Television

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Hopelessly Devoted To: LaWanda Page

Published July 24, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

LaWanda Page Main

Best known for fully bringing Aunt Esther’s opposition-style antics towards Redd Foxx’s opinionated Fred Sanford on the classic sitcom Sanford and Son to full bloom, the irreplaceable LaWanda Page was also a highly regarded comedienne with material that was a little bluer than mainstream ‘70s television audiences might have expected.

 

Terror fans, meanwhile, are sure to remember Page’s hysterically accurate response to some supernatural shenanigans in the ‘80s cult classic Mausoleum. While the exaggerated tone here may suggest something akin to the less than PC characterizations of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and others, Page always maintains her control and, by the film’s end, her character seems like one of the smarter ones when it comes to dealing with the film’s bloody antics.

 

Page, who died at the age of 82 in 2002, also made appearances in such favorites as Friday, The Meteor Man and Shakes, the Clown earning her a much deserved and devoted following that continues to this day.

LaWanda Page Shakes

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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LaWanda Page Mausoleum

Pride Month Crush – Michael Philip

Published June 27, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Michael CharmedGrowing up in a small farm town of 600 in the ‘80s, most of my crush material was derived from soap opera broadcasts and late-night horror flicks on HBO. Oftentimes, there was cross pollination of the genres – Steve Bond (General Hospital, The Prey), Brian Matthews (The Young and the Restless, The Burning), Kevin Bacon (Friday the 13th, Guiding Light), Christopher Goutman (The Prowler, Search for Tomorrow), David Oliver (Another World, The Horror Show), David Wallace (Days of Our Lives, Mortuary) and so many others significantly participated in both mediums.

The grave voiced Michael Philip, who played Donna Logan’s bad boy boyfriend Mark Mallory for a year on The Bold and the Beautiful, was one of my favorites of that era. With his smooth chest, masculine demeanor and deep vocal rhythms, he seemed like perfect fantasy husband material to me.

His follow-up appearances since that dramatic heyday have been sporadic, but truly unique. He pops up as a depression era protestor in the Roger Corman produced Big Bad Mama II and hosted the short-lived science fiction series Welcome to Paradox, as well. His distinctive qualities also found outlets in such comedies as Married…with Children and Police Academy: The Series. Michael Frday

Television terror aficionados are sure to recognize him from his appearances on Friday the 13th: The Series and Charmed, as well. As a murderous lifeguard beguiled by a body swapping amulet in The Long Road Home (3/15), he quickly met his end on F13:TS. His screen time as Stefan (main photo), an essence evaporating photographer, on Charmed was a bit more significant and fans of that show hold him in high regard as one of that popular production’s wiliest demons.

In the years since, Philip has continued his career as a successful voice over artist, business man and father…and would probably be very happy to know that I still own that 8×10 that he sent me decades ago!

Michael Autograph

 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Great Performances: Maidie Norman

Published June 20, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

 

Maidie MainIf there was anyone who could put the fear into cinema royalty like Bette Davis it was the proudly irreplaceable Maidie Noman. As Elvira Stitt in the classic femme centered horror celebration Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Norman enacted the role of the protector of the crippled Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) with a towering strength. Indeed, the anger that flints Norman’s eyes when Stitt discovers her charge in an emaciated state is enough to make even the most ferocious opponent flinch. Maidie Bette 1

Unsurprisingly, Norman used her advanced theatrical training and keen intellect on set on a regular basis. She often helped represent real life situations by updating racist and stereotypical dialogue on the spot. Even her take on voodoo queen Mama Lou on a second season episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was filled with an unexpected sorrow and vengeful energy. Maidie Man

Because of this defined pedigree, horror fans always welcomed her presence on such shows as Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Night Stalker. Significantly, the flirtatious energy and general good will that she shared with Tom Atkins in her scenes in Halloween III have made her a deserved fan favorite of that series, as well.

Maidie H3

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Mara Corday

Published May 23, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Mara Corday (1954)

“A disgusting turn of events, Mr. Gunn. You’ve wasted everybody’s evening. It’s going to cost you!” – Emily (Mara Corday)

Keep Smiling, the 26th episode of Peter Gunn, the suave jazz flecked detective series created by Blake Edwards, has to be one of the hippest half hours of television ever produced. Directed by the legendary Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man), this episode accentuates its coolness most fully at the story’s midpoint. As acclaimed drummer Shelly Manne manipulates the skins on stage, Gunn (Craig Stevens) puts the hooks into Mara Corday’s sexy serial blackmailer while an eager whistleblower (played by The Addams Family’s Jackie Coogan) looks on.

Mara TarantulaCorday, of course, efficiently and naturally played a series of valiant heroines in such science fiction-horror pictures as The Giant Claw, The Black Scorpion and (the Arnold directed) Tarantula. Here, she obviously relishes being the bad girl, biting into her lines with acidic menace. It’s a tart performance that radiates with a calm evil, proving that Corday was a step above many of the other model-actresses who played similar roles in that same period of time.

The 90-year-old Corday, who parlayed her longtime friendship with Clint Eastwood into roles in several of his films, is still active at http://maracorday.com/. Those wishing to indulge in the full ecstasies of her presence can find Keep Smiling on Amazon Prime, as well.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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mara

Hopelessly Devoted To: Marilyn Maxwell

Published May 16, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Marilyn Maxwell

Whether mocking the heroics of action cinema in 1956’s Forever Darling or reacting perfectly to the antics of comic Red Skeleton as the two explored a haunted house on his long running variety show, Marilyn Maxwell was always on the mark. One of those eclectically zaftig blondes that never got the attention she deserved despite her multiple talents, Maxwell has probably been best known, and then only to aggressive cinephiles, as the agreeable accomplice to such legends as Bob Hope, Lucille Ball and Skeleton.

Marilyn Maxwell Swing FeverBeginning her career as a beautiful background artist, often cast as supple showgirls, in such MGM epics as Presenting Lily Mars and Du Barry Was a Lady (which featured both Ball and Skeleton), Maxwell eventually graduated to leading roles in such silly efforts as The Show Off (again with Skeleton) and The Lemon Drop Kid (with Hope). Her first major role as entertainer Ginger Gray in 1943’s Swing Fever even had a bit of a genre connotation as it revolved around the ridiculous exploits of a band leader cursed with an evil eye.

Skilled as a singer and dancer, Maxwell was also a hit in USO shows for the troops during WWII and the Korean War. Apparently, she was a hit with Rock Hudson as well and, thusly, has been sporadically entering the news again as Hudson’s public profile blossoms due to Ryan Murphy’s recently released Hollywood series. Apparently, after initially being set up as one of the gay actor’s beards, the two quickly grew close and even contemplated marriage. Some reports even claim that their relationship may have gone past the friendship stage. Marilyn Maxwell and Rock Hudson 2

But more than anything, Maxwell, who died at the very young age of 50 due to heart problems, deserves to be remembered for her magnetic performances and joyful spirit. She was definitely one of kind and one can imagine her spirit occasionally sprinkling out into the starlight, creating glittery energy and hopeful wanderlust for all those weary small-town kids living only for their future dreams.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Marilyn Haunted Red

Maxwell haunted house hunting with Red

 

Music to Make Horror Movies By: Dinah Shore

Published May 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

dinah

“Oh, dream on, baby!”

We will, Dinah! And in our reveries, you will still be providing us with classy, wide reaching interviews. And our darling Ms. Shore, while some may assume that those talks will only include your contemporaries, those golden superstars of yesteryear, many in the know will be envisioning features with a wide range of creative figures. For during your long running talk show, you not only shared your couch with performers like Rosemary Clooney, but with rule breaking icons like David Bowie and Iggy Pop, as well. You had the heart of a punk, my dear, albeit the heart of a punk with a smooth gin touch.

In the ‘60s, further proving your adventurous nature, you also broke out of a gilded homestretch of performing glossy standards by releasing an LP of energetic country hits. Much like Ella Fitzgerald, last week’s honoree (& a frequent guest on your shows), you covered such tunes as Evil on Your Mind. (Here interestingly retitled Evil on My Mind.)

Naturally, genre fanatics will surely appreciate your willingness to admit to a less than perfect thought scape…but those who have loved you for decades knew that you always had a bit of mischievousness in you…its present in that forever twinkle in your eyes.

dinah and iggy

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Fruity Flashback: The Loving Murders

Published May 9, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Loving Murders

Long term cast member Randolph Mantooth has called it the show that nobody ever saw. But the ABC soap opera Loving did have plenty of loyal followers who have remembered it fondly since its cancellation in the fall of 1995. Interestingly, for a show that continually floated at the bottom of the daytime ratings, it certainly had pedigree. It was created in 1983 by soap opera legend Agnes Nixon and, over the years, it definitely had its inventive moments. A few of those even contained elements of horror and the supernatural. In one of his first acting jobs, television stalwart John O’Hurley played a devilishly evil character named Jonathan Matalaine while the program’s college age characters interacted with a tortured romantic couple, who just happened to be ghosts, in the early ‘90s. Perhaps its most genre laden plotline was the Loving Murders, the months long story arc that brought the show to a close and helped it morph into another (very short lived) soap called The City.

L-R: PETER DAVIES;JOHN O'HURLEY

O’Hurley as the satanic Matalaine

As longtime characters were murdered off by a stealthily cloaked serial killer, the show’s ratings actually rose 20%. This was perhaps due to some of the unusual ways in which the cast was offed. Longtime heroine Stacy Donavan, portrayed with heart and verve by frequent horror sweetheart Lauren Marie Taylor (Friday the 13th, Part 2, Girls Nite Out), met her end via a poisoned powder puff. Deadly candles, heart attacks and coldblooded drownings also made appearances. The most spectacular sendoff probably belonged to Jean Le Clerc’s popular Jeremy Hunter, though. Clerc’s Hunter, an important character for many years on the iconic All My Children, was a sculptor who met his demise by being turned into one of his own statues!

Notably, the producers originally planned for a former character named Trisha, who had a history of mental issues, to return as the culprit. Noelle Beck, her longstanding portrayer, nixed that concept, though. Thus, Gwyneth Alden (Christine Tudor), Trisha’s mother and the show’s diva-licious matriarch, was chosen as the villain. While Tudor did spectacular work and obviously relished the juicy emotional windfall that this turn of events brought her, it was hard for many devoted fans to buy her as the murderess. Tudor had filled Alden with such true-to-life heart over the years, it was next to impossible to believe that Gwyneth would be able to kill off her family and friends no matter her state of mind. Still, the plotline allowed her and the show a significant (if overlooked) place in afternoon television history.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Chrsrine Newman

Gwyneth/Tudor in “happier” days.

Hopelessly Devoted to: Linda Watkins

Published April 18, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Linda Watkins 2

A ‘30s movie cutie, Linda Watkins may be best known to ‘70s television fans for playing Susan Saint James’ sweetly inscrutable mother on the first season of McMillan and Wife. Whether offering up a badly cooked brunch or joining James’ Sally McMillan in an undercover adventure or two, her presence was always enjoyably light.

A series of appearances on the cult ‘60s anthology Thriller, described by Stephen King as the best horror series ever put on TV, found her exploring saltier territory, though. There, with throaty persistence, she played cheating wives and aggressive tabloid reporters, career women and opportunists who left no stone unturned on the paths to getting what they wanted.

Her episodes proved to be some of the most interesting of the series, as well. Eyeglasses that caused the wearer to murder (The Cheaters), a pair of disembodied hands that terrorized and created beauty often in the same scene (The Terror in Teakwood) and a hairpiece that imbued its owner with a ravenously destructive beauty (A Wig for Miss Devore) all figured into the shows that she appeared on.

Linda Watkins 1

Nicely working a similar theme, she played strong willed, defiant journalists in the latter shows, giving off a hard boiled feministic edge. The hats she wears as the brilliantly named Arabella Foote in Wig also provide her with some scene stealing capabilities, as well.

Watkins who went on to appear on episodes of such cult shows as The Munsters and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. also provided support as part of the cast of Bad Ronald, a psycho in the wall thriller that has gained a healthy following since its first airing in 1974, as well.

Interestingly, while she cataloged over 70 celluloid credits by the time of her death at the age of 68 in 1976, Watkins actually spent the majority of her career on the stage after being disappointed by the quality of her earliest roles in film. Thus, this makes her a maverick ripe for rediscovery. A nice portion of her work available online and on physical media.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Linda Watkins

Music to Make Horror Movies By: The Del Rubio Triplets

Published April 12, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Del Rubio Triplets

Of all the female powered groups that ruled the ‘80s, The Del Rubio Triplets had to be the most unique. Originally performing with bandleader Xavier Cugat in the ‘40s, they achieved cult status in the neon decade via their appearances on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and other television shows like Night Court, Married with Children and Sliders.

While best known for their enthusiastic covers of songs by Devo, Pointer Sisters and The Bangles, they also brought out all the best Halloween razzmatazz for their version of The Wizard of Oz’s Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.

With their uniquely bright personalities shining like a supernatural spotlight, Milly (1921-2011), Elena (1921–2001) and Eadie (1921-1996), will unsurprisingly live forever in our hearts.

Del Rubio 2

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Unsung Heroines of Horror: Pamela Searle

Published April 11, 2020 by biggayhorrorfan

Pamela Searle

A beauty queen, most notable for her placement as the third runner up in the 1959 Miss Universe contest, the beguiling Pamela Searle made a dozen film and television appearances throughout her short lived career.

Her movie credits, which included Bells Are Ringing (with Judy Holiday and Dean Martin) and If A Man Answers (with Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin), often capitalized on her looks and gave her little to do besides provide an attractive background ascetic.

TV was a bit kinder, giving her characters with names like Roxy Dozy to play on shows like Route 66 and Bachelor Father. Her most significant part for lovers of spook, though, is definitely that of Meg Payton on the A Wig for Miss Devore episode of Thriller. As an enchantress being hung for her crimes against humanity in the story’s enjoyable opening sequence, Searle beguiles with both touching modesty and a wickedly sharp edge. As Meg flatters her executioners with precision, Searle brings out of all the nuances of the role, proving that as a performer she is a truly an unsung (anti)heroine of horror.

In fact, one definitely feels shades of Barbara Steele’s Princess Asa Vadja from Black Sunday and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Sarah Sanderson from Hocus Pocus in Searle’s work, two very distinctive personalities that give credence to the excellence of this underappreciated actress’s work.

Pamela Searle Model

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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