79 years ago today Japan continued its maniacal, dastardly effort to expand its frontiers, attacking Pearl Harbor, awakening a sleeping giant that soon regained its might and unleashed fury. 2403 Americans lost their lives on that “Day of Infamy.” It is estimated that by war’s end 2,500,000–3,100,000 Japanese were killed. The USA lost 419,400, a Pyrrhic victory.
RIP MLB near-great Dick Allen, 78. Although his fielding was lacking, he was a terrific hitter who launched mammoth home runs. His career was marked by controversy, probably a combination of his own making and the thoughtlessness of others. Injuries also affected him. Those factors keep him from the Hall of Fame. He played for five different teams. Still, his accomplishments were extraordinary. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1964 for the Phillies, batting .318, leading the league in runs scored. A seven-time All-Star, he was the AL MVP in 1972 as a member of the White Sox. He twice led the AL in homers and once in RBI’s. His #15 was retired by the Philadelphia. Overall, he batted .292 and slugged 351 dingers in 15 seasons. His bio is titled Crash: The Life and Times of Dick Allen, co-written with Tim Whitaker. Well done, sir.
Every Sunday night the Circle channel, 48–2 on ota’s in NYC, runs a western in prime time. Last night’s was The Far Frontier (1948), starring Roy Rogers, Gail Davis, Clayton Moore and Andy Devine. Of course, Trigger also got billing. It’s a routine oater except for one hardboiled scene involving smuggled gangsters. They were in barrels, thinking they were on the way to Mexico. Instead they were dumped down a high hill into a body of water, where they drowned. Although the print was subpar, the film was enjoyable. Amidst the fistfights and shootouts there were breaks for a couple of songs. Researching the flick at IMDb unearthed a lot of fun facts. Rogers starred in 102 episodes of his eponymous series from 1952-’57, as well as 120 other titles. A year after the movie in question, Clayton Moore began his 169 episode run as The Lone Ranger, ‘49-’57, less one season when he sat out in a salary dispute, replaced by John Hart. In the mid ‘50’s, Gail Davis starred in 81 episodes of Annie Oakley, which lasted three seasons. Andy Devine’s career spanned 1926-’77, the year of his death at 71. There are 196 titles under his name. From ‘51-’58 he appeared in 112 episodes of Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok. From ‘55-’60 he hosted Saturday morning kids’ staple Andy’s Gang (“Plunk your magic twanger, Frogeeee!”) Director Will Whitney was prolific in a career that spanned 1937-’82. There are 143 titles under his name, but that tells only part of the story. He was at the helm of 14 TV shows of which he did at least five episodes each. Screen writer Sloan Nibley has 63 titles under his name beginning in 1942. After a 16-year hiatus, he returned in 1999 to write three episodes of The New Addams Family, having done five of the original. He contributed at least five scripts to five series. And it’s not unusual to discover in such a B picture a stalwart who amassed an amazing amount of credits. Francis Ford has 494, which lands him just outside the top ten in my unofficial tally.
Here are the stars:
And here are Hart & Moore in the iconic role:
And here’s the inimitable Devine:
And director Whitley, who had three Emmy nominations for his work on Bonanza:
And writer Nibley:
And the prolific Ford:
I took the floating book shop to an alternate frontier to take advantage of the sunshine on this crisp, gorgeous day. The session ran a half-hour short of full. My thanks to Johnny Boy, who bought six paperback thrillers, and to the gentleman smoking what appeared to be a joint, who purchased Roget’s Thesaurus, Webster’s Dictionary, and The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play by Harry Lorayne; and to the inebriated gent who selected two books in Russian.
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