Monday, June 18, 2018

Jack Benny and Eddie Anderson: A Solid Friendship

I guess I'm showing my age if I say I remember Jack Benny. I don't remember his show; I'm a little too young for that. But I do remember him being a guest on various talk shows or variety shows and he always made me laugh. 

Since I know a few things about the early days of television, I knew that African-American actor Eddie Anderson played his valet Rochester on Benny's comedy series The Jack Benny Show. What I didn't know was that the two men maintained a solid friendship.

Here's a portion of an article from Americacomesalive.com that I hope you'll enjoy!

The humor and energy between Jack Benny and Eddie Anderson led to the development of a 20-year collaboration that delighted radio, television, and film audiences.

The men’s relationship was solid on air and off. Jack Benny refused to tolerate poor treatment of Anderson. In 1943 the company arrived in St. Joseph, Missouri, where they planned to do one of their radio shows. Anderson and his wife were denied a hotel room, and only at Benny’s urging did the hotel management find the Andersons a room.

Another time in New York, a Southern couple complained about a black man staying in the hotel so the manager approached Anderson suggesting he find a room elsewhere. The show’s producer told the manager Anderson would leave the hotel the next day. The next morning all 44 members of the cast and crew checked out with Anderson and moved to another hotel.

During World War II, Benny often remarked on-air about African American contributions to the war effort. In 1948 after the show re-used a script from the early 1940s that contained issues that were racial stereotypes, Benny was displeased and ordered his writers to refrain from any sort of racial stereotype or slur. Rochester was to be considered an integral part of the show, and as his role evolved it became typical for Rochester to cut through Benny’s pomposity with comments like, “What’s that, Boss?”). African Americans warmed to the character and appreciated that Anderson had broken a barrier—he was a black man playing the role of a black man; not a white man playing the role in black face.

Here is a classic scene with Rochester carrying the humor of the scene.

Do you remember Jack Benny? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, June 11, 2018

John Gavin: Before Multiculturalism Was Popular


Actor John Gavin 

I was looking for something interesting to post today and ran across this interesting tidbit from Thoughtco.com about classic celebrities who passed for white. 
I was familiar with the other celebrities featured in the article, but I didn't really know that much about John Gavin. He wasn't a huge star, but I've seen a few of his movies. However, I had no idea he wasn't 100% Anglo! Read on...
John Gavin was born John Anthony Golenor Pablos in Los Angeles. He has Irish and Mexican ancestry and speaks Spanish fluently. But unlike Anthony Quinn, who was also half-Mexican and played characters of various ethnic backgrounds, Gavin consistently played white characters during his tenure in Hollywood.
The leading man is known for his roles in the 1960 films “Psycho” and “Spartacus” as well as for 1959’s “Imitation of Life,” a remake of the 1934 version with Fredi Washington. While that film chronicles the plight of a young mixed-race woman who passes for white, Gavin’s mixed-race background is never referenced in that film or in others, despite his dark hair and swarthy skin.
In 1981, however, Gavin’s heritage resulted in former actor and President Ronald Reagan appointing him the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Gavin served as ambassador until 1986. 
I never would have guessed!  Would you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Say it Like a Man!


If you’re a female writer, have you ever mistakenly made your male characters speak like women?  I have!  As women, we emote; our language tends to be a bit more flowery, as well as effusive! 

My husband says, “Verbosity is unbecoming in a man.”  So now, whenever I write a scene involving a man, or men, doing  most of the talking, I read it to hubby, and he tells me if my men sound manly enough!

Not long ago, I attended a fantastic  workshop at my OVRWA monthly meeting, presented by writers Lani Diane Rich and Alastair Stephens of Storywonk.com, entitled Writing Men, for Women.

The workshop provided instruction to women, on how to write their male characters more effectively.

My favorite part of the workshop encompassed dialogue.  A few tips I learned are listed below:

Men use absolutes, rather than relative language. For example, “She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” is more realistic for male dialogue, instead of “She has to be one of the most beautiful women I‘ve ever seen.”

Men will not use long sentences. I once wrote a scene where an older man talked to his long lost son, and it went something like this: “I’m just glad you’ve accepted me. For a long time, I was afraid you wouldn’t.  So now our relationship, and where it goes, is up to you.”  My husband suggested replacing all those  rambling sentences with only one: “So...where do we go from here?”

Men use simpler vocabulary with fewer modifiers.  So rather than the hardened criminal saying, “I feel as if I could easily remove that ugly face of yours,” he’d probably exclaim, “I ought to rip your face off!”

Dialogue is action and action is dialogue for men.  In general, readers don’t trust male characters who talk a lot.  We wonder what a talker is hiding.  Heroes take action rather than talk.  Instead of discussing a way to save the heroine, the hero plans and executes it.

Hope you find this advice helpful!

Originally posted 5/21/12.