David Bruce: The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes — Problem-Solving, Quiz Shows, Rehearsals, Religion

Problem-Solving

• Carroll O’Connor, who played Archie Bunker on All in the Family, was a tough negotiator, but so was Norman Lear, who produced the series. According to rumor, whenever Mr. O’Connor didn’t want to do something on the series that Mr. Lear really wanted him to do, Mr. Lear would show him a special script titled “The Death of Archie Bunker.” Because Mr. O’Connor wanted to continue to do the series, he would agree to do what Mr. Lear wanted him to do.

• Nicholas Colasanto played the role of Ernie “Coach” Pantusso on Cheers. Because he was getting older, he had a hard time remembering his lines, but he found ways to cope. For example, he would write his lines on the stage walls and stage furniture. In fact, says Cheers co-creator Les Charles, “If you go into the storage room today and find the old set from Cheers, you can still see Nick’s handwriting on walls and chairs.”

• African-American comedian Jimmie Walker was drafted, but he didn’t want to fight in the Vietnam War. He was very thin, so he didn’t pass the physical, but he was told to gain weight and come back in a few weeks. For the next few weeks, Mr. Walker played basketball in the hot summer sun while wearing a sweatshirt. He then reported for another physical — and beat the draft.

• In the British tongue-in-cheek TV series The Avengers, John Steed, played by Patrick Macnee, was an expert in espionage and counter-espionage, although these activities were the domain of two separate government departments: M15 and M16. No problem. The producers of The Avengers simply made John Steed an employee of Department M15 and a half.

• Breaking into show business can be difficult, but Peter Sellers found an original way of getting a job with BBC Radio. He telephoned a senior BBC producer, then imitated a famous star named Kenneth Horne. The BBC producer heard what seemed to be the voice of Mr. Horne extravagantly praising the then-unknown comedian Peter Sellers.

Quiz Shows

• John Coveney was an artists’ relations manager, and he participated in the quiz segments of the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts. Mr. Coveney was known for his quick wit. For example, when he was asked what he most liked about the new house for the Met, he answered, “Not seating latecomers.” And when he was asked what he least liked about the Met, he answered, “Not being able to get to my seat when I’m late.”

• Ava Gardner once appeared on a TV quiz show while she was having problems in her marriage to Frank Sinatra. She was asked, “Are you married?” After answering this question, she was asked, “Are you glad?” This question was followed by a full minute of silence.

Rehearsals

• Audrey Meadows is famous as Alice Kramdon, wife of Ralph Kramdon, brought to life by Jackie Gleason on The Honeymooners. An actress of the theater, Ms. Meadows was used to many and long rehearsals — something Jackie hated because he felt comedic material ought not to be over-rehearsed. According to Jackie, more than one rehearsal was over-rehearsal. In a TV Guide article, quoted in Vince Waldron’s Classic Sitcoms, Ms. Meadows said, “I felt totally unprepared and desperate. Standing in the wings, ready to go on, I’d tell him, ‘You are a simply dreadful man.’”

• Early in his career, comedian Don Rickles guest-starred on The Andy Griffith Show. Of course, he was eager to do well alongside such established stars as Mr. Griffith and Don Knotts. They rehearsed for most of an afternoon, and finally Mr. Griffith said, “Well, I think we’ve rehearsed enough. Let’s go home.” Mr. Rickles pleaded, “No, let’s rehearse some more. You guys have millions of feet of film. All I’ve got are home movies of me and my cousin on a swing.”

Religion

• Actress Robia LaMorte, known for her role as Jenny Calendar on TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, became a born-again Christian after praying for a sign while driving her car on a freeway: “OK, God, you know I believe in You, but I don’t get the whole Jesus / born-again Christian thing. If Jesus really is the way, then you need to show me. If you make it clear to me in a way that I can relate to and understand, then I’ll check it out.” Immediately after she prayed, her car was surrounded by a group of bikers that at first made her think of the Hell’s Angels — until she noticed that the jackets the bikers were wearing had crosses on the back — along with the words “We Ride For Jesus.” She says that becoming a Christian is the best decision she has ever made.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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Music Recommendation: The Bar Dogs — “Heart Shaped Feeling”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Heart Shaped Feeling”

Album: SHINE ON SHINE BRIGHT

Artist: The Bar Dogs

Record Company: Aldora Britain Records

Record Company Location: Rothley, UK

Record Company: Button Up Records

Record Company Location: Scotland, UK

Info:

“Aldora Britain Records is an e-zine and record label that promotes the music and work of authentic independent or underground artists from all around the world. Originally established in 2013, they revamped themselves in 2018 with a brand new approach. Their first weekly compilation, aptly titled ‘THE SECOND COMING,’ was released in late 2019. They now also release original singles, EPs and charity projects.”

“Button Up Records release albums by Button Up, Colonel Mustard & The Dijon 5, Connor Fyfe, Daniel Meade and The Bar Dogs.”

“I am extremely proud and excited to bring you the second compilation album released by the relaunched and revamped Aldora Britain Records. SHINE ON SHINE BRIGHT […] is another selection of some of the best up and coming artists from all around the world. The selection this time is centred around roots music, but there is still space for indie rock and roll, poetic punk crossed with funk, and even some traditional English folk … another eclectic mix!”

“A huge thank you also has to go out to Button Up Records who have contributed no less than six tracks to this selection. A truly great record label with a truly great roster. Thank you, Garry!”

Price: £0.50 GBP for 10-track album

Genre: Rock. Pop. Various.

Links:

Aldora Britain Records on Bandcamp

https://thealdorabritainrecords.bandcamp.com

Aldora Britain Records on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/c/aldorabritainrecords/videos

Button Up Records

https://buttonup1.bandcamp.com

The Bar Dogs on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRnSUp5lQmPzmZyg-Midyag