Tag Archives: hollywood

What Happens When China Takes Over Hollywood?

For the past decade, China has been busy buying up American companies. It already owns the Chicago Stock Exchange, Starwood Hotels and Smithfield Hams. The deals are happening fast.

Latest news reports reveal that Paramount Pictures will soon belong to Chinese investors. Other movie and TV studios are also potential targets of the takeover. A Chinese corporation already owns the AMC theater chain, as well as the historic Grauman’s on Hollywood Boulevard.

Hmmmm. When they totally own the American film industry, will they next demand to rename all of Hollywood’s classic movies. For instance: Citizen Kong, Rickshaw Driver, The Lord of the Mings, Dances With Pandas, Lawrence of Asia, A Streetcar Named Shanghai, The Good, The Bad and the Sushi.

More movie title changes could happen: Gone With The Wonton, One Flew Over The Tofu’s Nest, Twelve Angry Chow Mein, Anne Of Green Moo Goo Gai Pan, Formosa And My Girl. And, of course, cartoon characters that must be renamed: Mandarin Mouse and Peking Duck.

My Roaming Camera Captures Sad Scenes

Just steps away from the glamorous Sunset Strip and wealthy Beverly Hills mansions, these wanderers attempt to find peaceful places to rest on their endless journeys. If you’re considering volunteer work, spend some time with lost souls who need your encouragement and compassion.

Hints for helpers: your local church, Salvation Army, Red Cross, homeless shelter, HUD Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPS).

China-Hollywood Deals Are Happening Fast!

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, China continues to buy stock in American movie producing companies. It already owns several major theaters on Hollywood Boulevard and elsewhere in the Los Angeles area.

We should ponder a potentially changed future. In addition to making new movies in California, what would happen if the Chinese owners revise some famous old American cinema classics. Then give them more updated titles and foist them on unsuspecting fans in the USA? Consider the new changes:

The Wizard of Beijing, Kommunist Kane, Snow White and the Seven Commissars, King Kung Pao, Rickshaw Driver, A Streetcar Named Dimsum, Wonton With The Wind, High Noonjing, The Macau Falcon, Pride of the Yangtzes, Cool Hand Goog, The Mongolian Candidate, and The Ganzhoufather. And, of course, Good Bye, Mr. Shupian (Chinese word for chips).

I Served with A Future Movie Star in World War 2

   
ROY FITZGERALD

 TED SHERMAN

A teenaged sailor named Roy Fitzgerald was in our Navy advanced communications unit during the Philippine Island campaign in early 1945. We went ashore on Samar after Army GIs cleared the way, then moved up to Leyte and finally to Luzon, the main island.
We spent the final months of the war living in tents at the Navy Fleet Landing by the Pasig River in the capital city of Manila. Except for occasional snipers and air raids, it was mostly routine. Nearby the Navy SeaBees built a metal Quonset hut to house a movie supply and repair unit that exchanged 35mm films with crews of Navy ships that docked at the landing.

Every evening movies were projected on a big sheet on the hut’s side. On benches, along with other service guys and local civilians, we watched the shows. Roy often said he’d be a big movie star some day. 

We laughed at him, because he was not quite 20, tall, skinny, awkward and very shy. Roy never went into Manila with us to drink the cheap booze and go after pretty young Filipinas. The guys made raucous fun, calling him names that ridiculed his sexuality. 

Months earlier, when brutal Japanese troops were losing Manila, they wantonly killed thousands of local men and women. Orphaned, penniless teen girls had no other choice but to become streetwalkers. Many Americans took advantage of the situation, but not Roy.

After we returned home in 1946, I enrolled in college in Philadelphia, and Roy went to Hollywood to pursue acting. After awhile, I learned he had changed his name and was getting small film roles. 

By the mid-1950s, ex-sailor Roy Fitzgerald had become movie star Rock Hudson. We met once more when I was an editor on the daily Beverly Hills Citizen newspaper. It was at an event I covered at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The famous Rock Hudson was surrounded by reporters and fans when I nosed in to ask if he remembered me from Manila. At first he looked puzzled, but then smiled, nodded and turned back to the fans. I wasn’t sure if he actually knew me or didn’t want to be reminded of how we so cruelly ridiculed his sexuality a decade earlier.

Did Roy, the future Rock, and I ever become more than just shipmates way back in WW2? No … but as Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

When My Mom Dined With Sammy Junior Davis 

  
In the current news is the official renaming of a Las Vegas street as Sammy Davis Jr Drive. It honors the great song and dance entertainer who starred in the city for many years. The event brings back memories about how my mom could never get Sammy’s name straight even after having dinner with him at the then-new Sands Hotel on the Strip.

The year was 1960, and Al Freeman, public relations director of the Sands, flew his mom and mine from their homes in Philadelphia to spend several days as guests at the hotel. The two women, then in their late 60s, were close friends for several decades. 

Both had been widowed young during the Great Depression. Their sons, my older brother and Al, had spent ten years as classmates in Girard College, a boarding school for fatherless boys.

After she returned to Philly, I asked my mom who she met in Las Vegas. She correctly said Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. She added that she had dinner with Sammy Junior Davis. No matter how often I tried, I could never get her to say his name right. 

Maybe it was because she was born in Russia, came to America at age ten, and spent only two years in school. Immigrant families struggled, and it was the custom then for pre-teen kids to get full-time jobs. While working in the sweat-shop garment industry with many Jewish, Polish and Italian immigrants, my mom learned English in her own way, and no one could change it.

Therefore, in memory of both my mom and the great entertainer, and despite what the new Las Vegas street sign says, I’ll always call it Sammy Junior Davis Drive.

Memories Along Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame

 After Navy service in the Korean War, I worked for a now-long-gone daily newspaper, the Beverly Hills Citizen, and often did assignments in the neighboring town of Hollywood. In the many decades since, it hasn’t changed very much. Strolling along Hollywood Boulevard today, you can still see the familiar tourist shops, theaters, nightclubs, restaurants, costumed panhandlers and throngs of gawking tourists. 

What’s different today from the 1950s is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, consisting of nearly 2,500 star-shaped designs with brass plaques embedded in the sidewalks. They honor actors, musicians, authors, directors and others of the entertainment industry. The Walk was officially started in 1960, and new plaques are added frequently.

In addition to covering news events way back then, I met many stars of the time at social functions, premieres, awards ceremonies and other events. Like most fans, I had my favorites, and one of my first ventures when I returned recently after so many years away was to wander along Hollywood Boulevard. I wanted to seek out the Walk of Fame plaques of those stars I fondly remembered. Just a few examples are:

Errol Flynn: The sidewalk plaque of the swashbuckling hero of 1930s and 1940s adventure movies is in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard. An appropriate location, because Errol was notorious for his hyperactive in-like-Flynn love life, and was rumored to have had many midnight trysts in the hotel.

Nat “King” Cole: The star honoring the smooth crooner of the 1950s and 1960s is near Musso & Frank Grill, 6667 Hollywood Boulevard, a favorite hangout of show biz personalities since the 1930s. It’s still a great place to do lunch and spot a current celebrity or two.

Sammy Davis, Jr.: I paused in front of the posh W Hotel, 6250 Hollywood Boulevard, to remember the great singer-dancer. A fond memory was seeing him perform live in Las Vegas in the 1950s, when he was a member of the famous Rat Pack, along with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop.

Mel Brooks and Sylvester Stallone: They never made a movie together, but they’re two of my all-time favorites. Their stars are both in front of the Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, where glittering movie premieres are still celebrated. After a combined century in show biz, fortunately for their many fans, both Mel and Sly are still active. 

Frank Sinatra: His star is near the corner of Hollywood and Vine, by the Hollywood Plaza Apartments. It’s now a government-subsidized senior community, and many occupants are elderly women. Could they have been giddy bobbysoxers swooning back in the 1940s when Frankie was crooning from the stage of New York’s Paramount Theater?

Ah, memories!

My Thrill Of Being Ignored By Debbie Reynolds Twice

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Still perky at 82, the star of my all-time favorite movie, “Singin’ In The Rain”, will be awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at Screen Actors Guild ceremony on Sunday, January 25. Along with all of her other loyal, mostly elderly, fans, I’ll be happily at my TV cheering the event.

There were two occasions when I almost made connections with Debbie, and although they were utter failures, I still fondly recall them. Back on active duty in the Navy for the Korean War, and after seeing her in the 1952 musical, I taped her photo inside my locker door. I wrote her a fan letter about how she was admired by all the guys on our aircraft carrier, and asked for photos for Navy pilots to keep in their cockpits while on missions. She never responded.

Nearly 40 years later, after I had retired, while in Las Vegas in 1991, I visited her newly-purchased Debbie Reynolds Hotel. I enjoyed the large display there of movie memorabilia, including costumes worn by Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe and other stars of the mid-20th Century. They gave me an idea.

After a long career in advertising, I believed I had a great suggestion for shows in her hotel’s theater. At the time and still happening today, Las Vegas stages were full of fake Elvis Presleys. I wrote a detailed letter suggesting Debbie expand the idea and, along with the classic costume collection, offer performances by imitators of long-ago entertainers.

Some I named included Al Jolson, Eddie Cantor, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, The Andrews Sisters, The Mills Brothers, Sophie Tucker, Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole. My premise was that a significant number of Las Vegas visitors are retirees who’d appreciate the nostalgia and familiar music of the past.

I never received a response, and anyhow, the Debbie Reynolds Hotel went bankrupt after just six years. So, looking back, I must confess two fails out of two is not a very good record. However, if I were to send Debbie an Email congratulating her on the Screen Actors Guild Award, would she sit right down and write …. well, I can dream, can’t I?