Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Donal Mahoney writes

An Oscar for Your Thoughts

It’s almost time for the Academy Awards.  
Theaters are showing their best movies
and someone I know wants to go.

I used to pay 15 cents to see Roy Rogers 
in black and white cowboy up on Trigger. 
Today with popcorn, candy and a drink  

it costs 20 bucks almost, just for me, 
to see violence in brilliant color. 
Six teens laugh a row ahead of me.
 Image result for oscar academy award paintings


  1. Louis B. Mayer, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), met with actor Conrad Nagel, director Fred Niblo, and the Association of Motion Picture Producers head Fred Beetson to create an organization that would mediate labor disputes without unions and improve the movie industry's image. They decided that membership would be limited to actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers. Then Mayer invited 36 industry people to a formal banquet on 11 January 1927 and inducted them into the International Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The organization was incorporated (without the "International") 0n 4 May 1927. A week later Douglas Fairbanks was elected as the 1st president and Niblo as 1st vice-president, and Thomas Edison, the inventor of the movie camera, was given honorain 1928 it decided to grant "awards of merit for distinctive achievement" (now, officially, the Academy Award of Merit). George Maitland Stanley, a sculpture teacher at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, sculpted a statuette based on a drawing by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, one of the original 36 members (who would win the Academy Award for Best Production Design a record 11 times, and be nominated another 28). Made of gold-plated bronze on a black metal base, it is 13.5 in (34.3 cm) tall, weighs 8.5 lb (3.856 kg), and depicts an Art Deco knight (modeled after a Emilio "El Indio" Fernández, an exile due due to revolutionary activities and later became a film director, actor, and screenwriter in his native country) standing on a reel of film with 5 spokes and holding a crusader's sword. The 1st 15 Academy Awards were presented on 16 May 1929. When Margaret Gledhill, the Academy's librarian until 1943, when she became its executive director, 1st saw the statue in 1931, claimed that it reminded her of her cousin Oscar Pierce. Gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky also claimed credit for the name; disgusted at the snobbery of its recipients, he recalled an old vaudeville joke in which comedian would ask the orchestra leader, "Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” and then back away and make a funny remark. In 1934 Walt Disney thanked the academy for his Oscar for the Short Subject (Cartoon) category for his ground-breaking "The Three Little Pigs." (Bette Davis also took credit, claiming that it looked like the butt of her 1st husband, bandleader Harmon Oscar Nelson; she won 5 consecutive Oscars for Best actress in 1938-1942, served as Academy president in 1941, and was the the 1st person to receive 10 acting nominations, the last being in 1962.)

  2. Roy Rogers was the "King of the Cowboys" who appeared in over 100 movies as well as"The Roy Rogers Show" on radio and TV (1951-1957). Leonard Slye (as he was still known) took over the Rocky Mountaineers in 1931, after appearing on an amateur singing contest on a Los Angeles radio program; then formed a trio called the Rocky Mountaineers. Throughout 1932 he belonged to a number of vocal groups, including the International Cowboys, the O-Bar-O Cowboys, and Jack LeFevre and His Texas Outlaws. In 1933 he formed a new group, the Pioneers Trio, which expanded its roster and changed its name to the Sons of the Pioneers. From 1935 through 1941 they provided the music for Columbia Pictures' Westerns starring Charles Starrett (and between 1935 and 1984 they appeared in 97 films, several shorts, and a TV series). Slye supplemented his income by working as a singing cowboy in various films, including one starring Gene Autry, who in 1935 created the singing cowboy genre and dominated the field until his time in the Army Air Force during World War II. In 1937 Slye left the Pioneers to became Roy Rogers, a new singing cowboy for Autry's employer, Republic Pictures. (After their stint at Columbia finished, the Sons of the Pioneers rejoined Rogers at Republic and also performed as an independent vocal group. The original trio, including Rogers and most of the surviving members, gave their final performance in 1972, though the group itself continued.) As Rogers prepared to star in his 1st movie, he was offered a choice of 5 rented horses to ride; he picked Golden Cloud, a 4-year-old palomino, which he bought in 1943 and renamed Trigger; he met his wife Dale Evans in 1946. Rogers became Autry's chief rival and finally supplanted him at the top in 1943, though their careers continued to run on parallel tracks. Unlike most actors, both Autry and Rogers appeared as themselves rather than adopting a different character's name from film to film. In 1940 Rogers obtained licensing rights to his own name, voice, and likeness, and soon branded himself on action figures, cowboy adventure novels, playsets, a comic strip, a comic book, and a variety of other marketing successes (2nd only to Walt Disney in the number of items featuring his name). In 1946 actor Dick Curtis established a live-in 1880s-themed motion-picture set near San Bernardino, California, where 100s of movies and TV series were filmed, including every episode of "The Gene Autry Show" (1950-1956). It was named Pioneertown, in honor of the Sons of the Pioneers, who were among the original investors, along with Rogers and others. "The Roy Rogers Show" aired on TV from 1951 to 1957 (and was nominated for an Emmy in 1955) and reran in Saturday-morning syndication (1961-1964); Rogers and his wife hosted a variety show, "The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show," in 1962. Trigger became a star in his own right, often given his own segment in Rogers movies and even starring in his own comic book series. He died in 1965; Rogers had his hide preserved over a foam likeness and displayed it in the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum when it opened in Apple Valley, California, in 1967. Rogers and Evans continued to perform well after their starhood waned. In the 1970s she recorded several solo albums of religious music, and Rogers' last movie was "Macintosh and T.J." in 1975. He died in 1998, and she in 2001.

  3. "Roy Rogers" appeared on the 1973 Elton John album "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." The album's lyrics were written in 2 1/2 weeks, and John took 3 days to compose the music.

    Sometimes you dream, sometimes it seems
    There's nothing there at all
    You just seem older than yesterday
    And you're waiting for tomorrow to call

    You draw to the curtains and one thing's for certain
    You're cozy in your little room
    The carpet's all paid for, God bless the TV
    Let's go shoot a hole in the moon

    Oh, and Roy Rogers is riding tonight
    Returning to our silver screens
    Comic book characters never grow old
    Evergreen heroes whose stories were told
    Oh the great sequin cowboy who sings of the plains
    Of roundups and rustlers and home on the range
    Turn on the TV, shut out the lights
    Roy Rogers is riding tonight

    Nine o'clock mornings, five o'clock evenings
    I'd liven the pace if I could
    Oh I'd rather have a ham in my sandwich than cheese
    But complaining wouldn't do any good

    Lay back in my armchair, close eyes and think clear
    I can hear hoof beats ahead
    Roy and Trigger have just hit the hilltop
    While the wife and the kids are in bed

    -- Bernie Taupin / Elton John


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