Favorite Native American, Egyptian, Klingon, Michael Ansara, Dies

Michael Ansara, 91, TV, screen, and voice actor best known for his portrayal of Cochise in the American television series “Broken Arrow”has taken his Final Taxi.  Another popular role was that of Klingon Commander Kang on three different Star Trek TV series.  He was one of only a handful of actors to boldly go from “Star Trek [the Original Series]” to “Deep Space Nine” to “Voyager” – playing the exact same character on each of them.

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Ansara played Kane in the 1979–81 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart on the NBC series, Law of the Plainsman. He guest starred on many of the most well-known television series of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” “The Rifleman,” “The Untouchables,” “Perry Mason,” “The Outer Limits,” “Ben Casey,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Lost in Space,” “Bewitched,” “The Fugitive,” “The Mod Squad,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Hawaii 5-0” and “Kojak.” 

In later years he took on several voice acting roles, providing the voice for Mr. Freeze in “Batman: The Animated Series” and General Warhawk in the Rambo cartoon.  Ansara was married for 16 years to Barbara Eden who is best known for her role in the hit sitcom, “I Dream of Jeannie”.  They even acted together in that series three times.

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Voice of Aquaman, Norman Alden, Character Actor for 50 Years Dies

The first celebrity I ever met was an actress called Judy Strangis. It was at Universal Studios in California in the mid 70’s. I watched her on a TV series called “Room 222” and had seen her in a few TV appearances of “Batman.” During these shows she worked alongside Julie Newmar who played the slinky, conniving Catwoman. Electra Woman and Dyna GirlWhen I met Ms. Strangis she was working on “Electra Woman and Dyna Girl”, a children’s Saturday morning program. In this female version of Batman, the women donned outfits with capes and battled a bevy of costumed villains. They operated out of the secret Electrabase, which was headed by Frank Heflin. Heflin designed and built the heroines’ sophisticated equipment, and he helped them track down the bad guy of the week using the mysterious, high tech gadgetry that also gave them their special powers. Heflin was played by Norman Alden, a character actor who had parts in hundreds of films, TV shows and commercials.

Norman Alden has taken his final taxi at 87.

Alden entertained me – and countless other children – for many years. I was an avid Justice League of America comic book fan so when the cartoon “Super Friends” came out in 1972, I was jazzed to see some of my favorite heroes every Saturday morning. Alden was the voice of several characters on the show but is perhaps best known as the voice of Aquaman.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Alden got his start on “The Bob Cummings Show” in 1957 and appeared in hundreds of TV series episodes, including ” Rugrats,” “Honey West,” “Fay,” “My Three Sons,” “Bonanza” “My Favorite Martian,” “The Big Valley,” Lassie,” “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Hogan’s Heroes ,” “The Rookies,” “Adam-12,” “Aaahh!!! Real Monsters,” “Combat!,” “Planet of the Apes,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “JAG” and “Rango” where he had a recurring role as Capt. Horton.Norman Alden In the mid 1970s, he starred in episodes of the comedy TV soap opera parody “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” until his character Coach Leroy Fedders drowned in a bowl of soup. I recall him being in the 1960s television series “Batman,” where he played one of the Joker’s henchmen.

One of my favorite Disney films is “The Sword in the Stone” (1963). In the movie, Alden voiced Sir Kay, King Arthur’s brother. He played Johnny Ringo in 1961’s “The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp” and also had movie roles in “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970), “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” (1977), “Semi-Tough” (1977), “They Live” (1988), “Ed Wood”(1994), “Patch Adams” (1998),”K-Pax” (2001) and in the 1986 animated film “Transformers” where he played the voice of a Kranix, a robot who narrowly escapes destruction by Unicron, voiced by Orson Welles. Many will remember him in 1985’s “Back to the Future” as the owner of the coffee shop who employs future mayor Goldie Wilson. One of the funniest scenes in the movies is his character’s exchange with Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) about “Pepsi Free.”

This multi-talented man – and his face and voice – will be sorely missed.

 

PODCAST: Batman Creator’s 10 Year Anniversary

Bob Kane  was an American comic book artist and writer, credited as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman. He died November 3, 1998.

Even In Death Elvis Still Huge Money Maker

I walked into K-mart last week and saw all the Christmas decorations were out and next to all the Halloween costumes. As I strolled down the aisles I saw all the different Christmas ornaments that are being released this year. They had the regular Peanuts and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer decorations as well as new ones with Hello Kitty and Disney’s Princesses. The one that stuck out in my mind was the Elvis Presley Christmas statures, ornaments and knick knacks. Is he still as popular as Charlie Brown or Ariel the Little Mermaid?  I have to guess so since even thought he has been dead for over 30 years he is still one of the biggest money makers in show business.

Elvis is not the only dead celebrity that is making the big bucks as several continue to rake in millions in income. The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll pulled in US$52 million last year, more than some of today’s biggest living pop stars like Justin Timberlake (US$44 million) and Madonna (US$40 million).

Dying at age 42 in 1977, Presley topped the list for a second year running due to income generated from visitors to his Graceland estate to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death, and merchandising. That explains the Christmas items I saw this year.

“Snoopy” creator Charlie Schultz, who died in 2000 at 77, takes second spot on Forbes’ Top-Earning Dead Celebrities for 2007, with posthumous earnings of US$33 million.

His heirs inked an agreement last year with Warner Bros Studios, which boosted him up a notch this year.

The late Heath Ledger, who died in January this year from over-medication, debuted on the list in the third place, with an estimated US$20 million earnings, most of which came from his last movie role as the Joker in the box office hit, “The Dark Knight”.

Albert Einstein is fourth despite having been dead for over 50 years, with his “Baby Einstein” toy franchise bringing in US$18 million.

“Beverly Hills 90210” producer Aaron Spelling, who died in 2006, is fifth, with US$15 million, mainly from royalties of reruns of his popular shows.

Rounding up the list are “Dr Seuss” children book author Theodor Geisel with US$12 million, Beatle John Lennon with US$9 million, pop art artist Andy Warhol with US$8 million, iconic actress Marilyn Monroe with US$6.5 million, and actor Steve McQueen with US$5 million.

I am sure next year we will see Paul Newman join that list with all the food items with his name on them.

Aquaman Creator – Paul Norris

 

Name just a few super-heroes that you know and one character may pop up in that list.

Aquaman.

He has never got the popularity of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman or Spider-man, but he is a hero that many of us grew up to. Either in comic books or on Saturday morning cartoons, Aquaman was a part of that trivia of our youth.

Aquaman is a superhero in DC Comics that was created by Paul Norris ( and Mort Weisinger,) for More Fun Comics # 73 (Nov. 1941). Initially a backup feature for the main attraction of Superboy, Aquaman was later featured in his own title multiple times. Nearly two decades later, during the superhero-revival period known as the Silver Age of Comic Books, he was a founding member of the Justice League of America. Aquaman is king of Atlantis and has the power to communicate with sea creatures.
Aquaman has also appeared in animated and live-action television programs. Most will remember him from the Super Friends or the long running Aquaman cartoon show in the 60’s.

The man who help create Aquaman, Paul Norris, has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 93.

Born on April 26, 1914 in Greenville, Ohio, Norris studied at Midland Lutheran College and at the Dayton Art Institute before being hired for the Dayton Daily News as an illustrator and cartoonist. In 1939, he headed to New York to seek a better job. By 1940, he was drawing comics for Prize Publications, where he created such “star strips” as Yank and Doodle, Power Nelson and Futureman.

Norris was at DC Comics in 1941. There, he and editor-writer Weisinger created Aquaman.

His first credit with DC is a revamp of the Sandman. Sandman has always been my favorite super hero. The simple green three-piece suit with purple cape and a gas mask was something I could see someone wearing instead of the tights and cape. Norris thought otherwise and followed what was popular for the time giving Sandman yellow and purple tights and a boy sidekick. It worked for the time period but I was glad he turned back to the gas masked hero many years later.

During WW II Norris illustrated propaganda leaflets to be dropped from aircraft over Okinawa, urging Japanese soldiers to surrender. After the war he worked with the King Features Syndicate as a “troubleshooter” with such adventure strips as Flash Gordon and Secret Agent X-9.

I the 1950s, Norris drew issues of Dell Comics’ Tom Corbett, Space Cadet and Jungle Jim, the latter of which he had previously drawn as a newspaper comic strip. The following decade, he drew stories of jungle adventurer Tarzan and science-fiction hero Magnus, Robot Fighter in comic books for Gold Key Comics. He also drew one of my favorite DC speedsters Johnny Quick.

Later he drew comics for Marvel of Hanna-Barbera characters including Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo, and Dyno-mutt.

Noted as one of the last of the great creators of Golden Age DC superheroes, Aquaman stories still get a “Created by Paul Norris” credit on them.