Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm blogged out...enjoy the archives


Friday, December 24, 2010

Rare Jane Harvey Soundie!

Courtesy of Mark Cantor/ Celluloid Improvisations Music Film Archive
Jane Harvey is beautiful in this 1946 Soundie. And she still is. . ..

Jane in Toyo, December 2009

Happy Chanuchrismakwanzakah

Thanks to Joe Lang

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dr. Chilledair's Yule Blindfold Test

Guess the singer heard here , and win a great Christmas re-gift!  Deadline for entries midnight, December 24th. First person with correct answer wins. Those 8-years-old or younger not eligible. email your answer to . One entry per email address. No employees of Landfill Productions or their relatives are eligible. Void where prohibited by law. We'll be right back after this message from Liquid Prell.

Scribble, scribble, scribble, eh drchilledair?

INTRODUCTION to my new e-book, Vera Hruba. . .Who?, available at Scribd

Initially, "The Good Girl: Lucille Bremer and the Golden Age of MGM,” was intended to be one chapter in a volume about Hollywood movie moguls and their alleged (in some instances) mistresses that my good friend and constant traveling companion, David Ehrenstein and I were planning to write. Other chapters would have been devoted to the likes of Darryl F. Zanuck, who made a veritable cottage industry of starlet-mistresses and, perhaps, Wiliiam Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies. (Although that one has probably been anthologized, analyzed and, retrospected to death enough already!)

But the linchpin of the book would have been the rather well-known affair between Herbert J. Yates, head of Republic Pictures and Consolidated Film Laboratories, and former Czech figure skater, turned actress (of sorts) Vera Hruba Ralston. It is somewhat amusing and ironic that Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, which was supposed to be a film à clef of Davies and Hearst was much closer to the saga of Yates and Ralston. For while hardly anyone ever questioned the acting abilities of Davies, in Welles' masterpiece, Kane's opera singer, “Susan Alexander” was endlessly derided, much like Ralston, for the questionable talent that they brought, respectively, to the opera stage and the movie screen. At the beginning of Yates and Ralston's affair, he was already married. Eventually, he divorced his first wife for Ralston, and the two lived happily ever after. . .or at least until his death in 1966. This, despite the fact the twenty-six mostly expensive and mostly flops the actress made for Yates played a major part in the eventual demise of Republic in 1958.

Why this whiplash inducing digression right out of the Introductory starting gate?, you might well ask. Simply because, whenever David and I, in verbal pitches to agents and editors, got to the part about Ralston, invariably the response was, “Vera Hruba. . . WHO?”

Ah, well, as the great Lenny Bruce once remarked of something or someone in one or another of his routines, “Ah, how quickly we forget!” For it seems as if it was only yesterday that V.H.R. was burning up the silver screen in her last Republic potboiler, 1958's The Notorious Mr. Monks (“A hapless hitchhiker takes a ride with a drunk driver who takes him to his house. There he meets the driver's wife [Ralston] and murder ensues. “) In other words, for purposes of David's and my book, any reference to the actress, who died in 2003, proved to be, as they say, just a skosh too hip for the house.

As far as potential editors and publishers were concerned, that also seemed to be the case with most of the other biographical personae contained herein. At one time,not so long ago, the three most famous “people” in the world were considered to Mickey Mouse, Albert Einstein, and Joe Louis (also profiled herein). But, alas, when it came to the latter, even his name drew mostly black stares from book pub types. Again. . .“Ah, how quickly we forget.” And, as for 1940s recording superstar, Spike Jones---also contained herein---fuhgedaboutit!

Regarding the other profiles contained herein, the two never-really-famous famous comedy figures, Marr and Buckley, along with the profiled quartet of behind-the-scenes producers, they were never exactly household names in the first place. So, finally, the title of this book might well have been Too Hip for the House? Or some such. But I finally settled on Vera Hruba. . . WHO? It has a nice ring about it, doncha think?

---Bill Reed

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here come de Scat Man

What Christmas would be complete without Leo Watson and his immortal version of Jingle Bells ? Makes Kay Thompson's o'wise wildly hip version of J.B. seem positively mitchmillerian by comparison.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

On the 21st Day of Christmas. . .

. . .my true love served me with a restraining order.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Day 22

Click on image twide for full screen image.

The Christmas Song by Mariya Takeuchi is the second most popular Japanese holiday track, just a skosh behind husband Tatsuro Yamashita's Christmas Eve.

And here's a perfect Christmas gift for Friends of Judy everywhere.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On the 24th Day of Christmas. . .

. . . my true love gave to me a trio of tracks from Kurt Reichenbach's Christmas CD

Anamari R.I.P.

One of our readers (Thank you!) has just informed me that the somewhat obscure but nonetheless, quite wonderful jazz singer Anamari has died recently. Here is her obituary as it appeared on the web site of the funeral home that handled her internment.

Anna Schofield, 70, of Norwich and NYC’s Greenwich Village has flown to her sweet reward. From the arms of her beloved daughter Alana and with loved ones at her side, she passed on November 3, 2010.

Born in Norwich in 1940, the blessed youngest child of Edmund L. and Edith McMullen Schofield, Anna attended Norwich High School and the University of Toronto. Having entered university at the tender age of 16, she found a home in the world of performing arts and soon made her way to Greenwich Village and the life that awaited her. Like many before, she went to New York to discover a side of herself that had yet to bloosom and perhaps to follow the elusive muse that drew her to a life of song and the introspective, beautiful power of music. Quoted in 1963 in an article about her music Anna said, “I’ve only begun to understand why I sing. While singing has always been important, its import grows incessantly. Now, I must sing.”

It’s little surprise that only a year later, in 1964, she released her first album on the Atlantic label. Entitled Anamari, it was produced by Nesushi Ertegun, the famed co-founder of Atlantic Records and was a hauntingly unique example of jazz balladry, a courageous work in that there was no attempt to hide from the intensity of these ballads. The public respected that directness, and combined with her “total involvement in” and the “uncharged uniqueneass” of her performances, her success grew. She toured the country and performed internationally, but was renowned in the jazz clubs of New York City. Particularly important gigs were held at The Village Gate and Gypsy’s and she was often accompanied by some of the most revered jazz musicians of the day, including Jim Hall, Art Framer and Clark Terry.

In 1974, her daughter Alana was born and while continuing to sing and work, Anna focused much of her attention on raising her child, while being the go-to person for her family in Norwich and her circle of friends in New York. Always searching and learning, versed in many disciplines from electric engineering to accounting to health and nutrition, Anna was a source of wisdom, humor, family history and not-so-common sense information for many friends and loved ones. In the 1990’s she returned to Norwich to care for her mother and has since spent much time in the place she refers to, only half-jokingly, as Brigadoon. An inventor of specialty cocktails like the “Hot Edy,” she even titles a favorite one “the Brigadoon” in honor of her home here in the valley. Anna enjoyed her herb garden and her cats and was an unbelievable whiz at crossword puzzles and impossible sodukos, but it was her love of music and of her daughter and family that guided her throughout.

Quoting from her liner notes of one of her albums, “Her performances are always marked by a dignity and originality; and perhaps the most illusive quality of all – honesty – which is a hard quality to come by in a world so predisposed to artificiality.” Knowing Anna, it’s not at all difficult to understand how, even at the age of 24, a writer could see that certain quality in her. The only thing surprising is, over all these years, that honesty and passion has remained; intensified. Even as time began to take its toll on her body, her intellect, passion and honesty flamed as strong and pure as it was when she was a kid.

Anna is survived by her daughter Alana Schofield-Davis and her granddaughter Samara. She is also survived by her two brothers Edmund, of Toronto, and Michael, of Ilion. NY, and her sisters Sarah and Peggy, of Lecanto and Estero, Florida, respectively. She was predeceased by her brother Peter. Included in the list of survivors should be the many nieces and nephews, friends and loved-ones for whom Anna was a buddy, a partner-in-crime, a surrogate mom, a hot meal, and a shoulder to cry on. She will be terribly missed.

Friends a loved ones are encouraged to gather in memoriam at Park Place Restaurant, 7 East Park Place, Norwich, on Thursday, November 11, 2010, from 3 – 7 p.m.

The arrangements are under the direction of the Wilson Funeral Home. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting the funeral home website at:


note: Her funeral notice refers to "liner notes of one of her albums." To the best of my knowledge there was only the Atlantic album. An excellent piece of work to be sure, and well worth seeking out. If any readers are aware of others, please let me know.