PODCAST: Inventors of Mr. Freeze & Beach Party Movies

Direct Download: Final Taxi Podcast

This week the Final Taxi talks about Max Hodge who took an unknown comic villain and turn him into on of Batman’s most remembered rouges, Mr. Freeze.

Also we follow the life of Tony Caras who after working in horror films with Rodger Corman and made film history in the 60s with ‘beach party’ movies.

Frankie and Annette

The Nitwits: Jim Carlson

If you remember the show Laugh-in or have watched it in reruns you may remember a skit where a dirty old man (called Tyrone and played by Arte Johnson) would ask little old lady ( named Gladys played by Ruth Buzzi), “Do you believe in the hereafter?”
“Yes,” replies an innocent Gladys.
Tyrone would then say, “Then you know what I’m here after.” This then had Gladys bopping Tyrone over the head with her handbag.

Another would have Tyrone ask “ Would you like to go to a play? Gladys hits him with her bag.Final Taxi Logo
Tyrone: “Would you like to go to a concert?” Gladys hits him again.
“Would you like to go to a funeral?” Tyrone would say as he falls off the park bench.
It was a regular running gag on the show.

NBC collectively called these two characters The Nitwits when they went to animation in the mid 1970s as part of the series Baggy Pants and the Nitwits. Buzzi and Johnson both voiced their respective roles in the cartoon. This series was animated by Warren Batchelder. (Listen to Final Taxi podcast on Batchelder)

These classic characters were created by the mind of Jim Carlson. He created other characters and jokes for Laugh-In and other shows. Jim Carlson has taken the Final Taxi at age 75.

A long-time writer for this and many other series, it was Carlson’s mentor, who was comedian Morey Amsterdam, that saw his talent and helped him get into the comedy business.

Besides Laugh-In, Carlson wrote for such live-action TV series as Hee-Haw, Adam-12, Emergency!, CHiPs, The Bionic Woman and the original Battlestar Galactica.

He and Terrence McDonnell were frequent collaborators. Together they wrote the 1986 ABC special The Mouse And The Motorcycle. Combining animation and live action, it earned Churchill Films and ABC Entertainment a Peabody Award that year. Their 1987 TV special Dorothy Meets Ozma Of Oz also combined animation and live action.

They wrote the 1988 theatrical animated feature Pound Puppies And The Legend Of Big Paw, which featured the voice of Nancy Cartwright the year before The Simpsons debuted. ( Cartwright is the voice of Bart Simpson)

They were executive story editors of the 1987 animated series Spiral Zone for Atlantic-Kushner-Locke. Based on a line of toys, it aired for 65 episodes in syndication.

I will try to forgive Carlson for one of the stinker he gave us as he was one of many writers for the 1993 MGM incarnation of The Pink Panther, which featured a talking panther and aired in syndication over two years. I don’t understand the reason Pink Panther or Tom and Jerry need to talk.

The writing team also worked for the animation show Beetlejuice, and the X-Men cartoon.

He was still actively working on his next television show at the time of his death. He was also to have been a faculty member at the Rock-Solid Writing writer’s conference in Castle Rock.

Jim Carlson left his legacy in writing over 700 episodes of comedy, drama, children’s and family programming as well as four feature films and countless video programs.

Crematory Holds 19th Century Feminist’s Remains Hostage.

Is a crematory in Queens holding hostage a pioneer in woman’s rights?

Article on Lisle LesterLisle Lester was a reporter in the 1800’s who had a rocky career in publishing. She was widely known for her strong opinions on many topics and her tussles with the male typographical unions. She worked for the Milwaukee Sentinel and in 1863, Lisle took charge of the Pacific Monthly, a woman’s literary magazine previously known as the Hesperian. During her career she burned many bridges and pissed off more people than one should during a lifetime.

Miss Lester took that final taxi in June of 1888 in New York. What was worst is that no one claimed her cremated remains. There was no next of kin and one wonders about friends or loved ones. Did she really make that many people mad in her lifetime by standing up for her beliefs in women’s suffrage?

Her remains have sat there for over 119 year on a shelf at the Fresh Pond Crematory in Queens.

The plight of Lester remains were found out by an author who wrote a book about her. Fay Campbell Kaynor was doing research for her 2001 book, “Lapdogs and Bloomer Girls: The Life and Times of Lisle Lester, 1837-1888” and found Miss Lester’s ashes at the crematory but they would not release them until a storage fee was paid. The bail was set at $5000. Kaynor contacted the Fond du Lac County Historical Society and explained what the crematory wanted to release this historic figure.

While she worked with the Fond du Lac County Historical Society on the release, Kaynor died leaving the task to Jack Copet a publications coordinator. He wrote letters back and forth to the business and the storage charges grew to $7,522. According to a price schedule sent to him, the fees went up significantly over time. For instance, between 1902 and 1957 storage cost $12 a year. That was up to $300 a year by 1991.

Copet contacted Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin where Lester studied in the 1850s. The school offered “oral and written support for your project at this time,” but no money. The Wisconsin Historical Society also said no. Copet wrote to the National Organization for Women about the post-mortem plight of this early feminist, but so far hasn’t heard back from them.

The Fond du Lac newspaper wrote and article and eulogized Lester and said her writing was “racy, pungent and of good literary style.”

It wrote that Lester was born Sophia Walker in New Hampshire and later moved to the Fond du Lac area of Wisconsin and adopted the pen name. She came to Milwaukee and worked at the Sentinel in 1863. Lester served there as a printer and trained other women for the job, much to the chagrin of men who dominated the field.

Twice divorced and career-driven, Lester led the Badger Journal in Wisconsin. She went on to San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York and other cities, making her living as a columnist, dramatist, civil rights advocate, editor and theater critic. Her death came during a bout of pneumonia. She was 50.

It is a shame that there is no memorial to this noteworthy woman and that she is being held hostage because of greed. As she fought for the equality of women we should fight for her to be released and be given final peace.

Bow-wow- not only cats sense death.

A few blogs back I talked about Oscar, the Rhode Island feline who spookily holds death-bed vigils for residents at Providence’s Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre.

 It appears it’s not just cats who have the gift of sensing when that Final Taxi is drawing near. We now read about Scamp, a Schnauzer from Ohio, who goes to the bedsides of the dying elderly.

Scamp prowls the corridors of The Pines nursing home in Canton and “tries to raise the alarm when he gets the feeling that one of the seniors is at death’s door”.  Staff member explain that the dog will run around a room or bark at the room when he knows that something is going on.

Director of nursing Adeline Baker said Scamp had forecast “practically every one of the 40 or so deaths that have occurred in the three years”, including that of Andrew Popa. Popa’s friend Yvette Notturno has heard about the dog’s “gift”, and “when she got a call from a nurse that Scamp wouldn’t leave her friend’s bedside, she came right away knowing that her friend didn’t have long”. Popa duly died shortly after.

The Schnauzer owner, Deirdre Huth, stresses that Scamp’s presence was welcomed by residents  of the Pines. They know that he is not a grim reaper.  Baker has said, “It’s kind of comforting to know that maybe at the end of our lives, if we don’t have family members, there will be somebody there to be with us.”

The king is still dead.

ELVIS Presley fans across the world will unite in tribute today to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of The King.

Thousands of fans have made the pilgrimage to Presley’s home, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee, where the event will be commemorated over several days. Fans are even dying to see Elvis’ grave. An unidentified woman from New Jersey was found Wednesday by family members in a tent in an RV park down the street from Presley’s Graceland mansion. The heat index had reached 113 and no relief is in site.

I will not be driving down the road the 3 plus hours from my home to see this. Not just because of the heat, I was not much of a fan. I respect what he did for rock music but there were a few underhanded deals he made to try to stop music proression. ( Trying to get The Beatles banned from visiting the US is one.) But he does have a place in music history.

Presley began his career as one of the first performers of rockabilly, an uptempo fusion of country and rhythm and blues with a strong back beat. His novel versions of existing songs, mixing “black” and “white” sounds, made him popular — and controversial — as did his uninhibited stage and television performances. He recorded songs in the rock and roll genre, with tracks like “Jailhouse Rock” and “Hound Dog” later embodying the style. Presley had a versatile voice and had unusually wide success encompassing other genres, including gospel, blues, ballads and pop. To date, he is the only performer to have been inducted into four separate music halls of fame.

He made  thirty-three movies — mainly poorly reviewed musicals. His death, at the age of 42,  on August 16 1977 shocked his fans worldwide. For months after you saw lots of Elvis crap being sold to make a buck off his name. Tons of “best of” records were pushed on late-nite TV.

I got pretty tried of it real fast so when the band Peter and the Test-tube Babies came out with a punk song called “Elvis Is Dead” I couldn’t wait to play it on my radio show. I didn’t make friends with the Elvis fans.

Elvis Is Dead Lyrics

Elvis had an heart-attack, ‘cos he got too bleedin’ fat.
He weighed nearly half a ton, he looked more like a pregnant mum.
Elvis is dead, Elvis is dead.
Elvis had a gammy leg, he had a gammy head.
He had a gammy kidney, he’s better-off dead.
In August 1977, Elvis met his fate.
But he couldn’t get into heaven, ‘cos he couldn’t get thru the gate.
Elvis is dead, Elvis is dead

The Flexi-pop of Factory Records – Tony Wilson

My first encounter with Factory Records was in 1980 when I was given a flexible plastic single by the band Joy Division. It was a little different than the punk rock I was listening to. Mainly at that time of my life I was buy Rough Trade singles no matter what they were.

Factory Records was founded by Tony Wilson who took the Final Taxi at the age of 57.Final Taxi Logo

Born Anthony H. Wilson on February 20, 1950 in Salford, England, he went on to become a renowned broadcast journalist, band manager, record label executive and nightclub owner.

As the Factory Records boss, he was responsible for signing legendary bands including Joy Division and New Order to his label.

Also, as owner of the renowned Hacienda nightclub in Manchester, he played a key role in the Madchester scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s that mixed indie rock and dance music and included artists such as Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses.

Wilson reportedly became involved in the Manchester music scene in the 1970s when hosting the culture and music program ‘So It Goes’ on Granada Television.

After covering a Sex Pistols performance in June 1976, he described the experience as “nothing short of an epiphany.” According to popular accounts, the bands Joy Division,
the Fall, the Smiths and the Buzzcocks were all formed by people who had attended that same Sex Pistols concert. Wilson booked the Pistols for one of the first television broadcasts of British punk rock.

From signing the likes of Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays, to being a general support of exciting an innovative music, Wilson established himself as a true indie music hero.

My favorite Merv Griffin moment-

As most know by now entertainer turned TV mogul turned real-estate tycoon Merv Griffin took his Fianl Taxi this week at the age 82. Merv Griffin won ten Daytime Emmy Awards and was nominated for another 22! He received a Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 2005 Daytime Emmy Awards. Merv Griffin began his career as a singer. As the singer for The Freddy Martin Band, Mr. Griffin scored a huge hit with the 1949 novelty song “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts.”
It was in television that Merv Griffin left his mark on the industry. His talk show “The Merv Griffin Show” ran in several incarnations between 1962 and 1986. It was during this time that I remember many a summer in the 70’s watching his show through the porch screen while stringing green beans or peeling corn. It was a show my mother enjoyed watching except when that scantly clad Charo would be his guest.

Millions of TV fans are endebted to Merv Griffin for creating the hit game shows “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” The shows brought Mr. Griffin a real fortune when Coca-Cola and Sony bought him out for $250,000,000.00 in 1986. Mr. Griffin then expanded his business interests into hotels and resorts. Merv Griffin appeared in a few films including “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” “Phantom of the Rue Morgue” “Slapstick,” and my favorite appearance of him… when he played with Steve Martin in “The Man With Two Brains.”