John Garfield grabs the controls in 1943's Air Force.

When Thelma Schoonmaker was accepting her oscar for best editing for Martin Scorcese's 2004 THE AVIATOR, she mentioned that she made her her first connection with Marty when they both professed their love of old black & white Hollywood movies run on local metromedia TV stations.

From the late 1940s until recently local stations around the country had a library of film classics, dumped on them for a song by collapsing Hollywood dream factories. In New York we had Million Dollar Movie on WOR, Chiller Theater on WPIX on Saturday nights, and Battleground on WNEW on Sunday afternoons. In LA we had Elvira with her horror show and I'm sure your part of the country had it's own versions.

To the studios maybe they it was just housecleaning old films, but for many of us it was a course in film theory and history. At any time you could turn your dial ( before remotes) and see such Hollywood classics as RUGGLES OF REDGAP, BRINGING UP BABY, SANDS OF IWO JIMA, A DAY AT THE RACES or WHITE HEAT. The finest of old Hollywood with no cable fees.

Nowadays these time slots are filled with endless repeats of Fresh Prince of Bel Air or Fear Factor. You have to go out of your way to find Turner Classic Movies or ACM to see any great old films. I mourn the loss to new generations of film fans of such an opportunity. Animator Art Babbitt, the creator of Goofy, said to be an animator is to be a student of everything. Learning to appreciate the skill and technique of the old black & whites is a good first step.

Birthdays: Henry Clay, Lily Pons, Lionel Hampton, Herbie Hancock, Monserrat Caballe', Ann Miller, Tiny Tim, Shannon Dougherty, Andy Garcia, Claire Danes, David Letterman is 61, Cheetah-the chimp in the Tarzan movies is 75!

1911- Cartoonist Winsor McCay opened his vaudeville act with his "Little Nemo" animated short.

1912- A fragile little London theater manager and failed author named Bram Stoker died. His seven books and several plays made little money in his time, but a decade later his novel called Dracula made him world famous.

1954- "ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK' recorded by Bill Haley and the Comets- arguably the first true Rock & Roll hit.

1961-THE FIRST MAN INTO SPACE- No, it was not John Glenn, you poor dupe of Capitalist Propaganda! It was Soviet Major Yuri Gargarin aboard Vostok 1.

1992- Euro-Disney, now called Disneyland Paris, opened. It attracted only 50.000 visitors the first year, about ten times less than what was expected, but it has since crawled back to solvency- barely.

1995- To celebrate David Letterman’s 49th birthday, actress Drew Barrymore climbed up on his desk and flashed her breasts at the bucktoothed talkshow host.

April 11, 2007 weds
April 11th, 2007

Birthdays: Roman Emperor Septimius Severus, Frederick the Warlike of Saxony-1370, Ethel Kennedy, Joel Grey, Louise Lasser, Mason Reese, Oleg Cassini, Cameron Mitchell. Norman McClaren, Bill Irwin, John Milius, Jennifer Esposito

1914- George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion premiered at the Haymarket in London.

1931- Dorothy Parker resigned her job as drama critic for the New Yorker Magazine. Mrs Parker was known for her witty but caustic reviews like “Her performance ran the gamut from A to B.” She married an actor named Cambell and moved to Hollywood to become a screenwriter. While on her honeymoon the magazine bugged her for some more fixes on an article. She sent a telegram from Paris:” Don’t bother me. F*cking busy. And visa-versa. “

1933- the Bauhaus directed by Mies Van Der Rohe was closed down by the Nazis.

1950- First day filming on the movie All About Eve. As Bette Davis said “Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy night.”

1955- WABD in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles began running pre-1948 Warner Bros cartoon shorts in a half hour format, introducing the baby boomer generation to the world of Bugs, Daffy and Porky.

1981- Valerie Bertinelli married rocker Eddie Van Halen.

1983- At that year’s Academy Awards the winner for Best Animated Short was Polish artist Zybigniew Rybcyzinski for his film Tango. During the ceremony he stepped outside for a smoke. When Security guards refused to let him re-enter he became combative, shouting the only English he knew:”I Have Oscar!”. He wound up in jail for assault and his Oscar wound up in the bushes.

April 10, 2007 Tuesday
April 10th, 2007

The Awesome Bill PLympton is in town! Big Bad Bill will be a guest of ASIFA-Hollywood on Weds night at the Dreamworks lot, and on friday he'll be at the opening of his feature Hair High at the Laemmele 5 in West Hollywood. How da heck can you draw an entire feature film by yourself? Go ask him! He's a funny guy!

Birthdays: Josef Pulitzer, Lew Wallace, George Arliss, Omar Sharif, Harry Morgan, Max Von Sydow, Ken Griffey Sr, Claire Booth Luce, Chuck Connors, John Madden, “Dandy”Don Meredith, Paul Theroux, David Halberstram, Steven Segal is 55, Orlando Jones, Mandy Moore is 23, Haley Joel Osment is 19

Last day of the Roman Megaleasian festival in honor of Lunus the Moon god.

1923- Peeps invented. The sweet Easter marshmallow confection that is shaped like a yellow baby chick and can stick to most surfaces.

1925- F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" published by Scribners.

1947- THE FBI PAY A VISIT to Screen Actor’s Guild president Ronald Reagan and actress-wife Jane Wyman. They accuse them of belonging to Communist Party front organizations. Ronnie agrees to become an informer on members of his own guild and just about everyone else in Hollywood. Jane Wyman later divorces him.

1952-ELIA THE FINK-Film director Elia Kazan ( On the Waterfront, East of Eden,etc.) saved his career but earned the lasting hatred of Hollywood by testifying to the House Un American Activities Committee. He named 8 of his friends as Communists, including famed writer Clifford Odets. Unlike others who were forced to testify Kazan never expressed any regret for the pain he caused. Many see the irony of 'On the Waterfront' that it's hero is a guy who does the right thing by turning informer. The film was written by Bud Schulberg, who also named names. In 1999 the Academy gave him an honorary Oscar and caused a new firestorm of protest, when Kazan stood next to visibly uncomfortable Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorcese. I was there and I estimate at least half of the audience did not rise or applaud, although on television it seemed louder. That year the American Film Institute preferred to confer it’s lifetime achievement award on Roger Corman.

1953- The Vincent Price film The House of Wax in 3d premiered.

1961- Singer Joan Baez entered the Greenwich Village club called Folk City and was accosted by a funny young man with a nasaly twang ;”Joan Baez! Here, I wrote a song for you!” His name was Bob Dylan. Baez and Dylan became friends and together changed the image of folk music.

1962- DON'T TRY TO DOUBLECROSS JFK ! The U.S. Steel Corporation had made a deal with the Kennedy Administration that if the feds leaned on the steelworkers union for a favorable labor settlement U.S. Steel promised not to raise wholesale prices which would hurt the U.S. economy. On this day chairman Roger 'Ben' Blough told John Kennedy they were reneging on the deal and raising prices anyway. Kennedy exploded- " My father always warned me that all businessmen were sons of bitches but I never believed him until now!" The Kennedy administration made things so hot for U.S. Steel that they cancelled the price increase a month later.

1962- Stuart Sutcliffe was the bass guitarist of the Beatles until creative differences and a marriage made him drop out of the band in favor of George Harrison. This day Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage at age 21.

1962- The Los Angeles Dodgers play their first game at their new Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine. They lost to the Cincinnati Reds 6-3.

1969- Radical students of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) protesting the Vietnam War storm the administration buildings of Harvard. It takes 400 riot police and 197 arrests to drive them out.

1971- Rob Reiner married Penny Marshall.

1985- A new singer named Madonna began her first tour, the Virgin Tour.

1992- Raunchy- comedian Sam Kinison was killed in a head on collision with a truck on the road to Las Vegas. Ironically the comedian who had glorified the wild sex, drugs and rock& roll lifestyle was sober at the time and the truck driver was drunk. Kinison was a former evangelical minister who was banned from NBC in 1986 for making jokes about Jesus’ Crucifixion on Saturday Night Live. Paramedics at the crash site claim they heard Kinison shortly before his death having a conversation with an invisible presence. Others believe Kinison’s last words were “Oh, OOh –AAAUUUUGGHHHH!!!”

Johnny Hart 1931-2007
April 9th, 2007

I received word today about the death of the great cartoonist Johnny Hart. John was the creator of the comic strip B.C. and has been drawing it since 1958. He died of a stroke at his drawing table, the way most cartoonists would prefer to go. Johnny Hart was one of the most influential comic strip artists of our time, and he will be missed.
Adieu, John!

reprinted with permission

April 9th 2007, Monday
April 9th, 2007

Latte Liberals-
Daniel Gross, in the NY Times yesterday, reported that the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, has cited Starbucks for committing 30 illegal union-busting acts in the NY area alone. Whole Foods, another chain that boasts about its political correctness and green record, is also hostile to their workers' desire to organize. Whole Food Chairman John Mackey told Fortune Magazine in 2003 that unions were "highly unethical and self interested." So I guess in today's world you can look like you are progessive and want to save the whales and help Al Gore, while your business practices are something Henry Ford would smile at.
Birthdays: Vladimir Ulyanov called Nikolai Lenin, Paul Robeson, Jean Paul Belmondo, Dennis Quaid, Ward Bond, Seve Balesteros, Carl Perkins, Michael Learned, Tom Lehrer, Paula Poundstone, Cynthia Nixon, Hugh Hefner is 81,Jenna Jameson is 33, Elle Fanning is 9

In Ancient Egypt this was the festival of Sham al Nassim, or Smell the Breeze Day. Horumheb, Im Hotep and their bros would get together to drink a lot of barley beer, eat green onions, bitter herbs, and eat a pickled half rotten fish called Fessik. Egyptians thought eating this stuff would fend off diseases carried by desert sand storms. Tradition says that it was during this festival that Moses and the Hebrews left Egypt to begin the Exodus.

1553- French writer Francois Rabelais died. His last words were: ” I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”

1747- Famed British actor David Garrick signed a contract to take over the management of London’s Drury Lane Theatre.

1778- In Paris the philosopher Voltaire is initiated into the Masonic Order of the Nine Sisters on the arm of his friend, Benjamin Franklin.

1859- Mark Twain received his Mississippi riverboat pilot’s license.

1914- The first all color film” The World, The Flesh and the Devil” premiered in London.

1948- Variety columnist Ben Mortimer had been needling Frank Sinatra for his advocacy of liberal causes. He accused Old Blue Eyes of draft-dodging and hinted maybe he had pro-Communist sympathies. This day Sinatra responded by meeting Mortimer in front of Ciro's restaurant on Sunset Blvd and punched his lights out.

1953- The first issue of the T.V. Guide.

1991- The last Horn & Hardardt Automat was closed on 42nd St in Manhattan. Philadelphia restauranters Joseph Horn and William Hardart saw German experiments in mass marketautomated restaurants and imported the equipment to start one in Philadelphia in 1902.

2004- Archaeologists in Cyprus discover a 9,000 year old grave of a New Stone Age man. In his arms is the remains of a kitten. This is the oldest evidence of man domesticating cats. So rest in peace- Gronk and Fluffy.