Category Archives: Brian Keith

Mystery about a Sister

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Be prepared to read about a woman’s story, one which may or may

not have been relevant and meaningful to the musical world. I feel

there is a true basis and possibility that she made a big difference in

how her famous brother became who he was. I have to admit, I was

on my  own personal “movie fest” over the weekend. Originally I was

thinking, I would just post some of my favorites and give short film

critiques.

 

Somehow, this evolved into something ‘bigger’ than I expected. It

was time-consuming and yet, I felt like a private investigator with

her mind open and ready for understanding and analyzing the facts.

I looked up, using different sources, to find out more about this

fascinating woman.

 

Now that I may, or may not, have your attention, I will tell you the

riveting movie that led to my research.

 

MOVIE REVIEW:

“Mozart’s Sister,” a French film which needs you to read the sub-titles.

 

In the movie,  which came out in 2011, Rene Feret is the director

and a young actress who is his daughter, Marie Feret, plays the

sister to her character’s famous younger brother. Historical details

that were  discerned through research shall follow this summary of

this fine movie.

 

First, here are three splendid comments from famous reviewers,

starting with one who’s deceased.  Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times,”

was always one of my favorite reviewers. He is such a trustworthy

man to recommend movies.

(Of course, many of you will recognize his name and the television

show which I used to enjoy- “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”)

 

Here is what Roger Ebert said of, “Mozart’s Sister:”

“Marie Feret is luminous.” (in this role.)

 

David Noh, “Film Journey” says:

“A triumph!”

 

Ronnie Scheib, “Variety” Magazine:

“A treat for classical music lovers and cinephiles alike.”

 

What was a turning point in this movie which motivated me to

investigate and research?

What happened to make me seek the truth?

 

When Leopold Mozart, father of Maria Anna (also referred to as

Marianne and affectionately known as, “Nannerl”) tells his only

daughter when she is interested in writing musical compositions,

“Harmony and counterpoint are not understood by women.”

 

Of course, this caused me to say indignantly to my television screen

which was innocently displaying the film,

“That’s outrageous!”

 

Big sister, “Nannerl,” is helpful to toddler brother, “Wolfie,” and

helps him practice his keyboard lessons on a harpsichord. This

baroque instrument is lovely sounding. The scales and other early

beginning lessons are closely supervised by their father.

 

At age 5 or 6, “Wolfie” is paraded in front of wealthy families and

is also given an audience with royalty. He is a cute boy and shows

great potential and musical aptitude. The film shows Wolfgang

using creative interpretation of the music and dramatic arm

flourishes. He was supposedly beginning to write his own musical

compositions at age 4 or 5.

 

In the beginning of the movie,  their coach’s wheel breaks after

going over a rut in the country road. It is late and the Mozart family

stays in a nearby nunnery. It is interesting to note that there are

two sisters living there. Their story emphasizes the difference in

the way male and female genders were treated in this period of time.

The two girls have been shuffled and taken away from the palace,

being raised by nuns.

 

At one point, there is a name mentioned of the two girls’ brother,

who is being raised to be a ‘Royal.’ The part that Maria Anna plays,

and is asked to carry out a charade, is to transport a letter to their

brother, if the Mozart family should be ever happen to appear at

Court. Anna Maria treasures this new friendship and promises to

keep the letter safe and take it to their estranged brother.

 

This movie would engage someone who has been enjoying the inner

workings of the staff and upper class levels or tiers of British society

on the PBS show, “Downton Abbey.” Although this is a whole other

period of time, there are still the ideas of class structure and family

expectations being expressed. Definitely, it is an eye-opener in both

the film about the late 1700’s and the television series of the 1900’s.

Traditions and historical details about clothing, customs and roles

women and men played also are featured in both of these storylines.

 

At the end of the film, there is not much said about Nannerl’s  being

anything but helpful to her brother.  There are no illusions that she

may have helped Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compose his greatest

works.

 

In the movie’s middle,  there is a nice romantic interlude, where

Maria Anna disguises herself as a boy, in a white-haired wig, to give

the hand written letter to the young Monarch from his sister. They

use the young man’s title in the film as ‘Louis XV.’ This story becomes

a very sweet part of the movie. I will not tell you about how it unfolds,

hoping you will someday pursue viewing this one. I will say it depicts

Nannerl’s character as having spunk, showing independence and also,

her romantic side.

 

Before the credits roll, there are a few sparse details given. The written

lettering after the movie ends mentions Maria Anna helped to write

some of her own sonatas as a young woman. It mentions she helped

Wolfgang transcribe his first writings, since he scribbled them. There

is a subtle undertone of the possibility that she was his ‘muse.’  As his

sister, she may have written (created) some of his early works.

 

The movie has places that explain traditional upbringing of “fine young

ladies.” The women are encouraged to wait on men, not to further their

education. Maria Anna tries to ‘rock the establishment.’ Her mother has

disappointment and her father shows anger for her independent streak.

She doesn’t wish to follow the social order of the period. I was rooting

for her, all the way!

 

RESEARCH:

If you enjoy history and reading about a famous person’s family,

you may enjoy this part of the post. . .

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 1756 until December,

1791. There is confusion about why he died at such an early age of 35.

 

He was the son of a musician and teacher of music, Leopold Mozart.

His mother was named Anna. He was born in Salzburg, which later

became part of, or known as,  Austria. Wolgang’s father and mother

had seven children, only two that lived beyond infancy. The oldest

living child was a daughter named Maria Anna, nicknamed, “Nannerl.”

There were four years between the two children, sister and brother.

 

When Wolfgang was 3 years old, his sister was learning her lessons,

which included language, music and reading. She was practicing

with her brother close by her side. Later, she would be by his side,

while he was the one leading the lessons. This relationship lasted

probably all of their childhood. “Wolfie” was her little shadow,

trying to do everything she did.

 

There is a notebook that Leopold made for Maria Anna, which is

known as “Nannerl’s Notenbuch” or also written as, “Notenbuch

fur Nannerl.” In English, this was “Nannerl’s Music Book.” This

amazing composition book demonstrated the first lessons that

Leopold gave to her, along with her brother. It consists of only

(originally) 48 pages, now only 36 pages remain.  This book has

her father’s exercises for her practicing beginner harpsichord

pieces. This also included anonymous minuets and some of her

father’s  original  works.  Two composers,  Carl P. E. Bach and

George C. Wagenseil, had their pieces transcribed as passages

in this musical exercise book.

 

In 1982, a man (just a coincidence) named Wolfgang Plath

studied the handwriting within the Notebook and attributed

the variety to consist of five different handwriting samples

or sources. There are evidences of the collaboration between

Leopold, the father, and his son, “Wolfie.”

 

Leopold took his family touring around countries and the cities

of Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Maria Anna Mozart was

born in 1751 and lived 78 years, until 1829. When she became a

young lady, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue

to publicly play the harpsichord, piano or sing. Up until she was

18, Maria was part of her musical touring family. A biographer

considered her to be a great singer and an,

“Excellent harpsichord player and fortepiano player.”

 

Sadly, there is no mention about Nannerl being a conduit, or

letter transporter, between the sisters raised in a nunnery and a

member of Louis XV’s “Court” or “Royalty.”  This was the main

part of the plot I enjoyed in the movie I reviewed earlier.

 

At age 18, Maria Anna went home to Salzburg with her mother,

to teach musical lessons and stay at home. The following reason

was mentioned in one source,

“This was due to her being of marriageable age.”

 

Wolfgang and his father both wrote letters to Maria Anna which

some have been saved. Wolfgang during the 1770’s, was touring

in Italy and mentioned Nannerl’s writing musical compositions

and Wolfgang goes so far as to ‘praise her musical works.’

 

There are no references in her multiple letters from her father

to any of her own musical compositions in his correspondence.

 

An interesting note (and slightly salacious fact) is mentioned

in some of the biographers’ notes about Maria Anna’s and

Wolfgang’s close, intimate relationship. When they were young,

they developed a “secret language” and they had an “imaginary

kingdom.” They pretended they were married and carried out

their positions while playing together, as “Queen” and “King.”

 

There are a few indications and there is evidence of Wolfgang’s

using sexual wordplay which he used in other letters to his

lovers or girlfriends. This can be found also in the words he

chose and were included in his writing to his sister. One

historian considers this to be a ‘strange relationship’ for a

sister and a brother.

 

As an aside, my two brothers and I would play ‘house’ but

we would not have myself be the “mother” and one of my

brothers be the “father.” We would instead play that one of

the brothers was the “father” and other brother and I were

his “children.” Like the old television show, “Family Affair,”

where the uncle has “Buffy” and twins “Cissy” and “Jody.”

(I used to love this show, with Sebastian Cabot playing the

butler/nanny and Brian Keith playing the bachelor uncle.

did you know it ran from 1966 until 1971?) Or I would play

the ‘mother’ role and the brothers were my ‘kids.’ We usually

had company or neighbors over.  Once in awhile, they would

‘marry’ one of my girlfriends, or once in awhile, I would ‘marry’

one of their guy friends. I mention this to confirm that I would

also think it strange that the siblings played ‘Queen and King’

together over a Kingdom.

 

A sad note about Maria Anna’s independence shown in the

movie, “Mozart’s Sister.” This is not to be found anywhere in

any biographies or any letters. She is shown to be subservient

to her father, allowing him to forbid her to marry a man named,

“Franz d’Ippold.”  They were both young, he was a Captain and

a private tutor. When he proposed, there is an implication she

would have liked to say, “Yes.”  There is a letter in the family’s

collection where her brother, Wolfgang, tried to persuade her to

stand up to her father. Ultimately, Maria Anna was ‘forced’ to

turn down Captain Franz d’Ippold’s proposal.

 

Years went by, Maria Anna was allowed to marry at age 32, when

asked by a man named Johann Baptist Franzvan Berchtold  “un

Sonnenburg.” They were  married in 1783.  Listen to the “fun” life

Maria Anna participated in:  She became the wife of a widower

with five children she helped to raise. She had three more of her

own children with Johann. When she had her first born son,

she named him Leopold. Her father insisted on taking the her

only son to raise him in Salzburg at his home. The biography

doesn’t mention her mother’s role in this drama. From 1785

until he died in 1787, Leopold Sr. wrote letters and in a journal

telling about his toilet training Jr. and teaching him how to talk.

 

There was no mention of the boy’s illness nor a reason why he

should not have been raised as a baby until age 2 by his own

mother.  There is some speculation for her father’s thinking he

would raise another musical prodigy. Since he felt he was the

reason Wolfgang A. Mozart turned out the way he did.

 

After all, Leopold Mozart, Sr. did write and publish a violin

music textbook.

 

SUMMARY:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was known for his classical

musical compositions, which included over 600 works.

They include symphonies, concertos, operas and choral

music.

 

Beethoven, while young, lived in the shadow of Mozart.

During his early years composing his own original music,

he was constantly compared to Mozart’s body of work.

 

Composer, Joseph Hayden said of Mozart’s legacy:

“Posterity will not see such a talent in another 100 years.”

 

Wolfgang A. Mozart married Constanze and had two sons.

He died at the early age of 35 years old.

His magnificent “Requiem” was never completed.

His music is still revered and considered the best in classical

music.

 

Maria Anna was never given any credit (that I could find out

about) for her influence on her brother’s music nor were any

of her musical compositions published. The book, “Nannerl’s

Notenbuch” is not considered to be anything but her lesson

book to practice and play music using the hand written

exercises.

 

I need to see the movie, “Amadeus,”  (again) to see if there

are any musical or notable references to his sister. If you

have a good memory or recently seen this, let me know in

the comments whether there is mention of Anna Maria

Mozart please.

 

I strongly recommend, “Mozart’s Sister” as a film to savor

and enjoy, while wishing the story line really happened.

 

Truthfully, being an older sister myself, how could “Nannerl”

NOT have had an influence upon her little brother, “Wolfie?”

 

Either way you look at this famous musician’s life,

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made a huge impact

on the musical world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Lassie” and Television’s Progress

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On Friday, September 12, 2014, 60 years of television had passed by, since “Lassie’s”

first debut episode. The show was simple, meaningful and encompassed all areas of

rural living, (1954 – 1973). When they list the ‘longest lasting television series,’ they

place this show close to top of the list.

 

The years I remember the show, “Lassie,” best had June Lockhart as portraying my

favorite mother of all time. The father was genuinely well-acted by Hugh Reilly and

my favorite little boy, “Timmy,” was played by Jon Provost.

 

Although the leading “human” roles changed over the years, there was always the

faithful dog, “Lassie.” (Many dogs played this role, of course, through the years.) I

enjoyed the various transitions of “Lassie,” having family values and including life

lessons.

 

Fast forward to September and October, 2014 for the New Fall, 2014 television

season.

It would be nearly impossible to picture most of the newest additions to our current

television programming to last ten years, let alone 19 years.

 

The “CSI” and “NCIS” shows are still going strong and on this Fall’s t.v. line-up.

I am going to miss having the original show, “CSI,” with its location of Las Vegas,

when it moves to its new Sunday evening slot. Sunday is my favorite ‘catch up’ night,

with PBS, Hallmark and I still am a big fan of “Once Upon A Time” and “Revenge.”

The new Fall line up is already getting over-crowded on my own Sunday night.

 

I was talking to a good friend who thinks some of the shows sound “silly” and was

pointing out a Columbus Dispatch critic thought Debra Messing would be hard to

imagine being a cop, in the new show called, “”Mysteries of Laura.”

Since I would first respond, I love the silly show, “Mike and Molly.” I may be quite

blasphemous to say that “Mike” would NEVER make it on a real police force, due

to his large size…

Criticism from someone who loves all kinds of wild SyFy shows like, “Haven” and

“Eureka,”  and on regular network t.v., “Under the Dome,” should be wondering

about their own ways they stretch their imagination! I am laughing with you; not

at you, my friend!

 

Can you suspend your sense of disbelief and let your imagination go?

I remember the funny ways we learned, as children to open our ‘escape hatches’

and step into the Lands of Wonderment.

 

I shall try all the shows with female-driven plot lines. They have had ‘good fortune’

in the past. Imagine “The Good Wife” not being on,  not receiving another round of

Emmy Award nominations. I think it is nice to see women in professional situations,

not wearing an ‘apron’ and carrying out the character of a ‘housewife and mother.’

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy programs that have women who have chosen to

stay at home to do

this very important job and having this be part of the plot line, too. Choices are what

makes this a different world from the Fifties and Sixties’ television programming.

 

“We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

I like the characters in this sweet little show about a single mother with a son, you may

recognize him from big screen movies, I “About a Boy.” I am sadly not pleased with

where they tucked this show into a 9:30 time slot. It is ‘not cute’ but original and quirky.

We, if you are a viewer, are ‘rooting’ for the handsome neighbor man to become the single

mother’s date. Although it is about a boy, it is definitely about the mother, too. Having

raised 3 children on my own, I am particularly happy to watch this one. I also like the

upcoming role of Katherine Heigl getting another chance on television in “State of

Affairs.” While Katherine Heigl left “Grey’s Anatomy,” definitely getting better comedic

roles in movies, she is still sorely missed as the character of “Izzy,” on that show. I am

looking forward to seeing her as a CIA agent. She was funny in “One for the Money,” a

movie based on the hilarious antics of a bondswoman in more than 20 books by Janet

Evanovich.

 

If you liked Tea Leoni’s funny past roles you may have seen her show her acting chops

in serious dramas, too. We will see which direction she heads in, “Madame Secretary.”

She was one of the wackiest women on television for 2 years in a show called, “The Naked

Truth.”

 

I have read a decent review of “Red Band Society.” It is not a “Breakfast Club,” nor

is it one that will be all laughs, but will tackle diseases and illnesses with a touch of

humor and give it an uplifting spin. It is a group of young people who are ones who

have hospital experiences, who are dealing with personal challenges. I picture it more

like the movie, “Stand By Me,” in its tone and togetherness. It is about a ‘band

of young misfits.’

 

Critics are harsh when it comes to some and not so much with others. I remember

when I discovered, “How I Met Your Mother.” It was before the critics endorsed it,

awhile back. I am sad how they chose to end it, with the death of the mother but

happy the main gal, Robin, got her ‘man.’

 

The serious shows genre are tougher to predict. I would imagine Scott Backula will

knock the New Orleans’ version of “NCIS” out of the park. I happen to have liked his

‘goofy’ portrayal of character in “Quantum Leap.” I am not sure about, “Stalkers,” but

will support Dylan McDermott, since he is still okay after all these years since his role

as a non-supportive ‘husband’ for Julia Robert’s dying ‘wife’ role in “Steel Magnolias.”

 

Another serious plot line can be found in “Gracepoint.” (Not to be confused with the

CIA/FBI show about the safe house, “Graceland.”) David Tennant, from the British

show, “Broadchurch,”and Anna Gunn are two strong actors that will head up the

already critically-acclaimed and well-promoted television show. This show is set in a

fictional California coastal community.

 

I think that the “Forever” show that is listed on two consecutive days, for its kick-off

first two episodes sounds good.  Sadly, I lost “Journeyman” and also another traveling

through  time show just in the past two years. I will hope this one ‘sticks’ because I like

the concept. I used to enjoy “Time Tunnel” on television and “Back to the Future,” on

the movie screen.

 

I have been a fan of Josh Dushamel ever since the show, “Vegas.” I have enjoyed his

forte into romantic comedies, too. The actor, Dushamel will be on a new show called,

“Battle Creek,” This will be loosely based on likely crimes to be found in Battle Creek,

Michigan. His co-star/partner will be that of Dean Winters. You will recognize him,

but not necessarily ‘place’ him. I will check this one out simply because I love crime-

solving television series.

 

I will return to comedies. This is what a good friend in Lancaster, Ohio mentioned

when we turned 50: “Try to laugh more, watch comedies!”

I came up with a slogan, which I will hope no one else has coined:

“Humor is found in the ‘ear’ of the listener.”

(“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”)

So, if you liked “My Favorite Martian” did you ever try 2 seasons of “Neighbors?”

I think not, since it did not make it. This was clever, witty writing with four likable

adults, along with poking fun at Suburbia. I will miss this, unless it is on a later

schedule, it did not make the ‘cut.’

 

If you liked “Scrubs,” you probably followed the guy who was the janitor on over

into “The Middle,” who became the ever patient, sometimes ‘clueless’ Dad in this

sit-com. This also includes Patricia Heaton, who played the Mom/wife roles in

“Everyone Loves Raymond.”

 

If you liked “Taxi,” “Barney Miller” and “Psych,” you may have discovered last year’s

Emmy-awarding comedy, “Brooklyn 9-9.” Hilarious, quirky and goofy at times, but

watch out, you may laugh out loud anyway.

 

I am wishing that Nielson’s Rating chart were in my mailbox, because I had such a

lovely time about eight years ago, studying and analyzing the television Fall Season

Line-ups back then. The first time I had the full control of a remote control.  I wrote

some comprehensive and profuse notes for those receiving my multiple page Nielson

Ratings Report. I  am not a paid writer nor do I write for a newspaper. I was able to

honestly say this, it was all for the love of television and the future of programming

that I was inspired to carry out my ‘duties’ in this report.

 

My final thoughts on the Progress television has made since “Lassie” was on.

You are invited to ‘debate’ these comments, too. I love a good and lively discussion!

 

I personally feel current shows embrace more ethnicities, culture and show characters

with wider world views in our programming. They encompasses much more ‘diversity’

on television since my childhood days. This means the people who are represented

are not stereotyped as much, anymore.

 

I like that there are two children with special needs included in some popular shows.

I recommend, “Parenthood,” and if you have never seen this, start by watching the

first shows. It is cool to watch this fine young actor, “grow up” with two caring

‘parents’ who disagree about how to handle him, along with a supportive ‘family.’

I am not sure how they would ‘label’ the character, “Brick,” in the show “The Middle,”

but the family accepts him just as he is.

I feel the shows today give better examples of the way families really act, showing

varied relationships, how to handle or not able handle serious and controversial

subjects such as addictions, challenges and sexual orientations.

 

We have heroes and villains. The same as in the past, sometimes more graphically

(and honestly presented.)

 

World conflicts and images are horrifying.  We cannot ignore what is going on, bury

our head in the sand. Powerful, and yet maddening, events are daily depicted (some

consider, ‘bombarded’) on our television sets.

We are urged to ‘act’ and ‘choose’ which side of the dilemmas we will take, as a nation

and other countries must, too.

Along with this serious, somewhat negative impact of television’s immediacy to

situations, we have positives.

We have the opportunity to watch the Olympics, sporting events and international

specials, shown across the world. My coworkers and friends from the Philippines

were captivated by Pope Francis being chosen to be the Roman Catholic Pope.

Other friends were entranced by the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana. Then,

many followed the tragic ending to Lady Diana’s life. They were hopeful for the

more recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The baby’s birth and

now, the next one on its way, are subjects that many feel are happy bits of news.

 

History, social studies, geography and science are subjects of programs, for

everyone to  learn about, grow to enjoy and get more educated. There are so

many fascinating shows to watch. Nature, musical and art works may never be viewed

or listened to, first hand. Other countries and animals, places that may not be within

everyone’s budget or ability to travel.

 

Some people are not necessarily able to buy or read the newspaper. They find out

information about the world they live in, from the television news shows.

Hurray For National Geographic, Travel Channel, PBS, Weather Channel and

other quality network programming!

 

We have real and make-believe images still, with our magic carpet rides taking off,

from our own homes.

 

There are subjects and shows I may never care to watch. I embrace and support

those who like QVC shopping, cooking shows, reality shows and true dramas,

because they are part of the wide community of television watchers.

 

Many of the shows I choose to watch, you may not want to watch. I got hooked on a

soap opera, during our second break at work. For the past six years, I am ‘guilty’ of

watching, “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

All the years I stayed home and babysat, I did not watch any soap operas. I did in

college, much to the chagrin of my parents, when I mentioned I was scheduling my

courses around a couple of soap operas!

 

I was listening, the first year of American Idol, to all the animated conversations in

the teachers’ break room. They were talking about the ‘bad’ try-outs and the odd

characters. It was in the very beginning of the national search for those who would

make it to “Hollywood.” This caught my attention and I am so glad that I started

watching it.  I can say, “I remember when I first heard Carrie Underwood’s fantastic

voice, was medium built and had frizzy hair!” Along with several well-known singers

who made it to the Top Ten or higher.

 

I am grateful that I don’t have to sit on a sofa and listen to radio to imagine the

great radio characters of the “Green Hornet,” “Gracie Allen and George Burns,”

or how the President of the United States looks like as he is speaking. I enjoy

hearing my Mom’s excitement when she heard about Amelia Earhart’s trans-

Atlantic plane trip and her memories of the “Fireside Chats,” with President

Roosevelt, though.

 

I liked how we  used to watch to find out if we had school on Snow Days. Later,

if our children or grandchildren have school cancelled. I enjoy watching to see

how ‘my’ candidates or ‘my’ issues are doing, as the voting polls report in their

results.

 

I am saddened that there are blind people who cannot see, but grateful for the

inventions of special devices and increased equipment due to new technology

allowing them ‘to see’ the shows. The descriptions of the setting, characters and

other visual ‘clues’ are given. I have read about these and think the inventors are

brilliant for creating and providing this service. There are new creations in hearing-

impaired equipment, too.

 

Many people cannot afford to go to the movies or take a vacation with their families.

They may not go to Broadway but on PBS, they can see a Broadway play or musical.

They get their main form of entertainment from television.

 

There are others, lying on their back sometimes, healing from surgery or permanent

disabilities. My Dad liked to watch the comedies, while getting his chemo treatments.

Laughing made him feel so much better on those days he was nauseous.

 

The elderly in the nursing home I worked at for 4 1/2 years, liked to watch the shows

on TV Land, old reruns of “Lawrence Welk” and  “Bonanza,” along with their church

programming on Sunday mornings. The beauty of fireworks in our country and

celebrations around the world, brought big smiles to their faces. They enjoyed, as

I still do, the lovely creations in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 

We get a sense of conscience from our ‘small screens.’  The night I watched, “Stand

Up 2 Cancer” impacted me, along with millions of other people watching. It moved

us to donate to some form of Cancer (Society) fund-raising, including Hospice Care,

research and local hospitals.

 

Remember “One Small Step for Mankind?” We now look forward to continued

space travel, inventions and research. When we hear of satellites making it to

Mars or other planets this gives us information that we may use in the future.

 

A quote about freedom from H.L. Mencken, American author and journalist

(1880-1956):

“We must be willing to pay a price for freedom,

for no price that is ever  asked for it,

is half the cost of doing without it.”

 

My soap box, put away for now. . .

 

 

 

What do you watch?

Have you heard about any new t.v. show compelling you

to ‘set your DVR’?

 

Famous T. V. Dads

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Famous television fathers were quite conventional, sometimes filling

current stereotypes, but they usually seemed above normal in their

tolerance and patience. We were talking at Friday’s midpoint mark, in

the breakroom about how we may have formed misconceptions about

the way dads should act from watching these early family shows. After

all, most of us did not have traditional fathers, who would go to work in

suits and ties, come in cheerful, pull out a newspaper and quietly unwind.

I am sure my father wished he could have been ‘so lucky!’

My family consisted of two bread-winners and the three of us children,

were often in the winter months the last ones picked up at our baby-

sitter’s house. I remember looking out of Mrs. Boos’ picture window

into the darkness, wondering which day it was that Mom was doing her

oracle debates, drama or Spanish club meetings? I would sigh with an

almost exasperated ‘whoosh!’ when I finally saw her station wagon’s

headlights in the driveway. Mrs. Boos had two sons who played with my

brothers, occasionally I would join in or get a chance to sit on Diana’s

bed, her teenaged daughter and look at pictures of the Beatles or the

Dave Clark Five, or sometimes there would be magazines full of fashion

and hairstyles. My Mom was pleased when Diana went to Kent State

University and invited me to spend “Siblings Weekend,” as Diana’s baby

‘sister,’ Robin.

When we got home, my Dad, usually, would be home shortly, pulling off

his tie, after he took off his jacket, asking what he needed to do to ‘pitch

in.’ Spoiled me, made me think all fathers were like this. Today, Saturday,

June 14th, 2014, they had on the CBS Morning Show, a segment on the

percentage of fathers in the fifties, sixties and seventies that helped out

in child-rearing responsibilities. Sadly, they still said in the more recent

years the percentage of household responsibilities, even with working

moms being in the majority, it is still not a 50/50 deal.

Anyway, Melvin’s Mom and Dad were more like my parents, sharing the

chores and also, enjoying family times together. He admitted most of

his African American friends had either a limited amount of fatherly

involvement or none.

Tammy said that her mother had stayed home, whenever she would ask

for help inside the house, her father was quick to remind her, “You don’t

work.” She was dismayed at this behavior, remembering, even as a young

girl in her imagination, “I won’t stand for this in my adult life!” (Tammy

and Mike have been friends since childhood, “fence post buddies,” but have

never tied the knot.) She certainly is open that she doesn’t even have a

joint account with Mike, they just split the bills and love each other. She

is an independent woman, almost the ‘polar opposite’ from the parents

she dearly loves.

Trevinal said his parents are more together now, but in his childhood his

father sounded like my first husband, wished for dinner on the table,

kids cleaned up and early to bed, and lots of time watching his favorite

sports shows on television. There is a whole different love that he and his

wife share, more understanding and encouragement. He is so ‘blessed,’

he says to have someone who believed in his ability to think. The family

cannot believe that he is in Nursing School, working fulltime to pay his

bills and rising far above the expectations of Special Education. He feels

that by meeting the ‘right’ woman to share his life is a ‘daily blessing.’

His being in his thirties, reminds me of my own son, and I also remind

him of my belief in his ability to be a good father, when the time comes.

Here are the above persons’ and other coworkers, along with family

members who have cited some excellent, funny and different television

situational comedies for “Best Examples of Television Fathers:”

1.  My favorite father of all time, is from the show, “My Three Sons.” This

show allowed a non-traditional father, in amongst the ‘drones’ that I

found on other television shows. The combined household of widower,

played by Fred McMurray, his brother, who was the boys’ Uncle Charlie,

and the three rowdy boys always made me admire the patience, fortitude

and compassion showing what I considered “true family values.”

 

That is not to say, I didn’t laugh at the antics of Dick Van Dyke, Danny Thomas,

John Forsythe  (“Bachelor Father”) or Brian Keith (“Family Affair.”) I also liked

“The Ozzie and Harriet Show,” an almost first time reality show, since the family

was played by actual family members. I liked the sense of humor and the handsome

boys in this one! (Diana, my babysitter’s daughter, also had a few articles in her

teen magazines which featured the Nelson boys, especially the “cute” Ricky!

 

2.  Hugh Beaumont, who played the Dad on “Leave It to Beaver,” was the one

that my coworker, Mark, listed as his favorite. The different ways that influenced

his choice was first he liked that Beaver’s mother wore an apron, like his mother

did, daily. Also, that the father character hardly ever yelled, even under stressful

times.

3.  Tammy said the whole family in her household liked, “The Danny Thomas

Show.” I still like that Marlo Thomas was an independent woman, not hurrying

into marriage until she fell in love, in real life, with the talk show host, Phil

Donahue. I also personally enjoyed the fact she is a columnist in my “AARP

Magazine.” Tammy said she liked Danny Thomas, since he presented a few

shows, mentioning different cultures. I would have to check this out, but do

support and believe in St. Jude Children’s Hospital. Marlo has said that she

got her Dad’s slightly sarcastic sense of humor, which carries her through

tough times.

4.  Trevinal still remembers almost every show that “Family Matters” had

on television. He has found this to calm him, looking at Urkel’s silly dress

code, high water pants and his often expressed question, “Did I do that?”

The sense of humor and the family were something he admired and felt

that Urkel’s character was one that gave him confidence when he made

mistakes, throughout many of his years,  in life.

Trevinal’s words are very powerful, expressing this to me:

“Whenever Urkel goofed up, people would roll their eyes, sometimes

bellow at him, but always forgive him. That is how I wish to be when I

am a father.”

Reginald VelJohnson, who played the father in “Family Matters,” is

in one of my youngest daughter’s favorite shows, “Hart of Dixie.”

(Rachel Bilson and Tim Matheson play doctors on that country

setting show.)

Trevinal also noted that Urkel was a neighbor,  the family next door’s kid,

but he became part of the family and included, whether wanted there or not,

anyway.

5.  Keith told me, laughing, while lifting a box in the aerosol room, in what we

call the “Bomb Shelter,” that his favorite father character was Archie Bunker.

That show was called, “All in the Family,” where all sorts of issues popped up,

Archie sticking his neck out, saying all kinds of bigoted or prejudiced comments,

but usually backing down on them. Meeting people of all ethnicities, while they

were in an urban setting, with his wife being accepting, his daughter also very

open minded and often, Rob Reiner, playing “Meathead,” took the brunt of

Archie’s anger. I asked why he thought of this character? He told me, a little

bit sheepishly, that his own father was ‘backwards’ and ‘ignorant’ like Archie

had been. This made him become aware that there were other perspectives

on people. I appreciated Keith’s candor. He also added his parents were from

Kentucky! He added this with a laugh, like that explained everything!

He also said he respected the actor, Carroll O’Connor,  who had gone on to

play a cop, with a black partner, in the show, “The Heat of the Night.”

6.  My son, James, joked that he liked Homer Simpson, for the same reason

that Keith liked Archie Bunker. He said they were the ‘opposite of everything

he hoped for in a father.’ He also said that making mistakes for Homer, making

poor judgments, did make him feel more comfortable in his own parenting

skills.

7.  My oldest daughter said she liked Patrick Duffy, in the show, “Step by Step.”

She had a crush on him, from early days of watching, “Dallas,” and also had

a young ‘crush’ on Cody, the cousin who lives in a van in the driveway on this

sit-com. I liked it because Suzanne Somers was a hairdresser, average single

mother, who found a man with children to marry. I think the idea of stepkids,

appealed to me, also in ‘The Brady Bunch.”

When I mentioned my oldest daughter’s opinion, the men still were ‘hooting’

and ‘hollering,’ in a playful manner. They said she ‘made’ the show, “Three’s

Company,” and still looks great to this day.

8.  No one named, “Father Knows Best,” but all cited this as their 2nd and 3rd

choice of Best Television Father.

9. Charlene, whose young son, Ian, was in on my ‘Opinion Poll’ on Thursday,

had said she loved, “Wonder Years.” Since the mother character is on our

favorite soap opera, (Allie Mills), she remembered to point out she is good in

“The Bold and the Beautiful.” She also mentioned that the Dad on “Wonder

Years,” had to tackle difficult teen subject matter, since the boys grow up on

that show, from junior high through high school. I have to check out the dates,

be back to tell you the years: 1988 until 1993. The father’s character was

played by Dan Lauria. The couple who ended up taking the show into the

more mature theme included Danica McKellar and Fred Savage as “Winnie

Cooper,” and the kid next door, “Kevin Arnold.” In the Arnold family, the

mother stays home while the father worked. An interesting fact that I found

out was, Danica’s sister could have won the part of “Winnie,” the directors

say it was a ‘toss up’ between Danica and Crystal McKellar.

10. My mother loved the shows with Bill Bixby, including his role in “My

Favorite Martian” and “The Hulk.” But when I would come home from

junior high and high school, I would have the lights off, my Mom sitting

on one end of the sofa with her feet up on an ottoman, watching, “The

Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” When I overheard that song on the radio

and recently, on a commercial, I would almost “tear up.” Mom was much

more tired when I was that age, she would not volunteer to be coaches,

helpers or club counselors at Westlake High School. She would be the

chaperone, with my Dad by her side, for dances. That was as much energy

as she could ‘wrangle up,’ in her forties. I love Harry Nilsson’s song, the

memory of her sometimes lightly snoring, until the song would play

and she would sit up, watch and share those moments. My one brother

would be in track, (Spring), water boy in basketball, (Winter) or in

Cross Country, (Fall). This was ‘our time.’ The song began with these

words: “Let me tell you about my best friend,…” (The song includes

the father saying, “My pride and joy.”)

By the way, the jingles or songs for television would make an excellent

memorable post. When we were noticing the songs, we all agreed that

the piano playing and the off-key singing by Edith Bunker, played by

Jean Stapleton, was iconic: “Those Were the Days.”

That “Wonder Years” song, “I Get By With a Little Help From MyFriends,”

is legendary. We were nostalgic, reminiscent of family shows when there

weren’t as many choices on television and everyone’s family gathered together

to watch the shows. Even the commercials were memorable.

10.  The last contributor to this post on television fathers was my youngest

daughter’s suggestion of “Little House on the Prairie.” She enjoyed the setting

out West, through tough times, settling and learning how to live as a family

in a different time period had intrigued her.

She grew up watching this in reruns on Nickelodeon. This television

dramatic series ran from 1974 until 1983. (She was born in 1985.)

She reminded me that she read most of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books,

after I introduced them to her. She felt Michael Landon portrayed a

very charismatic and dynamic father. I am happy that she remembered

him in this role. (His personal life, somewhat like the much admired

Bing Crosby; left much to be desired. I feel the same about Eric Clapton,

Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. Troubled, but still admired for their

personal talents and  the ‘body of their works.’)

What was your favorite television father?

When Floyd Saved the Day

Standard

I have a new guy friend, Lenny, who told me about his mother and

father’s love story. It made me smile because it is so different and

nontraditional in its origins. Lenny’s Mom is Lois and she was a

busy, hard working single mother of four children, three boys and

one girl. They were getting to be quite a “handful” and she was sure

she would never marry again.

Along came some family members who knew a man who worked

with them, who was single, healthy and attractive. They knew that

Lois was a good cook, a wonderful friend and wanted her to meet

this man. So, without too much warning, they asked her to go

bowling with them.

This is not as easy as you would think! As a single mother, myself, I

had to sometimes call between 16 to 20 names on a big babysitting

log I kept, to get one night out!

I could easily relate to Lois’ predicament! Once she found a living,

breathing and willing teenager, she was off to the bowling alley.

The family members and friends were gathered a little in a bunch.

When Lois spotted them, she waved to them. When they “parted”

or moved away a bit from each other, she saw a very nice looking

man, unfamiliar to her. When introduced, she found out his name

was Floyd.

Here is Lenny’s ‘take’ on his mother’s parenting skills, “Don’t let

that little frail shell of a woman fool you! She was a tough mother

and not afraid to use a hair brush or a paddle!”

He followed up with a nice and proud tone, “If she would not have

used that discipline who knows where my brothers and sister would

have ended up?”

When Lois was courted by Floyd, they had many dates where they

worked on figuring each other out. Lois’ parents were a Baptist

preacher and a preacher’s wife. They were “good” people with

backbone, corny as it sounds, they sound like “the salt of the earth.”

Floyd was used to going out and spending time as he pleased. He

did not have any children and was glad to have a nice woman to

date.

This is the part where it gets sketchy. Lenny was but a ‘thought’ or

a ‘dream’ but not born yet. He has heard the story often though.

Lenny is not sure how the matchmaking ended up in marriage.

That is another story which I think I will have to get from the

“source,” his mother, Lois.

Anyway, Lois and Floyd married. Sometime after that, Lenny

came along which brought the number of children up to five.

Makes me think of that Doris Day and Brian Keith movie, “With

Six You Get Eggroll.” Anyone remember that family movie gem?

Lois and her family viewed Floyd as the man who saved the day!

I am sure that you will smile when you find out that Lois shooed

all of Floyd’s drinking buddies out of the house on many occasions

where they would gather for homemade (by Lois) snacks and

football on television.

Lenny also feels that the discipline given to his brothers and sister

continued on, even down to the “baby” (him). He respects his parents

and is grateful for their love. His grandparents taught him, “Spare

the rod, spoil the child.”

Lois may have been tougher than Floyd expected, but he showered

her with gifts. Lenny says that she chose beautiful furniture from

a place that has closed, Groll’s Furniture Store. It was famous in

central Ohio for its quality craftsmanship. She also has a lot of

jewelry and nice decorations.

The love flowed between them, their retirement years spent

traveling around down highways and byways, in an RV.

They toured the country side with her sister, Iris and her

husband. They were looking for places to camp and enjoy

each other’s company once those busy family raising years

were up!

My summary of this love story goes like this:

Just when Lois had started to think she would have to raise four

rowdy teens, mainly boys, alone. Along came a handsome man

who was chosen by family and friends. She got ‘hitched’ to a cool

hand Floyd who helped her “corral” those young’uns.

Her hero rode into town and swooped her up and while rescuing

her, she also helped change his life for the better!