Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Tallulah Trilogy!

NOT the actual cover. Just a mock-up.
Sorry to be days late. I thought Flogger, or at least Little Dougie, would have had this post up on time, but nooooo. I had a celebratory eggnog on Christmas Eve, and woke up ten minutes ago. No book flogging up. Typical!

So my big news is out. Coming late this spring is the publication of the next volume of my memoirs, Tallyho Talulah. This is the biggest publication news of 2012, that and for Halloween, the final volume of The Tallulah Trilogy: My Gruesome Life, will also become available for your eBook readers and Print-on-Demand hard copies.

Of course, credit-hog Little Dougie is listed as the "author." I must start looking at my contracts sober, if I could only figure out when? Readers of my earlier memoir, My Lush Life, will recall that one chapter titled "The Seventies" was but a single blank page. This is because I can't remember anything from 1969 to 1980. I'm told this is common. Well Little Dougie was poking around in my attic one day, and he found a typed manuscript of a memoir I dictated into a tape recorder for a personal assistant to type up each day, of my adventures in the California beachside town of Alta Caca, CA, in the summer of 1974. Reading it, the story was as new to me as it will be to you.

I had gone to Alta Caca to star in a summer-musical theater production of a new musical based on a classic Bette Davis-Joan Crawford movie. I was also teaching a master class in acting for virile teenage boys. While I was there, stuff happened, and there were shenanigans. I made friends and enemies, I had sex, and also got married to yet another husband (at the same time!), I had adventures, and I drank rather a lot. I met some sweet surfers who "hung ten" at sea and on land, I met a very unhappy music man whose wife disappeared mid-summer, and I had some magnificent martinis. It was so lovely there, even the Headless Indian Brave, fell in love.

And, as it turned out, Little Dougie found out that my visit had implications beyond anything I knew. He interviewed the other survivors of that summer - those that can hear my name mentioned without SCREAMING! - and has enlarged the narrative beyond what I remembered, which is easy, because I remember none of this. Tallyho Tallulah will be the best beach read you'll ever get greasy with suntan oil. [Note. The above cover is just to give you the idea. This will not be the cover design. However, the cover of My Gruesome Life below is final.]

This IS the final cover for this book for Halloween.
Little Dougie has a second book coming for Halloween, which completes what he cheekily calls The Tallulah Trilogy, his epic comic novel/movie star memoir, My Gruesome Life.

Let me be clear, My Gruesome Life is not about me. But you may want to read it anyway. Oh, I am in it. They want people to buy it after all; but I merely make cameo appearances in the mid-sections, where I steal the narrative from everyone, upstage the main characters shamelessly, and of course, have yet another new husband unmentioned in My Lush Life or Tallyho Tallulah. I never can keep track of how many husbands I've had, not even when I limit it to just my own husbands.

My Gruesome Life is the autobiography of Guy Thanatos, the famous horror movie icon known as "The Man Who Gave Evil a Bad Name" when he ruled the horror screen along with Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Sir Christopher Lee back in the 1960s. Dougie spent months in 2004, sitting in Maison D'Thanatos, Guy's mountaintop lair/movie star mansion, listening as Guy told Dougie his amazing, terrifying, hilarious life. Think "I, Claudius" set in Hollywood in the 1960s, told as a Vincent Price black comedy of murders. Or think Kind Hearts and Guillotines. It's either the scariest comic novel ever written, or else the funniest horror novel you'll ever read.

I know Guy Thanatos terribly well. I was in his very first movie when he arrived in Hollywood in 1939, East vs West. Later we appeared together in one of his 60s mad scientist/monster movies (He played The Scientist, I had the other main role), Doctor Scary, while I was romancing Al Steele. Guy is mentioned a couple times in My Lush Life, but here he takes center stage. It's a lot of fun, in a sick twisted way of course. So 2012 is the year of Little Dougie in bookstores and online. Exact release dates will be announced here when I have them. The Tallulah Trilogy shall sooon be complete.  What awaits? Tallulah Morehead and the Deathly Complexion?

Now for some bits and stray random thoughts from lately.

Nothing says "Christmas Cheer" like Christmas at The Addams House.
Hilarious. Comedy Central re-ran the Charlie Sheen Roast on Christmas Eve. You can not get into a more cheery holiday mood than watching z-list comics and the comedy genius that is Mike Tyson making obscene insults to the king of hookers and blow. I'm all teary just thinking about it.

Mel Gibson's days of worrying that gay guys are mentally undressing him are all over. These days, gay men mentally dress him.
Hey, all you masochistic, anti-Semitic ladies out there, Mel Gibson is back on the market. Hubba! Hubba!

This picture of Paul Newman is just to cleanse your mental palette of the photo of Mel above.
This just in: Kim Jong Il has officially changed his name to Kim Jong Dead. He's not Il anymore.

In a Huffington Post article by the screenwriter of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the author wrote: "[The director] told me that world should have the color of an old man's foreskin. I haven't actually seen an old man's foreskin, but I took the point."

Since old men's foreskins is not on my menu very often, I asked Little Dougie about this quote. He replied: "WHAT point? I see an old man's foreskin every time I go to the bathroom or change my clothes, and trust me, it's the exact same color it was 60 years ago."

I didn't dare ask him what color that was.

Now shooting his third James Bond movie, Daniel Craig has a firm grasp on his most-important part.
Well, after being a best-seller you were told you were out-of-touch for not reading, and a Swedish movie everyone but me seemed to have seen, now THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is an English-language movie, with James Bond added to sweeten the appeal (They call him something else), opened in wide release for the holiday, and it has finally bombed at last. Who knew that millions of Americans don't find graphic anal rape to be their idea of Christmas Day moviegoing fare? What wet blankets! (I guess Dickens was right to cut the scene from his first-draft wherein Scrooge anally-raped Tiny Tim, as "perhaps a tad too much." It would have exhausted him on the reading tours.)

Actual headline in US Weekly: "'At Last' Singer Etta James is Terminally Ill." Gee, I'm - ah - "glad"? - they're so happy about it. Sorry if she kept you waiting. Some of us were sad about it.

Ew, or, as he's known at Disneyland, "Captain Ew."

Speaking of creepy Santas...John Waters!

“If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them!”

— John Waters

That said, though I have lots of books, a few of them by John Waters, I definitely do not want to have sex with John Waters. (Even I have some standards- well, a few - well, one.) So I guess if John ever comes over, I'll have to hide all my books. That'll take some doing. (I love you, John, just not that way. There had to be somebody, and it turned out to be you.)

THE HORROR OF LAUREL & HARDY! #1. Stan & Ollie at The Bates Motel.
I was watching an old Laurel & Hardy  short (The only kind there are. Stan & Ollie simply refuse to do a reunion tour!) the other night, titled The Laurel & Hardy Murder Case. At the climax, Stan & Ollie were trapped late at night in this old dark house, and this crazy old lady attacks them with that nasty knife. As Stan tries to fight her off, he accidentally knocks "her" wig off, and it's a crazy old man in drag who is attacking them! Who knew Sir Alfred Hitchcock ripped off Psycho from Laurel & Hardy?

THE HORROR OF LAUREL & HARDY! #2 Laurel & Hardy Meet Frankenstein.
No, Laurel & Hardy never "met" Frankenstein, much as I would have enjoyed that. Boris Karloff is here menacing them in their prison picture, Pardon Us, where he played "The Tiger." (I assume "The Tiger" is a renegade Time Lord.) The thing is, Karloff is only in the French language version. Walter Long plays The Tiger in the English language version. I guess The Tiger regenerated. See? I told you. Time Lord.

Charles Gemora, out of make-up.
Governor Gleep of Mars has decided to throw his space helmet into the Republican presidential ring. His problem is he's been known for years to have trouble keeping his suction cups off of his female employees. And then there's the human woman he's been taking to Mars for long weekends. He says there was no sex, and since Martians have no penises, he may be right, but then, what were they doing? Plotting the conquest of earth?

But Governor Gleep did turn the Martian economy to dust. Look at the lifeless desert that is Mars today: Reaganomics taken all the way. Gov. Gleep's tax plan? "3 - 3 - 3"

And he's better than Blagojevich.

The Martians break up the Occupy Earth protests.
"It's Class Warfare," scream our alien overlords! They have a new designation for Earthlings: "Illegal Non-Aliens." They're clearing out Arizona first, so no one cares.

Vanessa Redgrave knows how to give Jesus a REALLY happy birthday!

Ken Russell, aka "Mr. Restrained," passed away a short time ago. He's now trying to talk his way out of having directed The Devils to St. Peter.

"Are we there yet?"
Worst Episode of The Love Boat Ever!

Click on this image. Trust me.

How I detest Hollywood sham! I just learned that the baby who plays Baby Harry Potter in the flashbacks in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS is A DIFFERENT BABY than the one who played Baby Harry Potter in the opening scenes of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCEROR'S STONE 10 years ago! Why? Wasn't he good enough? Are we just supposed to ignore this blatant change of tiny children? This is worse than when they changed Darrins! They didn't even bother to pretend Baby Harry Potter had had baby plastic surgery! How do you think this makes Daniel Radcliffe feel, knowing he could be replaced by a new baby at any moment, as is happening to him right now on Broadway!

When they changed Dumbledores, they had an excuse; Richard Harris was dead. Good lord! Is that it? Did the original Baby Harry Potter DIE??? I can think of no other reason. What's next? Using fake alcohol in drinking scenes? SIMULATED sex in love scenes? I am an ARTIST! Give me real booze and a real penis, and I'll give you Art - eventually! And Art will be smiling.

Is this the impostor? Or is it the other one?

This is when Christmas was Christmas!

Nothing says "Christmas" to me as much as cigarette ads with Santa smoking. These ads were products of what Tom Brokaw relentlessly calls "The Greatest Generation." (The date on this ad is "December 15, 1951," Little Dougie's second Christmas.) Yes, the best people ever, and they used Santa Claus to sell smoking to kids. (Thanks to Samurai Frog for finding this gem.)

"Let a carton of Pall Malls say 'Merry Christmas' for you." (And what will say: "Have a cancer-free New Year" for you?) And they are MILD! (As in, you die of "mild" cases of cancer and emphysema.)

A Hungarian Jew disguised as a Japanese Shinto man dressed up as the Nordic Christian Santa, all played by one of the scariest men in the movies. That says "Christmas in Hollywood" to ME!

A merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, joyful Kwanzaa, bleery Boxing Day, delirious Generic Winter Holiday, and a happy Arbitrarily-Chosen Point in Our Solar Orbit. In other words:
Cheers darlings. Read some good books this year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bye Bye, Bob.

Bob and his books.

Little Dougie has something to say today, so I'll turn things over to him while I have a drink. Cheers darlings.

I am VERY saddened to learn that my friend and teacher Robert Easton has died.

In the Los Angeles Times obit that ruined my morning today, it mentions that he taught at USC, and that is where I met him, when I took a course in stand-up comedy from him there in 1978. George Wallace (The black stand-up comic, not the white racist governor) and Glen Super were also in the class. Everything he taught us was of value. His formula for a great stand-up act: "Have a strong opening, a great middle, and a terrific closing, and you'll do well." He was right.

"This is the Seaview submarine. We have Peter Lorre on board, and a very stupid script. Please send help, or at least a better script."

But more than class, I enjoyed our going out for a bite after, and listening to his tales of his amazing career. I'd relate his hilarious Peter Lorre story (They worked together in the movie of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, as seen above) except you have to hear it for it to work.

We had a four week break in the class schedule while Bob went to Spain to coach Lord Laurence Olivier on his accent for The Boys From Brazil. I was OK with that, as I realized how much more coaching Olivier needed than I did.

Here's Bob's usual stereotyped image. He told me his character catchphrase was "I been kicked in the head by a mule."

"Howdy folks. This here is Petunia, my girl friend. I been kicked in the head by a mule."

I last saw him about three years ago, and we had a great chat. He was a kind and very intelligent man, genial and warm, with a keen sense of humor, and of course, the sharpest ear imaginable. I still have video of my old stand-up act, on which you can hear Bob introduce me from off-screen.

Bob was addicted to books, an addiction I share. His home, where he lived with his wife, June, to whom he was married for 44 years, was STUFFED with books. There were books everywhere, in every spare cubic inch. When he bought new cars, he wouldn't trade in the old ones. He kept them on his property, stuffed full of more books he had no more room for inside. This may sound eccentric to you, but it makes perfect sense to me. Everything Bob touched became a library.

It's funny how Bob is remembered as "The Henry Higgins of Hollywood," the ultimate dialect coach, because his acting career was enormous. He was on everything on TV, usually playing hillbilly hicks and hayseeds, and in hundreds of movies. He had a recurring role on The Burns & Allen Show as a young man who had been a student at USC for 9 years without ever coming close to graduating. This hit me ironically for two reasons: 1. I first met him as my teacher at USC, and secondly, because Bob was brilliant. As a kid, he first found fame as one of the Quiz Kids, a group of high-IQ child geniuses. At 19, he was initiated into Phi Eta Sigma, a national honorary scholastic fraternity for men. He often played idiots (who had been kicked in the head by mules), but out-of-character, he was super-intelligent. (Not that you'd know it by the screenplay he co-wrote for the ultra-kitchey sci-fi movie The Giant Spider Invasion.)

Perhaps the best way to remember Bob is to watch him work, so I'm embedding some of his work. This first clip is from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, so you can see him acting with Christopher Plummer and Bill Shatner. Bob is the raspy Klingon judge who sentences Kirk. Given his dialectical brilliance it's no surprise that he does a PERFECT Klingon accent. I'm sure he coached Plummer and Michael Worf on how to do proper Klingin accents. ("No Michael, you're doing a southeastern Klingon dialect. Worf is from North Kling. that's more like this...")

Here's a short funny clip from an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, in which he plays a cosmetologist, and wants to make sure you get that that is what he is.

Bob had worked with just about everyone I admire except Laurel & Hardy: as mentioned above, he even coached Olivier. He worked, as said above, with the divine Gracie Allen, a true comedy goddess, my fave Peter Lorre, and my idol Jack Benny. He even worked with Ray Harryhausen, as he is in The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Here's a wonderful clip with lousy picture quality, of him on The Jack Benny Show. He is "Lem," the tall hillbilly who suffers a violent fate about 4 minutes into the clip.

And finally, here's an entire episode from the very first season of The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves. Bob was just 21 when he shot this. His role, as the Texan ham radio guy with one scene, is entirely in the second clip, but I thought I'd download all three parts, so you can watch the entire episode if you like. The main baddie is Russell Johnson, about 13 years before he was marooned on Gilligan's Island.

The nutty professor is Lucian Littlefield. Lucian worked with all the great comics. He was WC Fields's officious supervisor in the Fields masterpiece The Man on the Flying Trapeze. He was a veterinarian masquerading as a doctor to help Stan & Ollie snooker their wives in Laurel & Hardy's greatest movie, Sons of the Desert, and he often appeared on The Abbott & Costello Show.

Here is how Bob looked the last time I saw and spoke with him, still as gentle, kind, and fascinating as ever, though as you can see, in his later years, he cultivated this not-at-all attractive look with the beard untrimmed since about 1980. Good way to get cast in character parts, but then Bob never had any problems getting cast. He kept right on working, even shooting two movies this year. He was a working actor in Hollywood for 62 years! And bear in mind that, at 6 feet 4 and a half inches, he was an enormous man. He leaves behind a daughter and a grand-daughter. Bob was pretty grand himself, but he was as unassuming and modest a man as you will ever meet in Hollywood.

Bob's elderly Buffalo Bill look.

RIP Bob. You were a class act.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Too Much Christmas.

Hot air balloon travel being, of course, synonymous with Christmas.
It's beginning to look TOO MUCH like Christmas,
Everywhere you go.
Thanksgiving was yesterday,
And now the streets look so gay,
You eyes will blur and you'll get vertigo.

A tasteful mansion of, I'm guessing, white people, given their propensity for all white lights. Love the Star of David. Neighborhood Jews are saying "Leave us out of this, okay?"

It's beginning to look too much like Christmas.
Gets worse after dark.
I really do hate to grouse,
But, my God, my neighbor's house,
Looks like Disney's park.

Have a Mickey Mouse Christmas.
Horrible tinsel,
And way too much chintz'll,
Make everyone wish they were dead.
By far the worst folly,
Are trees looking jolly
When all of their leaves have been shed.
And I will grant,
Another Santa,
Fills me up with dread.

Is this house being swallowed by the Time Vortex?
It's beginning to look too much like Christmas,
Please gouge out my eyes.
You'll soon see a Yule Log,
Blazing at the synagogue.
An Elf robot?
My brain lobotomize.

How do I get in without being electrocuted?

It's beginning to look too much like Christmas,
Soon my brain will split.
I hate to sound so gruff,
But I've already had enough,
Of this Yule bullshit.

"No, Scotty, I said the deflector shields!"
Because nothing says Christmas like Star Trek.

If you must decorate your exterior for the holidays, take a cue from Calvin.

Merry Annual Christian Cultural Incursion.
I will have BIG NEWS to post here on Christmas Day!
Cheers darlings.