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.

“It A Wonderful Life” Actor – Bob Anderson

My wife likes to tell people I have a “It’ A Wonderful Life” philosophy of life. I do believe that everyone’s life is important. We all have a part in the way this world is.

The reference is, of course, from 1946 film produced and directed by Frank Capra and starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It takes place in the town of Bedford Falls where plays Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose attempted suicide on Christmas Eve, gains the attention of his guardian angel, Clarence who is sent to help him in his hour of need. Much of the film is told through flashbacks spanning his entire life as we see all the people whose lives have been touched by George and the difference he has made to the community in which he lives.

During those flashbacks young George is played Bob Anderson. It is Anderson who has taken his Final Taxi at age 75.

Robert J. Anderson grew up in Hollywood to a movie family. His father, Gene, was an assistant director and later a production manager. His uncles were directors William Beaudine and James Flood and his brothers and cousins were editors and production managers.

Anderson’s introduction to films began when he was literally snatched from his crib by relatives to appear in a movie scene that called for a baby..

He was 7 when he appeared in the 1940 Shirley Temple film “Young People” and went on to appear in other movies such as 1945’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

Bob Anderson (right) with H. B Warner (left) in 1946 film "It's A Wonderful Life."

But he was best known for his role as the young Bailey in Frank Capra’s 1946 “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In one scene, the story called for him to spot a potentially fatal error made by a drunken druggist, played by H.B. Warner.

Warner took the role seriously and on the day of shooting had been drinking and was “pretty ripe” as the scene called for Warner’s character to slap the boy.

Anderson told the Los Angeles Times in 1996 that the scene and its rehearsals were painful.

“He actually bloodied my ear,” Anderson told the paper. “My ear was beat up and my face was red and I was in tears.”

“At the end when it was all over, he (Warner) was very lovable. He grabbed me and hugged me, and he meant it,” Anderson said.

After “Wonderful Life” Anderson played in “The Bishop’s Wife” (1947), and in Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah ( 1949) among others. He also appeared on TV, including a supporting role to Disney’s “Spin and Marty” characters in the 1950s. I remember seeing this during the reruns of the Mickey Mouse Club.
Anderson enlisted in the Navy during the Korean War, serving as a photographer on aircraft carriers. After the war, he spent four decades in the movie industry. From the 1950s through the 1990s he worked steadily, rising from second assistant director to production manager for movies and TV shows.

Favorite Christmas Movies – Thank You Very Much, Anton Rodgers !

There are thousands of Christmas movies out there and everyone seems to have a favorite.
It’s one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit by dusting off your favorite Christmas films and watching Rudolph, Charlie Brown, Ralphie, Clark Griswold, Ebenezer Scrooge, and other classic characters as they celebrate the yuletide season.

Among the top holiday classics includes that one that we see every year on TV for 24 hours straight. It does not have Jack Bauer, but it does have Ralphie and his family along with at leg lamp. “A Christmas Story” had been around since 1983 and has become a must see every year for many families. The director of that movie Bob Clark took his Final Taxi earlier this year. ( Look for the Bob Clark podcast on Finaltaxi.com) “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid!”

Another favorite is the James Stewart and Donna Reed movie, It’s A Wonderful Life. This is my wife’s favorite Christmas movie but I can watch it anytime of the year. It tells that each of our lives are important and without one of us the whole world can change.

Other Christmas favorites include Miracle On 34th Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Bells Of St. Marys , Ill Be Home For Christmas , Scrooged, Earnest Saves Christmas , White Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to name just a few.

TV shows get into the season as well. What is Christmas without a few Rankin-Bass animagic cartoons? Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer is a must see classic every year as well as Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. I love the Charlie Brown’s Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. How many TV series have done Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol? I remember the Flintstones, The Simpsons, Mr. Magoo and even BlackAdder meeting the three spirits of Christmas.

All this talk about Christmas movies is to tell you that my all time favorite Christmas movie is called Scrooge.

Scrooge was a 1970 musical film adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 story, A Christmas Carol. It was filmed in London, directed by Ronald Neame, and starred Albert Finney in the title role. The film’s musical score was composed by Leslie Bricusse and Ian Fraser. With eleven musical arrangements interspersed throughout, the award-winning motion picture is a faithful musical retelling of the original, with one exception. That one departure from the novel takes place during the visit of The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. In a nightmarish scene, Scrooge falls, screaming, through his own open grave, through a seemingly bottomless shaft, and into the very bowels of hell, where Marley tells him of his appointment as Lucifer’s personal clerk. The frightened Scrooge’s massive chain arrives on the backs of several burly, hooded “demons” who wrap it around him, fairly crushing him to the floor, amid his futile cries to Marley for help. This scene is so intense that it is often edited or censored from television airings. I was a very small child when I saw it and it scared me silly.

One musical number received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. The piece was called Thank You Very Much. During it Scrooge is unaware that he is seeing his own funeral in the future. He finds everyone singing and dancing on his coffin. The ring leader and main singer is Tom Jenkins, played by actor Anton Rodgers .

Anton Rodgers has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 74 on December 1 2007.

Anton was known for his television performances, specifically his long-running roles in the television sitcoms Fresh Fields and May to December. However, he has also had a long career as an actor on both stage and film. Onstage he ranged from contemporary comedy and satirical farce to Restoration comedy, Ibsen, Shaw and Wilde, and Peter Nichols. He appeared in films such as The Fourth Protocol (1987), The Day of the Jackal (1973), and Son of the Pink Panther (1993). He was also in the Frank Oz film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) where he played Inspector Andre along side Steve Martin and Michael Cane.
He was married to the actress Elizabeth Garvie, whom he met while filming the 1982 drama series, Something in Disguise.

Thank you very much, Anton Rodgers.

I am sure there are several other Christmas movies or TV shows that I have missed. What is you favorite holiday film? What movie or show gets you in the Christmas mood?

Invite an axe-murderer into your home this Christmas

It has been a week since Halloween and my podcasts of ‘ true stories of horror ‘ went over well this year it seems. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit when I read a news story this morning. It would fit in my true horror tales and also the death history stories I tell.

It seems the German city of Hanover is getting slammed for featuring an axe wielding serial killer on a children’s Christmas advent calendar. Tourism officials have defended the move by saying mass murderer Fritz Haarmann was part of the German city of Hanover’s history.

Haarmann killed 24 young men, chopped up their corpses and dumped their remains in the local river Leine. He appears on the Advent calendar hiding behind a tree on the river bank.

Haarmann stalked Hanover more than 80 years ago and his victims were aged between 13 and 20. Rumors had it that he would then peddle meat from the bodies of his victims as black market pork. His accomplice, Hans Grans, sold the clothing of his victims. Haarmann was sentenced to death and beheaded in 1925.

The calendar is already on sale at tourism offices and shows children singing Xmas carols and laughing as Santa hands out Xmas gifts – and the Star of Bethlehem twinkles over the rooftops.

But over the first door of the calendar, a trilby wearing man peeks out from behind a tree with a meat cleaver in his left hand.

Mass murder stalk vitims on Christmas calender.
Head of the Hanover tourism board, Hans-Christian Nolte, has defended the calendar, saying: “He is part of our city’s history. Even on guided tours the serial killer’s story is told.”