Friday, April 26, 2019

vintage 1950s Personalities

Vintage 1950s
"Madman" Muntz
          Earl William "Madman" Muntz was an American businessman and engineer who sold and promoted cars and consumer electronics in the United States from the 1930s until his death in 1987. He was a pioneer in television commercials with his oddball "Madman" persona, his alter ego generated publicity with unusual costumes, stunts, and outrageous claims. Muntz also pioneered car stereos by creating the Muntz Stereo-Pak, better known as the 4-track cartridge, a predecessor to the 8-track cartridge developed by Lear Industries. He was credited with coining the abbreviation "TV" for television, although the term had earlier been in use in call letters for stations such as WCBS-TV.

          Muntz founded the Muntz Car Company, which made the "Muntz Jet", a sports car with jet-like contours. The car was manufactured between 1951 and 1953, although fewer than 400 were produced.
          Muntz married seven times. 

          Muntz rejected the then-common opinion that used car salesmen should project a staid image. He realized the possibilities of generating publicity with odd stunts and developed a "Madman" persona.  
          Despite his early success, sales later declined and Muntz's creditors refused to provide further financing in 1954. Muntz admitted his business lost $1,457,000 from April to August 1953, and although he tried to reorganize, Muntz TV filed bankruptcy and went out of business in 1959. However, Muntz's success continued in the sales of cars and general consumer electronics.

          In late 1970, Muntz closed his Stereo-Pak audio business after a fire severely damaged his main offices. He then entered the growing home-video market. Muntz centered his retail business on cellular phonessatellite dishes, a motor home rental company dubbed "Muntz Motor Mansions", and prefabricated aluminum houses.

          The "Madman" method pioneered by Muntz was later copied by other retailers, including California car salesman Cal Worthington and New York area electronics chain Crazy Eddie.
          He died of lung cancer June 21,1987 at the age of 73.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Vintage 1950s Cars

Vintage 1950s Cars
Chrysler New Yorker, 1956

          The Chrysler New Yorker is an automobile model which was produced from 1940 to 1996, serving for several years as the brand's flagship model. The New York Special first appeared in 1938 and the New Yorker name debuted in 1939. Until its discontinuation in 1996, the New Yorker had made its mark as the longest-running American car nameplate.

          The New Yorker name helped define the Chrysler brand as a maker of upscale models, priced and equipped above mainstream brands like FordChevrolet/Pontiac, and Dodge/Plymouth, but below full luxury brands like CadillacLincolnand Packard. During the New Yorker's tenure, it competed against upper-level models from BuickOldsmobileand Mercury.

          In 1955, Chrysler did away with the out of fashion high roofline designs of K.T. Keller and came out with a new sedan that borrowed styling cues from Virgil Exner's custom 1952 Imperial Parade Phaeton. The Hemi engine produce 250 hp that year. The result became an ongoing trend for increasing engine output throughout the next two decades with Chrysler and its rival competitors. The Powerflite transmission was controlled by a lever on the instrument panel.

          Chrysler began the 1956 model year's design "PowerStyle," a product of prolific Chrysler designer Virgil Exner. The Chrysler New Yorker gained a new mesh grille, leather seats, pushbutton PowerFlite selector, and a 354 cubic inch Hemi V8 with 280 hp Also new for 1956, Chrysler introduced an under-dash mounted 16 2/3 rpm record player, dubbed the “Highway Hi-Fi”, manufactured by CBS electronics. A two-way switch in the dash changed the input for the speaker from the all-transistor radio to the 7-inch record player.

          The St. Regis two-door hardtop gave a unique three-tone paint job for a higher price and the Town and Country Wagon model was Chrysler's most expensive vehicle of 1956 at $4,523. Only 921 convertibles were made.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

vintage 1950s Movies

Vintage 1950s Movies
East of Eden

          East of Eden is a 1955 film, directed by Elia Kazan, and loosely based on the second half of the 1952 novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. A willful young man contends against his brother for the attention of their religious father while reconnecting with his estranged mother and falling for his brother's girlfriend, thus retelling the story of Cain and Abel.

          The film stars Julie Harris, James Dean (in his first major screen role), and Raymond Massey. It also features Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet.
          Set in early 20th century Monterey, California, The film was actually shot on location in Mendocino, California. Some scenes were filmed in the Salinas Valley.
          Of the three films in which James Dean played the male lead, this is the only one to have been released during his lifetime and the only one Dean personally viewed in its entirety.

          The film won the following awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting RoleJo Van Fleet, Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama: Elia Kazan, Golden Globe, Special Achievement Award: Given posthumously for Best Dramatic Actor: James Dean, and Cannes Film FestivalBest Dramatic Film: Elia Kazan

Tid bit:
           Before filming began, Kazan sent Dean off to Palm Springs to gain some weight and get some sun so that he looked like a "real" farm boy. Dean hated getting a tan, having his hair cut, and drinking a pint of cream a day to put on pounds.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Vintage 1950s Personalities

1950s Personalities

Abbott and Costello

          Abbott and Costello, an American comedy duo was comprised of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Their work on radio, film and television 
made them the most popular comedy team of the 1940s and early 1950s. Their routine "Who's on First?" is still one of the best-known comedy routines of all time in the US.
          The two comedians first worked together in 1935 at the Eltinge Burlesque Theater, New York. This duo came about when Costello's regular partner became ill and Abbott stepped in.  Other performers in the show, including Abbott's wife, encouraged a permanent pairing. They built an act by reworking burlesque sketches with Abbott as the devious straight man and Costello as the dimwitted comic.
          The team's first radio broadcast was on The Kate Smith Hour on February 3, 1938. Because of the similarities between their voices listeners couldn't tell them apart during their rapid-fire skits. Costello perfected a high-pitched, childish voice. "Who's on First?" was first performed for a national radio audience the following month.  They were regulars for two years, while also landing roles in a Broadway revue, The Streets of Paris, in 1939.

          They debuted their own TV program, The Abbott and Costello Show in 1940 to great reviews. The show mixed comedy with musical numbers by well known performers.
          In 1940, Universal Studios signed them for a musical, One Night in the Tropics. Cast in supporting roles, they stole the show with several of their classic routines, including "Who's on First?".  This began a barrage of films.  All were big hits, and Abbott and Costello were voted the third biggest box office attraction in the country in 1941.
          Costello was stricken with rheumatic fever upon his return from a winter tour of army bases in March 1943 and was bedridden for
six months. On November 4, 1943, the same day that Costello returned to radio, his infant son Lou Jr. died in an accidental drowning in the family's swimming pool. They later returned to MGM.
          In 1945 a rift developed, Costello refused to speak to his partner except when performing. Abbott resolved the rift when he suggested naming Costello's pet charity, a foundation for underprivileged children, the "Lou Costello Jr. Youth Foundation." The facility opened in 1947.
          The duo was thwarted again for several months when Costello suffered a relapse of rheumatic fever. After  Costello recovered they returned to the screen and more films followed.

          In January 1951, Abbott and Costello joined the roster of rotating hosts of The Colgate Comedy Hour on NBC.
          From the fall of 1952 to the spring of 1954, a filmed half-hour series, The Abbott and Costello Show, appeared in syndication on over forty local stations across the United States.
          Abbott and Costello each married performers they met while in burlesque. Abbott wed Betty Smith, a dancer, and comedienne, in 1918, and Costello married a chorus girl, Anne Battler, in 1934. The Costellos had four children; the Abbotts adopted two.
          At times Abbott and Costello faced personal demon. Both were habitual gamblers and had serious health problems. Abbott suffered from epilepsy and turned to alcohol for seizure management.
          In the 1950s, Abbott and Costello's popularity waned with the premiere of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Universal dropped the comedy team in 1955 after they could not agree on contract terms.
          In the early 1950s, the Internal Revenue Service charged them both for back taxes, forcing them to sell their homes and most of their assets, including the rights to most of their films.
        In his last years, Costello made about ten solo appearances on The Steve Allen Show doing many of the old routines without Abbott. Costello performed stand-up in Las Vegas and appeared in episodes of GE Theater and Wagon Train. On March 3, 1959, not long after completing his one solo film, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, Costello died of a heart attack three days short of his 53rd birthday.
          Bud Abbott died of cancer on April 24, 1974.

"Who's on First?" For a waltz down memory lane (Try looking at the baseball field while watching the video) Go to: