December 2001



Music, comedy, drama…you didn’t have to go to Broadway or Hollywood to see one of the best shows in town—you only had to attend the November PPB luncheon tribute to MIKE CONNORS. Leading off the laughter was our in-house incomparable humorist, HAL KANTER. Others on the star-filled dais were BEVERLY GARLAND, Bob Newhart, RICHARD CRENNA, Shecky Greene, PETER GRAVES, David Hedison, DICK MARTIN and MIKE’s agent, Jack Gilardi. Words fail to describe their humorous stories mingled with true admiration and friendship. The "Mannix" Twins, R.J. (Robert) Wagner and ICM V.P. Merv Adelson, wearing the loudest plaid jackets imaginable, entered from the rear of the fun-filled room singing a parody on the show "Mannix" as a tribute to CONNORS. Entertainment Chair JEANNE DeVIVIER BROWN read a fax from legendary columnist Jim Bacon, who couldn’t attend because he was in the hospital, and introduced a very funny videotaped message from Tim Conway, who also was unable to attend. This was truly a heart-warming luncheon headed by PPB President TOM HATTEN.

PPB Founding President ART GILMORE gave the Diamond Circle Award to the author of They Still Call Me Junior—the autobiography of a freckle-faced kid who broke into pictures at the age of three. At the age of ten he signed a five-year contract with Cecil B. DeMille for silent films. His first three talkies were made at Warner Bros. With Charles Bickford, James Cagney and Leon Janney. He is best remembered as Billy Batson in the 1941 Republic action serial, Adventures of Captain Marvel, where he transformed into Captain Marvel by saying the magic word, SHAZAM. He became a naval aviator during World War II and served on active duty for 23 years. For eight of those years he was in charge of the Navy Film Cooperation Program. From 1952 to 1954 he was stationed at the Pentagon, and from 1960 to 1965 he headed the Hollywood office. He continues to work in films and television and has served on the PPB Board. While many still call him "Junior," he really is FRANK COGHLAN.

Nostalgia Night Co-chairs LINA ROMAY and RAY BRIEM did it again—November’s guest was JIMMY WELDON, and his sidekick Webster Webfoot, who talked about their many years on radio and television bringing joy to young and old alike. They recounted some of the days on "Funnyboners," a children’s version of "Truth or Consequences." WELDON is currently in demand as an inspirational speaker for corporate meetings across the country. On December 6, JOE HARNELL, Grammy and Emmy award-winning pianist, composer, arranger and conductor was the Nostalgia Night guest. JOE has just had his memoirs published by Xlibris Press. The book, Counterpoint—The Journey of a Music Man, covers JOE’s 60-year musical career. During the evening, JOE gave insignts into the many events of these years, including his working with the great Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland and more, and his five-and-a-half-year stint as musical director for "The Mike Douglas Show." JOE’s accomplishements are too numerous to mention—after all, it took 60 years to accomplish them—WHAT A CAREER!! The January Nostalgia Night guest is PPB Board member BOB FINKEL, noted producer/director of many musical shows, including "The Bing Crosby Show," "The Andy Williams Show," "The Dinah Shore Show," as well as "The Peoples’ Choice" and Jackie Cooper’s show. That’s Thursday, January 3, 2002 in our Clubroom on the lower level of Washington Mutual, Sunset and Vine. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and close promptly at 7:30 p.m.

TRAVELS—PPB Vice-President GIL STRATTON and his lovely wife, Dee, spent Thanksgiving aboard the Sun Princess checking out the Panama Canal, Colombia, Cozumel, Caymans and any other that starts with "C." GIL was making his debut as a cruise lecturer with stories from all three of his careers, acting, umpiring and sportscasting. His first talk was titled "From Broadway to Baseball and Back." ESTHER and TYLER McVEY are lake lovers. They recently moved from their home in Westlake Village to Lake Mirage in Rancho Mirage. TYLER says they expect to continue attending all of the luncheons. Board member GERRY FRY and wife, Marty, attended the American Forces Network (AFN Europe) reunion in San Diego in October. A reunion highlight, says GERRY, was a tour of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Services Broadcast Center at March Field. GERRY was also seen in the background of ABC-TV’s "The Practice" in October helping Jimmy cheer on a winning horse.

I hope you didn’t miss the L.A. Times article on the "Annies" with very complimentary remarks about Annies’ founder, former PPB Board member, JUNE FORAY. JUNE, wearing a gold pendant featuring her most famous voice character, Rocky the Flying Squirrel, was thrilled that the National Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will finally recognize the animated feature with an Oscar of its own. Film historian and critic Leonard Maltin, who won the June Foray Award, had wonderful things to say about JUNE and her achievements for animation. JUNE was also an honored guest for the opening of the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland, future home of the Oscars.

Great story in the Orange County Register about CHUCK CECIL’s Swingin’ Years, complete with picture of CHUCK. Swingin’ Years is now heard on KLON, 88.1 FM, Sundays, from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Of course, the show continues on KCSN, 88.5 FM, Saturdays.

Nancy and ED WILLIAMS recently drove to Northern California to celebrate ED’s mother’s 102nd birthday, then headed further north to celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary on the Napa Wine Train with Nancy’s sister and husband. ED has just finished what he calls an outrageous modern morality play, titled Every Other Man, which he hopes will be published and produced.

PPB charter member KEN NELSON flew to Nashville, Tennessee in October with his daughter, Claudia Nelson, where he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was cited as a recording executive and pioneering leader of the Country Music Association, and was the oldest ever (90 years young) inductee in the history of the organization. The ceremonies were taped, and portions which included KEN appeared the following month on the globally-televised network "Country Music Awards Show."

CHRISTINE M. FARNON sent the item on KEN, saying she knew he wouldn’t do it for himself. Thanks, CHRISTINE and congratulations, KEN.

HAL KANTER emceed the Hollywood Women’s Press Club’s 71st Golden Apple Awards at the Beverly Hills Hotel, December 2. The Awards party has almost always been synonymous with the beginning of the Christmas festivities, and people anxiously await to see who get the great awards as well as the "Sour Apple." SUE CHADWICK’s son, Bob, provided the music. Board member EDDIE CARROLL’s one-man show, "Jack Benny—Laughter in Bloom" continues to be in demand. EDDIE and his wife, Carolyn, who is the show’s technical director, have just returned from a tour of theatre and casino engagements in Northern California; Hartford, Conn.; Pittsfield, Mass.; North Dakota and a week’s engagement at the Ramada Express Hotel and Casino in Laughlin, Nev. The show was so successful in Laughlin that the Ramada immediately booked it again for the week of January 19. As the voice of "Jiminy Cricket," EDDIE got back in time to record a special and promos for Disney for the holiday season.

Charter member FRANK THOMASSecret Files of Sherlock Holmes comes off the press this month. This is FRANK’s twelfth Holmes book. They have been published here and in England, Germany, Russia and Israel. The author says they are so popular because he steals the plots of radio scripts. Mrs. DAWS BUTLER writes that Ben Ohmart and Joe Bev are writing a biography of her late husband, DAWS. They would like to contact DAWS’ friends, former students and co-workers for input. Anyone interested is asked to call Mrs. BUTLER and she will have Ben Ohmart get in touch. Or you can E-mail Ben at bearmanor@home.com.

The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows by Jim Cox is off the McFarland press and is a treasure for radio buffs. As mentioned in the November Newsletter, there is a chapter on Board Chairman RALPH EDWARDS and his "Truth or Consequences" show. In the preface, Cox mentions a few of the hosts that he admired, one, of course, being RALPH. He writes, "I would like to have been Ralph Edwards because…he loved to make people laugh, but got serious in support of great causes (Playful yet beneficent to a fault.)." The book contains 17 chapters, and includes Art Linkletter’s "House Party," Arthur Godfrey’s "Talent Scout," "Break the Bank," "The Breakfast Club," "Bride and Groom," "Can You Top This?," "Dr. Christian," "Dr. I.Q.," "Double or Nothing," "Information Please," "Queen for a Day," "Stop the Music," "Strike It Rich," "Take It or Leave It" and "You Bet Your Life," created and produced by Past PPB President JOHN GUEDEL, and directed by Diamond Circle awardee BOB DWAN. The book is really well done and includes information on many of our members. RALPH EDWARDS is presenting a copy to the PPB Archives, but I am sure many would like a copy of their own. That’s McFarland Publishers, The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows by Jim Cox.

Past president JACK SMITH missed the November luncheon as he and his wife Vickii were celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary. It was also their birthdays, "but we don’t celebrate those anymore," says JACK. JACK and Vickii were born on the same date and married on that date, November 16. How’s that for a Hollywood marriage track record? Good News—ALICE BACKES, who spent several weeks in the hospital because of a ruptured appendix, is on the mend and at home, but she was mighty sick for a time. LEW FORREST either made a typo or he believes in booking ahead: he writes that he and his wife, who became whale watchers this year, will be taking a nine-day Lindblad Cruise to Baja to visit the whale birthing/mating lagoons in February, 2110! Meantime, LEW was elected to the Boards of: Local 292 of the Musicians’ Union (North Bay area), and Santa Rosa Trad Jazz Society (Traditional Ragtime and Dixieland Jazz Appreciation and Strutters Society).

Syndicated entertainment columnist Liz Smith devoted a very complimentary column to former PPB Board member DALE OLSON recently. Liz writes from New York: "There is a PR old-timer named Dale Olson who has been around the block once or twice. He had worked for everybody famous including Rock Hudson, but then he retired a few years ago. Olson got so bored he went back into the biz and now represents the Academy Awards and a number of other important clients. So, when Olson says someone has ‘it,’ I listen." Smith went on to talk about one of DALE’s clients.

A bit more about the Golden Apple Awards. HAL KANTER, as usual, was fantastic, and the Hollywood Women’s Press Club evidently appreciate it as they had a full-page "Thank You" to HAL in the program. Also, member and former luncheon honoree ROBERT STACK received the Buddy Rogers Hollywood Legend Award, presented by his good friend R.J. (Robert) Wagner.

MORE HOLIDAY TRAVEL—CHARLOTTE and BUDDY BAKER are spending Christmas and New Year’s in Rancho Mirage. MARY MIL KNUDSON spent Thanksgiving week with friends on a ranch in Creston (Central California), "a far cry," says MARY MIL, "from the hustle and bustle—or the traffic of the big city. Just kicked back and enjoyed life." Friendship Chair KAY IRWIN went to Salt Lake City, Utah for a week in October with a group from her Genealogical Society to do research at the Family History Library, the largest repository of genealogical material in the world.

Busy members: JOHN HARLAN was at the Las Vegas Hilton announcing the Mrs. World Pageant in December for broadcast on the Pax TV network at a later date. PPB President TOM HATTEN and actress Constance Towers co-hosted a Christmas program, "Our Favorite Things," with Placido Domingo, Vanessa Williams, Tony Bennett and Charlotte Church for KCET, December 3. Hopefully, it will be repeated at a later date. TOM SHELLEY emceed the annual Thanksgiving affair for the Canadian Society of Southern California at the Tam O’ Shanter in Glendale with 100 in attendance.

When does she sleep? Entertainment Chair JEANNE DeVIVIER BROWN and husband LUCKY BROWN completed the photography on their low-budget horror feature film, The Stone Man, the night before the MIKE CONNORS luncheon. JEANNE and LUCKY co-produced (and guess who got the talent) with LUCKY both writing and directing. The movie stars Pat Morita, Christopher Atkins, Robin Riker and Ron Masak, with Bernie Koppell and Dennis Haskins in featured roles. The "stone man" is played by Steve Henneberry, who was Tower on "American Gladiators." We’ll be waiting for the premiere date.

PPB member, novelist ROBERT S. LEVINSON has been elected president of the Mystery Writers of America, California Chapter, for a one-year term. LEVINSON is author of The John Lennon Affair, The James Dean Affair, The Elvis and Marilyn Affair and the forthcoming Hot Paint.

Unlucky LINA ROMAY…she missed the November luncheon because husband BOBBY O’BRIEN was ill…BOBBY is now okay, but LINA missed the December Board meeting because she was ill…and we were all disappointed, as she was to sing "Feliz Navidad."



Membership Chairman MARGOT EWING announces:

New Members





We will remember with admiration



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JANUARY 23, 2002