Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jim Garner!

As is a yearly tradition here on The Cartoon Cave, April 7th is dedicated to my favourite actor, Jim Garner. Unfortunately, due to time constraints I had to go with a less ambitious illustration than I had originally planned to do. So I fell back on drawing Jim once again as Jim Rockford from The Rockford Files. If Rockford is looking a bit concerned here, it's because I sketched him from one of the episodes, Hotel of Fear where he's having to deal with the shenanigans of Angel Martin, played so brilliantly by Stuart Margolin.

By the way, I'd like to dedicate this year's caricature of Garner to Robert Howe, who runs the wonderful tribute page to Jim on Facebook, The Official James Garner Fan Page. For a number of years, Rob's kept the spotlight shining brightly on Jim Garner and his career, and this is especially appreciated by all of Jim's fans in these years following Jim's passing in July 2014. Here's to you, Rob!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Well, I heard the sad news today that we lost "Mr. Warmth", the brilliantly acerbic comedian, Don Rickles, at the age of 90. Those of us who came of age in the 60s and 70s will always fondly remember Rickles for his appearances on The Tonight Show and especially on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, where he humourously skewered so many of his fellow celebs with his comedic insults. I'm betting that as he walked through those pearly gates, he flipped a quarter to St. Peter and told him, "You're a helluva doorman!"
So long, Rickles - we'll miss ya'!

Here's a great clip from The Tonight Show where Rickles drops in during Johnny Carson's interview with Frank Sinatra:

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Birthday, Jerry Reed!

I've written at length about ol' Jerry Reed in this previous post. Back in the 70s and 80s, Jerry was my favourite male country music star, as he was such an entertaining and manic personality in addition to being an incredible guitar talent. I remember reading in an interview with Jerry that he never thought of himself as a great singer, but rather, he felt he was more of a stylist with a brash, mostly humourous approach to his songs. In fact, he compared himself to Phil Harris, the former bandleader and vocalist also known for his brash, breezy humour, and even recorded one of Phil's hit songs, The Darktown Poker Club, although with the slight title change, The Uptown Poker Club, to reflect Jerry's more uptempo beat.

Anytime I need to lift my mood, I put on one of my Jerry Reed CDs or original LP records, and that crazy rascal can always get me smiling. Jerry would have hit the age of 80 today if he were still around, and I sure do miss him. I'd like to dedicate this tribute post to Jerry's daughters, Seidina and Lottie, in the hopes that they know just how much their Dad was loved by his legion of fans.

Also, since the summer of 2017 will mark the 40th anniversary of the crowdpleaser, Smokey and the Bandit, here's Jerry (who played trucker, Cledus "Snowman" Snow) singing his hit song from that film, Eastbound and Down. Pick it, Son!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore

This week we lost a bonafide TV legend with the passing of Mary Tyler Moore at age 80. We’re at a point in time now where many of our favourite TV stars from the 1960s and 70s are starting to disappear, and that saddens me greatly when I think back to how important they were to the popular culture of my youth. 

Though she first gained stardom on The Dick Van Dyke Show from 1961 to 1966, Mary really hit it big just a few years later on CBS with her own The Mary Tyler Moore Show starting in 1970. This show, along with others like All In The Family and The Bob Newhart Show were part of a new era on CBS that featured more contemporary, sophisticated themes after what was known as "Rural Purge", in which folksy, small town series were being cancelled (despite still high ratings) in favour of shows that would attract viewers who were young urban professionals. Mary Tyler Moore and her MTM Productions would become one of the major players in this new media trend.

In honour of Mary, I’ve been revisiting The Mary Tyler Moore Show these last few days and it really is a warm and nostalgic trip back in time to what I believe to be a much more genuinely entertaining era of TV. It’s a great ensemble cast, for one thing, where Mary herself plays it relatively straight as Mary Richards, the fresh-faced, newly hired associate news producer, allowing the rich cast of comedic characters to shine around her. In the struggling local TV newsroom that forms the premise of the series there’s gruff, domineering boss/news producer, Lou Grant; the under-appreciated and sarcastic news writer, Murray Slaughter; and of course the delightfully vainglorious anchorman, Ted Baxter. Rounding things out on the homefront are Mary’s elitist landlady, Phyllis Lindstrom, and her best friend and neighbour, the lovelorn but sassy Rhoda Morgenstern.

What’s striking about the series is the basic decency and genuine goodness of its central character, Mary Richards, which I’m sure comes about naturally through the delightfully charming Mary Tyler Moore herself who really does typify the All-American Girl. One can’t help but root for Mary, and I’m sure that all viewers just fell in love with her. That era of TV is still magical to me, as I don’t think that same type of character could exist today in modern TV’s cynical and edgy style of sitcoms, sadly enough. Also, back in the early 70s, in those pre-VCR (and way before PVR) years, viewers had to make a point of staying home to watch these shows as they were broadcast, or miss out altogether. As a result, we all had a shared culture where viewers were aware of most of what was on our dozen or so TV channels, and would talk about the shows with each other at school or the office the day after they aired. We also watched these series on the one TV in the living room along with our family members, so I think that families were much closer and shared similar values as a result.

And Mary Tyler Moore was one of the most beloved and iconic TV stars of that 70‘s era, which is why there was such an emotional outpouring of adoration and sadness throughout social media at the news of her passing. So dear Mary, thanks for your legacy of great entertainment. There will never be another one as special as you, and you always did turn the world on with that big beautiful smile!