Tuesday, March 26, 2013

03/26 Wink Martindale

Martindale was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and started his career as a disc jockey at age 17 at WPLI in Jackson, earning $25 a week.

He was hired away by WTJS for double the salary by Jackson's only other station, WDXI. He next hosted mornings at WHBQ in Memphis while a college student at Memphis State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957. While there Martindale became a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity.

Martindale's rendition of the spoken-word song "Deck of Cards" went to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold over a million copies in 1959. It also peaked at No. 5 in the UK Singles Chart in April 1963, one of four visits to that chart. It was followed by "Black Land Farmer". In 1959, he became morning man at KHJ in Los Angeles, California, moving a year later to the morning show at KRLA and finally to KFWB in 1962. He also had lengthy stays at KGIL, KKGO/KJQI and Gene Autry's KMPC. In 1967, Martindale narrated a futuristic documentary which predicted Internet commerce.


Martindale's first break into television was at WHBQ-TV in Memphis, as the host of Mars Patrol, a science-fiction themed children's television program. It was at his tenure with WHBQ that Martindale became the host of the TV show Teenage Dance Party where his friend Elvis Presley made an appearance. Following Presley's death in 1977, Martindale aired a nationwide tribute radio special in his honor.
Martindale hosted numerous game shows, including Gambit, High Rollers, Debt, and Tic-Tac-Dough, among others. In addition, Martindale also created the USA Network original game show Bumper Stumpers. Martindale is second in the most number of game shows hosted at 15, behind fellow veteran game show host, Bill Cullen, who hosted 23 shows.

Later career

On June 2, 2006, Martindale received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2007, Martindale became a member of the nominating committee of the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. On October 13, 2007, Martindale was one of the first inductees into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Martindale appeared in various TV commercials and was also the spokesman for Orbitz. Until 2007, Martindale had a daily three-hour show on the syndicated Music Of Your Life format, which is heard on around 200 radio stations. On June 2, 2009, Martindale signed with the syndicated Hit Parade Radio format. The format began operation on February 7, 2010, with Martindale as afternoon drive personality. The syndicator stopped operating on June 6, 2010.

In 2008, Wink appeared on GSN Live, an interstitial program during the afternoon block of classic game show reruns. Several times during 2008, Martindale filled in for Fred Roggin on GSN Live while Roggin was on vacation. Martindale's last show was the GSN show Instant Recall, which premiered on March 4, 2010. Instant Recall would be the first show Martindale has hosted since Debt aired on Lifetime from 1996 to 1998.



Tune in for a Special feature on CRN this Saturday, March 30 at 6pm Pacific Time, Wink Martindale will be spotlighting Neil Diamond. (Show will be replayed on Sunday, March 31st at 8pm Pacific Time)


Wink is currently producing a series of NINE ONE HOUR Specials for Sirius XM's "Siriusly Sinatra" channel, scheduled to run once per month through November.

March: Nat "King" Cole
April: Rosemary Clooney
May: Sammy Davis, Jr.
June: Gordon Jenkins
July: Jo Stafford / Paul Weston
August: Songwriters Who Wrote for "The Voice" - Sinatra
September: Ella
October: Perry Como
November: Peggy Lee
Wink is also developing two television shows - 21st Century versions of past game shows, Treasure Hunt and Celebrity Sweepstakes.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

03/19 Rick Michel, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Las Vegas

Rick Michel, who has performed and headlined in Las Vegas since 1981, will present for one night only his “Sinatra Forever” show with a seven-piece Big Band whose members worked with Sinatra on Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Chrome Showroom at Santa Fe Station Hotel ~ Casino located at 4949 N. Rancho Drive. The show will feature original arrangements with Michel saluting and interpreting standards “Ol’ Blue Eyes” performed. Michel has been called “the closest thing to Sinatra we have ever heard” by “Variety.”

In February, Michel did a sold-out “Sinatra Forever” performance with a 24-piece orchestra at the M Pavilion. He has been a master impressionist for more than 40 years and been touring his show “Sinatra Forever” around the country as well as internationally with performances in Canada, Mexico and Chile. Michel’s song set covers everything from Sinatra classics such as “Witchcraft” to even lesser known hits such as “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” from the musical “Guys and Dolls.” Tickets for “Sinatra Forever” at Santa Fe will only be available for $15 (inclusive) cash at the door the night of the performance. Seating at Santa Fe will be limited.

Background on Rick Michel

Michel has shared the stage with many celebrities including Rich Little, Mickey Rooney, John Byner and Sherman Hemsley; opened for comics such as Bobby Collins, John Pinette, Rita Rudner and George Wallace; and performed impersonations for such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, President Gerald Ford, Tony Curtis and Steve Allen.
In 1994, Michel shared the spotlight with Rich Little playing Bob Hope to Little’s Bing Crosby and Jerry Lewis to his Dean Martin. Little called Michel “one of the best impressionists around today.” For Michel, a memorable highlight came when he performed his impression of Bob Hope for the comedic icon himself at the Bob Hope Celebrity Golf Classic in Palm Springs. He also made appearances in an episode of “Baywatch” playing a schizophrenic killer, and on “Entertainment Tonight,” “America’s Funniest People” and the “Larry King Show.”

In 1989, Michel moved to Las Vegas. In 1999, David Cassidy saw Michel performing his impression of Sinatra with a 22-piece orchestra and asked him to be the understudy for his show “The Rat Pack is Back” at the Desert Inn. He played the Sinatra, Dean Martin and Joey Bishop roles, and when the show moved to the Sahara in 2000, played Martin for its 25-month run.

Currently, Michel also produces his own show called “Drinkin’-Singin’-Swingin’ Salute to Frank Sinatra-Sammy Davis Jr.-Dean Martin” in which he plays the Martin role. In addition, he stars in his one-man show, “The Rick Michel Variety Show.”  You can learn more about Michel at his website www.rickmichel.com .

Giving back to the community, Michel is involved in several charity events including the Salvation Army Christmas Toys for Tots, Fox 5 “Take 5 for Kids” Suitcase Drive, Help Them Walk Again Foundation and Make a Difference Day. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

03/12 Max Baer Jr., Beverly Hillbillies

Max Baer (born December 4, 1937) is an American actor, screenwriter, producer, and director. He is best known for playing Jethro Bodine on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Early life Baer was born Maximilian Adalbert Baer Jr. in Oakland, California, the son of boxing champion Max Baer and his wife Mary Ellen Sullivan. His father was of Jewish and Scots-Irish descent. His brother and sister are James Baer (b. 1941) and Maude Baer (b. 1943). His uncle was boxer and actor Buddy Baer. Baer earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from Santa Clara University, with a minor in philosophy.


Baer's first acting role was in Goldilocks and the Three Bears at the Blackpool Pavilion in England in 1949. He began acting professionally in 1960 at Warner Bros., where he made appearances on television programs such Maverick, Surfside 6, Hawaiian Eye, Cheyenne, The Roaring 20s, and 77 Sunset Strip. His career took off two years later, when he joined the cast of The Beverly Hillbillies.

The Beverly Hillbillies

Max Baer (left), Nancy Kulp and Sharon Tate in The Beverly Hillbillies (1965)
Baer was cast in the role of the doltish "Jethro Bodine", Jed Clampett's nephew. It would prove to be the high point of his acting career and the one he is best remembered for. He still found time to act elsewhere during the nine-year run of The Beverly Hillbilles, and appeared on Vacation Playhouse, Love, American Style, and in the Western movie A Time for Killing.

Later career

The Beverly Hillbillies went off the air in 1971, and Baer made numerous guest appearances on television. However, he found himself typecast by his former role. He then concentrated on feature motion pictures.

Baer wrote and produced the drama Macon County Line (1974), in which he played Deputy Reed Morgan. It was the highest-grossing movie per dollar invested at the time. Made for just US$110,000, it earned almost US$25 million at the box office. This record would last until it was broken by The Blair Witch Project in 1999.

Baer also wrote, produced, and directed the drama The Wild McCullochs (1975), in which he played Culver Robinson.

He then got the idea of using the title of a popular song as a movie title, acquiring the rights to the Bobbie Gentry hit song and producing Ode to Billy Joe (1976). Made for US$1.1 million, it grossed US$27 million at the box office, plus earnings in excess of US$2.65 million in the foreign market, US$4.75 million from television, and US$2.5 million from video. The film starred Robby Benson and Glynnis O'Connor.

Since the success of Ode to Billy Joe, the motion picture industry has capitalized on the idea, producing more than one hundred song title movies. Baer decided to pursue the rights to the hit song "Like a Virgin", recorded by the singer Madonna in 1984. When ABC tried to prevent him from making the film, he sued and won a judgment of more than US$2 million.

He directed the comedy Hometown USA (1979), then retired to his home at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. He still makes occasional guest appearances on television.

Baer has said he feels playing Jethro Bodine sank his acting career. He was asked by Paul Henning to reprise the role for a 1981 television movie, but he declined. Nevertheless, when the feature film The Beverly Hillbillies was made twelve years later, Baer was reportedly upset that only Buddy Ebsen was asked to do a cameo. By 2004, Baer had recognized the marketability of The Beverly Hillbillies and appeared with actress Donna Douglas at the annual "TV Land Awards".

Jethro's Casino

In 1985, Baer began investigating the gambling industry. He saw that tourists paid a US$5 to US$6 admission to tour the "Ponderosa Ranch", which was the location for filming some episodes of TV's Bonanza. There was nothing to see but a working cattle ranch, but people enjoyed it because of the Bonanza connection. Baer decided that tourists would also pay for something dealing with The Beverly Hillbillies. He began using his Jethro Bodine role as a marketing opportunity toward the gambling and hotel industry. Baer obtained the sublicensing rights, including food and beverage rights, to The Beverly Hillbillies from CBS in 1991. His business partner estimates the cost of obtaining the rights and developing the ideas has been US$1 million. Sixty-five Beverly Hillbillies slot machines were built in 1999 and placed in ten casinos.

In late 2003, Baer attempted the redevelopment of a former Wal-Mart location in Carson City into a Beverly Hillbillies-themed hotel and casino, but was unsuccessful due to building code conflicts and other developers on the neighboring properties. On May 4, 2007, Baer announced the sale of the property and the purchase of another parcel just outside of Carson City, in neighboring Douglas County, where he expected less resistance to his plans. Baer purchased a 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) parcel in north Douglas County for $1.2 million, and will purchase an additional 20 acres (81,000 m2) once he has obtained the required zoning variances. The plans are for a 40,000-square-foot (3,700 m2) gambling area with 800 slot machines and 16 tables, flanked by various eateries including "Jethro's All You Ken Et Buffet". The project would feature a showroom, cinema complex and a 240-room, five-story hotel.

Plans for Baer's casino included a 200-foot-tall (61 m) mock oil derrick spouting a 20 to 30-foot (9.1 m) flame.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

03/05 Steve Lawrence

Born Stephen Leibowitz, 8 July 1935, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA. The son of a cantor in a Brooklyn synagogue, Lawrence was in the Glee club at Thomas Jefferson High School, where he began studying piano, saxophone, composition and arranging. He made his recording debut for King Records at the age of 16. The record, "Mine And Mine Alone", based on "Softly Awakes My Heart" from Samson & Delilah, revealed an remarkably mature voice and style. Influenced by Frank Sinatra, but never merely a copyist, Lawrence's great range and warmth earned him a break on Steve Allen's Tonight television show, where he met, sang with and later married Eydie Gorme. He recorded for Coral Records and had his first hit in 1957 with "The Banana Boat Song". It was the infectious "Party Doll" which gave him a Top 5 hit in 1957 and he followed that same year with four further, although lesser successes, namely "Pum-Pa-Lum", "Can't Wait For Summer", "Fabulous" and "Fraulein". During his US Army service (1958-60) he sang with military bands on recruiting drives and bond rallies.

Back home he and Eydie embarked on a double act, their most memorable hit being "I Want To Stay Here" in 1963. As Steve And Eydie they made albums for CBS Records, ABC Records and United Artists Records, including Steve And Eydie At The Movies, Together On Broadway, We Got Us, Steve And Eydie Sing The Golden Hits and Our Love Is Here To Stay, the latter a double album of great George Gershwin songs, which was the soundtrack of a well-received television special. Lawrence, on his own, continued to have regular hits with "Portrait Of My Love" and "Go Away Little Girl" in 1961/2, and enjoyed critical success with albums such as Academy Award Losers and Portrait Of My Love. As an actor he starred on Broadway in What Makes Sammy Run?, took the lead in Pal Joey in summer stock, and has acted in a crime series on US television. During the 70s and 80s he continued to record and make television appearances with Gorme, with the couple gaining a record-breaking seven Emmys for their Steve And Eydie Celebrate Irving Berlin special. The couple also joined Frank Sinatra on his Diamond Jubilee Tour in 1991.