The Right To Bare Arms

By Larry Teren

father-knows-bestAre you old enough to remember watching first-run television programs in which the daddy came home from work every night wearing a suit and tie? Jim Anderson (Robert Young) of Father’s Knows Best, an insurance agent, always dressed up unless it was the weekend. He would rarely be seen in only his shirtsleeves but at least wearing a sweater. The same usually went for Mr. Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) on Leave It To Beaver.the_cleaversThere was also always the sartorially splendid Bentley Gregg, played by John Forsythe on Bachelor Father.

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The 500 Club

(Spoiler Alert- name the three -non-news division- television shows that have broadcast 500 episodes?)

When it comes to accomplishments, the number 500 can represent a special milestone in various areas of life. There are several associated with Sports:

Any basketball coach who has piloted at least 500 victories is applauded not only for his success but for his endurance as well. To be able to stay around coaching in the NBA for 15 to 20 years is a remarkable achievement and to regularly win at it is to be especially appreciated. Continue reading “The 500 Club”

Son of a Gun!

Few entertainers get lucky with a catchphrase or persona that makes them a household name. Jack Benny played on his cheapness and vanity attributes. Bob Hope was Old Ski Nose, Henny Youngman, the King of One Liners and Jackie Gleason- The Great One, just to name a few.

Milton Berle milked the show business lie that he stole other acts material. In fact, he was one of the few who legitimately paid for routines rented from the originators, but not the performers. Another comic may have done a bit in Vaudeville that Berle saw and wanted to revive on his television show. The guy who performed it in Vaudeville would get incensed because he considered it his act. But Berle was smart. He knew that the performer paid a gag writer to put together the bit. The rule was that the bit’s ownership stayed with the writer, not the performer. He would seek that person out and pay him for the use. Nothing wrong with that- that’s why they called it show business.

joeybishopJoey Bishop was another one who got lucky with a persona as well as catchphrase. He coined the expression “Son of a Gun” when he first used it in a cameo appearance in a movie called Pepe and received such a tremendous amount of fan mail telling him how funny the bit worked in the film. He was also known as having a dour expression, sort of like the look on the face of a headwaiter when called out to listen to the complaint of a dining customer.
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Hanna Barbera and Baby Boomer Cartoons

By Larry Teren

Enjoying cartoons is one of those things a person never outgrows, right? It must be- Matt Groenig’s The Simpsons has been around for more than twenty seasons of new-run episodes and still going strong. The 1930’s and 40’s have Walt Disney, Max Fleischer and Leon Schlesinger. The 1950s and 60s have Hanna Barbera. I and most baby boomers will take that ex-MGM animation team, Hanna Barbera, thank you.

huckleberryhound yogibear flinstones topcat

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Can’t We All Get Along? No!

By Larry Teren

Rodney King once famously said, “can’t we all just get along?” No!

Nowadays, in the world of politics, its hard to find an international enemy not to pick on, Since detente in the early 1990’s, the Russians are allegedly our friends now that they gave up that Soviet business. Even when we want to slap them for doing things we don’t cotton to, we have to look the other way. There’s no fun watching a tennis match if you cannot look side to side to see how the other player is going to respond to the first one’s volley.

There used to be a time when one could rely on a good feud to keep him amused. Where have the Hatfields and McCoys gone when you need them?
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Nothing But a Hound Dog

By Larry Teren

Hound Dog was written in 1952 for a much-forgotten female singer. It was reworked in 1956 to the more up-tempo hell-bent rhythm barked by the legendary King of Rock, Elvis Presley. It sold more than five million records and made an instant national star out of Elvis Presley when he sang it on the Steve Allen and Ed Sullivan television shows.
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Games People Play

Baby Boomers well remember three big games shows that were broadcast in prime time during the 1950 and 1960’s. They were What’s My Line, I’ve Got a Secret and To Tell The Truth. For sure, there were others but these were unique in that they matched up four celebrity panelists against guests whose job it was to keep them finding out something about them. Most often the give-and-take led to embarrassing moments. The panelists would dress up in their finest clothes and try to act dignified and with a sense of propriety. This made any red faced discoveries that much more dramatic and fun to observe.

I’d like to see a new game show called It’s Embarrassing. A contestant would let the viewing audience in on an incident that left them with egg on their face. I’d volunteer to be on the show at least twice. Each one had to do with events that happened around a work situation but not exactly because of it.
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Child’s Play

Baby boomers remember when kids used to go outside and play instead of sit in front of a computer or electronic games device. In the mid 1950’s, playing outside on Jackson Boulevard in Chicago’s West Garfield Park area meant either doing pretty much the same stuff that my year older sister did. This included hopscotch, hula hoop, jump rope and a great game for whiplash called “Red Rover”. This involved, if memory serves me right, having two rows of kids stand a few feet apart facing each other. The captain of one row instructs his or her line mate to shout out “Red Rover, Red Rover- let Tommy come over”. Then, it would be Tommy’s job to earnestly try to break through the human wall opposite him. Being the boy in this group and one of the younger ones- guess who was most often the sacrificial lamb?
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The Goose and the Other Thing

by Larry Teren

Events of the 1950’s that I recollect are experienced in Chicago’s West Garfield Park, a neighborhood on the middle part of the west side of the city. We lived on the 4400 block of Jackson Boulevard a half mile north of the new construction underway to carve out the Congress Expressway. Years later, at the beginning of 1964, it was renamed the Eisenhower after the still-living ex-president who almost a decade earlier signed into law the National Highway Act.
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The Three Stooges

Living down the block from school as a kid in the late 1950’s and early 60’s enabled me to come home early enough to catch some quality afternoon tv for children. This was before the era of do-gooders trying to offer diversity-based educational stuff like The Electric Company or Sesame Street. We did have early education staples such as Ding Dong School with Miss Frances and Romper Room (“I see Jimmy and Mary and Bobby”) but a lot of it was electronic babysitting.
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