Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

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

older | 1 | 2 | (Page 3) | 4 | 5 | .... | 25 | newer

    0 0

    Were you on Team Atari or Team Intellivision in the 80s? There were other home gaming consoles on the market at this time, but it seems these two companies were the main contenders battling it out in ads and commercials.

    Like so many other kids, I had an Atari 2600. My best friend from the time had Intellivision. I only remember playing it a couple of times at her house and to be honest, I recall not being terribly impressed. Sure, it had the "better" graphics compared to Atari (which sounds hilarious now considering how far gaming technology has come) but the selection of available games fell short compared to the list Atari eventually accumulated and licensed. The flat controller with its keypad was cumbersome for someone used to Atari's joystick.

    The Atari 2600 was released in 1977, and quickly became a popular gaming system. Intellivision was developed by Mattel in 1979 and was marketed as "intelligent television." They got writer George Plimpton--an odd choice for a spokesman, since most kids didn't know who he was--to star in a series of snooty ads and TV commercials explaining why Intellivision trumped the Atari 2600. 

     

    Atari tried to say that the Intellivision console didn't have any space games, then Intellivision counteracted with this spot that featured a kid dressed like George Plimpton:

     

    This one starring Henry Thomas from E.T.is weird--Henry is starstruck by "Mr. Intellivision" and it is ironic considering the E.T. video game was developed for Atari. 



    Mattel got into hot water when they started to build up hype by hinting at a new accessory for Intellivision which it called a "Keyboard Component." This was a piece of technology with extra RAM that your Intellivision would be inserted into, turning the whole system into a personal home computer. The Keyboard Component became a marketing disaster, getting delayed several times so that engineers could resolve its reliability problems and make it cheaper to produce. When Jay Leno performed at Mattel's Christmas party in 1981, one of his jokes was, "You know what the three big lies are, don't you? 'The check is in the mail,' 'I'll respect you in the morning,' and 'The Keyboard will be out in spring.'" Things got so bad that the FTC accused Mattel of fraud and false advertising, and ordered the company to pay a fine of $10,000 daily until the system upgrade was widely available in retail stores. By the fall of 1982, Intellivision officially canceled the Keyboard Component. 

    Meanwhile, Atari was racking up the accessories and games:



    Intellivision would release new versions and variations of its system but in my opinion, it never cemented itself into pop culture notoriety like the Atari 2600 did. Which one did you own--or like the best?

    0 0

    I was hoping when 2013 rolled around that I'd get the opportunity to do another giveaway on Go Retro. That opportunity presented itself when NobleWorksCards.com reached out to me to offer a retro greeting card assortment to one of my readers. I've posted about the decline of greeting cards a while back, so here's your chance to keep a retro trend going!

    Entering is easy--just take a look at NobleWorks' retro card collection starting here and leave a comment letting us know which design you like the best. I'll put all of the names in a random pick generator online and will announce the winner on Monday, February 11. You must have an actual commenter name with a link to an active email address...so if you're posting as an anonymous commenter, please provide that info and your name with your comment to qualify. 

    Want an extra entry? Take to Twitter and mention my blog & handle in a tweet -- @GoRetroPam. Good luck, everyone!

    0 0


    I get some messages on OKCupid that are real doozies, but this latest one really took the cake:

    Guys are that observant. We just know your fair looks nice. We not concearned with how women get the way they look. We are just happy they look nice. 
    It s funny someone noticed a Victoria secret catalog in a photo I sent of cookies I made. 
    But very nice profile I hope your search goes well 


    What the...what? I have NO idea what this man was trying to say. There isn't anything in my profile that talks about men being concerned about looks. Victoria's Secret catalog...cookies...what? Not to mention the spelling mistakes. I assume he meant "hair" and not "fair." The message sounds like Cookie Monster wrote it. One initial thought was that English wasn't his second language. Anyways, it was so bizarre and non-sensical I simply had to respond:

    Excuse me--is this an actual response to my profile? This message makes zero sense and is full of spelling and grammatical errors. NEXT.

    He responded with this:

    It was intended ado kind note. Sorry about that. My sense of humor does not translate well sometimes. My apologies. 
    I was typing on my phone 


    Yep, I could have guessed as much. The friggin' smartphone. Texting mistakes. More importantly, the inability to see how much of a doofus you come across as when you send someone on an online dating site a sloppy message that you texted up that's filled with spelling and grammar errors but oddly enough, no relevancy to anything whatsoever. (Sense of humor? His message was supposed to be funny?) By the way, I looked at this guy's profile after the fact and was baffled to see that he apparently was born in the U.S. and that he actually wrote a normal sounding profile. 

    Not long ago I took a virtual dating trip around the world and viewed the profiles of guys in other countries. Amazingly, their profiles were written in far more impeccable English than a lot of American men's profiles. They seem to care more about first impressions and a few stated that they hoped their English was good enough to read. (They also dress and present themselves better than a lot of American guys online, but that's another post for another time.)

    So what the hell has happened to communication skills? I guess technology has killed them--but that's still no excuse to me. 

    I'm seeing moronic messages from strangers more and more and I don't like it one bit. I got a message a few weeks ago from a girl who wanted to sell Mary Kay to my social group members. Her message was exhausting to read as it was essentially one long run-on sentence with no punctuation or capitalization. 

    I really want to ask these people that if they applied for a job this way, do they think they would get an interview? If you take a test on your way to becoming a doctor or lawyer by writing like you're in the 4th grade, do you think you would pass the exam? Why would you think anyone should take you seriously when you communicate like a caveman? If the texting keypad on your phone causes you to make several mistakes, then why not type a proper email using a friggin' computer?

    And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. This report that American students lack writing skills was no surprise to me. Maybe school administrators need to wrench their phones and tablets from their hands while they're in the classroom. 

    Maybe I'm being harsh, but first impressions are everything and from now on, if one can't bother to spell or write a coherent sentence, they're not worth my time. The sad part is a lack of basic writing skills has now become expected; accepted, even, because of texting. Well, I simply cannot accept it. I didn't graduate from high school, go through college, hold jobs and start a blog with shitty language skills. 

    Call it having standards. 

    0 0

    Joanna of ChristmasTVHistory! Joanna received two entries since she also tweeted about the giveaway. Congrats, Joanna, and my apologies that it took longer than expected to choose a winner. I will be in touch with you to get your mailing address for the cards.

    0 0

    I'm a little late to the game; as I post this, Valentine's Day is just about over. However, I can't let it go by without posting some of these great vintage cards I found via Flickr. There were lots of cute V-Day cards featuring fuzzy animals and Peanuts characters back in the day and when I was growing up. However, these define explanation--they're just downright creepy; sure to scare your Valentine rather than put them in the mood for sexy times. Some of them leave me so speechless they're best presented without commentary. 

    Via pageofbats, flickr
    Nothing says romance like an arm bathed in blood while doing a little butchery.
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr

    Via It's Just Jack, flickr

    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr

    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Something about this illustration reminds me of Eraserhead; never a good thing. 

    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    What is it with these creepy characters in some of these cards? This butler has crazy eyes; I'm deeply suspicious about the origins of the heart he's carrying. 
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    Via It's Just Jack, flickr
    I think the best thing about this card is that it was a Hallmark.

    I hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day!

    0 0
  • 02/17/13--13:50: The Mystique of Bettie Page
  • Photo via photobucket
    As a heterosexual woman, I never had much of an inkling to look up Bettie Page videos and photos until one of my readers and fellow bloggers, Cliff from Burping Canary Feathers, mentioned her appeal to me. After giving myself a crash course in Bettie's career, I can see why she was referred to as "The Queen of the Pin-Ups", "The Dark Angel", and "The Tease From Tennessee." With her voluptuous figure (Betty's measurements of her chest and hips were almost exactly the same, paired with a tiny waist), trademark black hair and bangs and fun-loving, flirty attitude in front of the camera, Bettie became THE top American pin-up girl from 1950 to 1957. And then--at the height of her career in 1957--she abruptly walked away from it all. That's the mystery of Bettie which seems to have no easy answers, even from Bettie herself. 

    Last year a small independent film was released that tried to explain Bettie's life and disappearance from the spotlight in her own words, called Bettie Page Reveals All. (The movie is still screening at some film festivals including this month; you can check out the link for more info.) Bettie Page Reveals All tells the story of Bettie's life using her own words from archived interviews.

    Bettie's early life in Tennessee was anything but glamorous. She grew up during the Great Depression and her parents divorced when she was 10. She married and divorced shortly after high school and tried unsuccessfully to make it as an actress. During a visit to Coney Island in 1950, she was discovered by Jerry Tibbs, a policeman and hobbyist photographer, who thought she had a striking look and asked to take pictures of her at his studio. Some of the photos were published by a Harlem newspaper and soon Bettie was posing for men's cheesecake magazines such as Eyeful and Titter. Tibbs even helped create Bettie's signature hairstyle by suggesting that she get bangs cut to help flatter her large forehead. Before long, Bettie was gracing the covers of numerous magazine covers, calendars, and even playing cards.


    Photo via BettiePageCafe
    The amazing thing about Bettie's image even today is you can see how much of a natural she was in front of the lens and how much fun she was having. The camera clearly loved Bettie--and Bettie returned the favor. She would later say that she learned poses just from studying fashion magazines, and often pretended that the camera was her boyfriend, and that she was smiling and posing just for him. She was also very comfortable with nudity, claiming that it was only natural. It's been speculated that Bettie Page helped launched the sexual revolution of the 1960s--in the 1950s!

    However, it was Bettie's involvement with another photographer which led to scandal and possibly her reason for existing her career.

    Irving Klaw was one of the first fetish photographers, operating a mail-order business that featured photographs and 8 mm films of women in bondage and domination situations. The photos didn't depict any sex acts or nudity, but I still find them difficult to look at, and I certainly didn't want to include any in this post (anyone can easily find them by doing a search.) Bettie herself was not into bondage, but has said in interviews that she never felt exploited or that she was doing anything bad. But in 1955, a Senate investigation was launched into Klaw's business and Bettie herself was called to testify. Although the government had no real case against Klaw, the scandal hurt his business and he was forced to destroy many of this negatives--except for many of Bettie, which he discretely saved. 

    Bettie also posed for Playboy and was now getting acting work on TV and stage appearances and in burlesque films. One of her most famous movies is Striporama, a 1953 comedy which was filmed in color; Bettie appears in two sequences, one of them where she's the object of affection of two unattractive lunkheads who share a dream about her:



    One of Bettie's most famous photo shoots is the one called "Jungle Bettie", which features her in a Florida wildlife park posing in a leopard print swimsuit or nude with a pair of cheetahs from the park. 


    Photo via michaelmay.us
    In 1957, a young man killed himself and was found with several of Bettie's bondage photos. Shortly afterwards, Bettie stopped modeling. She would later cite her born-again Christianity as a reason, as well as the fact that she felt she was growing too old to model, having started her career at 27, which was considered older at the time. Mental health may have another contributing factor--in 1979, Bettie was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent almost two years in a state mental hospital. After attacking her landlord with a breadknife, Bettie was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent 8 years under state supervision, being released in 1992. 

    Sadly, Bettie didn't have much luck with men, either. By the time she passed away in 2008, she'd been married and divorced three times. It's a funny thing how men are scared of beautiful women; she would say in an interview that as her popularity grew, men shied away more and more because they were afraid of her. 

    Bettie enjoyed a resurgence in pop culture popularity in the 80s, especially when the comic book series "The Rocketeer" was released, which featured a female heroine that resembled Bettie. Dark Horse Comics created a series of books that followed the fictional adventures of Bettie, made for a modern audience. 


    One of the best reports I've seen on Bettie Page is the above interview that she gave to an entertainment TV program in 1996. It was her last interview and while she asked that her image at the time not be shown on camera, a photo of an older Bettie does exist. Here she is with the late Anna Nicole Smith and Pamela Anderson, taken sometime during the 1990s. As you can see, the trademark hair and smile is still intact. 



    I think it's safe to say that the world is never going to see another woman quite like Bettie Page. Many--such as Madonna and Dita Von Teese--have tried to emulate her but they don't quite have the sexiness and girl-next-door appeal of Bettie. Her iconic status marches on--there's even a Bettie Page-inspired line of clothing and in 2005, a movie about her life called The Notorious Bettie Page was released. Gretchen Mol portrayed Bettie in the film but I don't think she looks anything like her or quite captures her persona...but then again, who could? That's part of what makes her mystique so appealing. 

    0 0


    Oscar night is full of weird and bad moments, but what you're about to watch is probably the worst opening number of any Academy Awards ceremony ever. We have the late composer Marvin Hamlisch and Allan Carr (the producer of Grease) to blame for this mess which kicked off the 1989 Academy Awards. How bad was it? So bad that several stars including Paul Newman, Gregory Peck and Julie Andrews signed an open letter the next day calling the awards show “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry.” It also pissed off Disney for the unauthorized use of Snow White's image.

    And boy, did this act do her image no favors. Snow warbles with a high-pitched, irritating voice, and seems to be bothering Tom Hanks, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and others in the audience as she makes her way to the stage. There are dancing "stars" (literally), a recreation of the Coconut Grove (with Merv Griffin singing "Ive Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"--get it?) and Hollywood icons such as Vincent Price and Roy Rogers thrown into the middle of this clusterfuck. Then Rob Lowe joins Snow on-stage as her blind date to butcher "Proud Mary" set to alternate lyrics (it's the Lowe and Snow Show - ha!) You can see why this angered a lot of people. And it goes on for 10 minutes, culminating into A Chorus Line line-up. It doesn't get more over the top than that. Thank goodness some retro trends are best left in the past.




    0 0


    It's kind of fascinating to think that Richard Pryor headed his own Saturday morning children's television show. By the time Pryor's Place aired in 1984, the comedian/actor was known for his obscenity-laced routines, album titles that contained the "n" word and the infamous incident where he set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine. But controversial or not, Pryor obviously liked children and cared enough about their well-being to bring some of his tamer comedic talents to Pryor's Place. While the show only aired for 13 episodes, it tackled some of the heavy issues of the day such as divorce, shoplifting, cheating and child molestation. The show was also produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and featured puppets of their creation, as well as guest stars such as Willie Nelson, John Ritter, Henry Winkler, Robin Williams and Lily Tomlin. One of its cast members was Marla Gibbs, who would go on to star in The Jeffersons and 227.

    Pryor also appeared on the show as an assortment of characters. The show itself was supposed to be about the young Richard Pryor growing up with his friends in the inner city and learning some hard lessons along the way (which did not include pouring high-proof rum all over your body and setting yourself on fire.) This venture into television was not Pryor's first; The Richard Pryor Show only lasted for four episodes in 1977 after audiences failed to appreciate Pryor's edgy humor.

    Ray Parker Jr. of Ghostbusters fame wrote and performed the theme song to Pryor's Place. Unfortunately, there are not any real clips from the show on YouTube to share other than the opening theme below, but all 13 episodes are available on DVD through Amazon.com.



    0 0

    Photo via BananaRepublic
    Last week Banana Republic launched its latestMad Men-inspired clothing collection. With previous collections I've always been disappointed by the designs--it seemed like Banana Republic's team was a bit behind by a few years from the current year the show was taking place in. 

    Photo via InStyle
    This time, however, they've taken some cues from Megan Draper's wardrobe and the look for the most part says late 60s, albeit on the conservative side. I haven't purchased anything yet, but I did visit my local Banana Republic store to take a peek. My favorite piece is the graphic green and blue dress that was clearly inspired by one worn by Megan when she seduced Don in his office. It's not too revealing that you can wear it to the office but also sexy at the same time. Made of rayon, it retails for $130.00. I also like the silk mod shirtdress that is typically like the ones Diane Von Furstenburg was designing by the mid-70s (100% silk; $140.00):

    Photo via BananaRepublic
    Then there is this very springlike green and white number. Made of polyester and rayon, it retails for $140.00:

    Photo via BananaRepublic
    I also like the black and white gingham pants, white jacket and accessories, particularly the geometric scarves ($49.50.)
    Photo via BananaRepublic
    I actually think the men have it a little more stylish this time around, with plaid sportscoats, striped ties, textured cardigans (the one shown below is priced at $89.50) and straw fedoras ($45.00.)
    Photo via BananaRepublic
    Photo via BananaRepublic
    I wish, however, that Banana Republic would have made more of the line machine washer-friendly…most of the pieces can only be dried-cleaned or hand-washed, and that is one reason why I'm hesitant to splurge on anything, especially as I have so many other dresses that are even more retro looking than this collection. (And how come there are no miniskirts?) Still, there's enough mod in this selection to get you revved up for the season premiere of the show on April 7 on AMC. Better get to a Banana Republic store or the site soon while the getting's good!

    0 0


    We're more than a week into March, but someone needs to get that memo to Old Man Winter: it's snowing to beat the band in New England today. It's days like this that make me daydream about summer and to help me along, I'm listening to Miami Sound Machine. I loved Gloria Estefan's band in the 80s. Estefan met the band's leader, Emilio, in 1976 and they're still married today. They're also still performing although the band's name was dropped altogether in 1989 (when they were called Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine.) I guess it's all about Gloria now, but that's OK.

    This group had so many hits that it's impossible to just pick two to highlight, but "Dr. Beat" was their first from the 1984 album Eyes of Innocence and just doesn't get radio play anymore. As far as videos go, it doesn't get much cornier than this, but it's catchy and helped set the band on its way to fame. 



    "Bad Boys" is another favorite of mine--two versions of the video was created. The original is remembered for the cast of Cats, but there's an alternative version showing Gloria chasing a movie star which I like better, except that only half of the video got uploaded to YouTube (but I'm embedding it anyway.)





    To my fellow East Coasters dealing with this storm, hope you stay safe and warm!

    0 0

    Ad via AdClassix
    Man, remember how thrilling it was to get your driver's license? When I was in high school, entering your 16th year was an exciting time because it meant you'd get to drive. You'd savor the sweet feeling of freedom behind the wheel, as you no longer had to be shuttled everywhere by your parents, an older family member or a friend.

    This is a feeling that was shared by teens when they became legally able to drive over the past 50 years or so. But lately, something has changed, as I found out via a few news reports last year. Teens and young adults are no longer in love with cars, driving, and auto culture. In fact, they'd rather own a smartphone or a tablet than an automobile. And many aren't even bothering to learn how to drive. In the 1950s, we would have called these kids "squares." But today it's the norm, and understandably, auto makers are a little concerned about it. 

    The way I see it, there are a few reasons why today's young adults simply don't dig cars as much as previous generations did...


    Image via Classic Style Preservation

    1. Buying/Owning a Car is Expensive. 
    From this point of view, I can understand why today's kids don't want a car: they're expensive, especially when compared to the bang you could get for your buck in the 1960s and 70s. A VW Beetle, for example, retailed for about $1,700 during the 60s. Today's version starts at around $20,000. Even a four cylinder Kia with just the basic features will run you about $14,000. Not to mention there's the on-going cost of maintaining a car--and paying for gas (which is hovering in my area around $3.65.) The price of everything has gone up--except for the average American family's income, or at least not enough when compared to the jump in inflation. Teens and 20-somethings were hit hard by this recent downturn in the economy, and they simply cannot afford to own an automobile.



    2. The Car is No Longer a Means to Freedom 
    Where my generation and others viewed the car as a symbol of freedom, the Internet has become the new path of escapism from school, parents and other responsibilities. I find this ironic considering I feel downright confined after being online for too many hours in a row and nothing else feels more refreshing than shutting down the devices and connecting with people in person--or even reading a good book.

    3. Things Can Be Done Online Instead of In-Person
    Society also doesn't have to rely anymore on having a car to get things done--shopping and so many other tasks can be accomplished by going online instead of physically driving someplace.


    Photo via Life archives/AllPosters
    4. Lack of Car-Centric Places Where Kids Can Take Their Wheels
    Drive-ins, diners, car-hops, and other cool hang out places were synonymous with car culture in the 50s, 60s and 70s. When's the last time you saw one of these places? This begs the question of where do kids make out these days on dates, if not in the back seat of a Toyota? 

    This indifference towards car ownership is hard for me to wrap my head around. How my friends and I loved driving once we were all able to do so--I have many fond memories of trips to the movies, fast food restaurants, the mall, the beach, the prom, (my friend borrowed her father's Lincoln Town Car at the time--we felt like big shots!) each other's houses, and even just back and forth to school. 

    During the warmer months, I still love to get in my car and drive someplace--there's nothing like going to the beach with the sunroof and windows open, the wind blowing through my hair and my favorite music playing. I've owned exactly three cars to date since I got my license 25 years ago, and I've loved all of them--my first car was a 1985 Pontiac Firebird; the second, a 1998 VW Beetle and my current mode of transportation is a 2003 Honda Accord coupe. Since my dad was a big car guy, I've saved all of the vintage brochures he collected on various models around the early 70s and while I'm hardly an auto expert, I usually keep up with the latest models and trends. I've gone to auto shows and vintage car shows (I guess it should come as no surprise that the majority of men you see at vintage car shows are older, retired dudes who scrimped and saved their whole lives to buy the classic vintage beauty of their dreams. You don't see too many 20-somethings as the owners at these events.)

    The muscle cars of the 60s through the 80s catered to the younger crowd...but this is no more. The auto manufacturers aren't making many muscle cars due to lack of interest. I guess it's not the worse thing in the world, since a new driver in control of a 300 hp machine is enough to make anyone nervous, and America's roads are pretty congested as it is. Add in the fact that a lot of people like to text or use a phone while they're behind the wheel and frankly, I'd rather those folks never learn to drive. 

    But as far as I'm concerned, teens and young adults don't know what they're missing...and this constant need to be online and communicate only via text and Facebook isn't doing anyone any favors. I hate to borrow the title of a Rihanna song here, but instead of "shut up and drive" maybe we should be saying "shut it off and drive." 

    0 0

    I'm very pleased to announce my participation in a special event taking place next week--a Valerie Harper Blog-A-Thon! From March 19th-22nd, several cool bloggers and myself will be posting all about the lovely lady who won our hearts over on 1970s and 1980s American television. A big shout-out and thank you go to Amanda from the awesome blog Made For TV Mayhem for putting together this blog-a-thon to celebrating the life and career of Valerie Harper. Want to know who else is participating? Here's the list--be sure to give these blogs and sites a visit!

    Christmas TV History
    Craftypants Carol
    (Not all posts suitable for office viewing!)
    Daily Grindhouse
    How Sweet it Was
    Kindertrauma 
    Michael's TV Tray
    Moon in the Gutter


    My post will be going up on March 19, so stay tuned. Are you a blogger yourself who would like to participate? Just visit Made For TY Mayhem and leave a comment for Amanda with a link to your Valerie Harper post!

    0 0

    All images from CityGal on Angelfire
    A few years ago I received an invitation in the mail to be part of a TV focus group event that was taking place at a local hotel. We were told that the group wanted the public's opinions on new TV pilots that had the potential to become full-fledged sitcoms. In exchange was the chance to win free groceries and other prizes. Little did I know at the time that it turned out to be a scam--the "pilots" that were shown to us were clearly anything but NEW programming. The clothing, hairstyles, cars and huge honking telephones were dead giveaways that they were filmed in the early 90s. One show we watched was about a woman who felt she had a past life connection with a love interest. The acting and storyline was so horrendous it could make any soap opera look like Downton Abbey.

    One sitcom that they aired, however, stands out to me to this day because it was the best one. It starred Valerie Harper and was called City. We were told that Harper was considering making a return to sitcom television and the network needed test audiences to provide their opinion of it. What they didn't reveal, however, is that City had already aired its entire 13 episodes on CBS from January through June 1990.

    City was Valerie Harper's return to sitcom television after her previous situation comedy, Valerie, resulted in her dismissal from the show over salary and contract disputes. Harper starred as city manager and widow Liz Gianni, who had to deal with the bureaucratic day-to-day job duties as well as a truly kooky staff (including a stupid security guard who coats himself with White-Out to ensure that no one could ever steal it) and her 19 year-old college dropout daughter, Penny, who is the cause of some household angst thanks to her dating choices.

    Unlike Valerie Harper's iconic Rhoda, Liz Gianni didn't sport headscarves, but she did have some amazing big hair in this series along with feminine power suits. Among her eccentric crew was Anna-Maria Batista (Liz Torres), a Cuban purchasing agent who pronounced "yep" as "jep," Wanda Jenkins (Tyra Ferrell), an African American secretary who was once married to a classical pianist, Gloria Elgis (Mary Jo Keenan), a city social worker and spoiled bubblehead, and Roger Barnett (Todd Susman), the assistant city manager with a weakness for gambling. Everyone reported to the corrupt Deputy Mayor Ken Resnick, played by Stephen Lee. No doubt the producers probably had the unique characters of Night Court in mind when the sitcom was conceived. 

    There were some weird coincidences between City and Valerie, which by this time had been renamed The Hogan Family after Harper's character was written off the show and replaced by a new female character played by Sandy Duncan. The actress who played Liz's daughter, Penny, on City was LuAnne Ponce--the sister of one of the boys who played Valerie Harper's son on Valerie, Danny Ponce. Valerie Hogan's husband on Valerie was named Michael, as was Liz Gianni's late husband on City. CBS also scheduled City to air opposite of The Hogan Family on NBC. 

    City is so elusive in television history that I couldn't locate any video clips to include in my post. For whatever reason, this show failed to secure a second season despite debuting with really great Nielsen ratings which held strongly through April 1990. It's a shame that it only lives on thanks to a lame research company's attempts to pass it off as modern-day TV fare. 

    As far as the research study scam, no real harm was done. They collected everyone's addresses, but I don't think they did anything with them as I didn't receive any unwanted junk mail as a result. Valerie Harper's husband considered suing the research company that aired the pilot of City across the country, as the use was unauthorized. At least these screenings have exposed some folks to a series that deserved to air longer than it actually did.



    0 0


    The Valerie Harper Blog-A-Thon that Amanda at MadeForTVMayhem organized still marches on, and it's been wonderful seeing all of the love this week for one of our favorite TV ladies. I've had so much fun reading the other posts that I realized one of my own wasn't enough for me. So today I want to talk a bit about Rhoda Morgenstern's signature bohemian look and how Valerie Harper herself was inspired to create her character's fashion sense. Disclaimer: I'm pulling much of the details from a story The Hollywood Reporter posted a couple of weeks ago. 

    I'm sure that when many of us think of Rhoda, we immediately think of headscarves. "That's so Rhoda" I think to myself when I see someone wearing a scarf this way--even if it's in a fashion photo taken years before television audiences were introduced to Rhoda. Headscarves were to this iconic TV character what a leather jacket was to Fonzie, and what shoes would become years later to Carrie Bradshaw. On The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later for a bit on her spin-off sitcom, Rhoda, Mary's best friend was rarely seen without a colorful scarf tied around her head. 



    There actually seem to be two stories about how scarves found their way into Rhoda's closet. The first is that Valerie Harper's secretary used to wear scarves and inspired the look. 

    But according to The Hollywood Reporter, it was another woman who was responsible for being Rhoda's fashion muse. A forthcoming book by author Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, MaryandLouandRhodaandTed: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The Mary Tyler Moore Show A Classic, explains that Rhoda originally was portrayed as a somewhat dowdy character, with baggy clothes that would keep her blended with the background. But Valerie Harper lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers, and she was inspired to kick her character's wardrobe up a notch when she saw Mary's stand-in, Mimi Kirk, hanging out on the set one day. 


    Kirk, a self-proclaimed "late hippie" and free spirit of her own, was wearing a scarf around her head and colorful clothing. Harper was inspired and asked the show's co-creator Allen Burns how he would feel if Rhoda dumped the "schlumpy" stuff. Rhoda, after all, was a creative individual; she worked as a window dresser for a department store. Why shouldn't her clothing reflect that artistic quirkiness?

    Burns was all for it and as Kirk told The Hollywood Reporter, she actually made a lot of Rhoda's scarves herself, as not every store scarf was the right size and shape to tie them just so around a head. A lot of Rhoda's headwear was crafted from fabrics including bed sheets and table clothes that Kirk would cut and sew. She also made a lot of Rhoda's jewelry and went to Harper's house for a little closet cleaning, getting rid of anything that Rhoda wouldn't wear. 

    I love this clip that I found the other day, which explains how to get the Rhoda look:




    It's interesting to note that by season three of the spin-off series Rhoda, the character was becoming a savvy businesswoman and underwent a wardrobe makeover, ditching the scarves and bohemian clothing for more workplace-oriented attire. Someone--perhaps the writers, perhaps Harper herself--felt that Rhoda needed to be less artsy and more sophisticated (not that scarves can't be sophisticated.) No matter. Rhoda was beautiful either way--and her trademark accessory lives on in television history. 


    0 0

    Photo via The Jane Austin Film Club
    Should I be ashamed that I had never heard of one of England's most prominent department stores, Selfridges, until PBS started promoting the premiere of the series Mr. Selfridge a few weeks ago? This latest Masterpiece Theater series premieres on Sunday, March 31 and stars cutie Jeremy Piven as the wheelin' and dealin' Midwestern American store mogul Harry Selfridge who made a name for himself when he opened up the first department store of its kind, Selfridges, in London in 1909. 


    An illustration of Selfridges' rooftop via Melbourne Blogger
    Big whoop, you may be saying. How exciting can a series about a department store be? That's what I thought until I found out that the flagship Oxford Street Selfridges at one time had a rooftop terrance that showcased gardens, parties, fashion shows, cafes, mini golf and even a ladies' gun club. Harry Selfridge also revolutionized the way customers shopped, by making a trip to the store fun and exciting. He started window displays and has been credited with coining the phrase "The customer is always right." (I am sure that many folks who work in service-related industries would like to slap him for creating that mantra.) Every detail of the store--from lighting to the way salespeople approached customers--was meant to provide a pleasurable shopping experience. Let's hear it for materialism!



    I am sure that the series' producers embellished the Selfridge saga with storylines and events that never took place and will play up Harry Selfridge's womanizing ways (Jeremy Piven looks like he's having too much fun with the ladies in the photo above to portray a dedicated family man.) According to the PBS site, a showgirl and "temptress" named Ellen Love will be one of the women drawn to Mr. Selfridge's charisma. PBS is clearly hoping to corral the Downtown Abbey fans like myself who are going through withdrawal, as the Selfridge promos starting airing the minute the last season of Downton ended. 

    Something sad and ironic to note, which may or may not be portrayed in the series: for all of his success, Mr. Selfridge went bankrupt during the Great Depression, pretty much because he couldn't curb his own spending habits and gambling addiction. 

    I guess we'll see how this plays out when Mr. Selfridge airs the first of its right episodes next Sunday on PBS. Here's a preview of the series:


    0 0

    Photo credit: Mathieu Meunier
    I know this blog has been quiet of late…and it's going to be even quieter as I'm leaving for Washington D.C. on Thursday for a mini-vacation and to see the cherry blossoms in the nation's capitol. In the meantime, there's something that's been on my mind lately. Go Retro is now six years old and in all that time there is a type of post I would love to do which hasn't been accomplished yet and that's to interview somebody. That's right, I'm looking for a great scoop--so consider this an open call to find someone relevant to pop culture history who wouldn't mind answering a few questions for this blog. Some of the subjects I have in mind include:

    *Someone who co-starred in a notable music video from the 80s who might have a story or two about the band/performer and the behind the scenes going-ons (I came close a few years ago when I almost got the woman who starred as Alice in Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" video, but she flaked on me. Pfffft. Her loss, right?)

    *Someone who worked behind the scenes on a notable TV sitcom or variety show from the 60s, 70s or 80s.

    *A former Playboy bunny who worked in one of the Playboy clubs

    *A former go-go or backup dancer for any of those variety/music shows

    *A roadie or groupie for a band/performer from the 60s, 70s or 80s

    *Someone who worked for or had a close encounter with the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, or any other notable music group/performer from the era.


    You get my drift. Anyone who has a good story to tell. If you or someone you know fits the bill, feel free to email me at GoRetro1@hotmail.com.

    0 0
  • 04/15/13--11:53: Saxy Songs of the 80s

  • It must be the toughest gig these days to be a saxophone-playing session musician--you just don't hear them anymore in most mainstream music. One recent exception is Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" which featured the late Clarence Clemons. She gets an A for effort in my book, but the song still falls short of the memorable pop and rock tunes that prominently featured a sax--songs that all these years later we still remember for their sultry solos or melodies. 

    It's so strange to me that saxophones have disappeared as a pop music trend, as they're hip and sexy. And I'm sure we all know that no other decade personified the sax like the 80s did. It seems like every other song on the radio back then featured a saxophone. As with all other lists, this one is purely subjective...but here are the songs that had (in my opinion) the most memorable saxophones... 


    "You Belong to the City" -- Glenn Frey
    I was a big Miami Vice fan in the 80s, even though I was too young to know what was going on in every episode--the opportunity to drool over Don Johnson was my main motivation for watching the show. That, and the flashy clothing, cars and music. Miami Vice probably had the best soundtrack of any drama on TV at the time, and I still have a my copy...on cassette! One track that still stands out is Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City" because of the repeating saxophone riff throughout. Frey played all instruments on the song except for the sax...that was accomplished by studio musician Bill Bergman. 


    "Urgent" -- Foreigner
    This list wasn't put together in any particular order, but if I had to pick one top 80s saxophone song it would have to be Foreigner's "Urgent." Motown sax legend Junior Walker played on the album version (as did Thomas Dolby on synthesizer.) The whole song just screams sex and it wouldn't be the same without Walker's sax riff and scorching solo. 



    "Careless Whisper" -- Wham!
    A list of notable saxophone songs would not be complete without "Careless Whisper", a song which got overplayed both on the radio and MTV (and which Brooke Shields thought was about her after her breakup with George Michael--ha!) Michael was only 17 when he composed the song on a bus and thought up the sultry sax rift himself.



    "Smooth Operator" -- Sade
    What makes "Smooth Operator" stand out is the sax plays a starring role throughout the song, vs. just having a short solo--just like the character Sade is singing about; a rich, promiscuous playboy. Stu Mathhewman played sax on the studio recording and in the music video. 


    "Maneater" -- Hall and Oates
    Charles DeChant has been a band member of Hall and Oates since the 1970s, and actually plays several instruments including flute, guitar and keyboards. But he's mainly a saxophone expert and "Maneater" was a song that definitely let his sax skills shine. A song with a title like "Maneater" deserves a saxophone. Daryl Hall has said that the track at the time wasn't like anything else on the radio. It reached number one on the U.S. charts in 1982 and stayed there for 4 weeks. 



    "True" -- Spandau Ballet
    Steve Norman (also pictured at Live Aid at the top of this post) was Spandau Ballet's saxophonist, but didn't start with the band that way--he was originally a guitarist. By the third album he introduced the sax to the group's sound, lending a much-needed sax solo to their big hit, "True." 



    "Rio" -- Duran Duran
    British saxophonist Andy Hamilton played with several 80s bands including Wham!, Pet Shop Boys and Duran Duran. He's the saxophone player we hear on the song "Rio" but in the music video, two members of Duran Duran mimic the playing: bassist John Taylor while on a cliff and keyboardist Nick Rhodes on a raft. Hamilton also contributed sax to another DD hit, "Union of the Snake."



    "Who Can It Be Now?" -- Men at Work
    Greg Ham from Men at Work played several instruments, but it's his saxophone playing on "Who Can It Be Now?" that no doubt made the song a hit and introduced the world to the new wave Australian band. 



    There are dozens more songs out there and expanding the criteria here to include the 1970s would have brought Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel to the list. What are your most memorable saxophone songs?

    0 0
  • 04/21/13--06:19: The Milkman Cometh
  • Image via Antique Automobile Club of America forums
    The milkman: for those of us born after a certain time in America, we never got a visit from one...no fresh, cold milk waiting for us in glass bottles on the doorstep or in the milk chute every morning. But there was a time for many decades when regular milk delivery was a given. Milk delivery goes so far back that milkmen first delivered the goods by horse and wagon, before the automobile and milk trucks came along. Many people who did have milk delivered recall how the fat (cream) would rise to the top of the glass milk bottles and would be scooped out and eaten (yum!)

    There was even a milkman-themed board game produced in the 1950s, called Merry Milkman by Hasbro. As you can imagine, the object was simple: the first player to deliver all of their milk to the neighborhood won the game!

    Via image Northwest Leeds Tumblr
    By the time I was born in the early 70s, the milkman had practically disappeared from American neighborhoods. It's not difficult to understand why--milk first got delivered at a time when homes didn't have refrigeration and needed to be consumed fairly quickly before it spoiled. In the 1950s and 60s, not only did households have refrigerators, but the first paper milk cartons were being produced, which were cheaper than the heavy glass bottles milk was first carried in. It also cost more money to have milk delivered then buying it at the local store. 

    But the milkman may be making a comeback: in recent years I've seen news stories here and there about how the nostalgic love for milk (and food) delivery is keeping the milkman alive and well in some parts of the country. In Louisville, KY, Ehrler's Micro Dairy delivers milk, cheese, eggs and jam to customers three times a week. In one month alone, they delivered over 800 gallons of milk. 

    A.B. Munroe Dairy of Providence, RI, is another company that provides milk delivery, mainly to the Southern New England area. They've been in business for over 130 years. 

    And what about bigger city dwellers who crave home delivered milk? Manhattanites are in luck; Manhattan Milk, owned and operated by Matt Marone and Frank Acosta, deliver hormone-free milk and other goodies around the New York City vicinity. 

    Interestingly, the milkman never faded away in Britain, where milk delivery remains a trend. As in the States, British milk producers/transporters have diversified their offerings to include yogurt and other foods available for home delivery. In India, milk delivery has never gone out of fashion. 

    I'm not sure if I'd ever use a milk service myself--it's still pricier than visiting a store--but I do like the idea of a milk truck making early morning deliveries and keeping a small bit of nostalgia alive. 

    0 0

     

    Image via Mamecade

    A computer/technology pioneer and the cast of a sitcom that never showed a single PC on the set during their run…a match made in advertising heaven!

    According to an old L.A. Times article, the cast of M*A*S*H* replaced the Charlie Chaplin lookalike that IBM was previously usingto promote their computers in the late 80s. The president of the agency that created the campaign said that M*A*S*H* was a natural fit for the new strategy because they represented teamwork. By the time these ads aired/ran, the popular show had been off the air for five years. Maybe theexecutives also felt that American consumers would appreciate seeing familiar faces to shill computing products. Then again, lots of celebs were showing up in computer print ads and commercials around this time...Bill Cosby for Texas Instruments, Bill Bixby and Tandy and William Shatner pitching Commodore were just some of the celebrity endorsements for computers during the 80s. Whatever the reason, the second commercial spot here looks like a M*A*S*H*/The Office....er, mashup:




    A few years before this campaign, Alan Alda was the spokesman for Atari computer products. Is it just me, or is this commercial a little unsettling? What the heck is Alda doing dressing in a college boy's room, if he isn't his father? Shouldn't Hawkeye be checking out the girls' dorms?


    0 0


    Today I'm launching a new post theme for Go Retro: A Song's Story. We'll take a look at some songs from music history that have an interesting history behind them. 

    The reason for my first choice, "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down," is because I have a confession about it: until yesterday, I never knew that Cher was the original artist to sing the song and that Sonny Bono wrote it! Hard to believe, but I always thought Nancy Sinatra took the credit. Quentin Tarantino is responsible for my personal gaffe--like most people of my generation, the first time I heard it was during the opening credits of Kill Bill Volume 1. After the film was released, its exposure inspired a lot of bands and singers to cover it--most notably was "Shot You Down" by Audio Bullys who sampled the Sinatra version in what became a top ten UK hit. 

    However, after hearing Cher's original version which was released in 1966, I'm sold on it and prefer it over Sinatra's. I'm puzzled that I've never heard it on the radio, not even on oldies stations. It's already a haunting, depressing song--the singer is telling about her love who used to play with her when they were children and would pretend to shoot her while they rode on "horses made of sticks." They grow up and she marries him--complete with dancing and church bells--but then he leaves her. She's been shot down again yet again by the creep and it's devastating. But there's something about Cher's version that literally gave me chills as I listened to it twice--first of all, it has a Western/Spanish/gypsy theme running through it. No doubt Bono was inspired by the spaghetti westerns that were gracing movie screens in the mid-60s. It also seems to foreshadow the ultimate demise of Sonny and Cher's marriage in the 70s.  

    The song was released as a single and on the Cher album The Sonny Side of Cher. It reached number two on the U.S. Billboard chart in 1966. Sinatra's version was released the same year and pretty much hid in obscurity until it was chosen for the Tarantino movie. It has a more melancholy tone and an opening tremolo guitar effect. 

    Since its release, the song has been covered by Stevie Wonder, The Beau Brummels, Petula Clark, Vanilla Fudge, Lil' Wayne and Italian, French, German and Japanese artists. Cher herself updated the song in 1987 with a rock feel--but I prefer the original (unfortunately I don't think the audio is synched with this video, but it's the only clip of the music video available on YouTube):



    One cover of the song that I came across the other day and love is this version by a Polish singer named Ania Dabrowska. It was released in 2010 and features some pro drumming as well as a scorching sax solo--this right after I posted about how you don't hear saxophones so much in pop music anymore.



    And there you have it. The song will no doubt shoot me down for many more years to come. 

older | 1 | 2 | (Page 3) | 4 | 5 | .... | 25 | newer