Category Archives: Hollywood

Fate and Mystery

As I have mentioned from time to time, I am fascinated by history. Not only how the past made us as we are, but how many seemingly small and inconsequential events can have profound consequences.

I am currently reading a book by a favorite author, Erik Larson, on Winston Churchill during the time of the Blitz.

It’s his contention that a German navigator’s error, in mistakenly jettisoning their bombs over London rather than a country field during inclement weather, led to Hiroshima.

Personally I think that may be a bridge too far, for reasons that I outlined here.

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The California that I Remember…

I was born in Los Angeles in 1950. My father was born in Los Angeles in 1920. As he told me very little of his life, I learned a lot from his friends and relatives. Since he died, I have learned a bit more from my mother.

He went to UCLA, and to pay his way through college, he worked as a page for then NBC-Radio. Although a page, he was acquainted with a lot of the stars, such as Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and others. I told my mother that it is a shame he didn’t write a book of his experiences.

Like a lot of young men of that time, shortly after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army in 1942 during his 3rd year at UCLA. He became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, telling his mother that advancement was fast in the Airborne. My mother later asked him if he considered why advancement was so fast…

After the war, he had a hard time finding work before he took over his fathers import-export business, and my mother and I wonder why he didn’t use some of his contacts at NBC to get work there. Although I can’t see him as a studio exec.

His cousin there told me as boys they would ride their bicycles down the middle of Hollywood Blvd early in the morning. That’s hard to image today.

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Lucille Ball and Star Trek

In addition to being a comedienne whose work is still appreciated over 60 years later, Lucy had quite an influence in television. It could be said that I Love Lucy, started in 1951 with the dawn of television, became the template for the modern sitcom.

I had heard it said years ago that this show pioneered the 3 Camera Approach in filming. But others are saying not so fast – it was invented 4 years earlier, in 1947. Perhaps because the show was so groundbreaking and popular – it is still in syndication today – it got the credit.

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A 50s Icon

A 50s Icon

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Driving home just now, I was trying to think of all the people who had both a strong musical  presence and a strong stage or screen presence.

There have been a few stars of either the small or big screen that were 1 hit wonders. But the screen stars who have also had a strong presence on the radio have been few and far between.

I’m thinking of Bing Crosby and Barbara Streisand.

And Doris Day.

Others?

Growing up in Studio City I will always remember this song of hers.

For many years, she lived a quiet life in Carmel.

Celebrate a bit of her legacy here.

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“The War”

By lex, on September 24th, 2007

The 13-year old cohort at Chez Lex is of the unswervable opinion that Sunday evenings are, and of a right ought to be, dedicated to viewing of “The Simpsons” on television. This same group was shocked into outrage last night to find that the paterfamilias had dedicated the TiVo towards recording the first 2.5 hours of Ken Burns PBS mini-series “The War.”

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Pop Culture

Posted by Lex, on February 6, 2010

Andrew Klavan explains it:

See if you can spot the difference between reality and American culture. In reality, President John F. Kennedy was a fierce Cold Warrior who twice tripled America’s military presence in the Vietnam War to try to stop the spread of Communism and risked nuclear disaster by standing up to the Soviet Union in Cuba. He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, an America-hating leftist who had once defected to the USSR.

Now, the culture: in Oliver Stone’s film JFK—nominated for Best Picture Oscar in 1991—Kennedy is a peaceful lefty contemplating a withdrawal from Vietnam. He’s assassinated by a vast right-wing cabal that includes every single person in America except for Oliver Stone. Reality, culture. Can you spot the difference?

More examples abound.

 

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2 Good Friends

2GoodFriends

Photo via Getty Images

Over the years, thanks to screenwriter Robert Avrech, I developed an appreciation for classic Hollywood. As is my nature, that which has interested me I really delved into research to learn all that I can.

Audrey Hepburn was, according to her son Sean Ferrer, An Elegant Spirit. No Hollywood diva, she. She grew up in Holland under the Nazis nearly starving, because her father felt that the Nazis were on the verge of invading England, and he should take his family to Europe.

Talk about timing.

Her first love was ballet, and for reasons I forget couldn’t make the cut, and started acting.

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Filed under Hollywood, In Memoriam, Uncategorized

The vanity of public men

By Lex

Posted on August 15, 2006

 

Success in a particular field of endeavor does not, sadly, translate to success in all fields. When I was a nobbut, experienced civil aviators of my acquaintance often called the Bonanza V-35B the “doctor killer,” since it was an expensive, high performance, slippery aircraft which demanded precision, especially during adverse weather. Weather for which certain of the wealthy, master-of-the-universe-type physicians who often purchased them declined to adequately prepare.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Hollywood, Politics and Culture

Thanksgiving Conversation

ThanksgivingConversations

I would say that the typical family get together for  Thanksgiving has almost become a subject of comedy when it comes to conversations around the table. Google the subject and you will find literally dozens of posts on how to avoid the pitfall of political conversation among family who have converged from far and wide.

My family is a bit different.  First of all, you could count my extended family on less than the digits of  both hands (for most people). And with the death of my father a couple of years ago it is that much smaller.

Secondly we have never been so set in our ways as to shut off all communication with those who have different opinions.

So it came to pass (sounds a bit Biblical in that opening phrase) that my 93 year old mother and I had Thanksgiving dinner with some friends of many years as guests.

The guests were more of the leftish persuasion, having voted for Obama while my mother, an avid Trump hater, claims to be a conservative.

Me? Well, I supported Goldwater when I was 14 and walked precincts.

And the subject at our table this year?

Sex.

One thing my mother has in common with her friend on the other side of the political spectrum was an admiration for Charlie Rose. And I was thinking with the recent revelations to be a young woman and have to see Charlie exit the shower (with an invitation to join him!) well, that would be, as my late aunt from West Virginia would say, “enough to make a dog throw up”.

And then Harvey Weinstein?   There is nothing new about the “casting couch” and Hollywood – just read up on Louis B Meyer or Harry Cohn just as a couple of examples.  They keep falling these days. Here is the latest.

I met them all. Some were vicious and crooked. But … you saw Hollywood with their eyes — an overcrowded brothel, a merry-go-round with beds for horses.”

Marilyn Monroe

I mentioned too that women – and men – use sex as a weapon.  Blackmail. It wouldn’t surprise me today that among all of the accusations flying, at least a few are seeing a cash reward.

The smarter people in Hollywood – or Washington – might want to adopt the Billy Graham rule, to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. I don’t see a lot of that happening, but you never know. They laughed at Mike Pence in the campaign for his refusal to have dinner with any woman without his wife present.

They aren’t laughing now.

If you are a woman, Lex had a simple test on how to evaluate men.

That conversation was a lot more interesting than politics.

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Shorter David Sirota

By lex, on August 28th, 2011

The US military should allow anti-military filmmakers open access to their personnel and use of their equipment.

The longer and more nuanced reading is that the military exercises some control over Hollywood movie scripts which ask to use actual military personnel and equipment. This is cast by Mr. Sirota as something akin to prior restraint of free speech rather than organizational prudence, Hollywood directors and writers typically having exactly zero understanding of how the military actually works. This lack of experience and comprehension is buttressed by their fixed preconceptions. So the military says this: Go ahead and tar our servicemen with your broad brushes of ignorance and bile if you’d like. Just don’t expect us to underwrite your smear campaigns. Or: Work with us to ensure that 1) you get to make your money so long as the portrayal of our forces is fair, and so long as it fits within the normal training and operation of the force. We’ll bend over backwards, in other words. We just won’t bend over forwards.

Which to me seems fair.

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