Herbie J Pilato, the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Donna Douglas - A Real Sweetheart of Hollywood

Donna Douglas, best known as "Elly May" from the classic TV show, The Beverly Hillbillies, is gone.
But she indeed left her "beauty mark" in this world.
Sweet and loving-kind, on-screen and off, Donna was a true beauty of Hollywood, unaffected by the glitz of Tinseltown..
Besides her stint on Beverly, another of her more notable performances include of course her historic appearance on The Twilight Zone, in the episode, "Eye of the Beholder" - a segment which holds a sincere message for us all (inner elegance trumps exterior facades).
I had the great honor to meet Donna in January 2013, during The Hollywood Show - in Los Angeles.  Also there was her Hillbillies co-star Max Baer, Jr., who played Elly May's cousin Jethro.
It was wonderful to see them together again.  Fans would approach Donna and request that she do the "Elly May" whistle....or to speak the words, "This has been a Filmways presentation" (which she was heard saying at the end of every Hillbillies episode).  And she complied each time.
Meanwhile, too, with each autograph she would sign she added a Biblical verse.
When I asked her if I could interview her for my new book, Glamour, Gidgets and the Girl Next Door: Television's Iconic Women From the 50s, 60s and 70s  (Taylor Trade, 2014), she enthusiastically agreed.
She had honored me once more.
Today's stars are a dime a dozen;  but the grace and authenticity of those like Donna Douglas are far and few between.
We will all miss Donna Douglas....and yet we all know that she will always remain with us  - whether in classic TV reruns broadcast on Earth - or with rays of angelic Elly May joy - shining down from Heaven.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Richard Thomas - A Television Legend

When it comes to acting, Richard Thomas can do no wrong.

An acclaimed and diverse performer from day one, Thomas is best known in the world of classic television for his iconic, Emmy-winning performance as John-Boy Walton on The Waltons, which followed early riveting performances on notable shows such as Marcus Welby, M.D.

Decades later, Thomas hosted the heart-warming weekly series, It's A Miracle, which utilized his affable charms to introduce true tales of inspiration and courage from the files of real people who have experienced or required other-worldly assistance out of various life challenges.  And never had a host been more suited to a role.

Back in his Waltons days, it was Thomas (along with the Emmy-winning Michael Learned, Ralph Waite, Will Geer and Ellen Corby) who really road that show into becoming one of the best-acted weekly family dramas in the history of television (even The Carol Burnett Show once did a take-off entitled, The Walnuts, thus confirming that satire and imitation are the sincerest forms of flattery).

Through the years, Thomas has starred in countless hit TV-movies, notably 1990's It (based on Stephen King novel, and starring Thomas' good friend and former Waltons semi-regular John Ritter, of Three's Company fame), and The Christmas Box (which was based on the book of the same name), among many more.

With each performance or appearance, the viewer trusts Thomas to deliver the goods. He’s got it all down. The perfect pause between lines of delivery.  The ideal level of emotional display.  He’s never overtly-melodramatic or underwhelmingly shallow, but always just right.  His theatrical generosity on screen is clearly evident, as well, as various Thomas co-stars through the years have tended to look better and offer stronger performances just because they share screen time with the actor.

Suffice it say, when searching or surfing for something to watch and you come upon titles featuring Richard Thomas you can stop looking … because you’ve just uncovered an American treasure.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Julie Adams is a Goddess

The beautiful and legendary actress Julie Adams has written about her astoundingly full and wonderful life in the book, THE LUCKY SOUTHERN STAR: REFLECTIONS FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, the title of which references her monumentally popular 1954 motion picture film, The Creature From the Black Lagoon

However, Ms. Adams has made hundreds of appears on the big-screen, television and the stage beyond her most famous Creature feature, including countless classic TV appearances on shows such as Perry Mason, The Andy Griffith Show, Murder, She Wrote, and a gem of the small-screen, titled, The Jimmy Stewart Show.

Her talent, versatility, intelligence and of course obvious beauty continues to shine today, off-screen, as it has throughout each of performances, be they live on stage, or recorded on film.

The warmth of her smile today reflects the wisdom in choosing to live a "real" life, off-stage, while creating an iconic body of work in the process.

"It's so very important to have a life beyond your career," she says.  "It's a delicate but important balance to maintain."

Ms. Adams has only fond memories of artistic career, and feels blessed to have worked in her particular profession.   And her audience, whether those who were fortunate enough to view an original theatrical screening of The Creature From the Black Lagoon, or any of her classic TV appearances, were just as blessed...if not more so.

The Jimmy Stewart Show, in particular, and which originally aired on NBC from 1971-1972, is a stand-out amongst the half-hour format, as it was presented with such flair and grace, becoming one of the first programs of the small screen to pristinely mix poignant family drama within a comedy format - long before the term "dramedy" was ever invented.

"Jimmy was just a delight to work with," Adams recalls.  "So kind...and so generous as an actor."

It takes one to know one - for Julie Adams remains one of the kindest, most sweetest souls Hollywood - and the viewing world, of every format and genre - has ever been fortunate enough to enjoy.


The Jimmy Stewart Show is now available on DVD (via Amazon.com, and wherever quality products are sold).  For more information about how to attain other TV shows, movies, or photos of and/or regarding Julie Adams, please log-on to www.julieadams.biz.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Great fun at The Ray Courts Celebrity Show in Burbank, CA - September 26, 2014

It was so very wonderful to join so many astounding classic TV and film icons last weekend at The Ray Courts Celebrity Show, which happily returned to the Burbank Marriott Hotel.

I was honored to attend the gathering to help celebrate the publication of my new book, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR: TELEVISION'S ICONIC WOMEN FROM THE 50s, 60s AND 70s, and the paperback edition of TWITCH UPON A STAR: THE BEWITCHED LIFE AND CAREER OF ELIZABERTH MONTGOMERY (both published by Taylor Trade Publishing, 2014).

It was my great privilege to give away copies of these books to those who attending who have granted the entertainment industry so many years of endless joy through their various performances, TV shows and feature films.

Those attending included the delightful Caryn Richman, star of The New Gidget TV series from the 1980s, General Hospital's legendary stars Kin Shriner and Jackie Zeman, and acting greats Don Murray (who starred alongside Marilyn Monroe in The Misfits - her final feature film), and Julie Adams (star of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and who made hundreds of guest appearances on TV shows ranging from Perry Mason to Murder, She Wrote), and countless other performances of the screen and stage).

The photos to the right of this posting tell just a little bit of a joyful story that took place the weekend of September 27 and September 27!


Monday, August 11, 2014

The CTVPS attains its formal 501(c)3 status!

Hello Everyone -

I am delighted to announce that the Classic TV Preservation Society has attained its formal 501(c)3 status.

This is a monumental transition, and all of us associated with the CTVPS are excited about the expansion of our wonderful organization.

As many of you know, a core function of the CTVPS are the TV & Self-Esteem Seminars that are brought to schools, colleges, community, senior and business centers and facilities around the country.

Our motto:  "We celebrate the integrity of classic television programming."

Our mission statement:  "To educate individuals, community, arts/media, business and academic organizations and institutions on the social significance and positive influence of classic television programming, with specific regard to family values, diversity in the work place, and mutual respect for all people of every cultural background and heritage, race and creed."

For more information, please feel free to contact us at classictv@gmail.com or by calling (818) 478-1891.

Kind regards,

Herbie J Pilato
Founder and Executive Director
The Classic TV Preservation Society



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Peter Mark Richman - The Actor's Actor - Going Strong

A great Light has been circulating Hollywood for decades, shining bright upon countless audiences of the stage, big and small screens - and that Light is the actor named Peter Mark Richman.  A professional from the word go, Richman has been sharing his enormous and multifaceted talents with the world for over 50 years, with no sign of stopping.

Name any television program of any worth that ever aired, and Richman has appeared on it.  Measure any scene in any TV show, motion picture or play in which he has ever performed, and he's hit his mark with precision.  In fact, there are not enough numbers in the decimal system to properly calculate the number of times Richman has delivered the goods of his vocation.

On television alone his impact is astounding.  From his early TV days on anthology shows like The Amrstrong Circle Theatre, Alfred Hitchock PresentsThe Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, through the 1960s on his own classic series, Cain's Hundred, to action/adventure shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., It Takes A Thief, through the 1970s on detective shows such as Longstreet, (on which he had a regular role), Baretta, Barnaby Jones, and Charlie's Angels, through the 1980s with Hart to Hart, Knight Rider, Dynasty, Star Trek: The Next Generation, on into the 1990s with Beverly Hills, 90210, and beyond.  Whether voicing God, or playing Suzanne Sommer's minister father on Three's Company ; whether voicing an animated Spider-Man, or confronting The Six Million Dollar Man live, Richman has done it all - with class, sophistication and elegance.

A few of his most cherished memories are from working on the anthology shows from the Golden Age of Television, such as Playhouse 90The United States Steel Hour, and The Philco Playhouse.  "They dealt with [fully-developed] stories, and characters," he says.  In those days, Richman lived in New York, and he would commute from the East to the West Coast whenever Hollywood beckoned.  "I would land in Hollywood, fly back to New York, and then once my plane landed, I'd receive a call to return to Hollywood, and it continued like that for years.  I was one of the migrating actors in the late 50s and 60s."

Eventually, Richman purchased a home in Woodland Hills, in which he and his lovely wife, actress Helen Richman, with whom he has raised five children, have remained "happily ensconced" ever since.

In fact, despite his over 500 TV appearances alone, what he remains most proud is his children, one of whom is the Grammy-award-winning music maestro Lucas Richman).  "I have terrific kids," he says.

And they clearly have a terrific father, who is a terrific actor, and a fine human being, untethered and unaffected by the glitter and glamour of Hollywood - which is one of the reasons why he's going strong.  It also clarifies one of the reasons why has Richman is so blessed...because of his solid sense of family...his strong sense of priority...his delightful sense of humor...and his caring heart...all of which continues to contribute to that shining, bright Light of his humanity - that frequently sparks on screen, and off.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Be Impressive with Your Talent!

Years ago when I taught acting in New York, I would always impress upon my students (of all ages) to impress me with their talent.

Certainly, I was not impressed with arrogant behavior, and self-centeredness in class, in general.  And I definitely was not impressed with profane language as a choice for dialogue or vulgar or violent imagery as a choice for any scene they would choose to perform.

Instead, I would say to them, "Impress me with your TALENT!"

"Anyone can use a curse word to express anger, hatred or a mistake," I would say.  "So, if your character is angry, display such anger with your TALENT!"

It was a simple rule; one of my simplest, actually.

And yet most of my students struggled with that rule.

But it's a significant creative choice; one, unfortunately, that is none too pervasive in today's TV and movie productions.

Violence, vulgarity, profanity and obscenities run wild on the big-screen and small.

It's disheartening; and yet so many creative artists believe it is the way to go.

It is one way to, that's for sure.

But not always the best way.

The best creative expression is never the easiest path.  And showcasing one's talent, as an actor or as writer, is most productively displayed by taking the road less traveled.

Common words have no frequent place in the creative field - or any field.

Certainly, a profane word here and there is acceptable within the boundaries of a particular character.  But the effect is lessened if such language appears in a script or on a screen with frequent regularity - which is the unfortunate case with most contemporary television and motion pictures.