End Credits #63: Cinema's 2017 Lost Treasures Don Rickles, Jean Rouverol, Lola Albright
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2017 taken from my personal notes soon after the events took place:
This is the moment I dreaded, the one person I most feared to write about here. Throughout my life starting as a young teen, this man made me laugh like no other. You know, that gut wrenching laugh where you wind up begging for whoever's causing it to stop. Now I'm bawling my eyes out. My father took me to see him perform his stand-up comedy at what was once the Valley Circle Theatre in Woodland Hills California. He was like no other comedian out there, fearless, lightening quick and with boundless creative energy. He would run from one end of the stage to the other, frantically describing what the various ethnic races would say and do in his inimitable way. In his early days no one would touch the big names: Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Sammy Davis Jr. etc. except him, and never by beating around the bush. One could see the laughter unstoppably pouring out of his celebrity "victims" in the same way as his audiences. His humour was one-of-a-kind, "wouldn't be funny if taken seriously" he said, and existed most for those who appreciated its spontaneous unpredictable combustive qualities. Those of us "in the know" also realised even in his most outrageous insults, personal or race related, it was the insults themselves he was making fun of, i.e. the idea that anyone could actually believe this nonsense.
He was the person I most looked forward to seeing on various talk shows especially Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. Once with Johnny's guest Little Richard, he feigned so much rage, he literally ran amok! Johnny was wearing an African smock with a big indigenous hat that Little Richard brought out and when the latter touched the comedian's arm and called him Mr Wrinkles, that was it! Hurling rapid fire tirades at everyone and running all over the set with Little Richard calmly repeating "There's a hole in the bucket" and Johnny dressed up in that outfit reiterating the phrase, trying to figure out what he meant while pandemonium ensued is the most incongruously hilarious scene I have ever watched in my life.
He gave lively performances in Run Silent Run Deep, X: The Man with the X-ray Eyes, Kelly's Heroes, and Casino amongst others, said that he "carried all the big names" sparing none of those he worked with, even the directors, from his classic "put downs". As a friend once said, he was "a bull in the china shop". Now there's no one like him, not as good, and probably never will be... no one to kick us around any more. A huge, devastating loss. Don Rickles (May 8, 1926 - April 6, 2017) R.I.P.
I’m posting this video from one of Don Rickles’ appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as an example of this great comedian’s amazing gift of unique improvisational humour and wit that I hope you will all enjoy.
She most fondly portrayed W.C. Fields’ beautifully endearing daughter, Mildred Bissonette, in the great comedian’s hilarious and timeless masterpiece, It’s a Gift (1934). This was Jean Rouverol’s motion picture debut made when she was only 18 years of age. Recently she passed away at age 100.
She went on to appear with Claudette Colbert in Private Worlds, with William Boyd in the Hopalong Cassidy western Bar 20 Rides Again, director James Whale’s The Road Back, alongside Katharine Hepburn in Stage Door, and in the Gene Autry oater Western Jamboree amongst a few other motion pictures released in the 1930s. In the ‘50s, Rouverol’s career turned to writing whereby she co-wrote the story and screenplay for the Paul Henreid starrer So Young So Bad, Autumn Leaves starring Joan Crawford (written with her husband, Hugo Butler, while both were blacklisted by Hollywood studios), and the Irvin Kershner directed Face in the Rain. Rouverol additionally wrote for the successful TV daytime dramas Search for Tomorrow (1951 - 1986), Guiding Light (1952 - 2009), and As the World Turns (1956 - 2010). Jean Rouverol (July 8, 1916 - March 24, 2017) R.I.P.
The beautiful and talented actress Lola Albright, perhaps best known for her dual TV roles, first as Edie Hart in the TV crime series Peter Gunn (1958 - 1961), and subsequently as Constance Mackenzie Carson in Peyton Place (1965 - 1966) has died at age 92.
She made her first credited film debut in the Kirk Douglas boxing classic, Champion (1949), which was quickly followed by her strong supporting role in the action-drama Tulsa. In the following year alone, Albright made memorable appearances in the comedy The Good Humor Man, the musical When You’re Smiling, the film noir The Killer that Stalked New York, and the western Sierra Passage, amongst others! Her acting work continued mostly in television, but lent valuable contributions to the films The Tender Trap with Frank Sinatra and Debbie Reynolds, the cult sci-fi curio The Monolith Monsters (starring with Grant Williams), Kid Galahad (starring alongside Elvis Presley), Joy House (with Alain Delon and Jane Fonda), Lord Love a Duck (with Roddy McDowall and Tuesday Weld), and The Way West (reuniting her with Kirk Douglas). Lola Albright (July 20, 1924 - March 23, 2017) R.I.P.