RIP Adam West, Glenne Headly, and A.R. Gurney
Adam West will always be the best Batman to me, partly because of nostalgia and partly because I think many of the big-screen movies are too dark and underwhelming. In addition to that iconic role on the 1966–68 ABC series, West appeared in many other TV shows, including The Detectives and a long-running role as Mayor West on Family Guy. West died last Friday at the age of 88.
Here’s a terrific story from the May 7, 1966, Saturday Evening Post that examines the phenomenon surrounding Batman.
West had a home in Ketchum, Idaho, and here’s what it said in the town’s phone book:
Classic humor from Adam West. His phone book listings in Ketchum ID pic.twitter.com/GVCGJOtRaf
— blueidaho (@svskier1) June 10, 2017
Glenne Headly was that actress you probably couldn’t name off the top of your head but you remember from many movies, including Dick Tracy, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and many others. She was also in TV shows like ER and Lonesome Dove and was filming the new Hulu show Future Man. She also died last Friday, at the age of 62.
A.R. Gurney was an acclaimed playwright best known for his plays “Love Letters,” which has been performed thousands of times. He also wrote “The Cocktail Hour,” “The Dining Room,” “The Middle Ages,” and “Who Killed Richard Cory?,” among other plays. He died Tuesday at the age of 86.
Must Be a Really Great Book
I hate to admit this (so much that I hope you just skip this paragraph and scroll down a bit), but I haven’t been to my local library in almost 20 years. With the internet and my spending way too much money on books, I find no need to go. But that doesn’t mean I don’t support them, and it doesn’t mean I don’t think other people should go. Support your local library!
I do remember as a kid being really embarrassed when I had an overdue book. I’d hate going up to the librarian and having her look at the back of the book and see it was a day or two or seven overdue, and I’d have to pay whatever the fine was (a nickel a day maybe?). I thought of that after reading this story about a book that was returned to the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford, Connecticut. Usually, an overdue book being returned to a library wouldn’t make the news, but this book was supposed to be returned by September 29, 1965.
That’s not a typo. It was supposed to be back at the library 52 years ago. At least the borrower enclosed a note of apology.
My favorite story of the week concerns 11-year-old Preston Sharp of Redding, California, who was upset that not all of the veterans buried at his grandfather’s cemetery had their tombstones decorated with a flag and decided to do something about it:
Every Single Beatles Song, Ranked
I’m no longer a fan of best and worst lists. They used to be fun, back when not everyone was doing them, but so many publications and sites do them now that they’re basically meaningless. I mean, how many “Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time” or “Best Sitcoms of All Time” lists do we need?
But if a list is extensive enough, they inadvertently become a one-stop history lesson for the subject, like this list from Bill Wyman that ranks all 213 Beatles songs. All lists are ripe for arguments and discussion, and this one is no exception. It’s sort of silly to think that such a list could be 100 percent accurate (is there really a difference between number 77 and number 89?), but it does show how many fantastic songs John, Paul, George, and Ringo recorded.
I have to say that even though I don’t like lists, I’m happy to see “Here, There, and Everywhere” in the top ten. What a great song.
The Formosa Is Back
If you’ve seen L.A. Confidential or Swingers, you’ve seen the Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles. Because it was located near the studios, it was a favorite hangout of many celebrities, from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Lana Turner to Brad Pitt, Jodie Foster, and Johnny Depp. It was set for demolition in 1991, but public outcry helped to preserve it. Several years ago, it was gutted and remodeled, but people hated that too, so it was rebuilt to look a lot like the original. Now it’s under new ownership and, according to Los Angeles Magazine, it’s going to reopen with all of its vintage charms intact. The reopening is scheduled for summer 2018.
This is one of the historic places I’d love to visit. Some people want to see Hoover Dam, I want to go to a bar in L.A.
I Bet Some of These Stars Hung Out There Too
Speaking of the golden age of Hollywood, the Post has a new special edition with the very same title. The Golden Age of Hollywood is a collection of great articles on people like Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Reynolds, Bogie and Bacall, John Wayne, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Marlon Brando, and many other classic film stars. Here’s how to order.
This Week in History
Warren Harding Becomes First President on the Radio (June 14, 1922)
The 29th president spoke at a memorial for “Star-Spangled Banner” poet Francis Scott Key in Baltimore.
John Bartlett Born (June 16, 1820)
The first edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations was privately published in 1855 and is now in its 18th edition.
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: “Icing the Wedding Cake” (June 16, 1945)
This is a great cover by Stevan Dohanos, filled with lots of little details that make it feel realistic. I love the calendar in the background. I don’t know if there was an actual calendar in the room that looked like that when Dohanos painted the picture, but a food-centered calendar, one with a loaf of bread as the picture for the month of June, looks like something a cook would have on his wall.
Today Is National Fudge Day
Here are three recipes for various types of fudge — Peanut Butter Fudge, Walnut Pumpkin Fudge, and Gimme S’More Low-Fat Fudge, which replaces a lot of the fat and calories via low-fat semisweet chocolate chips and graham crackers.
But you can pig out on the first two recipes if you want because tomorrow happens to be Eat All Your Veggies Day.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Father’s Day (June 18)
After dad opens up the ugly tie you bought him and you make him breakfast in bed, read him this poem from Charles Osgood titled “Father of the Year.”
Juneteenth (June 19)
As the official site says, Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery. It became a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and its nationwide popularity is growing every year.
First Day of Summer (June 21)
Ah, summer. Hot days, the beach, people in flip-flops, sunlight until almost 9 p.m. I hate it. To help get through the next three months, here’s a classic story Ray Bradbury wrote for the Post titled “Summer in the Air,” tips on how to keep your pets safe from heat stroke and injuries, and here’s a great piece by Jeff Nilsson on how air conditioning went from being a luxury to a necessity. I haven’t had air conditioning in 26 years.
We were saddened by the news this weekend of Adam West’s passing. Best known for playing Batman, West got his start on a TV variety show and had parts in such movies as The Young Philadelphians and Mara of the Wilderness. He also played the lead in The Detectives TV series.
But Batman was his big break, even if he didn’t know it at the time. In 1966, John Skow wrote an article for the Saturday Evening Post where he explored the phenomenon of Batman, which ABC had launched in January in a bid to gain ratings.
Skow writes of a conversation with West:
What was your reaction when you heard about Batman? I asked West at lunch. “My reaction was Ecch!” he said. But Batman had turned out to be fun. “You have to take it seriously,” he said. “I want to do it well enough that Batman buffs will watch reruns in a few years and say, ‘Watch the bit he does here, isn’t that great?”
Executives feared the show would be too silly for adults, but their fears were unfounded. According to the article, sales for Batman merchandise were expected to reach $75-$80 million, 50 percent more than the best year for James Bond.
What no one could know at the time is that Batman would spawn an empire of comic books, TV remakes, and blockbuster movies. But it all started with the dead-serious camp of Adam West.