Chris Michael

About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

Winter Hoops All-Stars 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Although the 2020-2021 basketball season had its share of hurdles, the student-athletes, parents, coaches, athletic directors and everyone involved in local high school sports deserve a round of applause for dealing with all the adversity faced during the past four months.

Through the pandemic, snow/weather-related events, limitations/restrictions imposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and other happenings that took place, it was an accomplishment to have as much of a season as we did.  Some areas in the RCN viewing area outside of the Lehigh Valley would have been thrilled to get in as many games as most of the teams within the Valley were able to play this past year.

When the student-athletes did get on the court (albeit with a drastically reduced amount of practice time–something I’ve heard more than one coach lament this winter), we saw some exceptional play and great individual and team performances.

The Colonial and Schuylkill Leagues both conducted their conference playoffs as close to “normal” as they usually do.  The revamped — and some would argue, improved — district tourney format was also a success with some great games that you saw on RCN-TV.

As part of our return to normalcy, the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference recently released their annual “All-Star” listings for the girls and boys teams.  We spotlight the girls teams this week and hope to have the boys listings coming up next week here at “The Shop.” 

Lehigh County 

1st Team

Lindsay Berger – Parkland (EPC League MVP)

Jaydalise Cartagena – Dieruff

Shanaiya Ellis – William Allen

Julia Roth – Allentown Central Catholic

Emily Vaughan – Allentown Central Catholic

 2nd Team

Molly Driscoll – Allentown Central Catholic

Ella Laky – Whitehall

Joey Madison Shaul – Whitehall

Sonya Shivok – Parkland

Talia Zurinskas – Parkland 


Monroe County
 

1st Team

Kendel Card – Stroudsburg

Vatijah Davis – PM West

Isabella Horvath – PM East

Azahni Simmons – PM West

Emily Strunk – Stroudsburg (MVP) 

2nd Team

Chanel Davis – ES North

Kania Day – ES South

Layla Hernandez – ES South

Samantha Merklin – Pleasant Valley

Ella Muir – Pleasant Valley 


Northampton County
 

1st Team

Talya Brugler – Nazareth (MVP)

Morgan Sterner – Northampton

Sara Tamoun – Easton

Kailey Turpening – Freedom

Kourtney Wilson – Bethlehem Catholic

 2nd Team

Jessica Farrell – Liberty

Grace Lesko – Northampton

Kelly Leszcynski – Nazareth

Brenna Ortwein – Freedom

Emily Violante – Easton

PROGRAMMING NOTE:

We will continue our exclusive interviews with spring sports coaches and players to talk about their return to the playing fields on this Thursday’s “RCN Sports Talk” program, featuring teams from Easton and Bethlehem Catholic high schools this week. Tune in this Thursday at 7pm to RCN-TV, set your DVRs or look us up through RCN On Demand (free for RCN subscribers)!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Public Defender”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances. 

RCN-TV is kicking off its “Spring Programming Schedule” this month with the return of popular television shows and other programs making their first-ever appearances on our channel.

Today we look at Public Defender.

 One of the popular trends in 1940s radio shows was dramas featuring public servants’ adventures, fighting crime and righting wrongs.  Insurance investigators like Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, real-life police stories like Dragnet, procedural detectives like Pat Novak and Richard Diamond and other similarly successful shows spilled into the early 1950s before radio programs started giving way to television.

While many of those programs never got past producing a failed pilot episode, one show that did make a successful leap to the small screen was Public Defender.

Defender is based on the idea of a client who can’t afford a lawyer to represent them in a criminal trial.  Bart Matthews is the counselor assigned to help people in need and encounters lawsuits significantly beyond your typical cases.

Matthews was portrayed by Reed Hadley, who had a very successful film career in the late 1930s and 40s (including playing the titular character in the movie, Zorro’s Fighting Legion).  Hadley had a number of roles playing characters involved on either side of the law in criminal dramas and had just finished starring in the very popular TV show, Racket Squad, from 1950-1953.  His voice may also be familiar to more recent audiences as he narrated a number of documentaries produced in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The Phillip Morris Corporation, who sponsored many of the decade’s top programs in the 1950s, including I Love Lucy, took an immediate interest in Public Defender and became their top sponsor, with Revlon adding their name as the alternate sponsor.  The show was scheduled in the very competitive Thursdays at 10pm timeslot and ran up against other stalwarts from both the radio and early television eras — The Lux Video Theatre and the Kraft Television Theatre.

Although the show ran for just under two full seasons (producing 70 episodes), there were a number of notable guest stars on the program, including future stars on both the big and small screens…

See if you can spot some of these future stars as Bart Matthews attempts to exonerate wrongly accused individuals.  Public Defender makes its RCN-TV debut on our new spring programming lineup; tune in (or set your DVRs) for Wednesday evenings at 8:30pm and Fridays afternoons at 2:30pm.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

Winter Highlights 2021 (Part II)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Last week we looked back at some of the highlights from this past winter sports season.

This week, we continue our glance back at the last several weeks of wrestling and basketball sports action that we brought you on RCN-TV.

RCN Sports: District XI Individual Wrestling Championship (3/21)    



RCN Sports: Nazareth vs. Archbishop Carroll (3/21)
 

RCN Sports: Parkland vs. Nazareth (3/21)

 RCN Sports: Parkland vs. Northampton (3/21)

 RCN Sports: Pocono Mountain West vs. Allen (3/21)

RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs Jim Thorpe (3/21)

RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs. Middletown (3/21)

 RCN Sports: East Stroudsburg South vs. Bangor (3/21)

 RCN Sports: Notre Dame Green Pond vs. Executive Education (3/21)

Remember, RCN viewers can see all of our sports programming for free at any time through RCN On-Demand for shows and sports events for up to two months from the day their first air on RCN-TV.

Also, we’ll continue our look ahead to the spring sports season on this Thursday’s “RCN SportsTalk” show with more interviews from players and coaches currently participating in the season that just got underway.  This week’s guests include members of the Freedom girls softball team.

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: The Successes of “Bonanza”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.   Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

 RCN-TV is kicking off its spring programming schedule this month with the return of popular television shows plus additional programs making their first-ever appearances on our channel.

Today we look at the return of Bonanza to RCN-TV and its successes in the entertainment industry! 

The reappearance of Bonanza on the RCN-TV programming lineup signifies the return of one of the most successful television programs of all-time.

The show is NBC’s longest running primetime television show and is the second-longest western program (behind CBS’s Gunsmoke) in the medium’s history.

Bonanza was the first series to appear in the Top Five list for nine consecutive seasons (a record that would stand for many years) and thus established itself as the most consistent strong-performing hit television series of the 1960s.

One unique thing about the 1963-64 season of Bonanza…it triggered something that hadn’t been accomplished in over three decades.  Bonanza was the show that “brought down” The Jack Benny Program.

The comedian had won his timeslot on radio and television every year since 1932 until NBC scheduled the relatively new western program opposite the popular entertainer, although with some “programming trickery” involved.

You see, the network started the 60-minute western a half hour before Benny’s program.  The gimmick worked so well that, according to his memoir, Sunday Nights at Seven, Benny found himself tuning into and watching Bonanza! To his horror, three-quarters through each episode, he would suddenly realize he forgot to switch over to his OWN show!

Another unique characteristic that showed the popularity of this western…it’s one of the few shows EVER on television that had its own reruns added to its network’s primetime lineup.

NBC retitled the show’s reruns as The Ponderosa during the 1971-72 season and aired “old” yet often requested episodes.  NBC utilized a similar “trick” as above when they started the show at 7:30pm and it “spilled over” into the prime-time lineup and held its own competition with “first-run” episodic shows on ABC and CBS.

Another rarity that highlights its popularity…the show was one of the first programs in the first 50 years of television that was sold into syndication in 1970 to off-network affiliates BEFORE it ended its’ initial network run.  Both the “new” and syndicated shows continued to earn solid ratings before the show finally fell out of the Nielsen Ratings’ Top 10 in 1972. One of TV’s biggest and most popular stars, actor Dan Blocker (Hoss Cartwright), unexpectedly died that year, playing a major role in this event.

In 2002, Bonanza was ranked No. 43 on TV Guide‘s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and in 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time.

We’ll have more on this legendary television program including more unique stories and histories of its famous stars on upcoming editions of the Classic Video Showplace.

In the meantime, be sure to catch the return of Bonanza to RCN TV on our new spring programming lineup.  Tune in or set your DVRs for Sunday mornings at 9 am on RCN-TV.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

Winter Highlights 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company. 

As we reflect upon the recently completed winter sports season, there were certainly some ups and downs for teams, administrators, fans, members of the media and everyone associated with high school sports.

Fortunately, we got through the season with no “catastrophes” (aka, zero COVID-19 deaths among student athletes in Pennsylvania according to the PIAA’s recently released information about the winter sports campaign).  We completed the state championships the previous weekend with only two teams having to withdraw from the state tournaments due to the pandemic…and that is for ALL winter sports.

And…we had our share of very competitive games on RCN-TV this past winter.

Here is a look back at some of the sports action we brought to our audience this season…

 VIDEO CLIPS: 

1) RCN Sports: Allen vs. Parkland (2/21)

2) RCN Sports: Allen vs. Parkland 2 (3/21)

3) RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs. Pope John Paul II (3/21)

4) RCN Sports: Palmerton vs. Northwestern Lehigh (3/21)

5) RCN Sports: Liberty vs. Emmaus (3/21)

6)  RCN Sports: Bangor vs. Bethlehem Catholic (3/21)

7)  RCN Sports: Bangor vs. Notre Dame Green Pond (3/21)   

 

8) RCN Sports: Allen vs. Archbishop Wood (3/21)


9) RCN Sports: Allentown Central Catholic vs. Bethlehem Catholic (3/21)


 More video highlights from this past winter coming your way next week here at “The Shop.”

 

 

 

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: I Married Joan

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Showplace will feature prominent female-driven classic programs and films…and women who “changed the game” and made a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond.

 This week, we take a look at the incredibly underrated performance of television’s Joan Davis.

When I Love Lucy burst onto the scene in 1951, it became the nation’s hottest television sensation of the decade.

The premise for most episodes?

A wife caught in outlandish situations bringing about zany comedic bits and sometimes quite extreme physical slapstick routines while the loving husband looks on and all becomes right with the world in the end.

This plotline was the hallmark of the early years of the Lucy program and, like most crazes, imitators we’re quick to jump on and exploit this winning formula.

Even with only three channels available, an abundance of similar shows popped up throughout the broadcast week – some faring better than others.

But one of the best of the rest, and one show that could clearly stand on its own merits that emerged from the early 1950s was I Married Joan, starring Joan Davis and Jim Backus.

The similarities were clear.

Davis would quickly get herself involved in a predicament which descended into a spiraling mess of craziness, which would culminate in an over-the-top physical event before each episode’s resolution. 

The husband’s role was largely that of a straight man who’s expressions at Davis’s antics would help build the final comedic climax. Both shows’ leading ladies were housewives who longed for more while their husbands (to somewhat different degrees) tried to deflate those notions and disapproved of their wives doing much more than suppressing them to stay home.  Still, it was clear who were the stars of both shows.  Both programs also had very little character development beyond the main wife and, to a lesser extent, her husband’s lives, with a supporting cast acting mostly as props.  (Desi Arnaz would frequently admit this about his own series many times in the years that followed.)

Heck, both I Love Lucy and I Married Joan were even piloted by the same director, Marc Daniels for each series’ entire run.

However, “Joan” did have two aspects that set it apart from the other imitators.

While some specific gags were similar to the Lucille Ball sitcom, Davis’s series would usually attempt fresh challenges and completely original ideas for harebrained schemes.

Probably the funniest example of this was the episode in which the family buys a new TV and Joan is left on the roof trying to install it herself. Ironically, this identical plotline was actually “borrowed” for one of Ball’s later series in the 1960s.

Backus, as Davis’s foil, portrayed a respected judge and exhibited a much more laid-back brand of humor than Desi Arnaz’s Ricky Ricardo character.  Instead of explosive reactions normally played to hilarity by Arnaz, Backus’s Bradley Stevens character was more subtle with his humor, yet had impeccable timing that played well off of Davis’s eccentric physical comedy.

Backus, of course, would go on to play more prominent roles on television and is best known as the Millionaire Mr. Howell on Gilligan’s Island and was the original voice of the cartoon character, Mr. Magoo. (More on Jim’s tremendous career in a future Showplace blog entry.)

Davis also did not have the benefit to play off her comedy with the expert acting tandem of the extremely talented William Frawley and Vivian Vance as neighbors as Fred and Ethel.

Among the recurring role-players who did interact with Davis from time to time included Hal Smith, who would later play Otis, the town drunk on the 1960s classic, The Andy Griffith Show.

Despite being matched up against the incredibly popular Arthur Godfrey and Friends program on Wednesday nights for the show’s entire run, I Married Joan’s ratings or solid and actually improved in the second and third seasons.

There’s contradictory evidence as to why the show was cancelled. Some sources cite a decline in ratings during the program’s final few months, indicating a trend that the program was starting to lose momentum. Others say the physical strain on Davis became too much for the actress to handle.

Yet, viewing the final episodes reveals that the story lines were still fresh for it’s time, the comedic bits were still funny and Davis was handling the physical comedy just as well for the latter episodes as she did when the show first premiered in 1952–almost one year to the day after I Love Lucy debuted.

While Joan’s efforts have become largely overshadowed by the enormous success of Lucille Ball, one would be remiss without checking out Davis’s own brand of antics and unique style… and, in retrospect, certainly deserves a second look.

You can find this out for yourself as

I Married Joan is featured prominently over the next two weeks on RCN TV’s current broadcasting line-up, airing on Sundays at 12 noon, Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

STATE CHAMPS!

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

It’s not uncommon for me to congratulate an individual wrestler and/or a Lehigh Valley wrestling team for winning a state gold medal here on this blog this time of year.

However, it’s been 35 years since anyone from the Lehigh Valley could congratulate a boys basketball team for accomplishing the same honor during the winter sports season.

Allentown Central Catholic became the first Valley boys basketball team since…Central Catholic did it back in 1986.  We’ve had a few girls basketball teams bring home titles over the last several decades but many skeptics around the area thought we might never see another boys title from this area again. Fortunately, the Vikings proved them wrong and defeated Hickory High School, 41-40, last Thursday evening.

Like most teams this winter, Central Catholic had to overcome some adversity. 

Their team was shut down three times because of COVID–either via state mandates or because of reported cases within their own program.  Among their constatent scheduling issues…three times they scheduled and had to postpone their non-conference game vs. Notre Dame-Green Pond in what would have been a match of two of the Valley’s best teams (an additional storyline:  Central’s assistant athletic director is related to Notre Dame’s head coach and best player).

Two other times we were scheduled to broadcast a Central game–one time the game was cancelled 47 hours before tipoff, the other time, 3-½ hours before it was slated to start.

They also had personnel issues.  Their biggest concern among the players was the loss of their starting center, Christian Spudnardi, for two-thirds of their season with an ankle injury.  He recovered two weeks before the playoffs started and gave the Vikings their first 100% healthy starting lineup roughly ten days before the postseason got underway.

We’ll hear more on the Vikings’ historic season from Central Catholic Head Coach Dennis Csensits and members of his team on an upcoming edition of “RCN SportsTalk” (a number of their players also play spring sports, so we’ll have to find a date that works for as many of their student-athletes as possible).

This winter also gave some vindication to the Nazareth and Bethlehem Catholic girls basketball teams–both were alive in the state playoffs when the coronavirus took a hold of everything going on in the sports world last year and made for a premature ending on their quest for a championship.

Although both teams lost before getting a chance to play in the Pennsylvania state final, at least they had a season and had the opportunity to compete for the championship without having the games pulled out from under them–as was the case a year ago.

As far as wrestling, Lehigh Valley teams did well in states…although not their usual dominance that local squads normally have at Hershey.

There were a few individuals who won gold medals but for the first time in several years, no school walked away with the PIAA trophy.

The reasons are both most probably tied to the pandemic.  

Lehigh Valley teams have an advantage competing in one of the most prominent wrestling communities in the country.  Because of the limited scheduling of meets, many wrestlings did not get to compete against some of the other best wrestling teams like they normally do in any other season.  A number of schools use the motto “iron sharpens iron,” and facing that tough level of wrestling on a weekly basis can’t help but make wrestlers better prepared for states.

Furthermore, some schools gain skills by competing at outside tournaments featuring some of the best wrestlers in the country–utilizing those skills learned and applying them in state competitions.  Because many of the nation’s top tourneys were cancelled, the top wrestlers didn’t have those experiences as well.

Still, just to get through this winter season while staying healthy was an accomplishment.  For the Central Catholic’s boys basketball team, who persevered through all its hurdles (and had a number of nail-biting victories over the last two weeks), they captured the ultimate prize for a high school sports program.

Congratulations Vikings!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “Annie Oakley”

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Showplace will feature prominent female-driven classic programs and films…and women who “changed the game” and made a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond.

It wasn’t very common to see female characters in a starring role on successful non-comedy television series in the early 1950s.

It was unheard of to have a female lead in a TV western…

…except for Annie Oakley.

Gail Davis was one of few shining accomplishments for progressiveness in 1954 television by successfully portraying the popular Western hero.

The real Annie Oakley was a sharpshooting exhibitionist after the Civil War and toured the world showcasing her talents with a gun.  

At fifteen, she won a shooting contest against experienced marksman Frank E. Butler, whom she later married. The couple joined Buffalo Bill in performing in Europe before royalty and other heads of state. Audiences were astounded to see her shooting a cigar from her husband’s lips or splitting a playing-card edge-on at 30 paces, becoming one of the richest gun-slinging performers in the world.

Unlike the real Annie Oakley and the 1935 movie of the same name, the television version was completely fictionalized and strayed far away from the original screenplay. The only true similarity between the television and earlier versions was that Annie was an exceptional marksman, whose sharpshooting skills would rival anyone in the Ol’ West.

Cowboy legend Gene Autry came up with the idea for making the legacy of Annie Oakley into a television show.  Autry was the program’s executive producer under his company, Flying A Productions, of which Davis was a part prior to the show’s creation.  Gail’s personality made her an easy choice for the show’s likeable protagonist.

A common plot line throughout the series was that Annie’s Uncle/Sheriff  Luke MacTavish would be out of town on some other matter while at the same time trouble started brewing in their hometown of Diablo, Arizona. It was up to Oakley and her friends to try to save the day.

Starring as Annie’s little brother, Tagg, was Jimmy Hawkins, whose previous claim to fame was as Jimmy Stewart’s youngest son in the holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life.  Before retiring from acting in his late twenties, Hawkins would also have recurring roles on fellow television classics like The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Donna Reed Show.

Rumor has it that Hawkins himself inadvertently led to the end of the initial series’ run. Additional episodes for Annie Oakley were ordered after the 1957 season, but Hawkins went through a growth spurt and became too big to credibly play the role of Annie’s little brother.  Instead of recasting, legend says that the producers and studio executives decided to just end the show.

The episodes were so popular when they first ran in the mid-1950s as a weekly show that ABC then re-ran the series with daily airings in the late 1950s and early 1960s and again from 1964-1965. The show was finally sent into syndication over a decade after the show first premiered on network television.

You can see the adventures of this early female television star in Annie Oakley on RCN-TV every Tuesday evening at 9:30pm.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.

 

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 

FINAL HOOPS POLLS 2021

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

 Before we take our final look at this winter’s high school basketball poll (and in the interest of full disclosure)…let’s look back at which teams our poll experts had predicted when we started the season – the first time – back in late November/ early December.

EPC-LV TOP 5 (Preseason Version)

1)     Central Catholic

2)      Allen

3)     Easton

4)    Parkland

5)    Northampton

COLONIAL TOP 5 (Preseason Version)

1)  Southern Lehigh                   

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Bangor           

4)   Northwestern        

5)  Palmerton

As you’ll see, the biggest change – and the biggest surprise – was Southern Lehigh.  The Spartans were tapped by many to be the best team in the Colonial League and in Class 5A, featuring the return of one of the premier basketball players from the previous season.  Instead, the defending Colonial League and District 11 5A champions were eliminated in the first round of both the conference and district playoffs.

Obviously, the main goal for all teams was to just try to get through this past winter sports season healthy.  Otherwise, you would have to look at Southern Lehigh as one of the biggest disappointments of the winter.

The EPC poll had fewer surprises and was a little easier to predict.

With that, it’s time for us to take our final look at our high school basketball or teams in the RCN viewing area within District XI boundaries.

For this winter, we broke the two polls down into the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (Lehigh Valley teams only) and Colonial League schools, within the RCN broadcast area.

Like the fall, our pollsters consisted of local media members and coaches/administrators from our local teams, who will remain anonymous so they can vote honestly without retribution and to avoid any “bulletin board” material.

So below we have high school polls for both leagues, along with the listing of all of the teams that are included in our respective categories.

Feel free to email me at Chris.Michael@rcn.net for your thoughts on our final poll and we might read and respond to your emails on this week’s SportsTalk show.

EPC-LV TOP 5

1)    Allen

2)    Central Catholic

3)    Parkland

4)    Easton*

5)    Northampton

*Season concluded due to school district protocols

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Central Catholic, Bethlehem Catholic, Easton, Freedom, Liberty, Dieruff, Allen, Parkland, Whitehall, Emmaus, Nazareth, and Northampton


COLONIAL TOP 5

1)   Bangor               

2)  Notre Dame

3)  Northwestern

4)  Palmerton

5)  Southern Lehigh

Eligible Teams (in no particular order):

Bangor, Pen Argyl, Notre Dame – Green Pond, Wilson, Catasauqua, Salisbury, Saucon Valley, Northwestern, Northern Lehigh, Southern Lehigh and Palisades

We will be looking at the last several months of scholastic sports action in our viewing area over the next few weeks here at “The Shop” and on our RCN SportsTalk television program.

Simultaneously, we’ll start gearing up for the spring sports season, present some interviews and previews of local teams and storylines of interest and more … all coming your way over the next month!

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: Audrey Hepburn (Part 2)

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Showplace will feature prominent female-driven classic programs and women who “changed the game” and made a lasting impact in the Golden Age of Hollywood and beyond.

Last week here at the Showplace, we discussed legendary film actress Audrey Hepburn’s troubled early years and her determination to avoid oppression and family tragedy throughout World War II, along with highlighting her rise to becoming one of the all-time leading ladies in Hollywood.  

Today we focus on the second half of Hepburn’s film career successes and her incredible spirit to help starving children around the world.

Arguably, Hepburn’s greatest and most identified film contribution, My Fair Lady, was filled with controversy.  

Julie Andrews, who originated the role of Eliza Doolittle on Broadway, was passed over for the movie role when Producer Jack Warner thought Hepburn’s reputation would help bring in more movie-goers than the then relatively unknown Andrews.  Hepburn herself recommended that Andrews take the role but eventually relented. (Ironically, Andrews would be offered the titular role in Mary Poppins later that same year and won an Academy Award for her performance.)

While the casting caused a rift on the set, further conflicts occurred halfway through filming when Hepburn was informed that most of her singing would be overdubbed.  She walked out of the production but returned several days later to finish the project.  Despite the reported difficulty Audrey had with castmates and crew, the film won multiple Academy Awards including Best Picture and has been regarded as one of the greatest film musicals of all-time.

Hepburn continued to star in great films throughout her career, but she was publicized just as much for her humanitarian efforts over the next three decades, culminating in 1989 by being awarded UNICEF’s International Danny Kaye Award for Children.

She continued to visit foreign countries and used her considerable influence to call attention to areas around the globe that were stricken with children’s poverty and starvation…right up until her death from abdominal cancer in 1993.  Among the many high profile celebrities to attend her funeral included her first major motion picture co-star, Gregory Peck, who delivered a tear-filled eulogy to the late actress.  His speech came nearly 50 years after he helped give Heburn her first big break five decades before.

Hepburn is one of only a small handful of entertainers ever who have won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. She also won a record three BAFTA Awards for Best British Actress in a Leading Role.   She was ranked by the American Film Institute as the third-greatest female screen legend from the Golden Age of Hollywood, and was inducted into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

But it is also her charitable efforts that helped define her life story.  She received posthumous awards like the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work with UNICEF, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarding her the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her contribution to humanity.  Also, in 2002, at the United Nations Special Session on Children, UNICEF honoured Hepburn’s legacy of humanitarian work by unveiling a statue, “The Spirit of Audrey”, at UNICEF’s New York headquarters. Her service for children is also recognised through the United States Fund for UNICEF’s Audrey Hepburn Society.

You can see some of Hepburn’s most memorable film performances on RCN-TV, including Charade, this Friday night at 9:30. 

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.