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The Story of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

The official title of what was to become (probably) the most beloved of Abbott and Costello's 30-odd films is actually Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein or Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein. These were the titles on the posters and lobby cards, as well as the film's opening credits. No matter, to millions of Abbott and Costello fans as well as millions of horror film fans, it will forever be known, even if incorrectly, as Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The original, planned title was actually The Brain of Frankenstein, but this was changed to make it sound less like a standard horror film, as well as to cash in on A&C's box office appeal.

Lou Costello wasn't exactly thrilled when he read the movie's original screenplay. "No way I'll do that crap," he complained, "My little girl could write something better than this." A $50,000.00 advance in his salary, plus the inclusion of  Charles Barton, who Bud and Lou both loved, as the film's director, helped change Lou's mind. (Bud and Lou were to be paid a final salary of $105,000).

Made on a shoestring budget of less than $800,000, production began on February 5, 1948.

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7 Classic TV Shows and When They Jumped the Shark

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Okay, where exactly did the term "jump the shark" come from? According to Ron Howard, it came from his Happy Days co-star Donnie Most.

One day in 1977, they received the weekly script for the upcoming episode of the show. The episode was actually the third part of a season five three-part episode called "Hollywood." In the episode, the Happy Days gang takes a trip to Hollywood, where Henry Winkler, as Fonzie, clad in swim trunks along with his trademark leather jacket, water skis over a shark to prove how brave he is. The episode was intended to show off Winkler's water skiing abilities.

Most looked over the script and asked Howard, "What do you think of the script?"

Howard shrugged and replied, "People like the show. It's hard to argue with being number one."

Most replied, "He's jumping a shark now?"

Jon Hein claims the term was coined by his roommate, Sean Connolly, at the University of Michigan. According to Hein, "jumping the shark" came from a conversation the two were having regarding the above Happy Days episode, and other TV shows, that had a specific episode or a specific moment in time when they realized the show had peaked and after that moment they had started going downhill. (Image source: TV Tropes)

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Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

One of world history's most bizarre coincidences was the uncanny similarities between Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler. Both were born in 1889, just four days apart, Chaplin on April 16th, Hitler on the 20th. Both grew up in extreme poverty. Each man sported a similar toothbrush mustache. And, as we all know, both were to rise to unparalleled heights of world fame, one as a comedian and movie star, the other as a ruthless, tyrannical monster.

The genesis of Charlie Chaplin's 78th movie, a parody and satire of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, was a little booklet the Nazi party published in 1934 called The Jews Are Watching You. This anti-semitic propaganda booklet was filled with photographs of famous Jewish figures, each one accompanied by a hateful caption. Included in the book was a photo of Chaplin (an error, as Chaplin was not Jewish) along with the caption: "This little Jewish tumbler, as boring as he is monotonous..." Chaplin was shown the booklet by a friend who had procured a copy.

The film's other inspiration was a screening of Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi propaganda documentary Triumph of the Will (1936), which Chaplin viewed in New York with french filmmaker Rene Clair. After viewing the chilling movie, Clair was terrified and declared that it should never be shown. Chaplin, on the other hand, found the film hilarious and laughed uproariously throughout. (Chaplin was later to say that "If I'd ever known of Hitler's actual atrocities I could never have made the film.")

Chaplin prepared the script for The Great Dictator in 1937 and 1938. The film finally went before the cameras in September of 1939.

Film historians rightfully credit the Three Stooges with the first Hitler-Nazi cinematic parody. The Stooges short You Nazty Spy was released in January of 1940. But one must note that The Great Dictator was actually in production months before the Stooges' movie.

Originally, the film's title was simply The Dictator. But Paramount studios had the rights to an unrelated novel by that name written by Richard Harding Davis and demanded a $25,000 fee from Chaplin to use the title. To avoid this unnecessary expense, Chaplin, always a man tight with a dollar, simply added the extra adjective.

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The Marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

He was the most famous and beloved baseball player in the world. She was the movies' most glamorous sex goddess. But our story begins not with Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe, but with Marilyn and a much less famous ballplayer named Gus Zernial.

In 1952, rising starlet Marilyn Monroe went to the Chicago White Sox spring training camp in Pasadena, California, and posed for a few publicity photos with the upcoming Zernial, who, by a bizarre coincidence was being billed as "the new Joe DiMaggio."

Marilyn posed holding a bat in short shorts, a tight sweater and high heels with the much envied (and no doubt delighted) Zernial. No one thought much of the routine publicity shots until Zernial received a phone call from Joe DiMaggio himself. Joe had seen the publicity shots in the newspaper and, much intrigued, asked Gus how he could get in touch wth Marilyn. Gus recommended trying her press agent, which Joe did.

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15 Things You Don't Know About Ernest Borgnine

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

 Ernest Borgnine was one of those rarities, an actor who not only starred in a classic TV series McHale's Navy but was also a huge (and Oscar-winning) movie star. Ernest passed on at the ripe old age of 95 (he looked about 65) on July 8th, 2012.

As an actor, Ernest gave legendary and brilliant performances in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), From Here to Eternity (1953), The Dirty Dozen (1967) and The Wild Bunch (1969), along with dozens of others.

Although he specialized in playing bad guys in his early films, he gained true movie immortality by playing a shy, withdrawn butcher in Marty (1955), a true classic and one of the most intimate films to ever win an Academy Award. Ernest himself earned his one and only Academy Award for Best Actor as the title character in Marty.

He also had a very successful career on television, starring in McHale's Navy (1962-1966), as well as Airwolf, besides making many great guest appearances in such series as Get Smart, The Simpsons and Magnum P.I.

Ernest was beloved far and wide in show business, a well-known "good guy", a genuinely nice, decent man. Okay, let's take a look at a few facts you may not have known about the great Mr. Ernest Borgnine...

1. Ernest was perfectly cast as the star of McHale's Navy, as he had served 10 years in the U.S. Navy. He served on the destroyer USS Lamberton. He earned several decorations for his distinguished service, including the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the World War II victory medal and the American Defense Service Medal.

2. One of Ernest's early jobs was sweeping up the clipped hair from the floor in a barber shop.

3. Ernest claimed the P.T. boat used in McHale's Navy was owned by Howard Hughes.

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What Superhero Had the Oddest Powers?

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Superman would probably be the most famous and popular superhero of all-time. I guess because we are all so familiar with him, Superman's powers don't seem very strange at all. He could fly (interestingly though, in the original Superman comics, he could not fly. He was a leaper. He would make giant leaps around Metropolis). In the Superman radio serial, he could walk through walls and even split himself into two Supermen.

In the 1980 movie Superman II, Superman had a power he never used before or since. He wiped out Lois Lane's memory of his secret identity- with a kiss.

Also, in one comic only (1947's Superman #45), Superman could merge himself with the wall (to escape from an alien prison). In this same unique comic, he molded his face to look like one of the aliens and convinced them to go home. He actually could manipulate the muscles in his face and entire body to assume a new form, in this case a yellow-skinned alien- with pointy ears and no hair, no less.

In another unusual and unique Superman (Action Comics #454) the Man of Steel had an unquenchable appetite. Superman usually is said to not need food because he gets his energy from the sun, but in this issue he scarfs down a mountainous plate of hamburgers.

Superman also once had the power of ventriloquism. In several 50's and '60's comics, the man of steel throws his voice around like Edgar Bergen. As far as having versatility in his super powers, I think we have to agree that Superman wins first prize, but let's move on.

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Jerry Lewis' Early Years

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

 Joseph Levitch (Jerry Lewis) was born in  Newark, New Jersey, at Beth Israel Hospital on March 16, 1926. Note: at least one source claims Jerry's birth name was actually Jerome Levitch. Although he may have been referred to as "Joey" in these very early years, henceforth in this article, for the sake of simplicity and to avoid confusion, he will be referred to as "Jerry."

Jerry's parents were Daniel Levitch (he performed under the stage name "Danny Lewis"), a small-time journeyman master of ceremonies and vaudevillian, and Rachel ("Rae Lewis") nee Brodsky, a pianist, who would accompany Danny on their gigs around the country.

Little Jerry made his performing debut at a club in the Catskills at the age of six. He came on the stage and sang the then-popular depression era song "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" But besides singing, Jerry accidentally stepped on a stage light during his performance and it exploded. This accidental misstep surprised Jerry and evoked his first-ever laugh from an audience. "Not all kids would have liked being laughed at," recalled Jerry years later, "but I was a strange kid." Jerry said his next performance was at the age of eight.

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The Beatles' Movie Yellow Submarine

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

In 1963, the Beatles, newly becoming famous and with their star obviously on the rise, signed a three-picture movie deal with United Artists. They made the first two films, as agreed upon, in quick, neat order.

The first film A Hard Day's Night, made in 1964, was loved by all, fans and critics alike. It made a huge profit and became an instant classic. Help!, the second Beatles movie, was made in 1965 and made a bundle too. But this time the reviews were much more mixed, with most critics finding many flaws and noting the lesser quality, humor, and originality of the second film.

Help!, although the higher-budgeted of the two films, was seen as a disappointment to many, the Beatles included. And most especially to the Beatles' unspoken leader, John Lennon. Lennon was to always cite Help! as being "crap" and other not-so-gracious epithets.

Several other movie projects were put forth, but a third, contract-fulfilling film, was never quite agreed-upon. And so it stood until 1967, when a solution was put forth.

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Alan Hale Jr. "the Skipper"

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Alan Hale MacKahan was born on March 8, 1921 in Los Angeles, California. He was the son of two actors. Alan's father, Alan Hale, had been a legendary journeyman supporting actor in over 200 films, both silent and talkies. His mother, Gretchen Hartman, was also a screen actress. Under the name Grace Barrett, she was a silent film actress in the 1920s. Alan thus grew up around show business personalities (he was a classmate of Mickey Rooney and the two remained lifelong close friends).

Alan caught "the bug" early and started acting at the age of 10. Alan made his Broadway debut in Caught Wet in 1931 (the show ran for less than two months). He was to appear in five or six more plays in his checkered career, before devoting himself full-time to films and later, television. His film debut came in 1933 in Wild Boys of the Road, where he was billed, but was edited out of the film's final release.

After being educated and graduating from Blacke-Fox Military Academy, Alan soon began a steady career as the classic "working actor" in motion pictures. Alan appeared in scores of other films before world war ii, including Dive Bomber (1941) with Errol Flynn, Time Out for Rhythm (1941) with Rudy Vallee and The Shores of Tripoli (1942) with Harry Morgan.

It was probably during this period that Alan, to supplement his income, also found work as a vacuum cleaner salesman. While it is known that Alan did sell vacuums, no specific dates for this alternate employment are given.

In 1943, Alan married Bettina Doerr, who was to have four children with him- Brian, Chris, Lana and Dorian. Alan and Bettina were to be married for 20 years, until 1963. During World War II, Alan enlisted and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. After the war, in 1946, Alan signed a contract with Monogram Studios, Hollywood's "bargain basement" studio, where he proceeded to churn out dozens of films.

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The Beatles' Worst Experience

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

The Beatles arrived in Manila to give two concerts in early July of 1966. This was to be one of their gigs on their 1966 final-ever tour; they had just finished a few very pleasant gigs in Germany. There were “bad vibes” almost from the word “go” as the boys arrived at the Manila airport. 

Ringo: “I hated the Philippines. It was like that hot/gun/Spanish inquisition attitude.” George stated, “As soon as we got there, it was bad news. There were tough gorilla-little men in short sleeves who acted very melancholy.”

The boys were greeted at the airport by severe-looking armed guards and were sternly instructed to get on a boat. A bit scared already, they complied. This was actually the first time in their time together that they were separated from their manager or any of their aides while on tour. They were taken to a limo and solemnly escorted to their hotel.

No one except them knew it, but they had another reason to be scared. The Manila guards had confiscated the boy’s traveling bags- which contained marijuana, illegal there as in many places. (Fortunately for the Fab Four, their bags were not searched and their secret stash was never discovered.)

At the time in Manila, the country was ruled by the dictatorship regime of Ferdinand Marcos and as soon as the Beatles got settled in, they were told they were to attend a reception for the country’s matriarch, Imelda Marcos. Tired and jet-legged, they politely informed the guards they would not be attending. A bit of arguing back and forth went on, but the boys stuck to their guns and settled in for the day.

They were soon joined in their room by their roadies, a few aides and their manager, Brian Epstein. They played two concerts that night, each before crowds of 40,000, and all went well. Their dressing room had been “a mess” and they had been served a horrible meal of corn flakes with lumpy, sour milk and some other horrible-looking food, but thought nothing of it. Little did they realize what was in store for them.

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Tina Louise: Ginger Grant, "the Movie Star"

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

Tina Blacker was born to a Jewish family (she was the only Jewish cast member of Gilligan's Island) on February 11, 1934. The surname name “Louise" was reputedly added by Tina herself. During her senior year in high school, she mentioned to her drama teacher that she was "the only girl in class without a middle name.” She chose the name “Louise" and it stuck. “It's entirely my name. To me it means joy. Nobody in any family can be hurt if anything happens to this name because it's my name only,” she says.

After high school, Tina attended Miami University in Ohio. By the age of 17, Tina had began studying acting, singing and dancing. By the late Fifties, Tina was quickly becoming a fast-rising young actress/sex symbol.

She possessed a great natural beauty and charisma, had wonderful comedic timing, and had an amazing amount of sex appeal. She displayed her versatility in 1957, when she recorded an album It's Time for Tina.

In this period, she had also appeared in several broadway shows, most notably Li'l Abner. It was in Li'l Abner that she played the role of femme fatale Appassionata Von Climax. (in the play, the sexy Apassionata is hired to vamp Li'l Abner. Hmmmm......sound familiar, Gilligan's Island fans?) Although Tina didn't realize it at the time, her character Apassionata was to be the template for her later role as Ginger Grant.

Tina's image as a guy magnet was pushed even farther when she and another upcoming starlet named Jayne Mansfield both posed for the 1958 Frederick's of Hollywood catalogue. To further her sex symbol image, Tina did a pictorial layout for Playboy magazine in May of '58.

But Tina also landed her first movie role in 1958 in God's Llittle Acre. This role was a dramatic one, not the usual "girly eye candy" gig for Tina. By now, Tina seemed to have wanted more serious roles, trying to slightly distance herself from her sex symbol image (she turned down the movie Li'l Abner in 1959).

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