IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT

On the dubious theory that you can’t get too much of a good thing, I’m going to follow up I’VE GOT A SECRET and TO TELL THE TRUTH (my last post) with a take-off from another old radio (1940s) and TV (1950s) panel show called IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT. Never let it be said, however, that I don’t have standards. Thus, I found 1940s-50s IGNORANT clips to be a bit beneath my readers’ level of sophistication, so I have opted instead for an updated 2013 spoof of the original program (the word “Alawite” in the clip refers to a religious sect in Syria):

Now, friends, we’ve all heard the old saying that ignorance is the sincerest form of flattery (or something to that effect). Therefore, in order to showcase certain public figures, past and present, in the revealing light of their own words, let us take a look at some of the more outstanding (though not necessarily funny) examples of why it pays to be ignorant (except when it doesn’t):

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the dumbest of you all? –Anne Robinson, British TV host, who “asked for it” when she left herself open to the answer on her own show:

Adolf Hitler was a Jeanne d’Arc, a saint. He was a martyr. Like many martyrs, he held extreme views. –Ezra Pound

Rural Americans are real Americans. There’s no doubt about that. You can’t always be sure with other Americans. Not all of them are real.Dan Quayle, former U.S. V Pres

My fear is that the whole island [Guam] will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize. –Hank Johnson, Democratic Congressman from Georgia

Everything that can be invented has been invented. –Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Patent Office, 1899

Hurray, Boys! We’ve got them. We’ll finish them up and then go home to our station. –General George Armstrong Custer, before battle at Little Big Horn

I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves. –John Wayne

Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject. –Shelby Metcalf, former Texas A&M Head Coach to one of his players who got a D and four F’s.

Saving the most classless and gratuitous example for last, this comes with our best wishes for a full recovery from brain cancer for the object of this quote:

 

 

 

 

FIVE DAYS HATH NOVEMBER

I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” –Gloria Swanson (as Norma Desmond)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

How many of these former “big” names do you recognize?

TEXAS GUINAN (1933)
GEORGE M. COHAN (1942)
ART TATUM (1956)
JOHNNY HORTON (1960)
MACK SENNETT (1960)
WARD BOND (1960)
GUY LOMBARDO (1977)
FRED MacMURRAY (1991)

If you’re not into the movies and music of the past, you may remember few, if any, of the foregoing (year 0f death follows their names). Because time drives a hard bargain with fame, they’ve faded away in the rearview mirror….but on this day, we back up to see them BIG again — or as big as such look-backs provide. Why on this particular day? As it happens, the above have one thing in common: they lived but five days into the last November of their lives.

TEXAS GUINAN, born Waco, TX, 1884. Flamboyant, brassy “Queen of the Night Clubs” in NYC during the Roaring Twenties. Started in vaudeville, sang, and was in silent movies before becoming hostess of Texas Guinan Club and other NYC speakeasies during Prohibition. Famous trademark greeting to incoming customers: “Hello, suckers!” She bade them goodbye November 5, 1933.

GEORGE M. COHAN, born Providence, RI, 1878. One of the early greats of the Broadway stage as an actor, composer, lyricist, librettist, director and producer. Wrote primarily nostalgic and patriotic songs, including the WWI hit Over There. James Cagney won Academy Award for his portrayal of Cohan in the 1942 film YANKEE DOODLE DANDY:

ART TATUM, born Toledo, OH, 1910. All-time great jazz pianist, despite being blind in one eye and almost blind in the other. Described by some critics as given to over-embellishment in later career (“played too many notes”), but he wasn’t one to not change with the times (for better or worse).

JOHNNY HORTON, born Los Angeles, 1925. Popular country music and rockabilly singer known for his “saga songs” such as 1959 hit The Battle of New Orleans. Killed in crash by drunk driver Nov. 5, 1960. Here he sings the title song from my favorite John Wayne film:

MACK SENNETT, born Quebec, Canada, 1880. Pioneer in  the field of slapstick comedy, famed creator of Keystone Kops in early silent film era. Among famous actors who got their start with Sennett were Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, W. C. Fields and the aforementioned Gloria Swanson. They don’t make ’em like this anymore!

WARD BOND, born Bendelman, NE, 1903. One of Hollywood’s most iconic character actors, particularly in films directed by John Ford. Bond and John Wayne were members of the USC football team when they were picked by Ford as extras for the film Salute in 1928. The three became lifelong friends and made many pictures together, including The Grapes of Wrath, My Darling Clementine, Fort Apache and The Quiet Man.

GUY LOMBARDO, born Ontario, Canada, 1902. Leader of the most commercially successful and long-lasting “sweet” (some might say “Mickey Mouse”) dance band of all time. Theme song Auld Lang Syne was a New Year’s Eve staple for decades. Slogan: “The Sweetest Music This Side of Heaven” (I don’t know what kind of music’s on the other side, but when it’s time to go, I may chance the long way around).

FRED MacMURRAY, born Kankakee, IL, 1908. Last but least-long deceased (Nov. 5, 1991) of those listed; many of us remember this versatile actor from his roles in such great films as Double Indemnity and The Apartment over the course of a near-50 year career….but I suspect few are aware that he started out as a saxophone player and band vocalist in the early 1930s. Here he is with the Gus Arnheim band in 1930:

That’s a wrap until November 10. Take five.

 

 

 

THE DUKE GETS THE JITTERS

Once upon a time, I contributed work to an interrupted venue called SPEAK WITHOUT INTERRUPTION.  Two of my departed contributions from that limited engagement included film clips of legendary actors doing things they rarely did in their movies: James Stewart and Errol Flynn singing. I recently came across an even more surprising (if not astonishing) sight: a scene from the 1944 film THE FIGHTING SEABEES in which John Wayne dances The Jitterbug:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjEJTbf7mWQ

While I’m at it, I might as well bring back the Stewart and Flynn clips and make this another THREE-FOR-ONE post, so here is Stewart singing Cole Porter’s “Easy To Love” in BORN TO DANCE (1938), followed by Flynn singing “That’s What You Jolly Well Get” from THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (1943):

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd7mvzG8bV4

www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwf-igYR-Z0

I seem to recall accompanying the above two clips in my dead SWI posts with a few hundred well-chosen (?) words, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were. I guess that’s what I jolly well get.