December 17, 2009

Jennifer Jones Dies at 90

Jennifer Jones, who achieved Hollywood stardom in “The Song of Bernadette” and other films of the 1940s and ’50s while gaining almost as much attention for a tumultuous personal life, died Thursday at her home in Malibu, Calif. She was 90.

Ms. Jones, who was the chairwoman of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Calif., died of natural causes, said Leslie Denk, a museum spokeswoman. Ms. Jones was the widow of the industrialist and art patron Norton Simon.

After winning an Academy Award in 1944 for her performance in “The Song of Bernadette,” Ms. Jones went on to star in successful films like “Duel in the Sun” and “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing.” She was nominated for Oscars five times.

She was also known for an off-screen life that included bouts of emotional instability; a second marriage to the Svengali-like David O. Selznick, the producer of “Gone With the Wind”; the suicide of their daughter; and a later marriage to another larger-than-life figure, Mr. Simon.

It was Selznick who got Ms. Jones the role of Bernadette Soubirous, the young French peasant girl whose visions at Lourdes created a sensation in 1858. “The Song of Bernadette,” based on Franz Werfel’s best-selling novel, was a huge hit, and it brought the little-known Ms. Jones instant fame.

“After that first big role, there was a kind of stage fright,” Ms. Jones said in 1981. She told another interviewer: “When you’re young, you’re full of hope and dreams. Later you begin to wonder. I did ‘The Song of Bernadette’ without knowing what was going on half the time.”

When she made “Bernadette,” Ms. Jones was the wife of the young actor Robert Walker and the mother of two small boys. She and her husband had met as students at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York in 1938 and married a year later. They had struggled together until Selznick put Ms. Jones under personal contract in 1941. A year later, Mr. Walker was signed by MGM and had a star-making debut in 1943 as a young sailor in “Bataan.”

But the marriage didn’t last; they separated in the fall of 1943, and by then Ms. Jones was deeply involved with Selznick. Seventeen years her senior, he would be the mastermind of her career.

Selznick’s wife, Irene, the daughter of the movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, left him in 1945, in part over his affair with Ms. Jones, who divorced Mr. Walker that year. David Thomson, in his biography of Selznick, “Showman,” said Selznick had found something special in Ms. Jones. “She was so meek, so young, so lovely, so entirely ready to be David’s creation that she left all the responsibility with him,” Mr. Thomson wrote.

Ms. Jones and Selznick were married in 1949 on a yacht off the coast of Italy. Until his death in 1965, he made virtually all the decisions in his wife’s career. He supervised her dramatic training and produced many of her early movies, including “Since You Went Away” (1944), “Duel in the Sun” (1946), “Portrait of Jennie” (1948) and a lavish version, the second, of Ernest Hemingway’s “Farewell to Arms” (1957). The film, which also starred Rock Hudson, was a critical and box-office failure and the last movie Selznick made.

When Selznick lent his wife out to other producers, he often chose badly — turning down the classic film noir “Laura,” for example, or insisting that she star as the mentally ill Nicole Diver in the film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night” when she was both too old for the role and in precarious mental health herself.

Ms. Jones never set her own course. Though her roles expanded — from the country girl Bernadette to the passionate half-caste young woman lusting after Gregory Peck in “Duel in the Sun” to the wealthy adulteress of Vittorio De Sica’s “Indiscretion of an American Wife” (1954) — the screen image was always as molded by Selznick.

But her acting was admired. She received Oscar nominations as best actress for her performances as an amnesiac cured by Joseph Cotten’s love in “Love Letters” (1945), as the wanton Pearl Chavez in “Duel in the Sun” and as a Eurasian doctor in love with a Korean War correspondent (William Holden) in “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” (1955).

Ms. Jones was born Phylis Lee Isley in Tulsa, Okla., on March 2, 1919, the only child of Philip and Flora Mae Isley. Her parents owned and starred in the Isley Stock Company, a tent-show theatrical troupe that toured the rural Midwest. As a child she spent her summers taking tickets, selling candy and acting in the company.

After a year at Northwestern University, she moved to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, where she was cast as Elizabeth Barrett opposite Robert Walker’s Robert Browning in “The Barretts of Wimpole Street.” The two soon married, and on their honeymoon in 1939 they went to Hollywood, where they found bit roles.

Retreating to New York, the couple had a son, Robert Jr., in 1940, and another, Michael, less than a year later. Michael died in 2007. Robert survives her, as do eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Ms. Jones met Selznick in New York when she went to his office there to read for the lead in “Claudia,” Rose Franken’s hit stage play, which Selznick was turning into a movie. The title role went to Dorothy McGuire, who had starred in the play, but Selznick was taken by the lithe, dark-haired Ms. Jones and saw a future for her in Hollywood. (He came up with the name Jennifer Jones during that first encounter.)

Ambitious but emotionally fragile, Ms. Jones placed herself in Selznick’s hands. He cast her in a William Saroyan play, “Hello Out There,” in a theater season he was presenting in Santa Barbara, Calif., and she received rave reviews. He was already planning to lend her to his brother-in-law, the producer Bill Goetz, at 20th Century Fox, for “Song of Bernadette.”

After “Bernadette,” Selznick cast her as Claudette Colbert’s daughter in “Since You Went Away,” his bid to make a “Gone With the Wind” about the World War II home front. Ms. Jones was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar as the girl whose first love is a young soldier.

Though Ms. Jones and Mr. Walker were by then estranged, Selznick cast Mr. Walker as the soldier who is strengthened by Ms. Jones’s love. Mr. Walker, who later scored a success as the villain in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” died at 32 in 1951 after years of emotional problems and drinking, which he attributed to his loss of Ms. Jones.

Among Ms. Jones’s other movies were the comedy “Cluny Brown” (1946), directed by Ernst Lubitsch; “Carrie” (1952), a film version of Theodore Dreiser’s novel “Sister Carrie” co-starring Laurence Olivier; John Huston’s “Beat the Devil” (1954) co-starring Humphrey Bogart; “Madame Bovary” (1949), co-starring James Mason; and “Ruby Gentry” (1952), a King Vidor film with Charlton Heston about destructive passions reminiscent of “Duel in the Sun.”

After Selznick’s death in 1965, Ms. Jones’s film career petered out in “The Idol” (1966), about a young man sleeping with the mother of his girlfriend; the low- budget “Angel, Angel, Down We Go” (1969); and the ensemble disaster movie “The Towering Inferno” (1974). In 1966 she made a rare stage appearance, in a revival of Clifford Odets’s “Country Girl” at New York City Center.

In 1967, Ms. Jones made headlines when she swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills and was discovered, near death, lying in the surf at Malibu. In 1976, Ms. Jones’s 21- year-old daughter, Mary Jennifer Selznick, jumped to her death from a building in West Los Angeles.

Ms. Jones married Norton Simon, in 1971, in a ceremony on a yacht in the English Channel after a courtship of three weeks. Mr. Simon, a multimillionaire industrialist who had turned a bankrupt orange juice bottling plant into a conglomerate that included Hunt Foods and Canada Dry, had retired in 1969 at 62 to concentrate on collecting art.

He spent more than $100 million on his collection, one of the country’s greatest private art collections, housed at the Norton Simon Museum.

After being stricken by the paralyzing neurological disorder Guillain-Barré syndrome, Mr. Simon resigned as president of the museum and was succeeded by Ms. Jones, who also took the title of chairwoman. She oversaw a gallery renovation by the architect Frank Gehry. Mr. Simon died in 1993 at age 86.

Throughout her life Ms. Jones appeared shy and aloof in public, and she rarely gave interviews. She explained why in one of the few she did give, in 1957.

“Most interviewers probe and pry into your personal life, and I just don’t like it,” she said. “I respect everyone’s right to privacy, and I feel mine should be respected, too.”

December 08, 2009

Suh, Tebow among 5 Heisman finalists

NEW YORK - Tim Tebow added another Heisman first to his long list of accomplishments just by being selected a finalist for this year’s trophy.

Tebow became the first player to be invited to the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony three times when the Florida quarterback—along with Colt McCoy, Mark Ingram, Toby Gerhart and Ndamukong Suh—was named a finalist Monday for college football’s most prestigious player of the year award.

“Having the chance to go back to New York means a lot to me,” Tebow said in a statement. “It is a special honor but it wouldn’t be possible for me to have this opportunity without my teammates and coaches.”

The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday in Manhattan. The presentation ceremony has been televised since 1981 and since 1982 at least three players have been invited to attend.

The last time as many as five players were invited to New York was 2004, when USC quarterback Matt Leinart won the award.

Tebow, who was the first sophomore to win the Heisman in 2007, is trying to become the second two-time Heisman winner, joining Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Tebow finished third in the voting last year, while getting the most first-place votes.

He’s also the first player to finish in the top five of the Heisman voting three times since Georgia tailback Herschel Walker did it in the early 1980s.

McCoy was the runner-up last season to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and has led No. 2 Texas to the BCS national championship game this season.

Ingram has rushed for 1,542 yards and scored 15 touchdowns for No. 1 Alabama.

Stanford’s Gerhart, meanwhile, has run for more yards (1,736) and scored more touchdowns (26) than any player in the nation.

And Nebraska’s Suh had 4 1/2 sacks in an attention-grabbing performance against Texas in the Big 12 title game. He is the first defensive player to be a finalist since 1997, when Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson became the first full-time defensive player to win the Heisman.

Tebow and McCoy entered this season as heavy Heisman favorites, but neither has been as productive this season as last and neither will go into Saturday’s presentation as the front-runner.

Tebow returned for his senior season to try and lead the Gators to a third national title in four seasons, but he won’t reach that goal. After being No. 1 almost all season, Florida lost to Alabama 32-13 in the Southeastern Conference title game on Saturday and was knocked out of the national championship race.

The loss likely damaged Tebow’s chances at a second Heisman, too. He has passed for 2,413 yards and rushed for 859 yards this year.

Like Tebow, McCoy also returned for his senior season to make a championship run. He has Texas a victory away from its first national title since 2005, but his numbers also have fallen off compared to ’08.

McCoy has passed for 3,512 yards with 27 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also nearly threw away the Longhorns’ national championship hopes on the second-to-last play of the Nebraska game, coming within a second of letting the clock run out before Texas could attempt the winning field goal in a 13-12 victory.

McCoy could become the first player to win the Heisman the season after finishing second since Walker did it in 1982.

If there is a favorite, it seems to be Ingram.

Hesimanpundit.com, which polls 13 voters throughout the season, had Ingram on top of it’s latest results, just ahead of Gerhart.

Ingram could become Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner. He gave his Heisman campaign a late boost by running for 113 yards and scoring three touchdowns in the SEC title game against Florida.

“I’m looking forward to the experience and appreciate the opportunity to represent our team at the Heisman ceremony,” Ingram said in a statement.

Gerhart also ended his season with a flourish, running for 205 yards and three touchdowns and throwing a touchdown pass in a victory against Notre Dame.

“I am most pleased that my efforts along with those of so many others this year have put Stanford Football back on the national map,” Gerhart said.

Nobody finished stronger than Suh, who put together one of the most dominant defensive games in recent college football history in Nebraska’s near-upset of Texas. He finished the season with 12 sacks.

“It is good to see that the Heisman voters have recognized the true impact a dominant defensive lineman like Suh can have on a football game,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said.

Among the top players who didn’t make the cut were Clemson’s versatile tailback C.J. Spiller and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore.

December 04, 2009

Film star Richard Todd dies at 90

LONDON – Richard Todd, who re-enacted his wartime exploits in the 1962 film "The Longest Day" and was Ian Fleming's choice to play James Bond, has died of cancer at age 90, his family said Friday.

Todd, who was nominated for an Academy Award for the 1949 film "The Hasty Heart" and starred as U.S. Senate chaplain Peter Marshall in "A Man Called Peter" (1954), died Thursday at his home in Little Humby, Lincolnshire in central England, according to his agent, the Richard Stone Partnership.

In Britain, one of his best-known roles was playing Royal Air Force pilot Guy Gibson in "The Dam Busters."

"He had been suffering from cancer, an illness that he bore with his habitual courage and dignity," the family said in a statement.

Fleming had preferred Todd to take the lead in "Dr. No" in 1962, The Daily Telegraph said in its obituary, but a schedule clash opened the way for Sean Connery to define the part. Instead, Todd took the role of role of Inspector Harry Sanders in "Death Drums Along the River," released in 1963.

Born Richard Andrew Palethorpe-Todd in Dublin, Todd at first hoped to become a playwright but discovered a love for acting after helping found the Dundee Repertory Company in Scotland in 1939.

He volunteered for the British Army, and was among the first paratroopers dropped into Normandy in the D-Day invasion. He was also one of the first paratroopers to meet the glider force commanded by Maj. John Howard at Pegasus Bridge; he played Howard in "The Longest Day." After being discharged in 1946, he returned to Dundee. His role as male lead in "Claudia" led to romance and then marriage to his leading lady, Catherine Grant-Bogle.

A Scottish accent mastered while preparing for his role in "The Hasty Heart" proved a useful skill in his later film career.

He won praise for his performance in the film of "The Hasty Heart," which included Ronald Reagan and Patricia Neal in the cast. The New York World-Telegram hailed Todd as "a vivid and vigorous actor" and the New York Herald Tribune said his performance "combined lofty stature with deep feeling, attracting enormous sympathy without an ounce of sentiment."

In "A Man Called Peter," Marshall's widow Catherine said Todd "was just about the only film actor whose Scottish syllables would have met (her husband's) standards."

Other film roles included Sir Walter Raleigh in "The Virgin Queen" (1955), costarring Bette Davis; a lead role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Stage Fright" (1949), with Jane Wyman and Marlene Dietrich; and the lead in Disney's "Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue" (1953).

In the 1980s, Todd made more than 2,500 appearances headlining the London run of "The Business of Murder," and appeared in four episodes of the BBC's "Doctor Who."

Todd had a son and a daughter from his first marriage, and two sons from his marriage to Virginia Mailer. Both marriages ended in divorce.

His son Seamus from the second marriage killed himself in 1997, and his eldest son also killed himself in 2005 following the breakdown of his marriage.

Todd said dealing with those tragedies was like his experience of war.

"You don't consciously set out to do something gallant. You just do it because that is what you are there for," he said.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately announced.

November 10, 2009

October 31, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - White Banners

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: White Banners by Lloyd C. Douglas.

Click here to read White Banners and to listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Fay Bainter and Lewis Stone.

October 24, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Ivanhoe

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott.

Click here to read Ivanhoe.

October 17, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Sea-Hawk

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Sea-Hawk by Rafael Sabatini.

Click here to read The Sea-Hawk and to listen to the Librivox version.

October 10, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Tarzan of the Apes

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Click here to read Tarzan of the Apes, listen to the Librivox version, and watch the 1918 film version starring Elmo Lincoln.

October 03, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Man from Snowy River

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Man from Snowy River by Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson.

Click here to read The Man from Snowy River and to listen to Jessica's Theme.

September 25, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Captain Blood

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini.

Click here to read Captain Blood, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland, and listen to the Librivox version.

September 18, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Scarlet Pimpernel

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.

Click here to read The Scarlet Pimpernel, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland, listen to the Librivox version, listen to the radio show, and watch the 1934 film version starring Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon.

September 11, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez.

Click here to read The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and to watch the 1921 version starring Rudolph Valentino and Alice Terry.

September 10, 2009

True Lemon, True Lime and True Orange

True Lemon, True Lime and True Orange

What are they? Sachets (packets) of crystallized lemon, lime and orange that create a fresh-squeezed taste when added to water, tea, or in recipes. Have you tried them? They're the best! Get a free sample.

September 08, 2009

The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Second Season Giveaway Now Over



Meredy.com and Virgil Films and Entertainment are giving away a copy of The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Second Season! All entries must be in by September 7, 2009. Please see the rules and regs below:

MANDATORY ENTRY

Leave me a comment describing why you love The Donna Reed Show. Please complete the mandatory entry in order to qualify for additional entries. Please make sure your e-mail is visible in your comment or linked to your name. If I can't e-mail you, you can't win!
You may also enter by sending an e-mail describing why you love The Donna Reed Show to donna.reed.show@gmail.com.

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Giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada.
Entries will be accepted until September 7, 2009 at 11:59pm EST.
Please be sure to have your e-mail address visible.
Winner will be notified by e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond.
If there is no response, an alternate winner will be selected.
Meredy.com reserves the right to delete offensive or obscene comments/entries.
Thank you to Tim Maggiani and Virgil Films and Entertainment for sponsoring this great giveaway.

Update September 8, 2009 at 12:00 a.m. - Contest is now over.

September 04, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Beau Geste

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Beau Geste by P.C. Wren.

Click here to read Beau Geste and to listen to the Campbell Playhouse version starring Orson Welles, Laurence Olivier, and Noah Beery.

August 28, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Robe

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas.

Click here to read The Robe.

August 21, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Spiral Staircase

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Spiral Staircase by Ethel Lina White.

Click here to read The Spiral Staircase and to listen to the Screen Directors Playhouse version.

August 18, 2009

Meredy.com Review - The Donna Reed Show - The Complete Second Season



Season 2 of The Donna Reed Show is here, and the wait was wonderfully short! There are 38 new episodes to enjoy. Mary Stone is now 15 and brother Jeff is now 12 years old. Mary starts to date, as the high school boys and even young college men take notice of the beautiful young woman she is becoming. There are great guest stars on these episodes as well. Esther Williams plays Donna's school friend Molly. And a young Marion Ross plays Jeff's new teacher. This second season is just as terrific as the first, as you follow life in the Stone household through the end of 1959 and halfway into 1960.

Starring as the Stones are:
Donna Stone.......Donna Reed
Dr. Alex Stone.....Carl Betz
Mary Stone.........Shelley Fabares
Jeff Stone...........Paul Petersen

Watching this show was just like watching a real family documentary, since the four main players are so comfortable with one another. It's interesting to note (and also adds to the enjoyment and realism conveyed) that Donna Reed tried her best to instill a real familial, warm atmosphere on the set, which comes through in the ensemble performances.

According to Reed's main biographer, Jay Fultz, the quartet became a very close-knit surrogate family throughout the show's initial run, amd remained so when it ended. The four remained close long afterward, usually meeting once a month for lunch and turning heads in the process. They all stayed close until Betz's death of lung cancer in 1978, as well as Reed's battle with pancreatic cancer until her passing in 1986. Today, Petersen and Fabares are still like brother and sister, remaining in contact; he also went to visit her when she was recovering from her liver transplant due to an autoimmune disorder, noting his "wild" days of the 1960s and '70s: "I do all the drinking and you get the liver!"

In sum, for those who love the classic era of TV, this is a well-written, well-acted, comical, and thoughtful show that was painstakingly overseen by its namesake, although her husband got most of the production credits. However, for those willing to delve deeper into pop culture history, they will find that Reed was an underrated, uncredited auteur who oversaw almost all of the elements of the show. The result is a timeless family show that fully deserves its place among the annals of classic programs released for home media.

The Donna Reed Show: The Complete Second Season

The Donna Reed Show: The Complete First Season

August 17, 2009

Giveaway Coming Soon!



The Donna Reed Show - Season 2 giveaway sponsored by meredy.com and Virgil Films and Entertainment is coming soon.

August 14, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Gulliver's Travels

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Click here to read Gulliver's Travels, watch the 1939 version, and listen to the Librivox version.

August 07, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Benson Murder Case (A Philo Vance Story)

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Benson Murder Case (A Philo Vance Story) by S. S. Van Dine.

Click here to read The Benson Murder Case (A Philo Vance Story) and to listen to the radio series.

July 31, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - And Now Tomorrow

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: And Now Tomorrow by Rachel Field.

Click here to read And Now Tomorrow and listen to the Lux Radio Theater version.

July 24, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Bulldog Drummond

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Bulldog Drummond by Sapper (H. C. McNeile).

Click here to read Bulldog Drummond, watch the 1929 version starring Ronald Colman, and listen to the radio program.

July 17, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Peter Ibbetson

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Peter Ibbetson by George du Maurier.

Click here to read Peter Ibbetson and to listen to the Campbell Playhouse version starring Orson Welles and Helen Hayes.

July 16, 2009

Tea With Polly Bergen

When Polly Bergen was a fresh-faced girl in Maryville, Tenn., her older cousins regularly took her to the local moviehouse for Saturday double features. Her winning Shirley Temple routines in the amateur hour competition would secure the group free tickets to the second showing. Little did Ms. Bergen's cousins know that her early exposure to the spotlight would develop into a six-decade-long career as an Emmy Award winning actress, singer and entrepreneur.

"I was a very precocious child, I understand," Ms. Bergen said with a laugh.

Next weekend, one landmark Litchfield County event will benefit from her talents, from an extraordinary dedication to charity causes to an eye for chic headwear. As Honorary Chair of the 12th annual Tea for Two Hundred in Washington July 25, Ms. Bergen is championing the event's fund-raising efforts to benefit the Susan B. Anthony Project of Torrington and the Interfaith AIDS Ministry of Greater Danbury, as well as judging the hat contest.

The Southbury resident's connection to both causes is longstanding and personal. In the 1970s, Ms. Bergen joined forces with women prominent in the arts and entertainment world and those in state and federal government positions across the country in the Equal Rights Amendment movement. The group pushed for a constitutional guarantee that women be afforded equal rights with men under local, state and federal laws. Though the proposed amendment would not meet its two-year ratification deadline, the movement permanently changed the course of the national discussion on discrimination based on sex. The movement also served as Ms. Bergen's introduction to Susan B. Anthony, the iconic suffragist and civil rights activist, whom Ms. Bergen researched.

"She was such an incredible woman who worked all of her life for women," Ms. Bergen said.

The Susan B. Anthony Project in Torrington specializes in helping survivors of domestic and sexual abuse, prevention of such abuse through education and the overall promotion of women's independence. The organization offers legal and medical advocacy, counseling, emergency shelter and a transitional living program.

As for Ms. Bergen's experience with the HIV/AIDS campaign, her close friend and hairdresser was an early victim of the AIDS in 1979. Ms. Bergen became part of a women's group in Hollywood that raised funds for research. She remained active as the disease spread from impacting men to women and children.

"That was when people were really just recognizing that something was going on," Ms. Bergen explained. "They weren't even talking about AIDS in terms of the public."

The Interfaith AIDS Ministry works to generate community knowledge and awareness. The organization also provides spiritual, nutritional and physical support services for those living with HIV/AIDS and their families, in addition to acting as a public education resource.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Surveillance Program recorded 358 new cases of HIV and 387 new cases of AIDS in 2008. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that the epidemic has caused 583,298 deaths in the United States as of 2007, with 571,378 Americans living with HIV/AIDS at the end of the same year.

"My commitment will go on from here," Ms. Bergen said of her responsibilities as chair.

Referring to her current status as almost entirely retired, she added, "For the first time in my life, I have the time to do that."

The local movie theater's stage back in Tennessee was just the first stop in her career. Ms. Bergen's father's job in construction moved the family with every project, until the last stop in California, near Los Angeles. She began auditioning at 15 and soon landed a gig as a society band's singer. Ms. Bergen worked her way from the opening act to the closer, singing in Las Vegas during the summer breaks.

Screen tests with legendary producer Hal Wallis gave her an entree into Hollywood. Between 1950 and 1952, she acted in three movies with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis-"At War with the Army," "That's My Boy" and "The Stooge." Her other notable films include the original production of "Cape Fear," the adaptation of John MacDonald's novel "The Executioners," and "Move Over, Darling" with Doris Day and James Garner.

Though she has appeared in more than 20 films, Ms. Bergen credits television with molding and polishing her acting chops.

"In those days, television really became America's teaching ground and proving ground," she said. "Several of us had our own shows and I was one of them."

"The Polly Bergen Show" ran from 1957 to 1958. The live show featured songs, skits and general variety fare. Before guiding her own program, though, she replaced one of the stars, Dorothy Collins, on "Your Hit Parade," a Saturday music show in which singers performed the week's most popular singles. Ms. Bergen also appeared regularly on the game show "To Tell the Truth" and the interview format show "Here's Hollywood."

"I learned my acting skills from TV," she said.

The arbiters agreed, giving the actress several nods of recognition throughout her career. Ms. Bergen won an Emmy for the portrayal of singer Helen Morgan while acting in the 1950s television series "Playhouse 90." She was nominated for her role in two ABC miniseries "The Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" in which she reunited with "Cape Fear" co-star Robert Mitchum as the wife of Captain Victor Henry. The dramas, based on Herman Wouk's novels of the same names, chronicled the events of World War II as seen through the lens of the military Henry family. The actress also received a Tony Award nomination for her lead role in the 2001 Broadway revival of "Follies" by Stephen Sondheim.

A break from acting to raise her three children proved to be an unexpected opportunity for Ms. Bergen to explore her business skills. Having been blessed with naturally beautiful skin, she never used much makeup until she discovered the need for a moisturizer. A chemist's concoction fit the bill, but Ms. Bergen soon found herself supplying all her friends with the wildly popular product. She started a company selling the moisturizer, Oil of a Turtle, on a small scale. The turning point came during an appearance on a talk show to promote an acting project which was suddenly defunct. Thinking quickly, she began talking about her skin care venture instead.

The brand exploded. Ms. Bergen created six new products and ran the company for 12 years before selling it. The business, which she jokes happened almost as if by accident, stirred her entrepreneurial instincts, which carried over to jewelry and shoe lines and three books on makeup and beauty.

Recently, Ms. Bergen has established herself as a recognizable face for yet another generation of television audiences. In 2004, she appeared on "The Sopranos" as Fran Felstein, Tony Soprano's father's mistress with ties to JFK. Throughout 2005 and 2006, she played the president's mother in "Commander-in-Chief," which styled Geena Davis as the first female president. Then, in 2007, Mr. Bergen received a call from long time fan Marc Cherry, the creator of "Desperate Housewives." Mr. Cherry invited her to play Stella Wingfield, Lynette's mother. Ms. Bergen appeared in several episodes from 2007 to this year and nabbed an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series.

Reflecting on her career, she said, "I was lucky enough to move on to the next important thing naturally. The fact is I did high-profile things when they were high profile."

Since hindsight is 20/20, Ms. Bergen muses that perhaps she should have stuck with one medium, such as film or television or music.

"Depending on when you were born, you didn't really know what I did," she said. "Nobody could nail me down."

However, it seems that it is the blending of all her different experiences and successes that has created and nurtured her strength, giving nature and independence of spirit.

Gael Hammer and Gary Goodwin host the Tea for Two Hundred at their home in Washington Depot. Tickets are $50 each. For more information, call 860-489-3798, or visit the Web site at www.teafortwohundred.org.

July 10, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman by E. W. Hornung.

Click here to read Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman and to listen to the Librivox version.

July 03, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Life with Father

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Life with Father by Clarence Day.

Click here to read Life with Father and to watch the film version starring William Powell and Irene Dunne.

July 01, 2009

Oscar-winning actor Karl Malden dead at 97


LOS ANGELES – Karl Malden, the Academy Award-winning actor whose intelligent characterizations on stage and screen made him a star despite his plain looks, died Wednesday, his family said. He was 97.

Malden died of natural causes surrounded by his family at his Brentwood home, they told the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. He served as the academy's president from 1989-92.

While he tackled a variety of characters over the years, he was often seen in working-class garb or military uniform. His authenticity in grittier roles came naturally: He was the son of a Czech mother and a Serbian father, and worked for a time in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana, after dropping out of college.

Malden said he got his celebrated bulbous nose when he broke it a couple of times playing basketball or football, joking that he was "the only actor in Hollywood whose nose qualifies him for handicapped parking."

Malden won a supporting actor Oscar in 1951 for his role as Blanche DuBois' naive suitor Mitch in "A Streetcar Named Desire" — a role he also played on Broadway.

He was nominated again in 1954 for his performance as Father Corrigan, a fearless, friend-of-the-workingman priest in "On the Waterfront." In both movies, he costarred with Marlon Brando.

Among Malden's more than 50 film credits were: "Patton," in which he played Gen. Omar Bradley, "Pollyanna," "Fear Strikes Out," "The Sting II," "Bombers B-52," "Cheyenne Autumn," and "All Fall Down."

One of his most controversial films was "Baby Doll" in 1956, in which he played a dullard husband whose child bride is exploited by a businessman. It was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency for what was termed its "carnal suggestiveness." The story was by "Streetcar" author Tennessee Williams.

Malden gained perhaps his greatest fame as Lt. Mike Stone in the 1970s television show "The Streets of San Francisco," in which Michael Douglas played the veteran detective's junior partner.

During the same period, Malden gained a lucrative 21-year sideline and a place in pop culture with his "Don't leave home without them" ads for American Express.

"The Streets of San Francisco" earned him five Emmy nominations. He won one for his role as a murder victim's father out to bring his former son-in-law to justice in the 1985 miniseries "Fatal Vision."

Malden played Barbra Streisand's stepfather in the 1987 film "Nuts;" Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr. in the 1988 TV film "My Father, My Son;" and Leon Klinghoffer, the cruise ship passenger murdered by terrorists in 1985, in the 1989 TV film "The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro."

He acted sparingly in recent years, appearing in 2000 in a small role on TV's "The West Wing."

In 2004, Malden received the Screen Actors Guild's Lifetime Achievement Award, telling the group in his acceptance speech that "this is the peak for me."

Malden first gained prominence on Broadway in the late 1930s, making his debut in "Golden Boy" by Clifford Odets. It was during this time that he met Elia Kazan, who later was to direct him in "Streetcar" and "Waterfront."

He steadily gained more prominent roles, with time out for service in the Army in World War II (and a role in an Army show, "Winged Victory.")

"A Streetcar Named Desire" opened on Broadway in 1947 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize and New York Drama Critics Circle awards. Brando's breakthrough performance might have gotten most of the attention, but Malden did not want for praise. Once critic called him "one of the ablest young actors extant."

Among his other stage appearances were "Key Largo," "Winged Victory," Arthur Miller's "All My Sons," "The Desperate Hours," and "The Egghead."

Malden was known for his meticulous preparation, studying a script carefully long before he stepped into his role.

"I not only figure out my own interpretation of the role, but try to guess other approaches that the director might like. I prepare them, too," he said in a 1962 Associated Press interview. "That way, I can switch in the middle of a scene with no sweat."

"There's no such thing as an easy job, not if you do it right," he added.

He was born Mladen Sekulovich in Chicago on March 22, 1912. Malden regretted that in order to become an actor he had to change his name. He insisted that Fred Gwynne's character in "On the Waterfront" be named Sekulovich to honor his heritage.

The family moved to Gary, Indiana, when he was small. He quit his steel job 1934 to study acting at Chicago's Goodman Theatre "because I wasn't getting anywhere in the mills," he recalled.

"When I told my father, he said, `Are you crazy? You want to give up a good job in the middle of the Depression?' Thank god for my mother. She said to give it a try."

Malden and his wife, Mona, a fellow acting student at the Goodman, had one of Hollywood's longest marriages, having celebrated their 70th anniversary in December.

Besides his wife, Malden is survived by daughters Mila and Cara, his sons-in-law, three granddaughters, and four great grandchildren.

June 26, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Gone with the Wind

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Click here to read Gone with the Wind.

June 19, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Elmer Gantry

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis.

Click here to read Elmer Gantry.

June 13, 2009

Talbot’s Two lift Penguins to Stanley Cup title

DETROIT — Slide over Super Mario and make room on the Stanley Cup for a new batch of Pittsburgh Penguins.

Max Talbot scored two second-period goals, and the Penguins overcame the loss of captain Sidney Crosby to beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Friday night in Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup.

Instead of the Red Wings becoming the NHL’s first repeat champion since winning titles in 1997 and 1998, this turned into a Penguins party. The last time Pittsburgh won the Cup, in 1991 and ’92, it was captained by owner Mario Lemieux.

Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar in making 23 saves—none bigger than the one he made with one second left as he dived across the crease and knocked away a shot by Niklas Lidstrom.

“I knew there wasn’t much time left,” Fleury said. “The rebound was wide. I just decided to get my body out there and it hit me in the ribs so it was good.”

He erased the memories of a 5-0 loss in Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena that put the Penguins on the brink of elimination. Pittsburgh returned home and gutted out a 2-1 win, behind Fleury’s 25 saves, on Tuesday that forced a seventh game in Detroit.

Series at a Glance
Pittsburgh vs. Detroit
Penguins win series 4-3

1. Game 1: at DET

PIT 1, DET 3 - Final

2. Game 2: at DET

PIT 1, DET 3 - Final

3. Game 3: at PIT

DET 2, PIT 4 - Final
Recap | Box Score
4. Game 4: at PIT

DET 2, PIT 4 - Final

5. Game 5: at DET

PIT 0, DET 5 - Final

6. Game 6: at PIT

DET 1, PIT 2 - Final

7. Game 7: at DET

PIT 2, DET 1 - Final

This was Pittsburgh’s second championship in four months, following the Steelers’ Super Bowl victory in February.

Fleury’s last save started a wild scene in the crease that culminated in the awarding of the Cup. Crosby took it from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and skated a half lap to center ice before handing it off to Bill Guerin, who joined the team at the trade deadline and became a champion for the first time since 1995 with New Jersey.

Lemieux, the No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft by Pittsburgh, celebrated on the ice with Crosby—the phenom who has been living in the owner’s house since joining the team.

The Penguins turned the tables on the Red Wings and captured the Cup on enemy ice, just as Detroit did in Pittsburgh last year. The Penguins are the first to win the title the year after losing in the finals since Edmonton did it 25 years against the New York Islanders—the last finals rematch before this one.

Evgeni Malkin, who led the playoffs with 36 points, earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason MVP. He assisted on Talbot’s first goal.

Crosby, just four years after being the No. 1 selection in the draft, became the youngest captain of a champion at 21 years old. He played just one shift after leaving the ice during the second period after taking a hard hit along the boards from Johan Franzen.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s the stuff you dream of as a kid. It’s reality now,” Crosby said. “We worked so hard. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come, and couldn’t feel any better.”

Jonathan Ericsson made it tense when he cut the Red Wings’ deficit to 2-1 with 6:07 remaining. His shot from inside the blue line sailed past Fleury’s glove and sent the fans into a frenzy.

Niklas Kronwall nearly tied it with 2:14 left, but his drive smacked the crossbar flush and caromed out of danger. The Red Wings pressed further in the Penguins end after goalie Chris Osgood was pulled, but the puck ended up behind the net as time ran out.

Pittsburgh had gone 1-5 in Detroit in the past two final series before pulling this one out at the most clutch time. The Penguins’ only other victory at “The Joe” was a triple overtime win in Game 5 last year that kept them alive. Talbot made it possible by scoring the tying goal with 35 seconds left in regulation.

The Penguins are the first team since the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Cup after trailing the series 3-2 and the first to take Game 7 on the road after the home team won the first six games since the 1971 Montreal Canadiens beat Chicago.

Crosby crumpled against the boards after he was hit and seemed to get his left leg caught. He glided to the bench hunched over and stayed bent at the waist as he was guided to the dressing room 5 1/2 minutes into the period.

He was limited to two shifts, totaling 2 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time in the frame, but his teammates doubled the lead while he was gone. Crosby made it back to the ice midway through the third period for the one shift.

“I just wanted them to keep doing what they were doing,” Crosby said of what he told his teammates before the third period. “We did a pretty good job of keeping things away from (Fleury) and he was doing a good job of making saves when he needed to.”

Uncharacteristic mistakes by the experience-laden Red Wings led to both Pittsburgh goals.

Malkin, the NHL’s leading scorer in the regular season and the playoffs, forced defenseman Brad Stuart into making a bad pass from the right corner. Talbot intercepted the puck and fired it between Osgood’s pads at 1:13.

The rest of the Penguins stood tall after Crosby left the ice, and Talbot turned a 2-on-1 into a two-goal lead.

“Max came up with some big goals there,” Crosby said. “We just wanted to play the same way. It’s not easy watching, especially this time of year.”

Stuart pinched at the right point of the Penguins zone, and Chris Kunitz beat Jiri Hudler to a loose puck. Kunitz swept it out and onto the stick of Talbot, who raced up ice with Tyler Kennedy and only Kronwall back for Detroit.

Talbot snapped a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle that sneaked in under the crossbar to make it 2-0 at 10:07.

Fleury took care of the rest, looking more solid in the Detroit nets than ever before. He wasn’t fazed by Red Wings crashing the net or screening him or any funky bounces off the end boards that tortured him in the earlier games of the series.

Rookie coach Dan Bylsma elected to keep his team home in Pittsburgh an extra day during the two-day break between Games 6 and 7, giving up a chance to practice in Detroit one more time.

The move paid off, and Bylsma became the second coach to win the Stanley Cup with a team he took over midseason. Bylsma helped rescue the Penguins from a near-playoff miss by leading them to a 18-3-4 mark after replacing Michel Therrien on Feb. 15.

Bylsma was on the losing side as a player in 2003 with Anaheim in the last series in which the home team won all seven games. The Mighty Ducks team that lost then was coached by current Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock.

The Red Wings were the overwhelming favorite coming in with four players on the verge of their fifth Stanley Cup rings. Detroit had been 11-1 at home in the playoffs.

NOTES: Bylsma is the 14th rookie coach to win the Cup. … Both teams stood at the benches and tapped their sticks on the boards when Muhammad Ali was shown on the video screen and introduced to the crowd during a first-period stoppage. … The last road team to win Game 7 of the championship round in any major league was the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the World Series in Baltimore.

June 12, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Dodsworth

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Dodsworth by Sinclair Lewis.

Click here to read Dodsworth, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman, and listen to the Campbell Playhouse version starring Orson Welles, Fay Bainter, and Nan Sunderland.

June 05, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Arrowsmith

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Arrowsmith by Sinclair Lewis.

Click here to read Arrowsmith, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Spencer Tracy and Fay Wray, and listen to the Campbell Playhouse version starring Orson Welles and Helen Hayes.

May 29, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Thirty-Nine Steps

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan.

Click here to read The Thirty-Nine Steps, listen to the Lux Radio Theater and Librivox versions, and watch the 1935 version of the film.Post Options

May 26, 2009

Hotel on DVD - July 21, 2009

May 22, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Black Camel

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Black Camel by Earl Derr Biggers.

Click here to read The Black Camel.

May 15, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Little Women

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

Click here to read Little Women and to listen to the Lux Radio Theater and Librivox versions.

May 08, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Topper

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Topper by James Thorne Smith, Jr..

Click here to read Topper and to watch the 1937 version starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett.

May 01, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Mutiny on the Bounty

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall.

Click here to read Mutiny on the Bounty, watch In the Wake of the Bounty starring Errol Flynn, and listen to the Campbell Playhouse version starring Orson Welles.

April 24, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Mrs. Miniver

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Mrs. Miniver by Jan Struther.

Click here to read Mrs. Miniver and to listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson.

April 17, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Anne of Green Gables

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

Click here to read Anne of Green Gables and to listen to the Librivox version.

April 10, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Sheik

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Sheik by E.M. Hull.

Click here to read The Sheik and to listen to Rudolph Valentino sing Kashmiri Song.

April 07, 2009

Polly Bergen to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

The Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs, or MAC, has just released its slate of nominees for its 2009 awards, to be held on Monday, May 18, at B.B. King Blues Club and Grill. As usual, the nominees reflect a deep insularity on the part of the cabaret community: For example, the English singer Barb Jungr, who gave two of last year's best performances, hasn't been nominated, while many performers with deeper ties to the local scene have been lauded for lesser work.

That said, the MAC Awards have their place, which is to give recognition to smaller clubs and lesser-known performers, and the awards ceremony provides a useful chance to sample the wares of many performers at one admittedly long sitting.

The highlight of this year's slate is its honorary MAC Award recipients: The marvelous Polly Bergen, who is to be recognized for lifetime achievement.

April 03, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Of Human Bondage - Parts One and Two

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham.

Click here to read Of Human Bondage and to watch the 1934 version starring Leslie Howard and Bette Davis.

March 27, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Prisoner of Zenda

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope.

Click here to read The Prisoner of Zenda, listen to the Librivox version, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version, and listen to the Screen Directors Playhouse version.

March 26, 2009

Fields’ baskets send Pitt past Xavier 60-55

BOSTON — Levance Fields pointed Pittsburgh in the right direction just in time—as usual.

For the second straight game, the orchestrator of the offense took the big shots himself, hitting a 3-pointer with 50.9 seconds left, then scoring off his steal as the top-seeded Panthers reached the regional finals for the first time in 35 years with a 60-55 win over Xavier on Thursday night.

One more win and they’ll be headed to Detroit for the Final Four.

“We came in expecting to win two games,” Fields said before acknowledging the obvious: “It was dramatic.”

The star point guard provided the drama in Pitt’s previous win, 84-76 over Oklahoma State. That game was tied at 74 with 2:42 left. Then Fields made a layup and a 3-pointer and the Panthers never trailed after that.

Pitt knows the late-game strategy by now.

“Give Levance the ball,” Big East co-player of the year DeJuan Blair said with a laugh.

The last time Pitt was in a regional final was in 1974 when it lost to eventual national champion North Carolina State and star David Thompson 100-72.

“It definitely was big for the players, the coaches and the city,” said Sam Young, who led Pitt with 19 points. “It’s something we’ve been waiting for, for a long time.”

Pitt (31-4) trailed 54-52 before Fields connected. He then poked the ball away from B.J. Raymond and went in for a layup with 23.9 seconds to go.

“It’s just sad that we had to go out the way we went out,” Xavier’s Derrick Brown said. “The season we had, it was about toughness and finishing what we do. And we didn’t finish.”

Fields did, scoring 14 points, while Blair had 10 points and 17 rebounds in the East semifinal victory. The Panthers overcame an eight-point halftime deficit.

Pitt plays Saturday against the winner of Thursday night’s second semifinal between second-seeded Duke and third-seeded Villanova for a berth in the Final Four.

“We’re a confident group,” Fields said. “We haven’t played our best basketball, but the good thing is we’ve found a way to make plays when we’ve needed them.”

Fourth-seeded Xavier (27-8) was led by Raymond with 15 points and Brown with 14.

“I thought the shot Levance Fields hit is all about (the poise of) senior point guards,” said Xavier coach Sean Miller, who knows something about that.

He was a star point guard at Pitt from 1987 to 1992 and is second in school history in assists.

Panthers coach Jamie Dixon made it to the round of eight for the first time in his six years on the bench after losing in his other two trips to the round of 16. Xavier fell short in its bid for a third berth in the regional finals in six years.

“They pushed us around in the first half, but we responded in the second half like we usually do,” Dixon said. “Like I’ve said before, I never get tired of seeing Levance take big shots. He’s made them year after year.”

Trailing 37-29 at halftime, Pitt scored the first nine points of the second half—and Xavier missed its first 10 shots—as the Panthers took a 38-37 lead with 14:33 left.

But the Musketeers recovered and went ahead 54-52 with 1:50 remaining when Dante Jackson cut to the basket for a layup.

Fields then had the ball past midcourt before it went into the backcourt off a defender. Fields retrieved it, dribbled into his own end and fired up the go-ahead shot over Jackson.

“We ran our go-to play,” Fields said. “I did a little bit of an in-and-out move, got him on his heels a little bit and took the shot. Once I got him back, I took the open shot. I had confidence in it.”

Jackson thought he could stop him.

“I thought I had a pretty good challenge,” he said.

Fields was in the right place again when Raymond lost control of his dribble. Fields got the ball, pushed it forward and dribbled ahead of the field to put the Panthers up by three.

Xavier’s Terrell Holloway made a free throw with 16 seconds left, but Young hit two just three seconds later. After a missed 3-pointer by Brown, Brad Wannamaker made one more free throw for Pitt with 2.6 seconds left.

The Musketeers went just 7-for-29 from the field in the second half when they were outscored 31-18.

But they were solid late in the first half. With the score tied at 27, Xavier outscored Pitt 10-2 in the last three minutes of the half to take a 37-29 lead. Brown started the surge with a 3-pointer and sank another one that made it 35-29.

Blair struggled offensively inside and finished with just two points and four rebounds in the first half. He had eight points and 13 rebounds after that.

March 20, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Four Feathers

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason.

Click here to read The Four Feathers.

March 13, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Scaramouche

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini.

Click here to read Scaramouche and to listen to the Librivox version read by Gord Mackenzie.

March 07, 2009

No. 3 Pittsburgh beats No. 1 Connecticut 70-60

PITTSBURGH — Two games, two UConn losses, two big performances by Pitt’s Sam Young. By now, Connecticut could be excused for not wanting to see the Panthers again, yet the Huskies can’t wait for the next matchup. Or maybe the next two.

Young dominated one of this season’s biggest games with 31 points and No. 3 Pittsburgh likely secured one of the top seeds in the NCAA tournament, opening a 14-point lead early in the second half before holding off top-ranked Connecticut 70-60 on Saturday.

Pitt (28-3, 15-3 Big East) had never beaten a No. 1-ranked team in school history, only to accomplish it twice in less than a month—both times against Connecticut (27-3, 15-3), which still hasn’t figured out how to slow down Young.

Pitt becomes the seventh school to beat a top-ranked team twice in a season, the last North Carolina over Duke in 1998.

“Every time I see those UConn jerseys, my eyes light up,” said Young, who scored 25 points in Pitt’s 76-68 win at Hartford on Feb. 16.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun used all the superlatives to describe Young— including “fantastic,” “magnificent” and “very special”—yet he and his players are eager to see the Panthers again, perhaps in next week’s Big East tournament. Or maybe beyond.

“I guarantee you we’re going to see them again, nine times out of 10 we’re going to see them in the Big East tournament and we’re going to be ready for them,” said the Huskies’ Stanley Robinson, who had six points and 12 rebounds. “We could see them after that—in the NCAAs, semifinals or national championship or whatever.”

Calhoun called the Panthers a potential national championship team, but still thinks he has the team to beat them.

“Do I think we can beat Pitt?” Calhoun asked. “Yes, but we are 0-2 and I don’t have any graphic evidence to support that.”

The Panthers had to wait for the outcome of Saturday night’s game between No. 6 Louisville and West Virginia to see if they would win a share of the Big East regular season title. If West Virginia won, Pittsburgh and Louisville would be tied with the Panthers getting the No. 1 seed in next week’s tournament. A Louisville win and Pitt would get the tiebreaker over UConn and the No. 2 seed.

The Panthers did it a different way than they did in winning at UConn, when 6-foot-7 DeJuan Blair pushed around 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet for 22 points and 23 rebounds and Thabeet ended with only five points and four rebounds. This time, Blair had eight points and eight rebounds in a relatively quiet performance and Thabeet had all 14 of his points in the first half.

“Hasheem was limited only by the fact we didn’t get him the ball enough in the second half,” Calhoun said.

Thabeet, who had nine shots in the first half and two in the second, credited a Pitt defense that held UConn to 37.7 percent shooting (23-of-61). A.J. Price led the Huskies with 19 points but missed 10 of 15 shots.

“Every time I got the ball inside, they came over and doubled me,” Thabeet said. “In the first half, somehow they thought they could stop me 1-on-1, and they didn’t double. The second half, they adjusted.”

Thabeet didn’t allow himself get pushed around this time, either, not backing off when he and Blair went for a loose ball early in the second half and Thabeet initiated the contact.

“He got me once,” Thabeet said, referring to the earlier game. “He tried to (get) me twice, and he wasn’t going to get me twice.”

Calhoun, critical of the way the officials allowed Pitt to play physically when it outrebounded UConn 48-31 in the first game, had no such complaints this time.

“I didn’t want to be on YouTube again,” said Calhoun, aware that some enthusiastic Pitt students handed out hundreds of white hankies labeled “Calhoun Crying Towels.”

Young scored the two biggest baskets of the game after Connecticut went on a 12-0 run, keyed by Price’s eight points, to close within 52-50 with 8:24 remaining.

Young, a senior playing his final home game, hit a driving layup through traffic to make it 54-50, then went above the rim to put down Levance Fields’ high lob pass—a dunk that drew the loudest roar of the game from the standing-room crowd of 12,908 and seemed to take the life out of UConn’s rally.

Price responded with another 3 but Jermaine Dixon drove the lane after a frustrated Thabeet, who twice couldn’t score from in close, swatted the ball downcourt in an attempt to maintain UConn’s possession.

After that, Young dunked again and added a free throw to finish off a three-point play created when Blair tapped the ball away in the backcourt to force a turnover, giving Pitt a 61-53 lead with 4:42 remaining.

Young was such a factor that at, one point, Blair went 18 minutes without scoring, yet Pitt still increased its lead from three points to 14. Young, stepping outside more in the second half, hit 3-pointers for successive Pitt baskets to make it 48-36 after UConn had scored six consecutive points to close what had been a 14-point deficit.

With Thabeet not scoring inside after halftime, UConn didn’t have enough to come back in its first loss in 10 road games this season despite Jeff Adrien’s 11 points and 10 from Kemba Walker.

Pitt reserve Brad Wanamaker scored 13 points and Fields, playing despite a bruised lower back, added 10 in 37 minutes although he missed 10 of 14 shots.

The Panthers finished 19-0 at home, the second time since the Petersen Events Center opened in 2002 that it swept every home game.

Pitt hadn’t swept UConn during the season—the teams haven’t always met twice in a season—since 1996-97, when Pitt also beat the Huskies in the Big East tournament.

“We won both games, but we’re going to keep playing the same way, we’re not going to do anything different,” Blair said of a possible third UConn-Pitt game. “We’ll see them when we see them.”

March 06, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - The Yearling

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Click here to read The Yearling and to listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Gregory Peck and Jane Wyman.

February 27, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Random Harvest

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

For today, I've chosen an old favorite of mine: Random Harvest by James Hilton.

Click here to read Random Harvest and to listen to the Lux Radio Theater version.

February 20, 2009

Weekly Meredy.com E-book - Magnificent Obsession

I love reading the books on which many classic flicks are based. In fact, I collect them. I thought you might like to read them, too. So, I'm starting something new. A link to a free classic movie-related e-book will be featured weekly on my blog.

I've chosen to begin with an old favorite of mine: Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas.

Click here to read Magnificent Obsession, listen to the Lux Radio Theater version starring Robert Taylor and Irene Dunne, and listen to the Screen Directors Playhouse version of Magnificent Obsession starring Irene Dunne.

February 16, 2009

No. 4 Pittsburgh beats No. 1 Connecticut 76-68

HARTFORD, Conn. — It wasn’t just a game between No. 1 and No. 4. It was a game between two of the Big East’s most physical teams. And it was played just the way it was expected to be.

“That was the most physical game I ever played in my entire life,” DeJuan Blair after getting 22 points and 23 rebounds in No. 4 Pittsburgh’s 76-68 victory over No. 1 Connecticut on Monday night, the Panthers’ first win over a top-ranked team. “There were elbows flying, bodies flying. We just went after each other the whole game.”

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun referred to the games played in the conference over a decade ago.

“The Big East games in the 90s were like this,” he said after having his team’s 13-game winning streak stopped. “They came in here and played a style of basketball we haven’t seen this year and it was effective against us. … They made big plays and we didn’t. It was a hell of a basketball game.”

The biggest of those plays were 3-pointers from Levance Fields, who scored all 10 of his points in the final 3:09. His first 3 gave the Panthers (24-2, 11-2) the lead for good at 64-61 with 3:09 left. His second 3 with 2:21 left made it 67-61, and he added four free throws in the final minute.

Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon kidded around that if he knew Fields had missed his first eight shots, he might not have called plays for him.

Those misses didn’t faze Fields, a senior point guard who leads the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

“I think every shot I take is going in so it didn’t matter how many I had missed,” he said. “It didn’t matter that I missed the first eight, I got the biggest two.”

A.J. Price had 18 points for the Huskies (24-2, 12-2), who started their third week at No. 1 earlier Monday.

Sam Young had 25 points for Pittsburgh, which lost all 13 games it had played against No. 1 teams, the last three against Connecticut over the last 11 years.

The game was expected to be physical down low and it was with the 6-foot-7 Blair flipping 7-3 Hasheem Thabeet over his back in the first half, sending him to the bench for about 4 minutes. Blair got a dose back in the second half when he had to leave the game for almost 3 minutes after taking an elbow to the face.

“It seemed like a typical game to us, big bodies, good players, playing hard on a national stage,” Dixon said. “It didn’t seem too much of a change for us.”

Calhoun felt it was quite a change for his team.

“We haven’t played in that sort of game since the early 2000s, the 1990s,” he said. “That was what was going to be allowed tonight and Pittsburgh played that way. They outrebounded us and we left a man open on two big plays. We were in a foreign land a bit. I’m very proud of the 13-game wining streak and hopefully we’ll get back to boxing out.”

Thabeet, coming off a 25-point, 20-rebound, nine-block effort against Seton Hall, finished with five points on 1-for-5 shooting and had four rebounds and two blocks.

“We played Pittsburgh before and it’s always a battle,” Thabeet said. “I’m glad we get to play them again. We just couldn’t hang in there.”

The teams meet again on March 7 in Pittsburgh and there could be another matchup in the Big East tournament.

Pitt took a 36-33 halftime lead behind Blair’s 15 points and 13 rebounds and Young’s 12 points.

Connecticut, which leads the Big East in scoring defense (60.5) and field goal percentage defense (37.3) held Pittsburgh to 7-of-25 shooting and led 56-51.

The minutes leading up to Fields’ big shots were as intense as college basketball gets. The lead changed hands four times and there was a tie in the 2 1/2 minutes leading up to those shots.

Both his 3-pointers were wide-open shots when Connecticut couldn’t switch fast enough on screens, and they seemed to take the wind out of the Huskies, who came up empty on both possessions around the 3s.

“I thought we were taking good shots and I said we would hit some shots down the stretch and Levance did,” Dixon said. “He’s hit big shots his whole career at Pitt and those were among the biggest.”

Pittsburgh finished with a 48-31 rebound advantage, the first time the Huskies were outrebounded this season.

Connecticut fell to 40-8 as a No. 1 team and the loss kept them from the best start in school history. The Huskies remain tied with the 1995-96 team at 24-1.

February 06, 2009

Versatile actor James Whitmore dies at 87

LOS ANGELES – James Whitmore, the many-faceted character actor who delivered strong performances in movies, television and especially the theater with his popular one-man shows about Harry Truman, Will Rogers and Theodore Roosevelt, died Friday, his son said. He was 87.

The Emmy- and Tony-winning actor was diagnosed with lung cancer the week before Thanksgiving and died Friday afternoon at his Malibu home, Steve Whitmore said.

"My father believed that family came before everything, that work was just a vehicle in which to provide for your family," said Whitmore, who works as spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "At the end, and in the last two and a half months of his life, he was surrounded by his family."

His long-running "Give 'em Hell, Harry," tracing the life of the 33rd president, was released as a theatrical movie in 1975. Whitmore was nominated for an Academy Award as best actor, marking the only time in Oscar history that an actor has been nominated for a film in which he was the only cast member. His Teddy Roosevelt portrait, "Bully," was also converted into a movie.

He later became the TV pitchman for Miracle-Gro plant food, and used the product in his large vegetable garden at his Malibu home.

While not known for his politics, Whitmore was an early supporter of President Barack Obama. He stumped for Obama during a 2007 rally at the Gibson Theatre at Universal Studios, telling the crowd that Obama had the wisdom "to deal with a very, very confused and complex country, and the world." Whitmore also appeared in TV commercials in 2008 for the "First Freedom First" campaign, which advocates religious liberty and preserving the separation of church and state.

Whitmore had regularly attended an Oscar night bash, Night of 100 Stars, and had sent in his RSVP for this year, said Edward Lozzi, a spokesman for agent Norby Walters' gala.

Whitmore started both his Broadway and Hollywood careers with acclaimed performances, both as tough-talking sergeants. In 1947, discharged a year from Marine duty, he made his Broadway debut in a taut Air Force drama, "Command Decision." He was awarded a Tony for outstanding performance by a newcomer.

Two years later, Whitmore was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe as supporting actor in the war movie "Battleground."

He followed with memorable performances in scores of films, refusing to be typed. Besides war movies, he appeared in Westerns ("The Last Frontier," "Chato's Land"), musicals ("Kiss Me Kate," "Oklahoma!"), science fiction ("Planet of the Apes," "Them"), dramas ("The Asphalt Jungle," "The Shawshank Redemption") and comedies ("Mr. O'Malley and Mrs. Malone," "The Great Diamond Robbery.")

Shirley Jones, a teenager when she starred in "Oklahoma," said she came to know Whitmore during months of filming in Nogales, Ariz., and recalled being impressed by her good-humored and highly disciplined colleague.

"He told me, `If you're going to be in this business, you better learn your craft,'" Jones recalled. "And he never stopped learning."

His favorite film was "Black Like Me" (1964), a true story about a white reporter who used medication to blacken his skin to experience life as an African-American in the South.

Another of his rare starring roles was "The Next Voice You Hear" (1950), in which a family hears the voice of God via the radio. He played opposite Nancy Davis, the future Mrs. Ronald Reagan.

Whitmore often appeared on television, starring in the series "The Law and Mr. Jones" (1960-1962), "My Friend Tony" (1969) and "Temperatures Rising" (1972-1973). He received an Emmy in 1999 as guest actor in a series for "The Practice."

Jones recalled seeing him in a 2007 episode of the TV drama "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and marveling at his still-sharp talent. "I was absolutely blown away by that. He had a huge role, playing a lawyer, and it was phenomenal," she said.

A student of history, Whitmore delighted in portraying famous American personages. He toured in the play "The Magnificent Yankee," about Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. He played Ulysses S. Grant in a 1960 TV movie, Adm. William F. "Bull" Halsey in the Pearl Harbor attack spectacle "Tora! Tora! Tora!", and Walt Whitman in a dramatic reading, "A Whitman Portrait."

The monologues of Harry Truman, Will Rogers and Teddy Roosevelt brought Whitmore his greatest success. In 2000, he appeared in "Will Rogers, U.S.A." at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., his eighth engagement in the show at Ford's over a 30-year period.

President Ford attended a performance of "Give 'em Hell, Harry" at Ford's Theater after Richard Nixon resigned. Whitmore worried about Ford's reaction to Truman's crusty words about Nixon.

The actor recalled: "I was three feet from Gerry Ford when I said to the press as Truman: `Nixon is a no-good lying (expletive); if he ever caught himself telling the truth, he'd tell a lie just to keep his hand in.' After the show, (Ford) came up on stage and put his arm around me and said, `That was a pretty good blocking back.'" Ford had been line coach when Whitmore played football at Yale.

His movie and television careers continued into the 21st century, but he admitted that he preferred the stage.

"I find the process of making movies absolutely boring," he told a reporter in 1994. "It's so fragmented. You wait and wait and wait and then, look, as Jack Lemmon says, `It's magic time.' In the theater, once the curtain goes up, the actor is in charge."

Born in 1921 in White Plains, N.Y., Whitmore was active in school sports and acted in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, though his strict Methodist family disapproved of the profession. After a year at an Ivy League prep school, Whitmore in 1939 enrolled in prelaw at Yale University, where he had won a football scholarship. Two knee injuries ended his football career, and he devoted himself to dramatics.

After graduating from Yale, he enlisted in the Marines and served in the South Pacific. "I had a lot of time to think in the Marine Corps," he recalled, "and so I decided it wasn't the law I wanted but the theater."

In New York he studied at the American Theater Wing under the G.I. Bill, living on $20 a week and rooming with another hopeful actor, Jack Warden. After a season in summer stock in New Hampshire, he returned to New York and won the role of Sergeant Harold Evans in "Command Decision." Rave reviews started his career in motion.

He married Nancy Mygatt in 1947, and the couple had three sons, James, Steven and Daniel. They later divorced, and in 1971 he married an actress, Audra Lindley. They often appeared in plays together, even after their 1979 divorce. He remarried his first wife in the 1980s, but another divorce ensued. Nearing 80 in 2001, Whitmore married actress-writer Noreen Nash.

Whitmore is also survived by eight grandchildren.