The Love Boat

TV classics

USA 1977-87, nine seasons, four specials, 249 episodes, approximately 50 minutes each, ABC, color. Produced by Aaron Selling, Douglas S. Cramer. Cast: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan, Ted McGinley, Pat Klous. Guest stars: June Allyson, The Andrew Sisters, Eve Arden, Gene Barry, Polly Bergen, Amanda Blake, Tom Bosley, Raymond Burr, Sid Caesar, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Olivia de Havilland, Patty Duke, Joan Fontaine, Greer Garson,  Andy Griffith, Katherine Helmond, Celeste Holm, Gene Kelly, Werner Klemperer, Jack Klugman, Dorothy Lamour, Janet Leigh, Allen Ludden, Rue McClanahan, Leslie Nielsen, Lilli Palmer, Donna Reed, Della Reese, Debbie Reynolds, Marion Ross, Eva Marie Saint, Jaclyn Smith, Jean Stapleton, Gale Storm, Sada Thompson, Lana Turner, Gloria Vanderbilt, Betty White, William Windom, Shelly Winters, Jane Wyatt, Jane Wyman and many others

Plot summary: On the Pacific Princess, love and laughter are all-inclusive.

Love Boat crewReview: In 1976, three TV movies launched the career of a special ship, the Pacific Princess. Based on a non-fiction book by cruise director Jeraldine Saunders, the so-called Love Boat traveled the world with Captain Stubing and his crew. Each week, they were accompanied by a wide array of guests stars ranging from Hollywood legends to contemporary starlets. Split into three different stories, every episode focused on love, comedy and drama. Written by three sets of writers, the weekly plots rarely crossed over but instead made The Love Boat crew the pivotal element that held them all together.

The Captain (Gavin MacLeod), Doc (Bernie Kopell) and bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) were the longest serving members of an ensemble that appeared to be tight on camera and off. They were supported by Gopher (Fred Grandy) and Julie McCoy, played by Lauren Tewes, a young actress who successfully earned her stripes on TV in the first seven seasons. Eventually, they were joined by Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the Captain’s daughter, and Pat Klous as Jody McCoy, Julie’s sister and replacement for the last two seasons. In 1979, Charlie’s Angels checked in on the Pacific Princess to solve a case and simultaneously introduce Shelley Hack as the latest angelic addition. Collaborations like that were rare but boosted ratings for Aaron Spelling’s other projects, Fantasy Island following suit in 1980.

Popular around the world during its ten year run, The Love Boat offered an escape from the grim realities of politically callous times. At the height of the Cold War, the program was bubbly, glamorous and diverting. A perfect vehicle for old stars and new ones alike and thus an evening favorite for boomers and their parents. Shown in reruns for many years, the first two seasons were finally made available on DVD in 2008. A great treat for anyone who has fond memories of flares, weekly cameos and the famous theme song performed by Jack Jones (as well as by Dionne Warwick in 1987).

Recommendation Time

Every once in a whiletreat yourself it’s important to treat yourself. Good food, some shoe shopping or listening to records in a local store. It’s recommendation time again on Talking Classics. So let’s see what we have:

1) Do you know Caro Emerald?! She’s a Dutch singer whose second album is about to be released in the US on May 14. Mark your calendars, fellow lovers of new vintage, The Shocking Miss Emerald is a real treat.

2) For Perry Mason fans it’s a joy to hear that season 9.1 will soon be available on DVD – on June 11 to be exact. That leaves us with only one half season to complete our collections. Fingers crossed for the TV movies to follow soon.

3) Scarecrow and Mrs. King’s fourth and final season was recently leased on DVD for anyone who has fond memories of a lovely show that sadly lost its heart when its female protagonist, Kate Jackson, fell severely ill.

4) Book-wise, I finally finished reading Eve Arden’s wonderful autobiography. In Three Phases of Eve, the actress takes us on a journey through her life on stage, in movies and beyond. Filled with funny anecdotes, the book is every bit as witty and charming as the woman herself used to be on radio and screen.

5) And last but not least, a new shopping discovery of mine is Unique Vintage. For all you ladies out there who can’t get enough of classy patterns and styles, this site may be a great addition to your favorite retailers. I know it is to mine. ♥

A Pause to Say Thanks

Today is a good day. I’ve had a couple of them lately. Dancing, cooking, listening to Benny Goodman. Getting back to work with some lovely colleagues. I like my January like this and now that it’s coming to an end, I just felt like saying thanks.

Thanks to my family and friends for being there for me and for entrusting me with your joy, pain and secrets. Thanks to Pema Chödrön for writing such inspiring books and to every author who’s giving me an insight into the Baha’i Faith.

Thanks to all the artists who came before me and created uplifting pieces, especially to Patty Andrews and her Sisters who are now reunited in heaven, passing on a legacy of beautiful tunes for us all to enjoy. Thanks also to Eve Arden for her splendid memoir and to her Golden Hollywood peers for treating me to so many gems I can’t get enough of the older I get.

Thanks to the wonderful team of Vintage Life whose e-mails are always most encouraging and to all of you who stop by to read my reviews. And last but not least, thanks to a lady I just met who sent me the most surprising message. On this last day of January, talking to you just put the icing on my cake.

A Radio Treat

Two days ago, I listened to a radio broadcast from 1950, a live recording from March 23 to be exact, the day of the 22nd Academy Awards. Presented by Paul Douglas at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood with radio comments by Ken Carpenter, Eve Arden and Ronald Reagan, the show was a good two hours in length and filled with lots of joyful moments.

The show – although already exciting for any classic movie buff without great names such as James Cagney, Jane Wyman, Jimmy Stewart, Dick Powell and June Allyson, Anne Baxter and John Hodiac, Cole Porter, Ruth Roman and Barbara Hale – was entertaining from the start and blessed with a beautiful score presented by Gene Autry, Dean Martin and other wonderful performers. Despite the many differences in presentation compared to the lengthy ceremony I’ve long stopped watching each year, it amused me to find one announcement already existed back in 1950: the request for the winners to cut their thank you’s short. And trust me, the few people who said more than a heartfelt thank you, didn’t take center stage to present a short story about their lives. How refreshing to hear there once was a way to go about this differently, when recipients were in tears about their accomplishment without dwelling on it. How surprising to hear a young boy thank his parents and God – at least by today’s standards.

I know not everyone will share my sentiment, but I loved the mix of glamor and simplicity, such a charming combination. Stars and winners aside, the radio hosts also won my heart for their lively presentation and supportive attitude. Without making a fuss, they added to the style of a show that still showed signs of gratefulness and modesty towards their peers and audience. A different world, Hollywood in 1950, both good and bad, and so much fun revisiting with your eyes closed.

One Touch of Venus

Talkie of the Week: One Touch of Venus

USA 1948, 82 minutes, black & white, Universal Pictures. Director: William A. Seiter, Written by Harry Kurnitz  & Frank Tashlin, Based on the novel The Tinted Venus by F. Anstey. Cast: Ava Gardner, Robert Walker, Dick Haymes, Eve Arden, Tom Conway, Olga San Juan, James Flavin, Sara Allgood

Plot summary: Eddie Hatch locks lips with a Venus statue and thus awakens the real goddess who stirs up his life.

Review: Originally purchased by Mary Pickford to bring the musical version of F. Anstey’s novel The Tinted Venus to the screen in technicolor for United Artists, the project did not come to life until Lester Cowan secured the rights for Universal in 1947. He hired William A. Seiter to direct a black and white version of the story with Robert Walker, Ava Gardner and Dick Haymes as leading actors. The diverting plot worked beautifully without the musical numbers, first and foremost due to its excellent cast. Ava Gardner was a fantastic choice for Venus, the goddess of love, who comes to life through Robert Walker’s kiss. Together, they made for a handsome couple who knew how to tackle the comedic ups and downs of a lightweight story. They were supported by Tom Conway and Eve Arden who added maturity to One Touch of Venus beyond the lines they were given. As a secretary who’s secretly in love with her boss, Eve Arden played an endearing stereotype whose best moments, like Ava Gardner, are saved for the end of the film.

All in all, the movie is a romantic comedy for three couples who give their best at entertaining their audience. Dick Haymes and Olga San Juan are as cute a pair as Ava Gardner and Robert Walker and every bit as hilarious as RKO’s ex-Falcon Tom Conway and Our Miss Brooks‘ Eve Arden. Today, the actress would have turned 104 and One Touch of Venus is a great treat for anyone who’s interested in seeing some of her big screen work. Lighthearted and funny, the comedy will also lift you up and prepare you for warmer weather – it’s every bit as delightful and silly as spring fever season.

Available on DVD.

PS: Review also published on MovieFanFare.

The Eve Arden Show

TV classics: The Eve Arden Show

USA 1957-58, 1 season, 26 episodes, 30 minutes each, CBS. Created by Emily Kimbrough, from the novel It Gives Me Great Pleasure. Cast examples: Eve Arden,  Allyn Joslyn, Frances Bavier, Gail Stone, Karen Greene

Plot summary: Liza Hammond, a widowed writer, lives with her mother and set of thirteen-year-old twins in a nice apartment in New York where she is trying to keep her career going with a little help pf her literary agent George Howell.

The Eve Arden Show – pilot episode “It Gives Me Great Pleasure”

Review: Following her long-lasting success as Our Miss Brooks on radio, television and the silver screen, Eve Arden starred in her own show created by Emily Kimbrough. Loosely based on her book “It Gives Me Great Pleasure”, The Eve Arden Show circled around the life of fictional Liza Hammond, a widowed mother and writer whose career changes when her agency pressures her to increase her popularity by giving public lectures. Scared of public speaking at first, Liza soon grows into her new job which secures her a steady income. Living with her mother and her thirteen-year-old twin girls Mary and Jenny, Liza’s private life is frequently stirred up by her profession and the literary agent who comes along with it.

Allyn Joslyn played George Howell, the intermingling agent whose interests in Liza often bordered the personal. Always butting heads with Liza on a friendly level, he was a good match with Eve Arden’s natural comebacks and genuine comedic skills. Her timing worked especially well with co-star Frances Bavier, aka Aunt Bee from The Andy Griffith Show. Supported by an entertaining team of performing youngsters as the show’s teenage twins, Eve Arden and Frances Bavier created memorable grandmother-mother-daughter moments that still tickle my risible muscles today.

With its twenty-six episodes, The Eve Arden Show is a real gem to (re)discover for anyone who likes 1950s comedy and the hilarity of the program’s leading lady. It is unfortunate that not all original episodes are available for us to savor these days, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a chance. The cast is fantastic and the writing diverting. A truly funny show that will relax you with style and wit.

Selected episodes available on DVD and online.

Does class have a comeback?

I just stumbled upon an article about a comeback of classic hairdos: the Beehive, the Victory Roll, the Pin Curls, the Head Scarf look – and my immediate reaction was about time!

I mean, personally, I can do without the Beehive (and other exaggerated hairstyles from the 1960s for that matter), but generally spoken I couldn’t be happier. For me, there’s nothing better than those classy, curly dos – from the housewifely head scarf wrapped around a bobby pin covered head to the glamorous long curls of the 1940s.

Lasting well into the early 60s, curly hairstyles were supremely feminine. They embellished women’s faces of all ages, in all styles and at all lengths. Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe or Rosie the Riveter – all iconic names that trigger memories of a certain do and trend.

Here are a couple of my favorite dos from the 40s and 50s, modeled by Barbara Hale:

See how her Della Street curls even held up a book they were so swell?! Or how Jimmy Stewart couldn’t resist hugging his on-screen wife because the head scarf looks so darling?! Now don’t say these curls aren’t versatile.

Glamorous, cute or homey, it really doesn’t matter: with curls (or Victory Rolls), there’s a style for every occasion. And trust me, getting these looks is not as much work as you may think – at least not if you’re not a total stranger to hot curlers, curling irons or bobby pins. It may sound shallow, but people do appreciate the effort. All dolled up and pretty you advertise yourself differently, show a new sparkle. You may even end up feeling like your favorite star, in my case Ms. Hale, Myrna Loy, Barbara Stanwyck or Eve Arden.

So if you’re like me and are excited about the return of hairdo class, do embrace your inner silver screen goddess, homemaker sweetheart or Rosie the Riveter. There are lots of manuals out there, pictures and videos to help you get the look you adore the most. Years after pulling off long rich curls in high school (unknowingly resembling Barbara Hale’s in the fourth picture above) and then going for the exact opposite, I finally returned to my favorite style last year – shorter now but still elegantly fluffy. Della Street inspired one of my friends suggested – I really don’t know what gave her that idea, but I’m digging it.

Three Husbands

Talkie of the Week: Three Husbands

USA 1951, 77 minutes, black & white, United Artists. Director: Irving Reis, Written by Vera Caspary. Cast: Eve Arden, Ruth Warrick, Vanessa Brown, Howard Da Silva, Shepperd Strudwick, Robert Karnes, Emlyn Williams, Billie Burke, Louise Erickson, Jonathan Hale, Jane Darwell

Plot summary: When Maxwell Bard, a desired playboy, dies, he leaves a letter to each of his three married friends, teasing them about the affairs he supposedly had with their wives.

Review: In 1949, A Letter to Three Wives was released by 20th Century Fox, starring Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Ann Sothern, Jeffrey Lynn, Paul Douglas and Kirk Douglas. The movie was loosely based on John Klempner’s novel A Letter to Five Wives and adapted by Vera Caspary and Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Director (Mankiewicz) and Best Screenplay, and was also nominated for Best Motion Picture. In 1951, Vera Caspary turned the tables of the plot and wrote the screenplay for a comedy version of the story called Three Husbands.

The film stars Emlyn Williams as Max Bard, a recently deceased playboy who was on very good terms with three of his best friends’ wives. Informing the husbands about the nature of these friendships in individual letters, he causes a stir in the married lives of all three of them until Max’ will exposes the reasons behind his postmortem honesty. In a surprising twist, the wives come out on top and stand tall without condemning their husbands, their attitude smoothing the impact of female victory without destroying its message: wives are happier when they are allowed to retain their independence.

Three Husbands is a comedy, pure and simple. It lives from its hilarious cast, the catchy dialogue and delightful outcome. It is a story about marriage, rumors and trust. It is also a good seventy-seven minutes of entertainment with a dash of innocent laughs. Eve Arden is my personal cherry on top in this film. Her qualities as a comedienne are so refined and work beautifully with Howard Da Silva and Emlyn Williams, it’s worth watching this movie for their scenes alone. But you should really give the entire film a chance. If you like classic comedies and a decent cast, I’m positive you won’t be disappointed.

Available on amazon and youtube, as well as in the internet archive.

Vintage Christmas

So this is it, only one day left till Christmas Eve.  Let’s doll up and spend the holidays with some of those joyful classics. Have yourself a charming vintage Christmas. And bless y’all!

Christmas songs:

Christmas TV episodes:

Christmas radio:

Our Miss Brooks

TV classics: Our Miss Brooks

USA 1952-56, 4 seasons,  130 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS, black & white. Created by: Al Lewis. Cast: Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Jane Morgan, Robert Rockwell, Richard Crenna, Gloria McMillan

Plot summary: Connie Brooks is an English teacher who fights a daily battle of sarcasm and wits with her students and colleagues, landlady and principle while all she’s really after is love.

Review: Originally introduced on radio in 1948, Our Miss Brooks was a big comedy success for Eve Arden and her talented cast of fellow actors. Moving on to television in 1952, the cast remained almost completely intact as they continued to entertain their audience with great approval. On TV (and radio respectively), Robert Rockwell succeeded Jeff Chandler as Connie Brooks’ love interest Philip Boynton. He was later replaced by Gene Barry as Gene Talbot when Miss Brooks moved from a public on to a private school in 1955 to change the setting and tone (Miss Brooks switched roles from pursuer to pursued). These alterations were not particularly well received by the audience and ultimately broke the show’s neck. Philip Boynton’s mid-season return did not prevent cancellation but the character appeared in the follow-up movie in which he then finally got married to the leading lady in 1956.

Our Miss Brooks was one of the first hit shows on television, popularly rerun for several years. The show was praised by its audience and critics alike and lived on in its original form on radio until 1957. Our Miss Brooks was a witty, smart and entertaining show which introduced a female lead who was capable in her job, warmhearted and feminine. She was groundbreaking as a working woman on television, a teacher who did address many realistic issues of her profession in a comedic way. She was also competent, funny and independent in her job, a direct contrast to a predominance of housewives and mothers. Our Miss Brooks did not glorify teaching or working girls, nor did it belittle traditional homemakers. The program offered an insight into a woman’s life outside of the home, a lady who handled her students and colleagues with sarcasm and wit.

Today, fifty-five years after going off the air, Our Miss Brooks is every bit as entertaining as it used to be although our realities and perception of working women have changed. Eve Arden’s performance is still gripping and hilarious, her repartee genuine and priceless, the supporting cast supportive in the best of sense, adding to the program’s top notch quality. So if you’ve been unfamiliar with Our Miss Brooks so far but like to to be entertained in a smart and amusing way, then give Connie Brooks a chance to win you over. She’s a classy lady whose comebacks may knock you off your feet while she’s trying to allure her future husband.

Our Miss Brooks sample episode and Our Miss Brooks feature film

More info: Our Miss Brooks radio program and Our Miss Brooks website.