misterboomer.com

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

A Boomer Looks Back at Movies from 1967

Fifty years ago — 1967 — was an amazing year for movies. Mister Boomer’s father and mother relished taking the family to movies, both in theaters and drive-ins. There were three theaters and three drive-ins within a 15-minute drive near Mister Boomer’s home, so there was always a choice of movies from which his parents could choose. Movies were pretty economical for a family, too; the drive-in was around a dollar per car at that time. What increased the cost was the snacks. Mister Boomer’s father was a big movie snacker. He would not see a movie without popcorn and some chocolate, usually non pareils, Mounds bars or Almond Joys, or Raisinettes in a pinch. His mother was all about Dots, Chuckles and Good & Plenty. Mister B never liked snacking in the movies as he found the wrapper noise annoying and did not wish to inflict that on others. As soon as Mister Boomer’s brother was old enough to care for his younger siblings (around age 10), the kids walked to the nearest theater on their own to see Saturday matinees, too.

Family movie time was broken into two branches: times when the entire family would pile into the car and go to a theater, and the times when Mister Boomer’s father took the kids to the drive-in to let Mister B’s mother host her ladies’ bunco card club. The kind of movie the family saw definitely depended on whether Mister B’s mom was in attendance. While his father enjoyed drama, thrillers, crime and mysteries — not to mention any and all James Bond — his mother liked the lighter fare, but would see anything if it starred some of her favorite actors. She was especially fond of anything Peter Sellers or Walter Matthau did.

Here are a few of the 1967 movies Mister Boomer recalls seeing at the movies in his youth:

Comedy/Drama
Casino Royale, with David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress and Orson Welles, was unlike other James Bond movies in that it was an outright comedy. Maybe if it had Sean Connery as 007 it would have been funnier. Mister Boomer saw this one with his siblings when they were dropped off at a nearby theater.

The Graduate was a major movie of 1967, having been nominated for a host of Academy Awards. It won Best Director for Mike Nichols. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross, and William Daniels, it was probably too adult for Mister B and his siblings when his father took them to the drive-in to see it. Mister B didn’t appreciate the film until years later when he saw it on TV.

The Producers starred Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. Mister Boomer and his mother enjoyed Mostel and Wilder movies. This one is still on Mister Boomers’ list of top films of all time.

In Like Flint was a campy spy spoof movie starring James Coburn and Lee J. Cobb. There were two Flint movies, the first appearing the year before, and Mister B laughed through both. He especially like that Coburn’s character Derek Flint could talk to dolphins. There will always be a place in Mister B’s heart for campy movies.

A Guide for the Married Man with Walter Matthau and Inger Stevens had classic Matthau written all over it, so it was one the whole family saw in a theater. Mister Boomer recalls watching it with his mother on TV many times years later. She smiled at Matthau’s antics every time.

Thrillers/Mystery/Crime
You Only Live Twice starred Sean Connery and Akiko Wakabayashi. If by some chance Mister Boomer and Brother Boomer’s father didn’t take the boys, they wouldn’t miss a James Bond movie. That is what happened with this one — they went on their own. Too bad the movie was only so-so.

Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway is another of those classic films from 1967. However, Mister Boomer didn’t think much of it when he saw it as a teenager at the drive-in, or even after a second viewing on TV years later.

Cool Hand Luke starred Paul Newman and George Kennedy. It was another drive-in movie classic for Mister B. He liked the characters right away — especially George Kennedy’s — and has seen it numerous times since. It’s right up there on his best of all time list.

In the Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger was another drive-in movie for Mister B, his father and siblings. It was yet another one that Mister B appreciated years later when he saw it on TV, just not at the time.

Wait Until Dark starred Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin. Mister Boomer’s mother picked this one and the family went to a theater to check it out. Hepburn’s blind character made this film memorable.

War Films
The Dirty Dozen with Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, John Cassavetes was a romp of a World War II movie. It was as fun as a war movie can be, worth seeing at the drive-in, and again years later on TV.

Tobruk starred Rock Hudson, George Peppard, Nigel Green and Guy Stockwell. Standard fare, almost a B-movie as far as a young Mister Boomer could tell. He saw it at the drive-in, of course, when his father took him and his siblings.

There were dozens of other now-classic movies released in 1967 that Mister Boomer did not see at the movies. However, he saw most of them on TV in the years that followed. Just look at this list of 1967 movies:

Camelot: Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, David Hemmings
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, Katharine Houghton
El Dorado: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan
In Cold Blood: Robert Blake, Scott Wilson, John Forsythe, Paul Stewart
Bedazzled: Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Eleanor Bron, Raquel Welch
To Sir, With Love: Sidney Poitier, Judy Geeson, Christian Roberts, Suzy Kendall
Doctor Dolittle: Rex Harrison, Samantha Eggar, Anthony Newley, Richard Attenborough
Barefoot In the Park: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Charles Boyer, Mildred Natwick
Thoroughly Modern Millie: Julie Andrews, James Fox, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Channing
I Am Curious Yellow: Lena Nyman, Vilgot Sjöman, Börje Ahlstedt, Peter Lindgren
Valley of the Dolls: Barbara Parkins, Patty Duke, Paul Burke, Sharon Tate
Far From the Madding Crowd: Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp
The Taming of the Shrew: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern
The Born Losers: Tom Laughlin, Elizabeth James, Jeremy Slate, William Wellman Jr.
Easy Come, Easy Go: Elvis Presley, Dodie Marshall
How I Won the War: Richard Lester film with Michael Crawford and John Lennon
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying: Robert Morse, Michele Lee, Rudy Vallee

… and lots of other movies, including Don Knotts releases and Godzilla movies that most boomers will recall seeing on TV if not at the movies.

Mister Boomer still prefers seeing a movie in a theater as opposed to on TV– and don’t even think about him viewing one on a tablet or phone. He is one boomer who likes his movies the old-fashioned way. Now, when are we going to get a year with such stellar stories and performances like we did in 1967?

What were your favorite movies from 1967, boomers?

 

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies and have Comment (1)

Boomer Movie History in the Making — 1966

We all live through historic moments every day, yet it can be difficult to make that realization at the time. We boomers have lived through so many historic events that it’s difficult for us to NOT see our connection to the history as it was being made. For example, there is probably not a person who was living on the planet at the time who does not remember where they were when the Big Bopper’s plane went down; John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were shot; or when Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to Mister Boomer that he was not all that aware of the historical and cultural significance the motion picture industry was making during the 1960s, and especially fifty years ago, in 1966.

The industry has always been subjected to the same laws as any other person or industry, but in addition, has self-regulated in terms of moral values. The Motion Picture Code of 1930 (Hays Code) was put together and adopted by The Association of Motion Picture Producers, Inc. and The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, Inc. It detailed what would be deemed acceptable in movies from signing members. It strived to assure movies would not “lower the moral standards of those who see it,” nor would their films ridicule the law, justify revenge (in modern times) or glorify brutality, among other things. Films were already subject to the decency laws of the time.

These standards were in effect until 1966, when they were revised. Instead of explicitly banning certain types of actions, the new code suggested restraint. The pursuit of virtue and rejection of sin was still encouraged. It eliminated the outright prohibition of kissing that could be deemed “lustful,” and ultimately recommended a label of “suggested for mature audiences” be attached to certain films to let parents know a film may not be proper for their children — or for themselves, for that matter.

The first 1966 film tagged with the Mature Audiences label was Georgy Girl, only a month after the new revisions were adopted. Nowadays the film would probably be labelled a PG-13, but at the time the adult story line was considered bold and raised more than a few eyebrows. The plot tells of a young woman living with a promiscuous — and pregnant — friend. Georgy is a bit of a regular type, and doesn’t get much male attention until a friend of her father’s — a much older man than she — offers to set her up in an apartment in exchange for becoming his mistress. At the same time, the young man responsible for impregnating her roommate marries the girl and moves into their apartment. Soon he shows an interest in Georgy, too, since she is more interested in the soon-to-arrive baby than her roommate. Georgy is left with all sorts of moral reckoning. The title song of the film is probably recognizable to most boomers. The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Lynn Redgrave won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical. The song Georgy Girl was nominated for an Oscar, but lost to Born Free. It was released as a single by The Seekers in 1967.

Another groundbreaking film of 1966 was Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up. Industry standard bearers demanded the director make cuts, but Antonioni refused. The film was released by MGM but did not have the industry seal of approval. Consequently, it was the first American film to display full-frontal female nudity.

That same year, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was the first American film release to contain profane expletives and frank sexual content. Meanwhile, Gulf & Western purchased Paramount Studios, making it the first of many multi-national conglomerates to take over a Hollywood studio.

When Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959) was purchased for distribution on television in 1966, Preminger sought an injunction against Columbia Pictures Corporation and Screen Gems, Inc. to prevent them from editing the film to inject commercial air time. The court ruled that the producer had the rights to final cut and editing for theatrical releases only, and had therefore no say in the editing of a television airing.

Mister Boomer was an early teen, but nonetheless saw some of these films. His father took the kids to the drive-in movies at least once a month, when his mother had her club meetings. He completely recalls seeing Georgy Girl, but admits that at the time had no idea what was going on.

He went on to see many memorable films of 1966, both in theaters and at the drive-in. Among them:

The Silencers, the first Dean Martin James Bond spy spoof. Mister B went on to see all three of the Matt Helm films with Brother Boomer.

Batman: the Movie, where Adam West took the zaniness of the TV show to the movies. How could a boomer who loved the TV show not see this one?

Fantastic Voyage and One Million Years B.C., where Rachel Welch left an indelible mark on young Mister B’s life.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, which was directed by the same Richard Lester who had earlier done A Hard Day’s Night. It made Mister B a lifelong fan of Zero Mostel and Jack Gifford.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with Eli Wallach immediately became among Mister B’s favorite westerns of all time, and still is.

The Sand Pebbles and Nevada Smith, both starring Steve McQueen, became instant classics in Mister B’s mind. He still recalls scenes and dialogue from those movies he saw at the local drive-in.

There were many more memorable films of 1966, including:

Born Free
Alfie
A Man for All Seasons
Fahrenheit 451
Torn Curtain
The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!
What’s Up Tiger Lily?
The Fortune Cookie
The Glass Bottom Boat
Is Paris Burning?
Our Man Flint
Modesty Blaise

… among others

Imagine what movies might be like today were it not for these pioneering films of fifty years ago. What are your favorite movies of 1966, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies and have Comments Off on Boomer Movie History in the Making — 1966

Boomers and Bikinis Just Went Together

July 5th marks the 70th anniversary of the introduction of the modern bikini. Though mosaics and wall paintings reveal that women wore two-piece costumes in Roman times around 300 A.D., and as far back as 1600 B.C. in Minoa, it is Louis Reard who is considered the father of the modern bikini.

The French engineer introduced his “bikini” on July 5, 1946. He named it after the atomic test of the Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands because he expected it would generate a burst of excitement equal to the atomic test. Little did he know bikinis would play a starring role in many movies of the Boomer Generation. Many are part of the classic moments of film from the era. Here are just a few:

Brigitte Bardo: The Girl in the Bikini (1952); And God Created Woman (1956); et al
When the bikini was introduced in 1946, it did not receive a warm welcome in the fashion world, especially in the United States. Some say it was the image of Brigitte Bardo wearing bikinis in various movies through the 1950s and ’60s that changed a few minds. Although the actress took on many types of roles that showcased her acting range, she was the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model before there were SI swimsuit issues. Many boomer boys spied their first bikini as worn by Brigitte Bardo in movie magazines borrowed from their fathers’ collections.

Ursula Andress: Dr. No (1962)
When James Bond (Sean Connery) sees Ursula Andress rise from the ocean in a white bikini with a diving knife strapped to her hip, even he had to pause. The scene became so iconic that it has been repeated and parodied ever since, including Halle Berry’s reinterpretation of the scene, rising out of the ocean in an orange bikini in Die Another Day (2002).

Annette Funicello: Beach Party (1963); Bikini Beach (1964); How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965); et al
Beach movies hit the boomer scene from 1963 to 1968. Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, previously of Mouseketeer fame, were recruited to play a teenage version of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies … on the beach. Annette Funicello’s bikini was a two piece in name only. It was stipulated by contract with Walt Disney that she not be allowed to show her belly button, so some would say her swimwear in the movies was downright matronly. The fun thing for boomers, though, was there were no such stipulations on the other girls on the beach.

Raquel Welch: One Million Years B.C. (1967)
Technically, beauty queen Raquel Welch isn’t wearing swimwear in this movie. Rather, it was a furry animal skin two-piece that became so iconic that the still publicity shot for the movie became a best-selling poster. Mister Boomer has to admit, he was among the boys who taped the poster to his wall. The role was originally offered to Ursula Andress, but by then her salary requirements were too much for the producers.

Jane Fonda: Barbarella (1968)
Directed by  Roger Vadim, Jane Fonda’s husband at the time, Barbarella was a campy movie trip to outer space fantasyland via hallucinogenic imagery, so naturally, bikinis would would have to play a part. Mister Boomer first heard about the movie when a neighbor returning from his stint in Vietnam talked about it. It was years later when Mister B first saw the film, but Brother Boomer saw it much sooner.

Shocking to many in its day, the bikini now is commonplace poolside and on beaches around the world. It has even been named the official athletic wear for women’s professional beach volleyball. Monsieur Reard used a grand total of 30 square inches of fabric for his original creation, while today’s versions run the gamut from modernly modest to barely there. Many movies featured memorable bikini-clad women throughout the boomer years. What is your favorite bikini movie moment, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Fashion,Film & Movies,Pop Culture History,Uncategorized and have Comments Off on Boomers and Bikinis Just Went Together

Boomers Loved the Dave Clark Five

Mister Boomer recently saw a PBS documentary about the Dave Clark Five. It was filled with great nostalgic bits of their music and TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and Shindig! Yet what stood out for Mister B was info he did not know: that the band starred in their very own 1965 motion picture, Having a Wild Weekend (released as Catch Us If You Can in the UK).

The incarnation of the band that hit US shores and known to American boomers — Dave Clark (drums), Mike Smith (vocals, keyboards), Denis Payton (saxophone), Rick Huxley (bass) and Lenny Davidson (lead guitar) — met while training at a gym two nights a week.

Clark had been a movie extra and stuntman, having appeared in The VIPs (starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) and A Shot in the Dark (starring Peter Sellers). Some say his experience in movies helped give the band their theatricality in live and TV appearances.

Every boomer knows a good portion of the hit songs of the Dave Clark Five. They burst on the English scene in 1962, and over the next eight years, released an astounding 15 consecutive Top 20 US hit singles, selling more than 100 million records. In 1964, Glad All Over replaced I Want to Hold Your Hand as number one on the UK Singles chart, and they had arrived on the world stage. Boomers sang along to many of their hits, including:
Glad All Over (1964)
Bits and Pieces (1964)
Any Way You Want It (1964)
Because (1964)
Catch Us If You Can (1965)
Over and Over (1965)
…to name a few.

The band was British Invasion competition for The Beatles and Rolling Stones, but had their own sound. They were the first British Invasion band to tour the US and the second on The Ed Sullivan Show, after The Beatles. The DC5, however, appeared on Ed Sullivan 18 times — more than any other rock, pop or R&B act.

Columbia/Epic, the band’s record company at the time, wanted to strike while the iron was hot, so thought it might be a good idea to follow the successful track of A Hard Days’ Night, the 1964 Richard Lester film starring the The Beatles. Thus Catch Us If You Can was conceived in 1965 as a vehicle for the group, and John Boorman was tapped to direct it. The title song had been a monster worldwide hit for the group the year before. Later named Having a Wild Weekend for US distribution, the film was to be Boorman’s feature film-directing debut. He went on to direct the classic films Point Blank (1967), Deliverance (1972), Excalibur (1981) and Hope and Glory (1987), among others.

The band performed the soundtrack for the film, but unlike The Beatles in A Hard Days’ Night, they did not play themselves, but rather portrayed characters — stuntmen and not musicians — in the movie.

The story follows the adventures of Steve (Dave Clark), a stuntman, and Dinah (Barbara Ferris). Dinah is a famous model and TV commercial spokeswoman for a meat company as “The Butcha Girl.” They are both weary of their work situation and Steve whisks her away in his movie-set Jaguar for a well-deserved day off. Along the way Dinah pokes fun at the commercialization of her own image on a billboard, the couple run across societal “dropouts,” proto-hippies looking to drugs for escape from a changing reality, and head to an island that Dinah is looking to purchase as her own little hideaway, only to find out the island is accessible by land in low tide. Meanwhile, the marketing and PR firm behind the TV commercial that Dinah was shooting see the potential to exploit the situation and call in the police, stating Dinah was kidnapped. The chase ensues as police, marketing executives and fellow bandmate-stuntmen follow the couple through London and Britain.

While no one raved about the acting abilities of the group, the film was fairly well received as a comment on popular culture, the emptiness of consumerism and the commercialization of youth culture.

Unlike The Beatles, the DC5 didn’t go on to make additional movies, sticking to music instead. The group disbanded in 1970. Dave Clark, unlike his contemporaries, had enough business acumen to retain all the rights to the band’s songs and TV performances. As a result, there were no recordings of the band available for purchase between 1978 and 1993. Though high on the list of boomer greats, some say it was the ego and high monetary demands of Dave Clark himself that stopped the DC5 from becoming as important after their break-up as all the other bands of the British Invasion.

In 1986, Dave Clark wrote and produced a stage musical, Time. The science fiction play centered around a musician forced to defend Earth in the Court of the Universe. Narrated by Laurence Olivier, the play stared Cliff Richards, who was later replaced by David Cassidy. It was a multimedia visual tour de force which had a two-year run in London’s West End. The subsequent concept album featured Cliff Richards, Freddie Mercury, Dionne Warwick, Leo Sayer, Julian Lennon and Stevie Wonder. The album sold two million copies, with multiple hit singles.

Selected hits from the band’s heyday are now available in online stores, though TV appearance clips available for public consumption are still few and far between. Mister Boomer was there in the beginnings of the DC5, having a transistor radio of his own in 1964. He loved all of their big hits, but for years the harmonies on Because made him think it was a Beatles tune! The Dave Clark Five was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Mister Boomer has to ask, what took so long?

Did you see Having a Wild Weekend and play DC5’s records over and over again, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies,Music,Pop Culture History and have Comment (1)

Boomers Signed on The Dot and the Line

The 88th annual Academy Awards will be broadcast this weekend, so it got Mister Boomer wondering what was going on with the Oscars 50 years ago. As it turns out, 1966 was a momentous movie year for boomers. It was the first year the Academy Awards was broadcast in color; at the time many boomer households were acquiring color TVs.

The Sound of Music picked up five Oscars, including Best Picture. Many boomers have memories of seeing the picture with their families, at a drive-in or local theater. To win the Best Picture award, the film bested the now-classic films Doctor Zhivago, Ship of Fools, A Thousand Clowns and Darling.

The Best Actor category was a race among screen greats: Richard Burton (The Spy Who Came In From the Cold), Laurence Olivier (Othello), Rod Steiger and Oskar Werner (Ship of Fools), but it was Lee Marvin who took home the statue for his work in Cat Ballou.

Of particular note to Mister B was the award for Best Short Subject. A cartoon by Chuck Jones and Les Goldman, The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, won the Oscar for Best Short Subject. Every boomer knows the work of Chuck Jones. His Warner Bros. and MGM cartoons were favorites when we were young, and classics now. Boomers loved his work on Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and for Mister B, especially, Road Runner cartoons, to name a few.

The Dot and the Line was inspired by Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, an 1884 novella by Edwin Abbott. It was an exploration into different dimensions as well as a comment on Victorian society and culture. Jones’ The Dot and the Line is a whimsical love story about a line pining for the love of his life, a dot. The dot isn’t interested in the line, though, because “she” perceives “him” to be too rigid and stiff. Instead, she hangs out with the more impulsive squiggle. The line learns to bend itself, first into basic shapes, then mastering parabolic curves and complex mathematical forms to ultimately win over the dot when she realizes the squiggle is too impulsive and chaotic compared to the expert control of the line.

Mister B is a creative type, so he was always fascinated by the sheer beauty of every frame — each a modern painting in its own right. The cartoon pares down characters and scenery to a seemingly impossible bare minimum. Simple shapes and limited colors tell a very believable story as lines and dots acquire human characteristics.

Through the years there has been some talk that The Dot and the Line, like its Flatlands inspiration, was making a comment on culture and society. The argument goes, the rigidity of post-War America is represented by the line, the optimism for the future by the dot, and the restless aura of change by the squiggle. There is a brief musical introduction when the squiggle first appears, and it is definitely rock ‘n roll in its genre. Some say the chaotic squiggle represents the upheaval the rigid society perceived at the dawning of rock ‘n roll. In such an argument, reason, logic and trust in innovation win out over chaos.

For Mister B, an art history aficionado, the cartoon reflects what was happening in the art of the day. Abstract Expressionism had its start in pre-War Europe, but it was post-War American painters who brought it front and center to the world. Accenting gesture, emotion, freedom, individuality and expression, it embodied the elation of a new era. By the 1960s, change was in the air as a growing population, and especially boomers, began to be disillusioned with the idealized world that immediately followed the world’s second War to End All Wars. Civil Rights, women’s rights, poverty and individual freedom became rallying cries, and music reflected this movement. Art, on the other hand, went toward Minimalism, which concentrated on geometry, the depersonalization of industrial fabrication and purposeful lack of imbued emotion. The Dot and the Line bears aspects of both of those art movements in its execution, as both art movements residing side by side in the mid-60s.

Putting all the pseudo-intellectual explorations aside, The Dot and the Line should be enjoyed for what it is: a love story set in a particular space and time. For the imaginative manner in which this story was told, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded it the Oscar. Another great boomer moment.

Do you recall seeing The Dot and the Line in theaters, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies and have Comment (1)

Boomer Influences Who Have Passed in 2015

Each of the people mentioned here, some boomers and some not, affected boomers in different ways, with each leaving their own mark on our generation and culture. Like every boomer, Mister Boomer had a front row seat when they rocketed onto the scene, forever finding a place in our shared memories.

Rod Taylor (January 11, 1930 – January 7, 2015)
Australian actor Rod Taylor first appeared in U.S. films in the 1950s, working his way up from supporting roles to starring as a leading man. He appeared in more than 50 films, but a few are particularly memorable for boomers: The Time Machine (1960); The Birds (1963); as well as the love interest for Jane Fonda in Sunday in New York (1963). He worked his way up from supporting roles in the 1950s to starring as a leading man. Mister B recalls seeing him in many films, most notably when he went to a Saturday matinee with Brother Boomer and his cousin, who lived in a neighboring city, to see The Time Machine. The notion of time travel was an attractive idea for a young boomer. A few years later Mister B picked up the H.G. Wells book, having been introduced to it through Rod Taylor’s portrayal.

Donna Douglas (September 26, 1932 – January 1, 2015)
Gary Owens (May 10, 1934 – February 12, 2015)
Leslie Gore (May 2, 1946 – February 16, 2015)
Leonard Nimoy (March 26, 1931 –  February 26, 2015)
Mister B felt compelled to write about these amazing individuals when they died at the beginning of the year. Truly they were all well known to boomers as TV and music stars. Here is a link to Mister B’s earlier post: Boomers Say Good-Bye to More Beloved Figures

Jimmy Greenspoon (February 7, 1948 – March 11, 2015)
Cory Wells (February 5, 1941 – October 20, 2015)
Jimmy Greenspoon and Cory Wells, members of Three Dog Night, both left us in 2015. The group had 21 consecutive Top 40 hits from late ’60s to mid ’70s. Greenspoon, a boomer himself, was a keyboard player and Wells was of three lead singers/guitarists in the band, something that made them stand out from many other bands. Mister Boomer wasn’t a big fan of the group, especially disliking Joy to the World (aka Jeremiah was a Bullfrog, released as a single in 1971), but did like Mama Told Me (Not to Come), a 1970 cover version of the song that was written by Randy Newman for Eric Burdon’s first solo album in 1966.

Gary Dahl (December 18, 1936 – March 23, 2015)
A copywriter turned entrepreneur by trade, Gary Dahl will be forever remembered by boomers as the inventor of the Pet Rock. His idea was said to be a joke, but when he found investors the idea became reality in time for Christmas shopping in 1975. The genius of Dahl was not in buying river rocks at pennies per pound and selling them for $3.95, but in the packaging: each rock came nestled on a bed of excelsior, surrounded by a cardboard box, complete with a handle and “air holes.” He sold millions of them to boomers and the children of early boomers. Later, Dahl was the book author of Advertising for Dummies. Mister Boomer did not own a Pet Rock, nor did his siblings or his friends, as far as he knows.

Cynthia Lennon (September 10, 1939 – April 1, 2015)
Cynthia Powell was the first wife of John Lennon and mother of Julian Lennon. The couple were married in 1963 when she was pregnant with son Julian. When The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan in February of 1964, the camera “introduced” each band member, isolating them in profile. When John was pictured, “Sorry girls, he’s married” was placed below his name on screen. They were divorced in 1968 after John left her for Yoko Ono. Cynthia was the only wife who had her own fan club. Mister Boomer recalls early photos of her because she was always smartly dressed in groovy ’60s outfits.

Percy Sledge (November 25, 1940 – April 14, 2015)
A singer for the ages, Percy’s When a Man Loves a Woman became a no. 1 hit in 1966. When he died last April, Mister Boomer wrote: “…every now and then a song comes around that so describes its genre that it is forever identified with it as a quintessential example. This song … fits the bill. A slow dance tune for boomers, it is equally enjoyed across generations for its melodic tone and powerful lyrics.”

Jack Ely (September 11, 1943 – April 28, 2015)
Ben E. King (September 28, 1938 – April 30, 2015)
Jack Ely was THE singer on the Kingsmen’s Louie Louie record in 1963.
Ben E. King was lead singer for The Drifters. He lent his voice to the boomer classics Save the Last Dance for Me (1960), This Magic Moment (1960), Spanish Harlem (1960) and perhaps his best known song, Stand by Me (1961), which he co-wrote with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The Drifters were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1988. Read more from Mister Boomer on these two unforgettable singers form an earlier post: Two More Boomer Icons Leave Us With Our Memories

Stan Freberg (August 7, 1926 – April 7, 2015)
Comic, satirist, radio personality, author, actor and voice actor, Stan Freberg is probably remembered in many different ways by boomers due to the depth of his presence from the 1950s all the way through the 2000s. Some recall his comedy records from the 1950s, including The Night Before Christmas/Nuttin’ for Christmas or his political parodies; others will recall his TV puppet show, Time for Beany (1950-53); others remember his voiceover work in animated cartoons for Warner Brothers and Walt Disney, including Lady and the Tramp (1955); still others will recall he played Deputy Sheriff in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963). Mister Boomer remembers most if not all of Freberg’s work, but he was most fond of his TV commercials. Having formed an ad agency in the 1960s, he was one of the first to try to inject humor into the TV ad game. For that he has been called  the “Father of Funny Advertising.” His commercials are now legendary, including some of Mister B’s favorites: A Jeno’s Pizza Rolls commercial that parodied a Lark cigarettes’ commercial use of the William Tell Overture that culminates with the Lone Ranger and Tonto eating pizza rolls; politically incorrect Chun King Chow Mein commercials and a campaign for prunes that tried to change people’s minds about eating them. One of the most memorable had very British actor Ronald Long saying, “They’re still rather badly wrinkled, you know.”

B.B. King (September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)
The “King of the Blues” had serious influence on rock guitarists throughout boomer era.  Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield and Stevie Ray Vaughan are among the rock and blues guitarists to credit King as an influence in their styles and careers. B.B. King began recording in 1949, and had multiple hits in every decade of the fifties, sixties and seventies, including one of Mister B’s favorites, The Thrill is Gone (1971).

Christopher Lee (May 27, 1922 – June 7, 2015)
Mister Boomer reported on Christopher Lee’s death back in June: Boomer-Era Villain Christopher Lee Dies

Patrick Macnee (February 6, 1922 – June 25, 2015)
An accomplished actor in both film and on television, Patrick Macnee is best known to boomers as John Steed in The Avengers TV show (1961-69 in England; 1965-68 in the U.S.) The U.S. version of the British show had him playing Mrs. Emma Peel’s (Diana Rigg) suave, British gentleman supervisor in the spy-fi show. Always pictured with a bowler hat and umbrella, Steed was the antithesis of the overtly physical James Bond — yet just as effective.

Omar Sharif (April 10, 1932 – July 10, 2015)
Appearing in dozens of movies during the boomer era, Omar Sharif got boomers’ attention in a big way in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), and Funny Girl (1968). His foreign “good looks” made him a favorite of many boomer girls — and their moms. Mister Boomer’s mom made remarks about only two actors back then: Anthony Quinn and Omar Sharif. Such was the attraction of this Egyptian-born actor. Nominated for his performance in Lawrence of Arabia, Sharif did not win an Oscar, but did take home a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actor in Lawrence of Arabia and another Golden Globe as Best Actor in Doctor Zhivago.

Judy Carne (April 27, 1939 – September 3, 2015)
A dancer, comedian and actor, Judy Carne was best known as the Sock-It-To-Me girl in Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-73). She was married to Burt Reynolds from 1963-65, then to producer Robert Bergmann from 1970-71. Read some of Mister B’s remembrances of Judy Carne in his exploration of Laugh-In phrases: Want a Walnetto? You Bet Your Sweet Bippy!

Yvonne Craig May 16, 1937 – August 17, 2015
Yvonne Craig was an American ballet dancer and actress who first caught boomers’ attention when she was dating Elvis Presley in the early sixties. With a little help from the King she landed a supporting role in two Elvis movies: It Happened at the World’s Fair (1963) and Kissin’ Cousins (1964). It was, however, her role as Batgirl — whose true identity was Commissioner Gordon’s daughter — in the Batman television series (1966) that forever cemented her into the minds of boomers. By the time she appeared as Marta, an Orion slave girl who danced her way into Captain Kirk’s heart in the Star Trek episode, Whom Gods Destroy (1969), boomers knew it was Yvonne under that green make-up. She also made an appearance on The Six Million Dollar Man (1974).

Warren Mitchell (January 14, 1926 – November 14, 2015)
Mostly an obscure actor by face to boomers, Warren Mitchell appeared in extremely influential film and TV shows during the boomer era. Some boomers will recall he played the character Abdul in The Beatles’ film, Help! (1965). Perhaps due even more to boomer influences, he created the character of Alf Garnett in the British TV series, Till Death Do Us Part (1966-75), which TV aficionados will know became the inspiration for the Archie Bunker character in All In the Family (1971-79).

Meadowlark Lemon (April 25, 1932 – December 27, 2015)
George Meadowlark Lemon  was known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” when he played for the Harlem Globetrotters (1955-83, then toured with them again in 1994). Can anyone ever hear Sweet Georgia Brown without thinking of Meadowlark’s antics on the court? After retiring from the Globetrotters, he became an ordained minister in 1986. Mister Boomer saw the Harlem Globetrotters as a teen. Meadowlark Lemon performed all the tricks he was known for: amazing shots, antagonizing the referee and of course, pretending to toss a bucket of water on the ref — with the audience directly behind him — but the bucket was instead filled with confetti. A true entertainer, Wilt Chamberlain once named him as the greatest basketball player who ever lived.

Natalie Cole (February 6, 1950 – December 31, 2015)
The boomer daughter of Nat King Cole, she was forever in the shadow of the man who lent his voice to The Christmas Song. She began her music career in the 1960s and was immediately compared to Aretha Franklin for her powerful voice. She had a string of hits in the seventies, especially This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) (1975). In 1991, she grabbed the technology of the day and sang a duet with her long-passed father in what was then a groundbreaking video event. By splicing in film from her father and adding her own vocal performance to the song, Unforgettable became her biggest hit.

Of course, there were many more memorable people — boomers and boomer influencers — who left our realm in the 2015. We could not have become the people and generation we are without them.

On a personal note, Mister Boomer lost a friend over the holiday weekend. He was a consummate boomer, having experienced events of the era first-hand. Michael, your wit, humor and encyclopedic knowledge in so many fields is already greatly missed.

posted by Mister B in Pop Culture History and have Comments (2)