News of the Week: Robert Osborne, Rewatchable Movies, and Rockwell’s “Gossips”

RIP Robert Osborne, Paula Fox, Miriam Colon, Ric Marlow, and Tommy Page

If there’s another person who is as identifiable with a TV network as Robert Osborne, I don’t know who it is. As his colleague Ben Mankiewicz says in a tribute at The Hollywood Reporter, Osborne was the heart and soul of Turner Classic Movies for 23 years, the person you thought of whenever you thought of the channel. He actually began his career as an actor and was pushed by his friend Lucille Ball to write a book about Hollywood. He went on to write several books and to pen a column for The Hollywood Reporter, hosted films on The Movie Channel in the late ’80s to early ’90s, and was involved in TCM film festivals and cruises.

Osborne passed away Monday at the age of 84.


TCM will air a two-day tribute to Osborne on March 18 and 19. Osborne spoke with The Saturday Evening Post a few years ago about his favorite Christmas movies.

Paula Fox was one of those writers who probably wasn’t well-known in the mainstream but was well-regarded by her peers. Her novels include Desperate Characters (made into a film starring Shirley MacLaine), The God of Nightmares, The Widow’s Children, and A Serpent’s Tale. She also wrote 20 young adult novels — winning the Newbery Medal in 1974 for The Slave Dancer — and two acclaimed memoirs, Borrowed Finery and The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe.

Fox died last week at the age of 93.

Miriam Colon was a veteran actor and founder of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater. She appeared in such movies as Scarface and The House of the Spirits and on TV shows like Playhouse 90, Peter Gunn, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Gunsmoke, NYPD Blue, Murder, She Wrote, and a million others.

She passed away last Friday at the age of 80.

Ric Marlow was an actor too, appearing in such shows as Magnum, P.I., Hawaii Five-0, Sea Hunt, Death Valley Days, and Bonanza, but he’s probably best known as the co-writer of one of the most recorded songs in history, “A Taste of Honey.” Dozens if not hundreds of people have recorded it, including The Beatles, Peggy Lee, Barbra Streisand, and Tony Bennett. But an instrumental version is probably the one you know best:

Marlow passed away at the end of February at 91.

Tommy Page was a veteran business executive and a publisher at Billboard, but he was a performer in the music industry as well. He had a number-one song in the early ’90s, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” which featured New Kids on the Block, and had songs on the Dick Tracy and Shag soundtracks. He also helped the careers of people like Josh Groban, Green Day, Michael Bublé, and Alanis Morissette.

Page passed away last Friday at the age of only 46, an apparent suicide.

The 25 Most Rewatchable Movies of All Time

My spell-check keeps telling me that rewatchable isn’t a word, but it’s the one that best describes the movies that we find ourselves watching over and over again, the movies that have that certain something that makes us love them so much we can rewatch them many, many times.

I have several movies on my list. I can watch It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street every Christmas and enjoy them just as much as I did the first time I saw them. I can watch a film noir like The Big Heat or neo-noir like L.A. Confidential a dozen times (and I have), along with films like Three Days of the Condor, North By Northwest, Goldfinger, and Rio Bravo. I’d also add The Devil Wears Prada to that list. It’s on some cable channel at least once a day — a law may have been passed, I’m not sure — and whenever I’m channel-surfing and come across it I just have to stop and watch it for some reason.

FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s politics, opinion, and pop culture analysis site, did a survey to find out what films readers can watch again and again. There’s a general list and lists broken down by gender. The top five in the general list are Star Wars (of course), The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, The Lord of the Rings films, and Gone with the Wind. Other films on the list include It’s a Wonderful Life (yes!), The Godfather, Dirty Dancing, and Finding Nemo.

I have to admit I’m surprised by some of the films mentioned. The 2009 Star Trek reboot is a really good flick, but one of the 25 most rewatchable of all-time? I also didn’t realize Pride & Prejudice and The Notebook had such a following. Though I completely agree with You’ve Got Mail, even if I am a guy.

New Yorker Cartoon Editor Stepping Down

After 20 years, Bob Mankoff is leaving his post as editor of the New Yorker cartoons.

Mankoff will stay with the magazine though. He will continue to create cartoons — he has contributed 900 of them, including one of the most famous of all-time — and he’s currently working on The New Yorker Encyclopedia of Cartoons, which will be out next year.

Editor Emma Allen will take over for Mankoff in April.

The Brawny Woman

I don’t know if this can be considered a victory for equal rights, but The Brawny Man is now The Brawny Woman.

Don’t get used to it, though. It’s only for the month of March, which is Women’s History Month. But for the time being, you can enjoy a woman in a plaid shirt instead of the usual bearded guy in a plaid shirt (thankfully, the woman doesn’t have facial hair). No word yet if we’re going to see a Jolly Green Giant Woman or a Mrs. Whipple.

A side note: Why do so many paper towel brands only come in “Pick-A-Size” rolls? Those squares simply aren’t big enough for most tasks, and you end up having to rip off two or three sheets instead of one. The original perforations were already “Pick-A-Size,” and that size was perfect. Please stop assuming what my paper towel needs are, paper towel companies.

This Week in History

FDR Declares “Bank Holiday” (March 6, 1933)

President Roosevelt shut down the banking system for four days after a month-long run on the banks. They reopened on March 13 and the bank holiday was seen as a success.

Spanish Influenza Hits the U.S. (March 11, 1918)

What was odd and deadly about this outbreak was that it affected healthy young adults and not just the elderly, sick, or very young. It killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide. In the United States, the outbreak was first noticed at Fort Riley, Kansas; 522 soldiers ended up getting sick, and it spread from there, with over 500,000 dying in the U.S.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Norman Rockwell’s “The Gossips” Cover (March 6, 1948)

“The Gossips” From March 5, 1948
“The Gossips” by Norman Rockwell. March 6, 1948. © SEPS 2013

People used to spread gossip and rumors and secrets face to face or during long telephone conversations. Now we do it via social media and texting. This great Norman Rockwell cover has a really intriguing story behind it.

National Ginger Ale Day

Have you ever noticed how much ginger ale is consumed on Everybody Loves Raymond? I first noticed this a couple of years ago. Whenever Ray goes into the fridge to get a drink — which is often — he pulls out a small bottle of ginger ale. It seems to be The Official Drink of Everybody Loves Raymond™. These are the things I obsess about because I don’t have a social life.

Monday is National Ginger Ale Day, and while you can always just pop open some Canada Dry, especially if you’re not feeling well (along with tea, ginger ale is The Official Drink of People Who Are Sick™), you can also use it in recipes. It’s actually an ingredient used in many midcentury recipes, including Ginger Ale Salad, Ginger Ale Baked Ham, and Frosted Cranberry Squares. If you’re looking more for cocktails that include ginger ale, how about a Ginger Gaff or a Dark and Stormy made with ginger ale instead of ginger beer?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Daylight Saving Time begins (March 12)

Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead an hour before you go to bed tomorrow night. As someone who hates when it gets dark later in the day, I’m just going to grit my teeth and pray that November 5 comes quickly. That’s the day we set the clocks back again.

National Pi Day (March 14)

You can spend the day trying to remember two trillion digits, or you can just eat some pie. I know which one I’m doing.

St. Patrick’s Day (March 17)

This is the day when the beer and certain rivers flow green. Or you can make your own bookmark.