News from the Archive

Remembering Jayne Meadows

April 27th, 2015
Jayne Meadows

We're sad to learn that actress Jayne Meadows passed away on Sunday, April 26, 2015 at the age of 95. Meadows grew up in China where her parents were missionaries, and later got her start in show business in New York City. She appeared in several live anthology dramas (General Electric Theater, Suspense) and served as a regular panelist on the game show I've Got A Secret from 1952-59. Meadows worked with her husband Steve Allen on the acclaimed PBS series, Meeting of Minds, and made numerous television appearances with Allen (including guest spots on Fantasy Island and St. Elsewhere). She was also the sister of actress Audrey Meadows, who played "Alice Kramden" on the classic series The Honeymooners

Below are some excerpts from her 2005 Archive interview:

On acting on her husband Steve Allen's variety show:

That was the most fun. We were asked to do the show and it was an hour comedy show and we had Tim Conway and the whole gang and nobody had ever seen me do that kind of thing, and consequently I got the best reviews of all of them and didn’t deserve them. It was like, "Guess what? Jayne Meadows was good!"  

On advice to aspiring actresses:

Take every part. I read a thing where Hedda Hopper said to all young actresses, "Go to every party you’re invited to. You never know who you’ll meet." I say, "Play every part you can get, unless it’s hopeless." Look at me, taking that part because I knew I could do something if only in my costume - that made people say, "Wow, look at Jayne," because it was a comedy, it was all the comedians, all my friends. Not only "play every part," but if it’s a bad part and you’re not good in it, you’re going to learn. You’re going to learn like you’ll never learn in the greatest part in the world. You will say, "I’ll never do that again." And another thing - don’t worry about the money, because a lot of people turn down things because "they wanted to pay me less than I usually get" - that’s not the thing. You never know if you play a great part what it’s going to lead to.  

On her favorite of all the shows she was on:

I would say the happy years of I’ve Got a Secret, because that was a period in New York when everybody I worked with - they were all our best friends. I would do the show at night and the next day I would be leaving the apartment just to go to the grocery store or shopping or something and the cab drivers would say, “Jaynie, how are you? Great show last night! How’s Steve-O? How’s the baby?” It was the medium that came into your living room, every living room. Didn’t matter if it was the Rockefellers or the guy who was struggling to pay off the rent somewhere in the Bronx. They knew you as a friend. You weren’t, "Miss Meadows from the movies," you were "Jaynie," not even Jayne. “How’s Steve-O-rino?” They loved you, and the fans that were at the door every week, with all the jewelry that they had made for me. I’ve got boxes of it at home. I give it to charity, gorgeous little boys and girls that made a bracelet that matched the earrings and the necklace and they’re all back in style now. 

On how she'd like to be remembered:

As the mother of Bill Allen, and the widow of the father of Bill Allen, the genius Steve Allen. The brilliant Bill Allen and his three winners - I have three of the most gorgeous, brilliant grandchildren, and I mean brilliant. 

Watch Jayne Meadows' full Archive interview and read her obituary in The New York Daily News.

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Remembering Richard L. Bare

April 13th, 2015
Richard L. Bare

We're sad to learn that director Richard L. Bare passed away on March 28, 2015 at the age of 101. Bare worked in a combat photography unit during Word War II and soon after transitioned to making short films for Warner Bros., starting with "So You Want To Give Up Smoking." He got his start in television at Warner Bros., directed the western series Cheyenne (where he discovered James Garner), and went on to direct the series that made Garner a star, the western-comedy Maverick. Bare also directed The Twilight Zone episodes "Third From the Sun," "Nick of Time," and "To Serve Man," the pilot of 77 Sunset Strip (originally intended as a feature film), Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres

Below are some selections from his 2003 Archive interview:

On directing James Garner in Maverick:

I loved him, of course. Simpatico. He was such a consummate master of anything comedic and Maverick certainly was. While there were no pratfalls, there was no low comedy; it was very cerebral in Maverick, very cerebral. When they made a movie called Maverick, many, many years later, it was about five years ago, they missed the whole idea. They missed the point and they had all of this wild, physical comedy, which was not part of Maverick's charm. 

On meeting Rod Serling when he directed The Twilight Zone:

I’ll never forget meeting Rod Serling. I had envisioned Rod Serling as a very thin, bespectacled, tousled-haired, young man - complete intellectual. The day that he came in to meet me, I was at the studio at MGM and he left his office to come in and meet me, and I was shocked. Here was a guy looked like a quarterback. He had a gait like this and he had no glasses, he had no demeanor of being the intellectual that we found out he was. You would never cast Rod Serling as a writer.  

On directing the opening credits for Green Acres:

I didn’t write them - I shot them all. Eva standing there and there was the tune, “Green Acres is the place to be,” and then, “farm living is the life for me.” Then we get her where he says, “fresh air” and she says, “Times Square,” and she’s in their apartment in New York and then his hand comes in and pulls her out to the ranch. Then we did a burlesque of that famous painting of the two pioneers, the pioneer man and the woman with a pitchfork. That was how the song ended, “da da da da da, boom, boom,” and Eddie would go “Boom, boom,” with his thing you see. It really worked.   

On advice to an aspiring director:

Read my book [The Film Director] because it tells you how to do it from A to Z, and the theme of the book is, "Do you want to crack the big time, make a short, beg borrow or steal?" Make a short. They will look at it. I had no trouble getting them to look at my short. Spielberg made a short. Universal looked at it gave him a contract like that. Lucas took a short he made at USC, as I did, took it to Warner Bros., my old studio, and they gave him a contract. There’s a lot of people that really have done it and have done it successfully. I just didn’t get the billion dollar pictures like those two fellows got, but I enjoyed it. I had a good time.  

Watch Richard L. Bare's full Archive interview and read his obituary in The New York Times.

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Remembering Robert Schuller

April 9th, 2015
Robert Schuller

We're sad to hear that religious broadcaster Dr. Robert Schuller passed away on April 2, 2015 in Artesia, CA at the age of 88. Schuller grew up on a farm in Iowa, felt his calling to religion and eventually moved to California. He formed the Garden Grove Community Church, where he first preached to his congregants gathered at a drive-in movie theater. He transitioned to television in 1970 with his successful program, Hour of Power, which soon garnered worldwide distribution. 

Below are some excerpt from his 2003 Archive interview:

On his early interests:

Talking. Talking to people. My brother used to say, "I hope you never become a farmer, because you'll fail. You better make money talking, or you'll never amount to anything." I had one hobby. That was fishing in a stream that went through our farm. I was the last of the children, eight years between me and the youngest, so I really grew up in solitude. I liked it. I liked to go to the river and fish. Watch the clouds through the sky. I fell in love with the sky, I think, then and there. I've been in love with the sky ever since.

On knowing he would be a preacher:

I was a month short of my fifth birthday when my mother's brother, who was a missionary to China -- he went to Princeton -- graduated, went to China. While he was there, he heard that his sister, two years older, was pregnant again. She was at an age where everybody thought she had her children, four in number, so everybody was a little concerned about her pregnancy.  I would find out later, he prayed for his sister a lot, fearful for her and for the child that she would bring. I was born. When he came home on a furlough five years later, he would see me for the first time. He ruffled my hair and said, "So, you're Robert, are you? Well, you're going to be a preacher when you grow up." He just came back from China, and I love China, because I really feel my calling started there. It was there that a man, my mother's brother, got the vision that this unexpected child was special and it was God's plan that he should be a minister.

On his drive-in church:

When I came here - before I arrived in town - I was told by a denominational leader that there were no empty halls. Garden Grove was starting to explode as a suburb and you couldn't find an empty hall. Impossible. And driving out here, I remember, in a cafe in Albuquerque, New Mexico, thinking about "impossible" -- that's ridiculous. Suddenly, that word sounded like a very ignorant word. A very unstudied word. A very irresponsible word based on pure assumptions. I wrote, "Impossible? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.  I'm sitting here in Albuquerque. I can give you 10 places where I could probably have it. Don't tell me it's impossible. Number one, rent a school building. They're closed on Sundays. Two, rent a mortuary chapel. They don't have funerals on Sunday morning. Three, rent a Seven-Day Adventist Church. Four, rent a Jewish synagogue. Five, Knights of Columbus hall. Six, seven, eight. Nine was rent a drive-in theater. I'll talk from the rooftop, talk to people in the cars, but don't tell me it's impossible. Number ten is rent an acre of ground, rent a tent, and rent some chairs, and hand out fliers and say, 'Hey! Come here, I got something for you.'" That's how it started. Every possibility struck out until I got to number nine. Went to the drive-in theater. He said, "Yes." The rest is history.  

On where the title for Hour of Power came from:

Billy Graham. He had a radio program called Hour of Decision. He's primarily evangelistic, which is decision-oriented, and he said, "You're a church, and that should give them power hour of power." 

On advice to aspiring religious broadcasters:

Well, be sure you've got a good word, first of all. I have a school of preaching here for preachers, and we say to be an effective, preachers, it's four Ms. It's first, look at the minister himself. Make sure you're not carrying a lot of secret garbage in your head and in your memory system, because it will Freudian slip out. You can do more harm than good. Make sure the cup is clean before you fill it with water and pass on. The man, the messenger, then the message. Make sure you've got a healthy message. Lots of religion is taught by all religions. All religions. No exceptions. You'll find religion taught that's toxic. Not healthy. Making sure the message is positive and healthy. Then make sure the method is wholesome. What does that mean? Communicate in a way to get your point across without insulting the person you're talking to. Assume they're smarter than you are, and don't play one-upmanship games as a public performer. Affirm them. That's the method. And not just verbally, but paraverbally. Paraverbally. Method. Then the milieu. Remember who you're talking to. There aren't people that are going to agree with you all the way. Maybe some will, but you have to assume that they're thinking people, so treat them like people who think. OK?

On how he'd like to be remembered:

As an encourager. In a word, that's what I'd like to be remembered as, someone who encouraged people. Because that's what I've been doing, and you can always know what a preacher's weakness is by what he's preaching about all the time. If I was constantly preaching against the sexual sins of the world, you'd know what my problem is. I am preaching to people who need to be encouraged. I'm preaching to me.  

Watch Dr. Robert Schuller's full Archive interview and read his obituary in Deadline.

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Remembering Milton Delugg

April 8th, 2015
Milton Delugg

We’re sad to learn that music director Milton Delugg passed away on Monday, April 6, 2015 at the age of 96. Delugg worked in network radio and early television with Abe Burrows and Morey Amsterdam. He was a conductor (and accordion player) on the variety series Broadway Open House, a precursor to The Tonight Show. Delugg worked on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, and for one-and-a-half-years was the orchestra leader on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Delugg also had a long association with producer Chuck Barris and participated in one form or another in all of Barris’ most well-known series: The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, and The $1.98 Beauty Show. Delugg also served as music director on the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade for many years.

Below are some excerpts from his 2008 Archive interview:

On his early interest in music:

Well, when I was six or seven, my folks gave me piano lessons. That was just the style. All kids that were six or seven started taking piano lessons. And a lot of it stuck to me, and when my dad brought home the accordion it became fairly simple, because the right hand is a keyboard -- like the keyboard of a piano. So I had a head start. I also had a head start on the teacher. 

On working with Dagmar:

She was really on screen all the time. And at the same -- she was a nice lady. She didn't have too much to say or do, and we never, ever found out if she could sing, because that was a running joke. You got this chick with the band who never sang.

On producers Mark Goodson and Bill Todman:

Most of the new ideas came from Mark. When they started out, they did something called Battle of the Boroughs. They had people on from Manhattan and people on from Brooklyn, and I think that Bill Todman came from a family that could support such a show. Bill and Mark worked very well together.

On writing the song “Hooray for Santa Claus” from the film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians:

Pat Sajak always - when he sees me — sings the first eight bars, which was, "S-A-N-T-A C-L-A-U-S, hooray for Santy Claus." He said, "What is that Santy? It's spelled with an 'A,' you know." But the writer insisted on saying "Santy Claus" and it's tough to write with or argue with a fellow who's writing the lyrics, because there are few ways that you can say, "I love you" without, "come rain or come shine" or however you want to say it. But I always figured the tough part was the lyric writer. If somebody came with a decent lyric, it was fairly simple -- at least I found it that way -- to write a melody for it.

On how he came to replace Skitch Henderson as bandleader on The Tonight Show in 1966:

Got a phone call from Art Stark, who said, "Can you start at The Tonight Show tonight?" And, like I said, I never said no. I didn't have enough sense to say it. "Yep." He said, "Show up at 4 o'clock," or whatever it was. "Wear a suit.” I showed up and did the show.  

On advice to an aspiring musician:

Get lucky. I don't know. I started out playing scales and exercises, like everybody does. And I liked it. I can understand that maybe you shouldn't be teaching a kid an instrument when he's six or seven, because it's not too satisfying because you're playing scales. That's not going to satisfy the player. I think if you wait until the kid's nine or ten or eleven and he understands a little bit more about where he's trying to go with whatever instrument he's learning to play, I think you're better off. Outside of that -- I go back to the very first thing I said to you. Luck beats the hell out of anything else going. It really does.  

Watch Milton Delugg’s full Archive interview and read his obituary in The New York Times.

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By Ken Levine and David Isaacs

March 30th, 2015
Ken Levine and David Isaacs

M*A*S*H, Cheers, The Simpsons, Frasier. Sounds like part of a top ten list of the greatest television comedies of all time. And it may be, but astoundingly, it’s also just a partial list of the writing credits for Ken Levine and David Isaacs. In a joint venture with The Archive of American Television and The Writers Guild Foundation, they discussed all of the above shows, and much more.

Levine and Isaacs met while in the Army. They began collaborating on spec scripts for various shows, and got a stroke of luck due to a chance meeting on a golf course, which led to selling their first script for The Jeffersons. Shortly after, they joined the writing staff of M*A*S*H, eventually becoming head writers.

The highlight of their stint on M*A*S*H was writing the groundbreaking episode, “Point of View”, in which the entire episode is seen though the eyes of a wounded soldier. They received their very first Emmy nomination for that episode.

After a short stint on After MASH, Levine and Isaacs, along with Glen and Les Charles and James Burrows, were part of the team that developed Cheers in 1982. When the show began, the focus was scattered on the various characters in the bar, until Burrows advised, “Sam and Diane are your money.” From then on, each script, even if Sam and Diane weren’t the focus, somehow moved their relationship along. Additionally, in the below clip, Levine and Isaacs talk about Shelley Long’s invaluable and sometimes overlooked contributions to the show.

In 1983, Levine and Isaacs received their first Emmy Award as part of the creative team for Cheers - a much-needed boost that helped keep the show on the air after one season of dismal ratings. 

Having written both After MASH and the ill-fated Cheers spin-off The Tortellis, one can imagine that Levine and Isaacs may have had some trepidation about Frasier. Such was not the case. They knew they had a great lead in Kelsey Grammer, and a wonderful supporting cast. They wrote on and off for the show, and specialized in writing episodes where other members of the Cheers cast returned.

There is much more to be seen in Ken Levine and David Isaacs' Archive/Writers Guild Foundation interviews: their stint at The Simpsons, Levine’s solo work as a director and play-by-play baseball announcer, and Isaacs' work as a consultant on Mad Men and as a teacher at USC. Two remarkable careers, both together and separately. This one is a “must view” for any aspiring comedy writer or any fan of television comedy.

Watch Ken Levine and David Isaacs' full Archive/Writers Guild interviews.

- by John Dalton

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