Political correctness met its match with Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, NBC’s groundbreaking variety series that became a cultural touchstone and part of the fabric of ’60s-’70s America.Every Monday night at 8 p.m. from 1968-1973, straight man Dan Rowan and wisecracking co-host Dick Martin led a supremely talented comic ensemble through a gut-busting assault of one-liners, skits, bits and non sequiturs that left viewers in hysterics and disbelief.
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In: The Complete Fifth Series (Time Life) from features all 24 episodes. And what fun! After years of shameless name dropping, Dick finally gets his wish when bombshell Raquel Welch kicks off the new season with her first and only appearance on the show. Former Hogan’s Heroes POWs Richard Dawson and Larry Hovis escaped CBS to join the cast. And, along with alumni Judy Carne, Arte Johnson, Henry Gibson, Jo Anne Worley and Teresa Graves, they help to celebrate Laugh-In‘s landmark 100th episode (it aired on September 1, 1971).
Other guest stars: Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, Johnny Cash, Carol Channing, Charo, Petula Clark, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Henry Gibson, Gene Hackman, Rita Hayworth, Hugh Hefner, Bob Hope, Arte Johnson, Paul Lynde, Liza Minnelli, Agnes Moorehead, Joe Namath, Carroll O’Connor, Vincent Price, Carl Reiner, Debbie Reynolds, Sugar Ray Robinson, Bill Russell, Vin Scully, Doc Severinsen, Jacqueline Susann, Tiny Tim, John Wayne and Henny Youngman.
We’ll make it fast. Wes D. Gehring makes it funny.
With his new book Movie Comedians of the 1950s: Defining a New Era of Big Screen Comedy (McFarland, $39.95), Gehring takes a detailed look at just how the ’50s were a transitional period for film comedians; for example, the artistic suppression of the McCarthy era and the advent of television often resulted in a dumbing down of motion pictures. Cartoonist-turned-director Frank Tashlin contributed funny, but cartoonish, effects through his work with Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope. A new vanguard of comedians appeared without the stock comic garb or make-up-fresh faces not easily pigeonholed as merely comedians, such as Tony Randall, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Some traditional comedians, like Charlie Chaplin, Red Skelton and Danny Kaye, continued their shtick, though with some evident tweaking.
The book provides insight into a misunderstood decade of film history with an examination of the “personality comedians.” The talents of Martin and Hope are reappraised and the “dumb blonde” stereotype, as applied to Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe, is deconstructed.
“Beyond a general revisionist look at 1950s film comedy, the goals of the work were to knock down Lewis’ perspective that Martin was just a straight man, to undercut the dumb blonde stereotype, and to examine game-changing TV, often via the neglected Frank Tashlin” says Gehring. “I really think I provided important new insight on Tashlin by reading his films through his children’s books.”
Those born yesterday and the some who like it hot will enjoy the the introductions to the funny girls and boys.
Bob Hope fans rejoice: Been hoping for a spectacular star-studded DVD box set crammed with rarities and thankful memories? You can thank Time Life. On September 20, they will release Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials, a six-disc box set filled with 13 unforgettable comedy-variety specials spanning five decades. The guest stars as a Who’s Who of Great Talent and Major Superstars . . . think Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, James Cagney, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin, George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Groucho Marx, Don Rickles, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Clinton and many, many more!
Bob Hope is considered the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. He moved from Broadway to radio to movies to television as easily as a pro golfer sinking a two-foot putt. There was no better showcase for his prodigious talents then his NBC comedy-variety TV specials, which began in 1950 and spanned 50 years and 10 presidential administrations from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton. Hope’s hilarious TV specials, many of which are still among the most watched shows of all time, became a vehicle for the stars of the day and defined the variety show for generations of loyal fans. Whether he was ringing in the festive Christmas season with the biggest celebrities in Hollywood, along with major figures from the worlds of sports, music and politics, or bringing a taste of home to servicemen and women scattered thousands of miles from their families with his legendary USO shows, Hope’s warmth and goodwill knew no boundaries. He knew, whether home or abroad, laughter was truly the best medicine. And, for more than 50 years, Hope served it up like no other entertainer in history.
We offer what’s inside the Hope chest: Thanks for the Memories: The Bob Hope Specials features 13 digitally restored and unedited specials from Bob’s career, including (in chronological order):
The Bob Hope Chevy Show – Original Air Date: October 21, 1956
A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: September 27, 1963
A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: December 15, 1965
Chrysler Presents A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: October 19, 1966
Chrysler Presents A Bob Hope Comedy Special – Original Air Date: February 15, 1967
The Bob Hope Christmas Special – Original Air Date: January 18, 1968
Highlights of a Quarter Century of Bob Hope on Television – Original Air Date: October 24, 1975
Joys (A Comedy Whodunit) – Original Air Date: March 5, 1976
Bob Hope’s World of Comedy – Original Air Date: October 29, 1976
Texaco Presents The Bob Hope All-Star Christmas Comedy Special – Original Air Date: December 19, 1977
The Hilarious Unrehearsed Antics of the Stars – Original Air Date: September 28, 1984
Bob Hope: The First 90 Years – Original Air Date: May 14, 1993
Bob Hope . . . Laughing with the Presidents – Original Air Date: November 23, 1996
Highlights from those programs include:
Bob’s first studio comedy special “in living color” with guests Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Janet Leigh
The Bob Hope Chevy Show with the entire cast of “I Love Lucy”; Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance and William Frawley, plus James Cagney and Diana Dors
A hilarious spoof of Star Wars and other sketches with Tony Bennett, Perry Como, James Garner, Mark Hamill, Dean Martin, Olivia Newton-John, Barbra Streisand, Tuesday Weld, The Muppets and others
The murder-mystery parody Joys (A Comedy Whodunit) with nearly fifty guest stars including Charo, Milton Berle, Dean Martin, Don Rickles, George Gobel, Alan King, Don Knotts, Groucho Marx, Vincent Price and Freddie Prinze
The best of the bloopers from 30 years of Bob’s shows with George Burns, Sammy Davis Jr., Angie Dickinson, Phyllis Diller, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Taylor, Mr. T, John Wayne and many more
Bob’s 1967 USO tour to 22 bases around Vietnam, Thailand and the South Pacific in 15 days with special guest Raquel Welch
Highlights from over 25 years of specials in Bob Hope’s World of Comedy and the celebration Highlights of a Quarter Century of Bob Hope on Television
A look at Bob’s personal relationships with American presidents including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman
Bob Hope’s 90th birthday celebration featuring tributes by Johnny Carson, George Burns and many more
Shanks for the Memory The world of golf according to Bob Hope, which includes historic clips of Bob with Bing Crosby, presidents and pros on courses around the world, and special appearances by President Gerald Ford, pro golfers Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus.
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