Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sit On It! - The Final Resting Place of Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall (his real name!) was born on November 13, 1934.  Though one might assume he was born in Milwaukee, it was actually farther east - the Bronx. 

His parents were both in show business in one form or another.  His father was a producer of industrial films while his mother ran a tap dancing school.  So it was almost predestined that he'd carve out a career in show business for himself.

He began as a joke writer in New York for comedians such as Joey Bishop and Phil Foster.  He'd later work for The Tonight Show under Jack Paar, the show's original host.  Watch Garry discuss that experience here.   

In 1961, Garry headed west and landed in Hollywood, where he teamed up with fellow writer Jerry Belson.  The two would work together on a variety of shows including The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Danny Thomas Show before creating series of their own.  Their first such joint venture was a short-lived sit-com called Hey, Landlord. Watch the opening credits here.  And here's a complete episode.

The series only lasted for one season.  Afterwards, the two began adapting a popular Broadway play by Neil Simon for television.  The Odd Couple, starring Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, premiered in 1970 and lasted for five seasons.  Watch the intro here.  Ten years later, Marshall revived the series with an all African-American cast.  The New Odd Couple, starring Ron Glass and Demond "Big Dummy" Wilson, lasted only one season.  Watch the intro here.

Going solo, Marshall created the series that would define his career, Happy Days.  It's origins are often confused, but here's what happened.  Marshall produced the Happy Days pilot in 1972, starring Ron Howard as Richie, Anson Williams as his best friend Potsie, and Marion Ross as Mrs. C. ABC decided to pass on the series, but rather than jettisoning their investment entirely, they aired the pilot as part of their anthology series Love, American Style.  Watch that episode here

Fast forward a year to 1973.  George Lucas's film American Graffiti hit the screen and scored box office gold.  Like Happy Days, it was set in the 50s, and like Happy Days, it starred Ron Howard.  Suddenly ABC was interested, and the series was a go. 

Howard, Williams and Ross returned, joined by newcomers Tom Bosley, Erin Moran, Don Most, and of course, Henry Winkler as the Fonz.  Early seasons featured three Cunningham children, including Richie's older brother Chuck, who mysteriously disappeared and was retconned out of existence entirely.  Watch Marshall explain how that happened here.

It lasted for ten seasons with a host of spin-offs, including Laverne and Shirley, starring Marshall's sister Penny.  Watch her discuss that casting decision here.

Marshall's plot at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.
After 30 years of producing sit-coms, Marshall turned to the silver screen, producing 1990's biggest hit Pretty Woman, launching Julia Roberts into orbit.  Thanks Garry. He'd also produce a hit for Bette Midler in Beaches as well as The Princess Diaries.

In 2016, Marshall suffered a stroke and was admitted to a hospital in Burbank.  While there, he contracted pneumonia and passed away on July 19.  He was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.

I'd love to know who left the baseball.
Marshall's family provided visitors to the grave with a bench to sit down and pay their respects.

They honored Garry's legacy by including a plaque, bearing the iconic insult from Happy Days.

Trivia: As stated above, Garry's birthday was November 13.  It's probably not a coincidence then that in the introduction to The Odd Couple, the narrator explains to us that Felix Unger was kicked out of his home on November 13th.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

David Brinkley: Six Feet Under - Film at 11:00!

David Brinkley was born on July 10, 1920 in Wilmington, North Carolina.  Though his career would later take him across the globe, he'd eventually return to Wilmington to be laid to rest.  But that's getting ahead of the story.

Brinkley began his career in journalism while still in high school, writing for the Wilmington Morning Star.  While there, one of his stories was picked up by the Associated Press and published nationally.  He'd continue his education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Emory University, and finally Vandberbilt.

After graduation in 1940, Brinkley enlisted in the U.S. Army, but was soon discharged for medical reasons.  He took a position with United Press International in Atlanta before moving to NBC as a radio reporter.  But with the dawn of television, Brinkley would become one of the first journalists to make the transition.

Brinkley was paired with fellow reporter Chet Huntley for The Huntley-Brinkley Report from 1956 to 1970.  They'd set the stage for how news would be presented on television, with Brinkley anchoring in Washington while Huntley reported from New York City.  Every night they'd close the program with their signature trademarks "Good night, Chet" and "Good night, David," which undoubtedly inspired The Waltons.    Watch them preview the 1960 Democratic National Convention here, as presented by Kentucky King cigarettes, featuring an all tobacco-filter!   Then watch Brinkley's commentary on the night John F. Kennedy was assassinated here.  Finally, watch Brinkley reflect on his former partner in this video.

Inscription on Brinkley's marker.
Brinkley moved to ABC in 1981, where he began hosting This Week With David Brinkley. It ran until he finally retired in 1996, by which time he was the longest serving news anchor or host of a national television program.

He retired to his ranch in Houston, Texas.  Over the next seven years, his health greatly deteriorated, confining him to a wheelchair for his final days.  Just six months before he passed away, he'd require rescuing from that ranch when it nearly burned to the ground.

On June 12, 2003, Brinkley died from complications of a fall.  He was 82 years old.  He died the same day as actor Gregory Peck, who beat him out by five years.  Brinkley was interred at Oakdale Cemetery in Wilmington.

The Brinkley Family plot at Oakwood Cemetery.  David's flat, rectangular plot is at far right, obscured by the tree.

Good night, David.