Monthly Archives: May 2011

Actor: Tim Conway

Simply put, Tim Conway was the funniest man on one of the funniest programs in television history, The Carol Burnett Show. Uploaded by

Tim Conway had a successful run on a very popular sitcom as Ensign Charles Parker on McHale’s Navy (1962-66.) He had leading roles in several movies (including The Apple Dumpling Gang with Don Knotts, 1975). He even had his own sitcom (The Tim Conway Show) and variety hour (The Tim Conway Razzle Dazzle Hour). But you can pretty much ignore all that. Because what took Tim Conway into the Comedy Hall of Fame is his eleven years as the funniest person on one of America’s all-time funniest programs: The Carol Burnett Show.

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The show taped twice on Friday nights. Usually, Conway would play it by the script for the first take. But on the second taping, he’d ad lib and improvise, and the rest of the cast was helpless with laughter. Especially Harvey Korman, who often played Conway’s straight man. Their interactions remain some of the funniest moments in television history.

Conway’s most memorable character was probably the long-suffering Mr.

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Tudball, who had to endure the hopeless Mrs. Wiggins. These performances were chief among the reasons Conway won four Emmy for the show (he’s since won two more for guest appearances on Coach and 30 Rock).  In fact, Conway is the reason that someone had to invent YouTube. His performances are captured there, and you can easily watch them all night. Like this improvised bit on elephants, possibly the funniest skit ever on an all-time classic show.

Film: Patton

The movie showed Patton's military genius, but also how out of place he was during a war in which generals also had to have skills in public relations. Uploaded to Photobucket by franzandfilms.

My father wasn’t a big movie fan. I can only remember going to two films with him: True Grit and Patton. The first starred John Wayne, his hero. And while Dad was in the Army during World War II, I don’t believe he was under Patton’s (Great American Things, Jan. 3, 2010) leadership. That’s how I understand it, anyway – he didn’t talk about the war. I do know that his journey from North Africa to Sicily and ultimately to Paris paralleled Patton’s advances. Dad definitely wanted to see this part of his life on the big screen.

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It’s a great movie, and George C. Scott gives a tremendous performance. In his portrayal, the scope of the general’s military skills were only matched by the size of his ego. From the iconic opening sequence in which Patton addresses his troops in front of that enormous American flag through the slapping of the shell-shocked soldier, the movie shows the general’s incredible military acumen while not shying from his lack of awareness of how a general must behave in the age of modern media.

Patton won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Scott). It ranked number 89 in the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies list. One of the greatest quotes in movie history also comes from this film: “Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

History: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, also called the Tomb of the Unknowns, is guarded 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Guards are changed each hour except in summer, when the change is each half hour. Uploaded by

Several years following World War I, Congress approved the burial of an unknown soldier at Arlington Cemetery. The process for selecting the soldier to be honored has remained essentially the same since that time. Several identical caskets containing the remains of an unidentified soldier are prepared, and a highly decorated veteran of that war makes the selection at random. That coffin comes to Arlington; the others are buried with honors at foreign battlefield cemeteries.

The procedure has been followed for the World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Surprisingly, considering the all-consuming nationwide effort that led to victory in the second world war, the unknown soldier for that war and for Korea weren’t interred at Arlington until 1958.

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The tomb itself is guarded 24 hours a day, and the guard is changed each half hour in summer, each hour the rest of the year. Those soldiers performing this prestigious guard duty don’t wear rank insignia on their uniforms, so they don’t outrank the Unknowns.

One factor unknown to the world when the monument was revealed in 1921 is DNA. According to the Arlington National Cemetery website:

The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. It has been decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant.

Travel: Busch Gardens, Williamsburg

While Busch Gardens Williamsburg has never tried to compete in the highest-fastest-scariest roller coaster derby, it's America's most beautiful theme park. If you're a parent stuck there for a day, that's important. Uploaded by

Busch Gardens gives visitors the feeling of traveling to Europe without such unpleasantries as the expensive Euro, French snobbery, and unreadable alphabets. It’s a theme park that adults can enjoy, with beautiful landscaping, more entertaining shows than most theme parks provide, and plenty of rides to keep kids of all ages entertained.

It’s hard to believe that the park is now more than 35 years old. Its Old World sections include Britain (Banbury Cross), Ireland (Killarney), Scotland (Heatherdowns), Italy (San Marco and Festa Italia), Germany (Rhinefeld and Oktoberfest), and France (Aquitaine). In addition, there are two areas devoted to children – Land of the Dragons and Sesame Street: Forest of Fun.

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Busch Gardens has never competed in the higher/faster/scarier roller coaster competition. Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t have some great rides. The Loch Ness Monster is still a favorite even after being open since 1978. And Mach Tower, featuring a 240-foot drop, is scheduled to open just after Memorial Day, 2011.

Busch Gardens has received the amusement industry’s Golden Ticket award for Best Landscaping for 13 consecutive years. And The National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA) named Busch Gardens the world’s Most Beautiful Park for the 21st consecutive year in 2011.

Food: Nathan’s Famous

Starting in the 1950s, the Handwerker family, owners of Nathan's Famous, saw the money to be made through expansion and franchising. But the original at Coney Island in Brooklyn is the real deal. Uploaded by

Nathan Handwerker made his way from Poland to Brooklyn in 1912, and soon found a job at the popular Coney Island called Feltman’s German Gardens. Two waiters you’ve probably heard of worked at Feltman’s at that time – Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante – and legend has it that they encouraged Nathan to set up his own hot dog stand to compete with Feltman’s. He did, and Nathan’s Famous began selling dogs for a nickel (Feltman’s charged a dime) in 1916.

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It wasn’t long before anyone who was anyone wanted to be seen at Nathan’s Famous. Perhaps the zenith of this famous hot dog came in 1939, when President Franklin Roosevelt served them to King George VI (of The King’s Speech fame) when George VI became the first British monarch ever to visit the United States. FDR also had Nathan’s sent to Yalta for his famous meeting with Stalin and Churchill.

After having just the one location for 43 years, the Handwerker family realized there was money to be made by expansion and franchising. So now there are 1,400 stores in 41 states and 17 countries. But there’s still only one place to get a real Nathan’s Famous hot dog. At Coney Island. In Brooklyn. New York, New York.

Americana: Academy Awards

The Oscar statuette is 13.5 inches tall and weighs 8.5 pounds. Except for some slight streamlining of its base, it remains virtually unchanged since it was first handed out in 1928. Uploaded by

It was the boss of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, who came up with the idea. Like Andy Hardy – “Let’s put on a show!” He got the other studios to buy in on the idea, and the first Academy Awards presentation debuted on May 16, 1929.

That first ceremony drew 270 people for a brunch that costs $5 per ticket. Now, valet parking would be insulted with a $5 tip. The Oscar statuette made its appearance at that first show, and save for some minor streamlining of the base, is essentially the same today as back then. Wings won the first Best Picture; but then, if you know movie trivia, you probably knew that.

The Oscar show has been hosted by a wide variety of actors and comedians over the decades. The recent ones you know, but some of the earlier hosts included Will Rogers (1934), Frank Capra (1936), Fred Astaire (1951), and Jerry Lewis (1957).

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker. Uploaded by

Because of the success of the Oscars, each entertainment medium gives out awards to pat itself on the back. The Tonys, the Grammys, the Emmys, various Critics awards. Shoot, everyone who puts out a 25-cent picture magazine in Nashville has some kind of Country Music award. But only one is a title that comes as close to British peerage as we have in this country. “May I introduce John Smith, John Doe, and Academy Award Winner Jane Doe.”

Film: The Philadelphia Story

In a powerhouse cast that included Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart, only one earned an Academy Award for acting - Jimmy Stewart. Uploaded by

This movie starred Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Jimmy Stewart.

Really, do I need to say anything else? Could that incredible cast possibly produce anything less than a timeless gem? We don’t know the answer to that, but The Philadelphia Storyis one of the best representations of the romantic comedy, probably the most popular film genre. Directed by the great George

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Cukor and released in 1940, the movie is taken from the play of the same name in which Hepburn also starred. (Joseph Cotten played the Cary Grant role, and Van Heflin had Jimmy Stewart’s part. Hepburn had wanted Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy for the movie roles.)

The Philadelphia Story received seven Academy Award nominations, winning two – Best Actor (Stewart) and Best Writing, Screenplay. In the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, it ranked number 51. By the way, the film was adapted to a musical (High Society) in 1956 with another blockbuster cast: Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, and Grace Kelly. You can bet that movie will be on this list before long.

Song: “Johnny B. Goode”

I think we should all be thankful that Chuck Berry's cousin Marvin Berry heard Marty McFly play this song at that high school dance, or else we'd have missed an important part of American musical history. Uploaded by

Not every song is great because it has memorable lyrics. Or a memorable performance. Some achieve greatness by striking the culture in the sweet spot at the perfect moment in history. That’s what happened when Chuck Berry, former auto assembly worker and ex-con, released “Johnny B. Goode” in 1958.

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This wasn’t Berry’s first million-seller. That was “Maybelline” in 1955. Nor was it his biggest hit, an honor held by “Sweet Little Sixteen.” (“My Ding-a-Ling” went to number one in 1972, but as a novelty song.) But from its opening guitar licks through the end, it represented the energy of this new force called rock and roll. It is, after all, mostly autobiographical. Berry was born on Goode Ave. in St. Louis, and the “B.” probably stands for Berry. In fact, the original lyric said “Oh my, that little colored boy can play” but Berry changed it to “country boy” so the song would be played on the radio.

The longevity of “Johnny B. Goode” is evident by the number of artists who’ve covered it, ranging from country (Buck Owens) to metal (Twisted Sister) to the sublime (Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain). The song was listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll, and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. And Rolling Stone put it at number one in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.

Music: Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil

Their website says it well: "It would be impossible to imagine the last four decades of pop music without the melodies of Barry Man and the lyrics of Cynthia Weil. Mann and Weil have created a body of work so significant it has often been described as 'a soundtrack to our lives.'" Uploaded by

This husband and wife team were a part of the famous Brill Building songwriters (Great American Things, June 18, 2010), and they wrote some of the greatest and biggest hits of the second half of the twentieth century. Here’s a partial list of their hits, along with the artists with whom they’re most closely associated:

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  • “Don’t Know Much” (Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt)
  • “Here You Come Again” (Dolly Parton)
  • “Hungry” (Paul Revere and the Raiders)
  • “I Just Can’t Stop Believing” (B.J. Thomas)
  • “Just Once” (James Ingram)
  • “Make Your Own Kind of Music” (Mama Cass Elliott)
  • “On Broadway” (The Drifters)
  • “Only in America” (Jay and the Americans)
  • “Somewhere Out There” with James Horner (Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram)
  • “Uptown” (The Crystals)
  • “Walking in the Rain” (The Ronettes)
  • “We Gotta Get Out of this Place” (The Animals)
  • “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” (The Righteous Brothers)
  • “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” with Phil Spector (The Righteous Brothers

That’s a very impressive list. Mann and Weil won an incredible 112 awards from BMI, and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was determined to have been the most-played song in the entire twentieth century. “Somewhere Out There” won the Grammy for Song of the Year, and received an Oscar nomination. The couple are members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They will receive the Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Songwriters Hall of Fame, at its annual awards next month.

Americana: Life Magazine

During its peak in the 1940s, Life had reporters and photographers in all theaters of World War II, and brought the war home to America. By the 1950s, more people got their news from TV, and Life became more of a celebrity magazine. Uploaded by

While there was an earlier (and a later) incarnation of Life magazine, this honor goes to the Henry Luce version (as in Time-Life) published weekly starting in 1936 and ceasing in 1972. Noted for its photojournalistic style, the articles were typically long on pictures, short on text. Not that literature was ignored, though; Life serialized Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, along with his novella that came to be called The Dangerous Summer.

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Perhaps at no time was Life more important to America than during World War II. The magazine had reporters and photographers in all theaters of the war, and their stories and pictures brought the war home to ordinary Americans. At its peak, it sold 13.5 million copies per week.

As more people got their news from television, circulation figures for newsmagazines tumbled in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and despite numerous gimmicks (such as reducing the cover price from .25 to .19), Life eventually ceased weekly publication. It was resurrected as a monthly, then as a Sunday newspaper insert, but the magic was gone. Still, it provided Americans of an entire generation their graphic look at world events, and its photo library is still available for advertising and editorial uses.

TV Show: Law & Order

Through 21 seasons and numerous cast changes, Law & Order stayed relevant by having many of its stories ripped from today's headlines. Uploaded by

Many television shows – most? – don’t last for 21 episodes. The original Law & Order has been around for an astounding 21 years. Through many cast changes, several spin-offs, and many Emmy Awards, Law & Order has remained one of the most watchable cop shows in TV history. And its trademark sound effect, which I’ll call DOINK DOINK, is one of the medium’s most memorable.

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If you’re one of the seven people in America who’ve never seen even one episode of the show, the first half hour “solves” the crime, and the second half hour is when the judge throws out the evidence and the prosecution has to scramble to convict the defendant(s). Unlike Perry Mason, this team doesn’t always get a conviction, which made the show so much more intriguing. And the show prided itself on being “ripped from the headlines” – taking a current event and changing it just enough to avoid libel.

Law & Order is a Dick Wolf creation, and Wolf has stayed hands-on in production since the beginning. Though there have been many characters over the years, here are my favorites: Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan… Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Brisco… S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren… Sam Waterston as District Attorney Jack McCoy… Angie Harmon as Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael… and Fred Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch.


Sports: Daytona 500

First run in 1959, the Daytona 500 is unique in sports because it's NASCAR's most prestigious event, and it comes at the beginning of the racing season, not the end. Uploaded by

It’s the Super Bowl of stock car racing, and it’s run each year just a few weeks following that game, the biggest event in sports. The Daytona 500 isn’t far behind, though. It’s unique because it’s the most prestigious event on the NASCAR schedule, and it comes at the beginning of the racing year, not the end. There’s no question, though, that it gives the racing season a supercharged opening weekend. Compare that to, say, the first NBA game of the year. NBA? What’s that?

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The first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, with Lee Petty (Richard’s pa) taking the checkered flag. We’re used to “500 mile” races now, but Daytona was just the second for stock cars (Southern 500 was first). Probably the most memorable event in race history was its most tragic, when Dale Earnhardt crashed during the 2001 race while protecting his teammates and died. Now, ten years later, the sport still hasn’t recovered from that dark day.

Many of the greatest names in NASCAR history have won this race. Those who have won more than once include:

  • Richard Petty (7x)
  • Cale Yarborough (4x)
  • Bobby Allison (3x)
  • Dale Jarrett (3x)
  • Jeff Gordon (3x)
  • Bill Elliot (2x)
  • Sterling Marlin (2x)
  • Michael Waltrip (2x

Song: “Your Cheatin’ Heart”

Hank Williams recorded this song during what was to be his last recording session in Sept. 1952. It was released in 1953 following his death, and stayed at number 1 on the country chart for six weeks. Uploaded by

In the early 1950s, country music had just begun to make its presence felt outside of the Deep South. Perhaps no one did more to advance the genre than Hank Williams (Great American Things, February 11, 2010) whose hits “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” (1950), “Cold Cold Heart” (1951), and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” (1952) all were among the top ten hits of the year.

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Williams recorded “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in his final recording session in September, 1952. He died on January 1, 1953 at the age of 29, and this song was released later in the year. It went to number one on the country chart, where it stayed for six weeks. It was the number two song of 1953.

Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time considered “Your Cheatin’ Heart” number 213, one of the worst judgments on that entire list. A better ranking comes from CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music, which named this Hank Williams classic number five. (As a side note, Your Cheatin’ Heart is also the title of a biographical film about Williams that starred George Hamilton. George Hamilton?)

Architecture: The Brooklyn Bridge

When completed in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, and would remain so for 20 years. It was so well designed and built that it's still going strong while others built in its era have been replaced. Uploaded by

It takes an abundance of confidence to decide to build a suspension bridge that’s fifty percent longer than the longest one in existence. But that’s what bridge designer John Roebling and his son Washington Roebling did. Until their work was complete, the only way to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn was by ferry. The Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883, turned out to be 5,989 feet long. Now, more than 125 years later, it still carries more than 120,000 vehicles a day over the East River, along with untold pedestrians and bicycles.

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Although 27 people died during construction, the Roeblings’ design and construction turned out to be ahead of its time. The Brooklyn Bridge is a suspension/cable-stay hybrid, and Washington Roebling tried to build a structure that would be six times as strong as necessary. He succeeded, and the Brooklyn Bridge still is a key part of the New York City transportation matrix long after other bridges have been replaced.

The Brooklyn Bridge became a National Historic Landmark in 1964. The Bridge’s distinctive Gothic design is one reason it ranked number 20 in the AIA’s list of America’s Favorite Architecture. It’s the second bridge on the list, trailing only the Golden Gate (Great American Things, August 21, 2010).

Actress: Barbara Stanwyck

Barbara Stanwyck was a true pro, and the best directors loved her, including Frank Capra, William Wellman, Cecil B. DeMille, John Ford, King Vidor, Preston Sturges, and Howard Hawks. Uploaded by

Barbara Stanwyck had a long career in films, then followed that with success in television. She made an amazing 85 movies in 38 years, then turned to TV and earned three Emmy Awards for three different programs.

“Barbara Stanwyck” was certainly a more stageworthy name than Ruby Stevens, her real name. To appreciate the span of her career, she actually began in silent films back in 1928. The girl from Brooklyn achieved such success that by 1944 she was the highest-paid woman in America.

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Stanwyck worked with some of Hollywood’s best directors, including William Wellman, Frank Capra, John Ford, King Vidor, Cecil B. DeMille, Preston Sturges, Howard Hawks, and Billy Wilder. And with some of its leading men: Clark Gable, Joel McCrae, Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, and Fred MacMurray.

Among her more noteworthy films:

  • Ladies of Leisure (1930)
  • Forbidden (1932)
  • Stella Dallas (1937 – Nomination)
  • The Lady Eve (1941)
  • Meet John Doe (1941)
  • Double Indemnity (1944 – Nomination)
  • Christmas in Connecticut (1945)
  • Sorry, Wrong Number (1948 – Nomination)

In television, her own The Barbara Stanwyck Show only lasted for a season, but earned her an Emmy Award. Then from 1965-69 she played the matriarch in The Big Valley, for which she earned three Emmy nominations, winning one. Finally, she earned another Emmy for her role as Mary Carson in The Thorn Birds miniseries.

Singer: Carrie Underwood

From the time she first auditioned for American Idol, it was clear that Carrie Underwood was destined for stardom. She's won virtually every country music award, and has sold far more albums than any other Idol alum. Uploaded by

One of the cool things about watching Carrie Underwood rise to the highest heights of the country music industry is that those of us who watch American Idol have been able to follow her career since the very beginning. We saw the beautiful girl from Checotah, Oklahoma audition during Season 4, and it was evident from the very first that she was going to be a force. We’ve since learned that she dominated the voting each week, and she was crowned that season’s American Idol.

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Simon Cowell predicted that Underwood would outsell every other Idol, not a terribly bold prediction at the time. But he turned out to be prophetic. Her debut album, Some Hearts, entered the Country chart at number one, and made it to number two on the Billboard 200. Her next two albums made it to number one. She’s had ten singles reach the top of the Country chart, and as of January, 2011 she’s sold 1.6 million more albums than the nearest Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson.

I trust Underwood has a large trophy cabinet, because she’s earned a lot of awards in her short career. Five Grammys, including Best New Artist and Best Female Country Vocal Performance (3x). CMA Female Vocalist of the Year (3x). Academy of Country Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year (4x) and Entertainer of the Year. And many more awards from Billboard, People’s Choice, CMT, BMI, and others. And here’s the exciting thing for country music fans – she’s done all this, and she just turned 28…

Music: Billboard Milestones

The Billboard Top 100 chart goes back to 1958, which gives us more than half a century of history about our popular songs. Here are some firsts, mosts, bests. Uploaded by

No explanation needed here, except to say that these accomplishments relate to the Billboard Hot 100 chart, created in 1958, and the standard for popular success.

Most weeks at number one: 16 – Mariah Carey and Boys II Men, “One Sweet Day” (1995)

Most total weeks in the top ten: 32 – Leann Rimes, “How Do I Live” (1997-98)

Most weeks charted before reaching number one: 32 – Los del Rio, “Macarena” (1995-96)

Most top 40 hits: 104 – Elvis Presley

Most top 10 singles: 37 – Madonna

Most number one hits: 20 – The Beatles

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Most cumulative weeks at number one: 79 – Elvis Presley and Mariah Carey

Most consecutive number one hits: 7 – Whitney Houston

Most songs on top 100 at the same time: 14 – The Beatles (4.11.64)

Only female artist with four number one songs in one calendar year: 4 – Rihanna (2010)

Most top ten hits without reaching number one: 12 – Bruce Springsteen

Oldest artist to hit number one: 62 – Louis Armstrong, “Hello Dolly” (1964)

Youngest artist to hit number one: 13 – Stevie Wonder, “Fingertips (Part 2)” (1963)

Song with most versions on top 100: 9 –  “Unchained Melody”

Americana: Hollywood Walk of Fame

Cameron Diaz shows off her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce ruled that to get a star, you have to show up for the ceremony. So far, everyone has - except Barbara Streisand. Uploaded by

It stretches for 15 blocks along Hollywood Boulevard, and three blocks of Vine Street. That’s 1.7 miles total, featuring more than 2,500 stars. The biggest names in the entertainment industry are there, of course, but also a lot of people you never heard of, unless they’re your cousins. Who could ever forget Gregory La Cava, Fred Niblo, or Marie Doro? You’re right, we all could, and have. But something made them seem as worthy of a star as Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, Sidney Poitier.

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Although conceived in the early 1950s, the first 1,558 stars weren’t finally ready for public view until 1961. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce administers the Walk, and it created a special committee to develop the criteria for inclusion and for selecting new honorees. Usually about 25 new stars are added each year. Stars are awarded in five categories: motion pictures, broadcast television, music, radio, and theater/live performance (added in 1984). Strangely, an individual can receive a separate star for each category, and only person has been recognized in all five – Gene Autry.

Some interesting facts:

  • The most common surname is Williams, and there are 15: Andy, Billy, Billy Dee, Cindy, Earle, Esther, Guy, Hank, Joe, Kathlyn, Paul, Robin, Roger, Tex, Vanessa.
  • The categories have been stretched to admit people who don’t really fit in one of the official five. Some of these include Magic Johnson, Muhammad Ali, and the Apollo XI astronauts.
  • Some stars celebrate fictional characters. Among these are Mickey Mouse, Godzilla, Lassie, and The Simpsons.

The Walk of Fame is said to be viewed by 10 million visitors annually.

Travel: Hilton Head

At Hilton Head Island, the natural beauty of the South Carolina low country is protected by a strict land-use policy. Uploaded by

This part of the Southern coast is beautiful, historic, and sometimes, exclusive. With Charleston (Great American Things, June 7, 2009) 95 miles to the north and Savannah 20 miles to the south, Hilton Head Island is part of one of America’s most remarkable stretches of coastline.

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Though it’s only been incorporated as a town since 1983, Hilton Head has a rich history, especially as a base for Union troops during the Civil War. Today, though, it’s known for strictly controlled land development to ensure the preservation of the coastal environment. While most of the island’s residential and vacation properties are located within gated communities, Hilton Head residents have consistently done what’s necessary to limit commercial development.

Hilton Head is not going to be your choice if you’re looking for a vacation bargain. While it has its own special feeling and fiercely loyal visitors, it’s designed to appeal to a sophisticated, affluent traveler. Golf and tennis enthusiasts love the island, and there is certainly no shortage of excellent restaurants. You won’t find high-rise condos or miniature golf courses; but you will find beautiful beaches, attentive service, and a respect for nature at Hilton Head. Just be prepared to pay for it.

Director: John Huston

John Huston was a talented director, having produced films such as The Maltese Falcon and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. But he was also an outstanding actor and screenwriter. Uploaded by

With the ease of editing using today’s technologies, it’s not unusual for directors to shoot a lot of scenes, a lot of takes per scene, and then to make the movie in the editing suite. That’s not how John Huston worked. He sketched each scene before shooting it, placed the actors deliberately, and made his movies as he was filming them. His pictures usually came in under budget as well.

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From his first movie in 1941 to his last in 1987, he set a standard for excellence. Among his films:

  • Maltese Falcon (1941 – writer)
  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948 – writer)
  • Key Largo (1948 – writer)
  • The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
  • The African Queen (1951 – writer)
  • Moulin Rouge (1953 – writer)
  • The Misfits (1960)
  • The Night of the Iguana (1964 – writer)
  • The Man Who Would Be King (1975 – writer)
  • Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

In addition to his direction duties, Huston also wrote many of his films. He won the Oscar for Best Director and Best Screenplay for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. He was a skillful actor as well, having parts in several dozen films. Huston received the Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute in 1983.