Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Pamela Sosnowski!

Though this blog has been somewhat dormant for awhile, I’ve recently started to revive it with a flurry of new posts, celebrating entertainers that I like. Today the Cartoon Cave would like to try something a little different, in that I’d like to salute one of my fellow bloggers, Pamela Sosnowski, on her birthday. Pam is the creator of the Go Retro blogsite, which is devoted to pop culture of the Mid-20th Century, a subject also close to my heart. In fact, over the last couple years I’ve been gradually adding more and more links to the Cartoon Cave's sidebar, listing numerous blogs devoted to Mid-Century Modern art and entertainment, as this is what I’ve always loved best.

I’ve been reading Pam’s Go Retro site for quite a while now, and I really enjoy the subjects she chooses to write about. Go Retro is of a likeminded nostalgic bent to my own Cartoon Cave, and I find Pam’s posts quite informative and delightfully written. More recently, Pam and I have become friends through Facebook, and I'm very happy to have met her through that online venue. We seem to share a lot of common interests, and it turns out that Pam’s all-time favourite male vocalist is none other than Bobby Darin, who is also a favourite of mine, second only to Frank Sinatra on my list!

So in honour of her birthday, I’ve created this caricature of the lovely Pam Sosnowski, and I would like to encourage my readers who share an interest in Mid-20th Century pop culture to please go check out Go Retro for more warm nostalgic memories of the glorious past!

Happy Birthday, Pam!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

RIP Alan Rickman...

Only one day after we lost Disney's Robin Hood, Brian Bedford, comes the tragic news this morning that the Sheriff of Nottingham (from Kevin Costner's version), Alan Rickman, has died at the age of 69 following a bout with cancer. Admittedly I have only seen a handful of Rickman's films, so I do not feel I could do him justice in trying to sum up his career. Like many moviegoers, I am most familiar with him in the role of Professor Snape from the Harry Potter films, and was introduced to his work in the aforementioned, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. However, I based this caricature of him drawn several years ago from his role in the romantic comedy, Love Actually.

Alan Rickman was probably one of the most distinctive actors we've known in the last couple of decades, with his unique facial features, highly nasal voice, and slow, articulate delivery of his dialogue. He always played the part of a villain to the hilt, with an underlying dark humour not unlike that of Vincent Price or George Sanders. In the contemporary film world of actors who are mostly blandly attractive pretty boy types, Alan Rickman was one of a disappearing breed of truly distinctive character actors, and he certainly made his mark on the films of his generation.

With the deaths of David Bowie, Brian Bedford, and now Alan Rickman, this has truly been a devastating week for the Brits. So sad...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Farewell, Brian Bedford...

It always saddens me to hear about the death of a performer I like, and especially so when it happens to be one that I’ve had the great fortune to have met. Such is the case with Brian Bedford, an actor primarily known for his work on stage, yet also having performed in a number of feature films and TV show guest appearances.

I first became aware of Brian Bedford in 1973, when I saw Disney’s animated feature, Robin Hood up on the big screen when I was just 13. Brian was perhaps the only actor in the film’s voice credits that I had never heard of, and ironically he was the voice of the title character, Robin Hood the fox! I just loved that film, as I was quite taken by the concept of the Robin Hood legend being re-enacted with a cast of anthropomorphic animals. (And that was long before I’d ever heard the word, “anthropomorphic”!) Despite it not being particularly well thought of by animation film critics, it still remains a personal favourite Disney feature of mine, as I still believe it has some of the most enjoyable characterizations, even if the plot is merely serviceable.

My photo of Brian Bedford from 1980.
I wish we'd had digital cameras back then!
Several years later, Brian Bedford started to appear at Canada’s Stratford Festival, in Stratford, Ontario. In 1978, my parents agreed to take me to see him at Stratford, in a production of Private Lives, opposite Maggie Smith. We drove there from Ottawa, and I was able to arrange before the show for permission to visit with Brian backstage after his performance, as I had drawn a caricature that I wished to present to him. Brian had given the word that we’d be welcome, and so we headed backstage after the show (and passed Maggie Smith in the hallway, who smiled at us as she was just heading home). Brian Bedford was absolutely charming, and graciously spent about a half hour with us, chatting with me about both his voice work in Robin Hood, as well as his role in Grand Prix, the only live-action feature I’d seen him in, and on which I had based my caricature of him. Coincidentally, Brian's co-star in Grand Prix was James Garner, my alltime favourite actor, whom I have featured numerous times on The Cartoon Cave!

As the tragic race car driver, Scott Stoddard, in Grand Prix 1966
We saw him again at Stratford a couple more times over the years, and also were able to visit with him when he appeared on the Toronto stage in a production of Whose Life Is It Anyway? The caricature pictured in the photo above is a second one I’d done of him, presented to him at Stratford in 1980. Every time I saw him, he greeted me by name, even remembering the fact that I’d hoped to one day work for Disney. That would actually happen for me in 1984, but I don’t believe I saw him again after then, and I think he’d have been happy to hear that news if I’d gotten in touch again. I really wish now that I had. Brian Bedford was a true gentleman and a very kind fellow. I will miss him very much.

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP David Bowie

I've never been a rock fan per se, so my knowledge of David Bowie's career and music legacy is very limited. However, it certainly did come as a shock to read of his passing this morning at the relatively early age of 69.

Because I was not a rock enthusiast, I really don't know his work in his "Ziggy Stardust" persona of the 70s at all. In fact, it wasn't until he recorded the title theme from the 1982 remake of Cat People that I took notice of what was actually a very good voice, deep and resonant and very theatrical. I still like that song, Putting Out The Fire to this day.

The caricature above I created originally for one of the online weekly caricature contests a few years ago. Here's another sketch I did at the time which I never did develop further, based on his iconic appearance singing the Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth duet with Bing Crosby on Bing's final Christmas special that aired in 1977 posthumously after Bing's death the previous summer.

I think the way I'd like to remember David Bowie best, though, is not alongside Bing, but rather, in this music video duet he performed with his fellow English rocker and contemporary, Mick Jagger. In their cover version of Dancing In The Street, Mick and Bowie are just having so much fun that it's impossible to resist their energetic charm! Enjoy!