene I remember most (and that has stayed with me to this day) is the eerie ending--a lone cape flapping away over the ocean, looking just like a bat flapping its wings as I remember my father remarking. 

    I'm talking about the 1979 film Dracula, starring Frank Langella. After viewing clips of this movie, which I haven't seen in several years, I can honestly say that as much as I'm not fond of vampires, I would gladly throw back my head and offer my neck to Frank Langella as Dracula. His has to be the sexiest portrayal of the count even to this day. Edward Cullen isn't fit enough to polish this man's coffin, as far as I'm concerned. 

    I think it's safe to say that Langella and the moviemakers took Dracula to a whole new level with this movie. There's a really awesome documentary on the making of the film uploaded to YouTube in five parts called The Revamping of Dracula. In it, Langella discusses how he had control over how this Dracula would be portrayed, right down to the height of his collars. He wanted the count to be a departure from Bela Lugosi's cartoonish, heavily accented character; instead, he would play him still as intense, but romantic and sexy as well. Langella was 40 at the time of filming, with trademark 1970s machismo: a tall frame, great hair, and exotic good looks. He was actually starring in a stage version of Dracula when movie makers watched him and knew that he'd be perfect for their film adaptation.

    Langella and the filmmakers also saw Dracula as not so much scary, but a tragic gothic hero. Where Bela Lugosi reveled in the darkness and thought his "children of the night" made beautiful music, Langella's Dracula thinks they sound sad and lonely--a metaphor for his own existence. As a result, this Dracula was closer to his portrayal in earlier plays and the book. This was one classy and charming count. 

    The late movie critic Roger Ebert said it perfectly: "Most of the previous Draculas we carry in our imaginations share two things: fangs and overacting. They come on so strong that potential victims shouldn't let them within yards of their necks. Frank Langella gives us a character who 'acts' as if he's a count: He has royal manners, he is irresistibly attractive to women, he would have impeccable table manners if only, of course, it were not forbidden for him to eat." 

    Even the movie's lobby card alludes to this Dracula's eroticism:
    Check out the scene where Dracula climbs down his castle's wall into Lucy's (Kate Nelligan's) bedroom to seduce her--it's both scary AND sexy!


    What follows this scene has actually been criticized by many fans--as Dracula and Lucy make love, the sequence is bathed in red laser beam light, psychedelic style, and graphics by Maurice Binder, who did the opening credits for many James Bond films. The director of Dracula was John Badham, who had previously made Saturday Night Fever, and the laser beam trend was finding its way into rock shows and movies. It's out of step with the rest of the film, but it's a sign of its time. 

    The movie also costarred two veteran actors, Donald Pleasence and Sir Lawrence Olivier. Olivier was apparently very ill during the making of the film. 

    And that purposely ambiguous ending? It's sad to see Dracula get hoisted by a hook into the sunlight and incinerated into ashes...but there's also a sense that somehow he lives on. I'm sure that was the sympathetic ending Langella and the filmmakers were hoping for. 

    There was another Dracula movie released the same year that also showed the character in a more positive light--the comedic, campy Love at First Bite, starring George Hamilton as a disco dancing Drac. It's entertaining and funny in its own right, but for pure sex appeal, my vote is still for Frank Langella.

    Here's part 1 of the featurette The Revamping of Dracula. You can watch all parts on YouTube. 



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    Paul Masson has nice wood? Huh? 

    Where was I, again? Oh yeah...if you grew up as a kid in the late 70s or early 80s then you may remember the television commercials that Orson Welles did for Paul Masson wine with the famous tagline, "We will sell no wine before its time." Well, judging by the looks of this amazing clip of outtakes I stumbled upon yesterday (that made me laugh so hard I went through 3 or 4 tissues) Orson was definitely drinking something before his screen time. Paul Masson champagne is fermented...and so is Welles. One can only imagine what was going through the heads of the two actors in the scene with him.



    Welles, however, was hitting the hooch hard on something other than Paul Masson. He pitched the winemaker's products for two years, then made the mistake of mentioning on a U.S. talk show that he never touched Paul Masson wine. The company dropped him as a spokesperson...but amazingly, had no problem with him showing up three sheets to the wind to film their ads and miss his cues. 

    Paul Masson replaced Welles with John Gielgud. Welles went on to shill a board game, frozen peas (there's a clip on YouTube of him arguing about the logic behind the advertising copy), photocopiers, and...Japanese whiskey. Looks like he finally got it under control by the time that commercial was made. But hearing "Mwaaaaah haaaaaaa whiskey!" would totally make my day.


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    Last weekend a friend and I saw a fashion exhibit called "Hippie Chic" at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. I regret not being able to see and report on it earlier during its exhibition time--November 11 was the last day it ran, and I know Go Retro's readers would have dug it. For that, I can only apologize and try to make up for it with my photos and commentary.

    Hippie Chic was a collection of 54 ensembles all made during the 1960s and 1970s, ranging from classy old Hollywood-inspired pieces to psychedelic "Summer of Love" outfits and everything in between. Upon entering the exhibit we were immediately transported back in time, helped along by a jukebox loaded with hits from the era, shag rugs, and rotating platforms. Honestly, I could really feel the energy that the 60s evoked the second I entered the room. There were designs by Geoffrey Beane, Ossie Clark, Peter Max, Beverly Johnson, and Yves Saint Laurent. The first outfit we noticed was the very colorful and psychedelic dress above (the press release for the installation calls it a jacket, but it sure looks like a dress to me.) It was designed by Barry and Yosha Finch of the design collaborative "The Fool", who were responsible for much of the clothing that The Beatles sold in their short-lived Apple Boutique in the late 60s. It was by far my favorite outfit in the exhibit and I wish I could have it!

    Here's a sampling of what was included in this very fascinating installation...

    This long, gorgeous leather vest featuring hand painted detail was made in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was amazed at its condition--it was clean as a whistle and the painted design looked like it had just dried yesterday. I was also enamored with the color paneled leather jacket in the background, as well as the star spangled go-go boots.



    A smattering of eye popping, textured hippie maxi dresses, featuring crochet, knitted, beadwork, tapestry, and fur details. 



    A gorgeous beaded ruby and gold colored caftan--I wish I had noted who the designer was. 



    "It's my bag, baby!" The guys were not ignored in this exhibit. These two suits would definitely be right at home in Austin Powers' closet. 



    Before reading the accompanying description, I knew that this umbrella and long skirt was trademark Peter Max. The dress with the fuschia butterflies was sold at the infamous Kings Road boutique Granny Takes a Trip. 



    Arnold Scaasi designed this silk dress with gold brocade, which was worn by Barbara Streisand for an awards ceremony in 1970. In the background is a man's caftan. 



    For a while in the late 60s, fashion was inspired by the Hollywood styles of the 1930s and 1940s. I loved the graphic black and white dress.


     And this graphic yellow jacket. 


    A wonderful dress and hat for a summer day.  


    I could have used everything here for a Julie Newmar-inspired Catwoman Halloween costume. The metal chastity belt is by German designer Carl Schimel. 



    Beautiful summery colors and pattern.



    More eye popping maxi dresses and a pantsuit.  






    Hippie Chic was quite the "trip." Hopefully something like this will be coming to a museum near you soon!

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    When Jack LaLanne passed away a few years ago, I came across this wonderful clip of him (which I posted before) from his early television fitness show on what it means to be happy (or unhappy) in modern society. At that time, modern society was the early 1960s or so, but I think the point he made back then still rings true today. This was the great thing about LaLanne's show--besides demonstrating exercises for viewers to follow along at home, he dispensed nutrition and lifestyle tips, proving that being healthy is more than working out alone, but a combination of exercise, food, and mindset. 

    Sadly, it's even tougher today to be happy than it was when this show was filmed. The world moves along at a much faster pace and people (or at least, Americans) are overworked, stressed, and often struggling to make ends meet. I'm sure it wouldn't comfort Jack if he knew that today, in addition to walking around looking miserable, people are doing so while being transfixed by a smartphone screen. What I like about the clip below is that it helps puts things in perspective--and that happiness is an inside job.

    I'd like to wish all of my readers a very happy Thanksgiving, yummy food, and safe travels if you're leaving home. I hope everyone finds something to be happy and grateful about--every day of the year, not just on the holiday. 


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    As a 70s/80s child I'll always hold a special place in my heart for the Rankin/Bass animated TV specials--particularly the ones that featured their stop-motion technology. Every year it seems a new children's Christmas special makes its debut, but they can never touch anything that Rankin/Bass produced--in fact, they're downright lame by comparison. I started to think about why Arthur Rankin's and Jules Bass' creations were so enchanting, given that animation has become way more sophisticated compared to the 1960s. While everyone working on the Rankin/Bass team contributed to the success of these specials, I determined that it seemed to boil down to three key ingredients...


    1. Character Design and Personality
    As a child watching these specials back in the day, I found myself wanting to reach into my television screen and touch the characters. Even today, I find the Rankin/Bass characters much more "real" than traditional flat cartoons or the computer generated effects of today because they were made of actual dolls that were crafted for movement. I was a little surprised to discover recently that the models were not itty bitty figurines (which is the way they often appear on-screen) but good sized creations that can be handled by two adult hands. Take a look at this photo from Screen-Novelties which chronicled the restoration of the Santa and Rudolph puppets from the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special.  Santa has a big noggin!
    Image via Screen-Novelties
    (The puppets had spent 30 years in the home of a Rankin/Bass employee suffering abuse until a new owner acquired them and had them repaired.)

    Image via Ain't It Cool News
    Paul Coker, Jr., who was an illustrator for Mad magazine, was the production designer at Rankin/Bass and (along with fellow illustrator Jack Davis) created many of the characters for the TV specials. The painstaking animation itself was done in Japan by stop-motion animator Tadahito Mochinaga. Rankin/Bass called its stop-motion animation technique "Animagic." I affectionately refer to it as "Herky-Jerky." Either way, Rankin/Bass animation has become so iconic that it's been copied on Saturday Night Live, Denis Leary's Merry F#%$in' Christmas, and in the TV commercials of a local furniture company. 

    Speaking of TV commercials, after the huge success of Rudolph, GE commissioned Rankin/Bass to produce a series of charming promotional clips for some of their products being touted as Christmas gifts:



    Sadly, a lot of the puppets/figurines used in Rankin/Bass specials no longer exist--they were often given away to employees and also covered with a spray that prevented them from reflecting during filming, which caused their already delicate, flexible body parts to break down. Jules Bass explained that while some recreations do exist, the average lifespan of a real Animagic figure was typically only 6 months. Perhaps the Santa and Rudolph shown above were recreations? 

    And has any other production company given us more memorable characters than the Abominable Snowman, Hermey the Elf, The Heat Miser, the Burgermeister Meisterburger and countless others? In the foreword of a 2001 book about the production company, The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass, Burl Ives said that the popularity of his Sam the Snowman character overshadowed his Oscar performance in The Big Country and his Big Daddy role in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

    2. Unforgettable Songs
    On that note (no pun intended-ha!) every Rankin/Bass special had a soundtrack of catchy tunes. They were often written by Maury Laws, who composed the music and Jules Bass himself, responsible for the lyrics. To this day I remember the words and/or melodies to "the Heat Miser/Snow Miser song", "Silver and Gold", "When Christmas Day is Here", "Turn Back the Years", "Jingle Jangle Jingle" and "Put One Foot in Front of the Other." The Heat Miser song in particular has been so popular that it's been covered by rock and punk bands. 



    3. Developed Plots
    Well, developed for children's programming, anyway. Did any of us know the "real" story behind Santa Claus, Baby New Year and Peter Cottontail before Rankin/Bass? Most stories often began with a narrator--looking exactly like the famous actor/celebrity voicing him. 

    There also seemed to be an underlying message in many of the Rankin-Bass specials about accepting others who are different--how many of us felt sorry for Rudolph when the other reindeer wouldn't let him join in reindeer games due to his red nose? Or Hermey the Elf with his aspirations of dentistry? Or Nestor the donkey with his long ears? Or Baby New Year with his huge ears that everyone would laugh at? Likewise, I still get a bit misty eyed when I hear the toys on the Island of Misfit Toys sing about how much they want to be loved by a child on Christmas Day, but were outcasted to the island for being different. 

    I've heard that some kids today can't really get into the old Rankin/Bass specials, and that's a shame. Perhaps the modern animation has them too dazzled, but I'll always appreciate the home runs that Rankin/Bass seemed to hit with every television production they created. 

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    "It isn't true that you live only once. You only die once. You live lots of times, if you know how." - Bobby Darin

    Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of Bobby Darin's death--and considering that he's my favorite entertainer of all time, I couldn't let another day slip by without spreading some love for my Bobby D. Notice that I chose the word entertainer to describe him in lieu of singer or musician. That's because Bobby Darin, as his diehard fans already know, possessed talent that was way more multi-faceted than just being a crooner. So many of today's fame whores from Miley Cyrus to Kanye West are nothing but posers with overinflated opinions of themselves; Darin was the real deal. He wrote catchy songs that spanned several genres and composed instrumental music, had mastered several instruments by the time he was a teen, was intelligent, involved in social and political causes and even scored an Oscar nomination. If you think that the only thing Bobby Darin contributed to the world was "Mack the Knife", think again. The man was so amazing that when his son, Dodd Darin, interviewed friends of his father for his biography about his parents, "Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Dreams of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee," he said they often burst into tears while waxing nostalgia about his dad; so beloved that he was. Here are ten things most non-Darin fans probably don't know about him...

    1. He Wasn't Expected to Live Past His 16th Birthday
    Born in 1936, Walden Robert Cassotto (Darin's real name) was said by his family to be undersized and frail as an infant, and prone to sickness and accidents. Growing up in the Bronx during the WWII era--before many vaccinations and antibiotics were discovered--Bobby Darin contracted rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease that can develop a few weeks after a person is infected with strep throat or scarlet fever. In Darin's case, he battled the disease four times between the age of 8 and 13. The disease affected his joints so badly he was in constant pain during that time, and attacked his heart valves, plaguing him with health problems for the rest of his life; later in his career, he would have to fortify himself with oxygen backstage in between songs during performances. 


    Rheumatic fever led to the first defining moment in Darin's young life when he overheard the doctor treating him tell his family that, even with the best of care, "the boy will not live to see his 16th birthday." Bobby decided that he was going to prove the doctor wrong, that he would become a showbiz legend by the time he was 25, and that he was going to shoehorn as much into life as he could. That included trying to learn pretty much anything and everything he was interested in--from harness racing to tennis (which was the only sport, try as he might, he just couldn't get the hang of.) Unlike so many of us, Darin didn't procrastinate; he couldn't afford to. And when he set his mind to accomplish something, he didn't let anything stand in his way. Unfortunately, this imminent death bomb hanging over his head also made him brash, controlling and arrogant at times--but Bobby expected nothing less than perfection when it came to delivering performances for his fans. 

    2. The Woman He Thought Was His Sister Was Really His Mother
    Nina Cassotto, Darin's mother, was 16 years old when she found out she was pregnant. She never revealed who the father was, not even to her own family, and--perhaps due to the social stigma at the time--it was decided that Darin's grandmother, Polly, would raise him as her own son and Nina would masquerade as his sister. 

    Darin didn't learn the truth about his mother until he was 32 years old and already a star. He may never had found out if it weren't for the fact that he was getting involved with Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign and hinting that politics was something he was thinking of getting involved with himself. The revelation, combined with the death later that year of Kennedy, was a real kick to the groin. Darin gave away most of his possessions (including a suitcase phone, the world's first mobile phone) to his friends and hightailed it to the Big Sur area of California with an Airstream trailer in tow. For several months, he lived in his trailer and began writing folk songs in what became his most creative and prolific period.  

    Grandma Polly had experience with music and vaudeville herself, but one has to wonder what kind of background Darin's father came from...and if he ever saw his son perform and know that it was his child? One of those mysteries from music history that unfortunately, will never be solved.  


    3. He Recorded Pretty Much Every Genre of Music
    Bobby Darin wasn't afraid to take chances with music. While he started his career successfully as a rock and roll teen idol, he knew that bubblegum pop would only take him so far down the road. One night he went to see the play The Threepenny Opera, and decided that he was going to record a swing arrangement of the production's signature song, "Mack the Knife", a German ditty about the murderous thug in the cast of characters, Macheath. Dick Clark thought he was crazy--advising Bobby not to record since he risked alienating his teenage audience. Luckily for us, Darin didn't listen to him. The song was recorded in December 1958 and Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records recalled telling Darin that he nailed it after the first take. It was released as a single in August 1959.  By October 5th, 1959, the song rose to No.1 on the national Billboard chart and remained in that position for 9 weeks, earning him a Record-of-the-Year Grammy award for 1959. 

    But Darin didn't stop there. He dabbled in country-western, folk, blues, and even gospel. Darin's personality and passion is evident in just about anything he sang. I've heard one male fan say that Darin is the only singer who could make him like the song "Mame." His vocals were equally adept on showstopper Broadway numbers as they were on covers of gentle John Sebastian compositions. On the catchy "Me and Mr. Hohner", a song he wrote about police brutality against hippies, he even does an early style of rap: 



    During the time this song was released, Darin was going by Bob Darin in concerts and on television appearances, because he said it made his name sound more like Bob Dylan.  Darin's manager, Steve Blauner, described the music Darin was churning out during this period of his career as "absolutely brilliant." Audiences, however, didn't take kindly to Darin's new found persona during this time; it didn't help that he was sporting a mustache, dressing in denim and refusing to perform "Mack the Knife." After too many boos and walks outs, Darin met them in the middle and went back to wearing a tux and incorporating his classic hits into his set lists. 

    And speaking of Bob Dylan, Darin was not only a fan of his, but of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and pretty much anyone else on the rock and roll scene during the 1960s. He saw The Beatles and The Stones in concert (and had to put up with Mick Jagger making fun of his sharkskin suit after a performance.) 

    I have no doubt that had he lived, Bobby Darin would have embraced and covered the music of the 1980s. 

    Two of my favorite songs written by Darin during the mid and late 1960s are "Change" and "Distractions", the latter being performed on The Tom Jones Show





    4. He Really Wanted to Be An Actor
    Darin once confessed that given the option of singing or acting, he would have loved to have been an actor. As it is, he was given decent roles in many films over the length of his career, starting with Come September, where he met his first wife, Sandra Dee, and ending with a 1973 Ron Howard film, Happy Mother's Day, Love George. Unlike Elvis, he managed to get offered parts that didn't pigeon hole him into playing himself. He played a Nazi sympathizer opposite Sidney Poiter in 1962's Pressure Point. But it was his portrayal of a soldier dealing with flashbacks after the war in 1963's Captain Newman, M.D. that earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. Darin also made several appearances in television series and specials throughout his career. 

    And did you know that he was a master imitator of other celebrities? Here's one of the comedic routines that Darin would perform in concert where he impersonates Marlon Brando, Cary Grant, W.C. Fields and others:

     



    5. He Loved the Ladies--and They Loved Him
    Most female fans (including myself) would agree that Darin oozed enormous sex appeal, despite the fact that offstage he was a bit insecure about his height and hair loss (he began wearing a small hairpiece early is his career and you can't even tell.) Marcie Blane's 1962 novelty hit "Bobby's Girl" could have been written about Darin. In "Dream Lovers" his son wrote that his dad would often disappear and go off on benders for days at a time--not to drink and take drugs, but to enjoy sexual escapades with women. Darin's Uncle Charlie, who raised him as his dad, pretty much played pimp one day while Darin was in his teens to introduce him to the female body and like most heterosexual men, from that day forth Darin couldn't get enough. 

    He pursued actress and America's sweetheart Sandra Dee relentlessly on the set of Come September until he won her over, and even flirted with Dee's overbearing stage mother Mary to get closer to Sandy. Mama was none too pleased when she discovered Darin's true affections. Darin and Dee were married for 7 years, from 1960 to 1967--but according to Dodd Darin's book, the couple continued to rendezvous and share a roof from time to time. Dee never dated another man after Darin passed away in 1973. In 1973, Darin married for the second time to Andrea Yeager, a secretary from his record company. 

    At one time or another, Darin was linked with JoAnn Campbell, Bonnie Carroll, Keely Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Judi Meredith, Judy Harriet, June Blair, Jayne Mansfield, Linda Cristal and Diane Hartford. But there was one lady who really regretted not marrying him, and that was Connie Francis. The reason why is number 6 on this list...


    6. He Was Almost Shot By Connie Francis' Father

    Darin was hired as a songwriter for Francis early in their careers. After a few weeks, Darin and Francis fell in love. For reasons unknown, Francis' strict Italian father strongly disapproved of Darin--maybe it was because of the rumors that Darin's grandfather worked for the mafia and died in Sing-Sing prison. Darin orchestrated a plan to have Francis run away with him and elope, but when her father caught wind of the idea he ran Darin out of the building at gunpoint, telling him to never see his daughter again.

    Francis saw Darin twice more–once when the two were scheduled to sing together for a television show, and again when Francis was a guest on This Is Your Life. By the time of the show taping, Darin was married to Sandra Dee Dee. In her autobiography Francis declared that she never did fall out of love with Bobby Darin, and that not marrying him was the biggest mistake of her life. 

      
    7. He Was Involved in Political and Social Causes
    Darin's dream was to perform at the Copacabana nightclub; when he got the gig shortly after hitting it big with "Mack the Knife," the club's owner refused to hire the African American comedian that Darin wanted for the opening act. Darin retaliated by threatening a sit-in outside the club in protest; the club owner gave it. He was also present at the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Later, Darin would get involved in Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign and was at Ambassador Hotel when Kennedy was assassinated. 

    Darin also wrote and recorded an anti-Vietnam song, "We Didn't Ask To Be Brought Here" (carefully disguised as a love song, as was the norm back then.) But one of his masterpieces is clearly "Simple Song of Freedom," a peace aria I'd even put in the same category as John Lennon's "Imagine." Singer Tim Hardin had a minor hit with it, and it became a staple at many of Darin's concerts. 




    8. He Was a Member of Mensa
    Jay Tell, a friend of Bobby Darin, wrote on the 30th anniversary of his passing that Darin was a member of Mensa with an IQ of 137, which is only found in the top 2% of the population. He graduated from the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, a difficult school to get into even if you're considered gifted. He was a chess fan, toting a magnetic chess set with him on movie sets and often explaining chess moves in detail on his variety TV show in between song numbers and comedy sketches. It's been also said that Darin had a memory to rival an elephant's; he could meet a fan once and years later remember their name and face. 


    9. He Had His Own Variety TV Show
    Like so many other singers of 1970s, Darin hosted his own variety show, The Bobby Darin Amusement Company, which premiered on NBC in July of 1972. The show was a replacement for Dean Martin's show, and among its guest stars included George Burns, Donald O'Connor, Joan Rivers, Dusty Springfield, and Burt Reynolds. Some of the characters that Darin appeared as included Groucho Marx, Dusty John Dustin, a long-haired poet/hippie, and "the Godmother," a spoof on The Godfather which had been released that same year. 

    The show returned for a second season on January 19, 1973 (the same day I turned one year old) and had been renamed The Bobby Darin Show, updated with an emphasis on Darin performing his classic hits and the latest chart toppers and less comedy routines. Alas, I've seen some clips of The Bobby Darin Amusement Company which really weren't all that amusing, so this was a wise choice. Darin commented that his friend Flip Wilson constantly reminded him that he was not a comedian, to which he would remind Flip that he was not a singer. 

    10. He Donated His Body to Medical Science
    1973 was the year that Darin's health began to fail rapidly. It's been speculated that a lack of the proper amount of oxygen to his brain resulted in memory lapses. As a heart patient, Darin had to take antibiotics before visiting the dentist as a precaution, but (perhaps due to his failing memory) did not take them before a dental procedure in 1973. That led to a blood infection and more damage being done to one of his heart valves. He entered the hospital in December 1973 and a team of surgeons tried to repair the damage, but he died in the recovery room, alone, on the morning of December 20, 1973, without regaining consciousness. The ticking clock that Darin raced against his entire life had finally caught up with him. 

    Darin's will decreed that his body was to be donated to medical science; it went to the UCLA Medical Center shortly after his death. It's grim to think of young medical students dissecting Darin's body; there was no funeral, and no memorial or gravesite exists for him. Perhaps he didn't want his loved ones to think of him as truly dead. 

    Kevin Spacey, who portrayed Darin in his self-produced biopic Beyond the Sea, once said in an interview that Bobby Darin "had a bad heart, but he was all heart." I know that he's still in the hearts of his fans and if love was all that was needed to save somebody's life, he'd still be with us today. 

    Here's some clips of Bobby performing his best-known songs:












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    I find it amazing that out of the hundreds of channels I receive in my cable subscription not a single one of them is devoted to health and fitness. There's never been a greater need for one. Americans continue to get fatter and unhealthier and nearly every week it seems there's a news story about our growing obesity problem, yet an exercise show featuring at-home workouts is apparently as elusive as the Tooth Fairy as we head into 2014.

    Ironically, we had them when people were skinnier. I've mentioned Jack LaLanne on here a few times--and I bring him up again because he pioneered the concept of a fitness television show with exercises that one could do in the comfort of their home, in front of the set. The Jack LaLanne Show premiered in 1951 and ran until 1985. It was the longest running exercise program. LaLanne incorporated household objects that anyone had lying around, such as a chair, for viewers to participate. My mother loved it. She was a stay-at-home mom and the exercises helped her stay in shape. In addition to workout moves, LaLanne also doled out recipes and nutrition advice. 

    The 1980s saw a fitness revolution and growing up during that decade, I remember Richard Simmons having his own daytime morning show that incorporated exercises. I also remember Body by Jake, hosted by Hollywood trainer Jack Steinfeld, as well as 20 Minute Workout, a Canadian show which featured a bevy of aerobic wear-clad women demonstrating moves on a rotating platform (which makes me wonder how many male viewers were tuning in, not necessarily to work out.)

    Now? Nothing. Instead of giving people something healthy and productive to do, TV and cable is overrun with reality TV programs...some of them, such as Man v. Food, even promote shoveling as much unhealthy s*it as you possibly can down your throat. Sure, you can look up free workouts online, but I think there really needs to be an exercise TV or cable show during the daytime or even in the early evening--something that people can DVR and watch when they have time to work out.  

    The likely reason why such shows no longer exist is because no one would watch them. There were two fitness channels on cable around 6 years ago, called Exercise TV and Fit TV, and both bit the dust after only a couple of years on the air. So, as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. I've blogged before about why today's society is so fat, and unfortunately, too many people don't seem to get that healthy eating and exercising is a lifestyle change, not something you do for a week and then give up on. Maybe if the networks at least tested an exercise show about this time of year, when people are making New Year's resolutions, they just might be able to make it stick around for a while--Lord knows we could use one. 

    Here's some clips from The Jack LaLanne Show, 20 Minute Workout, and Body by Jake. The 20 Minute Workout is VERY dated and comical! 






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  • 01/10/14--16:56: A Song's Story #4: Popcorn

  • I was watching The Millers the other night when they used the instrumental "Popcorn" as background music for a funny sequence. Being that it's such a contagiously quirky tune I hadn't heard in a while, I found myself looking it up today, starting with a search that included "Kraftwerk" and "80s." And that's when I discovered the shocking and somewhat embarrassing (for me) truth about this song...

    "Popcorn" has nothing to do with Kraftwerk or the 1980s. It was composed and released by Gershon Kingsley...in 1969. It was one of the tracks on Kingsley's album, Music to Moog By, a collection of songs played on a Moog synthesizer. Kingsley himself has said that he came up with the main melody in 30 seconds. And the reason for naming it "Popcorn" apparently has nothing to do with the melody emulating popcorn kernels popping, but a studio engineer's observation that "pop" stood for pop music and "corn" for corny, or kitsch. Go figure. 



    Folks who were around in 1972 remember the appropriately named band Hot Butter taking on a cover of the song--which is the version heard in the The Millers, and which I incorrectly attributed to Kraftwerk. In fact, the song has been covered by everyone from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Muse, but not Kraftwerk. I probably got that from someone mislabeling it on Napster back in the day!

    Hot Butter's version was an international hit, reaching #1 on the music charts in Australia, Germany, France, Finland, Switzerland, Norway, and the Netherlands. It reached #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100. 

    Since then the song has permeated pop culture and has been used in TV commercials, movies, video games (including Digger and Pengo), Dance Dance Revolution and more. Mr. Wick even played it on the harp on The Drew Carey Show. Listening to Kingsley's original Moog composition, you'd swear it was just recorded today. 

    And no matter what that studio engineer said, the song sure sounds like popcorn popping to me--and always gives me a serious craving for the crunchy snack!

    Here's Kingsely's original version, followed by Hot Butter (with dancers!) and my personal favorite, The Muppets, covering the song:






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    I've been knitting since I was 10 years old, so trust me when I say I've come across some horrendous knitting patterns in that time, which includes the 1980s and 1990s decades, after all. Other retro blogs have also showcased bizarre 1970s-era fashions to knit ranging from dickies to bodysuits for men. 

    But nothing could prepare me for the knitwear booklet cover above, that I found on the appropriately-named blog The Knitting Needle and the Damage Done

    This is, without a doubt, the....Worst. Knitting. Idea. Ever.

    Gee, do I want to begin with making the Klan hood? Or maybe one of the rapist starter kits? 

    The ONLY conceivable idea I can dream up for wanting this knitting pattern would be to use Fun Fur yarn and knit yourself a Wolfman mask for Halloween. But even that's a stretch. And the saddest thing to me, as a knitter, was learning that the patterns were designed by Meg Swansen. That name may not mean much to the average person, but Swansen is the daughter of Elizabeth Zimmerman, a VERY talented knitwear designer and former columnist of Vogue Knitting, among other prestigious knitwear achievements!

    I'm creeped out looking at it. I got even more creeped out when I realized the father looks like he's sticking his tongue out and that the kid in front is poking the apple pie with his finger. Wait a minute...what is the point of putting an apple pie in the shot? The marketing people must have figured putting a warm, homey apple pie would tone down the unsettling feeling and make us think this was a nice, average, all-American family. 

    When they're not carrying out robberies and murders on the weekends. 

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    The other day I received the following comment on my latest post from a regular reader of this blog: "Dave Madden and Russell Johnson die, the Captain and Tennille divorce...where are you?" Although it's hard to decipher the tone of comments online sometimes, it did seem just a wee bit demanding in my humble opinion. To tell you the truth, it kind of got on my nerves. No one is paying me to write this blog, so why should anyone tell me what to write about? This same person suggested at one time that I write about Paul Williams. Paul Williams gave me the creeps when I was a kid and he was showing up EVERYWHERE, including my beloved The Muppet Show (no offense to the Paul Williams fans out there. He is a talented and nice guy, but if anything my blog post would be about how his stature,  appearance, and voice gave me the heebie jeebies as a kid. Sorry, but it's true.)  

    Where was I? Or where am I? Ha ha. I must admit that the more I thought about it, the more it seemed a blog post might be in order to enlighten the masses as to why the blog hasn't been getting updated on a more regular basis. The simple answer to the question "where are you?" is quite frankly, I'm freaking busy.   

    For starters, I have a real job...a Monday through Friday, full-time job. If I were out of work I'd probably be putting my heart and soul into Go Retro, and posting on a daily basis. In addition to the day job, I've had a side gig for a few years now managing the social media channels for a manufacturing company...and when we're launching a giveaway on Facebook or when Twitter decides to changes the configurations for their profile pages, that means I have to put in some graphic design work in addition to updating content. The company also has its own blog which I'll admit I have not been updating as often as I would like to.

    During the weeknights, I try to stay off the computer as much as possible. I need that technology break or I'd go nuts and my eyes would be permanently bloodshot. I stick to an exercise routine, and believe it or not, there are some shows on modern TV that I like to watch. Because I also have to have some sort of social life, I organize my own Meetup group. All of this means that Go Retro often gets pushed aside, even on the weekends.

    Also, Go Retro was never intended to be a news site. I simply don't have the time to cover every death and divorce related to those who had their heyday during a past decade. I've done "RIP" posts in the past and too often they end up sounding like, "Someone famous died today. Blah blah blah." And then, understandably, no one wants to comment. It's a drag.  

    Instead, like most bloggers I like to write when the inspiration comes. I'd rather post once a month with some truly inspired commentary than struggle to write boring, half-assed posts several times a week. I'm also not an expert in everyone and everything from the pop culture past. That would be impossible to accomplish. I'm a fan of certain things, and I often learn something new when I have to research for a blog topic.  

    That said, the Facebook page for Go Retro is often where the action is--and retro-related deaths and divorces (including the Captain and Tennille's split; no more muskrat love!) pretty much do get covered there on a regular basis. So check it out and give it a like if you...like.

    I will admit that Go Retro is in a bit of limbo at the moment...I'd like to update the banner, tweak the layout, provide content for the menu headings, and get a better photo to use for my profile picture (another dirty little secret about me is that I don't walk around every day looking like I stepped off the Shindig stage. I have a few 60s-inspired dresses and pieces and that's it. Mostly I'm all about having a classic closet that can take me through the next ten years.)

    If anything, this has made me think about prioritizing my time better, blocking off writing/blog updating time and brainstorming new topics and topic themes to keep it fresh. If I can.  

    So bear with me, GoRetrophiles. Hopefully there's good things to come. Like maybe that Paul Williams post.   

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    With Photoshop so prevalent today, anyone can mock up a fake "vintage" ad. Some are quite obvious...like the ads I've seen for Facebook and Twitter. Others, though, are pretty darn convincing they make you wonder. That's why I thought it would be fun to look at a smattering of ads I've come across online that are either outlandishly authentic or too outlandish to be authentic. Real...or a really good fake? Let's take a look. How many of these would have fooled you?


    These lard ads have been floating around online for the past few years, and they still crack me up. Maybe it's the word lard itself...somehow, saying they're happy because they eat shortening wouldn't pack quite the same punch. 

    The top ad showing the happy family did trick me. The second one with the smiling couple is too good to be true. Indeed, there is a website for the British Lard Marketing Board and it's obviously a parody, but a pretty good one. Here's a sampling of copy from their site: "Lard gets a bad press - why, we don't know. It's nutritional properties are well documented and it's not our fault that some people are too scared to eat it. Go on, live a little - there's nothing like eating a big Sunday roast followed by suet pudding and custard (made with fullfat milk of course) and then sitting back and feeling those arteries harden. Let's face it - Nigella Lawson still looks pretty fit and she eats all sorts of naughty stuff."

    Furthermore, as confirmed by Snopes.com, the ads themselves came from Viz, a British humour magazine. They did other fake advertising campaigns encouraging people to smoke and drink. 

    Verdict: FAKE



    WTF, right? 7up for babies? Let's hope mom and dad have a good dental plan. I've seen some blogs insist that this ad is a forgery but it is, indeed, real! AdAge reported that the campaign was launched during the 1950s. The copy even suggests mixing milk with 7up to entice youngsters to drink their dairy. Try not to dry heave on that thought. Incidentally, there's a cola ad out there floating around also featuring a baby that was determined to be Photoshopped.

    Verdict: REAL

    American WWII propaganda included a lot of unintentionally comical messages about the spreading of STDs. I REALLY wanted this ad, that I discovered on Pinterest, to be real--but let's face it, the word penis never would have been seen in 1940s or 1950s advertising, especially in such large lettering. The other giveaway is the use of the phrase "cavity creeps" in the left side sidebar...cavity creeps are characters from a 1980s television commercial for Crest toothpaste. But you gotta admire the effort here...the cartoon condom at the top of the ad, the "Pleasure Graph" showing how sex with a condom is only marginally less than sex without it, and the tidbit about how condom is the same word in English, French, Spanish and Italian (I did not test this in Google translate to confirm its accuracy.) I applaud the amount of work and humor that went into creating this ad. 

    Verdict: FAKE

    Sex sells, and if you really have to wonder what boobies have to do with shoe polish, then you "don't know s*it from Shinola" as a competitor of Griffin would say. However, the matching of attractive girls with unsexy products--auto parts, computers, etc.--is an advertising practice not commonly seen until the 1970s and 1980s. The Griffin ad above is supposedly from the 1950s. So, what's the dealio?

    Believe it or not, the ad is real. Griffin's mad men created a campaign of cleavage-baring cuties ooo-ing and ahh-ing over Griffin's microsheen boot polish shine. What's weird is that by the 1960s the shoe polish company did an about-face and featured kids in their television commercials. Perhaps they received complaints about the print ads being too sexist?

    Verdict: REAL

    I've seen similar advertisements touting the benefits of video games (done 1950s style) so I was prepared to find out that this one for Motorola was a fake. Better behavior at home, and better marks in school....really? Believe it...this one is real, according to other blog posts written about it. Hey, television was a brand new world in the 1950s--we'll cut Motorola some slack. 

    Verdict: REAL

    The best way to get over a hangover? Have another drink. This morose looking woman looks like she's there sheets to the wind, with a cigarette to boot. I couldn't find the back story on this one, but had the ad featured a cocktail recipe for a screwdriver with a cheerful looking drinker, I might half believe it. However, I'm going to have to go out on a limb here and declare this one a phony. 

    Verdict: FAKE


    Hmmm...why don't I remember this product in stores? At first I thought it was a European personal radio until I realized it's a mocked up 1970s style iPod--just a slick, colorful Photoshop job. I wish it were real. 

    Verdict: FAKE

    I posted this one to the Go Retro Facebook page yesterday because it had me cracking up. The honeymoon's over, kids. Time to find out what marriage is REALLY all about--housework!--when the Mrs. comes home to find The Addis Wedding Set (code name for Housewife Starter Kit) at the front door. At least it's available in some snappy colors, including tangerine, gold, or avocado. Gosh, what blushing bride wouldn't want to receive this as a coming home gift?

    If this ad were out today, it would surely be a fake, as everyone would declare it sexist. But as it came out (I'm guessing) during the 1980s, no one batted an eye. What comes in the husband's Addis Wedding Set? Brandy, slippers, and a robe?

    Verdict: REAL

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    Don't get me wrong; I love The Beatles. 

    I just don't LOVE The Beatles. At least, not the way I used to. 

    The 22 year-old in me is probably a bit pissed at my 42 year-old self about this revelation. You see, twenty years ago I was a full-fledged, self-confessed Beatlemaniac. I practically ate, drank, and slept Beatles (it also means I probably shat them out as well.) It all started when a high school friend and I went to see a cover band play--ironically--at our high school. I was 20 years old. Before the band hit the stage, my friend and I were just having a conversation about how absolutely batshit crazy we thought Beatles fans were in the 1960s: crying, screaming, idol-obsessed wackos, beating their hands against their breasts and crotches. 

    Two-and-a-half hours later, I was probably bruising my own private parts with Fab Four-induced delirium. The Beatles bug had bit me--hard. But it wasn't just the fact that they were cute with their little dark moptops. It was the music, man, the music! So. Deep. I quickly took a liking anything they recorded after 1965. 

    Later that year, I learned about a fun phone number called The Beatlephone, run by the late and great Beatles expert extraordinare, Joe Pope. Joe and I became friends and penpals (this was back in the day before email existed, so receiving a typed letter in the mail from Joe was a treat.) I also subscribed to his fanzine publication, the aptly named Strawberry Fields Forever. But the Beatlephone was a unique concept--a Boston-based phone number with a voicebox that Joe had set up where he could record about 2 minutes of the latest Beatles news, and allow fans to leave messages with their own news bits that he often passed along. Joe didn't realize at the time (well, none of us did) that he was pioneering social media with this concept. And Joe was a full-fledged RIOT; a creative, hilarious, talented man--all of which shone through in his magazine and phone commentary. I was a faithful caller and subscriber to SFF until he passed away of cancer in 1999. 

    Joe's death definitely knocked the stuffing out of being a Beatles fan--he was so closely associated with the group in the Beatlemaniac community that it was as if a fifth Beatle or their manager you knew personally had died. After a few years, I moved on. I had no choice. I explored other vintage singers and bands--and became a big Bobby Darin fan as most people know. Once in a while, I did listen to a Beatles album on purpose--and to be honest, it hurt my heart knowing that Joe was no longer with us. 



    Now the world is getting ready to recognize the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show--Monday, February 9, to be exact. The marquee outside of David Letterman's studio was revised to appear exactly as it did on February 9, 1964, and there will be a tribute show airing on CBS Sunday night called “The Beatles: The Night That Changed America-A Grammy Salute." 

    Yawn. As the anniversary looms closer, I'm realizing how ambivalent I am about the whole occasion. It kind of narrows down to these reasons:

    No Joe Pope around to provide witty commentary and news about the anniversary. 
    It just plain sucks. No need to elaborate. 

    We only have the Fab Two now. 
    No offense to Paul and Ringo, but that kinda sucks. Even without John Lennon, I'd love to see a Beatles "reunion" on a stage if George were still with us. After The Beatles broke up in 1970, one would occasionally end up in another's music studio to play or sing on each other's songs. It just isn't anything special or remarkable. 

    Paul McCartney's music ever since Linda passed away is pretty meh (in my opinion, anyway.)
    I mean, have you heard this new "Queenie Eye" song? I'd rather listen to "Temporary Secretary." And "peace and love, peace and love, stop sending me fan mail you mother&^%ers" Ringo...well, we won't go there. I do love "Give Me Back the Beat" though. That should have been a bona fide top 40 hit!

    Speaking of Linda, things hit the skids after she passed away, too. 
    It took me a while to warm up to Linda but once I did, I admired her for her down-to-earthness and love of animals. After she passed away, the world was introduced to Heather Mills. Enough said. At least we still have Yoko, right? Hmmmm. (Just kidding. I actually have a ton of respect for Yoko, too.)

    I don't really care for covers of Beatles music. 
    It may be a strange thing, but I never really enjoy it when others cover Beatles music. A friend gave me the soundtrack to I Am Sam years ago and I only listened to it once. I think it's because the group added so many unique nuances to their tunes (unusual instruments, snippets being played backwards, etc.) that the songs are cemented in my cerebral cortex to sound best when played that way. Ain't nothing like the real thing, as the old saying goes. 

    1964 Wasn't When the Band Was Actually Formed
    Everyone is acting like the band didn't exist until their Ed Sullivan Show appearance, but in reality the band had already been making waves in the UK a year prior to that. British fans were already stir-crazy over them, and suddenly had to share them with us celebrity-obessed Americans. Ringo joined the band in 1962; hence, the now-infamous line up of the group was formed. But we're talking 1962--how come there wasn't more hoopla over the 50th anniversary of THAT date? 

    Instead of watching the CBS special, I think it would be more interesting to watch the original Ed Sullivan Show that aired that night in its entirety. Besides a young Davy Jones, you get a feel for the torturous wait the producers put Beatles fans through as they had to sit through Ed talking to Topo Gigio and contortionists spinning plates on their heads (OK, I'm speculating on those last acts.)

    I've always said that The Beatles are classic; you can put them away for a period of time and when you dust off and play one of their records, the songs are just as fresh and new as the first time you heard them. So maybe that's what I'm waiting for. Waiting for that passion to return. 

    Are you excited about the 50th anniversary? Or could you care less? 

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    Note: all images, photos and videos in this post are used with the permission of Andrew Golub. Big thanks for allowing me to share them!

    Think you are a Duran Duran fan? Well, chances are you haven't met Andrew Golub. Golub's love for the group easily rivals that of all of my squealing, pin-wearing, locker wallpapering, Duran-mad friends from middle school combined. 

    Andy Golub was 12 years old the day he heard the Duran Duran song "The Reflex" coming from the radio. Little did he know at the time that the hooky 1980s hit by the British band would spark a serious craving for all things Duran--earning him the nickname "Durandy" (a little twist on the moniker for the band's fans, Duranies) from a radio DJ after numerous requests from Golub for their songs. Soon he became the proud owner of the album "Seven and the Ragged Tiger" on cassette tape. Today he is the proud owner of more than 1,500 posters, over 10,000 pages of magazine articles, 150 books and several items of memorabilia all related to the endearing New Wave boy band. 

    It's a superfan passion that culminated recently in the publication of a new book called Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran--a lush, visual love letter to the group that showcases a selection of posters and printed memorabilia from the band's history, capturing them in their 1980s eye popping hues, hair gel wearing, makeup coated glory. It's a labor of love sure to satisfy the most diehard of Durandies, containing magazine promos, tour posters, A View To A Kill film posters and even memorabilia dedicated to spinoff bands The Power Station and Arcadia. Golub's fiancee, Christine Born, was the photographer on the project and the book includes a foreword by Nick Rhodes himself.  

    Golub recently spoke to Go Retro about the book's inspiration and his admiration for the band:


    Go Retro: What inspired you to begin collecting everything Duran Duran related that you could get your hands on? Did you have any idea the posters would make for a great book someday?


    Golub exhibiting his first Duran Duran poster collection, circa 2001
    Golub: I’ve always been a visual person, especially drawn to dramatics: the biggest, the greatest, the only… so that high standard was already hardwired into my DNA. Anything I set my mind to, I want to do it the very best I can. When my collection started to take shape, I was always aware of my focus, which has grown more specific over the years; I was interested in artifacts that had been generated in finite amounts, like magazine articles, posters, and special promotional items—essentially paper-based ephemera. As my collection evolved, the focus became more refined. Keychains and bumper stickers took a backseat to rare posters, limited photographic prints, and special memorabilia issued by fan clubs and record companies. 

    However, the posters have always been the heart of the collection. Such mementos have an innate connection to the band’s history, as well as the fan community, simply due to the posters’ intended use: advertising a single concert in a specific town, attended by a limited amount of people; that one evening becomes the backdrop for stories and experiences shared by everyone  lucky enough to be there. When I consider how many posters I have acquired over three decades, I realize my archive is full of memories, not just memorabilia.

    A book now seems like it was a logical decision. I’ve always envisioned ways that my collection can be enjoyed by fans whenever they want, wherever they may be. When that goal was linked with a wish to celebrate Duran Duran’s career like never before, the result became Beautiful Colors.
    Go Retro: You have some unique DD memorabilia in your collection, including a Duran Duran board game. What is your most prized possession in your collection, and why? 

    Golub: I am particularly proud of, and a bit amazed at the number of posters I’ve found from the band’s formative years. My book includes several of these: two promos from when Duran were supporting Hazel O’Connor on the road, and two posters from early gigs at The Rum Runner (a Birmingham club where the band rehearsed and refined their sound). The archive is full of rarities, but these early posters carry such historic gravity. The further time passes, and the more Duran Duran accomplishes, the more significance these posters take on. I’ve always felt one can better appreciate where the band is now, when one appreciates where they’ve been. 

    Among the unique items lurking in the archive, one will find a pair of binoculars from Japan, a casino chip from Las Vegas, a 3-D foldout poster (with glasses), a bottle of hot sauce from 1985 (related to Power Station promotion), a condom from the 1993 tour (in original packaging), a briefcase, tote, and zippered purse from an ’84 merchandising campaign…. the list goes on and grows even more colorful! The breadth of memorabilia helps paint a picture of a band whose appeal has spanned continents and generations.
    Go Retro: Duran Duran had a huge following of female fans when I was in middle school; not so much male fans. What did you girlfriend/fiancee think when she first learned about your Duran Duran obsession? 

    Golub: I asked her, and she apparently had heard of me prior to our first meeting. Yet, she decided to stay. Fortunately, Christine nurtured her own affection for the band, and I enjoy contemplating how her collection really took off after we joined forces! Christine focuses her efforts on Duran’s vast audio catalogue, with thousands of vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, and cassettes - a jaw-dropping array housed in archival boxes, bags, and sleeves. It’s fun to watch visitors to the archive select their favorite categories to see first: visual vs audio! I imagine it could feel a bit like a chocolate enthusiast walking into Willy Wonka’s factory. Without the Oompa-Loompas.


    Golub presenting his specially made poster to the group in 2005
    Go Retro: Beatlemaniacs usually have a favorite Beatle--who is your favorite member of Duran Duran and why? Or, which one would you have most wanted to be during their 80s career?

    Golub: A favorite Duran… just about impossible for me to say! Not for diplomacy, but each member truly resonates with me on a different level. I suppose I may have the most in common with Nick and John—each of them are so brilliantly visual-minded, and they both maintain their own collections of band memorabilia. Being either member in the ‘80s would have been absolutely amazing… Nick for the impeccable sense of style and culture, and John for the enduring, inspiring love of music and groove. Perhaps also for his ability to make women swoon, but then again, that talent is not at all limited to one member! 
    GoRetro: Is there another Duran Duran or 80s-related project you're working on for your next big thing? Maybe a fan fiction novel for fellow Durandies?

    The archivist carefully removing paper from a poster
    Golub: I distinctly remember promising Christine I would give her a rest after Beautiful Colors went to print, so no more books for a while! I know the rest of the year will likely be spent promoting the book and exploring ways to take it further. I wish I could have signed copies for everyone, so I’d love to someday travel to meet and thank the people who were kind enough to want Beautiful Colors for their own. An exhibition built around the book would also be a dream. In the meantime, I look forward to improving my website and using it to make the archive more accessible to fans around the world. With over 10,000 pages of magazine articles, I have my work cut out for me. 

    There’s also the exciting prospect of Duran Duran’s upcoming fourteenth studio album, slated for release later this year! With each new album, there’s always a renewed hunt for posters, which will only intensify when the inevitable next tour gets underway. I smile when I think of how I have to prepare for each tour right along with the band! In every country, every town, and every show, history will be made; the band will weave their magic, the fans will be overjoyed, and I will be committed to capturing the memories.

    Reviews of the book have been nothing short of spectacular; check out Golub's site Durandy Productions to see and learn more and to purchase the book (you can also purchase it for $75 at Amazon.)

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