December 17, 2013

Audrey Totter, Actress in Noir Films, Dies at 95

Audrey Totter, who as a femme-fatale star of Hollywood’s noir films of the 1940s could twist figurative daggers with the subtlest arch of her perfectly plucked eyebrows, died on Thursday in West Hills, Calif. She was 95, and it had been decades since she last committed a crime — most were of the heart — on the silver screen.

The cause was complications of congestive heart failure, her daughter, Mea Lane, said.

Ms. Totter played a other kinds of roles in her career, including supportive wives and a caring nurse. But, formidable even at 5-foot-3, she preferred the dark parts — and they were the ones for which she is most remembered.

“The bad girls were so much fun to play,” she told The New York Times in 1999 in an interview with her fellow noir actresses Marie Windsor, Coleen Gray and Jane Greer.

One of Ms. Totter’s most memorable roles was also one of her earliest, as a young woman, stranded and sultry, in the 1946 film “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” When the character played by John Garfield offers to help with her broken-down car, she accepts his offer and gets out of her car.

“I’m going to wait standing up,” she says. “It’s a hot day and that’s a leather seat. And I’ve got on a thin skirt.”

A year later she had a more prominent role in “Lady in the Lake,” a murder mystery based on a Raymond Chandler novel. For most of the film the camera serves as the eyes of the main character, the private detective Philip Marlowe (played by Robert Montgomery, who also directed). Ms. Totter’s character, a conspiring publishing executive who hires Marlowe, often looks directly into the camera, sparring with the detective and by extension the viewer.

She appeared in several more noir films, including “The Unsuspected” (1947), “High Wall” (1947) and “Tension” (1950), in which she has an adulterous relationship and then persuades her husband, played by Richard Basehart, to falsely confess to killing her boyfriend.

While Ms. Totter was most noted for her work in noir, she was also critically praised for her part as the wife of an aging boxer in the 1949 drama “The Set-Up.” After her husband insists he is just “one punch away” from a chance to fight for a championship, she responds: “I remember the first time you told me that. You were just one punch away from the title shot then. Don’t you see, Bill, you’ll always be just one punch away.”

Audrey Mary Totter was born on Dec. 20, 1917, in Joliet, Ill. Her father, John, drove a streetcar.

Ms. Totter acted in touring plays and did radio work in Chicago and New York before moving to Hollywood.

In 1953 she married Dr. Leo Fred, an assistant dean in the medical school at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by two grandchildren and a brother, George. Dr. Fred died in 1995.

Ms. Totter’s film career largely ended in the 1950s, but she later had several recurring roles on television, including as Nurse Wilcox on “Medical Center” in the mid-1970s.

December 15, 2013

Joan Fontaine, Oscar-winner for 'Suspicion,' Dies

Joan Fontaine, right, and Judith Anderson in the 1940 movie "Rebecca."

CARMEL, CA — Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, who found stardom playing naive wives in Alfred Hitchcock's "Suspicion" and "Rebecca" and also was featured in films by Billy Wilder, Fritz Lang and Nicholas Ray, died Sunday. She was 96.

Fontaine, the sister of fellow Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland, died in her sleep in her Carmel, Calif., home Sunday morning, said longtime friend Noel Beutel. Fontaine had been fading in recent days and died "peacefully," Beutel said.

In her later years, Fontaine had lived quietly at her Villa Fontana estate about 5 miles south of Carmel, enjoying its spectacular view of windswept Point Lobos.

Fontaine's pale, soft features and frightened stare made her ideal for melodrama and she was a major star for much of the 1940s. For Hitchcock, she was a prototype of the uneasy blondes played by Kim Novak in "Vertigo" and Tippi Hedren in "The Birds" and "Marnie." The director would later say he was most impressed by Fontaine's restraint. She would credit George Cukor, who directed her in "The Women," for urging her to "think and feel and the rest will take care of itself."

Fontaine appeared in more than 30 movies, including early roles in "The Women" and "Gunga Din," the title part in "Jane Eyre" and in Max Ophuls' historical drama "Letter from an Unknown Woman." She was also in films directed by Wilder ("The Emperor Waltz"), Lang ("Beyond a Reasonable Doubt") and, wised up and dangerous, in Ray's "Born to be Bad." She starred on Broadway in 1954 in "Tea and Sympathy" and in 1980 received an Emmy nomination for her cameo on the daytime soap "Ryan's Hope."

"You know, I've had a helluva life," Fontaine once said. "Not just the acting part. I've flown in an international balloon race. I've piloted my own plane. I've ridden to the hounds. I've done a lot of exciting things."

Fontaine had minor roles in several films in the 1930s, but received little attention and was without a studio contract when she was seated next to producer David O. Selznick at a dinner party near the decade's end. She impressed him enough to be asked to audition for "Rebecca," his first movie since "Gone With the Wind" and the American directorial debut of Hitchcock.

Just as seemingly every actress had tried out for Scarlett O'Hara, hundreds applied for the lead female role in "Rebecca," based on Daphne du Maurier's gothic best-seller about haunted Maxim de Winter and the dead first wife — the title character — he obsesses over. With Laurence Olivier as Maxim, Fontaine as the unsuspecting second wife and Judith Anderson as the dastardly housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, "Rebecca" won the Academy Award for best picture and got Fontaine the first of her three Oscar nominations.

"Miss Du Maurier never really convinced me any one could behave quite as the second Mrs. de Winter behaved and still be sweet, modest, attractive and alive," The New York Times' Frank Nugent wrote upon the film's release.

"But Miss Fontaine does it not simply with her eyes, her mouth, her hands and her words, but with her spine. Possibly it's unethical to criticize performances anatomically. Still we insist Miss Fontaine has the most expressive spine — and shoulders we've bothered to notice this season."

"Rebecca" made her a star, but she felt as out of place off screen as her character was in the film. She remembered being treated cruelly by Olivier, who openly preferred his then-lover Vivien Leigh for the role, and being ignored by the largely British cast. Her uncertainty was reinforced by Hitchcock, who would insist that he was the only one who believed in her.

Hitchcock's "Suspicion," released in 1941, and featuring Fontaine as the timid woman whose husband (Cary Grant) may or may not be a killer, brought her a best actress Oscar and dramatized one of Hollywood's legendary feuds, between Fontaine and de Havilland, a losing nominee for "Hold Back the Dawn."

Competition for the prize hardened feelings that had apparent roots in childhood ("Livvie" was a bully, Joan an attention hog) and endured into old age, with Fontaine writing bitterly about her sister in the memoir "No Bed of Roses" and telling one reporter that she could not recall "one act of kindness from Olivia all through my childhood." While they initially downplayed any problems, tension was evident in 1947 when de Havilland came offstage after winning her first Oscar, for "To Each His Own." Fontaine came forward to congratulate her and was rebuffed. Explained de Havilland's publicist: "This goes back for years and years, ever since they were children."

While Fontaine topped her sister in 1941, and picked up a third nomination for the 1943 film "The Constant Nymph," de Havilland went on to win two Oscars and was nominated three other times.

Fontaine was featured in "Jane Eyre" with Orson Welles and she and Bing Crosby got top billing in "Emperor Waltz." A few other Fontaine films: "Bed of Roses," ''A Damsel In Distress," ''Blonde Cheat," ''Ivanhoe," ''You've Gotta Stay Happy" and "You Can't Beat Love." Her most daring role came in the 1957 film "Island in the Sun," in which she had an interracial romance with Harry Belafonte. Several Southern cities banned the movie after threats from the Ku Klux Klan.

Fontaine said she left Hollywood because she was asked to play Elvis Presley's mother. "Not that I had anything against Elvis Presley. But that just wasn't my cup of tea," she said.

While making New York her home for 25 years, she appeared in about 30 dinner theater plays. She also appeared twice on Broadway, replacing Deborah Kerr in the hit 1953 drama "Tea and Sympathy" and Julie Harris in the long-running 1968 comedy "Forty Carats." She joked once about being burglarized in the Big Apple.

"All the jewelry I lost came from me," she said. "Somehow I was the kind of a girl to whom husbands — and other men, too — gave copper frying pans. I never could quite figure it out."

In 1966, Fontaine starred in "The Devil's Own." In 1978, she played a socialite in the made-for-TV movie based on Joyce Haber's steamy novel, "The Users." In the '70s and '80s she appeared on the television series such as "The Love Boat," ''Cannon," and in "Ryan's Hope."

Show business had come naturally. Besides her Oscar-winning sister, her mother, Lillian Fontaine, appeared in more than a dozen films.

Fontaine was born Joan de Havilland in 1917 in Tokyo, where her British parents lived. Both she and her sister, born in 1916, were sickly, and their mother hoped a change of climate would improve their health when she moved the family to California in 1919 after the breakup of her marriage.

"There was always something wrong with me," Fontaine recalled. "For a while I averaged about two days a week in school. I had headaches, I had all kinds of pains. I was kept away from other children, never allowed to do the things they did."

She returned to East Asia at the age of 15, taking up amateur theatricals and studying art. After returning to California, Fontaine appeared in a play called "Call It A Day" in Los Angeles in 1937, gaining the attention of an agent who signed her to her first film, "Quality Street." Her sister was already an established film actress. Fontaine changed her last name, taking that of her mother's second husband.

She married four times. Fontaine's first husband was actor Brian Aherne; the second, film executive William Dozier; the third, film producer Collin Hudson Young. The ex-husband of actress Ida Lupino, Young produced "The Bigamist," with Lupino and Fontaine starring and Lupino directing. Fontaine's last husband was Sports Illustrated golf editor Alfred Wright Jr.

Dozier and Fontaine had a daughter, Deborah Leslie, whose godmother was actress Maureen O'Sullivan. Fontaine later adopted a child from Peru, Maritita Pareja.

Despite divorce, Fontaine remained philosophical about love and marriage.

"Goodness knows, I tried," she said after her second marriage failed. "But I think it's virtually impossible for the right kind of man to be married to a movie star."

"Something happens when he steps off a train and someone says, 'Step right this way, Mr. Fontaine.' That hurts. Any man with self-respect can't take it, and I wouldn't want to marry the other kind."

Joan Fontaine Dead at 96

She and older sister Olivia de Havilland are the only siblings to win Oscars.

Joan Fontaine, who died Sunday night at age 96 at her home in Carmel, Calif., represented more than an Oscar-winning career spanning almost six decades: She was one of the industry's last living links to Hollywood's golden era of the 1930s and '40s.

While she was nominated for two Oscars and won another, she's known as much for her relationships with Hollywood icons including Alfred Hitchcock and sister Olivia de Havilland — a bitter rival.

A polished actress, Fontaine began in minor roles in movies such as A Million to One and Quality Street, opposite Katharine Hepburn, both in 1937.

But during a dinner party with famed producer David O. Selznick, he asked her to audition for a part in the adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel Rebecca, to be directed by newcomer Alfred Hitchcock.

She earned an Academy Award nomination for that film, and followed it the next year with a best actress win for Hitchcock's Suspicion, co-starring Cary Grant. The trophy would mark the only Academy Award-winning acting performance of Hitchcock's career.

Fontaine scored a third best-actress Oscar nomination for her role in The Constant Nymph in 1943, and had notable turns as Charlotte Bronte's heroine in Jane Eyre in 1944 with Orson Welles, as well as roles in 1950's September Affair and in 1957's Island in the Sun.

But it was Hitchcock's fancy for blondes that skyrocketed Fontaine's career — and exacerbated an already-fierce rivalry with older sister de Havilland.

Fontaine, who changed her last name because the family didn't want the two actresses to share one, faced her sister for an Academy Award in 1942, when Fontaine was up for Suspicion, de Havilland for Hold Back the Dawn. Fontaine took the statuette that night, though de Havilland would win two others, for 1949's The Heiress and 1946's To Each His Own. The night of Fontaine's win, she famously rejected her sister's congratulations, and the relationship became so estranged that they stopped speaking. They remain the only siblings to win Oscars.

A licensed pilot, Fontaine was an accomplished interior decorator who married and divorced four times, and her husbands included Batman TV show producer William Dozier and British actor Brian Aherne.

In 1980, Fontaine was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for an appearance on the soap opera Ryan's Hope, and two years later headed the jury at the Berlin Film Festival.

Fontaine, who emerged from retirement for the 1994 Family Channel movie Good King Wenceslas, is survived by two daughters.

Peter O'Toole, Star of Lawrence of Arabia, Dies

The actor Peter O'Toole, who found stardom in David Lean's masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia, has died at 81, his agent said.

The acclaimed leading man who overcame stomach cancer in the 1970s passed away on Saturday at the Wellington Hospital in London following a long illness, Steve Kenis said.

O'Toole announced last year he was stopping acting saying: "I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell."

He said his career on stage and screen fulfilled him emotionally and financially, bringing him together "with fine people, good companions with whom I've shared the inevitable lot of all actors: flops and hits."

Early in his career O'Toole became emblematic of a new breed of hard-drinking Hollywood hellraiser.

"We heralded the '60s," he once said. "Me, [Richard] Burton, Richard Harris; we did in public what everyone else did in private then, and does for show now. We drank in public, we knew about pot."

Last month it was reported he had been coaxed out of retirement to act in a film about ancient Rome called Katherine of Alexandria in which he would play Cornelius Gallus, a palace orator.

O'Toole is believed to have been born in Connemara in County Galway in Ireland, and lived in London. He shot to stardom in the 1962 film of T.E. Lawrence's life story and went on to star in Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, The Stunt Man and My Favorite Year. He received an honorary Oscar in 2003 after receiving eight nominations and no wins - an unassailed record.

He is survived by his two daughters, Pat and Kate O'Toole, from his marriage to actress Siân Phillips, and his son, Lorcan O'Toole, by Karen Brown.

December 09, 2013

Eleanor Parker, 91, Oscar-Nominated Actress, Dies

Eleanor Parker, who was nominated three times for a best-actress Oscar but whose best-known role was a supporting one, as the marriage-minded baroness in “The Sound of Music,” died on Monday in Palm Springs, Calif. She was 91.

A family friend, Richard Gale, told The Associated Press that the cause was complications of pneumonia.

Ms. Parker was an elegant, ladylike yet sensual film actress. Still, her most recognizable role, as the Baroness who loves Christopher Plummer’s character, Captain von Trapp, in “The Sound of Music” (1965), called for an icy demeanor. Uninterested in his houseful of children, she loses him to the governess, played memorably by Julie Andrews. (Laura Benanti played the part in the recent version on NBC.)

The highest accolades of Ms. Parker’s career came a decade before.

She was nominated for an Oscar for dramatic roles as a wrongly convicted young prisoner in “Caged” (1950), a police officer’s neglected wife in “Detective Story” (1951) and an opera star with polio in “Interrupted Melody” (1955), a biography of the Australian soprano Marjorie Lawrence. She also received an Emmy Award nomination in 1963 for an episode of “The Eleventh Hour,” an NBC series about psychiatric cases.

If she never became a star, admirers contended, it was because of her versatility. Sometimes a blonde, sometimes a brunette, often a redhead, Ms. Parker made indelible impressions but submerged herself in a wide range of characters, from a war hero’s noble fiancée in “Pride of the Marines” (1945) to W. Somerset Maugham’s vicious waitress-prostitute in a remake of “Of Human Bondage” (1946).

Eleanor Jean Parker was born on June 26, 1922, in Cedarville, Ohio, the daughter of a math teacher and his wife. She appeared in school plays as a child and, in her teens, headed for Massachusetts to study acting at the Rice Summer Theater in Martha’s Vineyard. Then she moved to California and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse.

According to numerous sources, she was approached by movie scouts at both schools but turned down their offers of screen tests in favor of completing her education. When she had done that, she got back to the Warner Brothers scout and was soon given a contract.

Her feature film debut, however, was delayed. It was supposed to be in the western “They Died With Their Boots On” (1941), with Errol Flynn, but her scenes were edited out. In 1942 she appeared in two war-promotion shorts and provided the voice of a telephone operator in a Humphrey Bogart gangster movie, “The Big Shot.” Finally, later that year, she appeared as a frightened bus passenger in “Busses Roar,” a black-and-white drama about wartime saboteurs.

Over the next quarter-century her career tended toward the deadly serious in films like “Between Two Worlds” (1944), about air-raid victims in the afterlife, and “The Man With the Golden Arm” (1955), the drug-addiction drama, as Frank Sinatra’s unsupportive wife. But she won favorable reviews in the occasional comedy, like “The Voice of the Turtle” (1947), opposite Ronald Reagan, and “A Hole in the Head” (1959), in which she also starred with Sinatra, and in hybrids like “The King and Four Queens” (1956), with Clark Gable.

Ms. Parker appeared in numerous television movies and as a guest on several series, mostly in the 1960s and ’70s. She won new attention as a powerful movie-industry secretary in the NBC series “Bracken’s World” (1969-70). Her last theatrical film was “Sunburn” (1979), a poorly received comedy starring Farrah Fawcett, and her final television appearance a 1991 movie, “Dead on the Money,” with Kevin McCarthy.

Ms. Parker’s first husband was Fred L. Losse, a Navy dentist whom she met on the set of the pro-Soviet drama “Mission to Moscow.” Their marriage, in 1943, lasted 21 months. In 1946 she married Bert E. Friedlob, a film producer. Before their divorce, in 1953, they had three children together.

A third marriage, to Paul Clemens, an artist, lasted from 1954 to 1965. They had a son. In 1966, she married Raymond N. Hirsch, a Chicago businessman, who died in 2001. Information on survivors was not immediately available.

In 1953, with two recent Oscar nominations to her credit, Ms. Parker talked to The New York Times about her good career luck so far. “Things have a way of working out right for me,” she said, adding a bit later, “I maintain that if you work, believe in yourself and do what is right for you without stepping all over others, the way somehow opens up.”

“I even got my three wishes granted,” she said in the same interview. “To be in pictures, to give Mother a mink coat and buy the folks a house.”

August 25, 2013

Julie Harris Dead at 87

Julie Harris, one of Broadway's most honored performers, whose roles ranged from the flamboyant Sally Bowles in "I Am a Camera" to the reclusive Emily Dickinson in "The Belle of Amherst," died Saturday. She was 87. Harris died at her West Chatham, Mass. home of congestive heart failure, actress and family friend Francesca James said. Harris won a record five Tony Awards for best actress in a play, displaying a virtuosity that enabled her to portray an astonishing gallery of women during a theater career that spanned almost 60 years and included such plays as "The Member of the Wedding" (1950), "The Lark" (1955), "Forty Carats" (1968) and "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" (1972). She was honored again with a sixth Tony, a special lifetime achievement award in 2002. Only Angela Lansbury has neared her record, winning four Tonys in the best actress-musical category and one for best supporting actress in a play. Harris had suffered a stroke in 2001 while she was in Chicago appearing in a production of Claudia Allen's "Fossils." She suffered another stroke in 2010, James said. "I'm still in sort of a place of shock," said James, who appeared in daytime soap operas "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." "She was, really, the greatest influence in my life," said James, who had known Harris for about 50 years. Television viewers knew Harris as the free-spirited Lilimae Clements on the prime-time soap opera "Knots Landing." In the movies, she was James Dean's romantic co-star in "East of Eden" (1955), and had rolls in such films as "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1962), "The Haunting" (1963) and "Reflections in a Golden Eye" (1967). Yet Harris' biggest successes and most satisfying moments have been on stage. "The theater has been my church," the actress once said. "I don't hesitate to say that I found God in the theater." The 5-foot-4 Harris, blue-eyed with delicate features and reddish-gold hair, made her Broadway debut in 1945 in a short-lived play called "It's a Gift." Five years later, at the age of 24, Harris was cast as Frankie, a lonely 12-year-old tomboy on the brink of adolescence, in "The Member of the Wedding," Carson McCullers' stage version of her wistful novel. The critics raved about Harris, with Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times calling her performance "extraordinary -- vibrant, full of anguish and elation." "That play was really the beginning of everything big for me," Harris had said. The actress appeared in the 1952 film version, too, with her original Broadway co-stars, Ethel Waters and Brandon De Wilde, and received an Academy Award nomination. Harris won her first Tony Award for playing Sally Bowles, the confirmed hedonist in "I Am a Camera," adapted by John van Druten from Christopher Isherwood's "Berlin Stories." The play later became the stage and screen musical "Cabaret." In her second Tony-winning performance, Harris played a much more spiritual character, Joan of Arc in Lillian Hellman's adaptation of Jean Anouilh's "The Lark." The play had a six-month run, primarily because of the notices for Harris. The actress was something of a critics' darling, getting good reviews even when her plays were less-well received. These included such work as "Marathon `33," "Ready When You Are, C.B.!" and even a musical, "Skyscraper," adapted from an Elmer Rice play, "Dream Girl." Her third Tony came for her work in "Forty Carats," a frothy French comedy about an older woman and a younger man. It was a big hit, running nearly two years. Harris won her last two Tonys for playing historical figures -- Mary Todd Lincoln in "The Last of Mrs. Lincoln" and poet Emily Dickinson in "The Belle of Amherst" by William Luce. The latter, a one-woman show, became something of an annuity for Harris, a play she would take around the country at various times in her career. The actress liked to tour, even going out on the road in such plays as "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Lettice & Lovage" after they had been done in New York with other stars. Harris' last Broadway appearances were in revivals, playing the domineering mother in a Roundabout Theatre Company production of "The Glass Menagerie" (1994) and then "The Gin Game" with Charles Durning for the National Actors Theatre in 1997. In 2005, she was one of five performers to receive Kennedy Center honors. Harris was born on Dec. 2, 1925, in Grosse Pointe, Mich., the daughter of an investment banker. She grew up fascinated by movies, later saying she thought of herself as plain-looking and turned to acting as a way of becoming other persons. She made her stage debut at the Grosse Pointe Country Day School in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at age 14. In the years that followed, she studied drama in finishing school, prep school, Yale University and the Actor's Studio. Before "Knots Landing," Harris made numerous guest-starring television appearances on dramas and was a regular on two quickly canceled series -- "Thicker Than Water" in 1973 and "The Family Holvak" in 1975. Her Emmys were for performances in two "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentations: "Little Moon of Alban" in 1958 and "Victoria Regina" in 1961. Harris was married three times, to lawyer Jay I. Julian, stage manager Manning Gurian and writer William Erwin Carroll. She had one son, Peter Alston Gurian. Funeral arrangements are pending.

August 24, 2013

Ted Post Dead at 95

Director for Film and Television

Ted Post, a prolific director who collaborated with Clint Eastwood on two hit films, directed hundreds of episodes of television series like"Gunsmoke," "Peyton Place" and "Rawhide," and made a low-budget film about the Vietnam War that was widely ignored when it was released in 1978 but is now regarded by many critics as one of the best in its genre, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 95. His son, Robert, confirmed the death.

Mr. Post directed Mr. Eastwood in two of his hyper-violent action films: the 1968 western "Hang 'Em High," the first American movie Mr. Eastwood made after gaining fame in Italian westerns like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"(1966); and "Magnum Force," the 1973 police thriller that was the second of the"Dirty Harry" films.

The two men became friends in the early 1960s during filming of "Rawhide," the CBS television series in which a young Mr. Eastwood starred. They had a well-publicized falling-out over directorial control while making "Magnum Force" but renewed their friendship in later years, Mr. Post's son said.

Mr. Post worked as a director from the late 1940s to 1999, when he made his last film, "4 Faces," a low-budget feature. He made 13 feature films, including "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970); "The Harrad Experiment," a mildly controversial film about college sex (1973); and "Stagecoach," a 1986 made-for-TV remake of the classic 1939 western, with Kris Kristofferson in the role originally played by John Wayne.

For television, he directed 56 episodes of the CBS western "Gunsmoke," 90 episodes of the prime-time ABC soap opera "Peyton Place" and innumerable segments of "The Twilight Zone," "Wagon Train," "Route 66," "Perry Mason," "The Defenders," "The Rifleman" and other shows.

Among film buffs Mr. Post was probably best known for "Go Tell the Spartans," set during the Vietnam War and based on the 1967 novel "Incident at Muc Wa," by Daniel Ford.

Burt Lancaster starred as an American Army major who carries out orders to secure a remote jungle outpost in 1964 despite his fears that the mission will end badly, as it does. Mr. Lancaster put up his own money when budget problems threatened the film before it was completed.

On its release in 1978, "Go Tell the Spartans" received respectful reviews in major newspapers and a few raves. Stanley Kauffmann of The New Republic called it "the best film I've seen about the Vietnam War." But appearing in theaters at virtually the same time as the better-financed and better-publicized Vietnam films "Coming Home" and "The Deer Hunter," it failed at the box office.

"Spartans" began receiving a second look when the influential film quarterly Cineaste published an article in 1983 comparing it favorably to "The Deer Hunter," "Coming Home" and Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 epic, "Apocalypse Now." The article, by the film historian Rob Edelman, helped spur the movie's re-release in 1987.

Upon the re-release, the film historian Burt Cadullo wrote, "It's time that this film received the recognition it deserves," but "Spartans" still performed poorly in theaters.

Mr. Post — known to his family only as Ted — was born on March 31, 1918, in Brooklyn to Jacob and Dena Post, Jewish immigrants from Ukraine who took the name Post when they arrived in the United States. Mr. Post attended public schools and worked at various jobs before starting his show business career in 1938 as an usher at Loew's Pitkin Theater in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

He studied acting briefly, but soon began directing plays in New York. Among his first productions were one-acts performed by members of the Laundry Workers Industrial Union in New York, a 1942 production of an antitotalitarian play called "The Fascist's Holiday," and several dramas for the American Negro Theater. During World War II Mr. Post served in the Army directing music and theater productions for the troops.

He taught acting and theater arts in the 1950s at the High School of Performing Arts in Manhattan (now called the Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts) and, in later years, at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Besides his son, Robert, the dean of the Yale Law School, Mr. Post is survived by his wife of 72 years, Thelma; a daughter, Laurie Post; a brother, Joe; a sister, Ruth Post; and four grandchildren.

Reflecting on his career in a 2001 interview for the archive of the Directors Guild of America, Mr. Post said that while he was always grateful for the work, he realized after about 10 years of directing westerns like "Gunsmoke" and "Rawhide" that he was not that fond of horses.

"I'd get home and have to use horse's soap to get the odor away," he said. "When I started neighing instead of shouting, 'Action!' — well, that's when I decided it was time for a change."

July 03, 2013

Book Review: Vital Face: Facial Exercises and Massage for Health and Beauty by Leena Kiviluoma

Vital Face: Facial Exercises and Massage for Health and Beauty
by Leena Kiviluoma

The developer of facial muscle care and facial muscle therapy, physiotherapist Leena Kiviluoma has written a comprehensive book about facial muscle care, which has many benefits for muscles and the connective tissues, the nervous system, the circulatory system, the skin and the bones. The medically-based instructions are safe and everyone can choose the right exercise and procedures suitable for their individual needs. Regular practice of facial muscle exercises improves both health and outlook.

Leena Kiviluoma has done trailblazing work in developing her ingenious, easy-to-use facial muscle care technique. I use her book when I teach anatomy, physiology and skin care to trainee nursing professionals. I also use it to teach about masticatory systems and how patients can treat certain dysfunctions themselves. This is an excellent book for health care professionals.

June 07, 2013 Update - Many New Trivia Pages

Many new trivia pages have been added to recently. Please stop by and check out my newest, Esther Williams trivia.

June 06, 2013

Esther Williams, Who Swam to Movie Fame, Dies at 91

Esther Williams, a teenage swimming champion who became an enormous Hollywood star in a decade of watery MGM extravaganzas, died on Thursday in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 91.

From “Bathing Beauty” in 1944 to “Jupiter’s Darling” in 1955, Ms. Williams swam in Technicolor pools, lakes, lagoons and oceans, cresting onto the list of Top 10 box-office stars in 1949 and 1950.

“Esther Williams had one contribution to make to movies — her magnificent athletic body,” the film critic Pauline Kael wrote. “And for over 10 years MGM made the most of it, keeping her in clinging, wet bathing suits and hoping the audience would shiver.”

In her autobiography, “The Million Dollar Mermaid” (1999), Ms. Williams spoke of movie stardom as her “consolation prize,” won instead of the Olympic gold medal for which she had yearned. At the national championships in 1939, Ms. Williams, who was 17, won three gold medals and earned a place on the 1940 United States Olympic team. But Hitler invaded Poland, and the 1940 Olympics were canceled with the onset of World War II.

At a time when most movies cost less than $2 million, MGM built Ms. Williams a $250,000 swimming pool on Stage 30. It had underwater windows, colored fountains and hydraulic lifts, and it was usually stocked with a dozen bathing beauties. Performing in that 25-foot-deep pool, which the swimmers nicknamed Pneumonia Alley, Ms. Williams ruptured her eardrums seven times.

By 1952, the swimming sequences in Ms. Williams’s movies, which were often elaborate fantasies created by Busby Berkeley, had grown more and more extravagant. For that year’s “Million Dollar Mermaid,” she wore 50,000 gold sequins and a golden crown. The crown was made of metal, and in a swan dive into the pool from a 50-foot platform, her head snapped back when she hit the water. The impact broke her back, and she spent the next six months in a cast.

Ms. Williams once estimated that she had swum 1,250 miles for the cameras. In a bathing suit, she was a special kind of all-American girl: tall, lithe, breathtakingly attractive and unpretentious. She begged MGM for serious nonswimming roles, but the studio’s response was, in effect, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Audiences rejected her in dramas like “The Hoodlum Saint” (1946) and “The Unguarded Moment” (1956). Her only dry-land box-office success was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” (1949), with Ms. Williams as the owner of a baseball team whose players included Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.

She is survived by her husband, Edward Bell; a son, Benjamin Gage; a daughter, Susan Beardslee; three stepsons, the actor Lorenzo Lamas, Tima Alexander Bell and Anthony Bell, three grandchildren and eight stepgrandchildren.

June 02, 2013

Jean Stapleton, Who Played Archie Bunker’s Better Angel, Dies at 90

Jean Stapleton, the character actress whose portrayal of a slow-witted, big-hearted and submissive — up to a point — housewife on the groundbreaking series “All in the Family” made her, along with Mary Tyler Moore and Bea Arthur, not only one of the foremost women in television comedy in the 1970s but a symbol of emergent feminism in American popular culture, died on Friday at her home in New York City. She was 90.

Ms. Stapleton, though never an ingénue or a leading lady, was an accomplished theater actress with a few television credits when the producer Norman Lear, who had seen her in the musical “Damn Yankees” on Broadway, asked her to audition for a new series. The audition, for a character named Edith, changed her life.

She was born Jeanne Murray on Jan. 19, 1923, in Manhattan. Her father, Joseph, was an advertising salesman; her mother, Marie Stapleton, was a concert and opera singer, and music was very much a part of her young life.

Jeanne was a singer as well, which might be surprising to those who knew Ms. Stapleton only from “All in the Family,” which opened every week with Edith and Archie singing “Those Were the Days,” Ms. Stapleton lending a screechy half of the duet that was all Edith.

Ms. Stapleton herself had a long history of charming musical performances. She was in the original casts of “Bells are Ringing” on Broadway in the 1950s and “Funny Girl,” with Barbra Streisand, in the 1960s, in which she sang “If a Girl Isn’t Pretty” and “Find Yourself a Man.” Off Broadway in 1991, she played Julia Child, singing the recipe for chocolate cake in the mini-musical “Bon Appétit.” On television, she sang with the Muppets.

Ms. Stapleton studied and performed with the American Actors’ Company, whose alumni include Horton Foote and Agnes DeMille, and did a great deal of summer stock. She toured opposite Frank Fay in “Harvey,” and was the understudy for Shirley Booth in the touring company of “Come Back, Little Sheba.” Even during her television heyday, Ms. Stapleton’s schedule almost always included summer shows because her husband, William Putch, whom she married in the late 1950s, operated the Totem Pole Playhouse in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Putch died in 1983. Ms. Stapleton is survived by their two children, Pamela and John.

May 24, 2013

Steve Forrest, Performer on Film and TV’s ‘S.W.A.T.,’ Dies at 87

Steve Forrest, a strapping actor known to television viewers as Lt. Dan Harrelson on the 1970s action series “S.W.A.T.,” died on Saturday in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 87.

A younger brother of the actor Dana Andrews, Mr. Forrest divided his career between the large and small screens. His early film credits include “So Big” (1953), based on the Edna Ferber novel, in which he played the adult son of Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden; “Heller in Pink Tights” (1960), directed by George Cukor, in which he portrayed Anthony Quinn’s rival for Sophia Loren’s affections; and “The Longest Day” (1962), in which he played an American captain confronting D-Day.

William Forrest Andrews was born in Huntsville, Tex., on Sept. 29, 1925, the 12th of 13 children of Charles Andrews, a Baptist minister. After Army service in World War II, in which he fought at the Battle of the Bulge, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a major in theater and a minor in psychology.

He took the stage name Steve Forrest early in his career to distinguish himself from his brother.

Mr. Forrest, who lived in Westlake Village, Calif., is survived by his wife, the former Christine Carilas, whom he married in 1948; three sons, Michael, Forrest and Stephen, all of whom use the last name Andrews; and four grandchildren.

His other film credits include “Prisoner of War” (1954), opposite Ronald Reagan; “Flaming Star” (1960), in which he played Elvis Presley’s half-brother; “North Dallas Forty” (1979); and “Mommie Dearest” (1981).

On Broadway, Mr. Forrest portrayed an Ivy League-educated aspiring prizefighter in the musical comedy “The Body Beautiful,” which ran for 60 performances in 1958.

For British television, he starred in “The Baron,” a well-received espionage series of the mid-1960s in which he played an antiques dealer moonlighting as an undercover agent.

May 07, 2013

Ray Harryhausen dies at 92; special-effects legend

Ray Harryhausen pioneered stop-motion animation, creating classics such as 'The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms,' and 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad.' Without his work, 'there never would have been a "Star Wars" or a "Jurassic Park,''' Steven Spielberg said.

Ray Harryhausen, the stop-motion animation legend whose work on "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms," "Jason and the Argonauts" and other science fiction and fantasy film classics made him a cult figure who inspired later generations of filmmakers and special-effects artists, has died. He was 92.

Harryhausen died Tuesday in London, where he had lived for decades. His death was confirmed by Kenneth Kleinberg, his longtime legal representative in the United States.

In the pre-computer-generated-imagery era in which he worked, Harryhausen used the painstaking process of making slight adjustments to the position of his three-dimensional, ball-and-socket-jointed scale models and then shooting them frame-by-frame to create the illusion of movement. Footage of his exotic beasts and creatures was later often combined with live action.

Working with modest budgets and typically with only two or three assistants -- if any -- to keep costs down, Harryhausen created innumerable memorable big-screen moments.

In "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" (1953), a dinosaur thawed out by A-bomb testing in the Arctic goes on a Big Apple rampage in which it devours a New York cop before meeting its demise at Coney Island.

In "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963), the mythological hero Jason, played by Todd Armstrong, slays a seven-headed hydra guarding the Golden Fleece, then Jason and two of his men battle seven sword-wielding warrior skeletons that spring from the hydra's scattered teeth.

In "The Valley of Gwangi" (1969), a group of turn-of-the-20th-century cowboys on horseback attempt to lasso the movie title's namesake, a 14-foot Tyrannosaurus rex, to capture it for a Wild West show.

And who can forget the prehistoric flying reptile that scoops up and carries off Raquel Welch, clad in an animal-skin bikini, in "One Million Years BC" (1966)?

In 1992, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented Harryhausen with the Gordon E. Sawyer Award for technical achievement.

Harryhausen's survivors include his wife of 50 years, Diana, and a daughter, Vanessa.

May 01, 2013

Deanna Durbin, Plucky Movie Star of the Depression Era, Is Dead at 91

Deanna Durbin, who as a plucky child movie star with a sweet soprano voice charmed American audiences during the Depression and saved Universal Pictures from bankruptcy before she vanished from public view 64 years ago, has died, a fan club announced on Tuesday. She was 91.

In a newsletter, the Deanna Durbin Society said Ms. Durbin died “a few days ago,” quoting her son, Peter H. David, who thanked her admirers for respecting her privacy. No other details were given.

Ms. Durbin had remained determinedly out of public view since 1949, when she retired to a village in France with her third husband.

From 1936 to 1942, Ms. Durbin was everyone’s intrepid kid sister or spunky daughter, a wholesome, radiant, can-do girl who in a series of wildly popular films was always fixing the problems of unhappy adults.

And as an instant Hollywood star with her very first movie, “Three Smart Girls,” she almost single-handedly fixed the problems of her fretting bosses at Universal, bringing them box-office gold.

In 1946, Ms. Durbin’s salary of $323,477 from Universal made her the second-highest-paid woman in America, just $5,000 behind Bette Davis.

After moving to France in 1949 and settling outside Paris in the village of Neauphle-le-Château, Ms. Durbin devoted most of her time to keeping her home, cooking and raising her children. In addition to Peter, her son from her marriage to Mr. David, Ms. Durbin had a daughter, Jessica, from her second marriage. Mr. David died in 1999, a few months before their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr. David once said that he and Ms. Durbin had made a deal that he would protect her “from spiders, mosquitoes and reporters.”

April 09, 2013

Annette Funicello, 70, Dies; Beloved as a Mouseketeer and a Star of Beach Movies

Annette Funicello, who won America’s heart as a 12-year-old in Mickey Mouse ears, captivated adolescent baby boomers in slightly spicy beach movies and later championed people with multiple sclerosis, a disease she had for more than 25 years, died on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. She was 70.

Her death, from complications of the disease, was announced on the Disney Web site.

As an adult Ms. Funicello described herself as “the queen of teen,” and millions around her age agreed. Young audiences appreciated her sweet, forthright appeal, and parents saw her as the perfect daughter.

She was the last of the 24 original Mouseketeers chosen for “The Mickey Mouse Club,” the immensely popular children’s television show that began in 1955, when fewer than two-thirds of households had television sets. Walt Disney personally discovered her at a ballet performance.

Before long, she was getting more than 6,000 fan letters a week, and was known by just her first name in a manner that later defined celebrities like Cher, Madonna and Prince.

On Jan. 9, 1965, Ms. Funicello married her agent, Jack Gilardi. They had three children, Gina, Jack Jr. and Jason Michael.

In 1981 Ms. Funicello divorced Mr. Gilardi. In 1986 she married Glen Holt, a horse breeder. Mr. Holt, who cared for Ms. Funicello in her later years, survives her, along with her 3 children, 4 stepchildren, 12 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

Ms. Funicello learned she had M.S. in 1987 but kept her condition secret for five years. She announced the illness after becoming concerned that the unsteadiness the disease caused would be misinterpreted as drunkenness.

She set up the Annette Funicello Research Fund for Neurological Diseases and underwent brain surgery in 1999 in an attempt to control tremors caused by her disease.

March 25, 2013

Malachi Throne, Actor on TV, Dies at 84

Malachi Throne, a character actor best known for playing Robert Wagner’s boss on the ABC spy series “It Takes a Thief” and a villain on “Batman,” died on March 13 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.

The cause was complications from lung cancer, his wife, Marjorie, said.

Mr. Throne was a brawny, deep-voiced mainstay on television for nearly 50 years. He appeared on everything from “The Untouchables” in the early 1960s to “The West Wing” in 2002, and was one of the few actors seen on both Gene Roddenberry’s original “Star Trek” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

In addition to his wife, the former Marjorie Bernstein, he is survived by two sons, Zachary and Joshua, from his marriage to Judith Merians; a stepdaughter, Jill Chase; a stepson, Gary Kwawer; two grandchildren; and a sister, Sherry Lazan.

March 12, 2013 Update - New Site Added (Walter Pidgeon)

I added a new tribute site to this evening. :)

Walter Pidgeon - Perfect Gentleman

Hope you enjoy it!

March 05, 2013

Book Review: Bound Together: How We are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices by Chris Brauns

Bound Together: How We are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices
by Chris Brauns

Blessed Be The Tie That Binds

We are not just isolated individuals. Instead, our lives are woven together with others. We have solidarity with other people---the choices one person makes affects the lives of others, for good and for bad.

Because much of the pain we endure in life is in the context of relationships, this truth often strikes us as unfair. Why should a child suffer because of the choices of his parents? And on a grander scale, why do we all suffer the curse of Adam's sin? Why should anyone be judged for someone else's sin?

In Bound Together: How We are Tied to Others in Good and Bad Choices, Chris Brauns unpacks the truth that we are bound to one another and to the whole of creation. He calls this, 'the principle of the rope.' Grasping this foundational principle sheds new light on marriage, the dynamics of family relationships, and the reason why everyone lives with the consequences of the sins that others commit. Brauns shows how the principle of the rope is both bad news and good news, revealing a depth to the message of the gospel that many of us have never seen before.

Every person on earth is unique. All are designed specifically by our Creator. However, all are not isolated from one another, no matter how much we think we are or how badly we wish we could be individualistic in all aspects of life.

Pastor/Author, Chris Brauns has provided a book that emphasizes the "principle of the rope." This principle holds to the implications that all choices affect everyone. The choice doesn't necessarily have to be made by for it affect your life.

1 Corinthians 15 is a diving board that Brauns uses as the foundation for the principle of the rope. The first rope, held by Adam was unraveled, by his sin and the unraveling has reached to and unraveled all people. However, the second rope, held by Christ has those who profess Him as Lord and Savior knotted together and bound in Him.

This book gets straight to the heart of the matter. In the first two chapters, Brauns clearly explains the unraveling of the rope and throughout the remainder of the text, he explains the knotting back together of the second rope, which cannot break. The implications are seen in numerous ways. For example, in the community and fellowship of the local Church, the family and marriage. We were created for fellowship with our Creator and with other created beings. Being bound together is for the glory of God and truly for our good.

When someone is lifted up by the power of a good and wise decision, we are lifted up as well because we are tied to the same rope as the one who made the beneficial decision. When one makes an unwise decision and the rope is let down, we experience some sort of ramification(s) from that ill decision. This is part of life and Brauns writes with grace to urge readers to help lift up the rope with decisions that will benefit us all as we are tied to the rope for the glory of God and each other's good.

March 02, 2013

Bonnie Franklin, Steadfast Mom on ‘One Day at a Time,’ Dies at 69

Bonnie Franklin, whose portrayal of a pert but determined Ann Romano on the television show “One Day at a Time” in the 1970s and ’80s spun laughter out of the tribulations of a divorced woman juggling parenting, career, love life and feminist convictions, died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 69.

The cause was complications of pancreatic cancer, family members said. They had announced the diagnosis in September.

Ms. Franklin also acted on the stage and in movies and for years sang and danced in a nightclub act. But she was most widely known in the role of Ann Romano, one of the first independent women to be portrayed on TV wrestling with issues like sexual harassment, rape and menopause. Ms. Franklin — green-eyed, red-haired, button-nosed and 5-foot-3 — brought a buoyant comic touch to the part.

February 27, 2013

Actor Dale Robertson dies in California hospital

Dale Robertson, an Oklahoma native who became a star of television and movie Westerns during the genre's heyday, died Tuesday. He was 89.

Robertson's niece, Nancy Robertson, said her uncle died at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., following a brief illness.

Dale Robertson had bit parts in films including "The Boy with the Green Hair" and the Joan Crawford vehicle "Flamingo Road" before landing more high-profile roles such as Jesse James in "Fighting Man of the Plains."

In the 1950s, he moved into television, starring in series such as "Tales of Wells Fargo" (1957-62), "Iron Horse" (1966) and "Death Valley Days" (1968-70).

Robertson continued to work in TV in the 1970s, and in the 1980s he landed roles in the popular night-time soap operas "Dallas" and "Dynasty."

In 1993, he took what would be his final role, as Zeke in the show "Harts of the West," before retiring from acting to spend more time at his ranch in Yukon, Okla., where he lived until moving to the San Diego area in recent months, Nancy Robertson said.

Dale Robertson would want to be remembered as a father, a grandfather and an Oklahoman, she said.

"He came back a lot when he was in Hollywood, and he came back (to Oklahoma) after retiring," she said.

"I remember him as a larger-than-life fellow," she said. "When he was in town it was always very exciting. It always meant something magical was going to happen," such as another actor or performing artist accompanying him on his visits.

Born Dayle Lymoine Robertson to Melvin and Vervel Robertson in Harrah, on July 14, 1923, Robertson attended Oklahoma Military College at 17 and boxed in professional prize fights to earn money.

He joined the U.S. Army and fought in North Africa and Europe during World War II. Robertson was wounded twice and awarded the Bronze and Silver Stars and the Purple Heart.

While stationed at San Luis Obispo, Calif., he had a photograph taken for his mother. A copy of the photo displayed in the photo shop window attracted movie scouts, and the 6-foot-tall, 180-pound Robertson soon was on his way to Hollywood.

Will Rogers Jr., son of fellow Oklahoma-born actor and writer Will Rogers, once told Robertson to avoid formal training and keep his own persona.

Robertson received the Golden Boot Award in 1985, and was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers and the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City.

He was married several times, most recently in 1980 to Susan Robbins, who survives him along with two children.

Nancy Robertson said her uncle will be cremated and that a memorial service will be held in a few weeks.

February 25, 2013

Great for Believers and Non-Believers Alike

Passion by Mike McKinley

The Good Book Company has released a new book in perfect timing for the Lenten season. Believers and non-believers should check out Passion by Mike McKinley. McKinley is also author of Am I Really A Christian? and Church Planting is for Wimps.

Walking readers through Luke's Gospel, pastor and well-known author Mike McKinley looks at the events of the last day of Jesus' earthly life. At each point, he pauses to marvel at the love Christ has for His people; and shows how Jesus' people can learn from His passion, His care, and His integrity.

The book offers a wonderful series of meditations on Jesus Christ’s life-changing and universe-altering final day. Thoroughly rooted in the beauty of the gospel, Passion draws us back again and again to reflect on these timeworn truths.

I highly recommend this book. It was so fascinating, I read it in one sitting. Now I'm re-reading it a piece at a time as a Lenten devotional.

I received this novel compliments of The Good Book Company for my honest review.


Take a Chance on It!

Take a Chance on Me
by Susan May Warren

With Susan May Warren's Take a Chance on Me, you'll pick it up because of the cover and the name, but what will grab your attention are the words on the back cover; a summary so carefully written that you'll take the book to the counter and say, I want it!

Darek Christiansen is a brooding bachelor with a dark shadow that seems to be following him - sadness, grief or guilt - as he strives to keep his family's resort and his young son together. Ivy Madison is an attorney who is new in town and doesn't know the history but soon gets involved with Darek and the family in such a way that it reads almost like a non-fiction story out of a life of a family down the street.

I received this novel compliments of Tyndale House Publishers for my honest review. It's a delightful book! You'll most definitely want to take a chance on it!

February 24, 2013

Everyone Should Read The Romance of Grace

In The Romance of Grace, Jim McNeely explores Bible passages that tell us what God really wants for us and what His love means. This is the love of a God who chose to give His life for ours. The Romance of Grace is about saving our religion. I believe that unless we heed its call, to put grace absolutely without condition and frontally as the be-all and end-all of the Good News, we will lose completely. The real grace of Jesus Christ shines from this book. Grounded in Scripture and rich in contemporary illustrations, grace is revealed as bringing assurance and restoration and relationship. The Romance of Grace is a serious contribution to the way we approach Christianity. Join Jim in his exploration of life in God's unconditional, redeeming, amazing grace. The truth: "Not that we loved God, but that God loved us."

About the Author: Jim McNeely is a teaching pastor and elder at Dakota Creek Christian Center in Blaine, Washington, where he lives with his wife, Betty, and their four sons. Formerly president of New Century Data, with clients such as Lockheed Martin and American Airlines, he now works as a programmer and database administrator in the health care industry.

I received this book for free from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for this review.

Every Woman Needs to Read This Book

Freeing Tangled Hearts
by Dolores Kimball

This is a book every woman needs to read again and again. It is biblically accurate, a practical guide to daily living, and sensitively written without any sugarcoating. It confronts the common sin issues that women (and men) all too often excuse or choose to ignore. The biblical and personal illustrations are very well done and drive home the truth of freeing the tangled heart. In a compassionate way, Dolores encourages us to be the women the Lord saved us to be. Only by taking our eyes off ourselves and focusing on God can our tangled hearts truly be freed.

John 10:10 - I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Web site:

Click here to download the Freeing Tangled Hearts Study Guide.

I received this book for free from Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for this review.

A Nice Start to the Glenbrooke Series

Secrets, Glenbrooke Series #1 by Robin Jones Gunn

This is the first book in the Glenbrooke Series and also the first book that I have read by Robin Jones Gunn. I must say she did not disappoint. I enjoyed this book. Jessica Morgan learns many valuable lessons in life. Secrets take us places we don't want to go and causes you to go deeper and deeper into darkness. Jessica strives to do things on her own and in time learns to depend on others and the Lord. Secrets is a book that would be great for new believers, or even for those that aren't, as it teaches truths that everyone can learn from.

Author’s Web site:

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

February 22, 2013

Chrome Extensions I Couldn't Live Without

There are three Google Chrome browser extensions I use many times per day. All three are written by genius programmer Jason Savard. They are: Checker Plus for Gmail, Checker Plus for Google Reader, and Checker Plus for Google Calendar. I highly recommend them all.

Checker Plus for Gmail
This Chrome extension displays new emails and the sender's contact photo, get desktop notifications or even listen, read or delete them without opening a Google Mail tab! Plus many options.

I have several Gmail accounts that I check very often. This extension allows me to keep tabs on all my accounts with ease. It's a breeze to use, and I've never had any problems with it whatsoever. Try it by clicking here.

Checker Plus for Google Calendar
This Google Chrome extension allows you to see your upcoming events and the current date on the icon, get desktop event reminders, add events from the popup in month, week or agenda view without ever opening Web page, gray out past days, plus many options.

This extension helps me keep my life organized and we all need to be more organized. Add all your appointments to your Google calendar easily. Add your favorite sports teams to your calendar so you never miss a game. The extension is simple to use and very reliable. Try it by clicking here.

Checker Plus for Google Reader
This Google Chrome browser extension can preview your unread Google Reader items without opening the Web page and get desktop notifications with lots of options.

I use Google Reader so I can quickly keep up on the latest news. This extension makes using Google Reader twice as easy and so much faster. It's another terrific extension by the Green Programmer, Jason Savard. Try it by clicking here.

February 18, 2013

Three Ollie Chandler Novels in One E-edition

Ollie Chandler Collection: Three Novels: Deadline, Dominion, Deception / Combined Volume
By Randy Alcorn

I am an avid reader of fiction, and Deadline is my top pick out of hundreds and hundreds of books. Other than the Bible, Deadline has done more for my faith than any other book has. This is because Randy Alcorn helped me to see Heaven in a way I'd never imagined before. One of the biggest lies ever told is that Heaven is boring. Heaven is better than anything that we can imagine. It would be a great gift, especially for a gentleman, as it is the story of three men who are friends and their faith journeys.

I highly recommend Dominion by Randy Alcorn. The book provokes thought about what goes on in our lives and how Christ through faith will extend that existence into eternity. The storyline is great fiction and competes with the very best mystery writers of today. The underlying current is how sin in the form of abortion, racism, gangs, drugs, and excessive political ambition results in pain and ultimate separation from God forever.

It's a wonderful story, full of humor and adventure. You can visualize everything Randy Alcorn writes. It's thought provoking, dramatic, and spiritually packed. Don't miss this suspense thriller as it is a must. It's a great read and one of the best novels ever--Christian or not.

Click here to read Chapter One.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Book Review: The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul

The author packs a lot of interesting and informative information into this 130-page book on the Lord's Prayer. This is a book I would have no problem giving to a new believer looking to develop his prayer life or a mature believer looking to examine the model prayer.

The first chapter is "How Not To Pray." In learning how not to pray one also learns in very general terms how to pray. This is a terrific first chapter that introduces the account of the disciples asking Jesus how to pray. Dr. R. C. Sproul writes, "Jesus' intent was to give His disciples a model prayer, an example to follow, one that would teach them transferrable principles for conversation with God."

In the main portion of the book, Dr. Sproul breaks down each section of the Lord's Prayer and explains what it means, featuring such topics as the fatherhood of God, the kingdom of God, the will of God, the nature of sin and forgiveness, the dangers of temptation, and the cunning of Satan.

The final two chapters of the book deal with questions and answers, and a longer treatment of the purpose of prayer in light of God's sovereignty. I really appreciated the appendix that answered several questions for me.

I enjoy R. C. Sproul's teaching because he excels at encouraging Christians to think more deeply about biblical truth than they ever thought was possible. He clearly explains the Scriptures with sentences that are simple and accurate. The Prayer of the Lord is an immensely helpful and practical resource for any who desire a richer, more biblically-informed prayer life. This little book now takes its place with the classics on prayer.

I will be receiving a free printed copy of the book as compensation for my review.

February 09, 2013

Animals and God

Before reading this book I wasn't familiar with James Robison or his Life Outreach International ministry. Frankly, I've always been leery of televangelists. There's something about the way they ask for money that I find unsavory.

However, I do have a heart for our furry friends, so I recently read Robison's book, God of All Creation: Life Lessons from Pets and Wildlife.

The hardcover book with 28, easy-to-read meditations has a lot going for it. Animals for one. Deb Hoeffner's charming, black-and-white pencil illustrations for another. Third, it offers an easy presentation of Scripture told through the quirks and habits of animals. It's also a nice size; easy to hold while sipping coffee.

Within its 160 pages, Robinson shares insights about God and Christian living that he learned while observing his own pets and animals.

If you're looking for a gift for an animal lover, or maybe for someone who is reluctant to crack open a Bible, these Scripture-laced stories are a good bet. In three words: easy, encouraging, thoughtful. And nowhere did the author ask for a donation.

Click here to read Chapter One.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

February 08, 2013

Three Great Novels in One Edition

Karen Kingsbury is a favorite author of mine. She writes truly life-changing inspirational fiction. You can't beat getting three of her novels in one edition.

Where Yesterday Lives
Ellen returns to her childhood home after her father's death. She tries to make peace with people and events from her past. Ellen has no idea what God has in store for her.

When Joy Came to Stay
Maggie and her family are on an uncertain journey with depression and all that comes with it. Faith in God will see them through. Having lived with clinical depression my whole life, this one really hit home.

On Every Side
Faith is a young woman who must make a stand for the truth of God in our uncertain world.

I highly recommend purchasing this nicely-priced book.

Read Chapter One. Please click here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

January 31, 2013

A Cheery Christmas Tale

A Christmas Home by Greg Kincaid is perfect December reading. This book is a great way to escape the hectic pace of the holidays. It is filled with both goodness and happy endings. The story is about an animal shelter that may be forced to close due to the struggling economy. Todd, who has a disability, works at the shelter. This is a sequel to the equally fine book A Dog Named Christmas. Both books deserve your time.

January 17, 2013

Conrad Bain, Father on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, Dies at 89

Conrad Bain, an accomplished stage and film actor who was best known for a late-career role on television as the white adoptive father of two poor black boys on the long-running comedy “Diff’rent Strokes,” died on Monday in Livermore, Calif. He was 89.

Mr. Bain had been familiar to television viewers as Dr. Arthur Harmon, a neighbor of Bea Arthur’s title character on “Maude,” when he joined the cast of “Diff’rent Strokes” in 1978, the beginning of an eight-season run. He played Phillip Drummond, a wealthy Manhattan widower who had promised his dying housekeeper, who was black and lived in Harlem, that he would rear her sons, Arnold (Gary Coleman) and Willis (Todd Bridges).

Conrad Stafford Bain was born on Feb. 4, 1923, in Lethbridge, Alberta, in Canada. He attended the Banff School of Fine Arts in Alberta and served as a sergeant in the Canadian Army from 1943 to 1946. He then moved to New York, where he graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

He spent much of the next 30 years in the theater, making his New York debut Off Broadway in 1956 in “The Iceman Cometh.” In 1971 he appeared in Ibsen’s “Enemy of the People” by the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center.

Besides his daughter Jennifer, he is survived by two sons, Mark and Kent, and a twin brother, Bonar. His wife of more than 60 years, the abstract painter and art collector Monica Bain (born Monica Sloan), died in 2009.

The three child actors who starred alongside Mr. Bain on “Diff’rent Strokes” struggled in their private lives with substance abuse and legal and financial problems. Mr. Coleman died in 2010 at 42. Ms. Plato died of a drug overdose in 1999 at 34. Mr. Bridges was acquitted of attempted murder in 1990.

Mr. Bridges, who remained in contact with Mr. Bain, said in a statement that “in addition to being a positive and supportive father figure both on and off screen, Conrad was well loved and made going to work each day enjoyable for all of us.”

January 11, 2013

Maureen O'Hara to Attend John Wayne Birthday Celebration

The John Wayne Birthplace is thrilled to announce that Irish-American screen legend Maureen O'Hara and her family will be joining us in Winterset, Iowa on May 24 & 25, 2013 for our annual John Wayne Birthday Celebration. O'Hara, who starred with Wayne in Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, The Wings of Eagles, McLintock! and Big Jake, considered Duke her best friend and, in this public farewell to her legions of fans, she'll discuss their life-long friendship.

The two-day event will feature all aspects of Wayne's film career including roles as/in U.S. Cavalry, cowboys, World War II and, of course, Ireland. In tribute to Miss O'Hara, this year's dinner gala will reprise many of the highlights of last year's Quiet Man celebration: music from the classic film performed by Irish songstress Catherine O'Connell; Chicago's Shannon Rovers Pipes and Drums; and world champion Irish dancers; the Fabulous McKay Sisters.

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