1/11/2011

item 1 >>> Now Playing… bucks fizz Bucks Fizz was England’s answer to ABBA…they were pretty lame for the most part, but “Piece of the Action” is OK, sez me.

item 2 >>> LQQK @ †h∆†! dont worry A while back I mentioned Louis Prima and Keely Smith in my list of favorite comedians…well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Here’s 2 for the price of one…these cats knock me out every time.

item 3 >>> Of all the topics I’ve discussed here at DFHC, I was surprised by the response to my discussion of the various Clarabells. I’ll get into it a little deeper today, but one caution: this is not the final word…there’s a blizzard of confusing info out there to shovel thru. But first, his name is Clarabell Hornblow. Not Clarabelle with an E on the end…you’re perhaps thinking of Disney’s Clarabelle Cow? Not to be confused with Clara Cluck, but accidents will happen. And not Hornblower, that’s Horatio, naval hero of 2 dozen novels and short stories. Actually, a few sources claim the full name is Clarabell Hornblow Clown. Jury’s out on that. Robert Keeshan was the first to play the clown, initially as a glorified page whose job was to keep the kids in line. One intriguing version is that he initially, and this is 1947, wore just a green-striped suit, no make-up…and that after Emmett Kelly appeared on the show, he decided Clarabell needed a “face” and designed one. Interesting…I’m on the trail of it.

item 4 >>> In 1950, Keeshan was fired, supposedly because of his perceived lack of talent…could’t act, couldn’t sing either. Well, Clarabell didn’t talk or sing, right? Yes, but Keeshan was needed to play other characters, like Chief Featherman. I’ve seen numerous shows, and while he’s wooden as the Indian, shouldn’t he be? With his Clarabell, I see nothing to fault…and honestly, the “acting” on this show was broad as can be…and rudimentary to say the least. It was all it needed to be…I’m taking a guess that Bob was perhaps a bit hard to get along with, and amuybe the many memoirs out there will shed light, when i can get around to it. Gangly dancer Gil Lamb took this place, viewers revolted, Keeshan was back within a couple of weeks. He was fired for good, along with most of the other cast in 1952…that was over money, pure and simple. Who took over the role?

item 5 >>> That was Nick Nicholson, whose first name was Robert, and you’ll sometimes see him referred to as Bob or Bobby. He played the character in a quieter, less rambunctious way…what was called at the time the “new Clarabell.” Lew Anderson became Clarabell in 1954 till the show’s end in 1960. Here’s where it gets a bit messy…one source says Henry McLaughlin was Clarabell for the “bulk” of 1954-56, with Anderson playing Clarabell  sporadically until he took over for good in 1956. Ed Alberian is also credited as being Clarabell during this period, altho I still have no evidence he did anything but make public appearances as the clown…altho he definitely was Gus Gasbag on the show. As I said, a lot to sort out…still, most sources just list the 3: Keeshan-Nicholson-Anderson, and that’s it. But there was even one other Clarabell…

item 6 >>> And that was Bob Brunner, who was Clarabell on a 2nd season episode of Happy Days, which also starred Buffalo Bob and Howdy himself. You might remember the story: Richie enters a Howdy Doody lookalike contest to get on the show & take a picture of the clown without his makeup…a scoop for his school paper. He succeeds, then destroys the photo. But Bob wasn’t an actor: the wrote the show!

item 7 >>> But listen, this whole thing got started when I found an old clipping from 1974, and thought I might critique it for accuracy. Remember I opined that print trumps the net? Well, that works in certain cases obviously…I said an hour in the stacks at the library would determine how many NFL pre-season games Lynn’s Manning Bowl hosted, something that I can’t confirm on the web. But like I also said, “A mistake in print is a joy forever”…and you have to take newspapers, magazines, even published books with a grain of salt. So where’s this article? Getting to it…but first, I have to tell you a little about the history of anther clown, Bozo.

item 8 >>> Alan W. Livingston invented Bozo the Clown…he was a writer and producer at Capitol records in 1946, assigned to come up with stories for their new read-along record & book sets. Pinto Colvig was signed to voice the clown…best known as the voice of Goofy over at Disney. The thing just exploded, to the point where all of Capitol’s kiddie records would have a “Bozo Approved” sticker…and it lead to a TV show in Los Angeles in 1950. Colvig was Bozo there too, and looking at this photo, do I sense a Stephen King connection? Other actors would also play the role, and one of them, Larry Harmon, bought the rights to the character in 1956, and turned it into a national TV franchise. He would eventually claim that he personally trained over 200 Bozos…and that leads us to…

item 9 >>> So let’s do what I was going to do…and no offense to Ed Alberian, who indeed had a long and storied clowning career, or the venerable Percy Shain. I’m just interested to see how it came out. And truth is, not too well. OK, he misspelled Clarabell(e), but that happens a lot. But the part where Alberian “auditioned for the role and got the job. For the next decade, for 1950 to 1960, he was the big funmaker on that popular show, also creating such characters as Chief Thundercloud, Chief Featherman, and Gus Gasbag…” Well, that’s just plain wrong. The date of 1950 is obviously wrong, and it’s Thunderthud not Thundercloud. But as I’ve explained, whether he was ever on the screen as Clarabell is in considerable doubt. And in any event, the 2 Chiefs existed long before he came on the scene. Next ¶…”He also played Bozo for seven years in the New York area…” Well, the Big Apple Bozos are highly documented, and no sign of Alberian. Doesn’t mean some more snooping may turn up new evidence, but it kinda looks like old Percy was parroting puffed-up press releases, especially that long list of “stage show” characters. To be continued….?

item 10 >>> Oh and…by the way…Alan W. Livingston has another claim to fame…he signed the Beatles to Capitol Records in November of 1963…by then he was President of the label. Belatedly is an understatement…

Wicked Ballsy


My sister Suzanne Darrah took pictures of these gravity-defying salt-and-pepper shakers. We used them when we were young for special occasions, not regular meals…I mean, who puts salt on Spaghettio’s? Well, ketchup maybe…seems I recall my brother Dave was big into that. But the point here is you can’t spill anything…when the shakers are bumped, they fall to this semi-horizontal position…and from there they’re like wobbling weebles…push ’em down, they bob back up. Used to amaze us as kids, I can tell you…Stop playing with the seasonings!!


shameless yellow plugs…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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