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Posts Tagged ‘The 1950s’

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Source: Inside Edition

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

The man anchoring this show might look familiar to all you political and news junkies out there. Especially cable news junkies, because before Bill O’Reilly got his big gig The O’Reilly Factor at Fox News Channel in the mid 1990s, he was anchor of the syndicated tabloid/news magazine show Inside Edition. I remember watching him on that show in the mid 1990s after work. But enough about The O’Reilly Factor, or as I prefer to call him The O’Reilly Finger and give him my middle finger to show how I feel about him.

Jayne Mansfield died in a horrible car crash in 1967 and she wasn’t drunk or even driving the car. The two men in front that were supposed to protect her were simply too tired to work and drive that night and should have never been on that trip. Especially with other people with them and in back of the car. So that is why Inside Edition did this story about Jayne in 1992. Because even though she did make a brief impact in Hollywood in the mid 1950s, it was sort of like that talented QB who has a couple big years early in his career and perhaps even wins the Super Bowl, but gets hurt or thinks too much of himself and stops doing the work and finds himself even playing for bad teams, or completely out of the NFL. The fall ends up being as dramatic as the rise to the top floor in Hollywood. That was Jayne Mansfield’s short Hollywood adventure.

I disagree with James Bacon that Jayne wasn’t a good actress though and was only famous because of her, lets say measurements. She was a good actress, but more importantly a very good entertainer. Who was also a very good singer and comedian and had she realized that early on and just took with that instead of trying to move to doing drama and serious roles, we might be talking about one of the best comedic actresses and comedians at least of her generation. Which is how Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore are remembered today. Not as great dramatic actresses, but great comedians as they should be. But Jayne got bored with comedy and tried to move away from what made her great in Hollywood.

Inside Edition: Bonnie Strauss- 1992 Feature on Jayne Mansfield

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Source: BBC- Jayne Mansfield 

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

I guess in one way Jayne Mansfield was a great actress and not just a great comedic actress and comedian, but a real great actress at least in the sense that she had so many people fooled. She wanted to be seen as the dumb blonde who needed her hot adorable sexy image to pay her bills. But in actuality she always knew what she was doing. An intelligent woman who wanted to be viewed as a bimbo and was such a great actress that she pulled that off. She had people thinking she was exactly as she came off which was as a bimbo.

Marilyn Monroe had the famous quote that it takes a smart woman to play the dumb blonde. Well that was Jayne Mansfield, the smart woman who played the dumb blonde. She knew what Hollywood was and how she could be successful in it and played her talents to the hilt. A hot adorable woman with a great body, but who also had a great sense of humor and comedic timing, who was also an accomplished singer. But knew exactly what people in Hollywood and what the fans noticed first and what they wanted.

Which was to see hot this adorable woman with the great curve appeal and then you add to that which was she was a great entertainer. Someone who should exchange wisecracks with funny people like Tom Ewell, Edmond O’Brien, Merv Griffin, Jack Benny, Cary Grant, and many others. She was better than Marilyn Monroe at least in this sense that Jayne knew she was really good and had made it and deserved what she accomplished. Unlike Marilyn who was battling mental illness and depression and was heavily medicated for a lot of her adult life and had even attempted suicide and been committed at one point.

Jayne had a plan from day one and knew what she needed to do to make it in Hollywood. But unfortunately Jayne Mansfield falls in the class of what could’ve happened if only and ends up dying at 34 in 1967 because of a car crash where she wasn’t even driving because her and her crew were in a big hurry to meet a big appointment that they had in New Orleans the next morning.

By the time Jayne died in 1967 she was woking the nightclub circuit as a singer because her Hollywood career at burned out because the major studios no longer wanted to work with her. Jayne mentally in many ways was just as adorable as she was physically. She came off a little girl both physically and personally. And was fairly immature and developed bad habits like drinking heavily and not able to take criticism very well and work to expand her image so she could get better and bigger parts. Which is why she fell out of Hollywood and down to the nightclub circuit just to pay the bills and keep working.

BBC: 1999 Jayne Mansfield Documentary

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Source: TV Fanatic

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

At risk of sounding old here, when I was growing up in the 1980s and even when I was in high school in the early 1990s. network original movies that were made and produced by the networks, were actually worth watching. CBS, NBC, and ABC, all had their own movie companies that were part of their entertainment divisions and had one night a week and sometimes multiple nights if they were showing a mini-series where they should show two-hour movie and sometimes longer than that. The networks would produce their own movies and of course would show movies that were from Hollywood and perhaps had been out for a year or so, or longer.

Very similar to what HBO, Showtime and others do on cable. Probably watched 5-6 of James Bond series of movies in the summer of 1992 alone on ABC. The networks did this because they were good at it and knew what movies to pick and how to promote them and what kind of cast they could put together and so-forth. But also because cable wasn’t as dominant in the 1980s as it became in the 1990s. CBS, NBC, and ABC, were worried about each other. And not so much what HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, TNT, USA, etc, were doing on cable. Because the cable networks simply didn’t have the resources that the broadcast networks had back then. And to certain extent today as well, but cable networks are much powerful and influential today than they were back then.

I only mention all of this because I’m trying to bore you into a coma. Especially if you weren’t even born yet in the 1980s. Actually, because the Jayne Mansfield Story was a TV network movie that CBS put together with the producers, directors, creators, and writers of the movie. And The Jayne Mansfield Story and I’m only 4 years old when it came out in October, 1980 so I didn’t see it and only finally heard about it a year or so ago and saw a video for it on YouTube and the finally got to see the whole movie on cable (of course) on Get-TV last February and saw it again a few months after that.

And this was a network movie where you have Loni Anderson as the lead actress playing Jayne Mansfield and Arnold Schwarzenegger playing her husband and long time lover Mickey Hargitay. (The father of Mariska Hargitay) Loni was already a star at this point with her guest appearances on Threes Company in the late 1970s playing Jack Tripper’s love interest. And then she lands WKRP in Cincinnati in 1978. (One of the best sitcoms of all-time) Arnold wasn’t a star as an actor yet, but he was a superstar professional bodybuilder and already well-known at this point. Mickey Hargitay ws a superstar bodybuilder before become an actor as well.

This is a very good and funny movie and a lot of that has to do with Loni Anderson. Who has great comedic ability and one of the top comedic actresses of her generation at least. And she happens to playing a very funny woman in Jayne Mansfield who was very funny in real-life both intentionally and unintentionally, because she was so adorable and very immature and then add her comedic timing and you had a very funny woman who might still be working today had it not had been for her tragic car accident in 1967.

The movie covers Jayne’s life from when she became star in the early 1950s looking for work and basically forcing herself on her future agent Bob Garrett (played by Ray Buktenica) and he tells her if he’s going to represent Jayne that she’s going to have to change her hair and a few other things. But sees potential in her as a comedian. And the movie goes from Jayne being discovered in the early 1950s where Hollywood wasn’t ready for her alway up to her fall and struggling to find work in the early and mid 1960s, to her tragic death in 1967.

Loni Anderson is just plain hot, sexy, adorable and funny as Jayne Mansfield. She’s as cute as a little girl with personality to match, but with body of a goddess with those legs, curves, chest and everything else, as well as the face. Arnold playing Jayne’s wife is also great as a very loving and caring husband of Jayne who tries to look out for her best interests and tries to manage her immatureness and irresponsible behavior, but fails at both and they split up in the movie.

I believe Jayne Mansfield in real-life would have been proud for how Loni played her and at least give her credit for doing such a great and accurate job. Because I think knew herself real well and didn’t try to be anyone other than herself even if she seemed overly adorable and even childish to even the people who loved and cared about her like Mickey Hargitay and her business people. This is a very entertaining movie that covers the struggles as Jayne making it as a great comedic actress, but someone who also wanted to be taken seriously in Hollywood and get serious parts with more meaning.

TV Fanatic: The Jayne Mansfield 1980 Story- CBS Wednesday Night Movie

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Herbert Biberman & Samuel Ornitz

Herbert Biberman & Samuel Ornitz

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

I blog about political correctness and what I at least see as fascism on a regular basis. Perhaps one piece a week, because its such an important issue today with free speech coming under assault practically everywhere in America and even on college campus’ where free speech needs to be at it’s strongest so young people can learn and share views with each other and get as good of an education as possible. But just like Caucasian-Americans don’t own a monopoly on racism and other forms of bigotry in America, the Far-Left doesn’t own a monopoly on political correctness and fascism. Back in the late 1940s and really through the 1950s Americans were under attack from the Far-Right in this country for simply believing what they believed and who they associated with.

It started in Congress in 1947 with the House of Representatives starting an investigation with their so-called Un-American Activities Committee doing an investigation about Communists in Hollywood. And sure there were Socialists in Hollywood and perhaps even Communists. But so what. They were also Americans who went to work everyday producing films and other entertainment that had nothing to do with the Cold War and certainly were not on the side of Russia and other Communists states back then. At least in the sense of propping them up and trying to make them look better than they actually were. They were Hollywood employees. Actors, directors, producers, screenwriters, who simply went to work everyday producing a lot of good films that people wanted to see and paid a lot of money to see. Who ideologically were Socialists who backed Far-Left candidates and causes in America.

The Far-Right and right-wing version of political correctness which is a form of fascism is that people who don’t share their view of the world and what America should be and be about and don’t agree with them ideologically, are somehow Un-American. And not deserving of the same constitutional rights as other Americans. Meaning the right-wing and especially Neoconservative fascists on the Far-Right who see Senator Joe McCarthy as a hero and even speak highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin today for his crackdowns on opposition media in Russia and homosexuality in Russia. And are now backing Donald Trump for president. People like Far-Right columnist and author Ann Coulter. Who is the real-life Donald Trump who actually believes what The Donald says. Even if Trump doesn’t believe his own propaganda.

In 1947 you had the House call members of the so-called Hollywood Ten to testify in front of the Un-American Activities Committee and asked what would normally be seen as an innocent question. “Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” The problem is they were asked to do this under oath and on live national TV. When broadcast news was still an infant. With the whole world (at least in America especially in Hollywood) listening. With Hollywood executives and studio heads being anti-Communist and not able to afford to be associated with Communists or anyone else on the Far-Left in America. With these Hollywood employees having a choice to either plead the fifth and look very suspicious, or admit to being Socialists and risk not being able to work again ever in Hollywood. Even though most of them had kids to take care of and needed to work and earn a living.

The Hollywood Ten weren’t asked if they had committed any crimes or even knew any criminals. Or even associated with organize criminals and mobsters. They were put on trial for their political beliefs. They were considered guilty by association and communist political beliefs. Without any trial even though every American is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to free speech and the constitutional right to believe whatever they want to. Whatever you think of political correctness on many of our college campus’ right now that is done by private individuals. People getting together in trying to eliminate and censor ideas that they not only disagree with, but find offensive. What happened to the Hollywood Ten back in the 1940s and 1950s was a form of state-fascism. American citizens put on trial simply for their political views.

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Lenny Bruce

Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review

Steve Allen, right before he brought on Lenny Bruce, made a great comment and I realize he was being humorous, but he was damn right on it. He said and I’m paraphrasing, ‘we should just offend everybody so we don’t have worry about offending anyone. And Lenny Bruce is the comedian to do that.’ Because that is exactly what they meaning Steve Allen and Lenny Bruce, were talking about back then. Which was censorship and political correctness, but not from the Left, (the Far-Left really) but the Right. Lenny Bruce, had a message and his own act and issues he wanted to talk about. And he also believed in free speech, which all comedians really should. And he couldn’t give a damn if his act offended people, especially when it was just entertainment anyway.

Comedy, is not for oversensitive tight asses, who think fat jokes are anti-obesity. Or gay jokes are automatically homophobic, or religious jokes Christian, Muslim, whoever else, that person is some bigot towards that religious group. Comedy, is exactly that, a way to critique life and people in life. Including groups and even talk people and groups and their shortcomings. Not to say that every member of whatever group, has some clear flaw, but to point out humorous flaws about members of certain groups and even flaws that some groups carry as a group. The political correctness movement of the 1950s, didn’t want to hear jokes about sex, religion and sure as hell didn’t want to hear adult language. Especially since they still saw adults as kids for the most part who needed to be babysat.

The political correctness warriors of the 1950s, didn’t want to hear jokes about sex, because they believe sex didn’t exist or something. They didn’t want to hear jokes about narcotics, because they were on alcohol or marijuana highs and believed narcotics simply didn’t exist. Lenny Bruce, challenged the political correctness establishment in America and paid a hell of a price for it. All he was about was free speech and talking about issues and using adult language even that most Americans, at least outside of the Bible Belt used anyway, but did it in public. Did it in a way that simply wasn’t done back then for the most part and didn’t become mainstream at all, at least until the late 1960s. He was a true American, because he was an individual who felt the freedom to be himself. And express how he felt about issues even in public.

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Lenny 1974

Lenny 1974

Source: Movie Clips Classic Trailer Vault: Lenny 1974: A Comedian Who Pushes The Limits of Free Speech

Lenny Bruce, was a comedian who used humor to talk about everyday American life. And part of how Americans lives is how we interact with each other even in the most personal of ways. Including, marriage divorce, family and yes, even sex. All he did was talked about how Americans lived, but he did it in public. He said things in the public that right-wing culturally conservative establishment who perhaps thought we were a Middle Eastern fundamentalist country and not a Western liberal democracy, didn’t believe Americans should be allowed to hear or say.

As I mentioned yesterday had Lenny came out 10-20 years later, he probably never spends a day in jail for his act. At least outside of the Bible Belt. He actually had a significant criminal record as a thief and dealing with drugs, but when it came to his comedy act he was arrested for literally using adult language in public. Which is clearly unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. He wasn’t libeling people, he was inciting violence, he wasn’t calling for violence to come against anyone. Even the cops who arrested him for using adult language. He was simply using adult language in public as part of his comedy routine.

People tend to think of political correctness as censorship against language that may tend to offend certain groups of people. And that is true obviously, but political correctness in the 1950s and early 1960s was used against people who used language that lets say the most religiously conservative of Americans not only find offensive, but immoral. And when that language is used they believe the people who say those things should literally be arrested. Today political correctness is used against comedians and other commentators who say negative things even if they’re true against minority groups in America. Lenny Bruce was a victim of 1950s and 1960s right-wing political correctness fascism.

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Free Speech Under Assault

Free Speech Under Assault

Source: Alison Martino: Mysteries and Scandals: Comedian Lenny Bruce-A Champion of Free Speech Who Was Ahead of His Time

Keep in mind that Lenny Bruce’s act came out in the 1950s and up until the early 1960s when we were still living in this Leave it to Beaver Pleasantville, where a lot of Americans are supposed to live on the farm, or out West, type of culture. Where the idea of political correctness was not saying anything that went against this establishment. Where sex and divorce wasn’t talked about, where government officials were considered gods and looked up to, where women’s place was in the home and where gays place was in the closet, jail, or a mental institution. Where everyone at least was supposed to take their parents word as gold and if you questioned them, you were committing a sin.

Imagine if you’re Lenny Bruce and this is the culture you live and work in and your act is not ahead of its time, but you might be twenty-years ahead of your time. Your act would be mainstream in 1975 or so and to a certain extent in the late 1960s in certain places, but you’re starting out in the early and mid 1950s where America was still supposed to be Pleasantville. And you have this comedian whose literally being arrested and you have cops going to his shows for talking about things that the supposed culture and establishment of the time sees as unacceptable. Even with our liberal free speech and first amendment rights.

Lenny Bruce, was using swear words in a culture where words like damn, hell, bitch, bastard, ass, words that were very mainstream by the mid 1970s or so, that were considered very sinful and immoral in 1955, or so. Lenny, wasn’t getting in trouble for calling for people to be hurt, or murdered, or libeling people, things that aren’t protected by the First Amendment. Bruce was being harassed and prosecuted by government for using adult language. And talking about adult topics like marriage, divorce, sex and using adult language. All things that are protected by our first amendment.

I think the closest comedian to compare Lenny Bruce with would be George Carlin. Who came onto the scene about ten-years after Bruce. But they have similar styles and the ability to take on the system, or establishment and inform people that America and their country isn’t as perfect as their government wants them to think it is. That America is Pleasantville at least not everywhere. That we have real issues and concerns that need to be dealt with. And that talking about things even adult subjects issues that all Americans do in private at least is okay to talk about those things in public as well. And besides we have a First Amendment that protects this speech anyway.

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