Large Association of Movie Blogs
Large Association of Movie Blogs

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Born On This Day - The One, The Only Ted Cassidy

While always dedicated vultures of 20th century pop culture, we're stunned that it took over 15 years of blogging to spotlight a titan of both the cartoon voice and character acting worlds: Ted Cassidy (July 31, 1932 - January 16, 1979).

Did not find many interview clips of Mr. Cassidy, an actor, musician and writer, but this one reflects that he was quite an interesting and likable fellow. Unfortunately, he passed before the late-night programs of David Letterman and Conan O' Brien, which very likely would have booked him as a guest, hit the airwaves.

Best known for his wry, deadpan portrayal of Lurch in The Addams Family TV show, he had a brief but very prolific career spanning movies, television, animation and commercials.

In a too-brief career, Ted Cassidy was nothing if not prolific. This even included some memorable TV commercials.

In case one needs to be reminded how Ted Cassidy's acting skills, excellent sense of humor and mastery of movement (as well as stillness) were driving forces behind the success of The Addams Family on TV, watch this. . . Lurch's guest appearance on the biggest TV show of the time, Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward.

Today's post will focus on the many characters Ted Cassidy played in addition to Lurch. His talent for varied voice-overs, reflected in the following demo reel, was impressive.

In television shows and feature films, Ted's acting and voice work enlivened many a science fiction, fantasy and action/adventure scenario. Tough to imagine the 1976 version of THE INCREDIBLE HULK without Cassidy's narration and growling vocals.

Speaking of science-fiction/fantasy, Ted made a vivid impression as Ruk the android in the seventh episode of the first Star Trek TV series, What Little Girls Are Made Of, written by Robert Bloch.

Here he is as the voice of the menacing Balok puppet in the tenth episode of Star Trek, The Corbomite Maneuver.

In Star Trek episode #18, Arena, he was the voice of evil reptilian Commander Gorn.

We remember Ted Cassidy's memorable sequence in the ultimate Paul Newman - Robert Redford vehicle, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.

That was not Ted Cassidy's only appearance in a western, as he was a guest star in the Decision in Los Robles episode of Bonanza.

Mr. Cassidy was also responsible for lots and lots of cartoon voices, especially for Hanna-Barbera.

The incurable and beyond redemption animation and comics aficionados at this blog find that Hanna-Barbera's animated superhero series, especially The Galaxy Trio, offered a quality of unintentional humor that make them quite entertaining.

The H-B series which featured Ted Cassidy voice work included Moltar and Metallus in the 1966-1968 Space Ghost, Birdman, Fantastic Four, The Impossibles (which appear to owe a debt to Ralph Bakshi's The Mighty Heroes) and Frankenstein Jr.

After all, it would be most disappointing if Frankenstein Jr. had a cracking semi-falsetto voice.

Have a sneaking suspicion that Ted would have had a blast working on the often hilarious show produced almost 30 years later, Space Ghost Coast To Coast.

The Addams Family subsequently found their way into Hanna-Barbera animation in The New Scooby Doo Movies: The Gang Meets The Addams Family. Frankly, it would have been fabulous if The Addams Family killed Shaggy, the extremely annoying character who was even more irritating than Screwy Squirrel (who Tex Avery did away with in the snotty squirrel's last "sad ending, isn't it" silver screen appearance) - or at least substitute voice actor Casey Kasem's radio voice.

Of course, eventually this post would get around to Lurch, one of two parts he played on The Addams Family (the other was the sensitive hands of Thing).

Indeed, Ted Cassidy's musical talents are a key component in his acting. Lurch plays the harpsichord, but the off-screen Ted could rock the Hammond B-3. Too bad the producers of the show did not have Lurch play two keyboards simultaneously a la Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman a couple of years later.

At the peak of his popularity on The Addams Family, Ted Cassidy recorded an AM radio friendly single trumpeting a new dance craze, "Do The Lurch," and performed it on several shows.

The popularity of Lurch proved a mixed blessing, as this meant typecasting and no possibility of branching out into different types of parts.

For the flip side of the "Do The Lurch" 45, here is a FOR RESEARCH ONLY clip from Ted's appearance performing "Wesley" on Hollywood A Go Go (don't know if he made any more records that were not directly related to The Addams Family). Ted doesn't sing, unfortunately, until near the end of the song. While the narration is very good, it is noteworthy that Ted's singing voice was a terrific basso profundo.

Said basso profundo is comparable to the amazing voice of Thurl "Tony the Tiger" Ravenscroft. Wonder if Ted and Thurl ever worked together. Both did more than their share of cereal commercials.

Ted Cassidy did so many voices for animated cartoons and TV commercials, noted in Behind The Voice Actors, it would take an voice acting expert such as Keith Scott to provide a truly comprehensive list of credits.

So today, after wolfing down several bowls of Cocoa Krispies drenched with whole milk, we at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog tip our top hat to the great Ted Cassidy.

After that, we'll watch a slew of episodes of The Addams Family, either on DVD or from the playlist on the MGM television YouTube channel.

Friday, July 22, 2022

This Sunday Evening: Cartoon Carnival In Brooklyn

There are many ways to beat the July heat much of the world is experiencing, most involving guzzling copious quantities of ice-cold drinks, but this Sunday evening the brisk-brisk-brisk cool down involves watching classic cartoons on the big screen.

On July 24, 2022 at 7:00 pm, in the balmy summer evening air, The Cartoon Carnival series returns to Brooklyn's City Reliquary.

Vintage silent and early sound era animation, seen on glorious 16mm with an enthusiastic audience, shall reign supreme.

Here's the promotional trailer for Sunday's show, Cartoon Carnival #101: Shopaholics:

The press release adds:
This is a rain date for our May Cartoon Carnival, which had been cancelled. Now that we'll finally enjoy the 101st Cartoon Carnival program, get ready for something we've never featured before: Commerce, retail, and shopping-themed cartoons. Shop 'til you drop—vicariously—through some classic characters like Betty Boop, Popeye, Little Lulu, Heckle & Jeckle, and others!

Be sure to bring all your family and friends out to see these classic and now-rare cartoons the way they were meant to be seen—projected on 'reel' film, and enjoyed with a physical audience.

As this installment will be shopping themed, we'll also have a small tag sale of cartoony items in order to raise some extra funds for film archiving costs. You'll find all sorts of fun and vintage goodies available for your own collections, or to give as gifts!

And, as part of our opening Half-Happy Hour, the Reliquary will have bar refreshments available. You may bring your own food to this event, but please support the venue for all drinks consumed on the premises. Bar is cash only.

Happy Hour and Tag Sale: 7:00pm
Seating & Opening Remarks: 7:30pm
Show: 7:45pm-9:45pm

Cartoon Carnival #101 will sell out, so purchase advance tickets here. This is an all-vax event.

The City Reliquary is located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue in Bugs Bunny's hometown of Brooklyn, NY. For more info, call The City Reliquary at (718) 782-4842 or e-mail them at

With Cartoon Carnival and the upcoming return of the Silent Clowns film series in the east and various San Diego Comic Con animation programs in the west, as well as the Niles Film Museum's 2022 Broncho Billy & Friends Silent Film Festival on July 30-31 and the re-opening of the spectacular Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, CA, it appears - hallelujah - that screenings are returning. Now if these danged viruses could just GO AWAY. . .

Sunday, July 17, 2022

And This Blog Loves Guitar Genius Mary Osborne

Continuing the topics of musicians and July birthdays, today we pay tribute to one of the lesser-known masters of 20th century music and jazz: guitarist, vocalist and guitar builder Mary Osborne.

Born on July 17, 1921 in Minot, North Dakota, Mary Osborne is a legend of the guitar, an under-recorded but mindblowingly talented musician. Here's Mary, on the 1958 DuMont Television Network program, Art Ford's Jazz Party, backing none other than Billie Holiday.

In his excellent article, Mary Osborne: Queen Of The Jazz Guitar, author David Brent Johnson elaborates: It’s perhaps too easy to say that Mary Osborne is an unsung heroine of jazz history, though there's certainly a large degree of truth to such a statement.

A disciple of Charlie Christian, she played with her own subtlety and fire, negotiating the swing-to-bop era of the 1940s with deceptive ease, running the gamut from big bands to R and B and the Nat King Cole-influenced jazz-pop stylings of a trio setting. Some of her finest moments came in all-star and all-women small combos playing the modern jazz of 52nd Street in its Forties heyday.

From the 1950s on Osborne would record as a leader on only a handful of occasions, but her playing only gained in luster, especially on a 1959 date with pianist Tommy Flanagan and drummer Jo Jones. Put the whole notion of gender aside; Mary Osborne was, first and foremost, simply a superlative jazz guitarist.

Wikipedia adds: Osborne was born in Minot, North Dakota, the tenth of eleven children. As early as 3 years of age, she showed an interest in music. Osborne's earliest instruments included piano, ukulele, violin, and banjo. At age nine, she first played the guitar. At ten, she started playing banjo in her father's ragtime band. She also came to be featured on her own radio program, which she would continue to perform on twice weekly until she was fifteen. At twelve she started her own trio of girls to perform in Bismarck, North Dakota. The music she was playing during this time period was largely "hillbilly", or country music, in which the guitar was simply used to accompany her own vocals.

At the age of fifteen, Osborne joined a trio led by pianist Winifred McDonnell, for which she played guitar, double bass, and sang. During this time, she heard Charlie Christian play electric guitar in Al Trent's band at a stop in Bismarck. She was enthralled by his sound, at first mistaking the electric guitar for a saxophone. She said of it, "What impressed everyone most of all was his sense of time. He had a relaxed, even beat that would sound modern even today." Osborne immediately bought her own electric guitar and had a friend build an amplifier.[4] She sat in with Christian, learning his style of guitar.

Later, McDonnell's trio was absorbed into Buddy Rogers's band, after Rogers heard them play in St. Louis. But within a year of the band moving to New York in 1940, the trio broke up and left Rogers's band, having found husbands. She married trumpeter, Ralf Scaffidi in 1942 and had her own radio program on NBC in 1948

She contributed brilliant jazz guitar to The Beryl Booker Trio, Coleman Hawkins' 52nd Street All Stars, Stuff Smith, and bandleader/pianist/composer Mary Lou Williams.

In the 1940's, she also led her own group, The Mary Osborne Trio, which even sounds fabulous on scratchy 78s!

First read about her on the excellent Unsung Women Of Jazz and Jazz Women Advocates websites. Let's hear more of her sonorous six-string superheroics!

Mary didn't make many records, but those she waxed are incredible.

On the following track, Oops My Lady, she sounds particularly Charlie Christian like; her style reflects the bite and snap in the Benny Goodman Orchestra's guitarist's playing and adapts it into her own sound.

Love Mary's 1960 Warwick Records masterpiece A Girl & Her Guitar. Rocking the 6-string with authority are Mary Osborne (lead) and New Orleans legend Danny Barker (rhythm), backed by Tommy Flanagan (piano), Tommy Potter (bass) and stalwart from Count Basie Orchestra and Lester Young Quintet recordings and tours "Papa Jo" Jones on drums.

Mary played on most of an album by quite the duo of power-packed percussionists: The Mighty Two - Gene Krupa and Louis Bellson.

Ace pianist, bandleader and host of the outstanding NPR radio program Piano Jazz Marian McPartland pays tribute.

Here, in its entirety, is the September 18, 1958 episode of Art Ford’s Jazz Party.

Don't know if any recordings exist of Mary Osborne making the jazz guitar sing on The Jack Sterling Show on NBC radio, or of her appearances on the Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts TV show.

The Mary Osborne IMDB page, is wrong regarding the number of Art Ford’s Jazz Party appearances, claims she was on the 1949 Adventures In Jazz series and ABC-TV's late-night program The Joey Bishop Show. Don't know if Mary made any other television appearances. Maybe video footage of these programs does not exist.

While there are not very many instances of Mary Osborne records in the 1960's and 1970's, luckily Ms. McPartland induced her to join an all-star band on one of her albums and record the following tres cool versions of "In A Mellow Tone" and "Now's The Time" live at the Monticello Room in Rochester, NY on June 30, 1977.

Mary and her husband relocated to Bakersfield, CA in the early 1960's and formed a company, first known as Rosac Electronics Company, then Osborne Guitar Company and Osborne Sound Laboratories, that built guitars, electric basses and amplifiers. I'll bet these guitars sound great.

For more info, read, in addition to the aforementioned article by David Brent Johnson (prolific jazz program host of WFIU Public Radio), the following musical career overview and bio penned by Jim Carlton for Vintage

Thursday, July 14, 2022

July 14 Birthdays

Periodically, like the McKenzie brothers on Great White North, we get stuck for a topic here.

Luckily, it turns out that a plethora of important and innovative individuals from music, acting, animation and photography made their entry into this world on July 14. One was Bill Hanna (July 14, 1910 - March 22, 2001), a creative force on numerous cartoons much enjoyed by the gang here. The MGM Happy Harmonies cartoon about underground dwarves who control the world's weather systems, To Spring (1936), produced by Rudy Ising and directed by Bill Hanna, remains an all-time favorite and devastatingly cool when seen on the big screen on glorious 35mm film.

From Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera's piece-de-resistance series, MGM's Tom & Jerry, the 1945 opus Tee For Two, IMHO, remains a standout. The "bees" gag is a moment to behold.

The frequently hilarious Jerry Hausner was responsible for brief but memorable character roles in movies and TV, along with memorable and very funny voice work in animated cartoons, especially those of UPA.

Since Jerry played Magoo's eternally clueless nephew Waldo, this is as good an excuse as any to post the first cartoon in the Mr. Magoo series, RAGTIME BEAR, directed by John Hubley.

Jerry Hausner, among show business gigs too numerous to go into here, is all over the UPA cartoons, especially those directed by Pete Burness.

The Jolly Frolics DVD Collection, originally produced for Turner Classic Movies, is worth the price of admission for the two cartoons featuring the accurately named Pete Hothead.

Both cartoons are a tour-de-force for Jerry Hausner the voice artist, who inhabits the irascible character like a method actor.

For more info about the UPA studio, read When Magoo Flew: The Rise And Fall Of Animation Studio UPA by Adam Abrahams.

Also recommend an outstanding Cartoon Research article about the studio, UPA Advertising, penned by animator and historian Mike Kazaleh.

Today, we also doff our battered gray fedora to Bob Casale (July 14, 1952 - February 17, 2014), co-founder of DEVO.

Forming a Cleveland/Akron-based trifecta of experimental rock music, along with Pere Ubu and Tin Huey (which featured one of our old friends, the late great multi-instrumentalist Ralph Carney), DEVO - Bob on guitar and keyboards, with his brother Gerald on electric bass, Mark Mothersbaugh on vocal and keyboards, with his brother Bob Mothersbaugh on guitar - captured imaginations. Here they are on Saturday Night Live; all these decades later, this most original band from Akron still sounds great.

DEVO also appeared on ABC-TV's Fridays, along with SCTV (Second City Television) and Eddie Murphy-era SNL a key part of the early 1980's late-night comedy landscape - and eventually known for its many tie-ins to Seinfeld (among them Larry David, Michael Richards and Larry Charles) a decade later.

An excellent tribute to the guitar wizard noted as "Bob #2", Remembering Bob Casale Of DEVO, was posted in

Alas, as confirmed card-carrying guitar geeks, we love hearing both Bobs from DEVO, Bob Mothersbaugh & Bob Casale, discuss musical gear.

The guitar-slinging duo created atmospheric noir-ish music for the following hard-boiled video, certainly In A Noir Place, as part of what must have been an exceedingly entertaining stage presentation. The two Bobs were definitely noiristas!

Last but not least, as our next post on Way Too Damn Lazy To Write a Blog shall shine the spotlight on one of America's finest jazz guitarists and guitar builders, we'll end this post with a nod to the incredible photography and chronicling of 20th century musicians by Lee Friedlander, born on July 14, 1934 - and still living among us as of this writing. The 2018 exhibition of Mr. Freelander's photos by the New Orleans Museum of Art is stunning.

Friday, July 08, 2022

More Tunes From Toons

As a segue to upcoming posts about music, today's topic continues the focus on tunes from toons. Kicking this off: Rocky & Bullwinkle.

While the visual and sound quality of the following clip leaves something to be desired, the Rocky & His Friends theme song and fanfare is fantastic.

Next up: the YouTube playlist of the soundtrack from the Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle movie. Whatever one's opinion of the effort to translate an animated TV series to a live-action feature is, find it very enjoyable to hear themes from Jay Ward cartoons get the full orchestral treatment.

Composer, bandleader, performer Danny Elfman is responsible for lots of mind-blowingly great film, cartoon and concert music, including the score for Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas - and the theme song from The Simpsons.

Here, playing the aforementioned theme song from The Simpsons, is Danny Elfman, live at Coachella.

Here, Mr. Elfman and a talented ensemble perform the rousing theme from the first Spider-man feature. It's not literally a tune from the toons, but we'll let that pass, as the TV cartoon Spider-man music wouldn't have been right for a big budget feature.

I can't imagine Danny Elfman coasting by merely rehashing the theme song from the 1967 Spider-man TV cartoon. Mr. Elfman successfully brought Spider-Man into the 21st century with the stirring scores for the Spider-man feature films.

Ranking high among this blogger's all-time favorite soundtracks: the music from the Betty Boop cartoon I Heard, performed beautifully by Don Redman & His Orchestra, which rivaled Louis Armstrong's group (led by Luis Russell), Bennie Moten, Cab Calloway and Fletcher Henderson among the top swing bands of the early 1930's.

The Don Redman Orchestra's music is throughout this excellent Fleischer cartoon, all the way from the opening titles.

This Fleischer studio cartoons, among several others, gets a shout-out from the amazing, informative and content-rich website The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture. The Don Redman Orchestra and Betty Boop can be found here.

While all this important big band's recordings are well worth a listen or two (or three), we find The Don Redman Orchestra: Geneva 1946, from a Swiss radio broadcast, to be particularly musically outstanding.

Since the last post here featured Jeff Sanford's Cartoon Jazz Orchestra, here's the opening - Raymond Scott's Powerhouse and Merrily We Roll Along, the Merrie Melodies theme song - from the ensemble's Live At Pearl's CD, a treasure trove of exciting and expertly performed music from animated cartoons.

Animators John & Faith Hubley are well known for original animation featuring heaping helpings of American jazz. John's stint as director and creative force at UPA to some degree is synonomous with Rooty Toot Toot, an inspired take on "Frankie & Johnny." Animation enthusiast and author Michael Lyons wrote about it at length on the 70th anniversary of its theatrical release last November. Do we like cartoons about sex, obsession and murder trials, punctuated by honey-tonk music and big band jazz? Yes.

Rooty Toot Toot blends UPA's signature "Cartoon Modern" stylization with very expressive and imaginative full animation by the likes of Grim Natwick, Pat Matthews and Art Babbitt. Throughout Rooty Toot Toot, the music, along with the animation and graphic design, is an active character in the court melodrama.

Happily, at least at the moment, a bunch of animated short subjects by John & Faith Hubley have been posted on YouTube on the channel of markus feynman.

This includes a outstanding playlist of John & Faith's films. While they weren't the first to make animated short subjects featuring jazz soundtracks, the Hubleys tackled the task with enthusiasm.

Don't know if there is a Blu-ray collection including both John & Faith's films and those of Emily Hubley, who assisted on her parents' films before going on to create her own animated short subjects and live-action feature films. Such a Blu-ray would be fantastic.

Dizzy Gillespie and Dudley Moore, two all-time favorites here, contributed improvised dialogue for John And Faith Hubley's 1962 film The Hat.

From the MoMa collection, here is John & Faith Hubley's 1958 film The Tender Game, featuring an incredible soundtrack by The Oscar Peterson Trio, with a vocal by someone very familiar to jazz and swing fans. (note: this won't play here - go to YouTube)

The Hubleys and Dizzy Gillespie gently rib the challenges in creating scores for animated TV commercials in A Date With Dizzy. There is something beyond marvelous about seeing ace animators and mighty musicians share the scene.

Guitarist and studio ace Barney Kessel was no stranger to music from animated cartoons. Here's Barney, with Ray Brown and Shelley Manne, playing the Merrie Melodies theme song, The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down.

Hoyt Curtin's theme from The Flintstones may be the single favorite tune fron toons most often covered by jazz musicians.

It would be an understatement to note that "ace of string bass" Ray Brown went for the Flintstones theme in a big way.

Frequently with Ray: his fellow Verve House band compatriots (and ridiculously facile jazz guitar geniuses) Barney Kessel and Herb Ellis.

How many versions of Hoyt Curtin's theme from The Flintstones can we find? MANY more than can be shown in just one post! Here's pianist Monty Alexander, doing right by Fred, Barney, Wilma and Betty - and Hoyt Curtin. On board: usual suspects Ray Brown and Herb Ellis!

How do we close this compendium of classic tunes from classic cartoons? With the Rocky & His Friends theme song, played furiously by drummer/bandleader Buddy Rich and his big band.

Friday, July 01, 2022

Tunes From Toons

Currently alternating between stand-up comedy videos, Turner Classic Movies, guitar geek rock and the jaw-dropping January 6 hearings, we still find ourselves frequently thinking of great music from classic cartoons - beginning with maestro Carl W. Stalling.

Chuck Jones elaborates on Carl Stalling's contributions to Warner Brothers cartoons.

Do we have a single favorite musical composition to ever appear in a cartoon? Well, there may be a 25-way tie, but, without a doubt, atop the list would be Raymond Scott's "The Toy Trumpet."

Paramount among the outstanding interpreters of Raymond Scott's mellifluous compositions: Jeff Sanford's Cartoon Jazz Septet.

And, when it comes to cartoon music, we love how Jeff Sanford's band swings The Flintstones theme song!

Then there's Scott Bradley of MGM cartoon fame. We thank "Soundtrack Fred" for the following compilation.

Wish I could have attended this splendid concert of Scott Bradley's music by BBC Proms.

One could do a lot worse than to spend their summer vacation at Royal Albert Hall enjoying daily Henry Wood Promenade Concerts Presented by the BBC.

Another group we'd LOVE to see that rocks the Rocky The Flying Squirrel music: San Diego's outstanding
Hillcrest Wind Ensemble.

And then there's the great Darrell Calker, prolific composer for both animated cartoons and live-action features.

When Calker's music was not just background, but featured prominently in the cartoons he scored for Walter Lantz and Screen Gems - a la Stalling and Bradley - it could be quite wonderful, 1940's style.

His scores are a driving force in the Lantz Studio's Swing Symphonies and Musical Miniatures.

Calker's scores are especially noteworthy in the Walter Lantz "Cartunes" directed by Shamus Culhane and Dick Lundy.

The following Swing Symphony features trombonist, vocalist and frequent Louis Armstrong bandmate Jack Teagarden, who always sounds great.

Speaking yet again of the Cartoon Research website, am right now reading an excellent article about the themes from Paramount cartoons, Famous (Cartoon) Music - prompting this writer to admit his unabashed fondness for the Paramount Noveltoons theme song.

Sometimes, this cartoonologist grudgingly likes the Noveltoons - well, at least through the 1945-1946 season or the departure of gonzo animator Jim Tyer for Terrytoons, whichever came first - but feel the series boasts the second cartooniest of ultra-cartoony opening themes.

One post-1946 Noveltoon with a Winston Sharples score that belongs in the toon music discussion is Hep Cat Symphony (1949). It's a cross between "cat chases mouse" and the "cartoon concert" sub-genre, best exemplified by Disney's The Band Concert and Symphony Hour, Bugs Bunny in Rhapsody Rabbit and Tom & Jerry in The Cat Concerto.

It's an understatement that the very tight production schedules at Famous Studios were less than conducive to good comedy, so Hep Cat Symphony is among those rare cases when talented storymen Carl Meyer and Jack Mercer get an opportunity to break formula and write clever and funny gags.

In closing, here is a delightfully incoherent cartoon from the series featuring the cartooniest opening theme song, bar none: the dreaded Columbia Phantasies. It makes NO SENSE, even by 1940's cartoon standards - and that's why the gang at Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog likes it!